Ken Rosenthal’s column on the Justin Upton trade is interesting. And, for Rosenthal, pretty sharp-edged. I kinda like it!
He spoke with some Diamondbacks players, and the picture they paint is that the biggest reason Upton is gone is because, if Rosenthal’s sources are representative of the team’s view of things, they basically want a roster full of Kirk Gibsons:
The Diamondbacks want a certain type of player — single-minded, outwardly intense, fierce. Cody Ross is that kind of player. Martin Prado is that kind of player. Upton is not, at least not in the estimation of Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson.
“The problem is that he didn’t play with a high level of energy,” said one of Upton’s former teammates who spoke on the condition that he would not be identified. “What I think they want is guys who play with the speed, energy and intensity of the Oregon football team — all out, all the time.
No one knocks his talent or even his work ethic. It’s his style that bothered the Dbacks brass. Rosenthal’s source tells him that Upton “plays hard but has to look suave doing it. Slamming into walls isn’t his thing, and they will accept nothing short of all-out sacrifice for the team.”
But as long as he’s not dogging it — and the “he plays hard” suggests that he’s not — what’s the problem here? Kirk Gibson went all-out and slammed into walls and he wound up playing about 100 games a year and being unable to walk half the damn time.
This all sounds to me like attitude is trumping performance in the Diamondbacks’ analysis, and that seems crazy. While you obviously can’t keep majorly disruptive forces in your clubhouse, Justin Upton wasn’t that. Short of that, you should build your team with talented players, full stop. Get your grit where you can, but don’t send away a talented player simply because you don’t like the cut of his jib.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.
It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.
According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.