UPDATE: MLB sources still won’t go on the record about it, but they are walking it back:
11:03 AM: Uni Watch relays word from a source that Major League Baseball’s official on-field caps will be switched to the “Diamond Era” batting practice cap material for the 2014 season and next season and that the current Authentic Collection caps will be discontinued. He further reports that, because MLB is miffed at New Era for doing a deal with the NFL, that it is considering abandoning New Era altogether when their contract is up after 2014. MLB is neither confirming nor denying anything.
- The New Era official caps are awesome. They’ve tweaked them a bit over the years — there’s a synthetic CoolBase element to them now as opposed to the all-wools of the past — but they are basically the same product in most respects, particularly in appearance. I’ve noticed they shrink less than the old ones, and for big-melon guys like me (I wear a 7 3/4) hat shrinkage is a problem. Solid, solid product.
- I don’t own any of those BP caps, but unlike the changed 59Fifty caps, they just look different. Do not like.
- I can see why MLB may not like that New Era is making football caps. Until recently most football caps were stupid and flashy and were not the sort of things young people would want to wear as a fashion choice. As such, I feel like you see way more people buying MLB caps than there are actual MLB fans, simply to have cool-looking caps that promote civic pride or what have you. If a comparable NFL product is available (solid color, simple, smaller logo like MLB caps) baseball will surely lose a lot of that market.
- That said: if MLB is truly in a hissy about all of this and it causes them to switch cap manufacturers, I will be a very sad camper. Both for what it will probably man for aesthetics and for what it would mean for personal fit. Nike and every other manufacturer makes really crappy hats, people. Let’s be clear about this.
I’m not usually one for corporate rah-rah or extreme brand loyalty, but man, I love New Era caps an awful lot. I mean, I’m bald. Caps are important. As such, if MLB moves away from them I will lose it.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.
Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.
The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.
Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.
As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.
Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.
If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.
Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.
But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.
Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.
There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.
Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.
Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.
We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.
Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.
The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.
Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.