Chicago Bears add two free agents on Tuesday night

Lake Forest, Ill.– As Tuesday evening approached the twilight hours, the Chicago Bears made two under-the-radar additions, adding to both the offense and defense. First, multiple reports indicated that the Bears were signing former Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Nicholas Morrow, and then just under an hour later, the Bears went ahead and signed former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Lucas Patrick.

After signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi just hours after the legal tampering period opened on Monday, the Bears were silent for much of the day on Tuesday. Morrow, who is just 26 years old, was slated to start with the Raiders all throughout 2021 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in training camp. While the former undrafted free agent hasn’t seen any legitimate action since 2020, the expectation is that he has a chance to start at MIKE LB, alongside fifth-year LB Roquan Smith. When Morrow last saw any sort of action, he racked up 78 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and six quarterback hits in 11 total starts.

Signing Patrick is more about adding some veteran presence and familiarity to the offensive line. Patrick joined the Packers in 2016 as an undrafted free agent and has 34 career starts, including 25 over the last two seasons. His familiarity with Bears OC Luke Getsy is a major reason he was on the Bears’ radar, signing a two-year, $8M deal, with $4M guaranteed in year one.

Throughout free agency, the Bears have remained patient, letting the market settle, with first-year general manager Ryan Poles insisting that the Bears will continue to build through the NFL Draft. Assessing the signings of Patrick and Morrow, the immediate conclusion is that the Bears are opting to sign low-risk, high-reward players in an effort to shore up holes throughout the roster.

The Bears may not necessarily be big spenders in free agency, however, from the Bears point of view, the team is adding players that can contribute in the present but also give the team some flexibility well into the future

Joe Schoen already accomplishing big goals as Giants’ new GM

new york giants, joe schoen

The New York Giants are entering a new era. The team cleaned the house at the start of this offseason and brought in new management and coaching. New general manager Joe Schoen has quickly gotten to work on fixing the Giants and has already accomplished some big goals in the process.

Joe Schoen already accomplished big goals as Giants’ new GM

Made the Giants more financially healthy

When the offseason began, the New York Giants had around negative $12 million in salary-cap space. Former GM Dave Gettleman was a bit too frivolous with his spending, causing the Giants to go overboard. In a couple of short months, though, Joe Schoen has gotten to work, cutting players and restructuring contracts to get the Giants back in the positive.

Joe Schoen made some difficult decisions this offseason. The likes of Devontae Booker, Riley Dixon, Kyle Rudolph, and others were released to create salary-cap space. Sterling Shepard and Blake Martinez were also both nearly cut before Schoen was able to negotiate new restructured deals with the veterans to clear some space.

To create a better future for the Giants, Joe Schoen has taken a much different approach to roster building. Teams like the New Orleans Saints are known for spending money and pushing cap hits down the road to future seasons in order to build their roster for the short term. The Giants fell into this habit under Gettleman’s tenure. Schoen has broken this cycle, though. This offseason, the Giants have only spent the money available to them, giving out short-term contracts and setting the Giants up for a healthy financial future.

Added stability to the Giants’ offensive line

The biggest weakness on the Giants’ roster this offseason was by far the offensive line. The Giants have struggled to build a competent front line for years which has led to offensive implosion. This offseason, though, Joe Schoen has attempted to rectify this issue. The Giants signed offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Mark Glowinski this free agency period. At the very least, these two are average starters that can provide stability to the Giants’ offensive line.

Created insurance and competition at quarterback

The most controversial move for the Giants so far has been their signing of veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Giants signed Taylor to a two-year, $11 million deal (maximum $17 million with $6 million in incentives).

The Giants spent more on their backup quarterback than most expected them to, but it was for good reason. Starting quarterback Daniel Jones is entering his fourth season in the NFL but has yet to establish himself as a long-term answer. Additionally, Jones has missed games with injuries in each of his first three seasons. Danny Dimes missed the final six games of the 2021 season with a neck injury. Backup quarterback Mike Glennon stepped in as the starter and struggled intensely, highlighting how important it would be for the Giants to add a solid veteran backup this offseason.

Tyrod Taylor not only adds insurance to the Giants’ quarterback room, but he also adds competition. Daniel Jones is the expected starter but he has struggled throughout his first three career seasons. Tyrod Taylor could compete for the starting job if Jones fails to show signs of improvement this year.

It is also worth noting that Tyrod Taylor’s contract is a two-year deal. This means that, regardless of what happens to Daniel Jones this season, the Giants have a starting-level quarterback on the roster for the 2023 season. If the Giants are in the market for a new rookie quarterback next year, they already have the perfect bridge quarterback on their roster in Tyrod Taylor.

Yankees closing in on trade with Oakland to bolster starting pitching rotation

sean manaea, yankees, a's

The New York Yankees still need to address their starting pitching rotation after a monster trade with the Minnesota Twins, bolstering their infield but voiding one of the team’s biggest liabilities.

Depending on Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Jameson Taillon, to remain healthy for the entire 2022 season is optimistic, so general manager Brian Cashman has to be more aggressive with his pursuit of new pitching talent.

Jon Heyman of MLB Netwerk reported on Wednesday that the Yankees were one of several teams interested in Oakland Athletics young pitchers Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas.

Manaea is an intriguing target, consisting of six major league seasons, hosting a 3.91 ERA last year over 179 innings. Manaea has had success in the past, but with the right coaching and a more consistent team around him, he could find his true potential wearing pinstripes.

At 30 years old, Manaea is set to hit free agency in 2023, but the 6’5″ and 245-pound left-handed pitcher could offer the Yankees immediate support behind Gerrit Cole. Manaea features a fastball, slider, and change-up. With his fastball hovering around 92 mph, he’s not known for his velocity. He generates great break on his pitches and features solid control.

Manaea generated a 32.5% swing rate outside of the strike zone and 71.5% swing right inside the strike zone last season. While his called strike percentage dipped a bit to 16.2%, he still possesses quality stuff with upside.

Alternatively, the Yankees could look to Frankie Montas as an option. The 28-year-old right-handed pitcher has two years left of team control before he hits free agency in 2024. This past season, he recorded a 3.37 ERA over 187 innings pitched, the most in his career by a significant margin. He generated a 74.5% left-on base rate and 42.8% ground ball rate. Montas throws his fastball nearly 61% of the time, averaging out at 96.3 mph. He also incorporates a slider at 89 mph and split-finger fastball at 87.6.

Montas generated a 13.7% swing and miss rate in 2021, whereas Manaea featured a 12.3% rate in that category.

Based on the type of pitcher the Yankees prefer, Montas makes the most sense with his velocity, but Manaea has proven reliability in the health department, pitching over 140 innings in four of his six seasons. Montas has only thrown over 100 innings in one season to date.

The Yankees would have to give up a decent haul to acquire one of the young pitchers out of Oakland. A pairing of Gleyber Torres and Oswald Peraza would suffice according to Baseball Trade Values’ mock trade simulator, giving the combination a 36.3 value grade. Montas holds a value of 39.6, so the comparable measures work out. It just depends on if Cashman and management are willing to expand one of their young prospects climbing the system.

After falling short at UFC Vegas 50, what’s next for Terrance McKinney?

Terrance McKinney

This past weekend on the main card of UFC Vegas 50, we saw a tremendous lightweight battle. Surging top young contender Terrance McKinney (12-4) was looking for his biggest win to date when he took on Drew Dober (24-11).

Now, McKinney had just picked up his second win in the UFC a few weeks ago. When Dober’s original opponent for last Saturday fell out, McKinney jumped at the opportunity to take the fight on short-notice.

It was a very low-risk and high-reward fight for McKinney. If he lost, he can fall back on the fact that he took the fight on short-notice. However, a win would vault him up the ladder it the lightweight division.

When the fight started at UFC Vegas 50, it sure looked like the gamble would pay off. McKinney hurt and dropped Dober twice in the opening minute. He was going all out trying to finish Dober, but he was a little inefficient and reckless.

Ultimately, Dober survived and McKinney was horribly gassed. Dober was able to land a big shot late in the round and he was able to score the TKO win. It was a wild but fun one at UFC Vegas 50.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 50?

As mentioned, it was a very low-risk fight for Terrance McKinney at UFC Vegas 50. In reality, he wouldn’t have fought someone like a Drew Dober had he just taken the next fight that was offered to him.

However, he wanted to cut the line and took the short-notice opportunity. His gamble almost paid off and he showed the UFC just how exciting he is as a fighter. I just think he needs to clean a few things up and he can be lethal.

McKinney has to learn how to manage his energy better. Lightweight is filled with killers who can take big shots from big punchers. McKinney is not going to get everyone out of there with his first attack. He might hurt contenders, but if he can’t finish them, he has to have the gas to dig down deep.

He didn’t have that at UFC Vegas 50 and it cost him. Now, in terms of next steps, I think he’s good to resume his normal progression. I think a guy like Joe Selecki would be a good next opponent for McKinney. Both are at about the same spot and it would make for a tremendous fight.

After successful return at UFC Vegas 50, what’s next for Sodiq Yusuff?

This past Saturday on the main card of UFC Vegas 50, we saw a fun showdown in the featherweight division. Top prospect Sodiq Yusuff (12-2) was making his return against veteran featherweight Alex Caceres (19-13, 1 NC).

Caceres was entering the fight on a five-fight winning streak meanwhile Yusuff was coming off of his first loss in the UFC. The fight was incredibly important to both men for very different reasons.

For Yusuff, he needed to get back on track while Caceres was trying to prove that he was worth a ranking. I figured the fight would be fairly competitive and it was, but one fighter was much sharper throughout the night.

That fighter was Sodiq Yusuff. I was impressed with is ability to mix things up at UFC Vegas 50. He did a really good job of mixing in kicks and mixing in some grappling to keep Caceres guessing throughout the night.

Now, Caceres did have moments and he landed some good shots on Yusuff. However, Yusuff was just a step ahead all night and he walked out of UFC Vegas 50 with a unanimous decision victory.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 50?

As mentioned above, this was a huge win for Yusuff to get back on track after he suffered his first UFC loss last year. Now, he can try to build a winning streak and I only see ranked opponents in his future.

In terms of the featherweight division, who should the UFC pair him with next? One fighter I would look out for is Giga Chikadze. Chikadze is coming off his first loss in the UFC and he’s ranked right just a couple of spots ahead of Yusuff.

This would be a tremendously entertaining fight and an important one for the division. However, I’m not sure the UFC would give Yusuff that fight. Perhaps someone lower in the rankings like a Shane Burgos could be next.

I think they need to pair him with someone that will challenge him and someone who can bring an exciting fight. Both featherweights mentioned would do just that. I’ll be

After disappointing performance at UFC Vegas 50, what’s next for Thiago Santos?

This past weekend in the main event of UFC Vegas 50 we saw a battle between two top light heavyweight contenders. Former title challenger Thiago Santos (22-10) was looking to derail the surging Magomed Ankalaev (17-1).

Entering UFC Vegas 50, I thought the fight could go one of two ways. In the first scenario, I saw both men being very technical and a little gun-shy which would lead to a relatively boring fight ending in a decision.

In the second scenario, someone would get clipped and we’d see a TKO finish. Well, we almost got the second one at the hands of Thiago Santos. In the second round, Santos was able to drop and hurt Ankalaev.

However, that was really the only time he had some serious momentum at UFC Vegas 50. For the most part, we saw a technical battle with Magomed Ankalaev getting the better of the striking from the outside. In the end, Ankalaev got the decision win in a rather underwhelming fight.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 50?

For Thiago Santos, this was just another disappointing performance. When Santos first made the jump up to light heavyweight from middleweight, he looked like a destroyer. He even scored a TKO win over Jan Blachowicz.

That led him to a title shot with Jon Jones. However, Santos would completely tear his knee apart in that fight. We haven’t seen the same Thiago Santos in the UFC since the knee injury.

Upon returning from that injury, Santos is now just 1-3 with the lone win coming in another underwhelming fight against Johnny Walker. So, after this latest loss, what is next for the former title challenger.

Honestly, it’s really hard to say what should be next. Perhaps a fight with fellow title challenger Dominick Reyes is in order whenever Reyes returns. That could be something that the UFC looks into with the winner getting back on track while the loser would have to take a long look at their career.

Time will tell, but time is not on Santos’ side. If he wants to make another run towards the UFC title, he needs to turn things around and do it quickly.

Yankees could be gearing up to trade home-grown infielder

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Just a few days ago, the New York Yankees executed a trade with the Minnesota Twins, sending Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela on their way. Urshela was best friends with homegrown infielder Gleyber Torres, whose position is now in flux after general manager Brian Cashman extended Anthony Rizzo on a two-year, $32 million deal.

Prior to Rizzo signing a new contract, DJ LeMahieu was the expected first baseman, with Torres manning the second base position. Now, Torres’s spot on the team is in question, especially since LeMahieu is a far better defender, posting a career .991 fielding percentage at second.

Torres, on the other hand, has a career .971 fielding percentage with 43 errors over 2,048 innings played. Some may argue that Torres should feature at second base while LeMahieu fills a utility role at multiple positions, most notably at third base, where Josh Donaldson played in just 92 games last season.

However, LeMahieu’s success rate at third is not altogether inspiring, featuring a measly .945 fielding percentage in 1,031 innings over a seven-season time frame.

Allowing DJ to play at his most comfortable position seems like the most logical move, which could make Torres expendable. Cashman hasn’t solved several positions of need, including outfield talent and starting pitching support.

Another club may view Torres as a valuable piece, especially with three years of team control left on his contract. Torres only has 3.1 years of service time, just hitting arbitration this off-season. His steamer projections have him hitting .269 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs over 146 games. He also features an 18.7% strikeout rate and 10.1% walk rate, suitable numbers for a team looking for a solid offensive weapon with upside.

The point to make is that the Yankees would be losing either a starting-level talent or depth piece in Torres by trading him away, so they would have another void to fill in the process. However, cashing in on his value now might be the best move after seeing a drop in slugging abilities the past two seasons.

Gleyber only hit nine homers last year over 127 games, featuring a 35.7% hard-hit rate and connecting with the barrel 7.8% of the time. During his best season in 2019, when he hit 38 homers, Torres recorded a 36.1% hard-hit rate and 9.4% barrel rate.

Given the Yankees’ insufficient off-season up to this point, Cashman must have another trick up his sleeve, and Torres could be included in his plan.

Yankees’ Luke Voit reacts to Anthony Rizzo signing: ‘I get it’

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

Late on Tuesday night, the New York Yankees agreed to terms with first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a two-year, $32 million contract. He will be the starter at the cold corner, leaving Luke Voit’s future up in the air.

Voit suffered a myriad of injuries in 2021, most notably a meniscus problem that ended up taking away most of his season. He is also a defensive liability. When healthy, however, he is a potent power bat capable of leading the league in home runs, as he did in 2020: it was a small sample, but still.

Now, with first base and the designated hitter position mostly occupied, he will likely be traded. While speaking with reporters on Wednesday morning, he was politically correct and said he understood why the Yankees were coveting another first baseman.

“I get it,” he said, per NJ Advance Media.

“These next 19 games are important for me to show other teams … prove that I’m healthy again,” Voit said. Regarding that last sentence, he confirmed he is back to 100 percent.

“I feel great, he stated. “I feel healthy, and that’s all I wanted to control this year. I was preparing myself for a long season. I’m still staying positive.”

He understands it was a business decision by the Yankees

He did admit to being upset and feeling a little dissed. “Absolutely, he said.

He understands it’s a business decision by the Yankees.

“I was hurt (most of the year), so someone’s got to come in and fill that spot, and Anthony did do a good job last year,” Voit explained.

“I know they want to be left-handed, so I get it. This has been a thing since last year with our team being righty dominant. It’s a business.”

The Yankees will likely trade Voit to a team that misses out on Freddie Freeman, the biggest fish available when it comes to hitters.

“Obviously Freddie is still a big part (of this) and I know there’s still going to be a lot more trades,” Voit said. “There are still 100 free agents out there, so I have no idea.”

“I’ve enjoyed myself since I’ve been here in ‘18 and I really enjoyed New York,” Voit said. “It’s the best place to play baseball and who knows? Maybe I’ll still be here. We’ll see what happens.”

Breaking down the New York Yankees starting infield for the 2022 season

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

After missing out on Freddie Freeman late Tuesday night, the New York Yankees went with their backup option, Anthony Rizzo at first base. It seems as if the 2022 starting infield is all but set. There is one remaining question, where is Gleyber Torres going to play?

If not for DJ LeMahieu signing a big contract extension last off-season, Torres would be slotted in at second base. LeMahieu could’ve started at first, leaving Torres at second, but the Yankees now have a big decision to make.

The Bombers may float the idea of trading Torres instead of trying to work around where he will feature this upcoming season unless they don’t plan on Josh Donaldson starting at third base, which would be incredibly foolish given the two years $50 million left on his contract.

Yankees starting infield for the 2022 season:

1B: Anthony Rizzo

Most would agree that Rizzo is a solid player that will hold down the fort at first for the next two seasons. On Tuesday, he signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Yankees after hitting .249 with eight homers and 21 RBIs over 49 games last season. As a solid defender and good hitter, Rizzo could realistically hit 30+ homers at Yankee Stadium, but at 32 years old, we’ll have to wait and see if age begins to take its toll.

2B: DJ LeMahieu/Gleyber Torres 

Yankees currently have a pair of players at second base, LeMahieu, and Torres. Given DJ’s impeccable defensive acumen, that would suggest that Torres will be left off the starting team, which could indicate he’s used in a prospective trade this off-season.

Last year, Torres was moved from shortstop due to his poor defense, recording a .952 fielding percentage. Torres has a career .971 fielding percentage at second base, whereas LeMahieu features a .991 percentage. This is an easy decision for the Yankees regarding who will start, the more difficult one revolves around Torres and his value.

SS: Isiah Kiner-Falefa 

The Yankees were clearly hyper-focused on acquiring Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who was traded to the Minnesota Twins before making his way to the Bronx. Falefa has already indicated he’s been a Yankees fan his entire life, and after hitting .271 and posting fantastic defensive metrics during the 2021 season, he’s precisely what the Bombers were looking for in terms of a stopgap.

The Yankees will have two years of team control over Falefa before he hits free agency in 2024. That gives the team plenty of time to develop Anthony Volpe and prepare him for the big leagues.

3B: Josh Donaldson 

General manager Brian Cashman was forced to take on the contract of Josh Donaldson in the acquisition of Kiner-Falefa. A sizable amount, Donaldson has two years and $50 million left on his contract. As a primary slugger who hit 41 homers back in 2015, Donaldson fits the mold for the Yankees in the batter’s box. Last season, he smashed 26 homers and recorded a .247 average. Just two years ago with Atlanta, Donaldson hit 37 homers and 94 RBIs, posting a 15.2% walk rate to go with it.

At 36 years old, Donaldson is undoubtedly getting up there in age, which could impact his athleticism, but he can hold down the fort at third base in the meantime. Donaldson featured in 92 games last year at third, recording a .952 fielding percentage. That could be a justification for the retention of Torres since LeMahieu could shift over to the hot corner and supplement deficiencies if need be.

Yankees Update: Rizzo signing may complete infield, and more

anthony rizzo, yankees

The sleeping New York Yankees awoke after the League lockout was lifted. The owners and players finally came to a compromise that led to a signing for a new agreement that will guide baseball for the next five years, averting a one-year plus shutdown, like the work stoppage during the 1994-5 baseball seasons.

After another “failed season,” not reaching the postseason again since 2009, the New York Yankees set out to fill holes on the roster. But in postseason 1.0, before the lockout, they instead sat on their hands and did nothing while other teams scooped up major free agents.

On March 10, 2022, a new agreement was signed after 99 days of negotiation, after the lockout, the Yankees immediately took action to build their team for the 2022 season. They signed a shortstop, replacing Gleyber Torres, who was moved to second base. A new third baseman, a new catcher, help in center field, and finally a new first baseman. These new moves saw Gary Sanchez and fan-favorite Gio Urshela go to the Twins.

First Base – Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo, who played the last games of the 2021 season, was the last hire to determine who will play at first base. Last night they signed Rizzo, instead of Matt Olsen, after he went to the Braves. Rizzo won the contest between him and prized Freddie Freeman, who would have broken the Yankees’ bank. His backup at first will likely be LeMahieu, or if not traded, Luke Voit.

Shortstop – Isiah Kiner-Falefa

Kinner-Falefa came to the Yankees in the Twins mega-trade. Going into the postseason, the shortstop was the Yankee’s greatest need. Before the lockout, they saw Semien and Seager go to the Rangers, leaving Carlos Correa as a free agent. The Yankees, after the lockout, went for Kiner-Falefa that was always on their radar. He is a definite improvement over Gleyber Torres.

Third Base – Josh Donaldson

Coming along in the trade with the Twins was the 36-year-old third baseman veteran Josh Donaldson, who is near the end of his career. Donaldson, in his career, has been an excellent defender. Because of his age, he may allow the Yankees to hold onto Miguel Andujar as a backup. It’s hard to believe a 39-year-old will be allowed to play 162 games.

Backstop – Benjamin Thomas Rortvedt

During the last few years, the Yankees have considered trading catcher Gary Sanchez and now have finally done it, going to the twins. The return is Ben Rortvedt. Rortvedt is an excellent defender but a poor hitter with some power. It is likely he will be a backup catcher, and Kyle Higashioka will start as the Yankee backstop.

Utility – DJ LeMahieu

DJ LeMahieu was resigned to a new contract before the season last season. Last season, the Gold Glove second baseman played all over the infield due to injuries, and Torres moved permanently to second base. Mostly due to the Torres move, he will likely do the same this season.

Utility – Miguel Andujar

After a shoulder injury in 2019, future star Miguel Andujar lost his job as the third baseman to Gio Urshela. Since then, he has had no place to play and looked to be traded. Now with 36-year-old Josh Donaldson as the third baseman, it might give Andujar a new life as a Yankee bench player.

Outfield – Tim Locastro

The Yankees welcome back Tim Locastro, giving the Yankees the needed backup in centerfield caused by the often injured Aaron Hicks. This acquisition might lead to the Yankees parting ways with their 14-year veteran Brett Gardner.

The Yankees have made 22 transactions since March 13th that will attend the shortened spring training that will be on 27 days instead of the normal 40 days. With the Yankees’ seemingly finishing up their infield, don’t be surprised if there are still changes coming in the day ahead.