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Around the Horn: News & Notes 12/30

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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League News :

-Hall of Fame P Paul Niekro passed away on December 27th at 81 after a cancer battle. Condolences to his family, the Braves organization, and all who were close with him. Knucksie was a high nickname as he used his nasty knuckleball to stifle hitters for 24 seasons. Niekro retired at 48 and ended his career with 5404.1IP with 19/24 seasons with 200+ IP. The craziest thing about Nierko only pitched 140 MLB innings and one start before age 28. He won 318 games, had a career of 3.35ERA and 3342K, which is 11th all-time. Niekro was named to 5 All-Star games, won 5 Gold Gloves, and was the Cy Young runner in 1969. He spent most of his career with the Braves (740/864) while also playing with the Yankees, Indians, and Blue Jays from 1984-87. We extended our most heartfelt condolences to the Niekros family and fans worldwide from the Ball Boy Blog.

-The Phillies' new President of Baseball Operations has found himself a GM. Former MLB player Sam Fuld. Fuld worked for the team in the last three seasons as the director of integrative baseball performance. Fuld was in a role that allowed him to transmit and teach analytical data provided by the front office to the Phillies' players.

--The Phillies also promoted Jorge Velandia to Ass. General Manager and Terry Ryan will move into special assistant to the GM role.

-Next time you're at Costco, remember to grab TP and a Babe Ruth autographed baseball for the low price of $64K.

League News Updates:

-Starting date for the season: Now that there are two approved vaccines, owners could push to delay the season depending on the vaccine's availability for players and personnel. The MLBPA and players are all planning on showing up to spring training on time, and most of the PA feels the protocols and how COVID is being handled is enough to keep them safe. The players want to and plan to play a full 162 game season and not take any pay cut.

Free Agent Signings:

-KBO/NPB Signings: RHP Walker Alexander, 1B Robert Ramos, 1B/DH Jose Miguel Fernandez, LHP Ariel Miranda, RHP Fernando Romero, ING Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Raul Alcantara, LHP Dillon Overton, RHP Hector Noesi, RHP Daniel Menged, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, OF Zoilo Almonte, RHP Gabriel Ynoa, RHP Junichi Tazawa, RHP Jake Brigham, RHP Drew Gagnon, UTL Rosell Herrera, RHP Bryan Woodall, RHP JC Ramirez, 1B Justin Smoak

-The Chicago White Sox made their presence felt in the international signing pool yet again. The White Sox are built off the global talent and have added another potent piece in #1 international prospect Yoelki Cespedes. The 23yo should immediately come in and compete for a regular-season roster spot.

-The Dodgers signed RHRP Tommy Kahnle to a 2yr MLB deal. Kahnle is unlikely to pitch in 2021 as he underwent Tommy John surgery back in early August. The value is likely to be backloaded, and the Dodgers will have a reliable late innings weapon when he returns.

-The Cincinnati Reds have signed RHP Edgar Garcia to an MLB deal. He was non-tendered by the Rays. Garcia ended 2020 with a 5.77ERA/6.57FIP and a 10.38K/9 to 6.00BB/9 over 39IP. The 24yo has plenty of room for improvement.

-The Detroit Tigers have signed RHP Jose Urena. Between 2017-18 Urena has the most productive years of his career, posting a 3.90ERA/4.68FIP with a 6.36K/9 and 46.3% groundball rate over 343.2IP. The last couple of years haven't been as friendly to the 29yo Urena as he owns a 5.25ERA/5.02FIP over 108IP.

-The Boston Red Sox have agreed to a deal with RHP Matt Andriese. Andriese is a reliable swingman. In his five-year career, he owns a 4.57ERA/4.23FIP over 460.2IP. In 2021 he will earn $1.85MIL, and the contract holds an option for $3.5-$4.5MIL if he tops 150IP.

-The Texas Rangers have signed RHP Kohei Arihara to a 2 yr deal worth 6-7mil. The 28yo Arihara was the #2 Japanese pitcher on the market this winter. He is coming to the MLB with a low 90's fastball with a +changeup and slider and FOUR other pitchers in his arsenal. He brings with him 836IP with a 3.74ERA, 6.7K/9, 2.1BB/9 in his career. Arihara will be an excellent replacement to Lance Lynn and create a good 1-2 punch with Dane Dunning. The Padres and Red Sox were the other two finalists for Arihara. Both could now be focusing on signing Tomoyuki Sugano.

-KBO SS/2B Ha-Seong Kim was on a flight to the US for a physical on the morning of 12/28. He was reportedly mulling offers from the Padres, Blue Jays, and Red Sox as favorites. He then quickly signed a deal towards the evening of the 28th, and he will become a member of the San Diego Padres. The agreement is for 4yrs with an annual salary of $7-8MIL. Since 2019 Kim has batted .307/.393/.500 with 49HR, 56-62 in stolen base attempts. The move has significant ramifications for the Padres, and they don't intend to move Cronenworth from 2B to LF and are just stockpiling talent to compete with the Dodgers for the NL West. However, the team could take a long look at Cronenworth, Tatis Jr., and Kim in the outfield come spring training. Keep an open mind, SD fans.

-The ramifications for the rest of the MLB are also significant as The Blue Jays can now push the Yankees and Mets for DJ LeMahieu. The Red Sox will have to continue to look elsewhere for their higher to 2B Dustin Pedroia. The Rangers will have to go a little deeper into their rebuild and be stuck with Odor and Andrus. The rest of the MLB will need to be on notice and be more afraid to face the Padres.

-The Twins signed RHP Hansel Robles to a 1yr $2Mil deal with $500K available in incentives. Robles was non-tendered by the Angels back in December. Robles had a 2020 season to forget, posting a 10.26ERA over 16.2IP. However, the 2018 track record of 2.97ERA over 36.1IP and the 2019 breakout of 2.48ERA, 23saves over 72.2IP gives the Twins plenty of hope Robles can get back on track.

Free Agent Rumors:

-Not a rumor and not a signing, but more a note. OF/P Oscar Colas will officially be an MLB International Free Agent. He will be eligible to sign with a team beginning Jan 15th, 2021, when the international signing period opens.

-The NY Met's could make another surprising but not unexpected move at the same time. After being in talks with JT Realmuto, they ended up signing James McCann. Now, we could see a pattern emerging as they have been the most prominent team linked to Trevor Bauer but are "looking into" RHP Tomoyuki Sugano. With George Springer being the focus, signing Sugano would be a more cost-effective option with a higher upside.

--The Mets also recently contacted FA DJ LaMahieu. We could see a bidding war for DJ between the Yankees and Mets

-Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski and JT Realmuto's Agent spoke on Monday 12/21. There were no negotiations, from what I understand, and it was more just a call to check in and say Congrats on the job. Dombrowski, of course, expressed how the Phillies wanted JTR back. There is an offer on the table from the Phillies to JTR.

-In an interview with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North, Brad Hand said that he "loves to play" for the Twins in 2021. The two sides haven't spoken on a deal, and the Minnesota Native isn't sure the Twins are interested in signing him.

-The Cardinals consider C Yadi Molina and SP Adam Wainwright "legacy players," The organization wants both players back with the team. Still, there is significant work to do to resign the Hall of Famers.

Free Agent Notes:

-FA SP Trever Bauer is not considering one-year deals. Teams interested will need to pay up! He is seeking the highest of Mega-deals, 5-6 years with an avg Salary of $36-40Mil a year. My goodness.