Matt Bush arrested for DUI, property damage, fleeing scene

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UPDATE: It just gets worse. Bush’s BAC was .180 following the accident. This article is downright sad, too. Asked by police if this was a wakeup call for Bush, he said “already been there, made comments “about having “a serious alcohol problem and said how he “will be unable to play baseball.”

UPDATE, Thursday, 11:48 PM: It gets worse. Much worse. According to a local NBC affiliate, Bush is responsible for a hit and run on a 72-year-old motorcyclist. “Literally the tire on the SUV ran over the driver’s head,” said a witness to the crash. “Without the helmet, the gentleman would have been dead instantly.”

Thursday, 11:39 PM: Matt Bush is again in serious legal trouble.

According to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, the former No. 1 overall pick (by the Padres in 2004) was arrested Thursday evening in Florida for driving under the influence, driving with a suspended-or-revoked license, fleeing the scene of a crime with an injury and — to top it all off — property damage.

Bush has been trying to revitalize his career as a reliever in the Rays’ minor league system. But it seems likely that Tampa Bay’s decision-makers will opt to cut ties with him in the coming days.

The 26-year-old former shortstop has been in legal trouble throughout his professional baseball career. He was suspended shortly after being drafted by the Padres in ’04 for his role in a night club brawl in Arizona. And in the winter of 2009, he allegedly assaulted a couple of high school lacrosse players in the San Diego area while intoxicated:

A witness, who requested his name not be used because of the ongoing police investigation, said Bush was drunk, threw a golf club into the dirt, picked up and threw a freshman lacrosse player and hit another one. Bush also yelled “I’m Matt (expletive) Bush,” and “(expletive) East County,” before driving over a curb in his Mercedes when leaving the campus, according to the witness.

Bush registered a 4.83 ERA and 77/27 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings last season at Double-A Montgomery.

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Six of seven players decline $17.9 million qualifying offers

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Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only one of seven eligible players to accept his $17.9 million qualifying offer. Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, and Dallas Keuchel each rejected his, officially making them free agents. Teams that had their QO’s rejected will recoup a draft pick once the player signs elsewhere.

That Harper rejected his QO comes as no surprise, as he is expected to strike perhaps the largest free agent contract in baseball history. Though the free agent market has been less lucrative lately than in previous years, the combination of Harper’s elite talent and his age — he’s only 26 years old — makes him a primary target for more than a handful of teams. Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension offer from the Nationals, so that would seem to be a baseline.

It is also not surprising that Kimbrel, 30, turned down his QO from the Red Sox. Despite a so-so showing during a championship run, Kimbrel is still young and talented enough to land another lucrative contract on the free agent market.

Keuchel bet on himself in turning down the Astros’ QO. He’s been solid since winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, owning a 3.77 ERA across 83 starts over the last three seasons. However, he turns 31 years old at the beginning of 2019, and his already mediocre strikeout rate declined even further this past season, so there may be some skepticism about his ability to perform over the course of a multi-year deal. Keuchel will still get one eventually, but his market may be slower to develop.

Pollock, soon 31 as well, will be the outfielder most coveted once Harper is off the market. When he’s healthy, he’s a dynamic five-tool player. However, Pollock hasn’t played in more than 113 games in a season since 2015, so that may be a red flag. Pollock ended 2018 batting .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs, 65 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 460 plate appearances while playing above-average defense according to various defensive metrics.

Grandal, 30, could’ve gone either way with his QO, but ultimately chose to decline. He had a disappointing postseason, both offensively and defensively. Given how humans are prone to recency bias, it stood to reason that his October performance could have hurt his market. The catching position, however, is rather weak and Grandal stands out in a market that is otherwise focused on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Grandal did swat 24 home runs with an .815 OPS in 140 games for the Dodgers this past season.

Corbin, 29, was the most obvious QO decline after Harper. The lefty is coming off of a career year, finishing with a 3.15 ERA and a 246/48 K/BB ratio in exactly 200 innings. Corbin is the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. The Yankees have been seriously linked with Corbin even before the season ended.

Ryu likely chose to accept his QO because of his age and injury history. It would have been a gamble to pursue a multi-year deal. He did, however, make 15 starts during the regular season to the tune of a 1.97 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 15 walks in 82 1/3 innings. Those are great numbers. And most clubs would have been smart enough to look beyond his 5.21 ERA in the postseason, which has more to do with a leaky bullpen than his own personal failings. Still, it’s hard to fault Ryu for playing it safe and taking the guaranteed $17.9 million for one year.