I only knew the man through his work at ESPN, but you can see the outpouring of love for Jeff Dickerson, who just passed away of colon cancer at age 44. As awful as that is, his wife also passed away from cancer only a couple years earlier, leaving behind their 11-year-old son. I can only imagine the road Parker Dickerson has ahead, and while financial support isn’t the only kind he’ll need, it is one thing that a community can help take off his plate.
• The Rockies ZiPS projections are out, and although that mostly means you get to shake your head at just how rough things look, it also means with get Trevor Story’s ZiPS for 2022: .270/.340/.504, 110 OPS+, 3.6 WAR (far lower than Carlos Correa). It’s about what you’d expect given the last two years, and it is probably another data point that raises questions on whether he can/could/should get a huge 5+ year deal. If you believe the defense comes back, then he’s a guy you’d love to have at shortstop for that period of time – even a league-average bat there, with some pop and good baserunning, is really valuable if paired with above-average defense at short. But how eager are you to take that chance and lock yourself in for a while in those age 29-33+ seasons? We’ve discussed Story as a fallback option for the Cubs on Carlos Correa, and it feels all the more like my response is, “yeah, sure, on a two or three-year deal of surprising value.” But I suspect he’ll either get more than that, or will return to the Rockies on a one-year deal to try to beef his stock back up.
• Shohei Ohtani’s unbelievable 2021 performance netted him another honor:
BREAKING: Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar for the Los Angeles Angels, is the AP Male Athlete of Year.
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) December 28, 2021
• Other MLB players who’ve landed the award over the past few decades: Jose Altuve (2017), Madison Bumgarner (2014), Barry Bonds (2001), Mark McGwire (1998), Cal Ripken Jr. (1995), Orel Hershiser (1988), and Dwight Gooden (1985).
• This MLBTR piece is about how much the Reds would likely want to be rid of the final three years of Eugenio Suarez’s deal after his extremely rough turn the last two years. To me, though, it’s another reminder that even extensions that are decried at the time as far too team friendly – this one was, I remember it well – can wind up being a well-considered avoidance of risk for the player. Had Suarez played it year to year, he probably would have made a couple million more in arbitration than he did, but he also would’ve hit free agency after the pandemic year. That was his first down season, but MLBTR’s read digs in on his 2019 numbers, and apparently the red flags had already started to surface. Does he get a four-year, $50 million deal at that point to top what he’s getting on this extension? It’s conceivable, but far from a lock. And in exchange for not having to worry about that risk, he gave up some financial upside that it turns out he was never going to realize. In other words, as much as the Reds might wish they could be rid of the deal now, and as much as Suarez might wish he’d gone to free agency and done a little better a year ago, this actually looks like a deal that nailed the risks/benefits on each side. Since he got the guarantee and wouldn’t have obviously done better without signing, you’d probably call it a “win” for Suarez, I guess. But it looks fine overall.
• Anyway, of note going forward is that the Reds still owe Suarez $34 million (plus a $2 million buyout) over the next three years, and it’s not clear that they’re going to get starter-level production from him over those age 30-32 seasons. It’s not a major hit, even for the Reds, but it’s a chunk they’d love to be using another way. I guess they just have to hope for a surprising rebound, at which point they would sprint to move him, I suspect.
• Speaking of contracts, Michael had a little fun on Twitter digging into which former Cubs have made the most in their careers through 2021, and my guess at the top spot would’ve been off by about $12 million. I thought it would be Jon Lester ($192M), but it’s actually Cole Hamels ($204M). I underestimated how big his original deal with the Phillies was, and how much more he made post-deal with the Cubs and Braves, relative to Lester so far. The next former Cubs on the list? Alfonso Soriano ($167M), John Lackey ($154M), and Greg Maddux ($152M). I’m thinking Maddux’s inflation-adjusted number would actually smoke all of these, but I’m no economist.
• Any current players gonna get up there on that list in the coming years? Javy Báez and Kris Bryant would do it in the coming years if no other earnings pass them, and Jason Heyward will do it by the end of his contract. If the Cubs bring in Albert Pujols for a Spring Training tryout, does that count? By the way, funny to see this list and then think about the Cubs offering $300+ million to Carlos Correa – 50% more than any player who’s ever worn a Cubs uniform has made in his entire career.
• One word to describe Barry Zito’s curveball is majestic:
69 Seconds of Barry Zito Curveballs. 😍 pic.twitter.com/Uth8lJeHaz
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 28, 2021
• This is stupid, but technically true:
Fun fact: the Cleveland Guardians currently have the longest AND the shortest championship drought in baseball.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 28, 2021
• Another football passing:
NFL Icon John Madden is Dead at Age 85https://t.co/TRtHAqQ9Q1
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) December 29, 2021
• The year DeMar DeRozan is having at age 32 is ridiculous:
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 28, 2021