October 16 is an important date in the histories of the Royals and White Sox, as the two teams each clinched the American League pennant on this day back in 1985 and 2005, respectively. Kansas City recorded a 6-2 win over the Blue Jays in Game Seven of the 1985 ALCS, completing the comeback after being down 3-1 in the series and winning the second AL pennant in club history. The Royals went on to take the further step of capturing the franchise’s first World Series that came October, topping the Cardinals in another seven-game set. The 2005 ALCS was also Chicago’s first step en route to a World Series title, as the White Sox beat the Angels in five games before sweeping the Astros in the Fall Classic. 2005 ended a pair of long droughts for the White Sox, as it marked the club’s first pennant since 1959 and its first World Series title since 1917.
News from around the AL Central…
- The Giants, Padres, and Mets have all shown some interest in Royals special advisor Mike Matheny as a possible candidate to fill their managerial vacancies, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan writes. Matheny hasn’t been linked to any of those clubs for an interview, however, and “word has it that the Padres are going another direction,” Flanagan writes. [UPDATE: Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Giants hadn’t spoken to Matheny as of three days ago.] All three of those teams have already amassed a long list of candidates for interviews, as you can follow via MLB Trade Rumors’ central post for the many rumors and reports floating around concerning the offseason managerial carousel. Matheny has also been widely tabbed as the leading contender to be the Royals’ next manager, and while Flanagan notes that Matheny’s hiring is “not as certain as it once was,” the former Cardinals skipper still appears to be “the odds-on favorite” for the job.
- Byron Buxton stands out as a prime extension candidate this offseason, MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park opines, looking at the Twins’ model in extending Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco last spring. Both of those players were coming off solid but not surefire breakout seasons (Polanco’s year was also marred by an 80-game PED suspension) in 2018, while Buxton is similarly coming off something of a mixed 2019 campaign. He hit .262/.314/.513 with 10 homers in 295 PA while contributing excellent baserunning and center field defense, though Buxton’s year was marred by injuries, including season-ending shoulder surgery that could cause him to miss the start of Spring Training. With this health uncertainty in mind, Buxton could have interest in locking in a long-term payday, though he would be foregoing potentially big arbitration raises in both 2021 and 2022 (Buxton has three arb years left as a Super Two player). Buxton has also achieved some financial security already, with close to $9.5MM in career earnings that includes his $6MM signing bonus as the second overall pick of the 2021 draft. Beyond Buxton, Park figures Jose Berrios and Miguel Sano are also extension candidates.
- Assuming the Indians are no longer cutting costs, the Athletic’s Zack Meisel (subscription required) estimates that the Tribe could have roughly $17MM to spend this winter. The current payroll sits at $102MM, as Meisel calculates based on current salaries, some minimum contracts, and MLBTR’s projected salaries for Cleveland’s arbitration-eligible players (with a few non-tender candidates not counted). That leaves the Tribe short of their $119.5MM Opening Day payroll from 2019, giving the club some extra cash to pursue needed help in the infield and outfield. Meisel also guesses the Indians could look into some future payroll certainty by discussing extensions with Mike Clevinger and/or Shane Bieber.