Thanks to scandal-besieged Alex Cora’s firing on Tuesday, the Red Sox are in the unfortunate position of having to find a new manager as spring training nears. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke about the situation Wednesday, telling Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and other reporters that the Red Sox don’t yet have an idea where they’ll turn for Cora’s replacement. Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox seem prepared to consider in-house and external candidates for the position. Bloom praised Boston’s current assistant coaches, calling them “an impressive group” and adding, “No reason to think that a number of them wouldn’t deserve consideration for this.” Meanwhile, the Red Sox haven’t yet asked other teams for permission to speak with their assistants. Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro – whom Bloom knows from Tampa Bay – has come up in speculation since Cora’s ouster. However, it’s “unlikely” he’ll be a candidate because the division-rival Rays may not permit Bloom to pilfer other members of their staff, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets.
More on a couple other AL teams…
- This has been a busy winter for the Blue Jays, who have made several notable acquisitions as they try to climb back to respectability in 2020. General manager Ross Atkins’ heavy lifting could be done, but the executive stated Wednesday that the team’s still open to another pickup that would make a “significant impact,” per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Atkins revealed such a move would more likely come via trade than free agency, but he cautioned, “Executing trades of significant impact is very difficult to do. Center field is one area that could still use some help, Atkins suggested, while Nicholson-Smith points to a reliever and a utility player as possible late-winter additions.
- To this point, the Blue Jays’ biggest offseason add-ons have been starting pitchers. On paper, they’ve greatly upgraded their rotation with the acquisitions of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson. Those three and Matt Shoemaker seem like locks to make up four-fifths of the Blue Jays’ season-opening rotation. Shun Yamaguchi, yet another member of the Jays’ offseason haul, will get an opportunity to win a starting job, according to Atkins (Twitter links via Nicholson-Smith). So will Sean Reid-Foley, who divided his nine major league appearances between Toronto’s rotation and bullpen last season.
- It doesn’t appear the Rangers’ signing of catcher Robinson Chirinos will put fellow veteran backstop Jeff Mathis’ roster spot in jeopardy. GM Jon Daniels said Wednesday that his expectation is that Chirinos and Mathis will open the season as the Rangers’ catchers, TR Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. If that proves to be the case, Jose Trevino will begin the year at the Triple-A level. But it’s possible Mathis, who’s due a $3MM salary in 2020, may first have to justify his place on the team in spring training. The soon-to-be 37-year-old has been a light-hitting defensive maven throughout his career, but his first season in Texas went poorly on both fronts. Mathis batted .158/.209/.224 en route to an almost unfathomable 2 wRC+ over 244 plate appearances, earned negative defensive marks from Baseball Prospectus and ranked last among position players in fWAR (minus-2.1).
The Astros’ sign-stealing shenanigans from their World Series-winning 2017 campaign have already taken down two prominent members of that team’s staff this week. Houston fired manager A.J. Hinch on Monday after Major League Baseball issued him a one-year suspension. Boston then canned skipper Alex Cora, formerly Hinch’s right-hand man and someone soon to receive harsh punishment from MLB, on Tuesday.
This scandal, one of the biggest in the history of baseball, may not be done taking down high-profile figures. Now the proverbial sword of Damocles is hanging over the head of yet another manager. This time it’s the Mets’ Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017. According to commissioner Rob Manfred, Beltran discussed with teammates how to improve on decoding opposing teams signs and communicating the signs to the batter.”
Beltran was part of the league’s investigation, initially claiming no knowledge of the Astros’ scheme before admitting there was wrongdoing on the team’s part. Nevertheless, Manfred elected against punishing Beltran or any of the other players from the 2017 Astros.
Manfred may not have come down on Beltran, but the Mets might not be as kind to the 42-year-old potential Hall of Famer. Even though the Mets just hired Beltran as a first-time manager a little over two months ago, his job already appears to be in jeopardy. It’s a 180 for a club whose GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, said of Beltran in November: Anything that happened, happened with another organization, with Houston. I have no idea if anything did or did not, but at this point I dont see any reason why this is a Mets situation.
Van Wagenen once called Beltran “trustworthy,” but the Mets’ confidence in him may be fading just weeks after his hiring and weeks before spring training opens. Furthermore, as Tim Britton of The Athletic notes, this is “an especially image-conscious team.”Beltran’s presence could be problematic for a franchise that’s always under the microscope, then, and now it’s possible his run as their manager will end before it’s truly able to start.
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The Astros have lined up their first reported interview as they search for a new manager. They’ll meet with veteran skipper John Gibbons on Thursday, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26.
The Texas-raised Gibbons is one of many experienced possibilities to reportedly land on the Astros’ radar early in their quest to replace A.J. Hinch. Gibbons has nearly 1,600 games on his resume, all of which have come with the Blue Jays. The 57-year-old had two separate stints as Toronto’s manager (one from 2004-08, the next from 2013-18), combining for 11 years, a 793-789 regular-season record and a pair of playoff berths. The Blue Jays advanced to the ALCS in each of those two seasons.
After the Blue Jays parted with him, Gibbons spent last season out of coaching. Gibbons made it known back in the fall that he was hoping to get back into managing, but he didn’t receive any reported interviews before now.
The White Sox and utility player Andrew Romine have agreed to a minor league contract, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Romine will earn a $900K salary if he reaches the majors in 2020.
A fifth-round pick of the Angels in 2007, Romine debuted in the majors in 2010 and has since combined for 1,323 major league plate appearances with the Halos, Tigers and Mariners. While Romine has lined up all over the diamond in that span, offensive success has been hard to come by for the 34-year-old switch-hitter. So far, Romine has only managed a .235/.291/.301 line with 10 home runs.
Romine saw at least some MLB action in each season from 2010-18, but he spent all of last year in Triple-A ball with the Phillies. He slashed .289/.342/.409 with eight homers and 21 stolen bases across 417 trips to the plate.
After firing suspended manager A.J. Hinch on Monday, the Astros suddenly find themselves in the unenviable position of trying to find a new skipper just weeks before the start of spring training. But there’s no shortage of candidates to replace Hinch, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26.
The Astros have an in-house option in bench coach Joe Espada, but they otherwise appear to be looking outside the organization. Veteran managers Dusty Baker, Buck Showalter, Bruce Bochy and Jeff Banister are on the team’s list of candidates. So are Raul Ibanez and Will Venable, who – like Espada – carry no managerial experience at the MLB level.
Baker, Showalter and Bochy are three of the most accomplished managers of the past couple decades. It’s already known Baker, who last managed in 2017, has interest in the position. Baker and Showalter were serious contenders for the Phillies’ managerial job before they hired Joe Girardi in the fall. Bochy, meanwhile, doesn’t seem likely to take the helm in Houston or anywhere else this year. The soon-to-be 65-year-old told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he’s hitting “pause” after managing in every season from 1995-2019.
Banister, 56, has prior managerial experience in Texas. He led the Rangers for four years, but they parted with him after the 2018 campaign, and he spent last season in Pittsburgh’s front office. Ibanez has been working in the Dodgers’ front office – a role he seems content to keep. As of October, Ibanez wasn’t interested in interviewing for managerial posts, but perhaps the Astros will be able to change his mind. Venable, the Cubs’ third base coach, did meet with Chicago as well as the Giants regarding their managerial openings before those teams went in other directions earlier this offseason.
Along with trying to find a new manager, the Astros and owner Jim Crane will have to land a GM to succeed the ousted Jeff Luhnow. They hope to reel in Hinch’s successor by Feb. 1, per Berman, and Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes that they’re likely to fill that position before tabbing Luhnow’s replacement.
The Dodgers have designated right-hander Casey Sadler for assignment, the team announced. The move clears roster space for left-hander Alex Wood, whose deal with the team is now official.
This could go down as a short Dodgers stint for Sadler, whom they acquired from the Rays last July. In terms of bottom-line results, though, Sadler was quite effective with both teams in 2019. The 29-year-old put up a stingy 2.14 ERA over 46 1/3 innings between the clubs, also notching a terrific 51.8 percent groundball rate and walking only 2.53 batters per nine.
Sadler also posted a career-high 95 mph average fastball velocity in the majors last season, but he barely struck out six hitters per nine. He also managed a bel0w-average 9.1 percent swinging-strike rate, and ERA indicators such as FIP (4.38), xFIP (4.78) and SIERA (4.58) weren’t high on his work.
Last year may have been a mixed bag at the MLB level for Sadler, but there’s no disputing that he was a standout in the minors. Sadler worked 38 2/3 innings innings in Triple-A ball and recorded a 3.26 ERA with 12.3 K/9 against just 1.4 BB/9. That performance, not to mention Sadler’s run prevention in the majors last season, may put him on other teams’ radars. However, the fact that Sadler’s out of minor league options could work against him.
After posting their third straight losing season in 2019, the Rangers have been active in upgrading their roster this winter. They don’t appear to be done, as they continue to be connected to free-agent outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos in the rumor mill. Now that third baseman Josh Donaldson has joined the rest of this offseason’s class of elite free agents in coming off the market, Ozuna and Castellanos stand as the top two players on the board.
In Texas’ case, it seems the 27-year-old Castellanos is preferable to Ozuna, 29. At this point, Castellanos is “a strong option” for the Rangers, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets. TR Sullivan of MLB.com corroborates that, reporting that Castellanos is seemingly the Rangers’ No. 1 target, and he adds that it doesn’t look as if Ozuna is near the top of the club’s list. That could be disappointing news to Ozuna, who indicated last week he was deciding between the Rangers and Cardinals for his next team.
If Castellanos dons a Rangers uniform in 2020, it’s unclear where he’d line up. The former third baseman has been an outfielder for the Tigers and Cubs over the past few seasons, but the Rangers would reportedly want to use him at first base – a position he hasn’t played. Nevertheless, at least offensively, Castellanos would give the Rangers a significant upgrade over Ronald Guzman, who played the majority of games at first for the team from 2018-19 and provided little offense along the way.
Across the diamond, the Rangers have been part of trade rumors centering on superstar Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado. However, Sullivan notes that a deal for Arenado “seems unlikely.” The Rangers did just land a viable veteran third baseman in Todd Frazier, though he’s no substitute for Arenado and could end up at first in the improbable event Texas lands the latter in a trade.
Astros designated hitter/outfielder Yordan Alvarez has changed agencies and is now a client of MVP Sports Group, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports tweets.
Alvarez just debuted last season, which went down as an AL Rookie of the Year-winning campaign, so he’s not eligible to reach arbitration or free agency in the near future. As such, Houston – which, thanks to its sign-stealing scandal from 2017, has far bigger fish to fry at the moment – doesn’t have to worry about losing Alvarez any time soon. However, barring an extension, Alvarez figures to consider making a case for rich arbitration paydays over the next couple years.
Although his career’s only 87 games old, Alvarez already looks like one of the premier hitters in baseball. The 22-year-old stepped to the plate 369 times in 2019 and batted a video game-like .313/.412/.655 with 27 home runs. Among those who amassed at least 350 PA, just one hitter – the venerable Mike Trout – outdid Alvarez’s 178 wRC+.
Alvarez’s change in representation will be reflectedin MLBTRs Agency Database, which contains agent info on thousands of Major League and Minor League players. If you see any errors or omissions within, please let us know:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Nationals have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Mac Williamson, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. He’ll be in Major League camp this spring and would earn a modest $700K salary if he makes the big league club. He’s represented by CAA Sports.
For years, the Giants hoped that Williamson, now 29, would eventually seize an everyday spot in an outfield corner. But despite a strong Triple-A track record and some occasional flashes of potential, Williamson mustered a tepid .203/.282/.348 line with 17 homers, 10 doubles and a triple in 483 plate appearances over the life of 160 MLB games. Williamson didn’t get a prolonged opportunity at regular at-bats in San Francisco or in Seattle after the Mariners picked him up, and it seems unlikely that he’ll have such an opportunity in a crowded Nationals outfield.
Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Adam Eaton comprise a strong starting unit in D.C., while Michael A. Taylor and Andrew Stevenson are on hand as reserve options. Newly signed slugger Eric Thames, too, has corner outfield experience.
The Nationals’ upper-level outfield depth is rather thin, however, which also prompted the club to pick up center fielder Carlos Tocci on a minor league arrangement. If Williamson isn’t able to crack the roster as a bench bat, he could head to Fresno as a depth option in Triple-A, where he’s a career .265/.343/.487 hitter in 1156 plate appearances.
The Rangers have acquired first baseman Sam Travis from the Red Sox in exchange for left-hander Jeffrey Springs, the teams announced. Boston has designated left-hander Bobby Poyner to make room on the 40-man roster.
Both Travis and Springs were recently designated for assignment, though Travis had already cleared waivers and been outrighted off Boston’s 40-man roster. Springs, meanwhile, was only designated earlier this afternoon. The Rangers will now pick up Travis’ rights without needing to dedicate a 40-man roster spot to the former prospect. The Red Sox, meanwhile, clearly feel they’re upgrading their left-handed bullpen depth in going with Springs over Poyner.
Travis, 26, was a second-round pick back in 2014 and frequented Red Sox prospect rankings as he rapidly ascended through the lower minors. However, while he hit well up through the Double-A level, Travis saw his bat stall in Triple-A and, despite a series of looks in the Majors, never made good at the game’s top level, either. In all, he’s a .267/.339/.392 hitter in nearly 1200 Triple-A plate appearances and just a .230/.288/.371 hitter in 278 MLB trips to the plate.
That said, the Rangers aren’t exactly teeming with quality first base options. Former top prospect Ronald Guzman hasn’t distinguished himself in his own MLB tryouts to date, and the club is intent on playing Joey Gallo in the outfield. Newly signed Todd Frazier could certainly handle first base if the Texas organization adds a more prominent option at third base, but there’s little harm in stashing Travis as a depth piece in hopes that a change of scenery brings out some of his yet-untapped potential.
The 27-year-old Springs, meanwhile, struggled to a 6.40 ERA with 32 strikeouts against 23 walks in 32 1/3 innings with Texas in 2019. He’s posted huge strikeout numbers in the upper minors and enjoyed better success with the Rangers in 2018 than in 2019, but he’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher with below-average velocity who saw his opponents’ hard-hit rate soar in 2019. Springs does have three minor league option years remaining, so he’ll be an optionable piece of depth for the Sox for the foreseeable future — assuming he sticks on the roster.
Poyner, meanwhile, has a minor league option of his own remaining. Like Springs, he’s a 27-year-old who posted solid numbers in 2018 but struggled in 2019. The similarities don’t stop there, as Poyner saw his hard-hit rate and opponents’ exit velocity both jump in 2019. However, he doesn’t have Springs’ gaudy strikeout totals and averages just 89.8 mph on his heater to Springs’ 91.7 mph. Boston will have a week to trade, outright or release Poyner.