I know there are a lot of things that go into building a manager’s reputation that none of us see: friendships, conversations on the field before games and all manner of things that go on when baseball isn’t actually being played. But I still have a hard time seeing why Juan Samuel would, as Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports, be up for at least three open managers’ jobs this winter. Zrebiec calls Samuel a candidate for the Seattle, Pittsburgh and maybe even the Toronto jobs.
He may be highly respected, but this season gave us the closest thing we usually get to managerial acumen being tested via the scientific method. The Orioles lost a lot of games under Dave Trembley. Samuel came in and the team performed no better. Then Buck Showalter came in and the team improved dramatically. This all occurred with basically the same roster.
I don’t really think we can perfectly quantify managing like that — and as I’ve said, a guy who keeps the clubhouse happy and retains the respect of his players is what teams should really be looking for — but how do you not look at what happened in Baltimore this year and, at the very least, ask yourself if there aren’t better options than Samuel?
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.