Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th career home run last night, and given that he’s facing Royals pitchers this weekend, I wouldn’t bet against him knocking number 600 before Monday rolls around.
There’s some growing excitement about this in the last 24 hours or so, but it has certainly been muted. I’ve heard more beefing from Yankees’ fans about Joba Chamberlain than I have about A-Rod’s impending milestone. The tabloids are way more pumped about claiming Jerry Manuel’s scalp than they are in celebrating the feat.
Which is not surprising, because it’s A-Rod, and no one really much cares for him. I get that. And between his general lack of popularity and the PED associations, I understand why people may be giving Rodriguez’s impending milestone less hype than we might have expected.
But I think something else is going on here, and it’s way more benign: 600 homers simply isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Three guys — Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds — did it in the past few years. That certainly makes the event less special. And you can’t just say it’s because two of them are known PED users. Griffey has never had such associations, and the hype surrounding his reaching 600 was not particularly monumental either. Six guys doing something in the history of the game is still among the rarest accomplishments you’ll see, but given that we’ve all seen it happen recently it seems less special.
So it could simply be a matter of no one caring that A-Rod is going to hit his 600th home run. I think, though, that no one would care all that much no matter who it was.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.