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Around the Horn: News & Notes 1/13

Welcome in! Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time in reading about everything that happened in the last week around the MLB. The news comes out every Wednesday for now until we get into spring training, and we may need to increase as we get into the spring. I recently had my "Why I Love Baseball" piece published with Authenticity Mags if you missed it. You can check that out here. Also, I will be publishing my future and present series, which was a huge hit last season, and my top fantasy baseball targets at each position. Today, we got league news, free agent signings, rumors and notes, trade announcements and rumors, injury updates, and prospect buzz.

League News:

-The MLB sends a memo to teams saying fans should social distance with masks, but vaccinations will not be required. This means the MLB is preparing for fans like you and me to be at the ballpark again in 2021! YES!!!!

-Last March, the Angels dismissed visiting clubhouse manager Brian "Bubba" Harkins amidst allegations he'd been providing opposing teams' pitchers foreign substances to aid their grip on the baseball. Harkins responded by filing a defamation action against both the organization and Major League Baseball. The Angels and MLB filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit last November. To learn more about this situation, check out LA Times Mike Digiovanna's full report here.

-Why can't all baseball start on time? The MLB informed teams at the AA and A levels that their seasons will be delayed. Baseball America's JJ Cooper said the following: "MLB wants to mitigate the number of overall bodies sharing space at spring training facilities. With that in mind, players at the Double-A and Single-A levels will wait until Major League players and those slated for Triple-A have departed their facilities. Presumably, that means Triple-A will aim for a more traditional start to their season." The season is expected to run until Oct 3rd with no Playoffs for any of the Minor Leagues.

-Upon hearing that some teams were planning on opening up their facilities to allow players to train, MLB sent a memo to all thirty clubs setting clear guidelines for opening training facilities, per Nightengale. The only players who will be allowed in their team facilities before spring training, Nightengale writes, live near the facilities, those with specific health needs, and those approved in the CBA to attend club mini-camps. Violations will be subject to severe punishment. Of course, what that means is all relative. MLB is trying to get ahead of any potential outbreaks in January or February that would complicate initial protocols.

In sad news, the Dodgers announced this morning that Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda passed away last night. He was 93 years old.

"In a franchise that has celebrated such great legends of the game, no one who wore the uniform embodied the Dodger spirit as much as Tommy Lasorda," president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. "A tireless spokesman for baseball, his dedication to the sport and the team he loved was unmatched. He was a champion who, at critical moments, seemingly willed his teams to victory. The Dodgers and their fans will miss him terribly. Tommy is quite simply irreplaceable and unforgettable." We lost a great one; my condolences to the Lasorda family, Dodger nation, and all MLB fans.

-With the Mets trade of Lindor and Carrasco, the Indians now carry a projected $40mil payroll into 2021. With no players officially under contract come the end of the season. Jose Ramirez does carry a club option. Buckle up Cleveland; it's going to be a bumpy and rough ride back atop the AL Central.

-RHP Hisashi Iwakuma rejoined the Seattle Mariners as a special assignment coach; he will report to GM Jerry Dipoto. "In his new role, Iwakuma will work with Mariners pitchers and pitching instructors at all levels," the team explained. "He will periodically visit the team's minor league affiliates during the season, as well as spending time with the Major League team." Additionally, Iwakuma will assist Mariners scout Manabu Noto in his homeland of Japan.

League News Updates:

-Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told teams Monday to expect spring training to begin on time in February and for a 162-game regular season to occur, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Still, the league and its players have other matters to hash out soon, Nightengale writes, with health and safety protocols, the universal DH, and expanded playoffs among them.

-"Perhaps to an unprecedented degree, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Agents fear GMs are intentionally obtuse their payrolls to delay signings and inspire an ecosystem of desperation among players. The lack of face-to-face meetings might also be making the frigid environment easier for teams to maintain, suggests Nightengale." Lets' unpack this for half a second as it's enormous. I believe we saw something similar to this in 2019, and the MLBPA spoke out against these actions from GM's and called them on it. I hate to admit how true this looks for everyone but the Mets and Royals so far this winter. However, in the CBA, we should expect there to start being more deadlines for free-agents to sign by in the winter with more structure to prevent such from happening.

Free Agent Signings:

-The NPB/KBO signings from the MLB are about 50 players as of now. Let's add OF Stefen Romero, OF Rusney Castillo, RHP Wes Parsons,

-NPB Ace Tomoyuki Sugano wasn't signed to a deal before his posting window closed on Jan 7th. He will be available next winter for teams to bid on once again. The Padres, Giants, Mets, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Rangers were unable to sign him away from the Yomiuri Giants.

--KBO Sung-Bum Na also didn't sign with, and MLB team before his posting window closed on the 9th. Sugano and Na will both be available for teams next winter.

-The White Sox got themselves a new closer in Liam Hendricks. They inked the RHP to a 3yr $54mil guaranteed contract with a 4th-year option worth $15mil/$15mil buyout that can be paid out over multiple years. The deal is the largest given to a free agent yet this winter. The 31yo Hendricks was terrific in 2019-20, posting a 1.66ERA, 33.1% strikeout-walk, 39/47sv, and AL Reliever of the Year in 2020.

-The Astros signed RHP Ryne Stanek; between 2018-19 with the Rays, he posted a 3.17ERA, 28.9% strikeout rate over 122IP. He struggled in 2020, posting a 7.20ERA, 8BB, 11K over 10IP with the Marlins. His fastball velo dropped from 98MPH-96MPH.

-The Washington Nationals signed OF Kyle Schwarber to a 1yr $10mil deal that includes an $11mil mutual option for 2022. The deal makes sense for Schwarber, who has hit .234/.337/.492 with 94HR in 1606PA between 2017-19. 2020 was dismal for Schwarber, much like most of the Cub's offense as he only slashed .188/.308/.393 with 11HR over 224PA. We should see Joto move to RF, while Schwarber plays LF but could also find himself at 1B.

-The Milwaukee Brewers signed INF Daniel Robertson to a 1yr deal. His ability to plat 2B, 3B, SS, 1B, and both corner OF spots will help him remain a backup INF option.

Free Agents Rumors:

-The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Yankees. Money isn't everything, and when you are trying to re-sign by the best player on the roster for the last two seasons, you may not want to be up to any antics. DJ LeMahieu has "asked his representatives to re-engage with teams that have previously shown the most interest…and to reconnect with teams that reached out early in the free-agent period." That group includes the Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, Red Sox, Astros, Nationals.

-FA OF George Springer is reportedly asking for $175mil; it had been reported he was looking for $150mil over 4/5 seasons. The Blue Jay has offered him a 5yr, $115mil contract in that range.

-The Padres are discussing an extension with Fernando Tatis Jr. The extension is being rumored as an 11yr $320mil pact. The deal would lock Tatis Jr in through 2031. However, Tatis is unsure of the length of the contract. The most likely outcome is 10yr worth of $210-230mil.

Free Agent Notes:

-I wouldn't expect some of the top DH names like Nelson Cruz, Marcell Ozuna, and Michael Brantley to sign or have more buzz until a firm answer on the Universal DH in 2021.

-The Boston Red Sox shows serious interest in FA Jake Odorizzi, who is expected to sign a deal ranging from $36-$42mil guaranteed over three seasons.

-FA Closer Brad Hand had drawn interest from the Astros, White Sox, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Mets.

--He was offered a 1yr deal from the Mets, but he is seeking a 2yr deal.

-The Dodgers are also looking for RH hitting INF. Justin Turner, Kike Hernandez, DJ LeMahieu, and even Nolan Arenado seem the Dodgers' most prominent targets.

-The Twins and Nationals are interested in Nelson Cruz, Michael Brantley, Kyle Schwarber, and Marcell Ozuna.

-The KC Royals are looking to add an LH bat as one of their final moves this winter.

-The Astros are looking to add to their pen after losing Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock, and Chris Devenski to free agency. They have been in talks with Brad Hand, Trevor Rosenthal, Liam Hendricks, and Alex Colome.

-The Braves are looking for an LF; while they love to sign Marcell Ozuna, they could look to sign Adam Duvall, Kevin Pillar, Albert Almore Jr, Cameron Maybin. The team could also look into Joc Pederson and even Ryan Braun should he decide to play outside of Milwaulkee.

-The Phillies could be looking to add SP Anibal Sanchez to their pitching staff. The 37yo vet would allow an opportunity for top pitching prospect Spencer Howard not to be rushed along.

Official Trades:

-STEVE COHEN, you did it. You made your first on many big moves and started the domino effect for big names to keep moving. On 1/7, the Mets out of nowhere acquired SS Francisco Lindor and RHP Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland for INF Andres Gimenez, SS Amed Rosario, RHP Josh Wolf, and OF Isaiah Greene. The Mets are also already talking about how they want to extend Lindor. To recap the Mets' headliner, he is a 4x All-Star, 2x Gold Glove, 2x Silver Slugger with a .285/.346/.488 slash over 6 MLB seasons. Carrasco 11 seasons ended with the trade as he leaves with a 3.77ERA, 25.5K%, over 1242.1IP. The Indians are getting a former top-10 MLB prospect in Rosario as he posted a .322/.353/.453 slash in 372PA down the stretch in 2019, followed by a dismal .252/.272/.371 slash in 147PA, which lead to Gimenez getting his first 132PA slashing a .263/.333/.398. Gimenez is considered a better fielder than Rosario and could get first dibs at SS, while Rosario could slide over and play 2B or the OF. Wolf carries a curveball and fastball that grade out as a 60 on the 20-80 scale by scouts; he was a 2019 2nd round pick by the Mets. Greene was a 2nd round pick in 2020, which is only 19yo who has a contact-oriented approach at the plate. Greene draws an MLB comp to Michael Brantley as a hitter.

--Lindor is open to talking extension with the Mets's but he will not negotiate during the season.

-The Cincinnati Reds acquired RHP Art Warren from the Rangers in exchange for Cash Considerations. Warren is an excellent fit for the Reds, who needed a pen piece after trades this winter. They got a guy who is 27yo and costs no more than the league minimum in terms of salary. Warren had a 60.3% groundball rate at the AA level in 2019 in 31.2IP, with a 32% strikeout rate.

-The Yankees acquired OF Greg Allen from the Padres in exchange for LHRP James Reeves. The speedy Allen carries a .239/.298/.343 slash line over 618PA over the last four seasons. Reeves has a legit shot at making the Padres pen after logging a 1.79ERA with a 27.7% strikeout rate and a 43% groundball rate over 55.1IP.

-The Phillies have acquired RHP Sam Coonrod from the Giants in exchange for pitching prospect Carson Ragsdale. Coonrod debuted in 2019, posting a 3.58ERA over 27.2IP; 2020 was unforgiving to Coonrod as he posted a 9.82ERA over 14.2IP. Ragsdale was selected in the 4th round of the 2020 draft. The Giants are getting a pitcher who had Tommy John surgery and who scouts aren't sure will be an SP because of the lack of games in 2020. He posted a 3.75ERA, 33.6%K over 50.1IP at the NCAA level.

Trade Rumors:

-The Angels could have their eyes on Cubs Cather Willson Contreras. No deal is imminent, but Joe Maddon would love to have his World Series starting catcher with him in LA.

-The Mets had "recent trade talks" with the Cubs focusing around Kris Bryant. We do not know if these talks were before or after the Lindor trade. The Blue Jays also checked in on Bryant

-The Red Sox are floating OF Andrew Benintendi in trade talks. The club has been in "serious trade talks" about moving the LF. The Marlins are one of the teams that have checked in on Benintendi. The Oakland A's, Astros, Rival execs have no doubt the Red Sox Benintendi will be moved by the weekend.

-The Reds are taking calls on 3B Eugenio Suarez, 2B Mike Moustakas and OF Nicholas Castellanos, while only Suarez has generated any interest.

Injury Updates:

-The Twins, Cubs, and Tigers will also be at Corey Kluber's showcase today, 1/13.

-Free-agent RHP Colling McHugh will throw in front of interested teams on Jan 16th

-Free-agent 1B CJ Cron has been cleared for full activity and should be ready for spring training. The 31yo Cron would be an excellent option for any team who signs him as he brings in above-average offensive production with a .257/.312/.464 slash with 118HR in 2586PA.

-Astros RHP Austin Pruitt was cleared to begin throwing activities after undergoing elbow surgery in September. He hasn't been able to begin the program after a positive COVID test. He will most likely miss most spring training and opening day but should be ready sometime in 2021.

-Red Sox SP Chris Sale could take the mound sometime in January for the first time since Tommy John's surgery last March. Significant progress and great news for Red Sox Nation.

Prospect Buzz:

Red Sox fans, remember Bradley Blalock? He was drafted in the 32nd round in 2019. He has added 10ILBs on and 6MPH on his fastball. The 20yo will be one to watch this spring.

Red Sox fans, another name to pay attention to this spring is Nick Yorke; he posses excellent bat speed, pitch recognition, and discipline to become a 20HR and .300BA type of player. Yorke was the 17th overall selection in the 2020 draft.

Thank you guys for being with me today. I hope you enjoyed the blog today. Please stay tuned through the winter; we have more Around the Horn, Yearly Reviews, Ball Boy Talk, and of course, the Podcast. Don't forget to share with a friend and until next time Ball boys & girls.

Thanks for reading today, I am so grateful for your time reading, and I hope you enjoyed reviewing the winners as much as I have. I also want to thank my partners over at Repp Sports for RAZE Energy. Thanks to this clean and sufficient energy, I can have the intense focus to deliver content to you guys consistently. Click here to save 15% right now with the code "BALL BOY" at check out.

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