Matt Holliday has played 1,635 games in his career. 1,593 of them have come in the outfield, 22 of them at DH and the rest in various pinch-hitting or pinch-running capacities. Never has he played an inning at first base.
But . . .
Matt Adams’ season ended with a quad tear. Mark Reynolds is getting the playing time at first. He’s also not doing the one thing Mark Reynolds tends to do well, and that’s slug.
Could this be a move to maximize the playing time of Holliday, Jon Jay, Jason Heyward, Peter Bourjos, and Randal Grichuk while keeping Holliday in the lineup as well? Or is he just, you know, stretching his legs? Over at Viva El Birdos recently, Ben Humphrey assessed whether or not it was worth risking shifting Holliday and his presumably bad defense over to first for this kind of tradeoff.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.