Some items from around baseball as we head into a new week…
- The Yankees are widely considered the favorites to sign Aroldis Chapman, though not if the closer’s market reaches five years and $100MM, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. One would think the dollar figure rather than the contract length would be the sticking point for the Yankees, as Chapman (who turns 29 in February) has long been expected to land at least a five-year deal this winter. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicts Chapman to land five years and $90MM, and would still set a new record high for a reliever contract even if it falls short of nine figures. (Dierkes also has Chapman signing with the Yankees.)
- Also from King, the Yankees similarly aren’t interested in a five-year deal with Edwin Encarnacion. New York has checked in with Encarnacion but also with Carlos Beltran, who would come at a much lower price in both years and dollars. Several other first base/DH types with lower price tags than Encarnacion have also been speculatively linked to the Yankees as well this offseason. It’s unclear whether any team would be willing to guarantee five years to Encarnacion, who is entering his age-34 season.
- If the new collective bargaining agreement expands rosters to 26 players, several general managers speculated to Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com that teams could often use that extra man for spot starts. While not an official sixth starter, teams could call up a spot starter to give extra rest to the rotation or perhaps just one veteran starter in particular. Another GM speculates that teams could use that extra roster spot to develop an Andrew Miller-esque reliever who can pitch multiple innings.
- The bulk of Gammons’ latest column examines the challenges Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen faces with his new team. One of those issues looks to be improving relations between management and the clubhouse — “players who were Diamondbacks may be unfair when they tell people that the D’Backs are the team that hates players, but it’s the reputation,” Gammons writes.
- Rookies played a big role in the Dodgers’ NL West title, particularly due to the number of injuries suffered by the team. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman tells Baseball America’s Bill Plunkett that his club had a “number of fingerprints” on its success and credits manager Dave Roberts with his deft handling of these young and mostly inexperienced players. “A great byproduct of the change and shift that we saw this year on the major league side with (Roberts) and his coaches was to be able to provide that soft landing spot, that environment where guys can come up and thrive and not be afraid to compete, to be put in positions to be able to succeed,” Friedman said. According to Plunkett, rookie players accounted for 21.3% of Dodgers plate appearances and 29.6% of the team’s innings in 2016.