The Athletic’s Jayson Stark (subscription required) has delivered his traditional year-end rundown of some of the weirdest stats and moments from the past baseball season. Stark’s piece covers such oddities as Adrian Beltre’s eight straight seasons with exactly one stolen base, Framber Valdez’s oddly similar first two MLB starts, the Pirates pulling off a 1-3-4-2-5-8-7 double play, and how Juan Soto’s first career homer shattered the space-time continuum.
Some more from around baseball as we kick off 2019…
- Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins discussed several topics during a conference call with reporters (including Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm), including his team’s recent acquisitions of Matt Shoemaker and Clayton Richard. Atkins said the two veteran hurlers will likely be used in the rotation if physically able, though he stopped short of fully confirming that usage, noting that “both guys have the potential to start,” and “I do think there could be a scenario where either one of them or potentially both could be used in a (different) role.” The Jays still have a need for pitching, and Atkins said that the club will continue to look at adding more starters and relievers as the offseason continues, both in free agency and perhaps in trades, as Toronto continues to receive interest from other teams. “We’ll continue to consider any opportunities to move players potentially off of our roster. It’s not something we are proactively looking to do, but we do have a great number of players that other teams are interested in,” Atkins said. He also specifically noted that catcher Russell Martin is “interesting to a lot of teams.”
- Though the Astros have been linked to several first base/designated hitter types this winter, The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan (subscription required) notes that the team could be in good shape as it stands by having Tyler White get a regular share of DH at-bats. White posted a .276/.354/.533 slash line over 237 PA last season, and he could join with the Astros’ left-handed outfielders (Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, or Tony Kemp) in a timeshare at DH to keep everyone fresh. However, Kaplan also feels Houston will need to move an outfielder before Opening Day to alleviate a playing time crunch, which means that Kemp, Jake Marisnick, or possibly top prospect Kyle Tucker could all be trade candidates. There were also some rumblings about Reddick on the trade market last month, so it could be that Brantley and George Springer are the only two untouchable outfielders on Houston’s roster. Kaplan’s mailbag piece is well worth a full read, as it covers several other topics about the Astros’ offseason and potential long-term moves for the club.