Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart seems content to keep Brad Ziegler in the closer’s role. The club is not expected to heavily pursue a high-end closer such as Aroldis Chapman.
Ziegler, 36, took over the closer’s rule during this past season and did an admirable job, finishing with 30 saves, a 1.85 ERA, and a 36/17 K/BB ratio in 68 innings. Most Sabermetric stats suggest that Ziegler’s 2015 performance won’t be sustainable, particularly because he posted the sixth-lowest strikeout rate among qualified relievers.
However, the Diamondbacks will be counting on Ziegler’s propensity to induce ground balls to continue his run of success. Ziegler’s 72.8 percent ground ball rate ranked second behind Orioles closer Zach Britton.
Ziegler will earn $5.5 million for the 2016 season and can become a free agent after the season.
Update (11:00 PM EST): Roberts will sign a three-year deal to manage the Dodgers, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. The press conference will be held a week after Thanksgiving.
The Dodgers are expected to name former major leaguer Dave Roberts as manager, Dylan Hernandez, Bill Plaschke, and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times are reporting. The hiring is expected to be made official on Monday.
Roberts, 43, spent parts of 10 seasons in the majors with the Indians, Dodgers, Red Sox, Padres, and Giants. He made a name for himself with his speed, swiping 243 bases in 301 attempts (80.7%). Following his retirement, Roberts had been coaching for the Padres since 2011 and officially managed one game in 2015 after Bud Black was fired and before Pat Murphy took over in the interim.
Roberts is one of three minority managers, joining Dusty Baker and Fredi Gonzalez. He’s the Dodgers’ first minority manager. Baker, recently hired to manage the Nationals, lamented the lack of diversity in baseball.
Gabe Kapler was the other finalist for the Dodgers’ open managerial position.
The Reds are expected to pursue trading outfielder Jay Bruce this winter, but there is a small roadblock as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that Bruce has a limited no-trade clause with which he can veto trades to any of eight teams. Those teams are the Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics, Rays, Marlins, Twins, Indians, and Diamondbacks.
Bruce, 28, has had back-to-back disappointing seasons, hitting a combined .222/.288/.406 with 44 home runs and 153 RBI in 1,194 plate appearances. However, he’s still relatively young and signed to a team-friendly contract which will pay him $12.5 million in 2016. Bruce’s team can choose to buy out his 2017 season for $1 million or pick up his club option for $13 million.
With 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel headed into his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, the Astros are expected to discuss a long-term contract extension with the lefty, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Keuchel is estimated to earn at least $6 million this winter, according to Drellich. The 27-year-old led the league with 20 wins, 232 innings, a 1.017 WHIP while compiling a 2.48 ERA and a 216/51 K/BB ratio. He also made the AL All-Star team during the summer, won a Gold Glove, and finished fifth in MVP balloting.
Keuchel debuted in 2012 at the age of 24 and turns 28 on New Year’s Day. He would be 31 in his first season of free agency eligibility, so that may serve as a deterrent for the small-market Astros. The club hasn’t had an Opening Day payroll above $77 million since 2010.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Dodgers have signed Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz and second baseman Omar Estevez to deals worth $15.5 million and $6 million, respectively. Both deals are pending physicals.
Diaz ranked third on MLB.com’s list of the 30 best international prospects. The 19-year-old hit .348/.448/.440 for the Havana Industriales. Diaz is known more for speed and athleticism more than his hitting. Estevez did not make MLB.com’s top-30 list.
Estevez, 17, has projectable power and has drawn some praise on defense, but a subpar throwing arm will likely keep him on the right side of the infield.
The Dodgers are in the maximum penalty for going over their allotted bonus pool of $700,000 (reduced from just over $2 million due to trading away slots) and will pay an estimated overage tax of $22 million. Additionally, the Dodgers will be unable to sign an international player for more than $300,000 over the next two international signing periods.