Darin Erstrad was named Friday among four finalists for the vacant managerial position with the Dodgers, but Dylan Hernandez and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times are reporting that he has withdrawn his name consideration and will remain the head coach at the University of Nebraska.
Erstad, who played 14 seasons in the majors, has enjoyed great success with Nebraska over the past four years. When reached for comment on his decision, he simply wrote “I love the Huskers” via text message.
With Erstad out of the mix, that leaves Bud Black, Gabe Kapler, and Dave Roberts as the finalists. The Dodgers are expected to conduct second-round interviews next week.
UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the deal has been agreed upon. Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes that prospect right-hander Sam McWilliams will be going to Arizona. An eighth-round pick from 2014, the 20-year-old right-hander has posted a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts and four relief appearances in rookie ball.
3:02 p.m. ET: Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that the deal is close to being finalized. The Diamondbacks are expected to receive a lower-level minor league player in return.
2:55 p.m. ET: Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies are working on a trade to acquire former Rookie of the Year Award winner Jeremy Hellickson from the Diamondbacks.
Of course, this isn’t as exciting of a possibility as it would have been a couple of years back. Hellickson will be 29 next April and owns a 4.86 ERA over the past three seasons. After being traded from the Rays to the Diamondbacks last winter, he posted a 4.62 ERA and 121/43 K/BB ratio in 146 innings over 27 starts this past season. The home run ball has been a big reason for his struggles.
Hellickson made $4.275 million this past season and will be arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. In other words, he might only be around for one year. But the Phillies are short on proven arms in their rotation right now.
A familiar face is back with the Padres, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the team has hired Doug Bochtler as bullpen coach.
Bochtler pitched six seasons in the majors, including three with the Padres. Originally drafted by the Expos, he was part of the trade which brought Andy Ashby and Brad Ausmus to the Padres in 1993 and later served as a set-up man on the 1996 team that won the NL West. A big part of his legacy is that he showed his changeup grip to Trevor Hoffman while they were in the minors. That worked out pretty well.
Bochtler has spent the last five seasons as a pitching coach in the Diamondbacks’ minor league system. He joins the staff of Andy Green, who was recently hired as the Padres new manager after also working for Arizona.
It’s a good time to be a Cubs fan. Fresh off a 97-win season and the team’s first trip to the NLCS since 2003, the roster is beaming with young and exciting talent. The front office is committed to improving this winter, with high-profile free agents like David Price on the radar. However, with demand on the rise, fans will predictably have to pay more to get into the renovated-Wrigley Field.
According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the team said Friday that the average price for season tickets will increase by about 10 percent in 2016. It’s the team’s highest ticket price increase since 2010. Of note, the upper box midfield/outfield seats are going up about 7 percent on average while upper infield reserve will increase to 14.5 percent and some of the terrace boxes will go up more than 38 percent.
Cubs vice president of sales and partnerships Colin Faulkner explained the increase on Friday:
“We’ve clearly seen an increase in demand, so that helped factor into an increase in our prices,” Faulkner said. “Our goal is to remain competitive for the long term and provide value to our fans for a competitive baseball team, but also (value) in their tickets.”
The Cubs had the third-highest average ticket price in the majors in 2015 while finishing sixth (2.959 million) in attendance. Expectations are already sky high for 2016, so attendance figures to continue trending up even with the price hike. The Cubs could be on the verge of something special.
If there’s an exhibition game in Cuba next spring, it will be played by the Rays.
That was the news from Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times on Friday, as the Rays were selected as the winner of a lottery at MLB’s offices at Park Avenue in Manhattan. The Mets, Yankees, and Dodgers were among the other teams who expressed interest.
There are still some logistics to work out, including negotiations with the Cuban government, but the Rays would likely play the Cuban national team and the game would take place in Havana.
Talk of an exhibition game comes nearly a year after President Obama announced his intention to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba. Embassies were reopened earlier this year. Putting the obvious real world implications aside, these changes could have a significant impact on the future of MLB.
MLB last had a game in Cuba in March of 1999, when the Orioles played an exhibition game against the Cuban national team during spring training.