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Around the Horn: News & Notes 12/22

What is going on ball, boys, and girls? Welcome into today's Around the Horn. We have some news to cover today, including Leauge news, free agent signings and rumors, trades and trade rumors, injury news, and prospect news. If you missed the last Around the Horn, that's okay; check that out right here.

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Leauge News:

OH, HAPPY DAY! Oh, Happy day!: It's happening, and I could not be more excited by the following statement "During this year's centennial celebration of the founding of the Negro Leagues, MLB is proud to highlight the contributions of the pioneers who played in these seven distinct leagues from 1920-1948. With this action, MLB seeks to ensure that future generations will remember the approximately 3,400 players of the Negro Leagues during this time period as Major League-caliber ballplayers. Accordingly, the statistics and records of these players will become a part of Major League Baseball's history." "MLB and the Elias Sports Bureau have begun a review process to determine the full scope of this designation's ramifications on statistics and records." For me, this is huge; as you know, my Great-great-grandfather FAY Young was one of few who covered the Negro leagues during those three decades. All of this news was announced on 12/16.

-The season being a full 162 games, starting on time, is becoming more unlikely by the week. The season could be pushed back to Memorial day in May. This date is tentative, depending on the virus' spread and vaccine rollout.

-HoF Ballot SS Omar Vizquel may have his chance at Cooperstown disappear soon. The MLB launched an investigation into domestic abuse allegations against him coming from his wife. Katie Strang and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Wednesday that Blanca fled the family home in August before filing for divorce. "I don't have anything to say. This is a divorce, and I know she's pissed off," Omar Vizquel told The Athletic. "There is a lot of things [being said] out there about things supposedly happening behind closed doors, you know. I don't have anything to say about that, either. It's just a divorce." I will provide you with updates as I read about them.

-Billy Beane looks to remain in Oakland for the 2021 season as the proposed merger between RedBall Acquisition Corp(Beane is the co-chair) and Fenway Sports Group LLC(the parent company of the Red Sox) doesn't appear to be on track to get league approval before the end of the year.

-To illustrate the impact of COVID-19 and the MLB, the total MLB payroll in 2019 $4.22BIL and 2020 $1.75BIL. That is nearly a $2.5BIL loss for the sport. We will see the economic impact of COVID on professional sports for years to come, and each sport will need to rebuild in its way in the future.

-White Sox manager Tony La Russa's court hearings finally come to a settlement as the two sides reached a plea agreement. "La Russa's plea agreement calls for him to serve one day in jail, Fegan reports. However, the state stipulated a willingness to approve work release or house detention in lieu of jail time, so long as the presiding judge approves. The parties' agreement also calls for La Russa to pay a fine of $1,383 plus incarceration expenses and complete twenty hours of community service. The parties are set for a telephonic hearing in front of a judge to conclude the matter on December 21, Fegan adds."

Free Agent Signings:

-The Seattle Mariners have signed RHP Keynan Middleton. Middleton missed 2018-19 due to Tommy John's surgery, and in his return to action in 2020, he appeared in 13 games and posted a 5.25ERA 8.3K/9 over 12IP. Middleton will continue his comeback from Tommy John within the AL West.

-The Tampa Bay Rays needed a Cather, and so they decided to bring back a familiar face. Mike Zunino was resigned to a 1yr deal with a club option for 2022. During Zunino's time in Tampa, he has posted a .161/.233/.323 over 373PA. Zunino is well-respected by pitchers as a game-caller, pitch framer and provides a reliable option behind the dish.

-The SF Giants have signed SP Anthony Desclafani to a 1yr $6mil deal. The 30yo RHP posted a dismal 7.22ERA/6.10FIP over 33.2IP during the 2020 season. The rightly will enter into the rotation mix with Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, and Logan Webb.

-The Chicago Cubs have signed RHRP Jonathan Holder. Since the start of 2019, he owns a 5.82ERA/4.85FIP over 60.1IP. Holders' best days were between 2017-18 when he posted a 3.45ERA/3.22FIP over 104.1IP. The deal is non-guaranteed, so it will be interesting if Holder can hold onto a spot in the Cubs bullpen.

-The Tampa Bay Rays have signed RHP Michael Wacha to a 1yr $3Mil guaranteed deal. Wacha wasn't great in 2020 as he pitched to a 6.62ERA over 34IP. In that 34IP, he had a 37K-7BB ratio, 11.3% swinging strike, 34.3% chase rate, and he turns 30 in July. Wacha is an excellent fit for the Rays goes after in an SP.

-The Seattle Mariners DFA'd UTL Tim Lopes on Saturday 12/19. The team has ten days to trade or outright to AAA.

Free Agent Rumors:

-The market and race to sign George Springer could be coming to an end. Most teams from around the MLB expect that the Blue Jays and Mets are the likeliest landing spots for Springer. I personally still think the Red Sox could make a play for Springer.

-SS Didi Gregorious has been in talks with the Cincinnati Reds as the SS said the two sides have spoken regarding a contract. It sounds like things are getting pretty serious.

--It's been reported that Didi could be waiting to see if DJ LeMahieu resigns with the Yankees. Not 100% sure what this means. It could mean that he wants to join forces or if DJ doesn't leave, then the reunion is apparent. DJ is asking for a 5yr, $125 a year deal.

---The Blue Jays and Mets are also pushing the Yankees hard for the DJ.

----Blue Jays SS Bo Bichette tweeted out that he thinks that DJ LeMahieu is the "best hitter" in baseball. Could this be a ploy from the Blue Jays young star to lure DJ to Toronto?

-The Nationals and catcher JT Realmuto "have had early discussions."

-Twins President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey said in an interview with MLB Network Radio, "Cruz is a special member of the Twins." The two sides are still in contact.

-The Blue Jays and INF Ha-Seong Kim "have been in touch,"

-The Rockies have "had discussions" about a reunion with OF Kevin Pillar said manager Bud Black

-The Tigers GM Al Avila told MLB Network that catcher Alex Avila(son) is on their list of potential free-agent targets.

-The Dodgers seem "overwhelmingly likely" to resign Justin Turner to a deal. Turner is 36 and seeking a three-year deal. We will most likely see an agreement, but one that makes sense for both sides.

-IF the Cardinals cannot resign their longtime superstar Catcher Yadier Molina- The Padres and Nationals could be the top two fall-back spots for the vet.

-The Padres and Royals are both talking to INF/OF Jurickson Profar.

We have a trade to announce:

The Cincinnati Reds have acquired OF Scott Heineman from the Rangers in exchange for INF prospect Jose Acosta. Heineman was DFA'd last week after being signed to an MLB deal after he was non-tendered. The 28yo OF owns a .189/.259/.331 over 139PA in 49 games between 2019-20. The 20yo Acosta may end up being a steal for the Rangers over 234PA in the DSL and Rookie ball in 2019; he slashed a .395/.481/.579 in that time. He can play 2B, 3B, 1B, and some OutField.

Trade Buzz:

-The Met's want to make a splash in the trade market, and there is no one better for Steve Cohen and crew to that with than Nolan Arenado. The Rockies "want to engage with" the Mets in trade talks for the superstar 3B. Cohen will have to give up plenty of money and prospects for the 5x All-star, 8x Gold-Glove(consecutive) Nolan Arenado.