UPDATE: Angels acquire Vernon Wells from Jays for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera

21 Comments

UPDATE: Jon Heyman of SI.com confirms it. The Angels are picking up the entire $86 million tab left on Vernon Wells’ contract. Mind sufficiently blown.

9:08 PM: The deal is done. The Angels have acquired Vernon Wells from the Blue Jays for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, cash is not mentioned in the release from either club. If the Jays aren’t paying some of Wells’ salary, this is a heist of the highest measure.

7:14 PM: Rosenthal’s latest update has the Blue Jays sending Vernon Wells and cash considerations to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. No word yet on the exact amount of salary the Blue Jays will absorb.

6:42 PM: Juan Rivera might also be in the deal, according to Rosenthal.

Vernon Wells was in Anaheim for a physical today and is waiving his no-trade clause. Of course, he is owed the ridiculous sum of $86 million over the next four seasons. We haven’t heard anything about the Blue Jays picking up any salary here, which if true, would officially make Alex Anthopoulos a miracle worker. Still waiting for the final details, of course.

6:26 PM: If this trade didn’t surprise you already, this certainly will. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Vernon Wells is headed to the Blue Jays in the Mike Napoli trade. In a word, woah. More when we get it.

5:38 PM: We weren’t expecting that! Rosenthal reports that the Angels have traded Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays. No word on the return.  Giving up one of the team’s better bats makes some sense if you can get some good young Rays talent. The Jays system isn’t quite as stocked.  Here’s hoping for Angels fans that they’re getting some value back.

Man. You just never know.

4:18 PMStan McNeal of the Sporting News reports that the Rays have expressed interest in Angels catcher Mike Napoli.

Interesting. Napoli is a good hitter who, while his OBP dropped precipitously last year in a career-high 140 games, still popped a lot of dingers.  McNeal says that the Rays would use him as a DH.  If so, those Manny Ramirez talks would probably end. As it is, Napoli made $3.6 million and is due a raise via arbitration, so he would probably end up costing around the same — or maybe a bit more — than Manny.  Except he’s not a head case and can play catcher.

As for the Angels, they have Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger to prevent passed balls.  The Rays have a prospect-rich system, so if there’s a team to whom you’d want to trade a valuable player like Napoli, it’s Tampa Bay.

2017 Preview: Chicago White Sox

Getty Images
1 Comment

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Chicago White Sox.

After a couple of years of an all-in approach with a core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and friends, Rick Hahn and the White Sox finally decided to tear it all down. And they tore it all down pretty productively, actually, dealing Sale and Eaton for a boatload of prospects, leading with Yoan Moncada, who has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games.

They also picked up righthander Michael Kopech who hits triple digits on the regular, one-time top prospect and still-promising Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning. They all join existing young talent like Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. The system, she is stocked.

 

In addition to all that new talent, the Sox have a new manager in Rick Renteria. What he’ll have to work with at the big league level is somewhat spotty, however, and could change pretty radically as the season wears on.

Still in house: Carols Quintana, Frazier, Cabrera and David Robertson, all of who are likely on the trading block (we know Quintana is). Hahn will entertain offers for anything not nailed down which, in this case, means anyone over the age of 25 or so. We could give a blow-by-blow of the offense, the pitching and the defense like we normally do here, but if you’re an obsessive White Sox fan you know that stuff already and if you’re not, all you really need to know is that between those inevitable departures and the loss of their ace in Sale and their best position player in Eaton, last year’s 78-wins are gonna seem like a distant memory.

Beyond trading stars for prospects, the White Sox have signaled that they’re in non-compete mode in other ways as well. New in the fold: Derek Holland, Peter Bourjos and Geovany Soto. Veterans who do a task or two well, go about their business and, if they have a super nice year, can get dealt at the deadline. In short, the lifeblood of a rebuild, not the stuff of greatness. There’s nobility in fulfilling that role even if there aren’t a lot of wins to be found in it.

Where are some wins to be found? Jose Abreu had a down year in 2016 and could be better this year. Both Holland and James Shields are capable of better years than they had last year. Indeed, it’d be close to impossible for Shields to be worse. They’ll have Carlos Rodon, who took a step forward last year and could be poised for a breakout. Quintana and company will be around until July most likely before they’re traded and before Hahn begins to call young dudes up for second half cups of coffee.

And that’s what this season is about, really. The cups of coffee. Seeing what the Sox have in their young talent, particularly Moncada, who has little left to prove in the minors, even if he spends some more time there and Rodon, who is already a key part of the big club. They may lose just as many games or more than they lost the past couple of seasons, but they’ll do it with more interesting players who fans can imagine being better in a White Sox uniform one day. And, heck, if someone develops a bit more quickly than expected, it could actually lead to good baseball. At least here and there.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League Central.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

Leave a comment

On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.