Jeff Shultz of the AJC spoke with John Smoltz today to see if he’s retiring or not. Smoltz wouldn’t use the word, but placed his odds of pitching again at 50-1 and said “My desire to work out every day is still there. But my desire to throw 50 to 70 times a day isn’t.” So yeah, I’d say he’s done.
While he’s probably my least favorite of the Braves’ Big Three, and certainly wasn’t the best, there’s an argument that John Smoltz was the most important in many ways. He was traded to the Braves by the Tigers just after my allegiances had shifted from the Braves to the Tigers in 1987, so he’s obviously an important figure in my fandom as well. Still, I don’t think I’ve yet worked out all my feelings about John Smoltz yet — his retirement, such as it is, was a bit less anticipated than Glavine’s or Maddux’s — so I’ll save the career eulogy for a spell while I think on it.
Short version: yes, Hall of Famer, but that’s not terribly interesting to me. I’m more interested in what he meant to the Braves and their fans. What he represented in that tenuous way players can represent anything. I’ll dive into it more when I gather my thoughts.
The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.
Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.
Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.
This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.