I mentioned earlier that I’m going up to the Cleveland-Minnesota game tonight. Some people asked me why on Earth I would do that. Well (a) it’s baseball and baseball is wonderful; and (b) there’s some to-do afoot tonight regarding Jim Thome.
Specifically, the Indians will honor Thome with a special ceremony, complete with a presentation (I’m guessing it’s a sack of ‘taters) and a video tribute. Former Tribe manager Mike Hargrove will be there. So will Thome’s old salad days teammates Sandy Alomar, Jr., Carlos Baerga, Paul Sorrento and Chad Ogea (one of these things, is not like the others … one of these things just doesn’t belong …). Word on the street is that Albert Belle will be there if they can find that Hannibal Lecter straight jacket/face mask/hand truck setup before game time. If Manny Acta had any sense of the occasion he’d put Thome in at third base.
In addition, all fans will receive a Jim Thome 600 HR commemorative poster. Which is actually damn cool. There will also be a fireworks show “synchronized to Alternative Rock … which will also pay tribute to Jim Thome and his 600 HR milestone.” Which may be damn cool or may be the most ridiculous thing ever. Either way, I’m looking forward to it.
I’ll be in the Tribe Social Suite with the other blogger and social media-types, but if anyone else plans to be at the game, drop a line in the comments or on Twitter or to my email or something and we can try to meet up at some point during or after the game. Because really, no one should watch a Jim Thome-themed Alternative Rock fireworks show by themselves.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.