MLB News: Looking at the moves or lack of for all 30 MLB teams this offseason

If the 2020 MLB season was one of the most bizarre in fans’ memories, so will this offseason be, that under normal times would be filled with major signings for many teams. Baseball has been mostly silent while the owners and players alike sit and wonder what at 2021 season will look like. Mostly caused by the coronavirus, all teams lost huge amounts of money that have left them trying to cut costs due to the upcoming uncertainty that lies ahead. Today we look at what substantial moves that have taken place and some that are likely.

Big and Medium Market teams that are/will spend to improve

The San Diego Padres:

The San Diego Padres have surprised many with their moves last year and so far in this offseason. They seem to be a team on the move that truly wants to reach the National League’s postseason. Last season they made the big move to obtain pitcher Mike Clevinger a Yankee target.  He has had Tommy John surgery and will not pitch during the 2021 season. The Padres have not let that stop their plans; they have gone out and got a deal done with the Rays for their ace Blake Snell. Now the news is that they are close to a deal for Yu Darvish. A Snell Darvish one-two will have an impact in the National League West.

Just before this writing, the Padres have reached a deal with Japanese shortstop Ha-seong Kim. With the addition of Kim, Snell, and if they get Darvish too, it will make them the most aggressive team this offseason.

The Chicago White Sox:

The “Southsiders,” as they are called in Chicago, are not planning on the future; they want to make a huge impact right now in the American League Central. After some great adds last season, they reached the postseason for the first time since 2008. This year they are looking to add to that and again make a run for the postseason. They are looking to build their pitching and have already traded the Texas Rangers for Lance Lynn, a Yankee target, to help with their mid-rotation needs. General manager Rick Hahn could dole out high-priced, one-year deals to improve the team, especially in the outfield.

The Toronto Blue Jays:

The Toronto Blue Jays have a bright, talented, and energetic team that wants decidedly to make it tough for those teams in the American League East, the division the Yankees are in. Of MLB teams, they are one of the most improved with the addition of Hyun Jin Ryu, who came out 3rd in the Cy Young Award voting. The team brought back Robbie Ray after acquiring him at the 2020 trade deadline, and top prospect Nate Pearson. The Toronto Blue Jays have money to spend, and they are key players in obtaining the Yankees DJ LeMahieu and pitcher Jake Odorizzi. They are also reportedly in the mix for Springer and Realmuto.

The New York Mets:

The big news this offseason is the sale of the MLB New York Mets to financier Steve Cohen. Cohen has already announced that he wants to make the team a contender in the National League and the number one team in New York City. Having a ton of money, he will try to make that happen. He also has an additional $24 million to spend with Robinson Cano’s forfeiture of salary due to a one-year suspension for testing positive for PED’s. The team has already signed Marcus Stroman, catcher James McCann another New York Yankee target, and two left-hand pitchers. They are another team interested in the Yankees DJ LeMahieu. 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer was impressed with Cohen’s introduction, which adds intrigue to New York’s possible pursuit of the top pitcher available.

The San Francisco Giants:

Going into the 2021 season, the San Francisco Giants don’t have many high impact players that will make a difference in the upcoming season. However, the Giants have a ton of payroll coming off the books. The Giants already made a fairly aggressive play by extending starting pitcher Kevin Gausman a qualifying offer, which he accepted. They are also reportedly in the mix for Jake Odorizzi. Look for more from the Giants before spring training.

The Atlanta Braves:

The Atlantic Braves always seem to be perennial movers and shakers in the offseason. The year is no different; they didn’t waste any time signing one of the best postseason pitchers, Charlie Morton, who pitched brilliantly for the Tampa Bay Rays and brought them just two games short of a World Series win. They also had signed left-hander Drew Smyly (one year, $11 million) late last week. To add to that, they are reportedly also interested in Marcell Ozuna resigning.

The Los Angeles Angels:

The Los Angeles Angels are a curious team that went out and signed the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, but have done little to make his addition to the team a meaningful one. But that may finally be changing. The Halos have a new general manager in Perry Minasian, and Angels owner Arte Moreno said his payroll is “not going down,” in fact, he will be spending at least $20 million more than last year. They are one of the MLB teams that have made an offer for the Yankees DJ LeMahieu. Industry insiders say they are closer to a deal with the batting champ than the Yankees are. The Angels have been able to sign marquee names like Rendon and Shohei Ohtani in recent years and will spend more this year with Pujols and Upton off the books.

Big Market teams likely not to break the bank

The New York Yankees:

The New York Yankees have been mostly silent, almost to the extreme of wondering if the front office is on vacation. The Yankees seem to be banking everything on the re-signing of DJ LeMahieu while having only one veteran experienced pitcher and a depleted bullpen. The Yankees also have questions at backstop and shortstop but have made it pretty clear that they will do little to provide an upgrade at those positions. With owner Hal Steinbrenner’s statement that he wants to spend $30-40 million less than last year, it’s doubtful that the Yankees will be spending this offseason.

The Philadelphia Phillies:

Philadelphia Phillies Club president Andy MacPhail has basically said to Phillies fans that the team is near broke. After getting Bryce Harper, Didi Gregorius, and J.T. Realmuto and not reaching the postseason the past two years, they will not be spending; they will be dumping. They are stuck with a huge Harper contract, much like the Yankees are on the hook for Giancarlo Stanton. The Phillies have already let Realmuto and Gregorius walk, saying they don’t have the money to pay them.

The Houston Astros:

The Houston Astros, after being beat out by the lowly Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 ALCS, will likely remain mostly static. There are several reasons for this. Probably the most important one is that they will likely have to spend big next year. Three reasons for their recent success are Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke. With Houston Astros, other than cheating, they have been all about starting pitching. This season they lost Cole to the Yankees in free agency, and after this season, they will lose both Verlander and Grinke leaving them with no pitching and big bills.

 

These teams spending will be unclear

These teams question whether they will spend or not; it’s really unclear to analyze at this point in the offseason. Starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won the World Series last year, they have the most talented team in all of baseball. If I were to take bets, I would say it is likely they will make few changes to the team.  Minnesota Twins president Derek Falvey spent big on Josh Donaldson last winter (four years, $92 million). At the same time, however, most of Minnesota’s positions are filled, and the starting pitching market, one area of need, fairly weak. The Twins could play for Trevor Bauer and more likely will resign Nelson Cruz now that Bauer has said he wants a 5-6 year contract for big money.

The Washington Nationals are an interesting team to watch after many big acquisitions and winning the World Series in 2019; none of those expenditures paid off this year when then totally flopped. With Strasburg and Corbin’s big contracts on the books, don’t look for them to be big spenders. Don’t look for the Boston Red Sox do much more than the embarrassing re-signing of Houston Astro’s cheating developer Alex Cora. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox can fill Fenway park no matter how bad the team is and is only interested in cutting payroll, as exhibited by letting Mookie Betts go west.

The St. Luis Cardinals have done nothing so far this winter, but that was expected. They are working to re-sign Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright and won’t do much heavy lifting until either situation is resolved. The Cardinals will be contenders this season, but like the New York Yankees, will take the wait and see stance.

Offseason news from other MLB teams

The Kansas City Royals, once one of the toughest competitors for the New York Yankees, hasn’t been much of a team since then. Their last 100 game winning season was in 1977 when they lost to the Dodgers. The Royal’s are a sad team the doesn’t spend the money, and when they get an outstanding player, homegrown or not, they seem to trade them away and get little in return. The odd thing is that they have one of the most loyal fan bases in baseball for a small market.

The Tampa Bay Rays, although almost winning a World Series, are dumping payroll this offseason, first by letting Charlie Morton walk and then trading away pitching ace Blake Snell. Although the Rays have more than doubled their payroll in the past few years, don’t look for them to be spending big. The Rays have bigger problems like getting a new Stadium that isn’t the laughing stock of baseball. If anything, the Rays will likely remain crafty and rely on their strong farm system.

The Oakland A’s will also do whatever they can to keep costs down, as exhibited by not offering qualifying offers to two of the best MLB players, Liam Hendriks and Marcus Semien. The Cincinnati Reds would like to re-sign Trevor Bauer, but that won’t happen, especially with his recent demands. They mistakingly believe they can make the postseason even with their holes in the outfield. Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort has also hinted at slashing payroll. For a team that will not make it close to a postseason, it is doubtful there will be any spending there.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are saddled with Madison Bumgardner’s contract, who turned out to be a bum pitcher for the D-Backs; it is unlikely they will be spending big this offseason. General manager Mike Hazen likely realizes the Dodgers and Padres figure to have dominion over the NL West, which could lead to a more measured offseason approach. The only big news of the offseason for the Cleveland Indians is that they will trade off their number one player in Francisco Lindor right before spring training. With Theo Epstein’s loss, one of the best general managers in baseball, the Chicago Cubs have a rough offseason ahead for an otherwise good team.

The Milwaukee Brewers lost in the wild-card round in 2020. They have a shortage of arms in the rotation and lack run-producers in the lineup. They could still contend in the NL Central. The Brewers are a traditionally low-payroll team and have the 26th-ranked farm system in baseball. It is likely they won’t be spending much. The Texas Rangers failed to land a top free agent last year and are stuck. They are a team they thought they could but never did. They have a brand new state of the art MLB Stadium that has yet to have fans in it. Don’t look for much as they try to keep their fans entertained. The only thing they have done so far is the trade-off, of Lance Lynn.

There is little information available on the other MLB teams. The Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Detroit Tigers are all in rebuild mode but with little money to spend. Most will rely on low-end trades.

A photo accompanying this article is the recently acquired Ha-seong Kim by the San Diego Padres. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees News/Rumors: The biggest questions the Yankees need to solve

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

The New York Yankees and their fans are tired of getting to the brink of a Championship but always falling short. This past season, the Yankees lost the Tampa Bay Rays division and then lost the ALCS to them. The Yankees realize they must improve the team in doing that, they are faced with a multitude of players that become free agents this offseason, and at the same time must pay arbitration-eligible players more money. All of these decisions come as the New York Yankees lost a monstrous amount of money this past season, as Yankee General Partner Hal Steinbrenner stated.

With the need for money to satisfy all these needs, there has been much talk about trading off key players like Luke Voit and Gio Urshela. In this writer’s opinion that won’t happen and the Yankees will not have the money to fix all of their shortcomings.  Let’s take a look at the three big decisions the Yankees will have to make before the start of the 2021 season. The Yankees will have in their mind that the 2021 season may not be a moneymaker either.

DJ LeMahieu:

One of the priorities the Yankee has to deal with is the free agency of DJ LeMahieu. DJ took over the leadoff spot in the lineup from Brett Gardner when he was hired in 2019. Since then, he has been one of the best Yankee players. Just like when Rivera took the mound in the ninth inning, when DJ steps to the plate, you know he’s going to get a hit or advance a runner. In 2019 he was Silver Slugger; in 2020 he won the baseball batting title, the only player to accomplish the feat in both leagues. DJ also leading off, sparks the other players in the lineup.

The New York Yankees will prioritize re-signing LeMahieu. He has just finished a two year contract that paid him $12M per year.  DJ likes playing in New York, but will surely want a sizable raise to keep his services at the Stadium in the Bronx. In signing him it’s hard to tell whether the 32 year old will be more interested in the length of the contract or the money amount. Probably a little bit of both. Without any knowledge of ongoing talks, it will probably take $20M a year to keep DJ in the Bronx and a deal that give him a guaranty of a income stabiltiy for at least the next four years. With money short and other issues to deal with, if DJ wants much more than that, the Yankees could let him walk, and test the free agent market.

Pitching:

The pitching situation, which many beleive caused the Yankee downfall this season, must be solved.  They really only have the $324M Gerrit Cole, beyond that they are in limbo. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ are all free agents. If the Yankees take any of them back it will most likely be Masahiro Tanaka, who has been more or less dependable. However if they do take him back it will be at a much discounted rate compared to what he now earns.  If Tanaka does not accep that, he may very well finish out his career in Japan.

James Paxton, with his injuries might be a risk for the Yankees, and J. A, Happ’s inconsistantly most likely will lead to the Yankees not negoiating to keep him. So that leaves the Yankees with three rotation spots to fill.  Tanaka if they keep him is no longer a number two starter.  The answer is to go out and sign the best pitcher in free agency Trevor Bauer, but that will cost big bucks, a shorter contract but nearly as expensive as Cole per year. There are other options the Yankees must look at: Marcus Stroman of the Mets, Julio Teheran of the Angels, Taijuan of the Blue Jays, or Adam Wainwright of the Cards.

If the Yankees can solve the number two starter situation with a premium pitcher, they can probably get by filling the remaining two spots with the bevi of young arms they have coming along.  Montgomery, Garcia, King, and Schmidt.  The bottom line is that if the Yankees don’t solve the pitching problem they will continue to lose when it counts. The Yankees also must consider the return of Luis Severino, and if he will be effective after his Tommy John surgery.  The Yankees most likely won’t be able to test that out until June at the earliest.  At this point, whether the Yankees will take back Domingo German is unknown.

Catching:

The New York Yankees catching situation is just as complicated. The bottom line here is that the Yankees can’t continue to have a wasted space in the lineup with a catcher that can’t hit. In Gary Sanchez’s career, he has had some bright spots on the home run front but overall has failed to get on base most of the time. This past season has been his worst ever, he stayed healthy but hit only .147 on the year.  Put that together with his regressing defense, and the Yankees must do something.

The obvious thing is to go out and get J.T. Realmuto from the Phillies. He can hit 30 home runs a year; he can hit for contact and is also one of the best defensive catchers in the business. But again that would be costly.  Another possibility is getting a short-term fix with one of the Molina brothers, Yadier Molina, one of the best defensive catchers in the game. If the Yankee were to consider Molina the 38 year old would get a short term contract.

Looking at the situation, I feel the Yankees will not pay for the best catchers available, they will let Sanchez and Higashioka battle it out in spring training for that starting spot. It will also be important for the Yankees to re-sign the 40 year old Erik Kratz who works well with young pitchers and had the 3rd highest WAR of any available free agent catcher.

 

Yankees News Wrap Up: 10/17/20: Gio Urshela trade, Moving Torres, Yankees budget and more

New York Yankees, Giovanny Urshela

The New York Yankees Postseason Budget

Going into the postseason, no one knows what the New York Yankees budget will be to solve some of the club’s problems. In a postseason news conference, General Operating Partner Hal Steinbrenner said that the club had lost a monstrous amount of money this season. The Yankees didn’t have a single paying fan in the stands throughout the 60 game season. They also lost all of their concession revenues. Without that revenue coming in, they still had to pay for ground crews, security, and a myriad of other expenses.  They did get a break in paying the players’ full salaries, but that saving pales compared to the losses.

With these huge losses, it is questionable how much money the Yankees will have to pay another ace type starter, building up the bullpen and solving the shortstop problem. Steinbrenner has not tipped his hat as to what the Yankees might do or not do.

Trade-off Gio Urshela

The has been a lot of foolish talk about trading our Gold Glove type 3rd baseman Gio Urshela. Andy Martino of SNY.tv Martino explained that the best path to improve the Yankees’ infield defense would be trading Gio Urshela. Others have also chimed in on the same idea. This writer believes that you don’t solve a problem by getting rid of a player that is a clutch hitter with a .298 batting average and a .992 fielding percentage.

Mark Teixeira says to trade Luke Voit

Mark Teixeira, the former Yankee first baseman, has suggested that the Yankees trade off Luke Voit while his value is highest. He suggests the move will solve the problem of moving Gleyber Torres to his natural position at 2nd base, thus moving DJ LeMahieu to first base. I have a lot of respect for Teixeira, but this is another brainless suggestion. You don’t get rid of a player that is just showing his immense promise. This year he hit .277 with a team and baseball leading 22 home runs and 52 RBI’s. Those stats translate into a regular-season of 60 home runs, just one short of Roger Maris’s Yankee record and 140 RBI’s. The bottom line is that you don’t get rid of your lineup power to save the job of a sub-par player.

Yankees look to solve a pitching problem

There is no question that the New York Yankees have some pitching deficiencies, and they are about to worsen. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ have all reached free agency. The Yankees need a co-ace to be number two behind last season’s signing of Gerrit Cole. None of these pitchers that are at free agency is that number two starter. The Yankees prospects also can’t fill that position, except possibly Deivi Garcia, but he too is unproven. The answer is that the Yankees first have to get that co-ace. The most likely person available is Trevor Bauer.  After that decision is made, the Yankees can then look at their free agents and decide who to keep.

The Yankees must prioritize extending DJ LeMahieu

Other than signing a premium starting pitcher, the New York Yankees must re-sign DJ LeMahieu. These two moves are a necessity. DJ has been with the Yankees for two years and has been everything the Yankees could have wanted, and much more. Last year he batted .327 with 26 home runs and was the only player with over 100 RBI’s. He also won the coveted Silver Slugger Award while playing excellent defense at 2nd base. This year, he won the baseball batting title, being the first player to win both leagues’ title. This year he also hit .364 at age 32, with no signs of slowing down. The Yankees will have to pay him at least 50% more, or more likely near twice what he earned in his present contract. Because of his age, the new contract will probably be limited to four years. Whatever they do, they must nail LeMahieu down for the next few years.

The Yankees need to solve the shortstop situation

There is no question that Gleyber Torres is not the ideal player to have at short. He, this year, had the second-most errors at the position. The obvious move if the Yankees choose to keep him is to move him to his natural position at 2nd base and replace him with Didi Gregorious, who we know can play at Yankee Stadium or go out and spend big bucks for Franciso Lindor.  This, like any other move, causes additional problems. What to do with DJ LeMahieu.

Under my plan, there are certain issues, but I put it forth anyway. Move Torres to second and make DJ LeMahieu a utility player. He has proven he can play all of the infield positions equally well. This would keep DJ in the lineup most days as he filled in at all four infield positions; he could also be an occasional DH. Should any infielder become injured, there will be an automatic replacement. I know this is not an ideal plan, but there is no easy solution to the Torres problem.

Aroldis Chapman has thrown the losing pitch two years in a row

Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner expressed his support of Aroldis Chapman, even though he has thrown the losing pitch two seasons in a row. He stated that he is “extremely comfortable,” giving him the ball with victory at hand. Aaron Boone also echoed the same support. This writer is never comfortable with the Chapman on the mound when the score is tied or with only a one-run lead. Chapman is not Mariano Rivera. Even in his saves, he often struggles and keeps fans on pins and needles. The previous Baltimore closer, Zack Britton, saved 8 games in a row while Chapman was out with the coronavirus.

New York Yankees need to beef up the bullpen

The two hot arms in the bullpen this year were Chad Green and Zack Britton. Outside of those two, there isn’t much dependability. Jonathan Holder was off and on, and Adam Ottavino faded this season just like he did last year. The only difference is that he became undependable much sooner this year than last.  The other dependable arm is Tommy Kahnle, but he had Tommy John surgery, and likely won’t be back to the team until the All-Star break at the earliest. The Yankees need another good arm to strengthen their bullpen. The Yankees might consider Daren O’Day, who has the lowest ERA of 1.10 of any free agent; he would also be a cheap purchase. There are 18 free agents on the market.

MLB announces the best 2020 umpire of the year

The Yankees fans surely know the names of Angel Hernandez and CB Buckner, both of which have cost the Yankees runs and much drama with managers and coaches being thrown out of games when they became upset by the erroneous calls of these two umpires. They are, without a doubt, the two worst umpires in baseball.

If the worst needs to be named, then so does the best. Pat Hoberg has been named the best and most accurate umpire of the 2020 season.