It may be a white-knuckle weekend in the Cleveland area, as fans wait to see if submitted offers for cornerstone player Francisco Lindor prove to be sufficient for the Indians’ front office. It’s already been an offseason of no small intrigue, with the Corey Kluber trade further redefining the direction of the Cleveland franchise. One more question for the team before camp breaks? What to do about their abundance of outfield options. As Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out in a Saturday reader mailbag, the Kluber trade, in bringing back Delino DeShields, leaves the club with a whopping nine outfielders on their 40-man roster.
As a careful observer might note, that tally only stands if we consider the DH-bound Franmil Reyes as an outfielder, but it’s a gaggle of on-the-grass options to sort through nonetheless. While each of Greg Allen, Jake Bauers, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Luplow, Oscar Mercado, Tyler Naquin, Bradley Zimmer, and DeShields has merit, Hoynes is right in pointing out that Mercado may be the only clear-cut starter of the group. If one of Lindor or Mike Clevinger does ultimately end up on the move, perhaps it should come as little surprise if a more stable outfield option comes back the other way.
- Although outsiders might think that Shane Farrell’s hiring as Toronto’s amateur scouting director was aided by his family ties, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet shares that the hire “won’t likely be popular with Blue Jays fans”—in part because many club followers still bristle at the team’s decision to trade Shane’s father John to the rival Red Sox in 2012. Still, Nicholson-Smith shares that the younger Farrell was described as “very intelligent” and a “strong evaluator” by an unnamed NL scout. Then again, it’s not as if any claims of nepotism could have been entertained seriously, considering that the Cubs interviewed Farrell for their VP of Scouting opening just this offseason.
- The Royals’ decision to pluck Maikel Franco off the wire wasn’t exactly made on a hunch. As Alex Lewis explores in a mailbag for The Athletic, Kansas City evaluators found “a few oddities in Franco’s swing from his more successful seasons (2016-18) to last season (2019) in a video study session”. Lewis shares that the club is “optimistic” that they can fix Franco’s issues–not exactly a ridiculous gambit considering his age (27) and early promise. Lewis also looks back at a story from The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, written around the time Franco was demoted in August, that noted certain adjustments the third baseman made to hit fewer balls on the ground may have been behind an infield popup rate of 23.7 percent at the time of his call-down.
- Recent reunions with Martin Maldonado and Joe Smith has inched the Houston Astros’ projected payroll very close to the $228MM luxury tax threshold. They would avoid a repeater tax, though a 12% surtax comes with the $20MM overage (the base tax line is set at $208MM for 2020). Jason Martinez at Roster Resource pegs Houston’s luxury tax estimate at just over $137MM, well past that second line and fast approaching the third tax line of $248MM. Given that Houston previously indicated a desire to stay under even the $228MM line, they are probably done shopping for the winter, at the very least as far as position players are concerned, per The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan.