Jim Leyland: The experts are a bunch of idiots

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Everyone picked the White Sox to finish down in the pack in the AL Central. Jim Leyland, whose Tigers just dropped two of three to Chicago, doesn’t have a very high opinion of the experts. Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com was at U.S. Cellular Field yesterday, and witnessed what he calls “a classic rant” from the Tigers’ skipper:

“The people who made those picks don’t know anything about baseball. Trust me … If they think the Chicago White Sox aren’t going to be in the thick of this, they’re crazy. They don’t know anything about baseball, people making picks like that. They know nothing about baseball. Nothing. Since 2006 when I got here, this has been one of the best teams in the league every year, and they’ll be right there … They picked us fourth last year. We won 95 games, so don’t pay attention to those people. They just make a pick and they talk, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Leyland had better hope he’s wrong about that. Because the closest thing there was to a unanimous pick in baseball this spring was the Tigers winning the division.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.