Andrew Friedman officially withdrew his name from consideration for the Astros’ general manager search yesterday, releasing a statement that said he “chose not to be a part of the Astros’ process” and “it is in no way a reflection on the Houston organization.”
Saying “it is in no way a reflection of the Houston organization” might be a stretch, but the Astros aren’t the first team Friedman has turned down and various sources seem to agree that his strong relationship with the Rays’ ownership is what’s keeping him in Tampa Bay.
Friedman was obviously Houston’s first choice, but he was always an extremely long shot and the bigger problem for the Astros is that several of their other top targets have also turned them down for interviews. However, according to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle they’ve moved on from those rejections to interview “a half-dozen candidates … with the team looking largely at the pool of those with scouting and player development experience.”
In the meantime interim general manager David Gottfried is said to have full authority to make moves and he’s expected to, at the very least, try to unload Carlos Lee’s contract and perhaps find a taker for Wandy Rodriguez.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes will opt out of his contract shortly after the World Series concludes. Cespedes, who earned $17.5 million for the 2016 season, has two years and $47.5 million remaining on his deal which includes an opt-out clause.
That Cespedes plans to opt out isn’t surprising as he’s almost certain to get a better contract entering a weak free agent market. He hit a terrific .280/.354/.530 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI in 543 plate appearances for the Mets this past season.
It remains to be seen how the Mets will deal with potentially losing Cespedes. They can pick up a $13 million club option for Jay Bruce, but he performed terribly after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. The Mets could also go after free agents Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto will handle the other two outfield positions.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.