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The Marlins have designated left-hander Matt Tracy for assignment, the team announced. Miami has also selected the contract of right-hander Nick Masset from Triple-A while righty Jose Urena has been sent down to Triple-A in corresponding moves.
Tracy has now been DFA’ed by two different teams in a nine-day span. The Yankees designated the southpaw last week and the Marlins claimed him on Saturday. Tracy made his MLB debut this season, tossing two innings for the Yankees and allowing three unearned runs on two walks and two hits. The 26-year-old lefty was a 24th-round draft pick for the Yankees in 2011
Miami signed Masset to a minor league deal during the offseason, released him prior to the Article XX(B) deadline and then re-signed the veteran righty to a new contract earlier this month. Masset posted a 5.80 ERA over 45 relief innings with the Rockies last season, his first taste of MLB action since 2011 thanks to a variety of shoulder problems that threatened to end his career. Over seven seasons and 378 innings with the Rockies, Reds, White Sox and Rangers, Masset has a 4.02 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 1.93 K/BB rate.
It’s already been a busy day for the MLBTR DFA Tracker, as the Cardinals’ Gary Brown and the Brewers’ Brandon Kintzler have also been designated today. In addition to Brown, Kintzler and Tracy, Grant Balfour (Rays), Xavier Cedeno (Nationals), Kyle Drabek (White Sox) and Todd Redmond (Blue Jays) are also currently residing in “DFA limbo.”
Here’s the latest on a few managerial situations that could already be hot seats…
- Ron Roenicke is earning $1.3MM to manage the Brewers this season, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Milwaukee exercised its option on Roenicke’s contract for 2016, and while Rosenthal doesn’t know the dollar figure for that extra year, he believes it can’t be too far beyond the $1.3MM figure. With the Brewers off to a terrible start, Rosenthal figures that if the team wants to make a change in the dugout, Roenicke’s guaranteed salary wouldn’t be a major obstacle.
- Wally Backman was recently mentioned as a potential candidate to replace Mike Redmond as the Marlins‘ manager, though Backman was reportedly “shocked” to hear it, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that the Marlins hadn’t asked for permission to speak with Backman, who is currently managing the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.
- Reds manager Bryan Price issued an expletive-filled tirade about the media prior to Monday’s game, a reaction that Joel Sherman of the New York Post believes could be partially inspired by frustration over Cincinnati’s shaky situation. The Reds are considered by many to be closer to a rebuild than they are to contention, and “Price is not just feeling the seat hot beneath him, but is living within a culture with an ugly near future,” Sherman writes. Price apologized for his language today via the Reds’ official Twitter page (hat tip to the SportsCenter Twitter feed), though he stood by the content of his comments.
Already, in late April, there are rumors surrounding Marlins manager Mike Redmond, whose job could be in jeopardy after the team’s 3-10 start. April sounds awfully early in the season to fire a manager, and in fact it is — in the past ten seasons, there have been no manager firings in the month of April. There have been plenty of firings in the first halves of seasons, however. Here’s a look at the nine firings in the past decade that took place before a team had finished 81 games in a season, and a brief glimpse at what happened in the next few years after each dismissal. As we’ll see, the outcomes of these firings run the gamut of possible outcomes, making it difficult to say whether replacing a manager early in a given season is a good idea.
- The Reds fired Dave Miley on June 21, 2005, replacing him with Jerry Narron. Narron lasted barely two seasons and was replaced by Dusty Baker, who had two sub-.500 seasons before leading the Reds to three seasons of 90 or more wins in his next four.
- The Mariners fired John McLaren on June 19, 2008 after a 25-47 start. After Jim Riggleman finished out the season, the Mariners turned to Don Wakamatsu and Eric Wedge, neither of whom had success, before finally turning to Lloyd McClendon, who had a good first season in 2014.
- The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle on May 29, 2009 after they got off to an 18-28 start. Jim Tracy took over and the Rockies went 74-42 the rest of the way, making the playoffs.
- The Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin on June 8, 2009, replacing him with A.J. Hinch, who managed the team for less than a season and a half before being fired himself.
- The Royals fired Trey Hillman on May 13, 2010 after a 12-23 start, replacing him with Ned Yost. Yost’s tactical managing gives fans fits, and his first two-plus seasons with the Royals were unsuccessful, but the team has played exceptionally well since then.
- The Orioles fired Dave Trembley on June 4, 2010. The team struggled for about two months with interim manager Juan Samuel at the helm, but performed well for the last two months of the season under Buck Showalter, whose hiring has so far been a boon for the franchise.
- The Marlins fired Fredi Gonzalez on June 23, 2010, replacing him with Edwin Rodriguez. Rodriguez posted a .500 record the rest of the season, but he resigned during the 2011 season as the team struggled.
- The Diamondbacks fired Hinch on July 1, 2010, replacing him with Kirk Gibson. The D-backs had a 94-win season in 2011, but after two .500 seasons and a poor 2014, they fired Gibson, too.
- The Athletics fired Bob Geren on June 9, 2011, replacing him with Melvin. The team continued to struggle down the stretch in 2011 but has made the playoffs in three straight seasons since.
The Rockies’ swap of Clint Hurdle for Jim Tracy in 2009 (along with the Marlins’ own Jeff Torborg/Jack McKeon switch in their World Series-winning 2003 campaign) is exactly what a team hopes for when it fires a manager early in the season. The Rockies turned their season around under Tracy and made the playoffs after an amazing stretch run.
But the Hurdle/Tracy swap could also be read as evidence of how difficult it can be to identify or predict a manager’s effect on a team. Tracy had previously managed the Pirates, but was fired after two ugly seasons. He lasted only three more years in Colorado. Meanwhile, Hurdle ultimately took over in Pittsburgh and led the team to its first two winning seasons in two decades, earning praise for his leadership and his integration of sabermetrics into the Pirates’ day-to-day strategy. Perhaps Tracy really was the right manager for the Rockies in 2009, and Hurdle the wrong one. A manager’s job is to lead, and his ability to lead the ever-changing cast of players around him is surely somewhat fluid. But a team’s performance is informed by any number of factors that have little to do with its manager.
With that in mind, it’s difficult to draw conclusions from the list above. Some teams’ manager swaps appear to have worked well, like that of the Rockies, or the Athletics’ switch of Geren and Melvin. Others didn’t, although that’s not surprising, given that teams who fire their managers tend not to be the best ones.
Perhaps there’s a distinction between firings in April and firings in June and July. In April, it’s hard to be completely out of the race, but in June, it isn’t, and maybe it makes sense for a team to make big changes rather than having a lame-duck manager limp through the rest of the season. There’s also the problem of how best to hire a permanent manager while a season is going on. Many teams on the list above turned to interim managers after firings, and surely that’s not what the Marlins would do if they fired Redmond. It probably isn’t easy to hire a permanent manager in-season. Of the teams on the list above, only two, the Royals (Yost) and the Athletics (Melvin), immediately replaced their outgoing managers with managers who turned out to be real long-term replacements.
Then there’s the lack of stability an early-season firing can betray. As FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal points out, the Marlins’ struggles are due in part to pitchers’ injuries and to Mat Latos‘ ineffectiveness. Those problems have little to do with Redmond, and replacing him would probably do nothing to solve them. Perhaps Redmond isn’t the right manager for the Marlins, but what might be most striking about the list above is the absence of many successful franchises who seem to highly value organizational stability, like the Cardinals, Giants and Tigers. Of course, it’s surely true that those franchises are mostly stable in part because they’re successful, and not the way around. And there are other franchises who are generally stable, like the Rockies and Twins, who haven’t done well lately. But the Marlins have had five managers since 2010 (Gonzalez, Rodriguez, McKeon, Ozzie Guillen and Redmond). One wonders how difficult it must be for players to develop given that many changes of leadership.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond is rumored to be on the hot seat, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes that the team doesn’t need a new manager, just better starting pitching. Marlins starters have a 5.23 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9, and they’re reeling from the loss of Henderson Alvarez with a shoulder injury. Still, the Marlins have enough talent to rebound from their 3-10 start, Frisaro says. Here are more quick notes from the East divisions.
- Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen had surgery Sunday to fix two torn flexor tendons in his forearm, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. He is likely to miss the rest of the season and will be able to return for Spring Training next year. In the last three seasons, Stammen has been a workhorse in the Nats’ bullpen, pitching 242 2/3 innings in that span. He’ll make $2.25MM in 2015 and is arbitration eligible next winter for the last time before free agency.
- Jeff Francis is back in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, and he’s hoping to stick around even though he knows it might be tough to do so, John Lott of the National Post writes. The former Rockies starter pitched 3 1/3 innings Sunday, but he’s 34 and throws in the upper 80s. He’s now pitching for his fourth team since the start of the 214 season, having appeared with the Reds, Athletics and Yankees last year. Francis, who is from Canada, calls playing for his favorite childhood team a “thrill” but says it’s one he’ll mostly enjoy after he’s done playing.
APRIL 20: Redmond’s fate could be the first test of Loria’s patience with his new front office, notes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Loria has said that he’s much more comfortable with his restructured front office, and sources tell Rosenthal that neither GM Dan Jennings or president of baseball ops Michael Hill wants Redmond fired.
APRIL 19, 10:33pm: A Marlins official denies that the team is considering firing Redmond, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets.
9:26pm: Marlins manager Mike Redmond could be in danger of being fired, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes. According to Spencer’s sources, the Marlins have already considered firing Redmond, and have even considered potential replacements (with Mets Triple-A manager Wally Backman as one possibility).
Redmond is in his third season as Marlins manager. He is 142-194 as the Marlins’ manager, although the Marlins were rebuilding much of that time and performed somewhat unexpectedly well last season, finishing 77-85 despite the loss of ace Jose Fernandez, who had Tommy John surgery. Late last season, the Marlins extended Redmond’s contract through 2017.
After an offseason makeover that included the additions of Mat Latos, Martin Prado, Dee Gordon, Mike Morse, Dan Haren and Ichiro Suzuki as well as big new contracts for Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, however, the Marlins are 3-10 and seven games out of first place in the NL East. Of course, the season is only 13 games old, but as Spencer notes, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has frequently been quick to make managerial changes and has also fired managers in-season (including Jeff Torborg in 2003 and Fredi Gonzalez in 2010). Stanton said Friday that the Marlins lacked “fire,” and Spencer suggests that, while Stanton’s comments weren’t intended as a criticism of Redmond, they could help convince Loria to view Redmond’s laid-back style as a problem.
It would be foolhardy for the Marlins to fire manager Mike Redmond this early in the season, opines FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in his latest notes column. Redmond is well-respected among the industry, Rosenthal notes, and he cannot be blamed for the fact that Henderson Alvarez is injured and Mat Latos has struggled so greatly. (Latos’ diminished velocity is likely a significant culprit in that regard.) Rosenthal writes that owner Jeffrey Loria needs to realize that the unstable culture he creates by cycling through managers so willingly is part of the problem in Miami.
A few more notes from Rosenthal’s latest column…
- In the video atop his column, Rosenthal notes that Cubs top prospect Addison Russell has begun playing some second base and may eventually get a look there in the Majors. However, because he is their best defensive shortstop, Russell may eventually push Starlin Castro to third base and Kris Bryant to the outfield, or his arrival may lead to a trade of Castro.
- Rosenthal writes about former Mets GM Omar Minaya’s decision to draft Matt Harvey with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft. The team had been deciding between Harvey and Chris Sale, but the Mets, like many other clubs, had some reservations about whether or not Sale would last as a starter. Minaya became convinced of Harvey after watching him in an April start at the University of Miami, though as Rosenthal notes, others in the front office/scouting department, including Marlin McPhail, Rudy Terrasas and Bryan Lambe all played large roles as well. Interestingly, Rosenthal adds that the White Sox were thrilled to get Chris Sale at No. 13, as they feared the Royals would select him fifth overall. Kansas City instead selected Cal State Fulelrton infielder Christian Colon.
- Delmon Young told the Orioles that he wanted to regain some of his lost athleticism, and so the team had him work extensively with outfielder-turned-executive Brady Anderson in Spring Training. Young was the first to the clubhouse every day during Spring Training and is now has the fastest 10-yard dash time on the Orioles, per manager Buck Showalter. Rosenthal also notes that Everth Cabrera told the O’s that he knew advanced metrics pegged him as a below-average defender, and he expressed an interest in improving in that area. Baltimore is working with Cabrera to correct a tendency to retreat with his hands and “baby” the ball, as Rosenthal put it.
- The White Sox weren’t as successful in upgrading their catching position as they’d have liked, but for the time being, they’re content with Tyler Flowers and Geovany Soto. Rosenthal notes that while Welington Castillo is widely believed to be available, the Sox and Cubs rarely make trades.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Addison Russell | Baltimore Orioles | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Sale | Christian Colon | Delmon Young | Everth Cabrera | Geovany Soto | Kansas City Royals | Lance Lynn | Matt Harvey | Miami Marlins | Mike Redmond | New York Mets | Starlin Castro | Tyler Flowers | Welington Castillo
The Angels are reportedly discussing a potential resolution to their standoff with Josh Hamilton, and Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register examines some possible forms that resolution could take. Releasing or trading Hamilton are two possibilities, but not ones Fletcher thinks would be very attractive to the Angels — if they released Hamilton, they’d have to eat the entire rest of his contract, except a prorated portion of the league minimum once he signed elsewhere. And it’s very unlikely trading Hamilton would result in much salary relief for the Angels, since he hasn’t played yet this season (and, presumably, since the Angels’ issues with him are so well known). They could also, of course, settle with Hamilton for some portion of his remaining contract. Fletcher also suggests the possibility, though, of the Angels simply bringing Hamilton back and letting him play for awhile, which would allow him to build value, or at least give the Angels clarity by having Hamilton demonstrate how much value he has. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Marlins were mostly unknown to Ichiro Suzuki before he signed with them, the veteran outfielder tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. “I didn’t have that much information about the city or the team in general,” Ichiro says through an interpreter. “The Marlins are new, and they’re still trying to find that identity of what the Miami Marlins are all about.” Ichiro had played his whole big-league career in the American League, and at 41, he’s older than any MLB player except LaTroy Hawkins and Bartolo Colon. Kepner notes that Ichiro does not seem to intimidate the Marlins’ mostly young group of players, however.
- Jung-ho Kang has played only sparingly since the start of the season, but the Pirates are not considering sending him to Triple-A, Clint Hurdle tells Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (on Twitter). Before the season, the Bucs signed the 28-year-old Kang to a four-year deal with an option for a fifth, but there’s currently nowhere for him to start, and he has one hit in nine plate appearances so far. As a position player signed out of Korean pro baseball, Kang is in a unique position both on the field and off it, but it appears the Pirates will allow him to adjust at the big-league level rather than giving him regular playing time in the minors.
The Marlins have claimed lefty Matt Tracy from the Yankees, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. They will send Tracy to Triple-A, tweets MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. To clear space on their 40-man roster, the Marlins have announced that they’ve moved Jose Fernandez to the 60-day disabled list.
The Yankees added Tracy to their roster last week to provide help after an 19-inning game against the Red Sox. He pitched two innings and allowed three runs, none earned, last Saturday, and then the Yankees designated him for assignment.
The 26-year-old Tracy pitched 150 2/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A in 2014, posting a 3.76 ERA, 5.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. The Marlins had shown interest in Tracy before, becoming the first team to draft him when they selected him in the 43rd round in 2010. The Yankees made him their 24th-round pick the following year.
If the mammoth Giancarlo Stanton deal didn’t totally convince fans that the Marlins were serious about winning, then the Christian Yelich deal was the clincher. After an offseason that included inking Stanton to a 13-year, $325MM deal, signing Michael Morse, and pulling off multiple high-impact trades, the Marlins locked up the talented young outfielder on a $49.75MM, seven-year deal.
The two sides first began discussing parameters for a pact shortly after the 2014 season ended. Once the Marlins took care of their top priority, a new long-term deal for Stanton, they were ready to go full steam ahead with Yelich. At first, the Marlins casually reached out to agent Joe Longo to let him know that they wanted to work towards getting a deal done. Then, some initial figures were thrown out and it was clear that a sizable gap had to be bridged. For starters, Miami pitched a deal that was similar to Starling Marte‘s six-year, $31.5MM extension with the Pirates.
“You arrive at deals different ways. You look at comps and you also think about the player and his skill set and how if you wait year-to-year in arbitration what those years would look like with consistent production,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told MLBTR. “It made sense to us. That area was where we felt like we would like to try to get something done.”
While Longo could, on some level, understand the comparison between the two players, he felt that Yelich’s future earning potential called for something even more lucrative. What Longo could pretty much agree with, however, was the length of Marte’s contract. As Longo put it, “the framework of the deal was okay, but the numbers didn’t line up for us.”
Both sides were very much on the same page when it came to that length since the Marlins never seriously considered a deal that was shorter or longer. Hill explained that he’s not really a fan of contracts that only go through arbitration years and when it comes to a pre-arbitration player, he feels that a longer deal can always be achieved later on.
For a while, the Marlins were hoping to replicate Marte’s exact contract structure: a total of six seasons with two additional option years. Longo, meanwhile, preferred a six-year deal with one option year, which would have allowed Yelich to explore the open market before the age of 30. Eventually, the two sides reached a compromise on that point when the Marlins proposed that they would guarantee the 2021 season rather than leaving it as an option.
Even though that initial dollar figure was less than what Yelich’s camp was hoping for, Longo says he didn’t come away from that conversation disappointed.
“Negotiations have an ebb and flow to them. Ultimately, Christian was okay with waiting on an extension and waiting to see what could come in future years. Really, it’s a positive thing when your employer likes you and in baseball sometimes just getting an offer of an extension feels good, because that’s a good review of what you’ve been doing,” Longo explained. “I went back to Christian and I told him what the numbers were but I explained that A, They’ve never done anything like this before and B, he’s a unique player and there aren’t a lot of comps out there for him, so we had to be patient and take just the start of the conversation as a positive.”
Early on in the talks, Longo made a point to cite the advanced stats that supported Yelich’s production over the last two years. Yelich’s slash line and Gold Glove award were pretty good indicators of what he can do, but they were reinforced by his tremendous walk rate (10.6% in 2014) and UZR/150 (10.2 in ’14).
The advanced metrics were also very key to the Marlins’ side of things, not just in negotiations but in their overall evaluation of Yelich throughout the process.
“Everything played a part for us,” Hill said. “When you talk commitment you want to make sure it’s the right person, the right player, the right skill set, and the right talent and you want to make sound decisions. I don’t think there was anyone in our office who didn’t believe that this was the right thing to do for Christian.”
As the talks progressed, the discussions of stats became a little less pronounced and the two sides began to come a little bit closer on the dollar figure. Early on, Yelich was hopeful that a deal could be worked out, but he was also mentally prepared to continue on the arbitration path, at the advice of Longo. As Longo chatted with Hill and David Samson, the proposal of a $31.5MM guarantee slowly climbed up into the $40MM range. That was still shy of what Yelich was hoping for, but at that stage he felt that he had to at least consider what they were pitching in order to gain financial security for himself and for his family. The outfielder wanted to see where things would go, but he also asked that the talks cease before Opening Day to avoid any distractions.
Towards the end of spring training, the two sides shook hands on a sizable deal that will keep Yelich in Miami through 2021 and, possibly, 2022. The $49.75MM guarantee isn’t surprising to anyone who paid attention to what the 23-year-old did last season, but it’s the kind of money that was once reserved mostly for power hitters. In fact, Yelich’s deal is the second-biggest deal ever for someone in his service class, topping the likes of Ryan Braun and Anthony Rizzo. Hill is familiar with the precedent there, but that didn’t mean much to him when it came to Yelich.
“We totally understand the marketplace and how these young players have been compensated historically. We just believe that he’s a great talent and a complete talent. When you look at what he can do now offensively and what we think he’ll grow into as he matures as a hitter, the deal made sense to us,” explained Hill.
Of course, Yelich is not the first player without a major power bat to land a big deal in recent years. Around this time last year, the Braves signed defensive-minded shortstop Andrelton Simmons to a seven-year extension with $58MM in guaranteed money. And, just recently, Josh Harrison and Juan Lagares both got significant guarantees, albeit not on the same tier as Yelich and Simmons. Longo saw Yelich’s deal as yet another indication that teams across the majors, not just the Marlins, are putting emphasis back on defense and other areas of the game that might have been a bit undervalued.
Yelich’s well-rounded skill set, upside, and age gave the Marlins plenty of reason to want to tack on additional years of control. As Longo stressed during the talks, Yelich carries himself with tremendous poise for someone his age – not just on the field, but off the field as well. While some players choose to sit back and let their agent handle all of the back-and-forth contract talks, the 23-year-old took an active role in discussions with the Marlins’ front office.
“I think it was very unique for a player at his age,” the agent said. “Usually, the older they get, the more they participate in the process. Certainly when you get a guy who has been through an arbitration year, it causes a client to learn more about the business of baseball. But, the fact that he’s never been through the arbitration process and participated as much as he did, that was very impressive at 23 and I think that was part of the reason the Marlins targeted him. His level of maturity, how smart he is, how well he understands the game, and the business of the game all played a role.”
In the days leading up to the agreement, Yelich met a few times with Samson to discuss his long-term future with the franchise. The Marlins already knew that they were dealing with an older soul in the young outfielder, but he reminded them of his all-around maturity over the course of the spring.
“His plate awareness and strike zone awareness is definitely beyond his years. You look at his natural feel for the strike zone and his knowledge of the game and he’s been that way as a person from the day we drafted him in 2010,” Hill said. “He’s quiet, he’s focused, and he has a desire to excel at his craft to play in baseball. He’s not about flair, he’s not about the limelight, he just goes out and gets the job done.”
Now, with his deal in hand, the understated Yelich can focus on what he does best without having to think about his contract situation for several years.
Giancarlo Stanton connected on his first homer of the season tonight — a two-run blast off Mets righty Dillon Gee that marked the 155th round-tripper of his career. The home run had particular significance for Stanton, who now moves past Dan Uggla into sole possession of the Marlins‘ all-time franchise home run record. Given his 13-year contract, one can expect that Stanton will occupy the top spot on that list for quite some time.
Another Marlins item and some news from around the division…
- Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto had two hits in the team’s win yesterday and started again on Thursday, and the top prospect could be ticketed for a more significant role on the team moving forward, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Manager Mike Redmond said he spoke with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is earning $7MM in 2015, about the division of playing time already. “I think it’s always a touchy situation anytime you have conversations with guys, and you have to give them a break,” Redmond explained. “…[W]e’re trying to win ballgames. If giving Salty a few extra days here or there helps him and helps us, then it will be worth it.”
- The Nationals have had quite a bit of bad luck in terms of injuries early in the season, but Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post tweets that GM Mike Rizzo is focusing on internal options to patch up the bullpen. Of course, Janes’ tweet did come prior to the announcement that Craig Stammen may be lost for the season, but the Nats likely were prepared for bad news on Stammen at the time of her tweet.
- Without a left-handed reliever in the bullpen beyond Jake Diekman, the Phillies could use an upgrade in that area but are short on internal options, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. seemingly expressed a bit of frustration that lefty relief option Andy Oliver elected free agency rather than remaining with the club when he didn’t make the Opening Day roster. Zolecki writes that Oliver would’ve been on a short list of potential call-ups, and Amaro spoke candidly about the 27-year-old Oliver’s decision to leave: “We offered him a pretty good deal to come back. He just decided to go somewhere else. I think it was a very foolish move on his part, but that’s OK. He had a choice. He had that right.”
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez spoke with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth of MLB Network Radio about the conversations he had with president of baseball operations John Hart prior to the finalization of the Craig Kimbrel trade (audio link). Gonzalez learned of the strong possibility of a trade 48 hours prior to its completion, and he called that time “maybe the toughest two days.” Gonzalez said it was difficult to see Kimbrel leave because of his talent and what he meant to the organization, and he also discussed the conflict he felt as a manager. “I’m going to have to put on two different hats here,” said Gonzalez. “You’re asking me to trade the best closer in the game, and you’re asking me to win ball games and I’m in the last year of my contract. But then you’re telling me the reasons of why we’re doing it and why it’s going to help the organization. … I took a step back and digested for a day and a half — I think it was going to happen whether I said yes or no — but I said, ‘You know what John, this is what’s best for the organization. This is what we have to do.'”