The status of top remaining free agent Yasiel Puig remains up in the air as Spring Training baseball kicks off today. The mercurial and ever-entertaining pugilist got everyday at-bats in 2019 after a couple years of more judicious playing time with the Dodgers – but the results don’t have teams lined up with contract offers. Puig hit .267/.327/.458 across 611 plate appearances with the Reds and Indians with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs. Puig’s singular personality makes his on-field contributions just a part of the overall package, but even after a year of modest production (101 wRC+), Puig ought to be able to find a job somewhere. Latest reports have the White Sox and Rockies as potential landing spots for Puig, per Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101. The Athletic’s Nick Groke downplays the Rockies interest (via Twitter), however.
- CAA agent Jeff Berry lost two arbitration cases this week. Arbitration panels chose the team award amount in cases for J.T. Realmuto and Josh Hader, two transformative performers trying to make their cases to earn beyond the scope of their positional historical comps, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Said Berry of the proceedings, “This was about two guys (Hader and Realmuto) willing to go to the mat to fight for what’s right, and hopefully other players take notice.” It’s possible to look at the results and presume that Berry overestimated his cases for both superstars (within the confines of the current system). It’s surely a fine line between fighting for the best result in an uneven system and politicking for change. Either way, the arbitration panel could use some work. Rosenthal brought a particularly interesting point to the foreground, noting that either the players’ union or MLB “can unilaterally fire any arbitrator at any time.” That’s certainly an inflection point for turning a supposedly unbiased system into one rife for manipulation.
- After trading for Cubs’ swingman Mike Montgomery in July, the Royals believe he can reach another gear when settled into a starting role, per Lynn Worthy of the Kansas City Star. The Cubs thought the same thing when they acquired Montgomery in the middle of 2016. Though the Cubs never found consistent work for Montgomery in the rotation, he played an important role as a swingman for Chicago. And of course, never forget, he earned the save in game seven of the 2016 World Series. Not for nothing, but Montgomery has desired a rotation slot for some time now, and it could be that the consistency and trust the Royals plan on giving him in his role will have the desired effect – but only time will tell. In 13 starts after the trade last season, Montgomery went 2-7 with a 4.64 ERA/5.23 FIP while striking out 7.2 batters per nine innings.