Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Bench named the “Greatest Living Players”

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CINCINNATI — It was a vote, not a conclave of experts which determined it, but the results are the results: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Johnny Bench were just named the four “Greatest Living Players.” Sandy Koufax threw out the first pitch to Bench to kick off the action here tonight.

This vote was part of the “Franchise Four” vote Major League Baseball asked fans to participate in, and as far as I’m concerned the fans got it half right. Maybe 3/4 right depending on your view of defensive value.

There are few arguments against Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as two of the greatest living players of all time. Maybe they’re one and two.

Koufax, well, I’m sorry. He was great, but his legend has become greater than his value. Partially because of the era in which he pitched, partially because he left while on top and partially because he is universally seen as a class act. Wonderful player, but I don’t know that he makes a four Greatest Living Pitchers list, let alone players.

Bench is interesting. Quite probably the greatest ever catcher, not just the greatest living one, and catcher matters, especially once you factor in the defense. Still, Bench is something of a surprise here.

I’d personally say Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and/or Tom Seaver have greater arguments than Bench and Koufax. But like we said: this was a fan vote. And the fans get what they want.

Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season

Kopech has opted out
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Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.

The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”

Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.

Now, however, Kopech has opted out.