Barring a late-breaking move as the ball drops, this’ll be the last post of 2015 on MLBTR. Thanks for another great year! Be sure to join us bright and early tomorrow for a new one that will start with an arguably unprecedented slate of unsigned free agents.
Here are a few stray notes from around baseball:
- In a piece for Baseball America, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times explores the question whether Javier Baez can turn into a Ben Zobrist-esque player for the Cubs. Baez has been getting a look in the outfield this spring, as has previously been reported. “It just adds to his versatility,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. “He’s someone who always enjoyed taking fly balls during batting practice out in center field shagging, and he’s always looked really good doing so.” Of course, Chicago will enjoy Zobrist regardless, since it just signed the genuine article this winter
- The Cubs have hired former backstop John Baker as a baseball operations assistant, as Wittenmyer also notes. The veteran wrapped up his seven-year MLB career in Chicago with a 68-game run in 2014. MLBTR wishes him the best of luck in his new gig.
- MLB.com’s Jim Callis lists his ten breakout prospects for the coming year. Among the interesting names to watch is Jake Bauers, a little-known piece of last year’s blockbuster three-team trade that sent Wil Myers to the Padres and netted the Rays Steven Souza. The rising youngster could make that deal sting even more for San Diego than it has already. Likewise, pitchers Josh Hader of the Brewers (added in the Carlos Gomez/Mike Fiers deadline swap), Frances Martes of the Astros (who came from the Marlins in the deal that sent Jarred Cosart to Miami), and Cody Reed of the Reds (a part of the Johnny Cueto flip this past summer) could change the calculus of the transactions that brought them to their current organizations, in the estimation of Callis.
- ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden provides his breakdown of the single most important missing piece for every team in the league in an Insider piece. Looking down his list, it’s notable how many clubs he cites as needing a corner outfielder. That market figures to explode at some point early in 2016.