Nightengale: "Mauer talks couldn't be going better"

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale is in Minnesota taking a tour of the new ballpark and tweets “Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says talks with Joe Mauer couldn’t be going better,” and that “It would be massive upset if Mauer contract extension isn’t resolved by spring.

This wouldn’t be at all surprising in that I think everyone’s gut feeling is that  Mauer will get his extension before the season. But I’m not sure how in-the-loop Gardenhire, and by extension Nightengale would be on negotiations. I mean, wouldn’t you rather have your field manager out of that almost entirely so that his relationship with the player isn’t colored by business stuff?

Still, anything that keeps the Yankees and Sox fans from coveting their neighbor’s catcher is fine by me.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.