Every fall I wonder what the dominant hot stove story is going to be. The one where, every time we do a post about it, someone says “I am SO SICK of this!”
Usually it’s a big free agent like Cliff Lee or Albert Pujols. Sometimes it’s the story of a little free agent — a guy past his prime — seemingly unable to ever find a team (Johnny Damon has played that part for several years now). This year it’s most definitely gonna be the A-Rod trade saga.
Why wait for the season to end to get that train a-rolling? Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Alex Rodriguez is telling “close friends” that he wouldn’t block a trade — as is his right — as long as it’s to certain big market teams:
He will welcome a trade, the person says, but it must to be to another big-market club. Hint: He won’t be going to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The most likely choices would be the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
We’ve talked about the Marlins — I could see them doing something like that and A-Rod lives in Miami. Not sure why the Angels would want him or what they’d give the Yankees back. Same with Chicago. The Dodgers have already gone on a pretty big spending spree and it seems kinda nuts that they’d consider it.
I guess less important than handicapping possible destinations, however, is figuring how much of the $114 million remaining on his contract the Yankees would be willing to eat. Probably a ton. If so, and if Rodriguez’s effective salary to a suitor is sufficiently low, any number of people would be willing to take a chance on him, I reckon. Because even if he isn’t what he once was, he still is an above average hitter who could conceivably rebound to for a year or two into some approximation of what he once was. Especially if you think that his current woes are health-related.
It would not be at all shocking for this stuff to heat up soon, so prepare yourself for A-Rod-a-palooza, people. It’s gonna pretty much dominate the offseason.
This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:
In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.
Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.
That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?
That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.
Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.
After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.
Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.
Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.
It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.
So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:
Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.
Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.