On behalf of the MLB Trade Rumors staff, we wish all of our readers a very safe and happy holiday season! Here are a few more news items to act as stocking stuffers as we head into Christmas Day…
- The Nationals project to be over the luxury tax limit for the second straight year, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes, which could have some impact on how — or if — the team continues to spend this offseason or at the trade deadline. The Nats are currently slated for a 30 percent tax on all overages beyond the $197MM threshold, though that tax bill will rise if the Nationals spend beyond the $217MM mark. There doesn’t seem much chance that Washington will pass the threshold again next year, however, as the club has several big contracts coming off the books, so the Nats will be well-positioned to spend big in the vaunted 2018-19 free agent class, which includes such notable D.C. players as Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy.
- Ichiro Suzuki is still hoping for another contract with an MLB team, telling the Kyodo News Agency (as picked up by the Associated Press) that “I feel like a big dog at a pet shop that hasn’t been sold. Of course, I want to play baseball next year.” Ichiro also didn’t close the door on a return to Japan, in somewhat oblique fashion; when asked if there was a possibility he could play for Nippon Professional Baseball next season, Suzuki said “When you use the word possibility, there are many things … it means anything is possible as long as it’s not zero.” Suzuki turned 44 in October and has spoken of hoping to play until he is 50 years old, though it remains to be seen if a Major League team will give the future Hall-of-Famer a shot at his 18th season in the bigs.
- An American League scout shared his opinion on the Rangers’ three pitching acquisitions (Mike Minor, Matt Moore, and Doug Fister) with Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, noting that the trio’s ability to miss bats will help take pressure off a shaky Texas defense. Most interestingly, the scout suggested that Minor would be most effectively deployed not just as a reliever, but as the Rangers’ closer. Minor has said that he chose to sign with Texas because the club was open to giving him the opportunity to again be a starting pitcher, so while the left-hander has also said he’s fine with continuing as a reliever, rotation work would seem to be his first option. Minor began his career as a starter but shoulder problems cost him all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons before he returned to post excellent numbers out of the Royals bullpen last year.
- After undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, Brady Rodgers hopes to be finished with his rehab by June, the Astros right-hander tells Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. A third-rounder in the 2012 draft, Rodgers made his MLB debut in 2016, tossing 8 1/3 innings for the Astros. He owns a 3.98 ERA, 4.56 K/BB rate and 7.4 K/9 over 575 career frames in the minors, with particularly strong results coming in the last two years at the Triple-A level. Once recovered, Rodgers will provide more upper minors depth for the Houston rotation.