Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes about Troy Tulowitzki and his plethora of injuries over the years. The sorts of injuries which, historically speaking, tend to cause players to have to move from more demanding defensive positions to less demanding ones. And shortstop is pretty darn demanding. Here’s what Tulo says about the possibility of having to change positions:
“No, I won’t move,” he said in a phone interview. “I will retire before I move.”
Not to third base? Not to first base, a position that could save him from wear and tear and possibly prolong his career?
“No. It’s just who I am, it’s what I do, it’s what I have dreamed of as a kid,” said Tulowitzki, 29. “It’s all I know and it’s all I’ve ever worked for. So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you … it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.”
We all had dreams when we were kids. I was going to be a sports writer — wait, bad example.
Point is, if the time comes when the Rockies or whoever employs Tulowitzki decide that his highest and best use is as, say, a second or third baseman, such an attitude probably won’t play well. The only guy around who is allowed to play shortstop years after better options presented themselves for his team is Derek Jeter. And he had four World Series rings before that became an issue. More often than not, the Michael Young situation applies: you may want to play short, but it’s a team game and even the big stars move off short when better options are available.
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.