UPDATE: Done deal. Laird gets $1 million guaranteed, plus $300,000 in incentives.
Matthew Leach of MLB.com hasn’t been able to confirm the news yet, but Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Cardinals are close to signing veteran catcher Gerald Laird.
Laird is coming off a career-worst season in Detroit, hitting just .207 with a .567 OPS, but it’s still surprising that he wasn’t able to land somewhere that could offer more playing time.
With the Cardinals he’ll serve as Yadier Molina’s backup, which tends to be a pretty easy gig. Molina has started 136 and 130 games behind the plate in the past two seasons and has averaged 118 starts in six full seasons in St. Louis. That leaves Laird playing once or maybe twice per week, which will be a big change for a 31-year-old who’s averaged 100 starts in the past four seasons.
Laird would be replacing Jason LaRue, whose career was ended by a concussion suffered from a Johnny Cueto kick to the head.
Atlanta Braves All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman is sick with COVID-19. Really sick. According to his manager, Brian Snitker, Freeman is “not feeling great.” His wife paints a darker picture than that.
Freeman’s wife posted on Instagram that Freeman has “body aches, headaches, chills and a high fever.” She said “He is someone who literally never gets sick and this virus hit him like a ton of bricks,” she said. “We’ve been really strict for the last 4 months,” she wrote. “Haven’t gone to a grocery store, haven’t gone out to dinner once, haven’t seen our friends … and still got it.” She added, “Please take this virus seriously, wear a mask when in public and wash you hands frequently.”
Freeman is not the only Braves player felled by the virus: teammates Will Smith, Touki Toussaint, and Pete Kozma, tested positive for COVID-19 this past week as well.
Freeman, 30, is a four-time All-Star who set career highs with 38 home runs and 121 RBIs last season to help Atlanta win its second straight NL East title. He also won the Silver Slugger Award. Given that he is sick and symptomatic now, it’s likely that he will not be ready to begin the truncated 2020 season as scheduled.