Eckstein: Pujols would stay if Jose Oquendo got the Cardinals managing gig

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Some very gritty insight from former World Series MVP David Eckstein:

“Albert would stay if (Jose) Oquendo got the job”

No word on whether Pujols’ agent agrees with that. Also no word on whether or not the Cardinals will lower their offer to Pujols to, say $16 million while hiring Oquendo to find out if Eckstein in right.

Whatever. The hook to all of that is Eckstein’s view that Oquendo is very popular among Cardinals players, particularly infielders who he helps coach, and that Oquendo has been groomed to replace La Russa. Which he may very well have been.

But just as it seems silly to suggest that La Russa’s leaving will impact Pujols’ free agency decision — La Russa wasn’t likely to manage the entire length of Pujols’ next contract anyway — it seems silly to say that the choice of new manager will influence Pujols’ decision making anywhere close to the nature of the contract offer will.

And remember: it’s not at all certain that they’ll hire a manager before Pujols’ contract is put to bed. They may want to — and it might make a lot of sense to — but it may not come down that way.

 

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.