UPDATE: First he signed, then he didn’t, then he signed and then he didn’t: Chien-Ming Wang’s agent is now saying that the reports are inaccurate, there is no deal with the Nats, and that Wang hasn’t finalized anything with anybody.
And with that, I’m officially out of the Wang business. He could carve his signature into a granite contract with a diamond-tipped chisel in front of 200 notaries public tomorrow and I won’t accept it as fact until I hear three pinky swears and a blood oath as to the deal’s veracity.
10:28 A.M.: There was a lot of back and forth yesterday about whether the Nats and Chien-Ming Wang had a deal or not. Pete Abraham said they did first, only to have some others say, no, no deal is in place. I had called these later reports “debunkings” but in hindsight that was a really poor choice of words, because it automatically assumed that the latest reports were right, and there was no reason to assume that. Why? For one thing Abraham, I later learned, is really tight with Wang’s camp and is trusted by people who know things to know what’s going on with him.
For another thing, it appears as though Abe was right. Last night the China Times reported that, yes, there is a $2 million deal with the chance of it getting to $3 million if certain incentives are met. Later Ken Davidoff of Newsday tweeted the same thing, and no one has since said anything to the contrary.
So apologies to Mr. Abraham and congratulations to Mr. Wang and the Nats, who I think will make a nice pairing.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.