Ben Zobrist will be back for a 10th season in Tampa Bay, as the Rays have exercised their $7.5 million option on the infielder/outfielder.
It was an easy call, as Zobrist has been one of the most underrated all-around players in baseball for a while now thanks to his solid switch-hitting and defensive versatility.
This season he hit .272 with 10 homers and a .749 OPS in 146 games while starting at least five games at second base, left field, shortstop, right field, and center field.
He’ll be eligible for free agency next offseason at age 34.
As expected the Tigers have made $15.3 million qualifying offers to free agents Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez, essentially offering them one-year contracts to return.
Both players will turn the qualifying offer down, at which point the Tigers will be eligible to receive draft pick compensation if they sign elsewhere.
Rejecting the qualifying offer does not impact a player’s ability to re-sign with his original team.
There’s still no official announcement about Joe Maddon becoming the Cubs’ new manager, but in the meantime the Cubs just announced the firing of their current manager, Rick Renteria.
Renteria was hired last offseason–less than 365 days ago, in fact–and went 73-89 in his first and only year on the job. He had two seasons remaining on his contract, so while Renteria is no doubt very unhappy with how things worked out in Chicago he’ll at least be getting paid not to manage the Cubs for a while. He was reportedly offered another role within the organization and said no thanks. Tough to blame him, obviously.
As for Maddon … well, when news first broke about his coming to Chicago it sure seemed like MLB scolded the Cubs for letting that get out during the World Series. Which led to quotes from Maddon’s agent and “Cubs sources” saying it wasn’t a done deal. Hopefully we can all do away with that charade shortly.
UPDATE: The Cubs just put out a lengthy press release explaining the situation from their point of view and, to me at least, being about as transparent as possible under the circumstances. You should read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:
Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.
Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon – who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us – had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.
While there was no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation, we knew we had to be transparent with Rick before engaging with Joe. Jed flew to San Diego last Friday and told Rick in person of our intention to talk to Joe about the managerial job. Subsequently, Jed and I provided updates to Rick via telephone and today informed him that we will indeed make a change.
Andy Dirks missed the entire season following back surgery and then a hamstring injury, and rather than keep him around via the arbitration process the Tigers placed him on waivers. And the Blue Jays claimed him.
Dirks is hardly a star-caliber corner outfield bat and had a poor 2013 season, but he’s a 28-year-old career .276 hitter with a .745 OPS in 297 games and at worst could be a solid platoon player if spotted mostly versus right-handed pitching.
He figures to get somewhere around $2 million in 2015, but the Blue Jays aren’t necessarily committed to keeping him either.
Eric Chavez announced his retirement last month after 17 seasons in the majors, but he’s staying in baseball: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Chavez has joined the Yankees as a special assignment scout.
Chavez played for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, hitting .274 with a .783 OPS in a part-time role.
After emerging as one of the best all-around third basemen in baseball early in his career injuries derailed Chavez, but he settled in as a solid role player and was an above-average hitter into his mid-30s.