We’ve seen this coming for a while, but the Mariners and Russell Branyan have said goodbye to each other for good. Unlike Brett Myers and the Phillies this is all amicable with Branyan thanking Jack Zduriencik. He’s a Four True Outcome player: home runs, strikeouts, walks and the nicest manners.
Branyan says he has been talking to a couple of teams and thinks he’ll get a major league deal. Early in the offseason it seemed like the Mariners wanted Branyan back. They probably were hoping for a one-year, relatively low money deal like they got last year when he made $1.4 million. Branyan, who hit 31 home runs last season was probably thinking differently. Given that he missed the last five weeks of the season with a bad back, however, makes going either multiple years — or too many years — a risky endeavor.
If the Mets were seriously considering Carlos Delgado it means that they weren’t that worried about defense. How about giving Branyan a spin then?
Giants manager Gabe Kapler confirmed on Tuesday that veteran Johnny Cueto be the Opening Day starter against the Dodgers in L.A. on July 23, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Cueto will start opposite Clayton Kershaw. Kapler tabbed Cueto originally for the Opening Day start back in March, but that was for a 162-game season and before the league shut down due to the pandemic.
Cueto, 34, is making his fifth career Opening Day start. The previous four he made came in 2012-15 with the Reds. Madison Bumgarner started five of the previous six Opening Days for the Giants, but he’s now a member of the Diamondbacks.
Cueto underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and didn’t return to action until September last season. Across 16 innings spanning four starts, the right-hander allowed nine earned runs on 11 hits and nine walks with 13 strikeouts. The Giants are hoping Cueto can return to 2016 form when we was an All-Star, finishing 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA over 219 2/3 innings.
The Giants will have their hands full with the Dodgers to open the season. Last year, the Dodgers won 106 games while the Giants won 77. The recently-released PECOTA standings from Baseball Prospectus sees the Dodgers going 39-21 and finishing first while the Giants are projected to go 25-35 and finish in last place.