The characterization of Justin Morneau’s status hasn’t changed: a couple of weeks ago Bill Smith said the team as “optimistic” about him, and yesterday he said the same thing. But there is reason to be a little more optimistic today than we were before, because Smith now says that Morneau should be swinging a bat by the first of February.
Maybe I’m just reading too much into this, but earlier assessments had the optimism being about going to work by the time spring training rolls around. If he’s swinging a bat two weeks before pitchers and catchers report, however, perhaps he’ll he’ll be at or near full speed by then as opposed to merely present and accounted for.
This might just be splitting hairs, but there are few teams with as unsettled a situation with an important piece as the Twins are with Morneau, so a little word-parsing is justified.
This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.
For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.