Around the Horn: News & Notes 2/10
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.
-Health and Safety Protocols- There will be strict enforcement for unsportsmanlike conduct violations that break physical distancing guidelines(players/coaches arguing with an ump. bench-clearing brawls). If a team does have a COVID outbreak, the team will add players to the MLB roster and return them to the minors without burning their options or placing them on waivers. There will also be a joint COVID-19 Health and Safety Committee composed of 1 MLB and 1 MLBPA representative and two physicians. Each club must submit a written COVID-19 Action Plan. Each club must also appoint an Infection Control Prevention Coordinator and Compliance Officer(AGM or above.) Among other changes, if an outbreak happens in a team, those in contact with the positive player(Kinexon devices worn at all times) will quarantine for seven days and test negative on the 5th day. Read the full press release of all the details here.
-On-Field Alterations: The 7-inning doubleheaders will remain intact. The runner on 2B to begin extra innings sticks around. Any player is permitted to work as a pitcher in any given game. (The previous rule didn't allow for a PP to pitch until a particular inning or a 6-run deficit.) The roster size will revert to 26 players from 28 players until the September expansions to 28. Teams will still travel with their 5-man taxi squad(one being a catcher). Taxi squad players work out with the team but are not in uniform or the dugout during games. There will also be enforcement, except for players on the field during warmups or during the game itself.
-Playoffs/DH: The playoffs will return to the ten-team format in 2021. There will be NO universal DH in 2021. Meaning pitchers will hit for at least ONE more season, depending on how the CBA pans out next winter.
-NEW BALL: The new ball will be under one-tenth of an ounce lighter and slightly less bouncy(COR). The changes are to help increase the consistency in the ball. It will be like adding five feet of wall to every MLB wall.
-The Grapefruit League will also look slightly different as the MLB puts the 15 teams into Geozones, making the schedule 24 games for the "east" teams with four intra-squad games. With 28 games for the "west" teams.
-Mike Petriello tweeted a crazy fact after the Andrus/Davis swap by the A's and Rangers. "The last time the Texas Rangers had an Opening Day roster that didn't include Elvis Andrus, it did include .. Milton Bradley. Hank Blalock. Kevin Millwood. Ben Broussard. Eddie Guardado."
Free Agent Signings:
-It was a two-team race until the very end, and the LA Dodgers just cemented their chances at a repeat in 2021. The team signed RHP Trevor Bauer, the reigning NL Cy Young award winner. The deal is for three seasons, $102mil guaranteed, with an opt-out after 2021 and 2022. He will make $40mil in 2021, $45mil in 2022. The deal does establish a new highest AAV among pitchers. In 2020 he pitched to a 1.73ERA, 2.94SIERA, 36%K rate. As part of the signing, the Dodgers will forfeit their 2nd highest draft pick and $500k in international pool money. The Reds will gain a pick at the end of the first round.
--The Mets offer was worth $105mil over three years but paid out $40(2021), $35(2022), $30(2023), and held the same opt-out options after 2021 and 2022. The draw going back to Southern California, where he is from, and played college ball(UCLA), along with the Dodger's approach to advanced metrics and marketability.
-The Atlanta Braves got their man back. The team agreed to a 4yr $65mil guaranteed deal with OF/DH Marcell Ozuna. The deal includes a 5th-year option that could make the deal worth $80mil. It is no surprise the Braves signed Ozuna to a big deal after he carried the offense with Freeman to a game 7 in the NLCS. He hit .338/.431/.686 with 18HR in 267PA and played in all 60 games.
-The NY Mets signed INF Jonathan Villar to a 1yr $3.55mil deal. Villar should give the Mets a super-utility option based on his speed alone. 2020 wasn't great for Villar as he ended with a .232/.301/.292 slash line between Miami and Toronto. Back in 2019, with the Orioles, he was the best player on the team, slashing .274/.339/.453, 24HR, 40SB.
-The Cardinals officially have re-signed C Yadier Molina to a 1yr $9mil deal. The 39yo will most likely be looking at his last year with his long time teammate Adam Wainwright.
-The SF Giants signed RHRP Jake McGee to a 2yr $7mil deal. The 34yo was great with the Dodgers in their world series run last season as he pitched to a 2.66ERA/1.81SIERA over 20.1IP.
-The Miami Marlins signed OF Adam Duvall to a 1yr $2mil deal with a $7mil mutual option for 2022. The 32yo was hitting HR like crazy last season with 16 in 209PA to go along with a .237/.301/.532 slash line. In 4000+ career innings in the OF, he has 42DRS and a 14.8UZR.
-The NY Mets signed OF Albert Almora Jr.; dating back to his last full season in 2019, he hit .236/.271/.381 in 363PA. He only appeared in six MLB games during the 2020 seasons.
-The Oakland A's, after freeing up some money, signed SP Mike Fiers on a 1yr $3.5mil deal. The A's were the only team to offer Fiers a deal. In 2020 he had a 4.58ERA/5.41SIERA over 59IP; the A's are hoping Fiers can be as durable as he has shown in his career, pitching at least 172IP per season between 2015-19
-The Detroit Tigers re-signed 2B Jonathan Schoop to a 1yr $4.5mil deal. In 2020 with the club, he hit .278/.324/.475 with 8HR over 177PA.
-The Texas Rangers signed RHP Mike Foltynewicz on a 1yr $2mil deal with $500k available in incentives. Folty could only manage 3.1IP with 6ER, 4H, 4BB before being removed from the 40man roster and spending the rest of the season at the alternate site.
-The Milwaukee Brewers finally did something in signing 2B Kolten Wong to a 2yr $18mil deal, with a club option for a 3rd season. Over the past four seasons, he owns a .273/.356/.398 slash with 43SB. He is also a 2x Gold Glove winner and leads the position with 41DRS over the past three seasons.
-The Twins signed RHRP Alex Colome to a 1yr $5mil deal with an option for 2022. In 2020 he owned a below-average 9.2%BB rate and above-average 52.4% ground ball rate.
-The Arizona D-Backs signed RHRP Joakim Soria to a 1yr deal. Over the last two seasons with the A's, he owns a 3.94ERA/3.46FIP; however, he had a 2.82ERA in 22.1IP with just 1HR.
-The Phillies signed RHP Chase Anderson to a 1yr $4mil deal. The 33yo pitched to a 7.22ERA over 33.2IP. However, from 2014-19 he owns a 3.94ERA over 857IP.
-The Angels and P/DH Shohei Ohtani reached an $8.5mil 2yr extension to avoid arbitration.
-I don't usually do this, but I have to because of the player. RHP "King" Felix Hernandez signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
Free Agent Rumors:
-The Boston Red Sox and RHRP Hirokazu Sawamura are on the verge of a deal. The soon be 33yo has a 2.77ERA, 22%K rate, 7.3%BB rate in his nine seasons in the NPB. However, 2020 wasn't kind as he had a 6.08ERA, 11K-8BB in 13.2IP when he started the season, but after a trade to the Chiba Lotte Marines, he had a 1.71ERA and a 29K-10BB in 21IP. He brings with him a 97MPH fastball and a low 90's splitter, and a slider.
-Jackie Bradley Jr is represented by Scott Boras and therefore is seeking a 4+ year contract. The 31yo is a great defender who carries an average bat with a career .239/.321/.412 slash.
--The Mets did sign Almora Jr. but haven't ruled out bringing on JBJ.
Free Agent Notes:
-The Phillies are interested in Marwin Gonzalez, Brad Miller, OF Shin-Soo Choo, the Mets are also showing interested in Gonzalez and Miller.
-The Brewers, Phillies, Pirates are interested in OF Shin-Soo Choo, but at 1B per the need for a left-handed bat.
-The Phillies and Cardinals are keeping contact with Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. As both clubs look to boost their rotations.
-41yo Rich Hill has drawn interested from the Rays, Brewers, Mets are in pursuit of the vet.
-Yoshihisa Hirano is heading back to the NPB.
-The Oakland A's acquired SS Elvis Andrus, C Aramis Garcia, and $13.5mil in cash from the Texas Rangers in exchange for DH/OF Khris Davis, C Jonah Heim, RHP Dane Acker. Andrus is a career .274/.330/.372 hitter in 6266AB in his career. Garcia had a .229/.270/.419 slash in 111PA between 2018-19. He should come in and be Murphy's back-up. The Rangers are getting an aging slugger in David, who has hit .247 in each of the last four seasons. Acker was drafted in the 4th round in 2020 and hasn't made his professional debut yet. Heim made the only 41PA in 2020 but earned high praise from the pitching staff for his ability to manage a game. Heim has the chance to earn an everyday role with the Rangers. The A's ended up shedding Davis's $16.75mil and only having to pay $1mil of Andrus's salary in 2021(or about $7.25mil over the next two seasons). Andrus will be owed $14.25mil in 2022 and carries a vesting option for $15mil for 2023 should he get 550PA in both 2021-22 or 1100PA combined between the two.
-The St. Louis Cardinals acquired RHP Johan Quezada from the Phillies in exchange for cash. Quezada last pitched for the Twins Class-A Advanced affiliate in 2019 with a 3.44ERA/3.59FIP in 51.1IP out of the pen.
-The LA Angels acquired RHP Aaron Slegers from the TB Rays for a PTBNL or Cash. The 6-10 Slegers owns a career 4.66ERA over 58IP at the MLB level.
-The LA Angels acquired switch-hitting OF Dexter Fowler from the Cardinals along with cash for PTBNL. The move is a salary dump for the Cardinals; the Angels will take on $12.75mil of Fowler's contract. In his time with the Cardinals, the 35yo owned a .233/.334/.408 slash with 49HR, 21SB in 1500PA. "We think there's a lot left in the tank," said GM Perry Minasian of Fowler after the trade.
-The Twins acquired RHP Shaun Anderson from the Giants for OF LaMonte Wade Jr. Wade jr checks the left-handed-hitting OF, and Giants GM Zaidi could option to the Minors. Wade jr. hit .211/.336/.347 in 113PA between 2019-20. Anderson owned a 5.17ERA over 111.1IP with the Giants.
-The Dodgers and Padres are both showing interested in Marlins 1B/OF Garrett Cooper. Now that the club has signed Adam Duvall finding playing time for the 30yo could be challenging.
-There is speculation that the Indians want to trade 3B Jose Ramirez after dealing with Lindor and Carrasco. However, the Indians hold two more years of control over Ramirez, and he is the best player left on the team, with a high upside rotation, and in a winnable AL Central.
"I'm continuing to work out and stay in shape, but I'm not currently interested in playing," Braun told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com in a text message. "I am enjoying my family and focused on other business interests for now but appreciate the interest I've received and will continue to stay in touch with the Brewers regularly." That's the latest one of my favorite players; Ryan Braun seems to be closer to retirement than stepping back on the Brewers field.
-Pirates INF prospect Oniel Cruz should be with the team when the team breaks camp. He was in a fatal car crash that took three lives back in September. A team spokesperson told The Athletic, "We are not aware of anything that should prevent him from being on time at this point,"
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