Hot Stove Update – 11/17

Here are the top stories from today’s Hot Stove action.

Tigers Acquire Francisco Rodriguez from Brewers

In a not-so-surprising deal, the Milwaukee Brewers parted ways with their closer of five seasons, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, affectionately dubbed “K-Rod”. On the other end of the deal were the Detroit Tigers, who sent a Class A Advanced infielder, Javier Betancourt.  The deal makes sense for the Tigers, who’ve struggled in the bullpen for the past few seasons, especially considering Rodriguez’s stellar 2.21 ERA in 57 innings pitched in 2015, with 38 saves. Over his fourteen-year career, Rodriguez has a 2.69 ERA with 386 saves. The Brewers are slated to get a player to be named later, and the Tigers possibly may acquire one as well, according to GM Al Avila, who told MLB.com that there’s a scenario where Detroit “could receive a second player as well”. Rodriguez will make $7.5 million next season, and has a $6 million club option for 2017.

TL;DR: The Tigers get a great closer for a relatively low price.

-There were almost serious discussions Freddie Freeman deal which sent him to the Astros

Continuing the Braves’ crazy fire sale of the past year, which has been capitalized by sending SS Andrelton Simmons to the Angels, an exclamation point could’ve been put on the sequence with a trade of the face of the franchise, 1B Freddie Freeman. The trade would’ve involved five players, and Freeman was apparently a key part of the discussion, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan. Talks fell apart, and some hypothesize it’s due to Freeman’s monstrous contract of over $100 million (an extension signed after the Braves’ 2013 season, the last one in which they won over 80 games.) Even though Freeman didn’t leave in that instance, with the current state of the Atlanta Braves and Freeman’s talent, he could easily be wearing another uniform of a team on the brink by opening day.

TL;DR: Freeman stays a Brave… for now.

The Pirates are listening to inquiries about Neil Walker

After 3B Jung-Ho Kang’s breakout rookie season, there are questions in Pittsburgh about SS Neil Walker, especially with IF/OF Josh Harrison waiting and ready, and even more questions now, as his free agency looms next winter. Naturally, the Pirates are listening to offers. According to Roch Kubato of MASN Sports, the Baltimore Orioles and the Pirates discussed a deal, but nothing came of it. Walker is an above average hitter (career .272 hitter), and posted a .269/.328/.427 (OPS+) line last season with 16 home runs and 71 RBI over 603 plate appearances. However, Roch notes that the belief is that the Pirates would be much happier to part with 3B/1B Pedro Alvarez (positions the Orioles are weak at), but would like young pitching, which the Orioles aren’t eager to give up. Walker is slated to make around $10 million next season, per Roch.

TL;DR: Mainly speculation and inquiries for now, but the Winter Meetings may send Walker to Baltimore. 

The Dodgers’ managerial search is down to two candidates

It’ll either be Gabe Kapler (already in the Dodgers front office) or Dave Roberts (San Diego Padres coach), according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The second interviews are underway and a decision will be made by Friday or Saturday.

Bud Black and Ron Roenicke will join the Angels

 Black will join the Angels in a front office role, and Roenicke will join as the third base coach. A kind of happy ending to Black’s long odyssey that took him from coast to coast.

Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel took home the Cy Young awards.

Both won 20+ games, while Keuchel (LHP) posted a 2.48 ERA and led the Houston Astros to the playoffs, and Arrieta (RHP) posted a 1.77 ERA and led the Chicago Cubs to the NLCS. There was more question in the NL as many wondered if Zach Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers deserved the award more. Arietta won by an extremely slim margin (four votes).

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OOTP Baseball 16 Review

It’s a sure sign of spring. No, not the first robin (or Oriole, or Cardinal, or Blue Jay). Not the flowers blooming or Spring Training coming to a close. It’s the release of Out of the Park Baseball. If you’re not familiar with OOTP, they’re a developer that creates sports management games for multiple sports. OOTP Baseball has been their longest running program, which lets you either manage or general manage a baseball team. A few days ago, the 2015 edition of the game came out, OOTP 16. I decided to give it a whirl and take my shot at being the GM of the Seattle Mariners. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well.) Continue reading

Dodgers, Hector Olivera, agree on six-year deal

Hector Olivera exists, ladies and gentlemen. Hector Olivera is a real, living person. This was proved today when Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com announced that the Los Angeles Dodgers signed the 29-year-old Cuban infielder to a six-year deal worth $62.5 million, including a $28 million signing bonus. (All pending a physical).

The Dodgers completely refurbished their middle infield this offseason, with the additions of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, and already boasted two of the best corner infielders in the game in Juan Uribe and Adrian Gonzalez. However, considering that Uribe and Kendrick both hit free agency this year, Olivera can fill in at any position for the next year or even compete for a starting job, or provide more depth in the outfield, which is already a heavily contested area. He’ll take the full-time job provided either Kendrick or Uribe leaves. Los Angeles is known to shop in the Cuban market (Yasiel Puig, Alex Guerrero, Pablo Fernandez), but this is the most expensive signing they’ve ever completed.

The most interesting part of the situation is what it took to get Olivera to the Major Leagues. It was first reported that he had torn his UCL, and there were rumors that he would shoot a video showing that he was fully able to throw and was at his full ability. He then decided to switch agents in the middle of the process, putting many conversations to a halt, and then finally switching agents. Throughout that entire process, he fielded offers worth $30 million to over $70 million over durations of four to seven years. He signed with the Dodgers after seeing interest from the Marlins, Braves, Giants, Yankees However, the deal does have a clause in it that protects the Dodgers if Olivera’s UCL is in fact problematic; Los Angeles would gain a seventh season of Olivera’s work for a mere $1 million if Olivera needs UCL reconstruction surgery.

There are still questions remaining – Olivera missed over one season in Cuba with a blood clot in his arm and played DH for the majority of the 2013 season, which left some scouts concerned. He also still needs to obtain a visa and will still need time in the minor leagues.

Last season, in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, he hit .316/.412/.474 with 7 home runs and 38 RBI over 273 plate appearances. Over his 10-year career in Cuba, he hit .323/.407/.505 with 96 home runs and 433 RBI.

Marlins, Christian Yelich agree to seven-year extension

The days of instability at Marlins Park look like they may be coming to a close. That, or Jeffrey Loria has some serious unloading to do.

According to Devan Fink of Cover Those Bases, Joe Frisario of MLB.com and Mike Lowell of MLB Network, the Miami Marlins have agreed on a long term extension with OF Christian Yelich worth $49.570 million dollars over seven years guaranteed, plus an eighth year club option for $15 million. Yelich would not have been eligible for free agency until the year 2020, so the Marlins have essentially bought out his first year of free-agency.

This extension comes after Giancarlo Stanton’s megadeal in late 2014 worth over $300 million dollars and spanning ten years. In comparison, Yelich’s deal isn’t large at all, but for a player with only two years of experience, the deal is monstrous.

The Marlins have now secured both corners of their outfield, with only young CF Marcell Ozuna left unextended. Miami had reportedly tried to extend the 23-year-old earlier in the offseason, and with good reason; Yelich has flourished in left field with the Marlins, boasting a .995 fielding percentage with a gold glove, and has proven himself as Miami’s number one option at the top of their lineup, as he held the leadoff hitter title throughout the majority of 2014 and will hold that position as a cornerstone for a long time. He batted .284/.362/.402 (112 OPS+) with 9 home runs and 54 RBI that season, his first full one in the big leagues. The organization obviously has a high level of confidence in him after signing him to a deal of this caliber. Manager Mike Redmond said that he could envision Yelich as a future batting champ.

Over his two-year career, Christian Yelich has hit .285/.365/.400 (112 OPS+) over 933 plate appearances in 206 games with thirteen home runs and seventy RBI.

Spring Training Notes from Friday, March 13th and Saturday, March 14th

Here are today’s and yesterday’s top stories from Spring Training.

Texas Rangers RHP Yu Darvish will undergo UCL reconstruction surgery after spraining his UCL.  The injury was originally thought to be tightness in his right triceps, but after looking at the MRI, the true extent of the injury was revealed. Texas was plagued by injuries last year, and this year isn’t looking much better.

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Spring Training Notes for March 11th

-The Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly made an offer to Cuban infield prospect Hector Olivera, according to Robert Murray of MLB Daily Rumors. Olivera is one of the last major names on the board, if not the last major name on the board. Things are apparently “heating up”. This comes less than 24 hours after Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported that the San Diego Padres had an offer on the table worth $50 million. The Atlanta Braves had reportedly also been in contact with Olivera’s camp.

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Spring Training Notes from March 9th

Here are the top stories from Spring Training today.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee announced today that his career may end if he needs elbow surgery. The end of Lee’s career would mark the end for one of this century’s best pitchers. Lee has gone 143-91 over his career, posting a 3.52 ERA over 13 years.
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