Our thoughts at MLB Trade Rumors are with Braves left-hander Matt Marksberry and his friends and family, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the 26-year-old is being treated for “severe dehydration” at an Orlando-area hospital after originally going in for a non-baseball procedure. As O’Brien writes, Marksberry’s brother said on Facebook earlier today that he was on life support, though O’Brien cites multiple people familiar with the situation in stating that Marksberry is unconscious but has stable vital signs. Earlier this week, Marksberry tweeted: “I don’t want to sound selfish but I really could use some prayers for my health right now. Non baseball related. Thank you guys.” While the specifics surrounding Marksberry’s health are unclear, it seems certain that the complications he’s currently battling could be fairly severe. MLBTR wishes him a quick return to full health.
As we keep the young left-hander in our thoughts, a few notes on the game’s Eastern divisions…
- Orioles closer Zach Britton is very cognizant of the fact that the team traded former closer Jim Johnson when Johnson’s salary reached a level that Britton is projected to surpass this winter, he tells Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com. “You saw it with Jim Johnson, once the salary got up to a certain point, he got traded,” said Britton. “I think I’m kind of approaching there. So I don’t know how long I’m going to be here. You see how many relievers are on the move nowadays. But it’d be nice to stay here.” Britton says he’s open to a contract extension and has enjoyed his time in Baltimore since being drafted as an 18-year-old but added that much of the onus to bring those talks about lies on the team. As Connolly writes, the O’s have been reluctant in the past to negotiate with players on the heels of career years, and Britton’s 2016 season was not only the best of his career but one of the best of any reliever in recent history. In 67 innings, Britton posted an unthinkable 0.54 ERA, averaging 9.9 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 and recording a ridiculous 80 percent ground-ball rate along the way.
- Chad Jennings of the LoHud Journal News writes that had the Yankees made the postseason, they’d have somewhat surprisingly been among the least-reliant teams upon free agency in the playoffs. The Yankees are leaning more and more away from free agency these days, Jennings notes, shifting their focus to trades and player development instead. Though the Yankees have needs in both the rotation and the bullpen, Jennings surmises that the rotation help the Yankees figure to seek is likelier to come from trades than free agency, also noting that if there’s an asset in which the team will invest on the open market, a high-end reliever makes the most sense.
- Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins spoke highly of vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald writes. The Twins “pushed hard” to persuade Cherington to lead their baseball operations department, per Drellich, but Cherington seems to have preferred a more low-key job that allows him to maintain a more normal routine. That may sound counter-intuitive, though as former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos (now the Dodgers’ VP of baseball ops) explained to Drellich, the urgency to hold the coveted GM title is a bit reduced after already running a baseball ops department. As for Cherington’s role with the Jays, Atkins tells Drellich that Cherington will be involved in many facets of baseball operations: “I call him on a very regular basis on every front. And he’ll be involved in all of our offseason strategy, he’ll be involved in our draft, he’ll be involved in the international process. I’d imagine he’ll help negotiate contracts.”
- The Nationals expect their entire coaching staff to return, tweets Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. As Castillo points out, that’s a complete 180-degree turn from last offseason, when the Nats fired not only manager Matt Williams, but nearly the entire coaching staff. In addition to bringing in manager Dusty Baker in 2016, the Nats hired veteran pitching coach Mike Maddux, baserunning guru/first base coach Davey Lopes, assistant hitting coach Jacque Jones, bench coach Chris Speier and bullpen coach Dan Firova. Each of those men will return for another season with the Nats, as will hitting coach Rick Schu and third base coach Bob Henley.