Cubs right-fielder Seiya Suzuki is currently sidelined with a “moderate” oblique strain. The club has yet to provide an estimated timeline for his absence, but Suzuki has already withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic. It’s unclear if he will still be injured when Opening Day rolls around, but Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reports that the club is looking to use Trey Mancini as the right fielder for any time Suzuki needs to miss.
Mancini was primarily a first baseman coming up through the minors but starting playing the outfield corners with the Orioles due to Chris Davis having the cold corner spoken for. That’s allowed Mancini to log 2,480 1/3 innings of outfield experience, but most of that came in the 2017-2019 period. Mancini missed the 2020 season while in treatment for colon cancer but has primarily been at first base since his return. That was the only position he played in 2021 and he only spent 248 innings on the grass last year.
Mancini’s outfield defense hasn’t been especially well graded in his career, but it’s possible it would only be a part-time solution anyhow, with Suzuki eventually coming back to retake the position. In the meantime, the alignment could allow the club to have both Mancini and Eric Hosmer in the lineup, with the designated hitter slot available for one of the club’s many younger infielders. Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner should be in the middle with Hosmer at first, but the third base and utility/backup infield positions figure to be shared by Patrick Wisdom, Nick Madrigal, Christopher Morel, Zach McKinstry, Miles Mastrobuoni and Edwin Ríos.
Some other notes from around the National League…
- Lefty Sean Doolittle is in camp with the Nationals on a minor league deal, looking to return to health after he dealt with an elbow sprain last year that eventually led to an internal brace procedure. It was reported a few weeks ago that he seemed on track to be ready for Opening Day, but that might no longer be the case. Doolittle tells Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com that there was no real setback, just that the club’s medical team advised him to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach. “Nothing specifically happened,” Doolittle said. “I think when we started to look at what it was going to take to ramp up, and where I was at, I was ahead of schedule probably by almost a month. I did have some days when I was a little more sore than I had been throwing in the offseason. Nothing bad, but we started thinking about it. We’re so far ahead, let’s slow it down a little bit.” It seems that he may no longer be an option for Opening Day, but the slowed-down approach is fine by him. “Let’s be smart about it. It’s not a race,” he added. Manager Dave Martinez is onboard with the plan as well. “When he’s ready, we want him to be 100 percent ready,” Martinez said. “We need left-handed pitchers in our bullpen. When he’s healthy, he’ll be that guy.” Doolittle had a 3.02 career ERA through the end of 2019 but has missed significant time in two of the past three years, in addition to posting a 4.53 ERA in 2021. The Nats’ only southpaw relievers on the 40-man are Matt Cronin and Jose Ferrer, neither of whom have MLB experience yet. Once Doolittle is fully healthy, he should have a path open to get back on the roster.
- It was reported in mid-December that the Red Sox were interested in a reunion with slugger J.D. Martinez, but he agreed to a deal with the Dodgers that very same day while the Sox agreed with Justin Turner the day after. However, it doesn’t seem as though Boston’s interest was ever that strong, at least according to Martinez, who spoke with Rob Bradford of WEEI about the situation. “The way they made it sound was that they were in on it,” Martinez said. “During the season we never talked. Just basic talk with Chaim, and stuff. It was one of those things where we never moved forward with it.” The alignment of his deal and Turner’s doesn’t seem to have been coincidental. “A situation occurred where at the time they had the offer out to JT… Everybody talks… This was an offer that came up seeing if it was something I was interested in doing. Obviously, it was a little bit of a pay cut, but if I held up maybe I could have gotten more. We were confident about that. But at the same time I wanted a team that was going to be in October, be in the swing of things all year and give me a chance to win.” MLBTR predicted Martinez to secure a two-year, $30MM, so it’s possible he’s correct that he could have gotten more than the one-year, $10MM deal he ultimately agreed to. However, it seems he placed a priority on competition by moving from a Boston club that won 78 games last year to the 111-win Dodgers.
- Sticking with the Dodgers, they will have to consider backup plans at shortstop now that Gavin Lux is out for the year. Miguel Rojas will now be the atop the depth chart there, with super utility player Chris Taylor behind him. Manager Dave Roberts tells Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times that Taylor will play shortstop about 20-25% of the time. Taylor says he’s ready for the move, having started an infield throwing program prior to the Lux injury. “I’ve been throwing from the infield and the outfield,” Taylor said. “I was trying to anticipate something happening. So I was prepared.” Getting part-time work at shortstop will be nothing new for Taylor. He only got one inning there last year but averaged more than 250 innings per year over the previous four seasons. He’ll be looking to bounce back from a down year at the plate, as he missed a month with a foot fracture and hit .221/.304/.373 for a wRC+ of 93. Moving Taylor in from the grass on occasion will subtract from an outfield mix that’s a bit more uncertain for the club than in recent years. Mookie Betts should be excellent in right, with Trayce Thompson, David Peralta and Jason Heyward potentially taking the other spots, as younger players like James Outman and Andy Pages try to break in.
Throw Wisdom in the corner unless Morel or Davis claim in out of the spring. Mancini in right field in Wrigley is going to uglier than Castellanos.
From what I saw and remember, I thought Castellanos actually played a very good rightfield for the Cubs.
Larry Brown's crank
sorry…what does Castellanos have to do with ANYTHING?
Castellanos used to play for the Cubs and he was a terrible defender… just like Mancini. See how that CORRELATES?
Fever Pitch Guy
Larry – Agreed, this is about JD. We all know Bloom has a habit of feigning interest in keeping star players, but it’s refreshing to hear yet another player confirm it.
Shame that Bloom insists on operating in this manner.
Steve Cohen Owns You
drasco – Agreed, Castellanos and his terrible defense is relevant here with regards to Mancini.
Fever – I’m guessing JD’s numbers were a reflection of him getting jerked around by Bloom. Job security especially when it comes to uprooting your family is an obligation of clarity for good GMs. Obviously, this is just one more thing Bloom does not do well.
I’ve mentioned it before, JD is in a better place just like Mookie, Chavis, Benny and Vazquez. I hope Sale gets there soon too or Bloom gets fired along with Cora. Sale still has the potential for a Cy Young but not with Cora as manager.
I think the stats that seemed to get over looked by the JD haters and Bogey haters will come back to bite Boston in 2023. Two 100 RBI/R guys gone and in their place is a slap hitting bad fielding no base running foreign player and a former excellent 3B who is nearly Brady’s age at DH. I don’t see two 100 R/RBI guys in those two. Maybe, Turner if he stays healthy but at his age that’s a big if. Also, Devers hasn’t been hurt severely in his career. Time is catching up with him. If he blows out a tire the team will be lucky to win 65 games.
For me, the good news is I’m liking the corp of pitchers coming up from the minors led by Houck, Whitlock Bello and even Pivetta. If two of the three old guys can stay healthy the pitching won’t be the Red Sox issue in 2023. They are 3 star hitters short now in Betts, Bogey, JD and two above league average guys in Benny and Vazquez. Not to mention Story. will miss a lot of the season.
Clearly, the hitting will be Achilles heel of the 2023 Red Sox.
Did you only watch him bat because he was awful in the field. Sluggish and absolutely clueless how to play balls off the brick and the well.
I guess you could say he was better than expected but he was really bad.
Steve Cohen Owns You
REALLY bad is correct. Every catch he makes is an adventure.
Not sure I’d be comfortable with a steady diet of Mancini in RF myself. I’d hope either Davis or Velasquez would step up and leave Mancini at DH for the most part if Suzuki is out any length of time.
Lots of holes in LA. Martinez filled none of them
JD only replaces similar production from Turner.
JD is like getting an additional coach and player all in one, was willing to prioritize a shot at winning over multiple years of money checking boxes this year and next in an ohtani push by LAD.
I also think he’s going to benefit from more protection in the lineup than anything boston offered.
If you compare the contracts, turner either was after 15m just for this season, or, he puts up a clunker and you’re stuck with a non-performing 39 year old who either eats a roster spot, or, you’re eating over 13m in year two of the deal once he takes the player option for no production at all.
All things being equal, the 4 year younger JD was the way to go over turner.
Peddy – I believe your comment is far closer to the truth than desertball. He clearly knows nothing about the game of baseball.
JD will far out perform Turner in 2023 because he’s got his old hitting instructor, back and he’s with Mookie! He will be treated better by Roberts than Cora ever treated him even when he was the best hitter on the team AND the ball park is made for the doubles machine named JD Martinez!!!
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a .300+ average, a 375+ OBP and 50 doubles. In the meantime, Justin Turner could have a good year but he has struggled to stay in the line-up over the last few years. JD isn’t a health risk like Turner.
Turner is a fun guy to watch hit so I am looking forward to it but he’s no JD, especially since he’s had a downward turn over the last few years. JD’s 4 month downturn is clearly linked to Bloom’s treatment of him. It was probably like a jail sentence playing for Cora and Bloom after seeing Mookie go to a well run team and being so happy. JD is there now and should thrive.
I actually don’t know if he will perform better, I actually think it will be much the same in all honesty.
Turner can play the field more effectively, however, which is what makes him versatile.
And if you use the argument that JD can be like a coach, so can Turner.
In a nutshell, I think it’s a draw. It didn’t need to be switched like that but it did.
pwndroia – No reason for JD to not bounce back from his first “not JD” type stretch in the last decade. He’s younger than Turner. He’s away from the toxic environment. He’s got a new lease on life.
JT is going from diversity to prejudice, non-toxic to toxic and he’s not going to play the field much since Casas needs to play and Devers refused to sit no matter how much he hurts the pitching staff.
I didn’t use the JD can be like a coach because I agree with you. He and JT are both excellent leadership guys.
The reason I take JD over JT is because I’ve had JT on my fantasy team and he can’t stay in the line-up and he’s very streaky. Also, he no longer has great players around him other than Devers.
JD, on the other hand, now has even more around him than before AND he’s never had a prolonged slump like he did last year. It’s called an anomaly when something out of character happens. JD will be back. He won’t hit a ton of HRs but his doubles should climb dramatically especially without the shifting.
My guess is JD will play 30 more games than JT in 2023. That’s a lot to make up in stats. So, yes I consider it a draw from a skills standpoint but JD wins the age factor and the surrounding line-up factor. The 30 games played edge should really separate them.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see JT play 140 or more games but his history doesn’t support that happening. JD, however, is very likely to play that many games if Roberts uses him that much.
@PulledaBloom I never said he wouldn’t bounce back, I just don’t think he will be significantly better than Turner. In terms of replacement, it’s a draw to me.
I had Turner on my fantasy team last year and you are spot on that he wasn’t great last year but last year wasn’t exactly his best year either. Until age fully takes away Turner’s ability, I see it as a draw, which was meaningless.
Turner, is, however, an infielder who can help the Sox on the infield, let alone the bat, so that is a plus.
The reference to the coaching was another poster on here, I just didn’t want three posts in place of one.
Lots of holes in that lineup and JD filled none of them
You’re just hitting copy and paste aren’t you desertball? LOL
Can we quit calling first base the cold corner?
Non hot right angle?
Steve Cohen Owns You
Fine. “The Tepid Corner” it is.
The Dodgers better hope Outman rakes..because if he doesn’t, that outfield is rough minus Betts.
Ouch! Great professional response from JDM while still getting a jab at Sox management. While some of the yo-yoing between first and last is on the players, it’s definitely mostly on ownership and management.
Did we read the same article? Red Sox didn’t want him back, or else they wouldve got it done. JD certainly didnt want to take a 55% pay cut. What “yo-yoing”? Whats “on ownership and management”?
I guess we didn’t read the same article either. JD explicitly stated he felt he left money on the table and did take a bigger pay cut to get out of the chaim-mess thats guaranteed not to win a WS this year.
He wanted to be on a talented october-worthy squad and took a lesser deal than he otherwise wouldve to be there.
Nobody projected a 20+m/yr deal for jd. But everyone predicted more than 10m. Be reasonable.
I guess we did read different articles. Is there a link that has more information or something, because what youre saying is NOT what JD said.
What your imagination thinks he said:
“JD explicity said he left money on the table . . . to get out of chaim mess”
What was written:
“Obviously, it was a little bit of a pay cut, but if I held up maybe I could have gotten more.”
He is clearly talking about getting a little more AFTER the season, from ANY team, because during the season theres nothing to be “held up”. Chaim has nothing to do with that sentence.
But, sure you guys blindly find everything is about hating Bloom for some reason.
Don’t stop there, keep reading…
“if I held up maybe I could have gotten more. We were confident about that. But at the same time I wanted a team that was going to be in October, be in the swing of things all year and give me a chance to win.”
Chaim ran the most talented parts of the roster out of town. Lineup has little protection. Pitching is made of hopes and dreams, geritol and linoment oil.
It’s not a team.built for October. And chaim built it, unless you’re going to now blame the roster construction on someone else too.
I did keep reading, It had nothing to do with what you said.
“JD explicitly stated he felt he left money on the table and did take a bigger pay cut to get out of the chaim-mess . . .”
He never said that, theres nothing about “left money” because of “Chaim”. Nor does “keep reading” somehow refer back to that. Youre just making stuff up.
But at the same time I wanted a team that was going to be in October,
FWIW, I’ve probably read that 1,000 times in my life.
Yeah Joe. Thats the standard line every player says, after signing with a better team. But, don’t try to convince these guys, they think its an original line only said about Bloom.
Sure Joe, I bet I have too.
But, aging players DO place premiums on winning, every year, as you point out, guys take lower salaries than they otherwise might to go after a ring.
And some posters implying it’s just lip service, and, wasn’t given weight by the player? Disingenuous. Just as much as denying chaim assembled a clunker this offseason and could’ve done better.
GA – You are right. Two issues are clear.
1 – Bloom’s silence was intended to send a message or was neglect.
2 – JD knows the silence hurt his 2022 performance and took a below value deal to go where his hitting coach is and Mookie is. Both two very big positives over Bloom’s toxic environment.
rsmith needs to accept that the Boston Clubhouse is toxic and has been since Mookie was given away with Price. The optics to the public were disturbing whether it was a money issue, a fair treatment of all races issue or an issue with wanting new sports teams abroad. Whatever combination of factors caused the heart of the clubhouse to be ripped out, it was ripped out and the impact was 40% win rate in 2020. The next year’s semi-success (no actual Division Title but they did make the playoffs) was driven by the DD Championship team and then yet another collapse in 2022 shows just how the combination of losing talent and creating a toxic environment can hurt even championship players.
The past is dark and now without the 2018 guys, the future is darker. Until Bloom and Cora are gone that’s not going to change and it’s going to take MORE money to sign a player in Boston than most of the other big markets because of the Bloom/Cora toxic clubhouse situation. Only Latin players that have an in with Cora will want to play in Boston.versus other big market teams. All other players will think twice and look for a better deal elsewhere because players talk. The toxic environment in Boston isn’t a big secret and the longer it lasts the more it’s going to cost Boston to win the competition for good players over other big market teams.
Fire Bloom and Cora now and give the future a shot of adrenaline!!!
I get that it’s because of the Suzuki injury, but Mancini is probably a significantly better defender at 1B than Hosmer at this point, so optimally you would want Hosmer at DH as much as possible.
Hosmer’s gold glove days with KCR are way behind him. He was brutal to watch defensively in San Diego. I don’t think this is really captured by defensive metrics but he’s a terrible receiver at 1B and it drags down the rest of the infield D. Swanson and Hoerner are a great defensive duo, Hos isn’t going to help them much over there.
Jason Heyward shocks everyone by learning shortstop, rediscovering his hitting stroke, putting up 3.8 WAR in 120 game, and winning comeback player of the year.
Or…heyward doesn’t make the team and cubs sign him back to play RF
C Yards Jeff
No mention of “Mash” (Mervis) in the Cubs part of this article. If Mancini goes to RF, why the love for just Hosmer at 1st (or maybe DH)? Go gett’um Matt!
Motor City Beach Bum
At the trade deadline the Dodgers will come knocking on the Tigers door for reinforcements after Rojas hits .200 as the everyday shortstop, none of their outfielders except Betts hit, someone else gets hurt (Muncy, Kershaw , bullpen arms???) and they need pitching reinforcements. Baez and Eduardo Rodriguez, will both rebound nicely this year and head south to a contender with their opt outs that they wont exercise, along with Austin Meadows and a BP arm. Cartaya, Miller and Busch will headline the haul heading back the other way to Detroit. Dreaming is fun 😉 My serious prediction…Busch or Cartaya end up traded to the Tigers at the deadline for reinforcements.
An interesting prediction on Rojas, a career .260 hitter who has never batted lower than .239 in a season for his entire career. And Cartaya? He isn’t going anywhere.
Motor City Beach Bum
A recent article suggested Cartaya has become potential trade bait to patch some holes. Smith is ahead of him for the foreseeable future. The Dodgers will just go find a replacement. They have Rushing on hand as well.
You have a link to that article, MCBB…
Someone will theorize about every prospect being potential trade bait at some point or other. Means nada. Barnes was extended so he can play behind Smith until the next catcher is ready to come up. Cartaya is next in line when Barnes is done next year. If Cartaya isn’t ready, the Dodgers hold a team option on Barnes to keep him around for another year. Could that planning change? Sure. But not just because someone thinks it might.
Motor City Beach Bum
I think it was something I saw on Prosportsdaily but not sure. Sorry.
I’m guessing after the WBC they sign Profar or Didi for reinforcement.
Offering a decent pitching prospect could probably bring IKF over from the Yankees, or see a reunion with Kike from the RedSox
With the infield woes in boston…. heck let’s just call it what it is… with trouble all over the roster in boston, I can’t see kiki traded before mid summer. To do so now is admitting up front you screwed up the entire roster construction and are throwing in the towel from the start. And spending up to the CBT, again, on a poorly constructed roster, again, without at least going throw the motions pretending like 1000 things can break just right in your favor wouldn’t go over well with Henry after all the flak they’ve been getting.
GA – Lets be real … what trade value does a 9 year veteran hitting .239 with an OBP of .314 have. His numbers have fallen since he arrived in Boston but Cora continues to hurt the team by playing him.
Fans remember about 3 weeks of good play compared to his 49 weeks of bad play since he arrived in Boston. It’s insane. The guy is a AAA player at best.
Who would someone give up to get a slug like Kiki? Especially at $10MM versus $1MM!!!
This is way out there and logistically not plausible given how close we are to the 2023 season but I’ve always felt that Mookie could play at the bare minimum a passable shortstop. He came up as an infielder, he obviously has the arm and range for it, and he does everything at an elite level because he puts in the work to make it happen. Plus, as the Dodgers have found out the hard way, an elite shortstop is harder to replace than a corner outfielder.
Hello Dee Gordon, welcome back home.
What really irks me is the way Friedman & the front office runs the Dodgers. Gone are the teams/rosters like they had in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. Continuity! Stabilization! Now, it’s constant turn over, particularly of some of the top talent on the team. One Word Series championship, in 2020, & 3 pennants since 2017 is really a shame, especially with the talent that has come & gone in that small window of time. I would like to see this change.