Well, technically it’s with a sore elbow, but no one is buying that excuse.
The A’s placed Cliff Pennigton on the disabled list after his latest 0-for Thursday. He had gone hitless in four straight games, taking his average down to .197 for the season. That comes with just 17 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and 23 walks in 284 at-bats, so he’s been a huge drag on the offense. He ranks dead last in the majors in OPS among qualified batters:
156. Pennington: .541
155. Dee Gordon (SS LAD): .562
154. Justin Smoak (1B Sea): .600
153. Jamey Carroll (INF Min): .606
152. Cameron Maybin (CF SD): .615
151. Robert Andino (2B Bal): .617
150. Jordan Schafer (CF Hou): .617
149. Jemile Weeks (2B Oak): .619
148. Brandon Crawford (SS SF): .623
147. Placido Polanco (3B Phi): .627
Eric Sogard was called up to replace Pennington and will share time at shortstop with Brandon Hicks. The A’s are in the market for an upgrade, with Yunel Escobar and Stephen Drew serving as possibilities.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.