Wednesday marked the one-month anniversary of the infamous melee between the Blue Jays and Rangers. During that melee, Jays outfielder Jose Bautista was intentionally hit by a Matt Bush fastball, then he slid hard into second baseman Rougned Odor in an attempt to break up a double play. Odor then punched Bautista in the face and both teams’ dugouts emptied onto the field. Odor received an eight-game suspension which was reduced to seven games, and Bautista was handed a one-game suspension.
In the month since, both Odor and Bautista have had time to look back on the events that transpired on May 15. Neither side has appeared to show much, if any, contrition. Odor came close to admitting fault, however, in a recent interview with ESPN’s Marly Rivera.
Has this incident given people the wrong impression of who you are?
Maybe. After what happened, people who don’t know baseball may have a bad impression of me, but people who know baseball do know that those things are a part of the game. Perhaps he was wrong, and perhaps I was also wrong.
Odor also said “maybe I would have done things differently if I had known that I would be suspended.” He also said of Bautista, “I respect him,” and called him “a tremendous ballplayer.”
Interestingly, Odor thinks the media showing the video of the other fight he was involved in, a similar melee in 2011 when he was playing for Single-A Spokane, was “unfair.”
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.