As Spring Training approaches, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Ward, Angels await arbitration decision:
Per the Associated Press, outfielder Taylor Ward and the Angels went to arbitration on Friday, with a decision expected sometime this week. Ward requested a salary of $4.8MM for the 2024 campaign, while the club countered at $4.3MM. Teams have typically won arbitration cases more often than players have in recent years, and that’s held up so far this season. Both center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. and southpaw Jose Suarez lost their cases against the Marlins and Angels, respectively. In addition to Ward, a pair of Orioles players are awaiting decisions on their 2024 salaries after going to arbitration: outfielder Austin Hays and right-hander Jacob Webb.
Ward took a step back from his All-Star level 2022 campaign last season but still provided above average offensive production. The 30-year-old slashed .253/.335/.421 in 97 games before having his season cut short by facial fractures caused by Ward getting struck in the face by a pitch from Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s projections indicate Ward is expected to earn $4.5MM in his second trip through arbitration, though the panel of three arbiters who heard the case must choose between one of the two salaries submitted.
2. Twins roster moves upcoming:
The Twins agreed on big league deals with a pair of veterans over the weekend. First baseman Carlos Santana came aboard on a one-year, $5.25MM contract while right-hander Jay Jackson is in line for a one-year deal with as-of-yet unreported salary terms. Both deals are pending physicals. The Twins have a full 40-man roster as things stand, meaning both additions will require a corresponding move before they can be made official. Corresponding moves typically take the form of a simple DFA of a player on the roster, though occasionally a team will try to clear 40-man roster space by trading excess talent near the back of their 40-man for lower-level talent that doesn’t yet require a roster spot. One such example occurred late last month, when the Rangers shipped outfielder J.P. Martinez to Atlanta in a deal that made room for right-hander David Robertson on the 40-man roster.
3. White Sox getting active:
The White Sox made a pair of trades over the weekend, shipping relief arm Gregory Santos to the Mariners in exchange for right-hander Prelander Berroa, outfielder Zach DeLoach, and a Competitive Balance Round B draft selection while sending right-handed prospect Cristian Mena to the Diamondbacks to land outfielder Dominic Fletcher. The additions of Fletcher and DeLoach, in particular, leave the club with vastly improved outfield depth at the big league level to plug one of the most glaring holes on the Chicago roster.
While the two trades the Sox made over the weekend were fairly minor, the club has not been shy about the fact that right-hander Dylan Cease is being shopped to interested teams this winter. While the righty has garnered interest from plenty of teams this winter including the Orioles, Reds, and Mariners, no club has been willing to meet Chicago’s lofty asking price to this point. With Spring Training creeping closer by the day, will either GM Chris Getz or a rival club give in to make a deal happen?