MLBits: Even Trout Feared Free Agency, Four-Man Outfields Coming, Indians Injuries, Thor, More

Hey! I’ve got good news!

The Chicago Cubs PECOTA projections have improved! They’re totally going to win 80(!) games, now. Sweet, right? What a relief. I was worried for a minute there. So glad to see reason restored to our regular season projections.

Here’s some news from around the league …

  • When even Mike Trout is a little, tiny-bit worried about getting a deal in free agency, you know things have gone way off the rails:
  • The fact that Trout said “I kind of saw what Bryce and Manny went through and it drew a red flag for me” is really telling. That basically confirms part of our suspicions that at least some of these extensions this Spring have been born out of fear of having to go through free agency. When the best player in baseball (history?) takes that stance, how can anyone else feel any better about their chances to get a fair deal? And for what it’s worth, Justin Verlander echoed a similar sentiment at The Washington Post, when he said the reason he extended with Houston was because he couldn’t see a better outcome in free agency. That’s not necessarily supposed to be the case.
  • Reminder, here are some of the extensions we’ve seen already this offseason/Spring Training: Alex BregmanEloy JimenezAaron NolaMax KeplerJorge PolancoLuis SeverinoNolan ArenadoMike TroutPaul GoldschmidtMiles Mikolas, Blake Snell, Justin Verlander, and Chris Sale.
  • But back to Trout for a second. The 2019 Center Field Projections from FanGraphs create quite the visual:
  • Whenever we think of defensive shifts, we usually think of putting more players on the left or right side of the field, depending on whom is standing at the plate. But in 2019, Mike Petriello believes you might see a different type of shift: four outfielders. The Reds, it seems, might be one of the teams who do it the most this season (they did it against Kris Bryant, Cody Asche and Jose Ramirez already this Spring), but other teams have been signaling their intentions, too. And with the fly ball revolution potentially reaching a tipping point, this might be the right call against certain players. We’ll see. Recall, the Cubs tried it once a couple years ago against Joey Votto, who doubled anyway.
  • Indians star Jose Ramirez fouled a ball off his left knee yesterday and was carted off the field. Fortunately, his X-rays were negative, but there is still no timetable for his return. Unfortunately, Ramirez might be one of the toughest people to replace in all of baseball. He may be just 26 years old, but he’s posted back-to-back seasons of a 146 wRC+ and was worth 8.0 WAR last year, alone – that’s a little better that Bryant’s 2016 MVP campaign. And is if that wasn’t enough, second baseman Jason Kipnis and shortstop Francisco Lindor are both dealing with right calf strains, which will keep them out on Opening Day. Yikes. Talk about a nightmare. That would be like the Cubs going into the season without Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Ben Zobrist. Oof.
  • Speaking of Lindor, Indians owner Paul Dolan dropped some disappointing (for Indians fans) comments, recently: “Enjoy him,” Dolan said when asked what he would advise fans to do about Lindor’s future. “We control him for three more years. Enjoy him and then we’ll see what happens.” Dolan added that he can see the Indians handing out the sort of $300M deals that are now required for players of Lindor’s talent … when other teams are handing out billion dollar deals. In other words, it ain’t happening. Funny enough: the Dolan family bought the entire team for just $323M back in 2000. Now, that’s not even enough for 13 years of Bryce Harper.
  • Miguel Cabrera may be quickly approaching his 36th birthday, but he has no plans of slowing down and still sees batting titles and MVP awards in his future. As The Athletic points out, it would be difficult for him to win such awards, but not unprecedented – and, of course, we are talking about one of the best hitters in recent memory. So, who knows? I’d love to see it.
  • Well, this is awesome: Phillies fans are planning on a takeover of Nationals Park for Bryce Harper’s first return to D.C..
  • Noah Syndergaard is mad that the Mets haven’t given Jacob deGrom the contract extension he both wants and deserves: “Jake’s the best pitcher in baseball right now. I think he deserves whatever amount he’s worth. I want to keep him happy, so when it does come time for him to reach free agency, he stays on our side pitching for the Mets. I just think they should quit all this fuss and pay the man already,” Syndergaard told reporters.
  • Former Cub Dan Straily has been designated for assignment by the Marlins:
  • Straily isn’t great or anything, but he’s only 30 years old and posted an above average ERA last season. The Marlins love saving money to use on nothing. He’ll probably land with the Brewers and dominate because whatever.
  • Yankees reliever Phillip Diehl was traded to the Rockies on Saturday, but he apparently thought it was a prank, because he cut CC Sabathia in line for a haircut. That’s a real story.
  • And finally: I jumped on the Cubs Related Podcast yesterday to talk everything from Ian Happ, to the Cubs offense, offseason, rotation, expectations, and more.
  • written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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