Before becoming as successful closer in his thirties Bob Wickman was a starter and then a middle reliever for the Yankees, debuting at age 23 in 1992.
Later in his career Wickman’s gut expanded significantly, but with the Yankees he was merely chubby (or perhaps even in The Best Shape Of His Life) and general manager Brian Cashman shared a story about how the right-hander used to throw up to meet the weight clause in his contract:
He had weight clauses. My recollection would be is, say, it was on the first and 15th or every five days he had to be a certain weight on a day, in season, when he is trying to pitch out of the bullpen he’s drinking water, sitting in saunas, dieting, doing everything he can to lose weight, maybe even sticking his finger down his throat to make the weight.
Then, all of a sudden, our manager might be asking him that day to pitch the seventh inning. You are not getting the real player at that point. You are getting a worn out, drawn out [player], trying to make a $30,000 bonus or whatever it was at the time. So I believe those things are counter-productive.
Cashman relayed that story in order to explain why the Yankees no longer enforce weight clauses for guys like CC Sabathia or Michael Pineda, but I’m pretty sure the image of a young Bob Wickman throwing up in the bullpen is what most people will remember. Seriously, try not to think about that. Just try.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.