Your Offseason Roadmap

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Here at CTB we’re going to hit you with news, rumors and commentary all offseason, so if you want, you can simply lock the page in, hit “refresh” over and over again between now and April and never miss a thing.

But if you’re one of those types that just has to see what’s ahead, here’s a handy dandy schedule, courtesy of, with which to structure the baseball-consuming portion of your winter:

Yesterday-November 19th:  Free agency filing period. Be sure to click over on the 20th to see which agents lost the paperwork and get sued for malpractice!

November 9th-11th: General Managers meetings in Chicago.  Not quite the bacchanalia as the owners meetings later in the month, but higher rent than the free-for-all Winter Meetings in December. I think they’re holding it in Chicago this year because Jim Hendry is worried if he leaves town someone will change the locks on his office. He’s right to worry.

November 11th-24th: Awards season.  Watch as the players and managers award Gold Gloves to all the wrong people!  Watch as writers try to make an argument that Ryan Howard deserved the award more than Pujols because of all of his RBIs! Behold someone complain about a 16-win pitcher taking the Cy Young Award while conveniently forgetting that his teammates couldn’t crack most Legion teams!

November 18th and 19th: Owners Meetings. Billionaires come together to figure out how to portray their mere millionaire employees as the greedy ones. Panda steaks will be consumed, cigars will be lit by flaming bearer bonds. Jamie McCourt will be barred by security.

November 30th: Executive Board of the Players’ Union meets.  It’ll be kinda like John L. Lewis addressing the coal miners, except with fewer references to silicosis and a better brand of beer filling the keg in the corner of the union hall.

December 1st: Deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration. This is the day we see if the Mets are all-in on Jeff Francoeur.  As a Braves fan, this will be like my Christmas. No matter what happens, the result will be hilarious.

December 7th-10th: The Winter Meetings. Usually these take place in warm and fun locations. A couple of years ago they were in Newport Beach or someplace like that. Next year: Disney World. This time around? Indianapolis. Of course, it stands to reason that I get to go this time.  But it won’t all be cold and dreary: I plan to stalk FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, and given how hard he works at these things, if I can keep up I’m going to get more fit on this trip than I would on a spa vacation.

Early December: Hall of Fame balloting.  New on the ballot: Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez. I’m fans of all four of them, and any of them will be better selections than Jim Rice was last year. But in all honesty, I only think three of these guys should make the Hall. Feel free to guess who I think is unworthy in the comments.  Results will be announced January 6th. Complaining about the results will last until inductions happen in July.

Mid-January: More owners meetings.  Don’t these people have more important things to do with their time than to travel to posh resorts and talk about how rich they are?  Wait, of course they don’t. I forgot who I was talking about.

February 1st-21st: Salary arbitration hearings. As a lawyer, I take special interest in these. I mean, there’s enough baloney thrown around in courtrooms every day, but to see a player’s lawyer argue that Kevin Gregg is as valuable as a young Mariano Rivera, and to see an team’s lawyer argue that Nick Markakis is only worth the league minimum is to see lawyering at its highest level.

Mid-February: Pitchers and catchers report; next round of names leaks from the 2003 steroid list.

Ahhh, the rites of Spring!

Braves sign Bud Norris to one-year contract

Bud Norris

Bud Norris has found a home for his attempt at a bounceback season, signing a one-year deal with the Braves. Jon Heyman of says it’s worth $2.5 million, which is a huge cut from his $8.8 million salary this year.

Norris had established himself as a solid mid-rotation starter from 2009-2014, but had a brutal 2015 season split between the Orioles and Padres with a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings and a late-season move to the bullpen.

In announcing the signing the Braves referred to Norris as a starting pitcher, so joining the rotation for a rebuilding team gives him a chance to get his career back on track with an eye on hitting the open market as a free agent again next offseason. And if he fares well, the Braves could use him to add a prospect or two at the trade deadline.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.