News broke Saturday afternoon that the Twins were hiring Paul Molitor as their new manager and now the team has finally made it official, announcing that the Hall of Famer will get a three-year contract.
Molitor has never managed at any level and has no full-time coaching experience during the past decade except for spending this season on Ron Gardenhire’s staff, but he was the presumed favorite throughout the month-plus search and beat out the other finalist, Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.
Molitor was born and raised in St. Paul, starred at the University of Minnesota, and was the third overall pick in the 1977 draft. He played 21 seasons in the majors, the final three of which came in Minnesota, and the Hall of Famer reached 3,000 career hits in a Twins uniform. He finished runner-up to Gardenhire in the Twins’ search to replace Tom Kelly in 2002.
(I co-host a Twins podcast and this week’s episode featured a lengthy discussion about hiring Molitor, including an interview with one of his former teammates.)
Joel Peralta will be part of the Rays’ bullpen for another season, as Tampa Bay exercised the right-hander’s $2.5 million option for 2015.
At age 38 he seemingly showed signs of decline, posting a 4.41 ERA this season following a four-year run in which he had a combined 3.07 ERA in 255 innings, but Peralta’s secondary numbers suggest that he pitched a whole lot better than his ERA.
He had a fantastic 74/15 K/BB ratio in 63 innings for the second-best strikeout rate and second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career. Expect him to work the late innings again for the Rays.
As expected the Royals have made a $15.3 million qualifying offer to free agent James Shields, who has until next Monday to accept or decline.
He’ll turn it down, because the 32-year-old right-hander will have no trouble securing a huge long-term deal on the open market, but by making the qualifying offer the Royals guaranteed themselves draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
Shields was acquired from the Rays along with Wade Davis in December of 2012 and had two nearly identical, fantastic seasons for the Royals, tossing 229 innings with a 3.15 ERA in 2013 and 227 innings with a 3.21 ERA in 2014.
He’s struggled in the playoffs, posting a 5.46 ERA in 11 starts that goes against his “Big Game James” nickname, but Shields figures to have plenty of $100 million-plus offers.
Last week the Brewers exercised their half of Aramis Ramirez’s mutual option for 2015 and today the third baseman did the same, so he’ll stay in Milwaukee for $14 million next season.
It makes sense for both sides. That’s a hefty price tag and Ramirez’s production dipped this season, but he still hit .285 with 15 homers and a .757 OPS in 133 games and the one-year commitment limits the Brewers’ risk. Plus, the cost to buy him out was $4 million.
From his point of view, it would have been tough to secure a big multi-year contract on the open market as a 36-year-old free agent and getting more than $14 million on a one-year deal was hardly a sure bet.
In three seasons for the Brewers he’s hit a combined .291 with an .834 OPS and Ramirez has totaled 2,186 hits–including 369 homers–in 17 seasons as a big leaguer for Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
Mike Hessman has struggled in some brief stints in the majors, but he’s racked up 417 home runs in 18 seasons in the minors … and he’ll back for another year in 2015.
Hessman, who’ll be 37 years old next season, has re-signed with the Tigers on a minor-league contract after hitting 28 homers for their Triple-A team this season.
Hessman is the International League’s all-time record holder with 272 homers and his 417 homers in the minors overall are the third-most all time, just 15 short of the record. Expect him to break the record in 2015, because Hessman has hit 28, 25, and 35 homers in the past three seasons at Triple-A and has topped 20 homers in 13 different seasons.