Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and catcher Mike Zunino are finalizing a new one-year, $4.5 million contract for the 2020 season. The deal includes an option for the 2021 season worth between $4.5-5.5 million. [Update: The Rays have announced the deal.]
Zunino, 28, was eligible for arbitration in his fourth and final year. He’s coming off of a disappointing 2019 season in which he hit .165/.232/.312 with nine home runs and 32 RBI across 289 plate appearances. He eventually split playing time behind the plate with Travis d'Arnaud, who the Rays were hoping to keep. He signed with the Braves yesterday.
Zunino’s best year came in 2017 when he posted an .840 OPS with 25 homers while playing above-average defense behind the plate for the Mariners. The Rays are hoping he can recapture some of that magic this coming season.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.
Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.
While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.