Miscellaneous bits from around MLB …
Alex Cobb Trade
Remember how often the Cubs were connected to Alex Cobb a few years ago? He was one of those “Of course, he’s going to sign with Chicago” guys leading into the 2018 offseason, because the Cubs had just hired his former pitching coach, Jim Hickey, and had his former manager, Joe Maddon. The rumors were aplenty. Well, Cobb, 33, went on to sign a 4-year, $57 million deal with the Orioles instead that winter (it seems the Cubs opted for Tyler Chatwood instead) – an agreement that didn’t really work out for the O’s, and that still has one year and $15M left.
He’ll be finishing it out with the Angels (and Maddon):
2B Jahmai Jones, the Angels’ second-round pick in 2015, is headed to the Orioles in the Alex Cobb trade, sources tell me and @FabianArdaya.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 1, 2021
Alex Cobb’s limited no-trade clause doesn’t seem to be a holdup in any deal with the Angels. It seems to be more about making the money work — especially with the Angels paying part of the $4.5M deferred. Angels part expected to be less than $7.5M total, though.
— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) February 1, 2021
The Angels rotation now features Cobb, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heany, Shohei Ohtani, Jose Quintana, Griffin Canning, and Jamie Barria, which is … a whole lot of meh. I really can’t get over how poorly they’re supplementing the roster that also features the prime of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Ohtani. It just seems like such a waste.
Then again, maybe that’s why we see things like this – upgrade where you can, especially if he’s a star framer now:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 29, 2021
When the Marlins designated Jordan Yamamoto for assignment, we briefly discussed the possibility of the Cubs landing him for nothing by grabbing him on waivers. Unfortunately, he never made it that far. The Mets have made an intra-divisional trade with Miami, sending Yamamoto to New York for minor league infielder Federico Polanco.
So that’s that. Clearly, there was plenty of interest in figuring things out with the 24-year-old right-hander.
We have acquired RHP Jordan Yamamoto from Miami in exchange for minor league infielder Federico Polanco. https://t.co/OIF1XgrJB1
— New York Mets (@Mets) February 1, 2021
Epstein Moving On Up
Theo Epstein’s year away from baseball sure includes a lot of stuff … not too far away from baseball. There is his new “consultant” role with the league, and now his even newer “executive-in-residence” role with Arctos Sports Partners have strong “honorary degree” and “work-from-home” vibes:
Frankly, I just like the idea of Epstein leaving an even more significant mark on this game in any capacity he’s able. He’s obviously quite smart and capable, but his unique perspective and loyalty to the bigger picture is exactly what baseball needs. From the inside, to the outside, Epstein is doing his best to save the league. And if he gets a little taste of the ownership experience along the way, that figures to help him in a future quest to own part of a team or, who knows, become Commissioner.
Dustin Pedroia Retires
After 14 seasons in MLB (all with the Red Sox, and most of them excellent), second baseman Dustin Pedroia is finally retiring at age of 37.
He had one hell of an impressive career, including a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP award, four All-Star nods, four Gold Gloves, and one Silver Slugger award. He also won the World Series twice, and peaked with a 7.9 WAR season in 2011, during which he slashed .307/.387/.474 (133 wRC+). Altogether, Pedroia earned 46.6 WAR over his career, which was shortened by knee injuries from which he just couldn’t recover.
So the question now, I suppose, is will it be enough for entrance into the Hall of Fame?
Dustin Pedroia: Hall of Fame candidate?
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) February 1, 2021
I think eventually, yes, he will/should make it in, but I don’t think he’ll be a first-ballot guy. But the peak, the rings, the awards, the long tenure on just one team … it all just kinda screams Hall of Fame, no? When he probably would’ve accumulated much more if not for the injuries, and was still so great for a decade? Am I off here? FanGraphs had him as a borderline guy a few years ago, but unfortunately, his career sort of fizzled out after that. We’ll see.
MLB Operations Hirings
Theo Epstein isn’t the only move Major League Baseball has made to improve the product on the field. They’re also hiring some former players (and one other former president/GM, Michael Hill) to help improve the product on the field, and I’m very here for that. The effort towards diversity is not lost on me either.
MLB announced the hirings of Michael Hill, Raul Ibañez, Joe Martinez, Rajai Davis and Bo Porter to its Baseball Operations Department. pic.twitter.com/oOZGCoQ1HE
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) February 1, 2021
You can read more about their specific roles right here, but this is the gist:
The league has announced that both Hill and Ibanez have been named senior vice presidents of on-field operations. Specifically, Hill will oversee umpiring and on-field disciplinary matters at both the major league and minor league level. Ibanez, meanwhile, will focus on issues pertaining to rules, equipment and on-field technology.
Beyond that pairing, the league also has hired former outfielder Rajai Davis as a director of on-field operations, where he’ll share that title with recent retirees Nick Hundley and Gregor Blanco. Davis will focus on rule changes and amateur baseball. Per the league’s announcement, Davis will also focus on “mentorship of minority players as they progress through amateur baseball and the minor leagues.”
I just can’t emphasize it enough: Yes. More of this. More former players. More diversity. More flexibility. More openness. More Fernando Tatis, Jr.
Now we’re talking, MLB. Keep going this direction. Market the players. Prioritize the players. Value your players.
That’s who we love. pic.twitter.com/xI1ANB9bm4
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 1, 2021
Odds and Ends
• Do you think you can name the 20 largest contracts in MLB history without looking (includes extensions)? MLB Trade rumors has them all listed here and considering how recent most of them were, it’s not actually all that hard. But there are some interesting revelations. For example, the top-10 largest contracts (it’s actually 11, because there’s a tie) were handed out by nine different teams (Yankees and Angels each have two). That’s a little surprising, right? And how about this: The top-20 largest contracts of all-time were signed by 14 different teams: Angels (3), Dodgers (2), Yankees (2), Nationals (2), Tigers (2), Phillies, Marlins, Padres, Rangers, Mariners, Rockies, Reds, Red Sox, Diamondbacks. The Cubs largest ever contract was given to Jason Heyward ($184M), which comes in just behind #20 on the list (Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks ~$194M after deferrals).
• So … is baseball happening this month, or?
Source confirms: LECOM Park will have fans — 25% capacity — for Pirates spring training games this spring. @RobBiertempfel was first with the news.
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) February 1, 2021
• Yesterday was a legendary baseball day:
Three absolute baseball legends were born on January 31st: Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, and Nolan Ryan. pic.twitter.com/ni53BoNOdw
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) January 31, 2021
Remembering the great Ernie Banks on his birthday! #LetsPlayTwo
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) January 31, 2021
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 31, 2021