Few people in baseball are as well-liked as legendary Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, and he garners so much respect within the team’s clubhouse that the players voted Uecker for a full share of playoff money from their NLCS run last season, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Uecker will divide the full $123K amount amongst four charities, and was humbled to receive such a gesture. “I would never keep the money, but I sure appreciated what they did. I’m proud of that. When I talked to them about it, they said, ’Ueck, that was no big deal. You were part of that.’ Still, I was shocked when they did it,” Uecker said.
Some more from around the National League…
- The Cubs made an offer to Brian McCann this offseason that was worth more than the one-year, $2MM deal that McCann eventually received from the Braves, The Athletic’s David O’Brien reports (subscription required). The money wasn’t the primary factor in McCann’s choice, however, as the catcher wanted to either return to the Astros or to the Braves, his original team. It doesn’t seem that any other suitors were given serious consideration, as McCann “had no interest in being a hired gun and going elsewhere to play what could be the final season of his career,” O’Brien writes. Between this item and reports from earlier today that the Cubs had interest in Martin Maldonado, it seems as if Chicago was a quiet player in the catching market this offseason. Willson Contreras is the incumbent starter, though the Cubs are looking for more depth beyond Victor Caratini and minor league signing Francisco Arcia.
- Also from O’Brien’s piece, he mentions that Braves prospect Cristian Pache received trade interest from rival teams this winter as part of a larger profile on Pache. It would’ve been surprising, frankly, if Atlanta hadn’t gotten calls on the 20-year-old outfielder, given Pache’s emergence as one of the team’s (and baseball’s) most intriguing young players. Though he hit only a modest .279/.307/.410 over 495 combined PA in A-ball and Double-A last season, Pache is beginning to show more power potential, as evidenced by some big numbers in Atlanta’s Spring Training camp. If Pache can develop into even a passable hitter at the MLB level, he’ll still have enormous value given his widely-touted speed, throwing arm, and defensive play. Even prior to 2018, some Braves scouts considered Pache to be the organization’s best defensive outfielder, ahead of even Ender Inciarte or Ronald Acuna. Pache made his debut in the preseason top-100 prospect lists, with varied assessments from MLB.com (who ranked him 37th), ESPN.com’s Keith Law (45th), Baseball Prospectus (62nd), Baseball America (85th). The Marlins were one club known to have Pache on their radar, as he was on the short list of prospects Miami wanted from Atlanta as part of a J.T. Realmuto trade package.
- Michael Conforto will stick to right field this season, Mets manager Mickey Callaway told Newsday’s Anthony Rieber and other media. Over Conforto’s four MLB seasons, he has actually spent the least amount of action in right field (208 1/3 innings) of any of the three outfield spots, as he has 869 1/3 innings as a center fielder and 2045 innings in left field. As per UZR/150 and Defensive Runs Saved, Conforto has struggled in center field but been solidly above-average in the corner outfield spots, so keeping in right field should enhance his overall value. Conforto’s placement should provide some stability within a very in-flux Mets’ outfield situation, as Jeff McNeil and Brandon Nimmo are slated to see much of the work in left field, with Nimmo, Keon Broxton, and Juan Lagares all in the mix in center field. Veterans Carlos Gomez and Rajai Davis are also in camp, and there’s still a slim chance that Yoenis Cespedes could return from the injured list at some point in 2019.