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- Another day, another hot stove rumor. We’re starting off the week with a bang, as the Reds are discussing trade talks with right-hander Luis Castillo with multiple teams, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The 28-year-old has hurled a 3.35 ERA over 260.2 innings since the start of the 2019 season, solidifying him as one of Cincinnati’s best arms. While the Reds are trying to move some money around, they’re in no rush to trade off Castillo, who comes with an appropriately high price tag. There’s also the alternative: the Reds keep Castillo and dump Sonny Gray’s $10M salary.
- 2020 has been an all-timer when it comes to bad news and just overall being a crappy year, but there was some good news earlier this week. MLB announced that it was retroactively designating the Negro Leagues as major leagues, thereby making all of their stats official. Many of the Negro Leagues’ players are no longer alive and there still seems to be some weirdness regarding what games count as a official, this is a decent start....although there are some that scoff at the notion that the Negro Leagues needed validation and that the proof in the pudding will be if pensions and benefits actually get paid out to these players.
- The Rays had themselves quite the run in 2020 all the way to the World Series and they are bringing back a familiar face from that run as Mike Zunino is returning on a one year deal with an option for 2022. Zunino’s option will depend on how much playing time he ends up getting next year and, given that he had a pretty bad 2020 season, that is very much up in the air. However, Zunino does have power upside at the plate and the Rays are very light on catching options at the moment, but for $3 million...they could probably do worse.
- The Giants continued to make sneaky interesting signings when they signed Anthony DeSclafani to a one year deal. For $6 million, the Giants get a pitcher who has had a lot of promise, but has been hampered by injuries and the fact that he has had to play in the Reds’ home ballpark/band box. 2020 was a down year for him, so this is the Giants buying low on a guy that could turn into an asset if they can keep him healthy and get him back to the form he had a few years ago.
- Jerry Dipoto is back at it again. The Mariners GM, well known for his willingness to make a trade with any team at any time, made his first deal of the offseason on Tuesday, acquiring closer Rafael Montero from the Rangers in exchange for 17-year-old pitching prospect Jose Corniell and a player to be named later. Montero, who spent his first four seasons as a swingman for the Mets, has broken out over two seasons as a full-time reliever for the Rangers, posting a 3.09 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 11 walks and eight saves in 46.2 innings between 2019-20.
- At least a few MLB owners believe the start of next year’s spring training should be delayed until after players and team personnel receive the COVID-19 vaccine, per USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale. It should be interesting to see how heated this debate gets between ownership and players, who almost certainly will see this stance as another ploy by the league to cut salaries for a second straight season.
- In an interesting move for a guy who had already held onto a 40-man roster spot for most of the offseason, Giants left-hander Andrew Suarez is apparently close to heading overseas and joining the KBO’s LG Twins, per ESPN’s Daniel Kim. Suarez has a 4.66 ERA over 56 games (31 starts) spanning three seasons in San Francisco.
- Cleveland’s professional baseball club has been moving towards a complete rebranding for quite a while now. After ditching its retro logo designs that were less than enlightened as well as getting rid of the Chief Wahoo mascot in recent years, the team has now made the move to removed ‘Indians’ from their name altogether. Interestingly, there is no word yet as to what the new team name will be, so its probably best to reserve total judgment until we know what we are going to be calling the team.
- The Mets have signed catcher James McCann to a four-year deal. The Mets are looking to ride the offensive wave that McCann rode in on last season: a healthy slash line of .289/.360/.536 over 111 plate appearances. He’ll be the new starting catcher for the Mets, and hopefully for their sake can provide some much needed consistency behind the plate.
- A new slugger needs a new general manager to play under. The Mets have hired Jared Porter as their new GM, per MLB Insider Jon Heyman via Twitter. The former Arizona Diamondbacks assistant GM had his name tossed around in various general manager searches this offseason. Before his position with the Diamondbacks, he was the director of professional scouting for the Cubs for two seasons and held that same title with the Red Sox for three years. The contract will keep Porter in Queens for four years, working closely with Sandy Alderson to tighten up the club’s baseball operations department.
- The Phillies have hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations, letting the league know that they’re still here to compete. It will be interesting to see what Dombrowski will do with a team that is already running on empty when it comes to top prospects.
- While we aren’t seeing the normal amounts of wheeling and dealing that we would during this time of year due to the Winter Meetings going virtual and with all of the financial uncertainty regarding next season, we did see a trade last week as the Rays and Rangers matched up on a six-player deal that sent Nate Lowe to Texas.
- One of the more under the radar baseball stories from 2020 has been the lack of an agreement between MiLB and MLB regarding the relationship between the two as well as which teams were actually going to be a part of the league’s talent development pipeline. We already knew that there was going to be a culling and some of that was previewed with the composition of some independent leagues and the draft league including some former minor league affiliates. However, the league finally sent invitations out to 119 minor league clubs which, when it is all said and done, will be a significant reduction in minor league teams over what we saw in 2019.
- Adam Eaton had a terrible 2020 season, posting a career-worst .226/.285/.384 slash line with -6 defensive runs saved in right field for the Nationals. But it wasn’t that long ago that he was a hot commodity — it was just four winters ago that the White Sox shipped him off to Washington in exchange for three upper echelon pitching prospects, most notably Lucas Giolito. Four years later, his former team will pay a healthy price to see if the 32-year-old outfielder has anything left in the tank, as the White Sox signed Eaton to a one-year, $7 million contract with an $8.5 million club option and $1 million buyout for 2022.
- The Royals have been the most active team on the free agent market so far this offseason, signing outfielder Michael A. Taylor, right-hander Mike Minor, and now first baseman Carlos Santana, who inked a two-year, $17 million deal with Kansas City. Santana, who turns 35 in April, has spent 10 of his 11 major-league seasons with the Indians and has tortured the Royals over the years, posting a .953 OPS in 663 plate appearances against Kansas City with a 1.077 OPS in 334 PAs at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals will hope Santana can recreate that same magic now that The K is his home ballpark.
- 28-year-old right-hander Matt Wisler was largely considered a failed prospect heading into the 2020 season, but after altering his approach, scrapping his curveball and changeup and switching to throwing almost exclusively sliders, Wisler had a breakout season out of the Twins’ bullpen, posting a 1.07 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP over 25.1 innings. Minnesota obviously didn’t believe it was worth the cost to see if he could sustain his success, as they non-tendered him last week, but he quickly found a new home, signing a one-year, $1.15 million deal with the Giants.
- The Texas Rangers pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Lance Lynn to the White Sox for a pair of prospects. Not only does this bolster an already very good White Sox team, but it also leads one to wonder whether or not other players like Joey Gallo could follow Lynn out the door.
- The Reds decided to move their vaunted closer, Raisel Iglesias, in a deal with the Los Angeles Angels. Maybe Mike Trout will actually make the playoffs in 2021 if, you know, they can actually stitch a healthy rotation together, too.
- The baseball world lost a legend as Dick Allen passed away at the age of 78. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Also, to put it bluntly... the man has deserved to be in the Hall of Fame forever and that he isn’t in needs to be rectified.
- The Rangers have hired Chris Young as general manager, but will retain Jon Daniels as the president of baseball operations.
- While we did see some roster moves ahead of the non-tender deadline that we have already noted, the deadline itself is where we see the bulk of moves made and yesterday was no exception. While the non-tender deadline wasn’t quite as severe as some thought it would be, there was still a whole bunch of new free agents added to the pool. Our own Andersen Pickard put together a tracker with notes on both all of the guys non-tendered as well as those who did, in fact, end up getting tendered deals who were in limbo.
- The Brewers have signed veteran catcher Luke Maile, who missed the entire 2020 season with a fractured finger, to a one-year major-league contract. While Maile has never played in more than 68 games in a season, it’s possible that he could be the Brewers’ fourth different starting catcher in four seasons, as Omar Narváez and Manny Piña are both non-tender candidates and Jacob Nottingham hasn’t established himself as Milwaukee’s clear starter moving forward.
- The Rangers announced that former catcher and Gold Glove third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa will take over as their starting shortstop in 2021. Elvis Andrus, the team’s starting shortstop for the last 12 seasons, will transition to a utility infielder role.
- The Royals have been busy this offseason. After locking up Mike Minor to help solidify their rotation, Kansas City turned their attention to the outfield, signing Michael Taylor to a one year deal. While Taylor has been hit or miss on offense, he is a quality defender in the outfield... a quality that the Royals have historically valued highly.
- The Marlins were one of the bigger stories from the 2020 season both because of their improbable playoff run and also because they nearly torpedoed the whole MLB season thanks to a COVID outbreak that spread throughout their roster. Now, the team has continued to overhaul its roster, acquiring reliever Adam Cimber from the Indians for cash and immediately designating their 2020 Opening Day starter, Jose Urena, for assignment. He was likely an upcoming casualty of the non-tender deadline anyway, but it’s still wild to see it happen nonetheless.
- George Springer has begun to get very serious in his talks with the Blue Jays, according to Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi. Many have hypothesized that the Blue Jays have offered at least one contract to Springer. The Blue Jays have already made some early moves, bringing back Robbie Ray for another year. While the so-called talks may only be talks, it isn’t so off base to say that the Blue Jays are trying to strike while the iron is hot, before other teams can even consider a budget for free agency. A new stadium and new slugger? Not a bad looking for Toronto.
- While young starters Max Fried and Ian Anderson showed great hope for the future, one could argue that the Braves’ downfall in 2020 was the inconsistency in their rotation. They’ve made multiple moves to boost their starting pitching in 2021, first signing Drew Smyly to a one-year, $11 million deal, then bringing back old friend Charlie Morton on a one-year, $15 million contract. While Smyly and Morton both carry some level of risk, it’s hard to go wrong with one-year contracts, and if Smyly and Morton are at their best, the Braves’ rotation could return to being one of the strengths of the team next season.
- Who would’ve guessed that the Rays would consider trading Blake Snell before the end of his five-year, $50 million contract? (Numerous hands in the room go up.) Tampa is considering trading its ace, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, in order to — you guessed it — create financial flexibility as his salary increases from $7 million to $10.5 million in 2021. With all due respect to Trevor Bauer, this news makes Snell the most desirable pitcher with a realistic change of changing teams this offseason.
- There has been quite a bit of re-arranging across the league in terms of the leaderships of various front offices. That trend continued when the Brewers promoted Matt Arnold, who had served as the team’s assistant general manager, to the posts of senior vice president and general manager. Arnold had been a candidate for several top jobs around the league and the Brewers made sure that he wasn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
- Mets second baseman Robinson Canó tested positive for a banned substance for the second time and has been suspended for the entire 2021 season as a result. His subsequent silence on the matter has been, well, deafening and telling.
- After nine seasons as the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, including one that resulted in a drought-ending World Series victory, Theo Epstein is stepping down and says he’s going to take a break from baseball (though that hasn’t stopped some from connecting him to the Mets and Phillies front office openings). He’ll be replaced by his longtime right-hand man, Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs will have an opportunity to install another executive (perhaps one of their highly-regarded VPs, Jason McLeod or Dan Kantrovitz?) as GM if they so choose.
- A time honored tradition each and every year is the release of the Hall of Fame ballot and having the internet shout about who is and who isn’t worthy of induction. That process began yet again last month as the 2021 ballot was released. With the list of newly eligible players being somewhat underwhelming, it will be interesting to see which players see a boost in their chances.
- Unlike some awards where there was a certain amount of suspense as to who was going to win the award, the Braves’ Freddie Freeman was the overwhelming favorite to take home the NL MVP award. He was arguably the best hitter in the league in 2020 and was on one of the best teams in the league. That combination is usually a good predictor of success and he did, in fact, take home the NL MVP award with 28 out of a possible 30 first place votes. Jose Abreu of the White Sox ended up taking home the AL MVP in a closer result over Jose Ramirez.
- There are a lot of things that the Braves owe their recent success to, and one of those is the work of Perry Minasian, who has been an assistant to general manager Alex Anthopoulos the last three seasons and who has a lengthy family pedigree in baseball. The Angels took notice and managed to snag Minasian to be their new general manager.
- MLB continued its awards week with the announcement of the Cy Young Awards for each of the respective leagues. To the surprise of no one, Shane Bieber took home the American League award after dominating throughout the 2020 season and Trevor Bauer held off Yu Darvish to win the the NL Cy Young.
- If you had Jason Vosler as the first position player to score a major-league free-agent deal this offseason, come collect your prize. The Giants signed the 27-year-old third baseman, who has spent time in the Cubs and Padres organizations, to a big-league contract. Vosler is a veteran of six minor-league seasons and spent time at the Padres’ alternate training site over the summer but has yet to make his major-league debut. However, the Giants were still intrigued enough to give him a 40-man roster spot, perhaps because of his righty-mashing ability — the left-handed hitter hit .300/.371/.563 with 19 homers in 339 plate appearances against right-handers at Triple-A El Paso in 2019.
- When the White Sox hired Tony La Russa to be their next manager, it got a lot of attention mainly because everyone just assumed that La Russa was done managing in the big leagues and had moved on to the twilight of his career in baseball. Now, the hiring is getting some additional scrutiny because apparently La Russa was charged with his second DUI just one day before the White Sox announced the hiring. The team making the move despite knowing about the charge is ... interesting to say the least.
- The Rookie of the Year awards were announced, and the Mariners’ Kyle Lewis was the unanimous pick over in the American League, while Brewers reliever Devin Williams, who was all but unhittable this year, took home the hardware in the National League over Alec Bohm and Jake Cronenworth.
- A new regime is starting in Queens and they’re already making big moves. The Mets have parted ways with several top executives, including the one and only Brodie Van Wagenen. Steve Cohen is wasting no time in getting business done.
- No surprise here. The Tigers have hired A.J. Hinch as their new manager. Some may even say this is an extension of Hinch’s punishment from the Astros’ cheating scandal.
- The Red Sox owners group might be taking the company public, in case you want to get a little piece of the action. Fenway Sports LLC is in special negations with a special acquisitions company that would bring them public, reports Cara Lombardo and Miriam Gottfried of the Wall Street Journal. After going public, Fenway Sports would be valued at $8B, giving the acquisition company, RedBall Acquisitions, a $1.575B minority share. Don’t worry Red Sox fans, John Henry will still maintain majority control of the group.
MLB Trade Rumors and News: Reds reportedly discussing Luis Castillo
Could a deal be upon us?
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