With the 2019 MLB season officially wrapping up in a matter of hours, much of the league is fully turned toward the upcoming offseason. We’ll track some American League news here.
- Daniel Vogelbach started 49 games at first base for the Mariners in 2019, but that’s not likely to happen again, reports Corey Brock of the Athletic. Never regarded as an especially strong defender, some in the Mariners’ organization believe Vogelbach’s offensive downturn in the season’s second half (71 wRC+, compared to a 136 wRC+ in the first half) was related to his playing the field more than was ideal. With Vogelbach looking like a pure DH, the Mariners could again turn first base over to Austin Nola, a 29 year-old rookie who slashed .269/.342/.454 in 267 plate appearances down the stretch. Nola’s capable of bouncing all around the diamond, including catching, and is probably best served as a multi-positional piece. Fortunately, top first base prospect Evan White is on the doorstep of the majors and has a chance to win the job early, perhaps even out of spring training, Brock adds.
- The Red Sox could be facing payroll constraints and have a number of high-priced but effective starting pitchers. With that in mind, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News hears that the Rangers have internally kicked around the idea of pursuing one of those arms in trade. Texas is planning to increase payroll in 2020, after all. While much of that attention has focused on a potential pursuit of Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon in free agency, that flexibility can certainly be put to use in trade as well. Grant speculates that any of Chris Sale, David Price, or Nathan Eovaldi could be targets. Of course, given the caliber of players (particularly Sale and Price) and amount of money involved, any trade scenario would be extremely complex.
- Speaking of the Red Sox, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe takes a fascinating look at the career of Brian O’Halloran. Part of the four-person interim front office crew (alongside Raquel Ferreira, Eddie Romero and Zack Scott) who ran baseball operations between the departure of Dave Dombrowski and the hiring of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, O’Halloran was promoted to general manager at the time of Bloom’s hiring. Speier’s piece, certainly worth reading in full, is rife with quotes from O’Halloran’s colleagues lauding his work ethic and aptitude and details his rise from volunteer to jack-of-all-trades within the organization.
- The A’s have an uncertain mix at second base, and three young players have a chance to stake their claim to the job next spring, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Sheldon Neuse, Franklin Barreto and Jorge Mateo should all have a shot at earning the job, assuming none are traded in the coming months. Jurickson Profar may, too, Slusser notes, although it’s possible he’ll end up elsewhere following a disappointing season with a projected $5.8MM arbitration salary. Slusser doesn’t foreclose the possibility of an outside addition, something explored by MLBTR’s Connor Byrne in his A’s offseason outlook, but it’s nonetheless notable to hear the organization continues to have faith in its young infield options.