Examining the DH market

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In light of the surprising and quite likely erroneous report that free agent Billy Butler is sitting on a three-year, $30 million offer, let’s take a quick look at who is actually searching for a DH this winter. There would seem to be plenty of options, with Victor Martinez, Butler and Kendrys Morales essentially locked in as a designated hitters and Nelson Cruz more valuable there than he is in the outfield. Fellow free agents Adam LaRoche, Mike Morse, Jonny Gomes, Josh Willingham, Delmon Young, Corey Hart and Ryan Ludwick could also be viewed as at least part-time designated hitters.

So, who needs a DH?

Baltimore: The Orioles will address the spot somehow, whether it’s re-signing Cruz or bringing in a part-time option to mix in with Steve Pearce.

Boston: This is the one team we can be certain won’t be signing any DH types.

New York: The Yankees will almost certainly need to rotate Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira in as designated hitters at times, making it highly unlikely that they’ll sign a regular for the position. They could add another role player who would DH on occasion.

Tampa Bay: The Rays are trying to reduce payroll. Ideally, they’d probably trade Matt Joyce or David DeJesus and then find a cheap part-time DH to help out, probably one of the guys who slips through the cracks.

Toronto: The Jays dealt Adam Lind in part because they wanted to increase their flexibility in the DH role. One angle that’s gotten some play is signing Russell Martin and putting Dioner Navarro into the DH mix, though that’s a long shot. It’s hard to imagine they’ll sign a Butler or a Morales, but they will want some help here.

Chicago: If Dayan Viciedo is back, it should be as a designated hitter. The White Sox, though, would be better off trading him and bringing in a mid-priced veteran.

Cleveland: Between Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana, the Indians are settled at DH and first base.

Detroit: The Tigers will certainly sign a designated hitter, though all they really want to do is retain Martinez.

Kansas City: The Royals will re-sign or replace Butler, but they’d probably prefer it wasn’t a full-time DH. They’re more worried about the pitching market right now, and it seems they’re rightfully figuring someone will fall into their laps laterr.

Minnesota: Between Kennys Vargas, Oswaldo Arcia and Josmyl Pinto, the Twins have more young designated hitter options than they know what to do with.

Houston: Jonathan Singleton looked bad enough last season that the Astros could consider adding a first baseman-DH to pair with Chris Carter. It’d likely be a cheap one, though.

Los Angeles: Since Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols both will likely need to spend some time DHing next year, the Angels won’t spend here. They’ll probably stick with C.J. Cron.

Oakland: Between their three-headed catching monster (Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt and John Jaso) and first base options like Brandon Moss, Kyle Blanks and Nate Freiman, the A’s should be covered here.

Seattle: The Mariners are the Tigers’ chief rival for Martinez, with Butler looming as a fallback. It’d be a surprise if they didn’t sign one of them or maybe Cruz.

Texas: The Rangers are saying they’ll tender Mitch Moreland, suggesting that he’ll be the primary DH with Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo also logging time there.

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So, to wrap it up, that’s Detroit and Seattle almost surely signing starting DHs, with Kansas City and Baltimore in the probable camp and Chicago, Toronto and Tampa Bay as the maybes.

That’d seem to make it a buyer’s market. My guess is that the Tigers bring back Martinez and the Mariners sign Butler. If Cruz signs as a DH or one or two other teams decide on trades to plug the hole, that could leave Morales scrambling for work and potentially facing more competition from a field of non-tenders that could include Viciedo, Ike Davis and Juan Francisco.

In other words, if you’re a player not named Victor Martinez and you get a solid offer early, you should probably take it.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”