It’s only been a day or two since Buster Olney reported that the Astros would listen to offers for Hunter Pence, but in that time there has been more chatter about him than almost any player on the market. But he may not be on the market at all, actually: Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald was told by a source that Pence won’t be moved by the Astros.
It could be that everyone realized that he wasn’t quite the prize everyone made him out to be. Oh, he’s good. He’s the best hitter the Astros have. But because he was a super two, he has two more rounds of arbitration and could make as much as $9-10 million in 2012 and more again in 2013, sort of killing that “he’s young, cheap and controlled” narrative. It’s also possible that people looked at his splits and realized that Minute Maid Park has been very very good to him. If so, the haul the Astros might have expected may not be all that realistic.
It’s also possible, however, that Ed Wade is stuck as a lame duck GM, with new ownership in the offing but not yet in power, and that he has no mandate to trade Pence. Or it could be something else. One never knows at this time of year.
But if Silverman is right, we’re back to where we were when the week began: Carlos Beltran as the best bat available and then a wide, wide chasm between him and the number two guy.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.
Sure, it may feel gimmicky to go around asking players to make predictions for the Academy Awards, but when it comes to the Athletics’ John Axford, he knows what he’s talking about. The right-hander has a proven track record of making near-perfect ballot predictions, getting 14 of 15 winners correct in 2013, 18 of 18 in 2014, 17 of 24 in 2015 and 17 of 24 again in 2016.
With a range of award-worthy films to choose from this year, Axford selected the crowd-pleasing (and record-breaking seven Golden Globe winner) La La Land for Best Picture, Manchester By the Sea‘s Casey Affleck for Best Actor and “the sweetheart of Hollywood,” Emma Stone, for Best Actress.
His full ballot was released to Twitter on Saturday, locking in La La Land for eight total Oscars. Going a perfect 24-for-24 might be a near-impossible feat, but if anyone can pull it off, Axford’s the one to do it.