Davey Lopes leaves Phillies after failed contract negotiations

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First base coach Davey Lopes has been widely credited with much of the Phillies’ exceptional success stealing bases in recent years, but the 65-year-old told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he will not be back with the team next season after the two sides couldn’t agree on a new contract:

We just had a difference of opinion on what I felt my worth was. That’s all. It was a really tough decision because I loved my time in Philadelphia, I loved working for Charlie Manuel, and I have the utmost respect for everyone in that organization. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed my time in Philadelphia. I am really going to miss the atmosphere and the passion.

Believe me, I wasn’t looking to break the bank. I just think sometimes you get pigeonholed as a first-base coach, and I think I had a lot more responsibility than that. I guess you could say it’s a principle type thing. But I move on without hard feelings. I mean that. My time in Philadelphia was great.

Lopez was a four-time All-Star second baseman in the 1970s and 1980s, and ranks as one of the most efficient base-stealers in baseball history with 557 career steals at an 83 percent clip. He joined the Phillies’ coaching staff in 2006 and the team has led all of baseball in stolen base percentage in each of the past four seasons, including a record-setting 87.9 percent mark in 2007.

In light of those numbers and the dozens of articles praising him over the past 3-4 years it definitely seems odd that the Phillies would let him walk over a difference in money that presumably amounts to a fraction of the MLB minimum for players.

Salisbury notes that Lopes lives in San Diego and would like to join a West Coast team while listing Mariano Duncan, John Russell, and Juan Samuel as possible first base coach replacements in Philadelphia.

Cardinals extend José Martínez through 2020

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First baseman/outfielder José Martínez agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Cardinals on Saturday, per a team announcement. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Martínez will receive $3.25 million in the deal plus incentives if he earns a more stable place within the starting lineup.

Martínez, 30, played 887 games in the minors before making his major-league debut with the Cardinals at the tail end of the 2016 season. The veteran first baseman has been nothing but productive in the three years since his debut, however, and turned in a career-best performance in 2018 after slashing .305/.364/.457 with 17 home runs, an .821 OPS, and 2.3 fWAR through 590 plate appearances. While he brings some positional flexibility to the table, he’ll be forced to compete against Dexter Fowler and Tyler O'Neill for a full-time gig in right field this year, as Paul Goldschmidt currently has a lock on first base.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the extension wasn’t solely precipitated by Martínez’s productivity in the majors, but by a competing offer from an unnamed Japanese team over the offseason. Goold adds that Martínez would have earned “significantly more than he would in the majors” had the club sold his rights. In the end, they ultimately elected to ink him to a more lucrative deal themselves. He’ll be eligible for arbitration in 2020.