CatcherJacob Nottingham is on his way down, indicating he’s not expected to crack an eventual Opening Day roster. Soon to turn 25, Nottingham has seen brief MLB action in each of the past two seasons but faced an uphill battle to earn a job with Omar Narvaez and Manny Pina locked in behind the plate.
Also sent out on options were four hurlers: southpaw Angel Perdomo and rightiesBobby Wahl, Eric Yardley, and J.P. Feyereisen. Only Perdomo has ever actually appeared in regular-season action with a Milwaukee affiliate. He worked to a 4.28 ERA with a hefty 13.9 K/9 but equally voluminous 6.0 BB/9 in 69 1/3 upper-minors innings last year.
Yardley received his first ten MLB appearances last year with the Padres. The Brewers claimed him off waivers in the offseason. Wahl also has seen the majors, receiving brief looks with the A’s and Mets. He came to Milwaukee in the Keon Broxtonswap but ended up missing the 2019 season due to a torn ACL. As for Feyereisen, he landed with the Brewers in a rare September swapwith the Yankees, who obviously didn’t expect to have room for him on the 40-man roster in advance of the 2019 Rule 5 draft.
We just wrapped up a series of postsregarding potential extension candidates, with part of the premise being that the ongoing MLB pause could afford opportunities for negotiations. But that won’t be possible under the terms of the Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter.
It turns out that contract talks between teams and their own players will not be permitted while MLB rosters are frozen. Once a second Spring Training resumes, then further negotiations can take place.
In theory, there’s no impact to the likelihood of deals being struck. But in practice, this could make quite a difference. Added time and space without other business on the calendar might’ve helped. Perhaps the uncertainty of the global pandemic would’ve made some players more inclined to seek the safety of guaranteed salary — a factor that may have led the union to agree that talks shouldn’t be allowed.
Now that teams are precluded from further exploring deals, it may actually make it tougher to move past the finish line in situations where talks had already advanced during spring camp. After all, there will be myriad complex matters to sort out and innumerable distractions once the go-ahead is finally given for a ramp-up to the season. And there’ll be ample uncertainty of different kinds, creating a potential wrench for any talks.
Indication was, prior to the shutdown, that quite a few younger players had been targeted. But at this point, it’s tough to guess how many deals will end up being made.
It’s worth noting also that, per Nightengale, optional assignments can still occur until Saturday. In concert with yesterday’s flurry of options, it’s worth wondering just what the impact is. That will presumably be answered once the full details of the coronavirus adjustment agreement are known.
Generally, a player injured while on optional assignment will not earn service time while he is sidelined; whether that would have an impact in this case isn’t entirely clear. Likewise, the modifications to the collective bargaining agreement provide different payments to different classes of players, though it isn’t quite evident whether a late-breaking decision to option a player would change his earnings in the event the season isn’t played.
It’s now official: MLB rosters are frozen. We won’t see any players coming and going for some times. And it’s unlikely that any new long-term extensions will be announced. But that doesn’t mean such deals won’tbe explored. Some may already have advanced nearly to completion before the global pandemic intervened.
While we may have to wait to learn who the targets are and see what deals get done, theres a silver lining: more time for rampant speculation! Okay, were not going to speculate here; rather, well tick through some interesting possibilities on paper. Remember, weve seen an increasing prevalence of deals with less-experienced players (even some without any MLB service) and with new player types (early-career relievers and utilitymen).
In the present MLB environment, value is king and the old forms are fading. Weve already checked in on theNL East,NL Central,NL West,AL East, and AL West. To round things out, here are some possible extension candidates from the AL Central &
Francisco Lindor is the big story. Unfortunately, that ship seems to have sailed: he informed the team he’d like to halt talks since the sides weren’t making progress. Unless there’s a change of heart and another attempt during the current pause, Lindor is not going to sign onto a long-term deal (at least, before he has reached his final season of arbitration eligibility later in 2020).
There are a few other interesting candidates. Top hurlersMike Clevinger and Brad Hand would be of interest, but the Cleveland org may not be able to afford these high-end veterans. Perhaps a few others would be more achievable targets for the cost-efficient Indians. OutfielderOscar Mercado has only 139 days of service under his belt, meaning he’s two full seasons away from likely Super Two arbitration qualification. Young starters Shane Bieber and Adam Plutko are each in the 1+ service class, so they shouldn’t cost all that much and could convey significant upside.
There are certainly some interesting questions for the K.C. organization to consider. Slugger Jorge Soler had an eye-popping 2019 … but is he going to keep it going and should the team lock into a player who profiles best as a DH? And how about exciting young shortstop Adalberto Mondesi? There’s no real limit to his ceiling but he had some struggles last year and is still working back from a shoulder injury.
The situation is equally uncertain on the pitching side. Righty Brad Keller has had success through two full MLB seasons but isn’t exactly a top-of-the-rotation arm. You could perhaps make a case for relievers Scott Barlow and Tim Hill, though there doesn’t seem to be a pressing reason to push for a deal with either.
The Detroit MLB roster turned in a roundly awful 2019 season. But it still has a few potential targets. The versatileNiko Goodrum could be a part of quite a few rosters around the game, though there’s no particular need to lock into him for the long haul. There are more interesting candidates on the pitching side: starterMatthew Boyd and relieverJoe Jimenez. The former has a whole lot of upside and three more seasons of team control remaining; perhaps the club could take a bit of a gamble. As for Jimenez, 2020 is something of a boom or bust year — rack up a lot of saves and he’ll get a big first-time arbitration payday; stumble and he may not do very well at all. Perhaps he and the club could take share the risk over a longer term.
It’s probably a bit too soon to consider the top of the farm system for deals. But this time next winter, the Tigers could have a host of interesting candidates.
Both of last winter’s extensions turned out well; the team struck again more recently with Miguel Sano. Perhaps the most obvious remaining candidate is quality young righty Jose Berrios, who is entering his first season of arbitration eligibility. Now that he’s in line for bigger money, it’ll cost more to do a deal. The sides have struck out in previous talks. Byron Buxton is also a 3+ service-class player. There’s likely too much uncertainty in his outlook to structure a deal, but it’s not out of the question.
It’s tempting to stake out a case for a deal with breakout catcherMitch Garver, but he’s already 29 years of age and still a full season away from arbitration eligibility. OutfielderEddie Rosario is two seasons from the open market, but that also gives him greater leverage for a higher price tag. Would the Twins really want to commit?
How about a few wild cards? InfielderLuis Arraez should at least be a nice utility player for years to come. There might be upside in an early deal for the plate-discipline magician. And relieverTaylor Rogers is another interesting target. He’s still three seasons from free agency but gets more impressive with each successive campaign. The Twins will owe him a big raise on his $4.45MM salary if he keeps racking up saves; perhaps a deal could suit both sides.
The South Siders have already extended a wide swath of their roster. You might wonder whether there are any candidates left. But the team is exceptionally aggressive in this arena and can’t be counted out on exploring deals with just about anyone of interest.
If you’re looking for a sleeper candidate … how aboutsecond baseman Nick Madrigal? The Sox haven’t been shy at all with pre-MLB extensions and the former fourth-overall pick is just about ready for a run at the game’s highest level.
As anticipated, an agreement regarding the coronavirus-driven suspension of the 2020 season has resulted in a freezing of MLB rosters, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. A date for the resumption of transactions will be set in the future.
Aspart of their negotiations, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have also reached a set of understandings regarding the resumption of play. Jeff Passan of ESPN.com (Twitterlinks) reported the details. Roster movement will be permitted once a new Opening Day can be scheduled.
It isn’t fully clear whether the sides have specifically agreed to restrictions as part of their collectively bargained special exceptions to the Basic Agreement. But it seems at minimum the mutual intention is to wait until baseball can conduct business in much the usual fashion before starting the season.
Per Passan, the league and union do not wish to begin play if fans cannot be present. Thus, a lifting of bans on mass gatherings will be a precondition to the start of the season — though he adds there’s a “caveat” by which neutral sits and empty stadiums can be considered as needed.
It’s good there’s some flexibility baked into this set of understandings, as there are no guarantees as to whether and when typical staging of ballgames will be possible. Even if some number of fans are ultimately permitted in to watch a contest, that would always be subject to change.
Much the same holds true of one of the other requirements for resuming play identified by Passan: a lack of travel restrictions. We don’t yet know what kinds of domestic transportation modifications we’ll end up facing in this crisis, but it seems likely the approach will evolve over time as needs change in various areas.
The final main consideration for holding contests is the review of medical experts to ensure it is safe to those on hand. MLB’s precise plans aren’t clear; perhaps the league will engage a consultant to guide the process.
It’s certainly good to hear that the league and union intend to ensure their actions won’t pose a health risk to those involved in the game and/or the broader public. But the set of requirements also seems rather steep given where things stand now in the effort to contain the deadly pathogen. In particular, much as we’d all love to see the game played in front of live audiences, it seems as if that’ll be awfully difficult to pull off in the near term given the vast ongoing uncertainty.
The coronavirus has turned the 2020 baseball season upside down, necessitating an agreement between MLB and the players’ union regarding service time, salaries, roster moves, the draft, and more. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd explains the new deal in today’s video.
MARCH 27, 12:35pm:Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter) and Jeff Passan of ESPN.com (Twitterlinks) provides further details. This year’s draft class will only be eligible to receive up to $100K of bonus money up front, with the remainder paid in two equal installments in 2021 and 2022. Draft selections and international slots may not be traded in the typical, limited manner. Suspensions will apply as usual for the upcoming season but will not carry further into the future if the 2020 season is cancelled.
11:29am: MLB owners have unanimously ratified the agreement, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
6:05am: In addition to the dramatically shortened draft, the players acquiesced on signing bonuses for draftees, Rosenthal further reportswithin a much more expansive piece on the deal between the two sides (subscription required).
Slot values in the draft will be frozen at 2019 levels for the next two years as opposed to the roughly three percent year-over-year increase that has been standard. That decision will surely draw its share of criticism, though it’s clear that the players’ focus is on those currently within their union. Player representatives, in particular, figure to take umbrage with ownership’s push to reduce bonuses; Scott Boras calls it “unconscionable” that ownership would “use a pandemic situation in our country as a means to [reduce draftees’ bonuses].”
MARCH 26: With the coronavirus at least delaying the Major League Baseball season, MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement on several key issues Thursday night, as Jeff Passan of ESPN first reported. Service time, players’ salaries, roster moves, the draft and the upcoming international signing period are all addressed in the deal, which owners will vote on Friday. If it’s ratified, a roster freeze will go into effect for an indeterminate period of time, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
A typical season would have featured 186 days overall, giving players up to 172 days of service time. We don’t know how many there will be this season, though, and that could have had lasting effects on players and teams had the two sides not hammered something out. Now, thanks to this agreement, all players who are active or on the injured list for the entirety of a shortened 2020 season will receive a full year of service time, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Players’ service time will be pro-rated in the event of a truncated campaign, Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds. So, if there’s a 100-day season and a player’s active for 50 of those days, he’ll get half a year of service. If no season happens at all, service time accrued will be based on the amount of days the player earned in 2019, per Rosenthal.
The service time portion of this pact is especially welcome news for many who are due to become free agents next winter. The likes of Mookie Betts, J.T. Realmuto and George Springer will all remain in position to reach free agency then even if a season does not take place. Meanwhile, pre-arbitration players (including names like Matt Chapman and Gleyber Torres) will stay on track to go through the arb process for the first time.
For now, those major leaguers and the rest around MLB will receive a $170MM advance (3 to 4 percent of their full salaries) spread over two months, Rosenthal reports. The union will distribute the money to four classes of players, but those with guaranteed contracts stand to rake in the largest total. The players’ salaries will be pro-rated based on how long the season lasts, and they won’t be able to sue for their full amounts, Rosenthal adds.
Looking ahead to the summer, this year’s amateur draft could go down to five rounds, per Passan, but MLB will have the ability to increase that total, Rosenthal relays, adding that the event won’t occur later than July. Players’ signing bonuses will be deferred, not given out up-front, and they’ll receive 10 percent now and 45 percent over the next two years. Meanwhile, undrafted free agents will be able to sign for up to $20K, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
In another decision that will have some effect on young talent from around the game, the upcoming international signing period could be delayed until as late as January 2021, Passan writes. It’s currently scheduled to run from July 2 of this year through June 15, 2021.
These are certainly noteworthy steps for baseball during a time of such uncertainty, though there are still more details to work out. For example, as Rosenthal notes, agreements on spring training and roster size have not come together to this point. Under normal circumstances, we’d have seen 26-man rosters this year, but it’s possible that number will increase for 2020 if a season does occur. According to Passan, there’s a possibility that if the regular season does happen, it will last from June through October and include more doubleheaders. The playoffs would bleed into November and perhaps include games at neutral sites.
Beckham, 33, inked a minor league pact with San Diego early in February but had a rough showing in camp. Although he drew five walks, Beckham was also hitless in 14 at-bats. He spent the 2019 campaign with the Tigers, hitting .215/.271/.372 with six homers, a dozen doubles and a pair of triples in 240 trips to the plate.
Beckham made his big league debut just one year after being selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 draft by the White Sox. He wasn’t able to replicate a strong rookie campaign, though, and eventually settled in as a journeyman utility infielder. He’s appeared in the big leagues each year since 2009, but Beckham carries a tepid .237/.300/.367 slash in 3782 plate appearances as a big leaguer.
If Major League Baseball is indeed able to begin a season later this summer, teams are expected to be allowed 29-man rosters for the first month of the truncated campaign, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link).
It’s a sensible temporary solution in light of the fact that clubs wouldn’t be afforded the traditional six-week run-up to the season that Spring Training provides. Permitting all 30 clubs to carry an extra three players — standard roster size was already slated to expand from 25 to 26 this season — will help clubs to manage pitcher workloads early in the year. And, with the expected addition of frequent doubleheaders, an extra player or two on the bench would allow managers to more easily rest regulars who are dealing with minor injuries or simply need a breather.
Whether the league would place any restrictions on the number of pitchers isn’t yet known, but clubs had previously been capped at a maximum of 13 pitchers. It’s also not clear whether a 30th player would be permissible on the day of a twin bill (as was the case in allowing a 26th man in previous seasons). The specifics of roster expansion and the format of a rebooted “spring” training are among the many items that still need to be hammered out even after MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement on service time, player salaries and the 2020 draft last night.
March 27: Syndergaard underwent surgery yesterday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in West Palm Beach, Fla., tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
March 24, 2:58pm: The Mets have formally announced that Syndergaard will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday. He’ll be out until at least April of 2021. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen offered the following statement, via press release:
After experiencing discomfort in his elbow before Spring Training was suspended due to the pandemic, Noah and our health and performance department have been in constant contact.Based on the persistence of his symptoms, Noah underwent a physical examination and MRI that revealed the ligament tear. A second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache confirmed the diagnosis and the recommendation for surgery. Noah is an incredibly hard worker and a tremendous talent. While this is unfortunate, we have no doubt that Noah will be able to return to full strength and continue to be an integral part of our Championship pursuits in the future.
2:41pm: Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard has been diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports (via Twitter). It’s a rather stunning and out-of-the-blue development, as Syndergaard looked relatively sharp in Spring Training — three runs on five hits and no walks with 11 strikeouts in eight innings — and wasn’t known to be experiencing any notable discomfort.
The Syndergaard news is a devastating blow to a Mets rotation that looked to have the makings of a quality group. Jacob deGrom, of course, has won the past two National League Cy Young Awards and will return to front the staff, but Syndergaard had been slotted into the second spot in the rotation behind him. His injury makes last summer’s acquisition of Marcus Stroman all the more important but also serves to highlight the team’s inability to work out an extension with righty Zack Wheeler despite multiple attempts over the past couple of seasons. Wheeler signed a fjve-year deal with the division-rival Phillies this winter, though an extension prior to reaching the open market likely wouldn’t have proved as costly — particularly were it agreed upon prior to the 2019 campaign.
Beyond the combination of deGrom and Stroman, the Mets will turn to Steven Matz and rebound candidates Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha — both signed to one-year deals in the offseason. Porcello remained a durable workhorse for the Red Sox but was tattooed for a 5.52 ERA and better than 10 hits per nine innings in his 32 starts and 174 1/3 innings last year. Wacha, meanwhile, battled injuries for the third time in four seasons, spending time on the IL due to a knee problem and finishing out the year on the sideline due to shoulder troubles. Since emerging as a full-time member of the Cardinals’ rotation in 2014, Wacha averaged 24 starts and 134 innings per season.
The injury to Syndergaard will put to test general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s offseason comments about having “probably the deepest rotation in baseball.” After all, if any of deGrom, Stroman, Matz, Porcello or Wacha struggles or lands on the injured list, the Mets’ slate of alternatives in the upper minors looks decidedly pedestrian. Walker Lockett, Stephen Gonsalves, Franklyn Kilomeand Corey Oswalt — the latter three of whom were already optioned out of Major League camp — are the top names on the 40-man roster. Veteran righty Erasmo Ramirez was trying to win a job in camp on a non-roster deal after enduring a pair of miserable seasons.
With Syndergaard out for all of the 2020 season — assuming there is one — the Mets will be left with only one year of club control remaining over the powerhouse righty. Syndergaard is owed a $9.7MM salary after avoiding arbitration this winter, and he’ll surely command the exact same salary for the 2021 campaign; virtually all arbitration-eligible players who miss an entire season due to injury are brought back at the same rate they’d earned the previous season (with the exception of first-time eligible players). And given the timing of the surgery, Syndergaard can reasonably expect to pitch the bulk of next season, so there’s almost no chance he’ll be non-tendered, barring some notable setback(s) prior to December. Syndergaard is slated to become a free agent upon conclusion of the 2021 season.
Last month, when the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported on the league’s exploration of an expanded playoff format, all indications were that the goal was for a 2022 implementation, should an agreement be reached with the MLBPA. Now, however, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the league is at least considering a shift to a 14-team format in 2020, although he adds that “nothing [is] close to final” on this front. Increased revenue has always surely the primary goal of the proposition, but the shortened 2020 season has unsurprisingly heightened concerns about revenue.
The previously reported iteration of playoff expansion included first-round byes for the top team in each league, a televised event wherein the top teams that do not receive byes select their first-round opponents, and three-game series in the first round of play (as opposed to the current winner-take-all Wild Card games). Adopting that format — or some similarly structured permutation — this season would serve as a litmus test for the viability of that structure moving forward.
In theory, the playoff expansion would prove beneficial for clubs that were non-contenders in 2019 but invested heavily over the winter in an effort to return to the postseason hunt. The White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Diamondbacks and Reds, for instance, all improved considerably over the winter (and, in the Reds’ case, dating back to the 2019 trade deadline). None of that bunch has been regarded as a division favorite, but the addition of two new playoff slots in each league greatly improves their odds of capitalizing on those investments.
As with virtually everything pertaining to baseball at the moment, the potential implementation of an expanded postseason is far from a certainty. But with the two sides at least bracing for the possibility of playing games in empty stadiums (per Heyman), the revenue increase would become more crucial to owners and players alike. It seems inevitable that decreased revenues in 2020 will impact the extent to which clubs are willing to spend in free agency next winter, and recouping some of those dollars could help future market value to align more closely with what we saw in the 2019-20 offseason.
There’s no guarantee that an expanded playoff structure in 2020 would carry over into future seasons, but considering that it was already an agenda item for the league, it stands to reason that a 2020 rollout could have a lasting effect.