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Will the lockout end today?
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- Today is the big day, folks. The MLBPA is expected to make a counteroffer to MLB’s proposal today. This will only be the second time that the league and union have formally met since the lockout began. It’s almost like we’re all waiting for the fallout of this rush job of negotiations and both sides dragging their feet. If a deal is agreed upon today, expect a dumpster fire of free agency in the coming days and weeks.
- We’re asking more tough questions this morning: How much is Juan Soto really worth?
- Could you form the ultimate Yankees lineup with players throughout the years? Pinstripe Alley wants to know who you would recruit for the Field of Dreams-esque endeavor.
- As if to add insult to injury, because baseball is not allowed to be fun whatsoever, MLB has killed a deal that would split the Rays time between Tampa Bay and Montreal. Now, on top of once again robbing the good people of Montreal of baseball ala 2004, the Rays are going to need another place to call home once the lease at Tropicana Field runs out. Cue dramatic music.
- Amid a flurry of hirings and promotions on Tuesday, the Dodgers announced that they have promoted assistant GM/vice president Brandon Gomes to general manager. He’ll report to the president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and is the first person to hold the Dodgers’ GM title since Farhan Zaidi left for San Francisco after the 2018 season. The hiring of Gomes, who pitched for the Rays from 2011-15, continues a recent trend of MLB teams re-integrating former players into senior management roles. He joins Phillies GM Sam Fuld, Rangers GM Chris Young, Athletics VP of baseball operations Billy Beane, and Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto as former major leaguers who are now in front-facing executive roles.
- The MLBPA and MLB resumed talks last Thursday, but the progress made was minimal at best. The league’s proposal last week featured little in the way of progress and changes, while the biggest takeaway was that the two sides were able to stay on topic. It’s unclear when MLBPA will counter with a proposal of their own, but the silver lining, if any, is that these talks are at least taking place. And while nothing Earth-shattering is expected to happen in the next few weeks, fingers crossed that both sides can cobble something together before Spring Training is set to begin.
- In case you need some inspiration to keep that New Year’s resolution, look at how absolutely jacked C.C. Sabathia is.
- Just in case this is keeping you up at night, here’s a complete list of players who you would never immediately think could end up in Cooperstown, but can actually make themselves a decent Hall of Fame case.
- In an unbelievably unfortunate development, Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez passed away unexpectedly last week at the age of 28. Ramirez joined the Rays organization in 2016 as a player and had been part of their major league coaching staff since 2019. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.
- The Yankees have hired Rachel Balkovec as manager for their low-A team, the Tampa Tarpons, making her the first female skipper in affiliated professional baseball. The 34-year old has already made a massive name for herself in the baseball world, starting out as a strength and conditioning coach for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012. In 2016, she made the jump to the Houston Astros as Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator—a position she learned Spanish for. From there she moved on to become the strength and conditioning coach for Double-A Corpus Christi and has served as a hitting coach in the Yankees organization for the last three seasons.
- While it looks like it will be a while before we see roster moves start back up because of the (very) stalled CBA negotiations, teams and and have been working on upgrading their coaching staffs and front offices. Case in point: the Mets. After hiring Billy Eppler and Buck Showalter for their general manager and manager position respectively, the Mets continued to overhaul their leadership roles as they managed to snag Eric Chavez as their hitting coach. Chavez had JUST agreed to be the Yankees’ assistant hitting coach, but it looks like the higher level position with the Mets was too good to pass up.
- Aside from some minor league moves, transactions involving players have been nonexistent across Major League Baseball for the last month as the lockout drags on. Luckily for the baseball obsessed, Buck Showalter continues to make transactions on his new Mets coaching staff. The Mets are set to hire Joey Cora, the older brother of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, as their new third base coach according to the New York Post. Cora spent the last five seasons in the same position with the Pirates.
- Apparently, Ron Manfred and MLB were none too happy when veteran reporter Ken Rosenthal was critical of Manfred during the 2020 season. Not only did they sideline Rosenthal from MLB Network broadcasts for months during that season, but the rift was apparently so large that they decided to not bring back Rosenthal at all for next season.
- When Fanatics came somewhat out of nowhere to snag the MLB license to make baseball cards out from under Topps, the writing was on the wall for the future of Topps as a company. Without the MLB license, Topps did not really have anything going for it except name recognition and that would not be able to compete with actual licensed cards. As a result, it was announced that Fanatics is buying Topps outright, which should make the transition much smoother and could preserve many of the Topps brands fans have grown to love.
- The Dodgers have signed infielder Eddy Alvarez, which he announced himself via his Instagram page (eat your heart out, Jon Heyman). You might be saying to yourself, “But there’s a lockout, how is this possible?” Why you’re technically right, Alvarez was a minor league free agent at the beginning of this offseason, thus allowing him to sign a minor league deal. If the Miami native will stay a minor leaguer after the lockout is over is another story. The 32-year old has also achieved what only six other athletes in the world have: medaling in different sports at both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Alvarez won a silver medal as part of the Team USA baseball team in the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games, and had also previously won a silver medal as part of the U.S. 5000m relay speed-skating team at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Not for nothing, a speed skating medalist is totally someone I’d want on my team (even if his slash line for his last two major league seasons was .188/.287/.287 over 115 plate appearances.)
- 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, the 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. 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.
- The Phillies announced a flurry of minor league deals with invitations to major league spring training. 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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, 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, 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 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- Justin Verlander 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 Famer 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.