Around the Horn: News and Notes 3/31

It's the LAST Around the Horn before opening day. The Around the Horns will look a little bit different going into the regular season. We will still have league news, free agent signings and rumors, trades and trade rumors, injuries, and COVID-19 related issues. The meat and potatoes will still be there. To check out all the Around the Horns from the offseason, click here.

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League News:

-Compliance officers monitoring dugouts, clubhouses, tunnels, bullpens, and batting cages? Why? These officers will be part of the effort to reduce the use of foreign substances being used. The same officers will pull random samples of baseballs to be analyzed by third-party labs. The MLB will test balls suspected of being doctored by a pitcher against that pitcher's spin-rate data from Statcast. Steve Adams of MLBTR put together a well-detailed piece you can find here.

-The Minnesota Twins lost a piece of their coaching staff on 3/26. Bench Coach Mike Bell passed away at the age of 46. He had had Kidney Cancer. The Ball Boy Blog sends our condolences to Bell’s family, the Twins organization, and everyone affected by this tragic and sudden loss.

-Pease out to Gio Gonzalez. The 35yo LHP announced his retirement from the MLB on 3/25. Gonzalez walks away from the game as a two-time all-star, two 6th or better finishes in the Cy Young votings. He ends the career with 1933IP, 131-101, 3.70ERA, and 1860K and 32.1WAR.

-The Texas Rangers exercised managers Chris Woodward's option for the 2022 season.

-The Marlins sold naming rights to their ballpark, Mortgage company loan Depot purchased the rights, and thus Marlins park will now be known as loanDepot park. The search for a partner has been going on since 2012, when the stadium opened.

Extension Talks:

-Lindor and the Mets remain in talks, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who tweets that “it feels like there’s a bit of optimism” they’ll reach an agreement. Mets owner Steve Cohen had dinner with Francisco Lindor on Saturday 3/27 night, ostensibly to see if they could close the gap in their extension negotiations, per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. The Mets offered Lindor 10yr $325mil; he is looking for 12yr $385mil. Can the two sides close the gap within the next 24 hours.

-The Indians at least broached the subjection of a contract extension with AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber this offseason, though Bieber told reporters (including The Athletic’s Zack Meisel and Cleveland.com’s Joe Noga) that “I haven’t really gotten into very many talks, at least in-depth. With Opening Day coming up right here, right in front of us, I think that’ll be what it is until maybe next offseason.”

-No deal looks close for the Astros and Carlos Correa to happen before opening day. The club offered him 6yr, $120. It looks like Correa will be a trade candidate all season long. " he called the proposal "really low" and said he's preparing as if he will become a free agent next offseason. Correa added that he will "absolutely not" push back his April 1 deadline for extension negotiations." Byrne of MLBTR

--The two sides remain in talks. Will the Astros and Correa be able to close a deal within the next 24 hours?

-The Red Sox and 3B Rafael Devera have had no extension talks this off-season. Devers is under team control through 2023, so there is no rush to get a deal done. Devers has indicated he is open to such talks, however.

-The Pirates are trying to lock up budding star Ke'Bryan Hayes to a long-term contract. No deal is imminent at this time.

-The Cubs have had little luck with finalizing contract extensions with SS Javier Baez, 1B Anthony Rizzo, and 3B Kris Bryant before opening day.

--Rizzo told reporters on 3/29 that the extension talks have stalled, and a new deal looks unlikely. The Cubs offer to Rizzo was 5yr $70mil with it being a front-loaded deal, with incentives on the back end.

Roster Moves:

-The Blue Jays selected TJ Zeuch; he will make the Opening Day roster.

-The Diamondbacks selected the RHRP Chis Devenskis contract.

-The Padres selected RHP Nabil Crismatt, and he will make the Opening Day roster.

-The Rangers selected INF Charlie Culberson's contract, and he will be on the Opening Day roster.

-The Reds selected the contracts of OF Tyler Naquin and RHRP Cam Bedrosian; both were in camp as NRI and will now be on the Opening Day roster.

-The Cardinals announced that John Nogowski, Austin Dean, Edmundo Sosa, and Jake Woodford would be on the roster.

-The Marlins informed INF Jazz Chisholm had won the opening day 2B job.

-The Cubs selected LHP Rex Brothers' contracts, INF Eric Sogard, INF Matt Duffy, and each will be on the Opening Day roster.

-The Royals informed RHP Wade Davis and RHP Greg Holland will make the opening day roster. INF Hanser Alberto also was added to the roster.

-The Mariners informed OF prospect Taylor Trammell, RHP Justin Dunn, and Rule 5 pick Will Vest that each will be on the Opening Day roster. Trammell will either be the everyday man in LF or CF, depending on the health of K-Lew. Dunn will be the 6th starter.

-The Rockies informed RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez that he would make the roster and be on the Opening Day roster.

-The Nationals selected the contracts of INF Jordy Mercer and INF Hernan Perez, LHP Luis Avilan. Each should be on the Opening Day Roster.

-The Tigers informed Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo that he will make the Opening Day roster. He will make the jump from High-A.

-The Angels informed Jose Rojas that he'd make the Opening Day roster; the 28yo LHH INF is in line to make his MLB debut after an incredible spring. Rojas is an LA native as well.

-It's been two seasons since we were able to say Jed Lowrie A's everyday man at 2B. However, Bob Melvin said the 36, almost 37yo will be the everyday man after being in camp as an NRI.

-The Yankees selected the contract of OF/1B Jay Bruce, OF Mike Tachman. Both will start the season on the Opening Day roster. Tyler Wade, Michael King, and Nick Nelson each also made the roster.

-The Braves selected RHP Nate Jones and INF Ehire Adrianza, and INF Pablo Sandoval. Each will be on the Opening Day roster.

-The Phillies informed RHRP Brandon Kintzler, INF Ronald Torreyes, OF Matt Joyce have earned rosters spots and will be on the Opening Day Roster. Top prospect Spencer Howard will primarily work out of the pen in 2021. OF Adam Haseley also made the opening day roster.

-The Indians informed RHRP Bryan Shaw, 1B Jake Bauers, LHP Oliver Perez, INF Yu Chang, and OF Ben Gamel that they had made the Opening Day roster.

-The Blue Jays informed INF Joe Panik, OF Jonathan Davis, C Alejandro Kirk, pitchers Trent Thornton, Tim Mayza, and 1B/OF Rowdy Tellez that they each made the Opening Day roster.

-The Red Sox informed Rule 5 pick, Garrett Whitlock that he will be making the opening day roster.

-The Dodgers selected RHRP Jimmy Nelson's contract and will play his second season out of the Dodgers pen.

-The Brewers will start the season with Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, Brett Anderson, and Freddy Peralta as the 5-man rotation. RHP Josh Lindblom will start the season in the bullpen. 1B/DH Daniel Vogelbach also made the roster.

-The Dark Knight returns, still in orange but with the Orioles. The club announced they are selecting Matt Harvey's contract, and he will be on the opening day roster. Fellow Oriole LHP Wade LeBlanc opted out of his contract on 3/25 and then resigned to split contact on 3/26.

-The Rangers have informed utilityman Brock Holt that he will break camp with the team and make the Opening Day roster. The team also selected the contract of Ian Kennedy, Matt Bush, and OF/1B Ronald Guzman

-The White Sox looks to be in line to carry 2019 #3 pick Andrew Vaughn on the opening day roster. The club has been working on a long-term extension with Vaughn, yet no deal is in place. It is likely that OF Billy Hamilton will also make the opening day roster with OF Adam Engel starting the IL season.

-The Tigers selected the contract of RHP Julio Teheran; he will make the Opening Day roster. The team also announced Casey Mize would open the season in the rotation. Simultaneously, Michael Fulmer and NRI LHP Derek Holland will be working out of the bullpen.

Call-up/Send-downs:

-The Red Sox optioned INF Michael Chavis and RHP Colten Brewer to the alternate site.

-The Athletics optioned Vimael Machin and Seth Brown to AAA.

-The Royals surprisingly optioned 2B Nicky Lopez to AAA.

-The Cardinals optioned Lane Thomas and Kodi Whitley to AAA.

-The Giants optioned OF LaMonte Wade Jr. to AAA and reassigned pitchers, Scott Kazmir and Shun Yamaguchi.

-The Marlins optioned INF Isan Diaz and Sixto Sanchez to AAA to begin the season.

-The Phillies optioned UTL Scott Kingery, LHP Jojo Romeo, C Rafael Marchan to AAA. OF Travis Jankowski, C Rodolfo Duran were reassigned to minor league camp.

-The Cubs optioned INF Nico Hoerner and LHP Brad Wieck to AAA. While RHP Trevor Megill, pitchers Shelby Miller, Pedro Strop, and Refael Ortego we assigned to minor league camp.

-The Yankees optioned RHP Deivi Garcia to AAA.

-The Nationals optioned INF Carter Kieboom to the alternate site. The club also optioned Luis Garcia, Sam Clay, Kyle McGowin, Yadiel Hernandez, RHP Rogelio Armenteros, and LHP Seth Romero.

-The Tigers reassigned RHRP Joe Jimenez to the alternate training site.

-The Mariners reassigned OF Jarred Kelenic, OF Julio Rodriguez, RHP Brady Lail, RHP Paul Sewald, RHP Ljay Newson, LHP Aaron Fletcher, and OF Braden Bishop to minor league camp.

-The Orioles optioned LHP Keegan Akin, OF Jahmai Jones, INF Richie Martin, and reassigned LHP Fernando Abad and 1B/OF Chris Shaw to minor league camp.

-The Reds reassigned LHP Brandon Finnegan, INF Mike Freeman, RHP Heath Hembree, RHRP Braden Shipley, C Rocky Gale to minor league camp.

-The Indians reassigned 1B Bobby Bradley, OF Bradley Zimmer, RHP Blake Parker, and LHP Kyle Nelson to minor league camp and the alternate site, and none of them will make the Opening Day roster.

-The Dodgers reassigned INF Sheldon Neuse to minor league camp.

-The Angels optioned C Anthony Bemboom, INF Luis Rengifo, and INF Jack Mayfield to minor league camp. The moves set up 28yo NRI Jose Rojas to make the opening day roster. At the same time, Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki will handle the catching duties. The Angels also optioned pitcher Ty Buttrey to AAA.

-The Athletics optioned C Austin Allen to minor league camp, which sets up Aramis Garcia as the backup to Sean Murphy.

-The Mets sent down RHP Corey Oswalt and RHP Jordan Yamamoto to AAA and minor league camp. The club also reassigned INF/OF Brandon Drury and C Bruce Maxwell. LHP Joey Lucchesi will open the season as the club's 5th starter. The Mets also optioned Jerry Blevins and LHP Stephen Tarpley to minor league camp.

-The Reds returned Rule 5 pick, SS Kyle Holder, to the Yankees on 3/30.

-The Angels returned Rule 5 pick, Jose Alberto Rivera, to the Astros on 3/24.

-The Braves optioned RHP Kyle Wright and RHP Jacob Webb to AAA. RHP Bryse Wilson, OF Abraham Almonte, was also optioned to the alternate training sight. INF Johan Camargo, C William Contreras were also optioned.

New Free Agents:

-The Texas Rangers have informed brawling INF Rougned Odor that he will not make the team's Opening Day roster. Odor could draw interest from the Braves, Brewers, and Reds.

-The Orioles released RHP Felix Hernandez. King Felix is likely done as sad as that sounds. The M's and Braves could bring him back on a minor league deal.

-The Blue Jays granted LHP Francisco Liriano his release. I think Liriano could land with the White Sox, Twins, or Rays.

-The Pirates granted C Tony Wolters his release from his minor league contract, being informed he wasn't making the MLB roster.

-The White Sox granted C Jonathan Lucroy his release from his minor league contract after being informed he would not be making the opening day roster. Lucroy would be a good backup with the Mets, Padres, and Yankees.

-The Mets informed P Jerad Eickhoff, Arodys Vizcaino, C Caleb Joseph, INF Jose Peraza, OF Mallex Smith that they will not make the Opening Day roster. I think each will latch on with a team on another minor league deal.

-The Mets also released LHP Mike Montgomery on 3/28, and I think he will latch back on with the Mets, Royals, Mariners, and Cubs on a minor league deal.

-The Nationals released INF Yasmany Thomas and LHP TJ McFarland. I honestly think Thomas is doomed to be a career minor league baseball player or just done. McFarland should draw interest from the Royals, Athletics, and Mariners.

-The Tigers informed INF Renato Nunez that he wouldn't make the Opening Day roster. Nunez will quickly find himself a new home. The 26yo slugger would be a good fit on the Rangers, Rockies, White Sox.

-The Yankees released RHP Jhoulys Chacin. I can see Chacin catching on with the Mariners, Angels, or Athletics

-The Reds released UTL Dee Strange-Gordon and LHP Jesse Biddle on 3/26. Dee hit a solid .281/.361/.313 in 36PA this spring; he should draw plenty of interest from the Red Sox, White Sox, and Marlins. Biddle also had a solid spring with 3Er, 12K, 2BB in 9IP. Biddle could draw interest from the Braves, Blue Jays, and Rays.

-The Tigers granted INF Greg Garcia his release on 3/26. The move was a little surprising as he could back up 2B, SS, and 3B and owns a respectable .245/.354/.339 slash in 1303PA. The Twins, Yankees, Brewers could all be suitors.

-The Angels released RHP Jesse Chavez on 3/26. I can see Chavez drawing interested from the Rangers, Athletics, and Pirates.

-The Twins released UTL Andrew Romine after he exercised his opt-out clause on 3/25. The Twins, Red Sox and White Sox could be in the mix.

-The Astros released RHRP Steve Cishek on 3/25. The spring numbers looked suitable for the 34yo with 3ER, 12K.2BB in 7.2IP. Cishek should have plenty of options, Yankees, Marlins, Braves, among a few.

-The Braves released RHRP Carl Edwards Jr on 3/25. Edwards looked decent on the surface with 8K and 1ER in 8.1IP. However, the 7H and 6BB were not encouraging. I can see the Nationals, Cubs, Mariners as suitors.

-The Mets released vet RHRP Tommy Hunter on 3/25. The 34yo rock-solid reliever in recent memory will look to latch on elsewhere. I can see the Mariners, Giants, Athletics as landing spots.

-The Astros released OF Steven Souza Jr., who was in camp on a MiLB deal. The 31yo 2-21, 5BB in 27PA is what looks to be the reason for the release. I could see the Rays, Cubs, Pirates as potential suitors.

-The Phillies released C Christian Bethancourt. I do not see him latching on elsewhere.

-The Phillies also released RHP Ivan Nova, LHRP Tony Watson. Nova was unlikely to make camp based on performance alone with 9BB in 12.1IP. Rondon was tagged for 6ER in 7IP with an 8-2K/BB ratio. Watson allowed 4ER in 5IP with 9H, 7K, and 2BB. I can see Nova finding on a home with the Pirates, Rangers, or even Orioles. Watson would be a good fit with the Pirates, Dodgers, Angels, Giants.

Free Agent Signings:

-The Astros locked up Lance McCullers Jr to a five-year deal that will run from 2022-2026. The deal is worth $85mil guaranteed and with a limited no-trade clause.

-The Twins locked up RHP Randy Dobnak to a FIVE year $9.25mil extension. The deal includes three club options, with incentives that could make the deal worth $29.75mil

-The White Sox signed 3B Jake Lamb on 3/30 to a Major League deal.

-The Brewers re-signed RHP Jordan Zimmerman and RHP Brad Boxberger to minor-league contracts on 3/27 after releasing them on 3/26

-The Cubs re-signed OF Cameron Maybin to a minor-league deal on 3/28 after releasing him on 3/27.

-The Angels signed AJ Ramos to a minor league deal. The 34yo will head to the alternate training site to begin the 2021 season. Ramos returned to the mound in 2020, pitching 2.2IP with 1ER, 3BB, and 1K with the Rockies.

-The Angels also re-signed OF Jon Jay to a minor-league deal. Jay was released on 3/26 and re-signed on 3/27. Jay struggled in spring, going 2-29. Chavez was tagged for 7ER in 4.1IP.

-The Angels also re-signed and reunited with RHP Noe Ramirez after the Reds released him. It's a minor league contract.

-The Angels also signed RHP Steve Cishek and LHP Tony Watson to add more depth to the bullpen.

-The Pirates re-signed INF Todd Frazier to a new minor league deal on 3/30 after releasing him on 3/26.

-The Rangers re-signed RHP Nick Vincent to a new minor league deal on 3/28 after releasing him on 3/27.

-The Yankees re-signed OF Derek Dietrich and C Robinson Chirinos to new minor league deals on 3/29 after releasing them on 3/27

-The Braves re-signed INF Jason Kipnis to a new minor league deal on 3/29 after the 3/27 release

-The Braves also signed C Jeff Mathis to a minor league deal after being released by the Phillies on 3/26.

-The Mets re-signed RHRP Tommy Hunter to a new minor league deal after being released by the team on 3/25.

-The Mariners re-signed RHRP Matt Magill to a 2-year minor league deal.

-The Red Sox signed LHRP Tyler Olson to a minor league deal on 3/30.

-The Red Sox also signed RHP Hector Rondon to a minor league deal on 3/30.

-The Cardinals signed 16yo Cuban OF Luis Mario Pino to a $767K.

Free Agent Rumors:

Trades:

-The Angeles acquired RHRP James Hoyt from the Marlins for cash considerations.

-The Orioles acquired RHP Adam Plutko from the Indians for cash considerations.

Trade Rumors:

-The Yankees may be looking to swing a deal for OF Mike Tauchman. The move comes because of Jay Bruce'sBruce's strong spring training.

New Injuries:

.-Brewers RHP Justin Topa will begin the IL season due to elbow discomfort during a sim game on 3/28. OF Derek Fisher will also begin the season on the IL.

-Mariners OF and reigning AL RoY Kyle Lewis could miss the season's start due to a deep bone bruise outside his right knee.

-Yankees 1B Luke Voit will begin the season on the IL due to a meniscus tear. He will be shut down from baseball activities for at least the next three weeks. He should be back sometime in May or early June.

-The Red Sox scratched LHP Eduardo Rodrigues from his opening day due to a "dead arm." E-Rod thre/w a pen on 3/27 and felt good about returning. The team will be cautious as they continue to evaluate before setting a timeline.

-The Rays got awful news on 3/25, and RHP Nick Anderson suffered a partial tear of his elbow ligament and will likely be out past the All-Star break. Surgery has not been recommended.

-Fellow TB Ray 1B Ji-Man Choi will be out 3-5 weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Choi will likely be out into May.

-The Giants RHP Rico Garcia underwent TJ surgery on 3/24 and will miss the 2021 season and a portion of the 2022 season.

-Cardinals CF Harrison Bader will begin the IL season and miss the first 4-6 weeks of the regular season with a forearm injury that required a platelet-rich plasma injection.

-The Pirates Blake Cederlind underwent TJ surgery on 3/23 and will miss 2021 and a portion of 2022.

-The Pirates LHP Steven Brault has been shut down for the next month or so due to "moderate arm muscle strain." His total absence could be up to 12 weeks.

Injury Updates:

-The Rangers will start the season with RP Jose Leclerc, Joely Rodriguez, Brett Martin, Jonathan Hernandez, OF Khris Davis, and Willie Calhoun on the Injured List.

--Jose Leclerc will undergo TJ surgery and miss the 2021 season.

-The Yankees will open the season with LHP Justin Wilson and LHP Zack Britton on the IL.

-Reds RHP Sonny Gray came out of a bullpen session on 3/26 feeling good. After throwing 30 pitches in a sim-game, he felt like he took a step in the right direction. Gray will still start the season on the IL.

-Athletics RHP Mike Fiers will begin the season on the IL. He has been dealing with left hip inflammation since a couple of weeks ago.

-White Sox prized Eloy Jimenez departed the team's game on Wednesday, 3/24, with discomfort in his left shoulder. 3/25 UPDATE: Jimenez has a ruptured left pectoral tendon and will require surgery. He will miss 5-6 months, and the possibility of missing the entire season the World Series contending White Sox is in Jeopardy.

-Blue Jays RHRP Kirby Yates underwent TJ on 3/25 and will be out all 2021 seasons and into the 2022 season.

-Nationals RHP Will Harris underwent a procedure to remove a small blood clot in his right arm and has no timetable for returning to the mound yet. Harris is still experiencing some numbness in his fingers. He does not need thoracic outlet surgery, and there is no blood clot.

-Rockies RHRP Scott Oberg's career could be over. Oberg underwent his third surgery to treat blood clots in his pitching elbow on 3/26.

-Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland left his outing on 3/23 with a strained shoulder. The tests came back negative as he will not need surgery. Freeland will have more imaging done in a couple of weeks and be re-evaluated for a more definitive timeline.

-Yankees LHP Justin Wilsons MRI and tests came back negative after leaving the game on 3/21. It isn't clear if Wilson will be ready for opening day.

COVID-19:

-According to manager AJ Hinch, Tigers RHP Spencer Turnbull will miss the Tiger's first few series of the year. He missed time due to the protocols and needs additional time to ramp up.

-Red Sox RHRP Matt Barnes tested positive for COVID and will be away as he now won't be available for opening day. RHP Matt Andriese will also be away as he was dinged as close contact. EIGHT total members of the team are away from the Sox. Barnes returned to camp on 3/30.

-Astros OF Myles Straw was scratched from the game on 3/27 due to health and safety protocols. Meaning he was likely a close contact. UTL Abraham Toro and C/OF Garrett Stubbs are also away from the team. All are back with the team after clearing protocols on 3/30

Thanks for reading today, ball boys and girls! Happy Opening day TOMORROW!


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