It’s been an extremely busy day around these parts, mostly because it’s been an extremely busy day around baseball.
Among the more important stories, in case you missed it, is the news that the Red Sox and J.D. Martinez finally and mercifully married up on a deal – which is especially notable because Martinez is one of Scott Boras’ clients. And the other big story of the day is that the league has announced it’s pace-of-play initiatives for 2018, which includes mound visit limits but NO pitch clock.
Much more happened, though, so be sure to head to the homepage and start scrolling backwards. Busy, busy day (and more to come!). But first, here’s some news from around the league …
- Over the weekend, the Minnesota Twins attempted to make up for missing out on Yu Darvish by trading for Jake Odorizzi, which means the Milwaukee Brewers, who also missed out on Darvish, did *not* get the Rays right-hander and are still looking for a pitcher. To be sure, there are still big-time arms out there like Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, but query whether the Brewers would really be willing to spend what it takes to get them. Instead, a lower tier free agent could make more sense, but even those guys (like Andrew Cashner, Jaime Garcia, and Jason Vargas) have been gobbled up lately.
- “I think our stance is that if we can make an acquisition that we think can meaningfully upgrade the team at a responsible investment level, that’s something we’re open to,” Brewers GM David Stearns said. “But we also firmly have confidence in the group we have, and think that there is a relatively high bar to get above.” As you’d expect him to say. If I were Stearns and I already pushed this many of my chips to the center of the table, I’d go out a Jake Arrieta or at least an Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn yesterday. It’s a huge upgrade for them at a position of need, and they are clearly in “go for it” mode. I guess we’ll see.
- Elsewhere in solar system, the St. Louis Cardinals are cruising through Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida, but have hit a couple of speed bumps along the way. Most notably, infielder Matt Carpenter has been dealing with back tightness and is taking things slow this preseason because of it. Moreover, he’s expected to play more and more first base right now (and into the season), which would actually sap Carpenter of some of his value during the year given that, historically, he’s been a capable third baseman.
- Also out of Jupiter, Tommy Pham noticed that rookie-right-hander and teammate Jack Flaherty has been tipping his pitches. Which, damn … I would’ve loved it if the Cubs could’ve found that out first, especially given Flaherty’s perceived upside.
- Continuing with the NL Central theme … the news out of Pittsburgh’s camp is that pitcher Joe Musgrove is experiencing enough shoulder discomfort to cause a skipped bullpen session. Given that the 25-year-old was part of the package the Pirates got in exchange for Gerrit Cole, and was expected to be a big part of the rotation going forward, you can imagine tensions being high. The Pirates are in the process of evaluating what’s wrong and determining his status.
- And finally from the NL Central … Joey Votto is a national treasure. In his first Spring Training interview of the Spring, Votto stated, “I tried to get fatter,” Votto said. “I succeeded at that, apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter.” Who needs best-shape-of-my-life anyway? After joking around (or was he being serious?) Votto went on to comment on the state of the Reds and his desire to improve the way he’s seen other teams in his division improve: signing veteran players. “I think at some point we’ll do something similar to that,” Votto said. “I can’t speak for the business side of things, but everything they’ve ever said is, ‘We have the money and we’ll make that sort of thing happen.'”
- Tim Lincecum – who’s attempting yet another comeback – reportedly has a guaranteed big league offer from a team that’s not the Giant – which means a reunion is unlikely at this point. But while I’m sure that last bit matters more to Giants fans, I’m just excited that we might get to see him pitch again. He was great back in the day, and everything since has been such a shame.
- Flipping coasts, the Washington Nationals have made a signing:
The Nationals have indeed signed Joaquin Benoit, pending physical. It's a major league deal. 1 year, $1 million. @jcrasnick had it first.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) February 19, 2018
- Although the Nationals project to have a really strong bullpen after their moves at midseason last year, they also have soooo many injury risks in the bullpen. Shoring it up: good idea.
- Meanwhile, after adding Andrew Cashner to the rotation earlier in the week, the Orioles have added (well, retained) another starter, free agent right-hander Chris Tillman, on a one-year Major league deal with a base salary of $3 million and escalators up to $10 million. I’d need to dig deeper to confirm my suspicion, but is anyone else noticing a lot more performance incentives than usual this offseason? Perhaps that was the way to bridge the gap between what players were asking for and what owners were willing to pay. As for the Orioles, in particular, they’ve now landed the two starters they’ve long sought. Tillman had previously been quite solid for the Orioles before a disastrous (and horribly-timed, given the arrival of free agency) 2017 season.
- It’s happening. It’s really happening. Jeffery Loria, the former owner of the Miami Marlins is being sued by the Mayor of Miami (well, you know, he’s not personally suing him) for not paying the city what he owes them upon the sale of the team and ballpark (which was paid for by taxpayers). Indeed, despite buying the team for around $158 million in 2002 and selling it for $1.2 BILLION, Loria claimed a “loss” of $140 million, which … come. on.
- At MLB.com, Anthony Castrovince writes that teams are starting their morning workouts an hour later than they used to so that the players could have more rest. In response, every baseball fan over the age of 60 simultaneously shook their fist at the sky while exclaiming “If I can get up at 4:00 am everyday, so can these bums!” Or, something to that effect.
- Former Rays face-of-the-franchise Evan Longoria had some sobering comments on the Rays questionable weekend moves, including the DFA of Corey Dickerson:
Evan Longoria on the Rays moves, including dumping Corey Dickerson: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. …I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) February 18, 2018
- And he was followed by current Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier:
#Rays Kiermaier on dumping Dickerson, Odorizzi: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why.” Then said it’s his responsibility to move on.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) February 19, 2018
- It’s all quite ugly and borderline indefensible for a Rays team that had MASTERED the art of trading away expensive aging players for their younger, cheaper counterparts in years past. But regardless of where you land on their recent series of moves, I think we can all agree it was a bad weekend to deploy this:
Announcing… The Ray Tank!
Our new blog will have behind-the-scenes stories, photos, and more.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) February 19, 2018
- Our old friend Tyler Colvin has signed a Minor League deal with the Dodgers. Having now looked it up, I think I forgot how well he hit during the 2010 season in Chicago (135 games): .254/.316/.500 (113 wRC+). That’s a big league bat right there. Unfortunately, he matched it just once, but that was all the way back in 2012 … and in Colorado. He last played in the Majors back in 2014.
- And finally, the Mets GM, Sandy Alderson, thinks Tim Tebow *will* play in the Major Leagues … which, wow:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 19, 2018
- Brett: Tebow brings out some strongly divided opinions, but I think it’s fair to say that (1) if he gets to the Majors, it won’t entirely be based on his ability, but (2) if he can hack it in the big leagues (or heck, the upper minors), you’ve gotta give the guy a heckuva lotta respect for pulling off a near impossible feat. To be away from the sport for as long as he was (a decade), and then try to hit high-level professional pitching? Get outta here. It’s hard enough for guys who’ve been working at it throughout their 20s. As for Tebow getting this opportunity largely based on his name and the attention he’ll bring the Mets? Eh. I really don’t think he’s squeezing another player out of a job at this point, so whatever. Give him all the looks you want, Mets, and get some attention. Who cares? It’s an interesting story when it’s not your team.