Happy birthday to Sandy Koufax, as the legendary Dodgers southpaw turns 82 years old today. Arm injuries forced Koufax into an early retirement after his age-30 season, bringing an end to arguably the most dominant four-year stretch of pitching in baseball history. From 1963-66, Koufax posted a 1.86 ERA, 9.3 K/9, and 4.74 K/BB rate over 1192 2/3 innings, capturing three Cy Young Awards and the 1963 NL MVP Award.
Some items from around the National League…
- Nick Williams seems to be the likeliest of the Phillies outfielders to be used as a trade chip, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes, though there’s also a case to be made for the team to move one of Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr. (Rhys Hoskins almost surely is staying put.) Given that all three outfielders, and even Hoskins, have their share of question marks and can’t be entirely counted on as sure things going into 2018, Murphy notes that the Phillies might indeed stick to their stated plan of keeping all four players and juggling playing time based on matchups and situations. Plans could change, of course, if the Phils are required to include one of the players in a trade for a young and controllable starting pitcher.
- The Phillies are known to be looking for pitching, though NBCSports.com Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury writes that the team could wait until the July trade deadline to make a big addition to the rotation. Asking prices could be lower for some pitchers by July, or the Phillies could have a better idea of what young players they’d be more comfortable giving up in a trade. Interestingly, Salisbury notes that Cole Hamels could be targeted by the Phils if the Rangers fall out of contention, as both Hamels and the Phillies would have interest in the 2008 World Series hero returning to Philadelphia.
- The Nationals rejected trade offers for Wilmer Difo last offseason, and now the young infielder is a key part of the team’s bench and potentially its second baseman of the future, the Washington Post’s Jorge Castillo writes. Difo held his own filling in for Trea Turner at shortstop last season, and if Difo continues to progress at the plate, the Nats might consider him as a possible second base option if Daniel Murphy leaves in free agency next winter. If Murphy’s recovery from offseason knee surgery lingers past Opening Day, Difo could get an early audition at the keystone in April.
- Since Theo Epstein took over the Cubs front office, pitchers drafted by the team have delivered just 30 innings in a Cubs uniform, The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma reports (subscription required and recommended). While Chicago has obviously excelled at acquiring undervalued starting pitching assets in trades, that hasn’t stopped the club from looking to improve on its development of young pitchers, which was one reason Jim Benedict was recently hired as a special assistant within the baseball ops department.