ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick kicked off the new year by running down MLB’s 15 most interesting people for ’15. Among names like incoming commissioner Rob Manfred and Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, Padres GM A.J. Preller is highlighted as one of baseball’s names to watch. The GM has overhauled the entire team, prompting new acquisition Matt Kemp to term him a front office “rock star,” a designation that is hard to argue with. Here’s more from around baseball…
- Yesterday, Mark Bowman of MLB.com raised the possibility that the Braves could pull Luis Avalan out of trade discussions after moving fellow southpaw Chasen Shreve. However, he also notes that James Russell could take over as the top lefty out of Atlanta’s ’pen if he can show that his struggles against left-handed batters are a thing of the past. Avalan is under control through 2018, making him appealing to other clubs but also an asset that Atlanta might like to keep.
- With eleven pending free agents, the Orioles will be facing some major questions soon, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. The O’s have five position players, four relievers, and two starting pitchers that can hit the open market after the 2015 season. Some are calling for them to start making moves now as a preemptive strike, but that would likely hamstring them for 2015. The O’s could instead wait and see how the first half of the season goes, then start making trades at the deadline if they’re not looking the part of the contender. Alternatively, Baltimore could let those players go and spend the money elsewhere. Those eleven players will earn $56.6MM in 2014, meaning that they could do a lot with that money in the offseason.
- The Royals love their hard throwers at the back end of their bullpen and they acquired another one in right-hander Jandel Gustave. Alan Eskew of Baseball America looks at what Kansas City can expect out of the 22-year-old. The Red Sox selected Gustave sixth overall in the Rule 5 Draft from the Astros, then sent him to KC for cash.