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Around the Horn: News & Notes 12/9

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

What is going on ball, boys, and girls? Welcome into todays 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.

League News:

-7x All-Star, 1972 AL MVP, 1964 ROY, 2x AL HR leader, 1972 AL RBI Leader, and 7th best in all-time OPS+(156) Dick Allen passed away 12/7. Allen just had his number 15 retired by the Phillies 3 months ago. The once-great Allen will be playing baseball in paradise with Lou Brock, Joe Morgan, and Bob Gibson, who each have passed away this year. He was 78.

--The statement from the Phillies "The Phillies are heartbroken over the passing today of our dear friend and co-worker, Dick Allen," the team said in a press release. "Dick will be remembered as not just one of the greatest and most popular players in our franchise's history, but also as a courageous warrior who had to overcome far too many obstacles to reach the level he did. Dick's iconic status will resonate for future baseball fans to come as one of the all-time greats to play America's Pastime. He is now reunited with his beloved daughter, Terri. The Phillies extend their condolences to Dick's widow, Willa, his family, friends and all his fans from coast to coast."

-I am so disappointed by the winter meetings so far. The MLB sent a memo to clubs last week to operate under the assumption that there will not be a universal DH in 2021. It's not a firm declaration that there will be no NL DH next season; the MLB and MLBPA still have much to discuss.

-We know we will have a 2021 season, but what will it look like? Will the MLB & MLBPA retain rules changes (seven-inning doubleheaders, universal designated hitter, runner on second base in extra innings among them) instituted for the 2020 season. The number of postseason teams and playoff structure also remains up in the air. The PA already rejected a proposal to create the universal DH for 2021 in exchange for another one-year postseason expansion. The MLB and MLBPA will have to decide, then, whether to attempt a full season and how to sort out player compensation if the season length is affected. Looming over all the uncertainty is the scheduled expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement in December 2021. Talks are underway now that the virtual winter meetings are underway.

-"The MLB and all 30 teams are suing their insurance providers, citing billions of dollars in losses during the 2020 season played almost entirely with fans due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Due to COVID-19, the Major League Baseball entities, including those of the 30 major league clubs, have incurred significant financial losses as a result of our inability to play games, host fans and otherwise conduct normal business operations during much of the 2020 season," the league said in a statement to the AP. "We strongly believe these losses are covered in full by our insurance policies and are confident that the court and jury will agree."." The presence of the Coronavirus and COVID-19, including but not limited to coronavirus droplets or nuclei on concrete surfaces and in the air at the insured property, has caused and will continue to cause direct physical damage to physical property and ambient air at the premises," the suit says. "Coronavirus, a physical substance, has attached and adhered to Plaintiffs' property and by doing so, altered that property. Such presence has also directly resulted in the loss of use of those facilities."

-The Rangers have hired Chris Young as their next General Manager. The full picture comes together as Young recently pulled out of the Met's search and consideration for their position. Young will be leaving his role as the MLB VP of on-field operations, initiatives, and strategy. Young turned down the Met's job because of having to move his family out of Texas, but now he won't have to as he will get to lead a local franchise. It will be a few seasons before the Rangers are relevant again, but we will see how Young does in this position.

-The Twins have permitted the Phillies to interview GM Thad Levine for their President of Baseball Operations role. Dodgers Sr. VP of baseball ops Josh Byrnes and former Marlins President of baseball ops Michael Hill is in line for second interviews. I am writing this on 12/4, and I am surprised three days before the Winter Meeting start, they don't have this role or their GM role filled. Especially with JT Realmuto bounded to be talked to multiple times during the meetings.

--It is worth noting the Met also has Michael Hill on their radar as he has interviewed with them as well.

---Josh Byrnes has decided to stay with the Dodgers, which leaves Hill and Levine as the only two candidates for Phillie's GM Job. It's been 2+ months at the point for the Phillies; they may be getting desperate.

-Yankees GM Brian Cashman praised Manager Aaron Boone as the two were repelling down a 22-story building together. "I've had three managers. 10 (years) with Joe Torre. 10 with Girardi and hopefully 10 more with Boone." We could see a significant extension soon.

-With Labor negotiations set to begin this winter with the current CBA expiring at the end of 2021. Francisco Lindor, Marcus Semien, Zack Britton, Gerrit Cole, and Jason Castro are new members of the MLBPA's executive subcommittee. The 5 join Andrew Miller, Max Scherzer, and James Paxton.

-The MLB and all 30 teams are suing their insurance providers, citing billions of dollars in losses during the 2020 season played almost entirely with fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

-The Marlins will be adding Keith Johnson as 1B/OF coach while Lee Tressel is being promoted to strength and conditioning coach. Johnson managed the AAA affiliate between 2018-19.

- Adam Wainwright won the 2020 Roberto Clemente Award. The award recognizes not only an outstanding athlete but also an exceptional man and person in the community. Wainwright calls winning the Roberto Clemente Award "the highest honor of my entire career."

-Congrats to the Hank Aaron Award winners AL MVP Jose Abreu and NL MVP Freddie Freeman are the 2020 winners.

-It is safe to assume that the NL Central teams Cin Reds and Chi Cubs are cutting payroll. Simultaneously, the Stl Carindals and Mil Brewers are both managing payroll while the Pirates are rebuilding.

-Gross, gross, gross news. MLB Umpire Brian O'Nora was among 14 arrested in Ohio Human Trafficking Sting. The 57-year-old worked the 2012 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers. He has also covered three All-Star Games. O'Nora was one of 14 alleged "Johns" who was arrested in a sex sting operation.

He allegedly attempted to solicit a prostitute online. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Liberty (Ohio) Township Police Chief Toby Meloro announced the names and ages of the 14 men implicated in the sting. The entire story can be found on TMZ Sports.

-Condolences go out to the family of Dodgers scout Jairo Castillo died Sunday 12/6 due to complications from COVID-19 at the age of 31.

Free Agent Signings:

-If you missed any of the decisions from the tender-deadline of Wednesday 12/2, you can find my full recap here.

-1B/3B Ryon Healy is signing with the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO. In Healys MLB time, the 28yo has slashed a .261/.298/.450 with 69HR over 1606PA.

-The Chicago White Sox are prioritizing Out Fielders in free agency. George Springer isn't an option for the team. The team signed a familiar face Tuesday morning, bringing back OF Adam Eaton on a 1yr- $7mil deal. The deal also contains an $8.5mil club option for 2022. Eaton was traded precisely four years to do the day to the Nationals that brought the White Sox Lucas Giolitto, Dane Dunning, and Reynaldo Lopez.

-The SF Giants have signed RHP Matt Wisler to a 1yr-$1.15mil contract. The Giants will be able to contract Wisler through 2022 via arbitration. In 2020 with the Twins, the 28yo posted a 1.07ERA/3.35FIP with 35K and a 13.9% swinging-strike rate over 25.1IP. Wisler likes to get into trouble with his 5.0BB/9 and the fact he stranded 99% of runners be allowed.

-The KC Royals and 1B/DH Carlos Santana agreed to a 2yr $17mil deal. It is worth noting for the 35yo the success he has had against the Royals with 31HR and 93RBI. In 2020 the slugger had one of his worst career years with a .199/.349/.350 of 255PA with the Indians. In 2019 Santana earned his first All-Star appearance with a .281/.397/.515 and 34HR for the Indians.

-The Padres have signed OF Brian O'Grady. From 2018-19 at the AAA level, he slashed .286/.360/.553 with 36HR over 649PA. The 28yo only owns 53PA at the MLB level, slashing .213/.302/.447 with 2HR. O'Grady will factor into a loaded OF in SD with Trent Grisham, Tommy Pham, Wil Myers, Greg Allen, Jorge Mateo, and Jorge Ona.

Free Agent Rumors:

-Finally, as of 12/7, Kiwoom Heros INF Ha-Seong Kim is posted, and MLB teams can begin negotiating with the SS. NPB SP Tomoyuki Sugano's has also been posted, and his bidding will start Tuesday 12/8 at 8pmEST.

--The Blue Jays are making a strong play for Kim as SP and ace Hyun Jin Ryu recently had dinner. The only quote from Ryu was "happy to play on the same team with Kim." Kim also requested the meeting himself. The meeting is logical as Ryu is a vet player who has competed at a high level since coming from the KBO.

-OF Mel Rojas Jr., the MVP of the 2020 KBO season, has drawn interested from the KBO/NPB and MLB thus far in the off-season. The Marlins are a team that has contacted him and could be looking to bring in the 30yo OF.

--The KBO MVP is heading to the NPB on a two-year deal to join the Hanshin Tigers. Smart more the OF to remain in Asia and continue to have tremendous success.

-Free Agent SS Marcus Semien is creating a bigger market for himself. Teams have contacted Semien about being open for a position change to 2B or 3B. With Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Ha-Seong Kim as the other free agents with a loaded SS market. While Fransico Lindor, Trevor Story, Javier Baez, Jean Segura, and Carlos Correa are available via trade.

-The Twins made a one-year offer to Nelson Cruz back in October; however, as we know, Cruz is waiting out the Market and MLB to see if the DH is going to be in the NL this season as well. The wait is because Cruz wants a two-year deal over one year. Both sides still hope to work out a reunion as the winter progresses.

-The Chicago White Sox are "extraordinarily unlikely" to sign Geroge Springer. The White Sox don't want to pay "center-field prices for a corner outfielder." The White Sox non-tendered Nomar Mazara and could look to use Adam Engel in RF. The White Sox also have shown interest and spoken to Joc Pederson, Adam Eaton, and Michael Brantley to fill the need in RF.

--The Cardinals and Brewers are also showing interest in


---The White Sox are also showing strong interest in Liam Hendricks and "have their sight set on" him. The move would be a clear upgrade and replace Alex Colome. Also, with the team signing Adam Eaton, they look to move on from the possibility of Michael Brantley.

-Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer "likes where Mets are headed." Bauers agent confirms Queens could "definitely be a landing spot." The signs have pointed to the Met's since free agency opened up. The hat speculation which you can read about on the news from 11/10. Then Steve Cohen was hired, which has lured a couple of notable free-agents to the team. I think that it's a matter of time before the Met's sign Trevor Bauer.

-The Twins are also in talks with SP Corey Kluber; President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey was in Cleveland when Kluber became a star. The Twins are not pursuing their free-agent SP Jake Odorizzi compared to other teams. Odorizzi prefers to return to the Twins.

-The Twins are also interested and talking to free-agent RP Joakim Soria. The Twins need to replace May, Sergio Romo, and Tyler Clippard as the unit finished top 6 in K/BB ratio, FIP, and ERA. The 36yo Soria is as accomplished as they come holing a 3.01ERA/3.06FIP with a 9.81K/9 over 725.2IP.

-The Twins are also showing interest in free-agent utilityman Kike Hernandez. The 29yo makes a great platoon option with a career slash of .263/.345/.474 against left-handed pitching.

-The Orioles and 2B Hanser Alberto both have an interest in a new contact. Alberto was non-tendered by the club, but both sides want the INF back in Baltimore.

-The Red Sox are looking at 2B to fill the hole Dustin Pedroia has left due to retirement. Jurikson Profar, Kolten Wong, Tommy La Stella, and Cesar Hernandez among top options.

--The Red Sox also are not ruling out a reunion with Jackie Bradley Jr., the CF is still on the Red Sox radar, and it's highly likely the 30yo vet returns to Boston.

-Two of the more interesting buy-low pitchers on the market, Trevor Williams(28yo, in 2017/18 3.56ERA/3.94FIP over 321IP) and Jose Urena(29yo, in 2017-18 had a 3.90ERA/4.68FIP over 343.2IP.) Both have been beaten up over the last two seasons, but the track record is there for a team interest in either pitcher.

-The TB Rays are focusing the next $10mil or so of payroll on finding new catching options. The team declined Mike Zunino's 2021 option, Michael Perez was claimed off waivers by the Phillies, and Kevan Smith elected free agency. They are looking at several options- Mike Zunino, James McCann, Jason Castro, Alex Avila, Curt Casali. They could also look to trade for Willson Contreras or Francisco Mejia.

-OF Kyle Schwarbers market is coming into focus as the Blue Jays, Angels, and Yankees all have shown significant interest in the former Cubs slugger.

-The Blue Jay's also is one of few teams showing interest in 35yo SP Mike Fiers, who is coming off a down year in which he pitched to a 4.58ERA/over 59IP.

-Both Cole Hamels(37) and Felix Hernandez(34) are both drawing interest from several teams in hopes of not ending their careers after both not playing in 2020. Hamels didn't pitch due to injury, and Felix opted out. If the Braves had Hamels and Felix in 2020, both could have a World Series ring right now, in my opinion. Several teams are interested in both of the vets.

-The Marlins are showing strong interest in RHP Brandon Kintzler, and there is mutual interest between the two sides for a reunion in Miami. The Marlins want a power arm in the 9th, and the 36yo Kintzlers 57.3% ground ball rate and 91.3MPH average velocity on his sinker don't quite align. Kintzler was great in 2020, posting a 2.22ERA over 24.1IP.

LHP Tyler Anderson is also drawing interest from several teams. Anderson was non-tendered by the Giants and held a 4.65ERA/4.46FIP with an 8.04K/9 and 2.94BB/9 in 456.2IP.

We have a trade to announce:

-The LA Angels have acquired Raisel Iglesias from the Reds in exchange for RHP Noe Ramirez and a PTBNL. The move not only points to the Red's cutting costs where they can, but the Angels are building a better team. Iglesias turns 31 this season, and in 2020, he posted a 2.74ERA with a 31-5 K/BB ratio and a 41.5% ground ball rate over 23IP. GREAT trade for the Halo's. It is clear that when Perry Minasian said the payroll wouldn't be cut at all in 2021, he meant it, and he and owner Arte Moreno are using every available resource to win-now with how wide open the AL West is.

-The Chicago White Sox are trade RHP Dane Dunning and LHP Avery Weems to the Texas Rangers in exchange for RHP Lance Lynn... The first big move of the winter finally happened in terms of trade. Lynn has been terrific in his two seasons in Texas, posted a 3.57ERA/3.43FIP, 10.31K/9 over 292.2IP. The 33yo SP will slot in as the club's number 3 man behind Giolitto and Dallas Keuchel. The value the Rangers got is incredible. Dunning is only 26yo and just made his MLB debut in 2020, posting a 3.97ERA/3.99FIP, 9.28K/9 over 34IP. Weems is 23yo; in his 60.1IP of rookie ball in 2019, he had a 2.09ERA, 11.0K/9, 1.5BB/9. The future just got a little brighter in Texas.

Trade Rumblings:

-The Phillies FO has pointed towards indications the club is looking to limit spending or even cut payroll in the wake of revenue losses from 2020. These indications point towards Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, and Aaron Nola being on the trade block. But the Phillies are being reported as "open to hearing trade offers for RHP Zack Wheeler." However, these reports are being denied by Owner John Middleton and Team President Andy MacPhail. Wheeler is still owed $96.5mil over the next four years. I would not be surprised to see at least 3/4 of these players moved by spring. All of this news was reported between 12/4-5. On 12/6, John Middleton denied the rumors by saying he wouldn't trade Wheeler for Babe Ruth. My take is that all this is just words and a strategy to drive the price up for Wheeler and to get teams to call and talk to the Phillies. I can see the Phillies stripping it down where it's just Harper as the lone star on the roster.

-The Indians president Chris Antonetti's comment "lost tens of millions of dollars" throughout the shortened 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indians are looking to save where they can, including the $20mil salary of superstar SS Fransico Lindor. Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that "the Indians would love to build a trade with Toronto" and acquire left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in return as part of that package. Gurriel, 27, just completed his third season in the league, hitting .308/.348/.534 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 224 plate appearances. Gurriel is due $15mil over the next three seasons. I like the trade here for both sides; I don't know where Bo Bichette would move to and the rest of the trade pieces, but I am sure we will find out as the winter progresses if the trade happens.

-The Reds want a starting SS, a high caliber one at that. They non-tendered 5, traded their closer all to free up about $21mil in payroll. That number is about the expected salary of one Francisco Lindor. The team still has RHP Sonny Gray available, and due $20mil over the next two seasons, it would be the next logical trade candidate to continue to cut payroll. Coming off a year where he pitched to a 3.70ERA/3.05FIP, 11.57K/9, and a 51.1% ground ball rate over 56IP. The return for Gray could be a nice one for the Reds.

Injury Updates:

-Yankees 3B Gio Urshela "underwent surgery on 12/4 to remove a bone chip from his right elbow." He has a 3-month recovery timetable, which puts him with no baseball activities until March. Urshela will be pushing to be in baseball shape by opening day, considering he will out Dec, Jan, Feb and returning in March. Don't be surprised not to see Urshela on opening day.

-Rays SS Wander Franco had an MRI on his biceps and shoulder area that didn't reveal any structural damage. Franco came back to the states from the Dominican Winter League due to soreness and inflammation. Franco won't play in any other DWL games, and the club will have him focus on getting ready for spring training.

Prospect Buzz/Roster Battles-

-The Pirates will have a 3-way competition for SS this spring. Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, Erik Gonzalez will be given a chance to win the starting job in spring. Both Newman and Tucker still have options remaining. While Gonzalez is out of options and just agreed to a 1-year $1.2mil deal to avoid arbitration.

Thank you guys for being with me today. I hope you have 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 news. 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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