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- The Athletics have hired Mark Kotsay as the team’s latest manager. Kotsay played for the team from 2004-2007, diving into coaching after retiring in 2013. After spending some time as San Diego’s hitting coach, Kotsay took on the bench coach role for Oakland, following that up with positions as quality control coach and first base coach.
- In fun historic things that might have gotten swept under the rug, the Pirates have hired Caitlyn Callahan, team’s first in-uniform female coach.
- A possibly drunk umpire in Mexico flipped off fans and tried to fight players mid-game, and it’s sad this is the kind of baseball Robert Manfred is keeping from us.
- The Mets have hired Buck Showalter as their new manager, as tweeted by owner Steve Cohen.
I’m pleased to announce Buck Showalter as the new manager of the New York Mets— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) December 18, 2021
The 65-year old has a 1,551-1,517 career record, and will be taking his place in Queens for the next three years. He’ll be the Mets third manager in five years, and just like he was able to do in Baltimore, can hopefully bring some hope to a team whose has fighting chance potential.
- MLB and the MLBPA aren’t expected to discuss the game’s core economic structure until sometime in January, Evan Drellich of the Athletic reports. So for those of you who celebrate, you likely won’t be getting baseball for Christmas. Maybe hold out for Valentine’s Day?
- Lockout or not, some teams are still doing their legwork this offseason. In this instance, the Marlins are looking to sign Michael Conforto, Joe Frisaro of Man on Second Baseball reports. Last season was a tough one for the outfielder, slashing an anemic .232/.344/.384. While he may not get the monster multi-year contract he denied the Mets qualifying offer for, Conforto could spend a year or two down in Miami.
- The Phillies announced a flurry of minor league deals with invitations to major league spring training on Tuesday. Headlining those signings was eight-year major league veteran Cam Bedrosian, who will return to the Phillies organization after posting a 4.35 ERA in 11 relief appearances with them last season. It’s unclear why Bedrosian, who finished the 2021 season on Philadelphia’s 40-man roster, was allowed to sign during the lockout or why the team was allowed to announce it. The Phillies added two more pitchers who appeared at the major league level in 2021, Andrew Bellatti and Jake Newberry, along with career minor leaguers Tyler Cyr, Joe Gatto, and Michael Kelly.
- As we wait for news on the continuing CBA negotiations during the lockout, we got some sad news. Roland Hemond, former front office executive for several MLB teams over a nearly 70 year career, passed away at the age of 92. You will struggle to find another person in the game of baseball who worked in baseball as long as he did and was as beloved as him.
- Infielder Freddy Galvis is packing his bags to head overseas, reports Yahoo Japan. The 32-year old has signed a two-year contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball. While Galvis wasn’t creating the buzz that other free agents were this offseason, he still seemed likely to earn a major league contract from someone.
- Six new members have been elected to the National Baseball Hall Of Fame, revealed by today’s special selection committee meetings. Cooperstown will now have new residents Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva, and Buck O’Neil, who will be officially inducted on July 24 along with the players to be voted in by the standard writers’ ballot.
- Right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano has declined the international opt-out clause in his contract and instead will remain with the Yomiuri Giants. Sugano told media outlets, including Yahoo Japan, that his goal was to help the Giants win a championship in 2022, so he will remain in Japan for at least one more season.
- While a lockout was widely expected in MLB this offseason, the hope was that the two sides could at least make some movement in the closing days before the expiration of the CBA to give some hope that there could be a fairly quick resolution during the work stoppage. However, a 30 minute meeting followed by a seven minute meeting is essentially all we got and when the clock struck midnight, the lockout officially began with little cause for optimism...at least not yet.
- In case you’re still confused about the logistics of the lockout, here’s your five minute breakdown on what’s going on.
- At the last possible minute, we had a few transactions and one of which was a pretty spicy blend of moves from the Red Sox. Boston brought back Rich Hill on a one year deal and then traded outfielder Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for Jackie Bradley Jr. and a pair of prospects.
- Mark Melancon has turned in quite the productive (and profitable) twilight of his illustrious career. After a strong season for the San Diego Padres, Melancon signed a two year, $14 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
- One of the easier types of deals to do when faced with a hard deadline like the expiration of the CBA is to bring back a player that was on your team last year. Without concerns about medicals or background checks, there are far fewer hurdles for the moves like the Dodgers bringing back Chris Taylor on a four year deal to overcome with a tight window.
- The Angels brought back closer Raisel Iglesias late Tuesday night, signing him to a four-year deal. It’s a bold move for the Halos, who still have a lot of areas to address despite having arguably the two best players in baseball in Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
- After signing Michael Wacha over the weekend, the Red Sox again added to their rotation with another one-year gamble on Tuesday night, signing lefty James Paxton to a $10 million deal. Paxton has a career 3.59 ERA but has made just six starts over the past two years, including one in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
- The Giants continued assembling their 2022 rotation on Tuesday, signing right-hander Alex Cobb to a two-year, $20 million deal with a club option for 2024. Cobb has largely struggled since leaving the Rays following the 2017 season, but he was pretty good over 18 starts for the Angels in 2021, throwing for a 3.76 ERA with 98 strikeouts and 33 walks in 93.1 innings. The Giants are betting on Cobb getting the same San Francisco boost that pitchers like Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly, Anthony DeSclafani, and Alex Wood have received over the past two seasons.
- The Marlins’ surprisingly active offseason took another turn on Tuesday night as they acquired All-Star infielder Joey Wendle from the Rays in exchange for 2019 first-rounder Kameron Misner. While more work still needs to be done, the additions of Wendle, Jacob Stallings, and Avisaíl García put the pitching-rich Marlins in better position to contend for a playoff spot in 2022.
- Despite his inconsistency over the past two seasons, Javier Báez still managed to earn a major payday in free agency, agreeing to a six-year, $140 million deal with the Tigers.
- Max Scherzer got the signing frenzy started on Monday. After multiple reports seemed to indicate that the Mets had made him an insane offer, Scherzer agreed to said insane offer on Monday morning: a three year, $130 million deal.
- The Rangers have been arguably the most aggressive team in free agency this offseason. After already locking in Marcus Semien to a seven year deal among other moves, the Rangers got another high profile infielder as they signed Corey Seager to a massive 10 year, $325 million deal.
- Everyone has been waiting for months for the fate of Marcell Ozuna in the wake of the domestic violence charges against him. After a winding tale during the legal process that saw his charges downgraded and saw him enter a diversion program, the league finally weighed in as they gave him a 20 game retroactive suspension. He will not miss a game during the 2022 season.
- Normally, the reigning Cy Young award winner signing with a new team would be the headline for most baseball news cycles. That it wasn’t on Monday speaks volumes to how crazy it was on the transaction front. Robbie Ray does, in fact, have a new squad as the Mariners inked him to a five year, $115 million.
- The Rangers are close to signing Jon Gray to four-year deal. The 30-year old showcased some amazing breaking pitches before his success trailed off at the end of the 2021 season. But for the Rangers right now, any kind of pitching is good pitching.
- Kevin Gausman has agreed to a five-year, $110 million deal with Blue Jays. While Gausman struggled in the second half of last season, posting a concerning 4.42 ERA after the All-Star Break, he still finished sixth in Cy Young voting and was undoubtably the Giants’ ace at one point. We all go through rough patches, right?
- Marcus Semien has signed a seven-year deal with the Rangers. The star infielder put on quite the show last season, slashing .265/.334/.538 with 45 home runs. Now, the Rangers have locked him down until 2028 — the year he turns 38.
- The Twins signed Byron Buxton to a massive seven year, $100 million extension,because ‘tis the season for astronomical contracts. The Twins are rolling the dice on their homegrown talent — while Buxton is a powerhouse of a player, he is beyond injury prone. If Minnesota can keep him healthy for more than 90 games a season, their risk will be well worth it.
- The Rays have signed Corey Kluber to a one-year, $8 million deal. It’s a gamble for the Rays, taking on the two-time Cy Young Award winner. Kluber has struggled with injuries for the last three seasons, and he’s spent a lot of time on the injured list. If he can stay active, he’ll bring a strong veteran presence to Tampa Bay’s rotation.
- The Mets have agreed to a four-year, $78 million deal with Starling Marte. The veteran slashed an impressive .310/.383/.458 with 12 homers between the Marlins and Athletics this past season. He’ll hope to take that consistency at the plate to Queens with him — they could use it.
- The Rays and Wander Franco both took major gambles, agreeing to an 11-year extension with a club option for a 12th year that will pay Franco a guaranteed $182 million. If all goes right for the Rays, they’ll control a generational superstar through his age-33 season. They’re betting big on a player who has played in just 70 major league games, though, while Franco is sacrificing the possibility of signing a deal that could be twice as big in exchange for more financial certainty now.
- The White Sox signed reliever Kendall Graveman to a three-year, $24 million deal. They could have a three-headed monster at the back of their bullpen in 2022 with Graveman, Liam Hendriks, and Craig Kimbrel, though GM Rick Hahn has said they’re open to trading Kimbrel this offseason after he struggled down the stretch as a setup man in 2021.
- The Giants had themselves a busy day as they, at least partially, sought to get the band back together for next season. They were successful on a couple fronts as they inked starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani to a three-year deal and shortly after that, his fellow member of the Giants’ 2021 rotation, Alex Wood, joined him on a two-year deal.
- The candidates for the Comeback Players of the Year were fairly clear this season, and that is exactly how the awards played out as Buster Posey, who battled injuries in 2019 and didn’t play in 2020, and Trey Mancini, famously coming back from colon cancer to play at a high level, took home the Comeback Player of the Year awards in each league.
- Despite all of the drama surrounding the tenure of manager Alex Cora with regards to the sign stealing scandal that impacted both his time with the Astros and Red Sox, Boston seems very keen on keep the manager on that won them a World Series title AND helped them put together a surprising run this season deep into the playoffs as they went ahead and exercised their options on his deal for 2023 and 2024.
- The two betting favorites for this year’s MVP awards ended up taking home the trophies as Shohei Ohtani was a unanimous choice in the American League while Bryce Harper edged out Juan Soto for the NL award.
- Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes and Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray are this year’s Cy Young Award winners. Burnes’ victory was particularly contentious on social media, as he edged out Phillies righty Zack Wheeler despite throwing 46 fewer innings and posting an ERA that was only 0.30 runs lower. Burnes and Wheeler each received 12 first-place votes from BBWAA voters, but Burnes received 151 total points compared to Wheeler’s 141. Ray, meanwhile, received 29 of 30 first-place votes.
- Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was the only player in the majors to accept the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer from his previous club, and he’ll return to a San Francisco team that he helped propel to 107 wins in 2020. 13 players rejected qualifying offers, so their previous clubs will receive compensation if they sign elsewhere.
- Justin Verlander was one of those players who rejected the qualifying offer, but he quickly re-upped with the Astros, agreeing to a one-year, $25 million deal with a $25 million player option for 2023. That’s an impressive commitment on the part of the Astros, who will bring back a future Hall of Fame but will gamble on an aging starter who has pitched in just one game over the past two seasons.
- The Mets tendered the one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer to Noah Syndergaard, but instead of sticking with the club he’s spent his entire major league career with, the oft-injured starter opted to take on a new challenge and a slightly more lucrative deal, signing a one-year, $21 million deal with the Angels. After making just two appearances over the last two years, Syndergaard is gambling that he can stay healthy in 2022 and help turn around a franchise that has struggled badly at evaluating free agent pitchers in recent seasons.
- The Blue Jays turned some heads when they gave up highly-regarded prospects Simeon Woods-Richardson and Austin Martin to acquire starter José Berríos at the trade deadline this year, but now they’re in it for the long haul with the former Twins starter after signing him to a seven-year, $131 million extension. The Berríos deal stabilizes Toronto’s rotation moving forward and should serve as a reference point for teams looking to sign free agent starters like Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman this winter.
- The Mets have pretty famously struggled to find someone to take their general manager job. After getting turned down by a number of candidates, New York offered the position to former Angels’ GM Billy Eppler, and he accepted the job.
- The Giants have extended Gabe Kapler’s contract through 2024. It makes sense for the Giants to keep the party going with Kapler; he’s taken a team that was seemingly short on talent in 2020 and transformed them into the most winning team in 2021 (107, to be exact).
- Joakim Soria has long been a productive reliever for nine different organizations over the course of his 14 season career. While his heyday was with the Royals where he made a couple of All-Star teams, he remained a solid reliever throughout his career. Soria has decided to call it a career.
- Blue Jays first baseman/DH Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper were named the winners of the 2021 Hank Aaron Awards, earning the honors as the top offensive players in their respective leagues. Guerrero, the youngest Hank Aaron Award winner in MLB history, hit .311/.401/.601 with 48 homers and 111 RBI this season. Harper, who won in 2015 and is the 12th multi-time Hank Aaron Award winner in league history, hit .309/.429/.615 with 35 home runs, 84 RBI, and 13 steals.
- The Dodgers are taking a gamble on a starter who struggled significantly in 2021, signing lefty Andrew Heaney to a one-year, $8.5 million deal. Heaney posted a 5.83 ERA between the Angels and Yankees this past season, but with his high strikeout rate and spin rate, the Dodgers evidently think they can turn his career around.
- The Cardinals were quick to bring back one of the key contributors to their late-season turnaround, signing lefty reliever T.J. McFarland to a new one-year, $2.5 million deal. The 32-year-old McFarland posted a 2.56 ERA and induced a 63.7% ground-ball rate after joining the Cardinals in July.
- J.D. Martinez has opted into his final year of his deal with the Red Sox. He’ll earn $19.35M in his last year of the $110M contract. After a turbulent 2020, the All-Star bounced back with a slash line of .286/.349/.518 and 28 home runs, shaking off any previous indication of his age.
- Buster Posey had a bit of a career resurgence in 2021 as he was one of the surprising Giants’ best offensive performers all season long. However, it has been long suspected that Posey has been considering retirement, and Posey confirmed those suspicions. Our personal guess is that Cooperstown awaits Posey and he has definitely earned a nice long rest.
- We also had our first trade of the offseason. While the CBA negotiations are likely to freeze the free agent and trade markets when it comes to major deals, the Tigers and Reds did get together on a more minor deal that sends catcher Tucker Barnhart to Detroit in exchange for MiLB third baseman Nick Quintana.
- Meanwhile, the Phillies made some expected roster moves to trim their budget a bit as they declined the club options for both Odubel Herrera and Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen is just not the impact bat he once was and Herrera’s production was inconsistent. More importantly, they were both owed real money if their options were picked up and the Phillies may need that cash to upgrade their roster if they have any real aspirations of competing in the NL East.
- Jorge Soler hit a three-run moonshot, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman also homered, Max Fried threw six shutout innings, and the Atlanta Braves blew out the Astros 7-0 to win their first World Series since 1995. It’s an incredible story for a club that lost a generational superstar, Ronald Acuña Jr., and its ace, Mike Soroka, to season-ending injuries, used seven different catchers, totally rebuilt its outfield at the trade deadline, and finished with an 88-73 record in the regular season.
- Starting in the 2022 season, all 30 teams will now be required to provide housing to all minor league players, ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports. Last month team owners held a vote on the subject that passed unanimously. The intricacies are still being worked out on if teams will be giving players stipends for housing or if they will provide it directly. Considering the conditions that an overwhelming amount of minor leaguers have been subject to, this is a welcome improvement to the quality of their lives.