Carlos Lee was picking his ranch over Hollywood.
With Lee expected to use his partial no-trade clause to reject the deal, the Dodgers pulled out of the trade that would have brought Lee from Houston to Los Angeles, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The Dodgers were expected to send the Astros right-hander Garrett Gould in return.
Lee is in the final year of a six-year, $100 million contract. Under normal circumstances, he’d have full no-trade protection as a player with 10 years of service time and the last five with the same team. However, he waived those rights under the terms of the deal. As is, there are 14 teams in his no-trade clause, including the Dodgers.
The Dodgers wanted to bring in Lee to play first base over James Loney. Lee, who continued to play while mulling the trade, went 1-for-4 today and is hitting .285/.336/.402 with five homers and 29 RBI in 246 at-bats for the season. Loney is hitting .236/.303/.323 with two homers and 21 RBI in 220 at-bats.
With Carlos Lee off the table, the Dodgers could take another look at free agent Derrek Lee. Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and Padres third baseman Chase Headley could also be possibilities for the club.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.