I was never a fan of J.P. Ricciardi the general manager, but I think I can get behind J.P. the talking head. He was on WEEI today, and said a couple of interesting things. First, on PEDs:
We had a suspicion of who all of a sudden got bigger, who got stronger, I
mean I could name you 10 players, I won’t, but name you 10 players that
we had that all of a sudden, wow. In a three-month offseason a guy
gained that much weight, got that much muscle, got that much stronger
and not only on our team, but on other teams and vice versa . . . We were all guilty of it. Every single one of us signed a player or got
involved with a player that we bought into what he was doing at 32 and
33 and then found out after we got him for a couple years that obviously
the testing came in and we saw the repercussions of it.
I’ve heard some executives talk about the clubs’ complicity in PED-use, but I don’t recall any of them putting it so starkly. The other thing he said involved transactions. Specifically, he was asked to talk about a deal he was a part of that we as fans never heard about:
I had a trade done a couple of years ago where the trade was
finalized, I won’t mention the players, but a pretty prominent player.
Had him traded, everything was all set, told the president this is what
we are trying to do, kept him in the loop. I went back, already signed
off with the team, I said, I’ll just get right back to finalize, let me
run it by my president.
I went and told the president and the president told me, You know
what, I’m a really big fan of that guy, and I think the fans are, too. I
think if we trade him, we’re really going to catch it. And I said, OK,
it’s your call. I said I recommend we do this, but he said no, and we
didn’t trade him and the guy we could have traded him for is absolutely
tearing it up right now.
Based on stuff I’ve heard in the past about how it was Toronto’s ownership who insisted that the Jays first hold on to and then sign the guy, every fiber of my being wants to believe that this was Vernon Wells. I wish Ricciardi would say who the players really were though, because this is stuff that we want to know, isn’t it?
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.