It’s an NFL day, but there’s time enough for some quick hits in MLB…
- Gio Urshela projects as the Opening Day third baseman after a breakout year in the Bronx. He put up 3.4 rWAR while Miguel Andujar missed the year with injuries, and since Andujar has minor league options remaining, Urshela’s case looks even stronger. Urshela could even expand his portfolio to include backup shortstop duties in 2020, per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, though Thairo Estrada and Tyler Wade are the more likely options to take that on should Gleyber Torres need a day off.
- Second-year Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde will have a veteran voice in his ear this season now that Fredi Gonzalez has joined his staff. Gonzalez is listed as a general Major League Coach, but the veteran manager looks forward to being freed up to contribute in a lot of different areas, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. Gonzalez will team with Major League Field Coordinator Tim Cossins to fill the duties traditionally assigned to a bench coach – but the important thing for the Orioles is that Hyde has another influence that he trusts as he looks to build on the development of a very young Orioles’ squad. Gonzalez certainly knows the terrain, having spent the last few seasons as the third base coach for the Miami Marlins. When the 2019 season came to a close, Gonzalez didn’t know exactly what would await him, but he decided it was time to move on from Miami and make himself a free agent. Hyde, meanwhile, managed the High-A and Double-A affiliates in Florida during Gonzalez’ managerial tenure from 2007 to 2010, and he didn’t wait long to add Gonzalez to his staff.
- As they say, the ball don’t lie, and that’s good enough for Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who marks the Nationals as the winners of last year’s offseason thanks to their championship in October. Of course, a year makes all the difference, as Sherman names the Red Sox the top loser of last year’s offseason for their ill-fated attempt to keep the good vibes going after their 2018 World Series title. Sherman makes this particularly interesting note about the fates of those giving multi-year offers to relief pitchers: “There were 11 relievers who signed for multiple years last season. Six had zero or negative WAR (Baseball Reference version). Just two improved on their WAR from 2018 to 2019, and just three ([Zack] Britton, [Adam] Ottavino and Justin Wilson) improved their ERA.” For what it’s worth, the Nationals can be counted among the group of team’s handing out multi-year deals to a reliever this offseason.