MLB and its umpires have reached a five-year labor agreement to follow their current deal, which was set to expire at the end of the year, Ben Walker of the Associated Press reports. The new pact continues more than a decade of labor peace within the game and will be the last labor agreement under outgoing commissioner Bud Selig. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and its players expires in December 2016. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.
- MLB has more parity than any of the other three major pro US sports, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports writes. The only teams that haven’t made the playoffs in the last ten years, Morosi notes, are the Blue Jays, Mariners and Marlins, and all have spent heavily at some point in the past few seasons in efforts to turn themselves around. Meanwhile, two of this offseason’s biggest spenders, the White Sox and Padres, were in the bottom third of team payroll in 2014.
- The Yankees have quietly added youth this offseason, MLB.com’s Richard Justice writes. Their recent trade of Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Marlins for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German was a case in point — not only did the Yankees add two youngsters in Eovaldi and German, they created an opening for Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder to compete for the team’s starting second base job. The Yankees also replaced the retiring Derek Jeter with 24-year-old Didi Gregorius. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Yankees are in the midst of a rebuild, exactly. They have three projected regulars over 31 (Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira), which might not be a lot for them, but it’s a lot for most teams. Four other regulars (Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury) are entering their age-31 seasons.
- The Pirates want to improve their pitchers’ hitting, manager Clint Hurdle tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila. Other teams have had “a very big competitive advantage” due to Bucs pitchers’ poor hitting in recent years, Hurdle says, and that’s mostly due to pitchers acquired from other organizations. Homegrown starter Gerrit Cole (.447 OPS in 2014) hits well for a pitcher, but past outside acquisitions Jeff Locke (.260), Vance Worley (.185), Edinson Volquez (.127) and Charlie Morton (.123) all struggled last year, and free agent signing Francisco Liriano (.260) approached hitting with the outward enthusiasm of a six-year-old doing math homework.
- The Tigers have plenty of right-handed relief depth, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. The Tigers’ bullpen struggled last season, but in 2015 they’ll have Joakim Soria as a backup plan for Joe Nathan at closer for the whole year, to go along with Bruce Rondon, Al Alburquerque, Joel Hanrahan (who’s returning from Tommy John surgery) and Alex Wilson (who was acquired in the Rick Porcello deal). The Tigers also like 24-year-old Angel Nesbitt, who only reached Double-A last year but throws in the high 90s.