Yesterday the Rays lost their sixth straight game to begin the season and afterward Johnny Damon led “a brief players-only meeting,” according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
Topkin reports that “Damon didn’t talk for long, and he wasn’t the only one, as Felipe Lopez also spoke up, in stressing to the others to stay positive.”
If a team goes on a big winning streak following a players-only meeting it tends to become a big story, as people assume it turned things around, but short of that they’re mostly forgotten within a few days. That’ll probably happen here as well, but I do find it interesting that the two guys leading the meeting, Damon and Lopez, are new to the team this season. In fact, Lopez wasn’t even on the Opening Day roster.
They’re both veterans, but I’m guessing the whole concept loses a little something when the rah-rah speeches are coming from two guys everyone else on the team met six weeks ago. Neither player has actually won a game as a member of the Rays yet and Damon is hitting .053 through six games.
The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.
Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.
While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.