UPDATE: Frank Wren likely to be fired by the Braves, Fredi Gonzalez likely to stay

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UPDATE: Dave O’Brien believes — and he tends to be right about such things — that the Braves will fire Frank Wren, possibly as soon as this morning. He expects Fredi Gonzalez to stay, but several coaches to be let go.

9:15 AM: The three guys who probably write the most about the Braves are Dave O’Brien and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of MLB.com. All three of them seem to be saying the same thing today: Fredi Gonzalez and/or Frank Wren are out in Atlanta. First Bradley:

I’m never comfortable with suggesting a team has “quit,” simply because I’m not a mind-reader. Sometimes you’re outplayed. Sometimes you’re unlucky. Sometimes the other team is just better than you. That said …

For argument’s sake, let’s say a team had quit: Would it look much different from the Braves’ past six games?

The disclaimer aside, yes, he is saying the Braves have quit on Fredi. And I am of the same mind he is: you can’t know what goes on in a ballplayer’s head unless they tell you and the idea of players “quitting” on a manager is just as often a creation of media types as it is reality, but jeez man, this has been the most uninspired and aimless month or two of baseball since the Russ Nixon era in Atlanta. Actually, strike that. Nixon had some good young players who just weren’t ready yet. They tried. This is more like the Chuck Tanner years.

In linking Bradley’s story on Twitter, O’Brien says:

Not to put too fine a point on it because O’Brien seems like a good guy, but he is not exactly the sort who tends to be overly critical of Braves brass. Some Braves fans derisively refer to him as the team’s stenographer. I think that’s unfair to O’Brien, but there is no escaping the fact that, if you’ve lost O’Brien, man, you’ve lost everyone.

On to Bradley who, despite working for MLB.com, may be the most consistently critical media voice when it comes to the Braves:

As the Braves have collapsed over the past few weeks, there has been growing reason to wonder about the futures of general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. The club has not dismissed a general manager or manager since 1990. But this could change within the next few days.

If the Braves opt to part ways with Wren, they will likely utilize assistant general manager John Coppolella as an interim general manager until hiring a permanent replacement.

That’s quite a chorus. I don’t think it would sing in unison in this particular way unless the signal was sent from someone telling them that stuff is about to go down.

My view: Wren has done OK with small signings and the Braves continue to produce some decent young players (though not as many as they used to). His big moves, though, have been pretty bad, from the B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla signings to giving Chris Johnson a contract extension that he is unlikely to ever live up to. The lineup was atrocious this year in large part to Uggla and Upton and, despite jettisoning Uggla during the season, Wren didn’t do anything close to enough to add firepower even though a playoff spot was the Braves’ for the taking.

As for Gonzalez: it’s easy to overstate the impact that a manager has on a team, but he has penciled Upton into the first or second slot in the lineup 102 times despite his .282 OBP and he has not once suggested in a post-game interview that he’s particularly distressed in why this team is playing so poorly. No matter what you think of the whole “they quit on their manager” thing, this is a team clearly playing out the string.

Does one go? Does the other? Do both? I have no idea, but it sure feels like a bloodbath is in the offing.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.