Speaking about the decision not to make a qualifying offer to free agent Torii Hunter on Friday, Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said he intends to go young and cheap in the outfield next season.
That means it’ll likely be Mike Trout in left, Peter Bourjos in center and Mark Trumbo in right on Opening Day.
“It wasn’t that we couldn’t fit Torii’s salary in” Dipoto said. “We made the decision to allow Trout, Trumbo and Bourjos to play on an every-day basis.”
That’s quite a change from last season, when Bourjos turned into nothing more than a defensive replacement after losing his job to Trout. He started just two games during the final two months, one of those coming in the final series after the Angels were eliminated. He had a total of two plate appearances in a seven-week span between Aug. 10 and Sept. 30.
Bourjos, though, is perhaps the game’s best defensive center fielder and one of the few people on the planet who could push Trout into a corner. Many believed Trout should have won a Gold Glove for his play in center last season.
Trumbo, a natural first baseman, got a brief look at third to begin last season, but that didn’t go to well. He went on to hit his way into the outfield picture and make 97 starts between left and right. However, his offense performance cratered after he made his first All-Star team in July; he hit just .227/.271/.359 with 10 homers and an 88/14 K/BB ratio in 256 at-bats after the break.
Besides leaving no room for Hunter, Dipoto’s decision also means Vernon Wells will be a $21 million fourth outfielder unless the Angels can trade him. He’s set to make about 10 times as much as the three starters ahead of him combined.
Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.
Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.
Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.