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Around the Horn- News & Notes 1/20

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

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. To check out last week's news, click here.

Side note: there is a ton of news today as it has been an EXCITING week! Don't forget to share with a friend! This Friday, we are publishing the first-ever Fantasy Dugout piece! So stay tuned! We also started our very own weekly Power Rankings

League News:

-It appears to me that Theo Epstein could be on his way to be the next MLB commish. Theo Epstein has joined the commissioner's office as a consultant to Rob Manfred. Specifically, Epstein will focus his efforts on "on-field matters," including (but presumably not limited to) the effects that proposed rule changes would bring about. I am excited for Epstein in his role in the MLB Front Office, and I think he could quickly become the next MLB commish

-Mets GM Jared Porter sent unsolicited, explicit text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while a member of the Cubs front office. Mets president Sandy Alderson told ESPN: "I have spoken directly with Jared Porter regarding events that took place in 2016 of which we were made aware tonight for the first time. Jared has acknowledged his serious error in judgment, has taken responsibility for his conduct, has expressed remorse, and has previously apologized for his actions. The Mets take these matters seriously, expect professional and ethical behavior from all of our employees, and certainly do not condone the conduct described in your story. We will follow up as we review the facts regarding this serious issue."

The Mets named Porter their GM on Dec. 13. It's not yet clear whether they will retain him. As of 1/18

As of 1/19, Mets owner Steve Cohen announced on Twitter this morning that the organization has terminated general manager Jared Porter following last night's revelation that he had harassed a female reporter in 2016 via a string of 60-plus unreturned text messages, which included unsolicited, explicit images. "In my initial press conference, I spoke about the importance of integrity, and I meant it," writes Cohen. "There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior." Porter's tenure lasted all 37 days, marking the second consecutive winter in which the Mets have hired and fired a critical organizational leader within mere weeks. The Met's will look to hire a new GM next winter.

-Why is it EVERY week lately that there is sad news! Baseball Hall of Famer Don Sutton has passed away, his son Daron announced Tuesday. The former major league right-hander was 75 years old. Sutton is tied with fellow legend Nolan Ryan for 14th in wins and ranks seventh in innings pitched with 5282 and a 3.26ERA, 3574K, and was a 4x All-Star. The Ball Boy Blog mourns the loss of another one's baseball tremendous player and sends our condolences to Sutton's family and friends.

-Former MLB LHP Danny Hultzen has officially retired from playing, but he will remain in the game as a member of the Cubs' front office. Hultzen will work as a pitching development assistant under Cubs assistant general manager/vice president of pitching Craig Breslow.

-The Blue Jays president and chief executive officer Mark Shapiro agreed to a five-year extension.

League News Updates:

-MLB hopes to bring back seven-inning doubleheaders and the runner-on-second-base extra-inning rule, writes USA Today's, Bob Nightengale. The league is advocating for a continuation of these rules, precisely for fear of the coronavirus continuing to affect the schedule. The league also favors keeping the universal DH and expanded playoffs, though those issues are still being discussed. No rule changes are made official, of course, until the league agrees with the MLBPA.

-The Rays are planning to allow roughly 7,000 fans per game in 2021, socially distanced and wearing masks, of course, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays are prepping best to allow fans in for games, but it will still come down to getting approval from MLB and government authorities. The Rays hope to have more information about ticketing ready before the end of February.

Free Agent Signings:

-The NY Yankees caved to DJ, telling his agent to re-engage with interested teams as the two sides agreed on 1/15 to a 6yr $90mil guaranteed deal. The deal keeps the 3x All-Star, 3x Gold Glove, 2x Silver Slugger, AL/NL Batting champ under contract until his age 38 seasons. Massive win for the Yankees!

--The Blue Jays had a 4yr $78mil offer on the table for DJ.

-It is okay the Blue Jays missed out on DJ because they got their man, the next face of the franchise, vet leader, and superstar in OF Geroge Springer. Springer signed a 6yr $150mil deal with the Jay's on 1/19. Springer has thrived in his career thus far as he is a 3x All-Star. Springer has 3567PA with a .270/.361/.491 slash with 174HR. The move is exactly what I thought Springer would do. He is now the franchise's face, playing with a young core, playing on a competitive team, and is the vet-leader and presence in the locker room. The deal is also the richest in Blue Jays history passing Vernon Wells $126mil.

--The Jays still want to sign OF/DH Michael Brantley, a good friend of Springer, and the same organization represents them.

-The Blue Jays also signed RHRP Kirby Yates to a 1yr $5.5mil guarantee with up to $4.5mil in performance bonuses. If the bounce back goes to plan, he could produce numbers similar to 2018-19 when he pitched 123.2IP with a 1.67ERA with 53SV and an NL leading 41 in 2019.

-The LA Angels finally signed an SP in LHP Jose Quintana to a 1yr $8mil contract. Quintana has thrown 1495IP with a 3.73ERA since the start of his career in 2012. He missed most of last season with the Cubs due to a thumb injury; before that, he had seven straight seasons with 170+IP.

-The Yankees also signed SP Corey Kluber to a 1yr $11mil deal. The move helps the Yankees re-fill the rotation with James Paxton, JA Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka depart in free agency. The Yankees are hoping Kluber can produce similar numbers to 2014-18 that saw him average 218IP, 2.85ERA, 28.5% K rate, 5.2% BB rate.

-The Washington Nationals signed LHP Jon Lester to a 1yr $mil deal with a mutual option for 2022. Lesters last two seasons in a Cubs uniform weren't great as he posted a 4.64ERA over 232.2IP. He looks to be coming in as one of the best 4th options in a rotation in all of baseball.

-The Toronto Blue Jays signed RHP Tyler Chatwood to a 1yr deal worth up to $5.5mil in incentives. The 31yo owns a lifetime 4.40 ERA/4.83 FIP with a 16.8% K rate against an 11.8% BB rate in 846 2/3 innings.

-The Boston Red Sox signed LHP Martin Perez to a 1yr $4.5mil deal with a $6mil option for 2020. Pérez fills a big hole as a safe bet to eat innings. He ably handled that post in 2020 for the Red Sox, averaging more than five innings per start over 12 outings. He had a 4.50 ERA/4.88 FIP with just a 17.6 percent strikeout rate, 10.7 percent walk rate, and 38.5 percent groundball rate.

-The LA Angels signed 37yo C Kurt Suzuki to a 1yr $1.5mil deal. Over the past three years, Suzuki has hit .268/.332/.453 in 826 plate appearances between Atlanta and the Nationals. The signing gives the Angels a bat-first option over Max Stassi and Anthony Bemboom. Stassi is a glove-first option.

-The Giants signed LHP Alex Wood to a one-year $3mil with up to $3mil in performance bonuses. Wood had a tough couple of seasons in 2019; he battled back issues and only pitched 35.2IP of 5.80ERA. The Dodgers signed him one year ago, and he struggled with shoulder problems and only tossed 12.2IP with 9ER. He rebounded nicely in the World Series, pitching 6.2IP with 1R, 8K, and 3BB.

--The Giants were also connected to Jon Lester, James Paxton, and Jose Quintana as other LHP options.

-The Phillies signed RHRP Archie Bradley to a 1yr $6mil contract on 1/14. Bradley was non-tendered by the Reds after pitching 7.2IP with 1ER, 6K, 0BB, 4H. Overall on the 2020 season, he posted a 2.95ERA, 24.7% K rate, 4.1% walk rate over 18.1IP

-The Mets signed UTIL Jose Martinez to a split contract. He will make $1mil with $500k in additional incentives if he makes the MLB Roster and $225K in the minors. 2020 wasn't kind to Martinez as he slashed .182/.265/.295 over 98PA. However, 2017-19 was great as he hit .294/.361/.458 with 41HR over 1270PA. Should he make the MLB roster, he will be an excellent depth piece.

-RHP Pedro Baez has agreed to a 2yr $12.5mil deal with the Houston Astros with a 3rd-year club option. Baez has shown to be a reliable late-inning reliever as he owns a 3.03ERA, 25.3% strikeout rate, and an 8.2% walk rate over 356IP between 2014-20 with the Dodgers.

-Notable International Signings: OF Yoelqui Cespedes(White Sox), RHP Norge Vera(White Sox), SS Armando Cruz(Nationals), OF Pedro Leon(Astros), SS Manuel Beltre(Blue Jays), OF Pedro Pineda(Athletics), SS Carlos Colmenarez(Rays), SS Cristian Hernandez(Cubs), Of Shalin Polanco(Pirates), SS Cristian Santana(Tigers), SS Danny De Andrada(Twins), SS Denzer Guzman(Angels), SS Yiddi Cappe(Marlins)

The NPB/KBO signings from the MLB are about 55 players as of now, and let's add Cory Spangenberg.

Free Agent Rumors:

-The JTR market may be coming to a close. With DJ off the board as the rest of the big-name free-agents likely to follow suit. The Phillies made the MLB premier catcher a 5yr $100mil offer as reported on 1/16, and as of writing this news the same day, the contract has been not yet been accepted. The Phillies are the front runner with the Yankees not having the money and Gary Sanchez, Angels signed Kurt Suzuki, and the Rangers shedding payroll and the Blue Jays still connected, but more focus on OF George Springer.

-Speaking of Springer and the Blue Jays, the club has reportedly offered him a deal in the 5yr, $100mil+ range. No deal has been signed yet. The fallback option or additional option is Michael Brantley.

-One of the most iconic catchers of the last two decades, Yadier Molina, remains at a stalemate with the Cardinals, who won't budge on making a two-year offer. Molina suggests that he feels he could retire with his head held high after a terrific 17-year career if he doesn't receive the right offer. Molina made clear that he's still working out, getting ready as if he'll play in 2021.

-The Cardinals have made offers to re-sign both Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said during an interview as part of the Cards' "Winter Warm-Up" event (done virtually this year).

Free Agent Notes:

-FA Masahiro Tanaka is seeking a 1yr $15-$20mil deal from his next team. He will likely pitch outside of NY now that the Yankees signed Kluber. He also hasn't ruled out returning to the NPB to pitch.

-The Phillies are eyeing SS Freddy Galvis. However, they are still very much in on Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien.

-FA RHP Joakim Soria has drawn quite a bit of interest from the Mariners, Blue Jays, Angels, Astros, Athletics, and Rangers, all showing varying interest levels in the 36yo.

-The Yankees are still interested in bringing back 37yo Brett Gardner but only have about $6mil or so left in payroll if they want to avoid the luxury tax.

-The Red Sox should still be looking to add to the rotation and add Garrett Richards, Matt Moore, or Jake Odorizzi.

--Odorizzi has been contacted by several teams, including the Red Sox, Twins, and others.

-After missing on Kluber, the Rays could be looking at Chris Archer as they need veteran rotation additions.

-The Dodgers checked in on FA Marcus Semien and have considered him at 3B.

-FA Jeremy Jeffress is on the Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Nationals, and Blue Jays radars.

-The Mets have looked at CF Albert Almora Jr.

-FA Trevor Rosenthal is still talking with the Padres.

Official Trades:

-The Hot Stove finally got hot, and we got another BIG TRADE-IN! The Padres acquired RHP Joe Musgrove from the Pirates; The NY Mets acquired LHP Joey Lucchesi, The Pirates received OF Hudson Head, LHP Omar Cruz, RHP David Bednar, RHP Drake Fellows, C/OF Endy Rodriquez. The Padres get the 28yo Musgrove, who just threw 39.2IP of 3.86ERA with a 14.4% swinging-strike rate and 33.1% K rate. The Mets got an excellent 4th/5th starter option in Lucchesi, who recorded ERAs in the 4.00s in 2018 and '19 before tossing just 5 2/3 innings in the bigs last year. Lucchesi's not eligible to become a free agent until after 2024. Each of the five prospects the Pirates received was rated top-20 in their previous team's farm systems by

-The Phillies acquired MiLB INF CJ Chatham from the Red Sox in exchange for a PTBNL. Chatham, 26, was the Red Sox' second-round pick back in 2016. In 467 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, Chatham hit .298/.333/.408 while logging time at both middle infield positions. He was drafted by Dombrowski and is re-united.

-The Pirates have traded LHP Nik Turley to the Oakland A's in exchange for cash. The 31yo tossed 21.2IP with a 4.98ERA/3.88FIP with 20K. Turley will pair with Jake Diekman as another LH option for the A's in 2021.

Trade Rumors:

-If you were on Twitter over the weekend, the rumors were going around that the Red's were trading SP Luis Castillo to the Yankees for OF Clint Frazier or SS Gleyber Torress. Reds VP/general manager Nick Krall about the speculation about a Castillo trade is "completely false. We intend to have [Castillo] as a member of our rotation for 2021."

-Teams are calling on Orioles OF Anthony Santander has drawn trade interest this winter; however, the team isn't looking to trade him at this time.

-Teams are calling and asking the Giants about C Joey Bart. They aren't actively trying to trade the 24yo catcher at this time.

Injury Updates:

-Dodgers LHP David Price posted a video on his Twitter showing he is hard at work getting ready for 2021 after injuries in 2019 and opting out of 2020. The Dodgers look to be getting the LHP back just in time for a repeat title run.

-Corey Kluber, Anthony Swarzak, and Steve Cishek each threw on 1/13 for interested teams. The Mets, Yankees, Nationals, Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Cubs, Rangers, Marlins, Tigers, Pirates, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, and Indians, Royals, and Giants were all in attendance.

-The Cardinals got good news as RHRP Jordan Hicks is set to return in 2021 after opting out of 2020 due mostly to recovery from Tommy John surgery as well as Type 1 diabetes. In 106.2 career innings between 2018-19, the fireballer has pitched to a 3.47 ERA behind an elite 62.3% groundball rate.

-Rays pitchers Yonny Chirinos who had Tommy John's surgery in August, has started playing catch; however, he is still doubtful to pitch in 2021.

-Fellow Rays pitcher Brendan McKay is working his way back from shoulder surgery, specifically his labrum. It was expected he would miss spring but be ready in the early parts of the season. He is expected to start playing catch soon.

-RHP Julio Teheran and Anibal Sanchez will hold a showcase yesterday, 1/19. The Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Marlins, and Mets were all in attendance.

-LHP Wade LeBlanc is still working his way back from an elbow injury last year but is preparing for a showcase.

-The Red Sox are taking the long-term route with Chris Sale, and it looks like his return will come around the 15-month mark, and he will return in late June/Early July.

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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