Updated: Dec 21, 2020
What is going on ball, boys, and girls? Welcome into today's Around the Horn. We have some news to cover today, including Leauge news, free agent signings and rumors, trades and trade rumors, injury news, and prospect news. If you missed the last Around the Horn, that's okay; check that out right now, here. We got so much news! Let's get it!
-The biggest news, which is much overdue, in my opinion, is the formation of the MLB Draft League. The MLB Draft League will open in 2021 with six teams. The league will be a wood bat, 68 game season. The new MLB DL comes because the MLB reorganizes the MiLB following the Professional Baseball Agreement's expiration earlier in the fall. The Draft Leauge will feature top Draft-eligible prospects who want to boost their draft stock ahead of the July draft during All-star week. The league is expected to begin in late May and end in early August with an All-Star break centered around the draft. MLB is going to work with Prep Baseball Report, a nationwide scouting service, to staff, operate, recruit and provide other functions for the new D.L... "We are thrilled to partner with Prep Baseball Report and the founding members of the MLB Draft League to create a one-of-a-kind league that will attract the nation's top players who are eligible for each year's MLB Draft and allow local fans to see top prospects and future big-league stars in their hometowns," said MLB executive vice president of baseball economics and operations Morgan Sword in a released statement. "This announcement continues MLB's commitment to preserving and growing baseball in communities around the United States." The teams will be The Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes, Trenton Thunder, West Virginia Black Bears, and Williamsport Crosscutters. Mahoning Valley, State College, West Virginia, and Williamsport previously belonged to the New York-Penn League, a Class A Short Season circuit. Trenton was a member of the Double-A Eastern League. There will be additionals announcements about the layout of the MiLB, and licensed affiliates will come in the weeks ahead and after the winter meetings. I will post a full write up of the details and my thoughts once I have all the information.
-The BBWAA Writers- released the Hall of Fame ballot released on 11/16. In case you missed my full breakdown of each player on the ballot, you can check that out here. I do have an update on most players on the ballot as of 11/30. Barry Bonds(11/17 64.7%), Roger Clemens(11/17 64.7%), Scott Rolen(11/17 64.7%),Curt Schilling(10/17 58.8%), Omar Vizquel(10/17 58.8%), Todd Helton(9/17 52.9%), Andruw Jones(8/17 47.1%), Manny Ramirez(8/17 47.1%), Gary Sheffield(6/17 35.3%), Billy Wagner(6/17 35.3%), Andy Pettitte(5/17 29.4%), Bobby Abreu(3/17 17.6%), Torii Hunter(3/17 17.6%),Sammy Sosa(3/17 17.6%), Tim Hudson(1/17 5.9%), Jeff Kent(1/17 5.9%), Aramis Ramirez(1/17 5.9%), Mark Buehrle(0/17), AJ Burnett(0/17), Michael Cuddyer(0/17), Dan Haren(0/17), LaTroy Hawkins(0/17), Nick Swisher(0/17), Shane Victorino(0/17), Barry Zito(0/17). Voting ends Dec. 31st, with the final results being announced on Jan. 26th.
-Chris Young has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Met's GM search, and he prefers not to move his family from Dallas to NY at this time. Young will stay on as MLB Senior-VP of on-field operations. Former Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill is the only other known candidate to interview for the GM/president of the Met's baseball operations role. -The Mets also informed bench coach Hensley Meulens he will not be back in 2021. Meulens will be a great fit for any team he lands on with his experience and the fact he can speak five languages.
-The Phillies are still on the hunt for their next GM. Sr. VP of baseball operations for the Dodgers Josh Byrnes has formally interviewed for the job. Byrnes was the Gm of Dbacks and Padres before joining the Dodgers.
-The Chicago White Sox announced their 2021 coaching staff Manager: Tony La Russa, Bench Coach: Miguel Cairo, Pitching Coach: Ethan Katz
Assistant Pitching Coach: Curt Hasler, Hitting Coach: Frank Menechino
Assistant Hitting Coach: Howie Clark, First Base Coach: Daryl Boston
Third Base Coach: Joe McEwing, Analytics Coordinator: Shelley Duncan.
--While I am on the White Sox Manager Tony La Russa has a change of plea hearing scheduled for Dec. 21st for his DUI arrest back on Feb. 24th. La Russa's pleaded not guilty to the charges. The DUI charges are the 2nd in his MLB career; the first was managing the Cardinals in 07. The only statement from the White Sox was, "As Tony La Russa's attorney said in his statement, Tony deserves all the assumptions and protections granted to everyone in a court of law, especially while this is a pending matter. Once his case reaches resolution in the courts, we will have more to say. The White Sox understand the seriousness of these charges."
-The Twins are moving their AAA affiliate a little closer to home, well, about 1000 miles closer, to be exact. The St. Paul Saints, who were a member of the independent American Association since 05. The move is great for the Twins as for the last 18 years have housed their AAA club in upstate NY Rochester Red Wings. The Red Wings have announced a new partnership with the Washington Nationals. The move will bring the AAA club only 11 miles from the MLB club, and the AAA club will get all the benefits of modern facilities and training. Also, rather than a cross country flight, it will be a short drive when the Twins need to make a move.
Free Agent Signings:
-The KC Royals made a pair of signings on Monday, 11/30. OF Michael A. Taylor signed a 1yr $1.75m with another $1Mil available in incentives. Taylor is only 29yo, was outrighted off the Nationals 40man roster. Taylor hadn't produced the same since his 2017 breakout when he was a 3WAR player. In 2020 he was a -0.5WAR. In 92AB, he had 5HR and slashed .196/.253/.424. Taylor will look to become a regular with the rebuilding Royals.
-The Royals also signed LHP Starter Mike Minor. The deal is expected to be at least a 2year pact. Minor will rejoin the Royals for the second time in his career. 2020 wasn't kind to Minor as he was traded from the Rangers to the A's and ended the season posting a 5.56ERA/4.64FIP, 3.10K/BB rate 9.8K/9 over 56.2IP. Minors' most significant problem was the HR ball, which he gave up a career-high 15.7% HR/9. Minors' hard-hit% went from 30.4% up to 40.4%. The 32yo will look to rebuild value and hope for another trade to a contender. In a relief role in 2017 with the Royals, he posted a 2.55ERA, 4.0K/BB rate, and 10.2K/9 in 77.2IP. The contract is for 2yr and $18mil guaranteed.
-The Mets and RHP Jacob Barnes agreed to a 1yr $750K contract with $100K available in incentives. In 2020, with the LA Angels, he had 18IP with a 5.50ERA but a 2.25FIP and 1.27WHIP with 24K.
-The Mets and Trevor May "are in deep talks" as of the morning 12/1. By the afternoon on 12/1, the two sides agreed to a deal, pending physical. The 31yo May has been excellent since 2018, pitching in 113 games and 113IP of 3.19ERA, 4.03K/BB, 12.2 K/9. In 2020 May had 23.1IP with a 3.86ERA/3.62FIP with 38K and a 14.7K/9. May will be a great addition to the Mets' bullpen. The Mets Pen will now feature May, Barnes, Betances, Brach, Familia, and Diaz. The deal is for 2yr and $15mil
-The Brewers signed C Luke Maile; Maile did not play in 2020 after fracturing his right index finger and had surgery to repair the injury in July. In 657PA, he has a .198/.252/.304, 10HR. Maile was signed before the non-tender deadline, which could mean any combination of Omar Narvaez, Manny Pina, and Jacob Nottingham could find themselves on the open market.
Free Agent Rumors:
-OF/DH Sung-Bum Na has been posted for MLB teams to bid on by the NC Dinos of the KBO. Na, 31, just wrapped up a great season with the KBO champion Dinos in which he posted a slash of .324/.390/.596 with 34HR in 584PA. Na did strike out 25.3% and only walked 8.3% of the time. In 8 seasons and 4141PA, he owns a .317/.384/.542 with 179HR and 269XBH. I don't think the slugger will get a huge contract based on age and injury history. I see him being another Dae-Ho Lee that was a 1B/DH that slugged for a few seasons and was done in the MLB and back in Japan.
-INF Ha-Seong Kim has yet to be posted for MLB teams to bid on as of 12/1. According to Kiwoom Heroes general manager Chi-Hyun Kim, Major League Baseball requested more medical documentation "that we didn't think would be necessary. Kim Ha-Seong went for tests at three different hospitals on Monday, and we sent those results to the KBO today."
-When Kim hits the open market, the SS will join Marus Semien, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, and trade targets Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, Trevor Story, and Carlos Correa.
--Whoever signs both Kim and Bum will also have to pay a transfer fee to the Kiwoom Heroes/NC Dinos, depending on his contract's size. The Heroes'/Dinos' transfer fee will be 20 percent of the contract's first $25MM in value, 17.5 percent of the next $25MM, and 15 percent of anything beyond the $50MM threshold.
-INF Addison Russel(.254/.317/.336, 2HR in 271PA) and RHP Jake Brigham( 2.96ERA in 2019 and 3.62ERA in 2020) both will be free agents after KBO Kiwoom Heroes will not resign either player.
-LHP Eric Jokish is on some MLB teams radars after the 31 threw 159.2IP with a 2014ERA and won the KBO ERA title. The Kiwoom Heroes do want to bring the lefty back, however.
-Yomiuri Giants RHP Tomoyuki Sugano is expected to be posted for MLB teams to bid on. Sugano is 31 and is coming off a tough 2019 season, which saw him post a 3.89ERA but prior, he hadn't ever pitched higher than 2.14ERA since 2015. He is a 6x All-Star in Japan and a two-time winner of NPB's Sawamura Award, their Cy Young award.
-A few other names that are expected to be posted by the NPB/KBO are RHP Kohei Arihara(28yo, since 2019 he owns a 2.93ERA, 265-68 K-BB ratio over 292IP), Kiichiro Nishikawa(29yo, hit .296/.419/.388 with 37/42SB, he holds an OBP of .378 or better each of the last four seasons. He has 3SB titles, 3 Gold Gloves in the OF and is a 2x All-Star)
--Both Arihara and Sugano are on the Padre's radar as they need to fill the void that Mike Clevinger leaves them in 2021. The Padres also have and will be keeping an eye on the market for Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell to fill the void.
-Cather James McCann has his phone and agent's phone blowing up in Free Agency. The Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, Angels, Phillies, and his most recent team, the White Sox, want him behind the plate. The now 30yo had his first All-star appearance in 2019, and 2020 was very productive, slashing .289/.360/.536 with 7HR and 15RBI in 97AB.
--The Mets are being reported as showing more interest in McCann than J.T. Realmuto as of 11/30
-Renato Nunez and Hunter Renfroe have both cleared waivers and have been released by their clubs and are both free agents now.
-George Springer has gotten a lot of attention from the Blue Jay's but is being reported as the Met's top target in free agency. With Cano's $24mil off the books for 2021, the payroll is open for the Met's to make a splash. The Mets also need to improve their pen and rotation as long as they find a C solution.
-The Blue Jays have expressed interest in FA 2B Kolten Wong. Wong is the 2nd choice of the Jay's for a 2B as DJ LeMahieu is number one. LeMahieu will cost 4yrs and $68mil+. At the same time, 30yo Wong will be wooed with a 2yr $16mil+ contract. Wong isn't great with the bat but passable as we saw in 2020 with a slash line of .265/.350/.326 with 1HR. However, his defense is excellent as he tied for 1st among the second baseman in UZR(3.8) and tied for 2nd in DRS(6)
-Free Agent 2B/INF Howie Kendrick intends to play in 2021. 2021 will be Kendricks's 16th MLB season. Kendrick had his 2021 option declined by the Nationals after a 2020 season that saw him slash a .275/.320/.385 over 100PA. Kendricks is a career .294/.337/.430 hitter and is a versatile defender. Hopefully, Kendricks get to end his career after a full season. The Nationals are the most logical fit.
-The Red Sox are showing interest in RHP Corey Kluber. Kluber is the best buy-low and gets a high reward starter on the market. Kluber the majority of the 2019 season with a fractured forearm. Then shoulder problems limited him to 1IP in 2020. But in 2018, the former Cy Young winner had 215IP of 2.89ERA/3.12FIP with a 9.29K/9. Boston needs all the help they can get after the rotation posted a 5.34ERA/5.50FIP in 2020. With Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez both working back from injury. The Red Sox need depth with upside.
-Free Agent Josh Reddick said goodbye, with a chance of a reunion with the Astros. The post read, "Thank you to the Astros, my teammates, coaches, staff, and of course the FANS," Reddick posted. "Houston will always be special to me. From winning a World Series to getting engaged and starting a family here and everything in between, I loved playing here and look forward to doing it again." In his time with the Astros, 1787PA with .275/.331/.425 with 48HR.
-Washington Nationals OF Juan Soto tweeted, "Think about a Big 4 starting a rotation 2 Cy Young(s). That can be beautiful." Does Soto know something about Bauer coming to the Nationals that we don't?
We have a trade:
-The Miami Marlins have acquired RHP Adam Cimber from the Indians for Cash Considerations. In 2020 Cimber posted a 3.97ERA/3.99FIP with a 52.4% groundball rate in 11.1IP.
-The trade market for the big names and big stars like SS Carlos Correa, SS Francisco Lindor, SS Trevor Story, 3B Kris Bryant, 3B Nolan Arenado, SP Sonny Gray, SP Blake Snell, SP Lance Lynn should become a much clearer picture following the non-tender deadline Wednesday 11/2 8 pm EST.
-The Rangers have added Lance Lynn to the block. With an expiring contract after the 2021 season. Lynn is a deal at his $8mil contract, and his 6th place Cy Young finish in 2020. In 84IP in 2020, he posted a 6-3 record with a 3.32ERA, 1.06WHIP, and 89K. The Rangers will not be competitive in 2021, looking to rebuild going forward and wanting to cut payroll, the trade is obvious. I like the fit with Lynn with the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox.
-Despite the trade rumors with the Nationals. The Cubs will tender Kris Bryant a contract for 2021; if they didn't tender him a contract, he would become a free agent. The deal is to be worth about $18mil. Details on the trade talks with the Nationals, the Nats are not willing to give up pitching prospects Jackson Rutledge and Cade Cavalli as they are the National's two best prospects. I still expect the Cubs to move Bryant and get the value they can for the 3B. The move to tender Bryant is because of his unlikeliness being traded before the Tender deadline of Wednesday.
-The Cincinnati Reds have come out and said they want a starting SS. The need for a strong SS is a top priority for the club. They are pursuing multiple options via trade like Francisco Lindor and Trevor Story. The club is also expected to talk with free agents Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons, and Didi Gregorius.
Rockies RHP Scott Oberg has begun a throwing program and is making his way back as he underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in September. The TOS's hopefully will solve the blood clotting issues that have held Oberg back in his career. Oberg didn't pitch in 2020, but in 2018-19, Oberg posted a 2.35 ERA, 3.29 K/BB rate, and 9.0 K/9 over 114.2IP
Padres OF Tommy Pham underwent surgery to repair a tear of the triangular fibrocartilage complex in his left wrist during the last couple of months. We don't know exactly when because the Padres never announced precisely when this took place. However, Pham is in the rehab process and lifting weights but hasn't gotten into a hitting program.
Rays RHP Nick Bitsko, the 24th overall pick in June's draft, underwent surgery on 12/1 to repair a labrum issue. It is unclear how long the 18yo will miss, but he will miss time in 2021.
Indians RHP Cam Hill was involved in a car crash on Monday, 11/30. In the collision, he suffered a wrist injury that needed surgery. He suggested via social media that he would return in 2021. Hill made his MLB debut in 2020, posting a 4.91ERA/5.43FIP over 18.1IP.
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