Thanks to early signings, infield market clearing up

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Everything else is moving as slowly as anticipated, but the non-first base portion of the infield market has been extremely active in the early part of the winter, and now that Chone Figgins (apparently), Marco Scutaro and Placido Polanco have all agreed to terms, the picture for Orlando Hudson, Adrian Beltre and others is coming into sharper focus.
First, let’s look at the teams still hunting for new regulars:
2B: Dodgers, Cubs, Mets, D-backs, Twins, Marlins, Astros, Rays, Mariners, Rockies, Indians
3B: Orioles, Twins, Giants, Cardinals, Astros, Angels, Red Sox, Marlins, White Sox, A’s
SS: Tigers, Nationals, Reds, A’s, Pirates
The teams in italics are more the clubs that will consider changes if a situation changes or if someone falls into their laps.
And still left in free agency:
2B: Orlando Hudson, Felipe Lopez, Kelly Johnson*, Adam Kennedy, Juan Uribe, Jamey Carroll, Ronnie Belliard
3B: Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, Garrett Atkins*, Joe Crede, Pedro Feliz, Troy Glaus, Melvin Mora
SS: Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera, Khalil Greene, Adam Everett, Craig Counsell, Bobby Crosby
Johnson and Atkins both figure to be non-tendered later this month.
So, let’s find some potential matches:
Hudson – We know he isn’t returning to the Dodgers. A move to New York and the Mets makes a ton of sense if the club can find a way to shed a portion of Luis Castillo’s contract first. If the Mets opt to stay away, then the Cubs might be able to land his services at a modest bargain.
Lopez – He seems like the best fit for the Dodgers at this point. A two-year deal worth $10 million-$12 million would be reasonable.
Beltre – Beltre is now clearly the No. 1 third baseman on the market, but unless the Giants step up, he’s probably not going to get the kind of deal he wants. I still think the Red Sox would love to have him if they could get the Twins or someone to eat half of the $12 million that Mike Lowell is owed.
DeRosa – The Twins could use his right-handed power, and he’s likely to be more affordable than Beltre.
Atkins – Baltimore is a good fit. The Orioles will jwant a one-year option with Josh Bell on the way, and Atkins will be looking for a situation in which he can rebuild his value.
Tejada – Given that the teams still in the hunt for shortstops are going to be bargain hunters, it seems nearly certain that Tejada will end up at third base, maybe with the Cardinals.
Cabrera – Cabrera might also shift over, though he’d be going to second. He’ll probably have to wait for Hudson and Lopez before he finds himself in demand.

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.