Alejandro De Aza was no longer needed as a semi-regular once the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes, leading to speculation that New York would try to move the veteran outfielder they signed to a one-year, $5.75 million deal.
However, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post the Mets are not shopping De Aza and “haven’t received calls about” him. That could change in a hurry, of course, but for now at least the Mets seem willing to go into the season with tons of outfield depth and see what happens.
In addition to De Aza basically being reduced to a left-handed bench bat the Mets also have center fielder Juan Lagares slated for, at most, a couple starts per week versus left-handed pitching. It’s a nice problem to have, but it’s also possible that the Mets could turn a spare outfielder into something more useful at another spot.
There are plenty of teams for which De Aza could be an upgrade playing regularly in a platoon role or even as a starter. Last season he hit .262 with seven homers and a .755 OPS in 114 games for three different teams and he’s topped a .700 OPS every year since 2010.
Jimmy Rollins‘ minor-league deal with the White Sox includes zero guaranteed money, but the former MVP turned down major-league contracts elsewhere and clearly expects to make the team out of spring training.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura told Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com today that he also expects Rollins to make the Opening Day roster and since Ventura is the guy actually making those decisions it’s a pretty safe assumption. What role Rollins will fill is another issue, of course. He has to beat out Tyler Saladino for the starting job, which is certainly doable.
Rollins drew interest from multiple teams–including the Giants–as a part-time player or utility infielder, but he took the White Sox’s non-guaranteed offer because he felt it presented the best opportunity to win a starting job at age 37. If he does crack the Opening Day roster Rollins will be guaranteed just $2 million, so he’s clearly in it for the playing time.
Rollins hit just .224 with 13 homers and a .643 OPS in 144 games for the Dodgers last season, but his production rose in the second half and even a .643 OPS was within shouting distance of the MLB average for shortstops.
A.J. Ellis has been Clayton Kershaw‘s personal–or at least strongly preferred–catcher since 2012, getting the nod behind the plate for 80 percent of his starts during that time.
However, new Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated that he’s less likely than predecessor Don Mattingly to go out of his way to pair Ellis and Kershaw up while sitting primary catcher Yasmani Grandal, telling Doug Padilla of ESPN Los Angeles:
[Grandal] caught him last year and Clayton performed well so the idea of a personal catcher, I don’t see that happening. But there will be times A.J. will catch Kershaw as well.
Roberts hinted at more of a traditional platoon in which Grandal starts versus right-handed pitchers and Ellis starts versus left-handed pitchers, but because Kershaw has made it very clear that he always prefers to work with Ellis that switch may be easier said than done.
Last season Grandal totaled 100 starts behind the plate, while Ellis received 55 starts. Two-thirds for Grandal and one-third for Ellis is something that makes sense from both a workload standpoint and a production standpoint, so it would be just a matter of basing the playing time more on the opposing pitcher rather than on Kershaw.
Second baseman Kolten Wong and the Cardinals have agreed to a five-year contract extension with a sixth-year option, the team announced. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports that the deal is worth $25.5 million in guaranteed money.
Wong wasn’t even scheduled for arbitration until next season and was already under team control through 2019, so the deal will buy out out all three seasons of his upcoming arbitration eligibility plus his first and possibly second year of free agency. Including the sixth-year option he’s now under the Cardinals’ control through age 30.
Wong was the Cardinals’ first-round draft pick in 2011, debuted in late 2013, and spent the past two seasons as St. Louis’ starting second baseman. He’s hit .250 with 23 homers and a .677 OPS in 295 games through age 24. His offensive production has been right around average for a second baseman and he’s a plus on the bases in addition to being a very good defender. For now he’s a solid regular and if the power or plate discipline develop further he has a chance to be an All-Star.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman struggled through a wrist injury for much of last season and arrived at spring training–with his cat by his side–saying he planned to take things slow initially.
However, he was in the Braves’ lineup for Tuesday’s spring training opener and smacked a double in his first at-bat. “Freeman is fine,” manager Fredi Gonzalez told Mark Bowman of MLB.com. “His first at-bat, you couldn’t ask for any better test than that.”
Bowman reports that Freeman will take Wednesday off and, in general, get more rest than he typically would for the next couple weeks. But barring a setback he certainly seems on track to be fully healthy for Opening Day.