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Around the Horn: News & Notes 2/24

What is going on, Ball Boys and Girls? I hope you guys are doing super well as always. If you missed it recently had my second piece published with Authenticity Mags. I talk about how baseball looks and the long-term changes post-2020. Check it out here. The future and present series, fantasy dugout, and power rankings are coming out regularly, so please check those out as well. 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.

Please take a moment to look back at some guys who may be in their last season before we get into it today. Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Nelson Cruz, and we may have already seen Ryan Braun's last. These guys are sure-fire Hall of Famers and if you get lucky enough to see these guys in 2021, give them a standing ovation for two decades of great baseball!

League News:

-Seattle Mariners President/CEO Kevin Mather messed up. In a video speech posted on YouTube that Mather gave on February 5th. In a direct quote from Mark Polishuks workup on the situation, "Speaking with an unusual (and rather shocking) amount of openness, Mather made multiple comments that are sure to gain the attention of Mariners fans, players, and the players' union. The most problematic remarks concerned how star prospect Julio Rodriguez and former pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma reportedly have or had difficulties speaking English, with Mather complaining about the cost of paying for a Japanese interpreter for Iwakuma. Rodriguez has already responded to Mather's comments with a pair of pointed tweets."

--The MLBPA riped Mather calling the comments "highly disturbing" and "offensive." On 2/22, Mather turned in his resignation for his role with the Mariners.

-The Blue Jays will play their first two homestands of 2021 at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.

-The NY Mets fired hitting performance coordinator Ryan Ellis after allegations of sexual Harassment.

-The Blue Jays will play their first two homestands of 2021 at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.

Hype News:

-Clayton Kershaw will go down as one of the best pitchers of all time as he enters the final year of his current contract with the Dodgers. The 14yr vet feels he has "a few years left" and wants to spend those years with the Dodgers.

"We have some talented guys in that clubhouse. We have a great training staff, a great front office, an unbelievable coaching staff. With all that as a collection, we plan on going and making some noise this year." Chris Sale said of the Red Sox in an interview on 2/18. I believe it.

-Chicago White Sox Gm Rick Hahn says anything less than a 2021 World Series win would be "disappointment."

Roster Notes:

-The NY Yankees manager Aaron Boone named Clint Frazier the team's everyday LF. It's about time! The move should allow the Yankees to keep Judge and Stanton healthier by rotating between DH and RF. Aaron Hicks and Mike Tauchman should be the CF rotation.

-The Giants are expected to run with LHP Jake McGee to close out games in 2020. The Giants did use a closer-by-committee approach last season, and McGee will most likely lead that same approach.

-The Cardinals are expected to use Matt Carpenter in a platoon role with Tommy Edman at 2B.

-The Marlins are expected to use RHP Anthony Bass as their closer for the 2021 season.

-The Nationals are hoping that Joe Ross can seize the fifth starter spot with the club this spring after sitting out 2020.

Peace Out:

-Deirdre Pujols, the wife of Angels 1B Albert Pujols, suggested this would be the last season for the 21yr vet. "Today is the first day of the last season (based on his contract) of one of the most remarkable careers in sports!"

-The Mets saw OF Tim Tebow retire on 2/17 after playing 6 MiLB seasons with the organization.

-RHRP Cody Allen decided to retire on 2/17. Allen's time in the bigs concluded with a 3.14 ERA and 153 saves in 463 2/3 innings.

-INF Brian Dozier had called it a career. The longtime Twins INF and 2019 World Series champ with the Nationals is retiring after 11 seasons. Dozier will head into retirement as a career .244/.325/.441 hitter with 192 home runs, 231 doubles, 21 triples, 105 steals, 664 runs scored, and 581 runs driven in. He made an All-Star team, won a Gold Glove, and in his final entire season took home a World Series ring for his role in the Nationals' improbable Cinderella run. Dozier cleared $30MM in salary during a career that Baseball-Reference pegged at 22.7 WAR and FanGraphs valued at 23.7 WAR.

Free Agent Signings:

-14 years and $340mil and another $10mil signing bonus. That is the contract that the Padres signed SS Fernando Tatis Jr. to on 2/17. The deal takes Tatis through his age 35 seasons. The deal is the largest for a pre-arbitration player and the 3rd largest of all time, right after Mookie Betts and Mike Trout. Tatis will make $1MM in 2021, $5MM in 2022, $7MM in 2023, $11MM in 2024, $20MM in 2025-2026, $25MM in 2027-2028, and then $36MM yearly from 2029-2034

-The Padres signed RHP Keone Kela to a 1yr deal worth $1.2mil and $2.3mil in incentives. Kela only appeared in 3 games for the Pirates last season due to COVID and forearm issues. Over 216.2IP between the Rangers and Pirates, he has a 3.24ERA, 30.1%K rate, and a 9.4%BB rate. Kela joins Melancon, Pagan, and Pomeranez with high-leverage experience.

-The Oakland Athletics may have just finished building the best pen in baseball. The team signed RHRP Trevor Rosenthal to a 1yr $11mil deal. The 30yo was throwing 100+MPH heat in 2020; he started the season with a 13.2IP of 3.29ERA in KC before a trade to the Padres, where he pitched ten scoreless innings. Giving him a 1.90ERA/2.31SIERA with a 41.8%K rate. The Oakland pen now features Rosenthal, Jake Diekman, Adam Kolarek(ground ball specialist), iron man Yusmeiro Petit, slider specialist Sergio Romo to go along with J.B. Wendelken, and Lou Trivino.

-The Oakland A's also signed 1B/DH Mitch Moreland to 1yr $2.25mil deal with $250k in incentives. Over the last two seasons, Moreland has had his best seasons. Posting a .256/.333/.521 with 29HR in 487PA between the Red Sox and Padres. The glove isn't what it used to be for the Gold Glove winner, but the bat is better than ever, and with Matt Olson at 1B, the A's will have a great DH option.

-The Arizona Diamond Backs are putting together a decent bullpen. The team signed RHRP Tyler Clippard to a 1yr $2.25mil deal, with a $3.5mil mutual option for 2022. Since his debut in 2007, he owns a 3.13ERA/3.47SIERA, 27.1%K rate over 842IP.

-The NY Yankees re-signed vet OF Brett Gardner to a 1yr $3mil deal. Gardner provides an excellent depth option for the Yankees behind Frazier, Hicks, Tauchman, and Judge.

-The NY Mets have agreed to a 2yr $20mil deal with a player option for a 3rd season. The 28yo Walker was looking for a multi-year deal worth $10mil annually. Over the 2020 season between the Mariners and Blue Jays, he posted a 2.70ERA over 53.1IP. He did, however, have a 4.60SIERA and dropped to 93.5MPH average fastball velo from 95.1MPH.

-The Atlanta Braves signed 1B/3B Jake Lamb to a 1yr deal. Lamb earned an All-Star nod in 2017 and looked to be a crucial building block for the team. Then in 2018 brought shoulder surgery and derailed his career. Over the past three seasons, he has just a .205/.309/.351 slash with 15HR and 563The PA. The Braves don't need Lamb to return to All-star form. However, the left-handed-hitting 3B provides a power option to go along with Austin Riley and Johan Camargo. He also provides quality depth behind 1B MVP Freddie Freeman.

-The SF Giants signed RHP Shun Yamaguchi. The 33yo previously played 14 seasons in the NPB with a 3.35ERA over 427G. The transition to the MLB wasn't great as he posted an 8.06ERA/6.43FIP over 25.2IP. The risk/reward could be an excellent one. The Giants are going to let Yamaguchi compete for a spot in the rotation.

-The Chicago Cubs keep making moves; the club signed RHRP Brandon Workman to a 1yr $1mil deal with $2mil in incentives. From 2017-the trade to the Phillies in 2020. The 32yo had a 2.65ERA over 159.1IP with a 28.8%K rate and 11.8%BB rate, and 46.4% groundball rate.

-The Tampa Bay Rays re-signed RHP Oliver Drake. The 34yo is still recovering from bicep and forearm issues in 2020. Drake should be ready for action around mid-season. Remove the 7ER over 11IP in 2020; Drake was excellent for the Rays in 2019. In his 59IP with the team, he notched a 3.21ERA/3.18SIERA with a 32%K rate and 8.7%BB rate, and 52.3% groundball rate.

-The Tampa Bay Rays re-signed RHRP Chaz Roe to a 1yr $1.15mil deal. Over the past three seasons with the Rays, Roe has a 3.74ERA with a 27%K rate. The Rays are confident that Roe's elbow injury is behind him. The injury limited him to 9.1IP.

-OF Shin-Soo Choo signed with the SK Wyverns of the KBO, his home team.

Free Agent Rumors:

-The Tigers have discussed a potential reunion with RHP Rick Porcello. The two sides are still a ways apart as a 2/19

-The Red Sox Chaim Bloom met with reporters on 2/21 and confirmed that the club remains in contact with JBJ's camp. They will stay in touch until the situation "resolves" itself. This news tells me there is a contract; they are working on the exact language and salary.

--The Brewers are also in the mix for JBJ.

Free Agent Notes:

-Mets manager Luis Rojas said in an interview that Lindor and Conforto are leaders when asked about extension talks.

--Lindor said on 2/22, "There's a mutual interest, and as I said earlier, I've never been shy about an extension."

-SS Carlos Correa gave the Astros a deadline for contract talks. Until the opening day, the team has given him an offer he wants; if not, it's free agency time.

-Mets ace Jacob deGrom is interested in ending his career with the Mets and wants to finish his career there. TdeGrom holds an opt-out after the 2022 season. He is also hitting 99MPH on the gun in spring so far.

-Indians ace Shane Bieber and the team haven't discussed a long-term deal. However, he would be willing to do so.

-Blue Jay's SS Bo Bichette has told the team he is open to a long-term extension.

-The Angels and RHP Dylan Bundy have no engaged in any extension discussions yet.

-“Yeah, it’s a contract year, but to me, every year is pretty much that way,” Story said. He was asked about the extension talks, and there had been none up to that point.

-The Rockies could look to sign OF Matt Kemp. When Ian Desmond opted-out in 2020, they signed Kemp the next day. They could look his way again now that Desmond has opted-out once again.

Official Trades:

-The Tampa Bay Rays acquired P Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for C Ronaldo Hernandez and INF Nick Sogard. Hernadez was ranked among the top 100 prospects as recently as the 2018-19 season. Both Mazza and Springs come in as depth pieces as both were DFA'd. Mazza, 31yo, has posted a 5.05ERA/4.96SIERA over 46.1IP. He does, however, carry a 3.72ERA in 92IP at the AAA level. Springs season was also not great as he pitched to a 7.08ERA over 20.1IP.

-The Miami Marlins acquired RHP John Curtiss from the Tampa Bay Rays for 1B Evan Edwards. The 28yo Curtiss made his MLB debut in 2020. In his 25IP, he notched a 1.80ERA, 25.3%K rate, 3%BB rate. He also greatly benefited from an 87.2% strand rate.

Injury Updates:

-Free-agent RHRP David Robertson held his second showcase on 2/19. The 35yo touched 92MPH on his fastball, which is a career average.

-Free-agent RHP Anibal Sanchez has rejected "multiple" MLB offers since his showcase a month ago. His main reason centers around COVID=19 and protocols.

-I wish he would call it a career; however, Yoenis Cespedes will be holding a showcase on March 2nd. The 35yo will look to show he has enough left in the tank to help a contender. I like the reunion with the A's.

-The Phillie's kickoff to the season got off to a rough start. Superstar catcher JT Realmuto sustained a minor fracture in his right thumb; The injury occurred on 2/12 during a bullpen session. The team is hopeful he will be ready by opening day. Neither JTR nor the Phillies saw the new 5yr $115.5mil contract starting.

-Oakland A's C Sean Murphy will miss several weeks after having surgery to fix a collapsed lung. He is expected to be ready by opening day.

-Angels RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani threw a 27 pitch bullpen session on Thursday 2/18 and topped out at 90MPH. There is no worry here, it's early, and he is still working back from September 2019 Tommy John surgery.

-LA Angels LHRP Alex Claudio is dealing with a hip infection, expected to delay him two weeks. The 29yo had a decent season with the Brewers in 2020, notching a 4.26ERA/4.43SIERA in 19IP.

-Yankees manager Aaron Boone says that Kluber and Taillon are "in a perfect place and be championship-caliber contributors to a team. The Yankees also have RHP Luis Severino throwing from 120ft and are on track to return in June or July.

--The Yankees also are shutting down prospect Clarke Schmidy for 3-4 weeks due to a common extensor strain in his right elbow.

-Mets manager Luis Rojas said Noah Syndergaard, who is working his way back from Tommy John's surgery, "looked good" in his first spring training session. He is on track to return sometime in June or July.

-SD Padres RHP Dinelson Lamet made a statement about his health after missing the playoffs with arm issues. "I'm coming off that rest period; I did everything I needed to do, I feel well-prepared," said Lamet. "I feel like I'm 100 percent myself." The 2020 Cy Young contender had a 2.09ERA/3.16SIERA over 69IP.

-Colorado Rockies RHRP Scott Oberg has had ZERO setbacks since his thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in September.

-STL Cardinals Dakota Hudson is expected to begin playing catch on March 15th. He will most likely miss the 2021 season after a late September 2020 Tommy John surgery.

COVID Updates:

Yes, I had to make a tab for COVID updates as I am sure we will have many as we go from week-week. Remember any positive test; the player must quarantine for seven days and test negative on the 5th day.

-The first opt-out happened on 2/21; Rockies OF Ian Desmond is temporarily opting-out of the season. Desmond said on his Instagram, "Over the last few months, I've had tough conversations. I've asked a lot of questions and done a lot of thinking. For now, I've decided to opt-out of the 2021 season. My desire to be with my family is greater than my desire to go back and play baseball under these circumstances. I'm going to continue to train and watch how things unfold," Desmond wrote as part of his statement.

-Red Sox OF Franchy Cordero was placed on the COVID-19 IL on 2/22.

-D-backs C Stephen Vogt tested positive for COVID-19 and hasn't yet arrived at camp. It isn't known if he is available or if he has symptoms.

-Twins SP J.A. Happ tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival to camp. He is asymptomatic for now, and if that remains, he should be ready for the start of the season.

-Indians Ace and Cy Young winner was reported as a positive case on 2/18. He says he is feeling healthy and well and hopes to be back with his team in a few days. He returned to camp on 2/20

Prospect Buzz:

-The Miami Marlins RHP prospect Edward Cabrera is the 68th ranked prospect in baseball. The young righty has a bicep injury, with no timetable to return to throwing.

-Tampa Bay Rays prospect RHP Brent Honeywell is back in MLB camp. He has battled arm injuries since 2017, with four elbow surgeries since then. "I'm excited. I'm healthy. … everything is good. After this last one, it was a big-time help for me, and it was a big-time relief of my elbow. Everything is so-called 'on track,' and we're moving in the right direction," There isn't a timetable set for the 25yo, but there is optimism that he could contribute to the club in 2021.

-This coming spring, Mariners CEO Kevin Mather implied that both star outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic and pitching prospect Logan Gilbert would have their debuts delayed. "We would like [Kelenic] to get a few more at-bats in the minor leagues," Mather said. "Probably Triple-A Tacoma for a month, and then he will likely be in left field at T-Mobile Park for the next six or seven years." As for Gilbert, "you won't see him on April 1st, but by mid-April," he will be on Seattle's active roster.

That's a wrap for the first week of the season! Welcome back, Baseball, oh how we missed you, my love!

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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