Atlanta Braves – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-01-23T17:23:37Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Claim Victor Arano, Kyle Garlick]]> 2021-01-23T14:29:37Z 2021-01-23T14:04:43Z The Braves have claimed right-hander Victor Arano and outfielder Kyle Garlick off waivers, the Phillies announced.  Philadelphia recently designated both players for assignment.  The claims fill the final two open spots on Atlanta’s 40-man roster.

A member of the Phillies organization since August 2014, Arano has a 2.65 ERA, 26.3 K%, and 18.8 K-BB% over 74 2/3 career innings in the big leagues, all from 2017-19 (and mostly in 2018, when Arano tossed 59 1/3 frames).  Unfortunately, elbow surgery sidelined Arano for much of 2019 and kept him from making any MLB appearances in 2020.  If healthy, Arano could certainly be an interesting weapon for the Atlanta bullpen, as he has shown an ability to miss a lot of bats both in the majors and in the minors.

The right-handed hitting Garlick also gives the Braves another option as they figure out their outfield situation.  With no sign that a reunion with Marcell Ozuna is forthcoming, the Braves have Ronald Acuna as a lock for one starting position in either center field or right field, and then a combination of Ender Inciarte, top prospects Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, and bench candidates Abraham Almonte and Johan Camargo all in the mix for outfield duty.  Garlick could conceivably share platoon duty with Inciarte (a left-handed hitter) or switch-hitters Almonte and Camargo, or Atlanta could just stash him in the minors as depth.

Garlick (who turns 29 later this week) has appeared in each of the last two MLB seasons, amassing a .214/.276/.414 slash line over 76 total plate appearances with the Dodgers and Phillies.  Originally a 28th-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2015 draft, Garlick hit a very impressive .288/.345/.536 over 1846 PA in the Los Angeles farm system, though with the caveat that he was mostly playing against younger competition and that the Pacific Coast League is very hitter-friendly.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[George Springer Notes: Astros, Mets, Braves]]> 2021-01-22T04:59:02Z 2021-01-22T04:59:53Z Outfielder George Springer, arguably the premier position player on this winter’s open market, came off the free-agent board when he agreed to a six-year, $150MM contract with the Blue Jays earlier this week. Unsurprisingly, though, other teams made a serious push to sign the three-time All-Star. The Astros were not one of those clubs, however, as Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle suggests they made no real attempt to re-sign Springer after he turned down their $18.9MM qualifying offer.

The Mets, who were considered one of the front-runners to ink Springer during his stay on the market, offered a six-year deal worth $120MM to $125MM, according to Anthony DiComo of Springer would have made for yet another significant addition under new owner Steve Cohen, who has already overseen the acquisitions of Francisco Lindor, James McCann, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor May in the past couple months.

Whether the Mets will continue shopping for a starting-caliber outfielder after falling short in the Springer derby remains to be seen, as they already have Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith as their top three right now. But Marcell Ozuna, who received interest from the Mets earlier this winter, remains available in free agency. The Mets have also discussed third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant with the Cubs, while Jackie Bradley Jr. leads the remaining class of free-agent center fielders in the wake of the Springer deal.

One of the Mets’ NL East rivals – Atlanta – also vied for Springer, who would have replaced Ozuna in its outfield. The Braves were “in on Springer until the end,” David O’Brien of The Athletic writes. Ultimately, though, the Braves were unwilling to go to the lengths the Jays did to sign Springer. Indeed, it would have been out of the norm for general manager Alex Anthopoulos to make that type of commitment to a free agent, even though the Braves could use another established star in their outfield to team with Ronald Acuna Jr.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On J.T. Realmuto’s Market]]> 2021-01-21T16:59:49Z 2021-01-21T16:59:49Z As potential suitors for J.T. Realmuto continue to dwindle, Fansided’s Robert Murray tweets that the Braves are “circling” on the free-agent catcher, adding that some clubs on the west coast also remain interested in the former All-Star.

It’s a surprise to see the Braves linked to Realmuto for a number of reasons. Atlanta already has veteran Travis d’Arnaud signed for $8MM in 2021, and he’s coming off a .273/.336/.465 showing across the past two seasons. Beyond that, Realmuto has been seeking the exact type of long-term contract that Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos has eschewed since taking the reins in Atlanta.

The Braves waited out Dallas Keuchel’s market to get a one-year deal and opted not to come close to the Twins’ four-year offer when endeavoring to retain Josh Donaldson. They inked Cole Hamels on a one-year deal last winter rather than pursue a multi-year pact with Zack Wheeler or Madison Bumgarner. ESPN’s Buster Olney recently wrote recently that Marcell Ozuna is “highly unlikely” to return to Atlanta. Ozuna, of course, is seeking a lucrative multi-year deal himself.

This type of contract simply hasn’t been in the Braves’ playbook under the current front-office regime. Granted, it only takes one exception to change the narrative, but with recent reports that the Phillies have offered in the vicinity of $110MM over five years, a Realmuto-to-Braves deal would need to break the Braves’ short-term mold in rather dramatic fashion. It’s possible, too, that the Braves are “circling” — a decidedly nebulous term — to see if Realmuto opts to follow in Yasmani Grandal’s footsteps and take a one-year pact due to his dissatisfaction with multi-year offers. A high-priced one- or even two-year deal would absolutely be in the Braves’ wheelhouse, based on recent history. That’s also tough to envision when the Phillies have put forth a nine-figure offer, however.

Realmuto has been vocal in the past about his desire to advance the market for future catchers. It’s a large part of the reason he went to an arbitration hearing with the Phillies last year, arguing for a $12.4MM salary against the team’s $10MM filing number. The Phillies won that hearing, but Realmuto said afterward that he was “fighting for a cause and fighting for the rest of the catchers,” adding that he “takes pride” in fighting for future generations of players at his position. Those comments don’t make him sound like a catcher who is intent on taking much of a discount in any setting.

All of that is to say that if Realmuto were to take a short-term pact, the deal would likely have to represent a decisive new record for a catcher’s annual value. That sum currently belongs to Joe Mauer, who was paid an average of $23MM per year over his eight-year deal with the Twins. However, the Phillies are reportedly already offering close to that sum on a five-year term, which makes it tough to see Realmuto stepping back on a shorter-term arrangement. That’s especially true when the current offer from the Phils would set a catcher record in and of itself — the first ever nine-figure contract for a free-agent catcher. (Mauer and Buster Posey signed their nine-figure deals as extensions while still under club control.)

It also has to be noted that word of interest from the Braves only serves to benefit Realmuto’s camp if they’re yet looking to push the Phillies’ offer a bit further north. A five-year deal at $110MM would come in just shy of an AAV record for catchers, and topping that $23MM annual mark is surely something that’s still important to Realmuto.

The vague nature of the reporting in this instance does not indicate that Atlanta is comfortable doling out an uncharacteristic nine-figure pact, and there’d be a seismic difference between hoping Realmuto falls into their laps on a short-term, Grandal-esque contract and making a genuine run at top-of-the-market prices. Perhaps Anthopoulos and his staff believe Realmuto to be a difference-maker worth budging from their typical hardline stance against such contracts, but there’s no real evidence to support that thinking at this time.

If the Braves ultimately break character and sign Realmuto at a premium, pushing d’Arnaud to an $8MM backup or a trade candidate in the process, they’ll be a better team for it. But history doesn’t support them making an aggressive multi-year play, and it seems like a rather well-timed scenario to be broached as the division-rival Phillies appear to be in an increasingly favorable position to re-sign their star backstop.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Latest On Braves, Marcell Ozuna]]> 2021-01-17T17:47:31Z 2021-01-17T17:47:31Z
  • More from Olney, who notes that the Braves “appear highly unlikely” to re-sign outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The 30-year-old slugger had an incredible season in Atlanta after signing a one-year deal last offseason. Ozuna is now in line for a much bigger multi-year accord this winter. That doesn’t fit the general approach of Braves’ GM Alex Anthopolous, who has tended to shy away from longer-term deals since taking over baseball operations. Just last winter, the Braves watched Josh Donaldson, who had starred on a similar pillow contract in 2019, walk for a four-year deal with the Twins. MLBTR projects a $72MM accord over that same length for Ozuna.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[MLBTR Poll: Let’s Be The Braves’ Arbitration Panel]]> 2021-01-17T04:35:23Z 2021-01-17T03:35:03Z The Braves are heading to arbitration hearings with Dansby Swanson and Mike Soroka. That is, unless they sign multi-year deals beforehand, writes the Athletic’s David O’Brien. Otherwise, Atlanta will have a pair of interesting arbitration cases on their hands.

    Swanson enjoyed a BABIP-driven spike in production over 2020’s 60-game season, logging a career-high 2.9 bWAR while appearing in all 60 games. That’s not an extrapolated career-high, that was Swanson arguably accomplishing more in his 264 plate appearances than he’d managed in 545, 533, or 551 plate appearances in 2019, 2018, or 2017, respectively. Not knowing how the arbitration panel is going to treat the truncated season makes evaluating Swanson’s season a tough task. Still, team and player aren’t that far apart, with the Braves submitting $6MM to Swanson’s $6.7MM, per O’Brien.

    Soroka might be an even tougher case to decide, as the 23-year-old heads to arbitration for the first time. Soroka has been nothing short of spectacular thus far with a 2.86 career ERA/3.40 FIP, a 50.9 percent groundball rate, 19.6 percent strikeout rate, and 6.3 percent walk rate. Injuries have been the bugaboo for the Soroka, however, evidenced by a mere 214 innings across three seasons. Shoulder issues limited Soroka to just five starts in 2018, and he tore his Achilles just three starts into 2020.

    In between, however, Soroka blossomed into one of the best pitchers in the National League. In 2019, he made 29 starts, logged 174 2/3 innings, and pitched to a 2.68 ERA/3.45 FIP with a 20.3 percent strikeout rate, 5.8 percent walk rate, and 51.2 percent groundball rate. While Soroka’s heavy sinker seems to gift him with the ability to depress launch angles and burn worms, not all of Soroka’s advanced metrics are sterling. Even in 2019 he gave up a fair amount of hard contact (37.5 percent hard hit rate) and enjoyed a sub-average .280 BABIP that may not be repeatable. He finished the year with a 4.12 expected ERA, per Statcast.

    O’Brien seems to think a long-term deal is a definite possibility for Soroka, but it would be a risky move for the Braves given Soroka’s injury history. Assuming Soroka doesn’t sign an extension, he’ll head to arbitration having submitted a $2.8MM salary for 2021, with the Braves countering at $2.1MM.

    Predicting what arbitration panels will do is a fool’s errand, so let’s leave them to their work and decide this for ourselves. (poll links for app users)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 1/15/21]]> 2021-01-16T03:42:52Z 2021-01-15T16:51:22Z The deadline to exchange arbitration figures is today at 1pm ET. As of this morning, there were 125 arbitration-eligible players who’d yet to agree to terms on their contract for the upcoming 2021 season. Arbitration is muddier than ever before thanks to the shortened 2020 schedule, which most believe will lead to record number of arb hearings this winter. Be that as it may, it’s still reasonable to expect dozens of contractual agreements to filter in over the next couple of hours.

    We’ll highlight some of the more high-profile cases in separate posts with more in-depth breakdowns, but the majority of today’s dealings will be smaller-scale increases that don’t radically alter a team’s payroll or a player’s trade candidacy. As such, we’ll just run through most of today’s agreements in this post.

    I’ve embedded MLBTR’s 2021 Arbitration Tracker in the post (those in the mobile app or viewing on mobile web will want to turn their phones sideways). Our tracker can be sorted by team, by service time and/or by Super Two status, allowing users to check the status on whichever groups of players they like. You can also check out Matt Swartz’s projected arbitration salaries for this year’s class, and we’ll do a quick sentence on each player’s agreement at the bottom of this post as well, with the most recent agreements sitting atop the list.

    Today’s Agreements (chronologically, newest to oldest)

    Read more

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Braves Seeking Left Fielder]]> 2021-01-11T18:53:53Z 2021-01-11T18:53:53Z
  • The Braves are looking for a left fielder, per MLB Insider Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Presumably, Atlanta would target a short-term investment rather than making a splashier move like, say, bringing back Marcell Ozuna. Ronald Acuna Jr., Ender Inciarte, and Cristian Pache make for an elite defensive alignment, and prospect Drew Waters is on his way. Nick Markakis could certainly find his way back if he wants to keep playing. If their aim is to to find a right-handed bat to spell Inciarte against southpaws, Adam Duvall could return, or Kevin Pillar, Albert Almora Jr. and Cameron Maybin are free agents with experience playing for a contender. If the Braves are looking for a more regular producer in order to give Pache and/or Waters more development time, Joc Pederson could fill the power void left by Ozuna’s departure. Speculatively speaking, Ryan Braun would make for an interesting fit if he decides to play outside Milwaukee. Not to be forgotten, Austin Riley has played some outfield during his short Major League career, but Atlanta expects Riley to lay claim to the hot corner in 2021. That would change if they were to add DJ LeMahieu, but despite their reported interest, such a union seems like a long shot.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On DJ LeMahieu’s Market]]> 2021-01-11T02:45:38Z 2021-01-11T02:45:38Z The stalemate between the Yankees and DJ LeMahieu isn’t showing any signs of ending, and it may have opened the door for other teams to re-enter the hunt.  According to Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown, LeMahieu has “asked his representatives to re-engage with teams that have previously shown the most interest…and to reconnect with teams that reached out early in the free agent period.”

    This group includes at least six teams — the Blue Jays, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets, and Red Sox.  The Astros and (maybe?) the Nationals were also linked to LeMahieu earlier this winter, so it’s fair to assume some new calls may have been placed to those teams.  Of the six clubs cited, it was already known that the Mets, Dodgers, and Jays were in on LeMahieu, with Toronto mentioned as the batting champion’s most fervent suitor apart from the Yankees.

    This is the first time, however, that the Red Sox, Braves, and Cardinals have been linked to LeMahieu, opening up an intriguing new set of possibilities.  All three teams were among those who had the early interest in LeMahieu, however, so it could be that those were simply due diligence check-ins, or plans may have changed as the winter market has developed.  That said, due to some feeling earlier in the offseason that a LeMahieu/Yankees reunion was inevitable, more teams may now make a more serious push if they have a sense that LeMahieu may actually sign elsewhere.

    Not much seems to have changed with LeMahieu’s asking price, as Brown reports that LeMahieu is looking for “at least” five years and $110MM.  Previous reports indicated a similar price from LeMahieu’s camp, with the Yankees’ top offer apparently falling short by more than $25MM.  The Cardinals may not be willing to spend much this offseason.  The Braves could be in somewhat of the same situation after already investing in Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly, though Atlanta has a lot of salary coming off the books following the 2021 season.  Boston has the spending capacity but the team wasn’t thought to be shopping at the top of the free agent market this winter, in part because signing a qualifying offer-rejecting free agent like LeMahieu would cost a draft pick.

    The acquisition of Francisco Lindor might also take the Mets out of the LeMahieu hunt, and longtime Dodger Justin Turner has been cited as Los Angeles’ top choice to handle third base (even if Turner’s ask for a four-year contract is very likely to go unfulfilled).  It isn’t known what Toronto’s top offer to LeMahieu is or was, but since the Jays are reportedly willing to give a similar contract to George Springer, they could pivot by putting that offer on the table for LeMahieu.

    Several virtual meetings are planned between LeMahieu and various teams over the coming week, Brown writes, so we could have more clarity on the All-Star’s situation soon.  At this juncture, it’s hard to say where LeMahieu might end up, or if perhaps other mystery teams could emerge.  Of course, LeMahieu could also wind up with the Yankees after all, if New York feels it needs to increase its offer in response to any additional pressure from one or more clubs.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Checking In On Last Season’s Worst Rotations]]> 2021-01-01T23:04:02Z 2021-01-01T23:04:02Z After breaking down how last season’s five lowest-scoring offenses look now, we’ll do the same here with the five rotations that allowed the most earned runs in 2020…

    Tigers (6.37 ERA/5.53 FIP, 8.04 K/9, 3.91 BB/9):

    • The Tigers received solid production from Spencer Turnbull and … nobody else last season. Matt Boyd, who was a coveted trade chip before the campaign, imploded; Michael Fulmer had a rough year in his return from Tommy John surgery; and high-end prospects Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize couldn’t keep runs off the board. Turnbull, Boyd and Fulmer are all coming back in 2021, while Skubal, Mize and fellow prospect Matt Manning should factor into the mix. Detroit also has a newcomer in former Marlins starter Jose Urena, whom the Tigers signed to a $3.25MM guarantee late last month. Urena was effective in Miami from 2017-18, but his numbers have gone off the rails since then.

    Angels (5.52 ERA/4.78 FIP, 8.68 K/9, 3.52 BB/9):

    • Over two months into the offseason, Angels fans are surely awaiting the acquisition of a high-profile starter. The team hasn’t done anything to improve its rotation thus far, though the group isn’t devoid of potential as it is. Dylan Bundy enjoyed a long-awaited breakout in 2020 – his first year as an Angel – Andrew Heaney stayed healthy and performed pretty well, and Griffin Canning had a promising sophomore season. Those three are locks for starting jobs in 2021, but the rest is up in the air (will Shohei Ohtani finally regain his health as a pitcher? Will Jaime Barria stick in the rotation after a bounce-back season?). With that in mind, odds are the Angels will add a starter before next season, whether that means splurging on Trevor Bauer or shopping at lower tiers of the market.

    Braves (5.51 ERA/4.98 FIP, 8.01 K/9, 4.04 BB/9):

    • The Braves’ status as a bottom-feeding rotation is deceiving because of the injury adversity they faced. They barely got anything from Mike Soroka, a 2019 ace who tore his Achilles early in the season, while Cole Hamels pitched once (on Sept. 16) because of nagging arm issues. Soroka will be back next season to join Max Fried and Ian Anderson as one of the best young trios in the game next season. Hamels is now on the open market and unlikely to return, but the Braves replaced him with veteran standout Charlie Morton in free agency. They also grabbed Drew Smyly on the market. While Smyly has gone through an up-and-down career, in part because of injuries, he was terrific as a Giant in 2020. The Braves are banking on Smyly continuing to roll in their uniform.

    Nationals (5.38 ERA/5.17 FIP, 8.55 K/9, 3.17 BB/9):

    • As was the case with the division-rival Braves, the Nationals’ rotation couldn’t get through 2020 without key injuries. There wasn’t a more notable victim than Stephen Strasburg, who threw all of five innings after winning 2019 World Series MVP honors and re-signing with the Nats on a seven-year, $245MM contract. The good news is that Strasburg is on track for next season after undergoing surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome. If healthy, Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin should return to being an elite trio. There are some issues after those three, however. Joe Ross will come back after opting out last season, but he posted an ERA north of 5.00 in each year from 2017-19. Erick Fedde and Austin Voth were tattooed in similar fashion in 2020. General manager Mike Rizzo has spoken this winter of adding a No. 4/5 type of starter, which seems like a necessity.

    Mets (5.37 ERA/4.21 FIP, 8.55 K/9, 3.17 BB/9):

    • The Mets were yet another NL East team whose rotation battled health-related misfortune in 2020. Noah Syndergaard didn’t take the mound after undergoing TJ surgery in March, while the team also got zero contributions from Marcus Stroman because of an opt out. Things are looking better for 2021, though, with Syndergaard set to return at some point (perhaps in June) and Stroman coming back after accepting the Mets’ $18.9MM qualifying offer. Stroman, all-world ace Jacob deGrom and David Peterson are in line for starting spots at the opening of next season. The same could potentially be said of Steven Matz, whom the Mets elected against non-tendering, though he was terrible in 2020. Thanks in part to Matz’s struggles last year, it seems likely the Mets will pick up at least one established starter in the coming months. Bauer seems like a possibility when considering new owner Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, but even someone like Jake Odorizzi or Masahiro Tanaka could go a long way in bolstering New York’s rotation.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phil Niekro Passes Away]]> 2020-12-27T18:32:39Z 2020-12-27T17:25:38Z Braves legend Phil Niekro has passed away at age 81 after a battle with cancer.  Both the Braves and Major League Baseball released statements commemorating the Hall-of-Famer…

    The Braves:

    We are heartbroken on the passing of our treasured friend, Phil Niekro.  Knucksie was woven into the Braves fabric, first in Milwaukee and then in Atlanta. Phil baffled batters on the field and later was always the first to join in our community activities. It was during those community and fan activities where he would communicate with fans as if they were long lost friends.

    He was a constant presence over the years, in our clubhouse, our alumni activities and throughout Braves Country and we will forever be grateful for having him be such an important part of our organization.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Nancy, sons Philip, John and Michael and his two grandchildren Chase and Emma.

    From MLB commissioner Rob Manfred:

    But even more than his signature pitch and trademark durability, Phil will be remembered as one of our game’s most genial people.  He always represented his sport extraordinarily well, and he will be deeply missed.  On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my condolences to Phil’s family, friends and the many fans he earned throughout his life in our National Pastime.

    Niekro’s incredible career stretched across 24 seasons, with the right-hander finally retiring at age 48 after one final game in an Atlanta uniform.  Only Cy Young, Pud Galvin, and Walter Johnson threw more Major League innings than Niekro’s 5404 1/3 frames, as Niekro used his legendary knuckleball to become the biggest workhorse in modern baseball history.  Niekro had a whopping 19 seasons of 200+ innings pitched, with four of those seasons topping the 300-inning threshold.  Amazingly, Niekro amassed this record despite only posting 140 MLB innings and one start prior to his 28th birthday.

    Beyond just durability, of course, Niekro posted some masterful results on the mound.  He won 318 games and posted a 3.35 ERA for his career, keeping batters off-balance despite not being known as a strikeout pitcher (even in an era when hitters were expected to make contact and big strikeout totals were rare for batters).  That didn’t stop Niekro from recording 3342 strikeouts, the 11th-highest total in baseball history.

    As you might expect, Niekro’s name can be found near the top of many all-time statistical categories.  His resume also included five All-Star appearances and five Gold Gloves, plus a runner-up finish to Tom Seaver in the voting for the 1969 NL Cy Young Award.  Beginning his career when the Braves were still located in Milwaukee, Niekro spent 21 seasons and 740 of his 864 career games with the Braves organization, also pitching with the Yankees, Indians, and Blue Jays from 1984-87.

    We at MLBTR extend our condolences to Niekro’s family and many fans around the world.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Managers & Top Front Office Executives On Expiring Contracts]]> 2020-12-27T14:11:27Z 2020-12-27T02:28:41Z A unique set of challenges faced anyone running a Major League franchise in 2020, between dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and then the difficulties involved in playing games during the delayed-then-shortened season.  Nevertheless, it seemed like only a certain amount of slack was granted the sport’s managers and front office leaders (whether that top title was president of baseball operations, general manager, chief baseball officer, etc.) through the turbulent year, as we still saw a number of teams make changes either in the dugout or at the top of the baseball ops department.

    As such, it’s fair to assume that a “normal” amount of pressure to put a winning — or championship-winning — team on the field will be the same in 2021 as in any usual season, even if 2021 is already looking it may have its own share of abnormality.  That means that for managers and executives heading into the last guaranteed year of their contracts, job security will likely be on the line in the coming months.

    Thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts for information on the various contractual details of team personnel, though this list may not be complete.  Some teams don’t publicly reveal contract lengths of managers or front office execs, so it’s possible some of these names might be locked up beyond 2021 whether due to the original terms of their current deals or due to extensions that haven’t been announced.

    Astros: Originally signed to a one-year deal with a club option for 2021, Dusty Baker saw Houston exercise that option last summer, lining Baker up for his 24th season running a Major League dugout.  Recent comments from Baker indicate that the 71-year-old is taking something of a year-by-year approach to his future, though if the Astros again reach the postseason, one would imagine the team would certainly have interest in retaining Baker for 2022.  A longer-term extension seems unlikely, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if at least another club option (or even a mutual option) was tacked onto Baker’s deal to give both sides some flexibility going forward.

    Athletics: While major postseason success continues to elude the team, Oakland has reached the playoffs in each of the last three years.  This makes six postseason appearances for Melvin in 10 years managing the A’s, and it seems likely the team will discuss another extension for Melvin as he enters the final year of his current contract.  While Billy Beane’s possible departure would naturally have a major impact on the Athletics, the likelihood of longtime executive and current GM David Forst taking over the baseball operations department would probably mean that Melvin would be welcomed back.

    Blue Jays: Charlie Montoyo is entering the last guaranteed year of his original three-year contract, and the Jays hold a club option on Montoyo’s services for 2022.  That option could be exercised to give Montoyo a bit more security as a reward for leading Toronto to the playoffs last year, though expectations are certainly higher for the 2021 team.  It should also be noted that there hasn’t yet been any official confirmation that president/CEO Mark Shapiro has signed a new contract with the team after his five-year deal ran out after last season, but last October, Shapiro seemed to imply that a new deal was all but complete.

    Braves: After going from interim manager to full-time manager following the 2016 season, Brian Snitker has twice been signed to extensions — most recently last February, when Atlanta turned its 2021 club option on Snitker into a guaranteed year.  Snitker has led the Braves to three straight NL East titles and the team fell one game shy of the NL pennant last October, so Snitker seems like a prime candidate for another extension prior to Opening Day.

    Diamondbacks: 2020 was an overall disappointing year for a D’Backs team that was aiming for the postseason, but team president/CEO Derrick Hall indicated that the organization wasn’t planning to make any wholesale changes due to the season’s unusual nature.  This bodes well for manager Torey Lovullo as he enters the last year of his contract, and it seems possible Arizona could add another year to Lovullo’s deal just so he can avoid lame-duck status.

    Mariners: Both GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais were in the final year of their contracts when both inked extensions with Seattle in July 2018.  The terms of those extensions weren’t known, but 2021 would be the final guaranteed year for both if the extensions were three-year deals like their original contracts, though it’s possible Dipoto and Servais each got more security than just a three-year pact.  The Mariners have mostly been in rebuild mode since those extensions were signed, and with the team only starting to deliver on some of the young talent amassed in the farm system, ownership could give Dipoto (and quite possibly Servais) more time to see if they can finally get the M’s back to the playoffs.  Considering the previous extensions weren’t announced until midseason, we might not know Dipoto/Servais’ fate for some time — and if the Mariners get off to a particularly disappointing start, changes might be in the offing.

    Marlins: One of few holdovers from Jeffrey Loria’s ownership, Don Mattingly was signed to a two-year extension following the 2019 season that contained a club option for 2022.  The young Marlins reached the postseason last season, so Mattingly has a good case to at least get his option exercised at some point this year, and another extension could well be discussed if CEO Derek Jeter and GM Kim Ng are satisfied with the team’s progress.  It can’t hurt that Ng knows Mattingly well from her past days an assistant general manager with the Yankees and Dodgers.

    Mets: The winds of change have swept through the Mets organization this winter, yet Luis Rojas wasn’t affected, as team president Sandy Alderson announced that Rojas will remain in the dugout for 2021.  Making the move from quality control coach to manager after Carlos Beltran’s quick resignation last winter, Rojas signed a two-year deal with club options for both 2022 and 2023.  Expectations are definitely higher for Rojas under the Steve Cohen regime, but given all of the tumult of the 2020 season, Cohen and Alderson (plus newly-hired GM Jared Porter) seem interested in seeing what they actually have in Rojas before deciding on whether a new manager is required.

    Orioles: According to The Athletic’s Dan Connolly, “one industry source said it’s believed” that 2021 is the last guaranteed year of manager Brandon Hyde’s contract, with the club possibly holding a club option for 2022.  For that matter, executive VP/general manager Mike Elias didn’t have his contract terms revealed when he was hired in November 2018, so he could also be in his final guaranteed year if he hired Hyde on a similar timeline to his own deal.  It doesn’t seem like a change is coming in either the front office or the dugout, as the Orioles are still at least a couple of years away from coming out of a complete rebuild.  (Connolly makes the case that Hyde should be retained, as Hyde has had little to work with as manager and deserves a chance to steward an actual competitive roster.)

    Rangers: Chris Woodward is entering the last guaranteed year of his deal, with the Rangers holding a club option for 2022.  Woodward has a 100-122 record over his first two years in the Texas dugout, and since the team is looking to get younger in 2021, it doesn’t seem like an immediate return to contention is in the cards.  If it’ll be a year or two until the Rangers are done with what seems like a mini-rebuild, it’s possible the team might decide to hire a new manager to herald them into something of a new era.  Woodward may have to prove himself anew by shepherding this younger talent and keeping the Rangers as competitive as possible while they shuffle the roster.

    Rays: Erik Neander’s contract terms aren’t known, and it has been over four years since his promotion to the GM/senior VP of baseball operations position in November 2016.  So, if Neander’s new gig came with a five-year contract, it would be up at the end of 2021.  He makes the list due to uncertainty over his contractual situation, but it doesn’t seem like Neander and the Rays will be parting company any time soon, especially after the club reached the 2020 World Series.  Neander reportedly has no interest in leaving the organization and the Rays turned down the Angels’ request to speak with Neander about their GM opening earlier this offseason.

    Reds: 2021 is the last guaranteed year for manager David Bell, with the Reds holding a team option for 2022.  On the plus side for Bell, he led the team to the playoffs in 2020, though Cincinnati was swept out of the two-game wild card series without scoring even a single run against Atlanta pitching.  The Reds spent a lot of money to build that winning team, yet now seem focused on moving salaries, with Raisel Iglesias dealt to the Angels and such names as Eugenio Suarez and Sonny Gray also coming up in trade talks.  It remains to be seen if the Reds are trying to just trim payroll or make more wholesale cuts, and this direction could certainly impact Bell’s future if the club is already thinking rebuild.

    Rockies: Now through six full seasons as Colorado’s GM, Jeff Bridich’s contractual status is unknown.  Between the Rockies’ struggles over the last two years and the frosty relationship between Bridich and star third baseman Nolan Arenado, it would certainly seem like Bridich will need to get things turned around quickly.  However, payroll cuts appear to be on the horizon, and the front office is also dealing with the loss of two-thirds of the analytics department.  As has been noted many times in the past, Rockies owner Dick Monfort tends to give his employees lots of opportunities, but if Bridich’s contract is up any time soon, one wonders if Monfort might feel a change is necessary.

    Yankees: While no official statement has been made, owner Hal Steinbrenner clearly stated after the season that manager Aaron Boone will be returning in 2021, so it’s safe to assume the Yankees have exercised their club option on Boone.  There hasn’t been any buzz about an extension, and until then, there will be plenty of media focus on Boone’s lame-duck status.  Boone has a 236-148 record and three postseason appearances in his three seasons as manager, but as always in the Bronx, the focus is on playoff success — the Yankees have only made it as far the ALCS once during Boone’s tenure.  Anything short of a World Series appearance could spell the end of Boone’s stint as manager.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Braves Announce Two New Coaches]]> 2020-12-19T18:14:14Z 2020-12-19T18:13:08Z
  • The Braves officially announced their 2021 coaching staff, including the additions of Bobby Magallanes as a second assistant hitting coach and the hiring of Drew French as the new bullpen coach.  Magallanes has been with Atlanta’s organization for the last two seasons, first working as a hitting coach at the Triple-A level in 2019 and then as an assistant hitting instructor in 2020, which already included a lot of work with the MLB roster.  French has spent the past five seasons with the Astros, working in such roles as Triple-A pitching coach in 2019 and instructing at Houston’s alternate training site last season.
  • ]]>
    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Braves Nearly Signed Josh Harrison Last Summer]]> 2020-12-06T01:26:41Z 2020-12-06T01:26:41Z
  • Nationals infielder Josh Harrison nearly signed with the Braves after being released by the Phillies in July, relays Mark Zuckerman of Ultimately, the veteran infielder hooked on with Washington just a few days after the regular season began. While the Braves had a significantly more successful 2020 than did their division rivals, Harrison enjoyed a decent season at the plate. Clearly, both player and team were satisfied with the way things worked out. Harrison went on to ink a one-year extension that will keep him in D.C. in 2021.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: 12/2/20]]> 2020-12-03T04:28:45Z 2020-12-03T02:05:19Z  

    With the non-tender deadline coming today at 7pm CT, expect quite a few players to agree to contracts for the 2021 season, avoiding arbitration in advance.  In many (but not all) cases, these deals — referred to as “pre-tender” deals because they fall prior to the deadline — will fall shy of expectations and projections.  Teams will sometimes present borderline non-tender candidates with a “take it or leave it” style offer which will be accepted for fear of being non-tendered and sent out into an uncertain market.  Speculatively, such deals could increase in 2020 due to the economic uncertainty sweeping through the game, although there are also widespread expectations of record non-tender numbers.

    You can track all of the arbitration and non-tender activity here, and we’ll also run through today’s smaller-scale pre-tender deals in this post.  You can also check out Matt Swartz’s arbitration salary projections here.

    Latest Agreements

    Earlier Agreements

    • Twins righty Jose Berrios will earn $6.1MM with a $500K signing bonus in 2021, Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports. Catcher Mitch Garver will rake in $1.875MM, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Center fielder Byron Buxton ($5.125MM) and reliever Taylor Rogers (terms not released) also agreed to deals, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.
    • The Phillies have deals with starter Zach Eflin ($4.45MM) and relievers Hector Neris ($5MM), David Hale ($850K) and Seranthony Dominguez ($727,500), Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Heyman and Todd Zolecki of relay.
    • The Marlins and first baseman Garrett Cooper have a $1.8MM agreement that could max out at $2.05MM with performance bonuses, Craig Mish of Sportsgrid tweets.
    • The Brewers are keeping catcher Manny Pina in the fold for $1.65MM, according to Heyman. They’re also retaining first baseman Daniel Vogelbach for $1.4MM, Nightengale reports.
    • The Giants and outfielder Austin Slater have a one-year, $1.15MM deal, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.The club also reached a $925K agreement with lefty Wandy Peralta and a $700K pact with righty Trevor Gott, Heyman tweets.
    • The Cubs are bringing back hurlers Dan Winkler ($900K), Colin Rea ($702,500) and Kyle Ryan ($800K), Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Ryan’s agreement is a split contract that features a $250K minor league salary.
    • The Mets are retaining lefty Steven Matz for $5.2MM, Nightengale tweets. Matz had a brutal campaign in 2020 with a 9.68 ERA/7.76 FIP over 30 2/3 innings in 2020, but the Mets will give him a chance to rebound.
    • The Padres and lefty Matt Strahm have a one-year, $2MM deal, Nightengale reports. Strahm gave the Padres a 2.61 ERA/4.93 FIP in 20 2/3 innings in 2020.
    • Outfielder Guillermo Heredia, whom the Mets claimed from Pittsburgh in August, will earn $1MM in 2021, according to Nightengale.
    • The Astros and reliever Austin Pruitt have settled for $617, 500, per Heyman. The right-hander missed the season with elbow issues.
    • The Royals and outfielder Jorge Soler have agreed to a one-year, $8.05MM deal with $250K in incentives, Nightengale reports. Soler was a 48-home run hitter in 2019, but his production went backward this past season, in which he slashed .228/.326/.443 with eight HRs in 174 trips to the plate.
    • The Red Sox have kept relievers Matt Barnes ($4.4MM) and Ryan Brasier ($1.25MM) and catcher Kevin Plawecki ($1.6MM), per tweets from Nightengale, Robert Murray of FanSided and Heyman. Barnes has been a solid reliever as a member of the Red Sox, though he yielded more than five walks per nine and upward of four runs per nine in 2020. Brasier was more successful this past season, as he tossed 25 frames of 3.96 ERA/3.15 FIP ball and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine. Plawecki had a nice year as the backup to Christian Vazquez, as he batted .341/.393/.463 in 89 PA.
    • The Giants and southpaw Jarlin Garcia have settled for $950K, according to Heyman. Garcia is coming off an 18 1/3-inning effort in which he posted a near-perfect 0.49 (with an impressive 3.14 FIP) and 6.87 K/9 against 3.44 BB/9.
    • The Marlins have agreed to a one-year, $4.3MM deal with first baseman Jesus Aguilar, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. The 30-year-old slugger put up strong numbers in his first year with the Fish, slashing .277/.352/.457 with eight long balls in 216 plate appearances.
    • The Giants and outfielder Alex Dickerson settled at a year and $2MM, tweets Nightengale. The 30-year-old slugger has a lengthy injury history but has been excellent in limited work with the Giants, including a .298/.371/.576 slash in 170 plate appearances this past season.
    • Luis Cessa will be back with the Yankees on a one-year deal, tweets Nightengale. He’ll earn $1.05MM. The righty notched a 3.32 ERA and 3.79 FIP with a 17-to-7 K/BB ratio in 21 2/3 innings this past season. Fellow righty Ben Heller will also return, the team announced, though it didn’t disclose financial details.
    • First baseman Matt Olson and the Athletics settled on a one-year deal worth $5MM, tweets Nightengale. The 26-year-old Olson’s .198/.310/.424 slash was an obvious step back from his 2019 campaign, but he’s still viewed as a vital part of the club’s future moving forward.
    • The Braves and righty Luke Jackson agreed to a one-year deal, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The 29-year-old was rocked for a 6.84 ERA in this year’s shortened slate of games but posted a 3.84 ERA and 3.24 FIP with better than 13 K/9 as one of the team’s steadiest relievers in 2019. The contract is valued at $1.9MM, per a team announcement.
    • The Brewers are bringing back catcher Omar Narvaez for one year and $2.5MM, Heyman tweets. Narvaez was a very good offensive catcher from 2o16-19 with the White Sox and Mariners, but he struggled last season after the M’s traded him to the Brewers. Thanks in part to a career-worst 31 percent strikeout rate, Narvaez could only muster a .176/.294/.269 line and a paltry two HRs in 126 plate appearances. Nevertheless, he’s in line to return to the Brewers for a second season.
    • The Brewers have agreed to a one-year, $2MM contract with shortstop Orlando Arcia, Nightengale relays. Arcia endured serious struggles on offense in prior years, but the 26-year-old managed a respectable .260/.317/.416 line with five home runs over 189 plate appearances this past season.
    • The Phillies and catcher Andrew Knapp have reached a one-year, $1.1MM agreement, per Nightengale. Typically a light-hitting backstop, Knapp batted a career-best .278/.404/.444 in 89 plate appearances in 2020. He’s currently the No. 1 catcher on a Phillies team that could lose J.T. Realmuto in free agency.
    • Pirates infielder Erik Gonzalez agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.225MM, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. It was the second year of arb eligibility for Gonzalez, whose glovework will earn him a contract despite a brutal .227/.255/.359 batting line in 193 plate appearances in 2020.
    • The Royals and Hunter Dozier agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.72MM in entirely guaranteed money,’s Mark Feinsand reports.  More is available to Dozier via contract incentives.  Dozier hit .228/.344/.392 over 186 PA after missing over the first two weeks of the season recovering from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
    • The Red Sox agreed to an $870K deal with right-hander Austin Brice for the 2021 season, as per Nightengale.  Brice posted a 5.95 ERA, 11.4 K/9, and 5.9 BB/9 over 19 2/3 innings in his first season in Boston, and was considered a potential non-tender candidate.
    • The Twins and righty Tyler Duffey agreed to a one-year, $2.2MM pact, SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson reports.  According to’s Buster Olney, Duffey’s deal is fully guaranteed.
    • The Braves agreed to a one-year, $900K deal with southpaw Grant Dayton, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets.  Dayton had a 2.30 ERA over 27 1/3 innings in 2020.
    • The Braves announced an agreement with utilityman Johan Camargo on a one-year, $1.36MM deal.  Camargo was thought to be a non-tender candidate after struggling to a .222/.267/.378 slash line in 375 plate appearances over the last two seasons, but he will return for a fifth year in Atlanta.
    • The White Sox and left-hander Jace Fry agreed to a one-year deal worth $862.5K, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).  Fry posted a 3.66 ERA, 2.00 K/BB rate, and 11.0 K/9 over 19 2/3 innings in 2020, and he has strong overall career numbers against left-handed batters.
    • The Orioles agreed with second baseman Yolmer Sanchez on a one-year deal worth $1MM, according to’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).  Baltimore claimed Sanchez off waivers from the White Sox at the end of October.  A Gold Glove winner in 2019, Sanchez was non-tendered by Chicago prior to last year’s deadline, though after signing a minors deal with the Giants, he returned to the White Sox on another minors deal and appeared in 11 games on the South Side.
    • The Twins agreed to a one-year deal worth roughly $700K with left-hander Caleb Thielbar, The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman reports (via Twitter).  2020 marked Thielbar’s first taste of MLB action since 2015, as the southpaw worked his way back from independent ball to post a 2.25 ERA, 2.44 K/BB rate, and 9.9 K/9 over 20 innings for Minnesota.
    • The Dodgers and left-hander Scott Alexander have agreed to a one-year, $1MM deal, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  Alexander posted a 2.92 ERA over 12 1/3 innings out of the Los Angeles bullpen this season, recording an equal number of walks and strikeouts (nine).  The southpaw was thought to be a potential non-tender candidate given his relative lack of usage and his non-inclusion on the Dodgers’ playoff roster, but the team will retain Alexander for his second arb-eligible year.’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) adds the noteworthy detail that Alexander’s $1MM salary is fully guaranteed, as opposed to the usual contracts for arbitration-eligible players that allow their teams to release them prior to Opening Day and only pay a fraction of the agreed-upon salary.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves Non-Tender Adam Duvall]]> 2020-12-02T23:54:37Z 2020-12-02T23:43:18Z The Braves have non-tendered outfielder Adam Duvall, Jeff Passan of ESPN reports. Duvall was in line to make at least $4MM in arbitration, but he’ll instead head to the free-agent market.

    Duvall just wrapped up a two-plus-season stint with the Braves, who acquired him from the Reds before the 2018 trade deadline. Duvall was a two-time 30-home run hitter at that point, but he struggled enough during his final Reds season for the team to cut the cord on him. To Duvall’s credit, he rebounded from 2019-20 as a member of the Braves, hitting .248/.307/.545 (118 wRC+) with 26 home runs in 339 plate appearances. The 32-year-old was among the NL’s HR leaders with 16 in 2020, but that wasn’t enough to convince the Braves to tender him a contract.

    While Duvall is no longer a Brave, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t bring him back for a cheaper salary, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that they’ll consider re-signing him. For now, though, a team that has already seen Marcell Ozuna and Nick Markakis hit free agency is down another outfielder.