Around the Horn: News & Notes 12/16

What is going on ball, boys, and girls? Welcome into todays 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 here.

Thank you for reading today; I hope you enjoy the news today. Please come on over to Facebook and help me get my Great-Great-Grandfather Fay Young into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Read the full post here:


League News:

OH, HAPPY DAY! Oh, Happy day!: It's happening, and I could not be more excited by the following statement "During this year's centennial celebration of the founding of the Negro Leagues, MLB is proud to highlight the contributions of the pioneers who played in these seven distinct leagues from 1920-1948. With this action, MLB seeks to ensure that future generations will remember the approximately 3,400 players of the Negro Leagues during this time period as Major League-caliber ballplayers. Accordingly, the statistics and records of these players will become a part of Major League Baseball's history." "MLB and the Elias Sports Bureau have begun a review process to determine the full scope of this designation's ramifications on statistics and records." For me, this is huge; as you know, my Great-great-grandfather FAY Young was one of few who covered the Negro leagues during those three decades.

-HOLD THE PHONE: MLB owners and execs. Want players to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the 2021 spring training. This next means that the season could be delayed until May to start. I wouldn't say I like the news from the perspective of a full season and how it will throw a wrench into plans for 2021. However, I am glad it is on the table now and being talked about between the MLB and MLBPA. Stay tuned for more updates, and check out the article by Mark Polishuk over on MLB Trade Rumors for the full in-depth scope on where things stand as of now.

--MLBPA senior director of collective bargaining and legal Bruce Meyer said (via Drellich): "We've seen anonymous quotes attributed to club sources casting doubt on the start date and length of the season. To be clear, and as we've made clear to the league, players are planning on showing up for spring training on time for a full 162-game season as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement and the league's previously issued schedule."

-"The Cleveland Indians have decided to change their team name, according to David Waldstein and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times. The club's announcement could come at some point this week, though the team might retain the name throughout the 2021 season and then officially adopt a new nickname for 2022. The club is also considering adopting a generic name (such as "The Cleveland Baseball Team") in the interim." The proper origin of the "Indians" name has remained unknown for 105 years. The famous story that the nickname was chosen in honor of Louis Sockalexis (a Native American and fan favorite for the National League's Cleveland Spiders in 1897-99) isn't exactly true. There are also several indications that Cleveland chose the name to capitalize on the popularity of the 1914 World Series champion Boston Braves. 105+ years of the Indians will be no more.

--The name change was in the talks since July 2020, and I didn't think that the Braves or Indians would change until 2021. After 105+years and 17000 games, it will be quite the change for Cleveland Baseball; the name changed to the Spiders is on the table, and the franchise will look to the public much like the Seattle Kracken of the NHL did.

-The Mets could be on the verge of signings their next GM. Red Sox AGM Zack Scott, D-Backs AGM Jared Porter, A's exec Billy Owens, and ex Marlins President/GM Michael Hill are the top candidates. That was as of 12/11, it is incredible what can happen in 24 hours, and the Mets have finalized a deal to make Jared Porter their next GM. Porter brings with him 3 World Series Rings. Knowledge and experience in scouting, player development, and player personnel. The Mets are not looking for a GM to guide them through a rebuild as Owner Steve Cohen expects to win a World Series in the next 3-5 years. The job is simple to create a strong process for evaluations/decision making, improve the organizational culture, and deepen the farm system. The deal is for four years.

---Officially, on 12/14, the team announced that the nickname will be changed following the 2021 season and will have a new handle no earlier than 2022. The sub name "The Tribe" will be dropped entirely, and any sales from the Chief Wahoo logo will be donated to Native American Organizations. Once all rebranding, licensing, trademarking and all the behind the scenes work for a brand are done, that name will be announced.

-Dave Dombrowski, now Phillies President of Baseball Ops, called Nashville a "cant-miss" city for expansion or relocation. It's a question of "when" not "if." I am speculating, but the Ray's are the closest team to being out of their current stadium lease, and the move to Nashville could keep them in the AL East... kind of. 2028 is coming up and gives the city and the team time to build an excellent deal. So yes, this means that the Indians will still be named for all of 2021.

--What got Dombrowski out of the pursuit for expansion in Nashville was because the MLB told him that the timetable for such would be moved back because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the 2020 season. His deal is for four years and 20 mil. This could mean that come the end of 2025, Nashville could be the next relo/expansion site.

-Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa will plead guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving, a class 2 misdemeanor under Arizona law, stemming from his February arrest. As reported by James Fegan of The Athletic, "La Russa's plea agreement calls for him to serve one day in jail, Fegan says. However, the state stipulated a willingness to approve work release or house detention in place of jail time, so long as the presiding judge approves. The parties' agreement also calls for La Russa to pay a fine of $1,383 plus incarceration expenses and complete twenty hours of community service. The parties are set for a telephonic hearing in front of a judge to conclude the matter on December 21, Fegan adds.

The White Sox hired La Russa in October. The organization was aware of the charges against him at the time and is not expected to make a change in the dugout.

Free Agent Signings:

-SP Wei-Yin Chen will not be back in the MLB in 2021. After spending 2020 in the NPB. He signed with the Hanshin Tigers for the 2021 season. LHP Adam Conley will also be playing in the NPB as he signed a deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. RHP Robert Suarez will resign with the KPB Hanshin Tigers. RHP William Cuevas is re-signing with the KBO KT Wiz. LHP Andrew Suarez will be joining the KBO LG Twins.

OF David Dahl- The 26yo OF is an absolute steal for the Rangers on a $3mil 1yr deal that should end in trade. It was just back in 2019 when Dahl was an All-Star and slashed .302/.353/.524 with 15HR over 413PA. Dahl can also pay each OF position very well as he owns a .985FLD% or better at each position and has only committed five errors in the OF over his four seasons. Chris Young made a tremendous first significant signing in Dahl.

-It did not take long for the new Mets GM to sign as the team signed C James McCann to 4yr-$40mil deal. New owner Steve Cohen has some deep pockets, and the spending will sure continue for the Met's. Since 2019 the catcher has slashed .276/.334/.474 over 587PA with 25HR. He also threw out 37% of base stealers.

--The LA Angels were also in on McCann but decided not to pursue till the end and focus their efforts on pitching. Since the signing, the Angels have spoken to 37yo vet Kurt Suzuki.

-The Boston Red Sox and OF Hunter Renfroe have agreed to a 1yr deal for 2021. The deal is worth $3.1MIL with $600K available in incentives. Renfroe had a terrible 2020 and slashed just .156/.252/.393 with 8HR over 139PA. Renfroe is a platoon player who hits RHP very well and plays above-average defense in LF/RF as he has posted 23DRS over the last three seasons. Renfroe is controllable through arbitrations until 2023.

-The KC Royals and RHP Greg Holland have agreed to a 1yr $2.75mil deal with $1.5mil available in incentives. The 35yo pitched to a 1.91ERA/2.52FIP with a 27.7% strikeout rate, 6.3% walk rate over 28.IP over 28 games in 2020.

-The LA Angels added another piece to the bullpen as they have signed LHP Alex Claudio to a 1yr $1.12MIL deal. The 29yo ground ball specialist(60.6% career groundball rate) has adjusted well to the new rule system for pitchers as he held right batters to a .268/.348/.390. His groundball rate dropped to 46.6% over 19IP. His career 3.44ERA over 311.2IP since 2014 will be a reliable and durable piece for the Angels pen in 2021.

Free Agent Rumors:

-Just as I thought, the Phillies are looking to "retool, not rebuild" with Dave Dombrowski at the helm.

-Speaking of the Phillies, Marcus Semien is progressing towards a team and could close a deal in the coming days. The Phillies and Red Sox are two of the most SS needy teams; however, the Semiens market opened up as reported he be willing to change positions to 3B or 2b.

-The Detroit Tigers will be patient this off-season as they wait for the market out and get whoever is left. The team will add a catcher, LF/RF, 1B, and a couple of pitchers. The Tigers are focused on their young talent and players and will give them every rep they can handle in 2021.

-The Tampa Bay Rays have a massive need at catcher this winter, and GM Erik Neander wants players who can make contact and get on base in general. The club has also recently spoken to SP Chris Archer about a reunion of sorts. The club is focused on players who will take a MiLB deal with an invite, and to land Archer, it will most likely take an MLB deal.

-The Boston Red Sox has been in talks with several free-agent SPs. The team has a clear need for rotation as the status of Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriquez look questionable for opening day at this point. Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill, Corey Kluber, and Japanese RHP Tomoyuki Sugano.

-Corey Kluber is planning on throwing a bullpen session for interested teams during the early part of Jan.

-Much like Kluber, RHP Julio Teheran is planning a showcase for interested teams in Jan as well.

-The Washington Nationals have many holes to fill on their roster and not a lot of money to work with like most teams. The team has shown serious interest and spoken to free-agent OF Kyle Schwarber. The Twins, Angels, Yankees, and Blue Jays have also been linked to the OF.

--The team is also weighing all possible options for a starting C that won't break the bank. The team hopes to find a platoon partner for Yan Gomes, at least.

-Dodgers free-agent 3B Justin Turner is looking for a 3year deal. However, at 36yo, landing that length will be a long shot. Turner slashed .307/.400/.460 across 175PA in 2020. The Glove is starting to fall off for Turner as a move to 2B, or 1B is in the future for an NL team; if he signs in the AL, he could factor into any lineup as a potent DH bat.

-To me, it seemed like a ploy from DJ LeMahieu agents on Sunday 12/13 coming out and saying that the two sides are more than $25mil apart on a new contract. It's not an uncommon practice when agents can grab a headline for their client and generate fan buzz to use as leverage in negotiations. The Yankees have plenty of deep pockets to resign LeMahieu, and a deal should happen soon.

--Manager Aaron Boone said that re-signing DJ is the team's number 1 priority. Boone also added he hopes that DJ is a Yankee for a long time.

-The Market for Liam Hendricks is shaping up; the dominant closer has been in talks with the White Sox, Dodgers, Astros, Mets, and Blue Jays, among several other suitors.

-Japanese SPTomoyuko Sugano has been contacted by the Red Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, and Rangers, among several teams hoping to get the SP on their roster.

-Red Sox OF Jackie Bradley Jr., aka JBJ, could sign a contract soon as the Phillies, Cubs, and Blue Jays, and Red Sox have all been in talks with JBJ.

-The Oakland A's and INF Tommy La Stella have been in negotiations on a contract that would keep the INF in Oakland.

-Tigers manager AJ Hinch said one of the club's priorities is to "enhance" their pitching staff. This could mean the addition of a couple of cheap starting pitchers or cheap bullpen arms.

We have a Trade to announce:

-I was starting to worry I would have 0 trades to talk about, but my man Jerry Dipoto came through for me. The Mariners have acquired RHP Rafael Montero in exchange for RHP prospect Jose Corniell and a PTBNL. In 2019 Montero posted a 2.48ERA over 29IP. In 2020 he pitched to a 4.08ERA/3.70FIP over 17.2IP and will be an excellent addition to the Mariners pen.

Trade Buzz:

-Dave Dombrowski is already busy taking trade calls in Philliedelphia as Vince Velasquez has been asked about several times. It's not a surprise that 28yo 6 year vet will only make about $4mil before free-agency next season. Over the last two seasons, he has pitched in 40 games with 30 starts. He owns a 10.5K/9. 4.33FIP in his MLB experience.

-Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo could be doing one of two things with the following statement: 1- being 100% honest and upfront with the mediad, which is really out of character for a GM, or 2- It could just be a ploy for leverage and a display of gamesmanship. "We haven't had a serious conversation about Kris Bryant in probably two years," Rizzo said. "He was not a big guy on our radar last year or this year. He's a great player, but at this point and time of where we're at, and what we have in our farm system, and where we're going, we think we can allocate our dollars and prospect capital in another way."

Injury Updates:

-Blue Jays RHP Tim Mayza- Is looking forward to spring training after missing all of 2020 due to Tommy John's surgery and torn flexor tendon surgery in September of 2019. Mayza will hope to be the lefty out of the pen in 2021 for the Jays as he can hold them to a .217/.288/.349 slash over 208PA.

-A's 3B Matt Chapman has been cleared for increased activity and should be ready for spring training. Chapman underwent hip surgery in September, and his timetable was 12-16 week recovery.

-Not an injury update, but SF Giants fans can rest assure that Superstar backstop Buster Posey will be back for the 2021 season as he is confident he will play in 2021, which is the last year of his contract.

Prospect Buzz:

OF Seuly Matias- The Royals 22yo OF has played some good ball in the DOWL thus far, hitting a slash line of .364/.500/1.091 over 14PA. The sample size is small, but there are some severe talent and upside here for the Royals.


Thank you guys for being with me today. I hope you are enjoying the blog today. Please stay tuned through the winter; we have more Around the Horn, Yearly Reviews, Ball Boy Talk, and of course, the Podcast. Don't forget to share with a friend and until next time Ball boys & girls. Thanks for reading today, I am so grateful for your time reading, and I hope you enjoyed reviewing the winners as much as I have. I also want to thank my partners over at Repp Sports for RAZE Energy. Thanks to this clean and sufficient energy, I can have the intense focus to deliver content to you guys consistently. Click here to save 15% right now with the code "BALL BOY" at check out.

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