12:24 p.m. EST Update: DeJesus told the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin that he has come to terms on a two-year pact with the Rays that includes an option for 2016.
The Rays will hang on David DeJesus, according to Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, exercising his $6.5 million option rather than giving him a $1.5 million buyout.
Topkin also hears that the two sides are discussing a multiyear deal.
It’s a mildly surprising move from the Rays. DeJesus is worth the money, especially since the buyout essentially makes it a $5 million decision, but it takes away a great deal of the team’s flexibility, both financially and from a roster standpoint. Any talk of moving Desmond Jennings back to left field would now seem to be dead. DeJesus will become the primary left fielder against right-handers, which makes Matt Joyce mostly a DH. Ben Zobrist will play second against righties and maybe move back to the outfield against some lefties.
DeJesus, who turns 34 in December, hit .260/.328/.413 in 104 at-bats for the Rays and .251/.327/.402 in 391 at-bats overall last season. He’ll likely be viewed strictly as a platoon player by the Rays after hitting .174, .149 and .161 against lefties the last three years.
If a multiyear deal gets done, $10 million for two years would be a reasonable guess.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.