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MLB Trade Rumors and News: Orioles finalizing deal with Maikel Franco

The free agent third baseman has found a home before the start of the season.

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB Daily Dish is a daily feature we’re running here at MLBDD that rounds up roster-impacting news, rumors, and analysis. Have feedback or have something that should be the shared? Hit us up at @mlbdailydish on Twitter or @MLBDailyDish on Instagram.

  • After an amazing 15-year career, Nick Markakis has announced his retirement. The 37-year old did not pursue any free agent opportunities this offseason and was an important part of the Braves winning the NL East in the past three seasons.
  • In their flurry of a rebuild, the Orioles are in the midst of finalizing a deal with free agent Maikel Franco, Jon Heyman of MLB reports. The third baseman and former Phillies top prospect is a pretty solid upgrade from Baltimore’s current inhabitant of the hot corner, Rio Ruiz. The 27-year old Ruiz has a mere .229/.299/.393 line in 617 plate appearances with average power and below-average defensive abilities. While Franco didn’t live up to his hype in Philly, he redeemed himself last season in Kansas City, playing in all 60 games that season and slashing .278/.321/.457. If Franco keeps up this newly found hot streak, not only would he be an affordable power hitter for Baltimore, but his trade value come the deadline would skyrocket. Franco joins Freddy Galvis as Baltimore’s only two major league free agent signees this winter, which is honestly impressive.
  • What’s that, approaching rapidly in the distance? It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Red Sox hot take! Can J.D. Martinez rediscover his power this season? The slugger needs to reclaim some of the power of his yesteryears to move forward after a painful 2020 season.
  • A few seasons ago, MLB tested out some new rules in the minor leagues that ended up being used in the major leagues including the extra inning rule where a runner started each extra inning on second base. Now, it looks like MLB is eyeing some other changes with some other rules getting tested out in the minors during the 2021 season. Such changes include an automated strike zone, limits on the shift, limits on pickoff moves, and changes to the physical bases designed to lead to less slipping and less collisions on the basepaths.
  • Joey Votto has been a cornerstone of the Reds’ organization really ever since he took the field. He also has been known as been one of the most blunt and transparent players in the league regarding how he feels. That transparency, as it turns out, extends to his health as he gave the go ahead for the team to let the world know that he tested positive for COVID-19 and will be out for a little while as a result.
  • Yankees reliever Zack Britton will miss the beginning of the season, as he’ll undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow and be out for at least a month. That’s a major loss for the Bronx Bombers, as the two-time All-Star had a stellar 1.89 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with eight saves in 20 games last season.
  • Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas, who missed the entire 2020 season after having surgery to repair a flexor tendon, will undergo a series of exams Wednesday and will begin the regular season on the injured list as his shoulder soreness persists. Luckily for the Cardinals, their starting pitching depth is rather solid even if Mikolas is sidelined for an extended period.
  • Just a couple weeks into spring training, we are seeing some key players either suffering injuries that put their Opening Day status in jeopardy or continuing to rehab injuries that impacted them last year. The Brewers, Braves, Astros, Mariners, and Cardinals among others are dealing with injuries to key pieces with the most recent headliner being the Astros’ Forrest Whitley, who may be headed for Tommy John surgery.
  • The Astros have signed Jake Odorizzi to a two-year deal, Jeff Passan of ESPN reports. It’s shocking that it’s taken a team this long to swipe the 30-year old off of the market. 2020 was a rough year for Odorizzi, being slammed by injuries from all angles. However, he’s still the proud owner of a combined 3.88 ERA from 2014-2019. The Astros stayed on the conservative side this offseason, only making a major move to bring back Michael Brantley after he opted for free agency, so maybe giving the starter $30M was the plan all along.
  • Jackie Bradley Jr. has had to wait a long time to find his team for the 2021 season, and it looks like all that waiting as finally paid off. He has officially signed a two-year deal with the Brewers, per multiple reports. That Brewers outfield can sure defend, but also is now a bit crowded.
  • In scarier news, manager Aaron Boone and the Yankees announced last week that Boone had not felt well recently and his doctors recommended that he get a pacemaker. He had the procedure to do just that and will be out for at least the next few days, although all indications are that the surgery went well without any complications.
  • There was some hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would calm down quickly enough that the Triple-A season could begin at the same time as the major league season. That hope has now dried up, and minor leaguers with a chance of contributing in the big leagues at the outset of the season will be assigned to an alternate site, just like during the 2020 season. There’s hope that the Triple-A season might begin in May, but everything remains in question until teams feel comfortable transporting minor leaguers — in particular, those who might be promoted to the big leagues — on commerical flights.
  • The Royals have reunited with outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who spent seven seasons in Kansas City and won a World Series in 2015, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman and FanSided’s Robert Murray first reported. He received a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
  • The Kansas City Royals and Hunter Dozier have settled on a four-year extension. The deal will give Dozier a $25M guarantee with a $10M option for 2025. But it doesn’t end there — if he maxes out all his bonuses and incentives, he’s look at a ceiling of $49M. The 29-year old was some time away from reaching free agency, not hitting the open market until after the 2023 season. In 2019, the third baseman slashed .279/.348/.522 with 26 home runs over 586 plate appearances. The curt and strange 2020 season saw a vastly different Dozier, hitting .228/.344/.392, however he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in July, no doubt effecting his power at the plate even after recovery. With Maikel Franco back on the free agency market, Dozier will remain at third base rather than being bounced around from first to the corner infield.
  • While the majority of the free agents of note have finally signed contracts, there are a few players who are still on the open market. We don’t yet have word on one of the better relievers on the market in Shane Greene, however Jake Odorizzi has been getting some attention from at least the Phillies and Angels as they look to fortify their rotations.
  • In perhaps the most off-the-wall signing of the offseason, the Giants have signed 37-year-old left-hander Scott Kazmir to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training. The three-time All-Star hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016, though he made spring training appearances in 2017-18 and pitched in independent ball last summer. He’s already made one spectacular comeback, signing with the Indians in 2013 after a year in independent ball and proceeding to put together a trio of strong seasons with Cleveland, Oakland, and Houston before struggling with the Dodgers in 2016. A return to form certainly seems unlikely at this stage of his career, but it’d be an unbelievable story if he can pull it off.
  • One day after video came to light of him insulting numerous members of the Mariners organization in a Zoom meeting with a local rotary club, Seattle president and CEO Kevin Mather announced his resignation. Now the Mariners begin the process of smoothing over the damage he caused by taking shots at several players who will be essential to Seattle’s future success.
  • The Athletics and Trevor Rosenthal have agreed on a one-year deal. In 23.2 innings last season, the veteran reliever posted a ridiculous 1.90 ERA with a career high strikeout rate of 14.45 K/9.
  • Bad news is hitting Phillies’ camp just days into Spring Training. J.T. Realmuto has suffered a broken thumb catching a live bullpen session, and his odds of being ready for Opening Day remain uncertain. Not what you really want to hear about the guy you just signed to a five-year, $115.5M deal.
  • The Mets are adding more depth to their rotation and have signed Taijuan Walker. After missing nearly two years post-Tommy John surgery, the journeyman made his return to the mound last year, posting an impressive 2.70 ERA in his time split between the Mariners and the Blue Jays.
  • While the Padres have been one of the most aggressive teams in baseball this offseason, one thing that was not expected was a reworked deal with their young star, Fernando Tatis Jr. One of the things that gave San Diego the financial flexibility they had was having guys like Tatis Jr. on cheap early contracts. However, the Padres surprised, well, everyone last week by signing Fernando to a 14 year, $340 million contract extension.
  • The Tim Tebow sideshow officially came to an end as he retired from professional baseball. Sure, his career in baseball was probably largely a marketing scheme concocted by his agents to further build his brand after playing football didn’t work out, but he was better than a lot of us thought he would be and he also brought much needed revenue to teams throughout minor league baseball.
  • The Padres have signed veteran closer Mark Melancon. The three-time All-Star solidifies the back of San Diego’s bullpen and is another key addition as the Padres look to unseat the Dodgers as NL West champions in 2021.
  • The Dodgers will be bringing back alleged super spreader Justin Turner on a two-year deal. The 36-year old is still a valuable asset to the Dodgers, slashing .307/.400/.460 over 175 plate appearances last year and a firecracker postseason performance that included two homers. Don’t forget, this is the same Justin Turner that the Mets non-tendered. Just making sure you remember. The deal is expected to be in the $35M range.
  • The offseason has moved with waves: big, massive moves that we never saw coming, tiny swells that we barely knew happened, and waves that looked really big and exciting from a distance but totally weren’t worth the fuss (just guess). And while some teams snagged a big star to help them out, there’s still work to be done. Here’s what every team in MLB needs to work on acquiring before the season begins.
  • The Red Sox, Mets, and Royals got together on a three team trade that ultimately resulted in Andrew Benintendi, who has two years of team control left, heading to Kansas City. A lot of the shine has worn off of Benintendi as he hasn’t been the impact bat the Red Sox hoped he would be and he was hurt for much of last season, but he should at least make the Royals a little bit better. The Red Sox and Mets are both getting prospects in return with Khalil Lee (who is headed to the Mets from the Royals) headlining the group.
  • The Marlins added some valuable right-handed power to their lineup, agreeing to a deal with former Braves slugger Adam Duvall (who hit three homers in the Braves’ 29-9 win over Miami last Sept. 9). In a sign of how cash-strapped the Marlins appear to be this offseason, it’s a backloaded deal, with Duvall receiving $2 million this season and either a $7 million mutual option or a $3 million buyout in 2022.
  • The Mets added an interesting bench piece, signing utility player Jonathan Villar to a one-year, $3.55 million deal. While Villar struggled during a 2020 season split between Miami and Toronto, he was stellar in 2019, playing in all 162 games for the Orioles and hitting 24 homers with 40 steals and a .792 OPS.
  • MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to health and safety protocols for the 2021 season. Returning for a second season — ostensibly because they’ll keep players at the ballpark for shorter periods of time — are the runner-on-second rule in extra innings and seven-inning doubleheaders.
  • Now we can all forget about the dog and pony show for a totally average player, because Trevor Bauer has signed a three-year, $102 million deal with Dodgers. Ah, to have a career 3.90 ERA and get a massive, unprecedented contract.
  • The Braves have signed Marcell Ozuna to four-year deal. The 30-year old will make $64M over those four years, with the potential to reach $80M with a fifth year option. After last season’s temporary introduction of the DH to the National League (we love short season chaos) the two-time All Star found himself at a career crossroads: spending less time at his defensive position and more games in that DH role. He also slashed .338/.431/.636 during said short season chaos. While the NL is likely ridding itself of the DH this season, this could be Atlanta’s way of preparing just in case it returns, and if nothing else having a power hitter with a good eye in the batter’s box is a great sign three weeks before spring training kicks off.
  • Former Mets manager and current (for the moment anyways) Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway is under fire due to multiple accusations of lewd and indecent conduct for texts he sent to multiple female members of sports media in recent years. While investigations are ongoing, the initial information is pretty awful and it seems likely that, at the very least, his current employment with the Angels is in jeopardy. He was suspended as the Angels launched an investigation into his lewd behavior.
  • In a not-too-surprising development, no players were elected to the Hall of Fame as the 2021 BBWAA voting was revealed. Perhaps more surprising was that Curt Schilling, never one to turn down an opportunity to make himself the center of attention, requested that he be removed from the ballot in his final year of eligibility next year.