News from around the league…
- In the continuing, messy Adam LaRoche retirement story, new information is slowly unfolding. Bob Nightengale (USA Today) writes that White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams was operating on behalf of others when he requested that Drake LaRoche, Adam’s son, scale back (and ultimately eliminate) his presence from the clubhouse. He had reportedly heard complaints from multiple (anonymous to us) sources regarding Drake’s presence over 120 games last season, before scheduling a meeting to discuss the issue with Adam. In that meeting, the two reportedly came to an agreement to scale back Drake’s presence, but he was then seen in the clubhouse and on the field for the next 3-4 straight days, thereafter – prompting the more firm “no Drake” comments from Williams. LaRoche balked at the reaction and immediately retired, forfeiting $13 million in the process. Nightengale has a full recap of the story with many quotes here, so take a look if you’d like to know more.
- For what it’s worth, many White Sox players – Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, for two of the most public examples – have been sticking up for LaRoche, and his son Drake, with public comments about Williams lying and Drake being a leader in the clubhouse. While a few (prominent, even) players might publicly support LaRoche, they may be doing so in solidarity (in other words, are being good teammates/friends), and that doesn’t mean that their opinions represent the entire team. The truth is, someone did complain, and just because it wasn’t Chris Sale doesn’t mean the complaint isn’t noted.
- But, Chris Sale’s very public displeasure with the situation has caused many to wonder about his desire to leave Chicago (via trade). “Rick Hahn’s voice mailbox has a few new inquiries about Chris Sale’s availability,” writes Dan Hayes at CSN Chicago, but those GMs “shouldn’t hold their collective breath.” According to Hayes, White Sox GM Rick Hahn has no interest in trading Sale, who, as of now, is one of the most talented and valuable assets in baseball (the 12th most valuable trade asset in all of baseball, as a matter of fact). In short, there is no way the Sox are trading Sale right now, for this and many, many other reasons. [Brett: So, folks can stop dreaming up trade proposals that were almost certainly too light anyway.]
- Last season, former Cub Marlon Byrd fell just six plate appearances shy of an automatically exercised vesting option with the San Francisco Giants. Given his age and expiring contract, many though it was the end for Byrd, but, after passing a physical, he has signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians and is competing for a spot in the outfield this spring. Byrd, 38, split time between the Reds and Giants last season, but is hoping to make the team as the right-handed side of an outfield platoon with Lonnie Chisenhall. He may yet have a case for that position, though – in 2015, Byrd hit .271/.324/.496 against lefties, which is a more than usable level of production. If Byrd does make the big league team, he’ll earn $1 million.
- After retirement seemed like the only option, Bronson Arroyo (and his fans) received some unexpected and odd, but good news from Ken Rosenthal recently:
Great news on Bronson Arroyo, per source. Doctor misread MRI. Rotator cuff OK. Issue is bursa sac inflammation. Will be down 7 to 10 days.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 18, 2016
- Arroyo, 39, was given an MRI after hitting just 84 MPH on the radar gun during a Spring Training outing this month. The MRI originally indicated a tear in Arroyo’s rotator cuff – too significant to bother rehabbing from, but was apparently misread by the doctor. It was later reported that – with the new information – Arroyo would actually miss just about 7-10 days. AND NOW, it’s been further updated as an injury that will require 4-6 weeks of rehab, before a return is possible. In the end, it’s good news from Arroyo, but what a wacky ride it took to get there.
- More on the injury front: Rays closer, 2015 AL Saves Leader, and former Cubs trade target Brad Boxberger will be out for at least eight weeks after abdominal muscle surgery. Boxberger had apparently been experiencing a nagging injury that would not have gone away without the surgery. At just 27 years old, he has plenty of time to make it back and still have a healthy season, but the Rays will feel his absence in the meantime.
- The Cubs aren’t the only ones will start the inning limits on day one, as Marlins ace Jose Fernandez will not get the Opening Day nod as part of a plan to limit his innings in 2016 to about 180. Newly-signed lefty Wei-Yin Chen will instead start on Opening Day.
- Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred are not fans of player opt-outs, and think they are bad for the team. Which, yeah, we know. Shapiro likens them to another form of player options – which he also refuses to do – and Manfred states that “the logic of opt-out clauses for the club escapes me.” To be frank, it’s actually pretty simple. You give a player an opt-out because, if you don’t, he won’t sign with your team. That’s the one true reason to include that clause. Take Jason Heyward or David Price, for example. Perhaps there was some imaginary number that would allow them to forego the opt-out offered by the Cubs and Red Sox, in favor of, say, the Cardinals, but it was more than the Cardinals were (rightfully) willing to spend. So, what was the logic of the opt-out? It was a necessary evil, and that is all.
- Bored at work today? I have the perfect piece for you: 2016 Offensive Projections Visualization. At FanGraphs, Sean Dolinar created box plots for each team’s individual players’ projections, and the Cubs, as you might expect, lead a series of categories (OPS, wOBA, wRC+, walk rate and WAR). It’s a fun tool to play around with, because you can hover over the individual players of each team, for further detail. The Cubs, as a whole, expect to finish fourth in strikeout rate, with David Ross leading the way at 34.6%.
- In case you forgot, the Tampa Bay Rays will play against the Cuban National Team at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday in Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana! Joining the Rays are Derek Jeter, Joe Torre, Dave Winfield, Commissioner Rob Manfred, President Obama, and the first family. The game is a symbol of goodwill and is widely anticipated. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN and MLB.TV.
- Lastly, what happens when a switch-hitter steps into the box to face a switch-pitcher? Confusion, that’s what!
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.