If you missed it, be sure to check out this fun read from Daniel Brown of the Mercury News regarding his on-beat and off-beat relationship with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle — an occasional journalistic competitor who also happens to be his spouse. It’s a well-executed story that also sheds some light on one of the game’s most established reporters.
Here are a few other worthwhile links from around the game:
- Overall, MLB player salaries rose from 2017 through 2018, according to the calculations of USA Today Sports. But as Bob Nightengale writes, the average big leaguer is only earning slightly more than he did in the prior campaign — and teams committed far fewer dollars on the open market this offseason than last. What’s most notable, perhaps, is the shiftd away from committing significant future dollars to veteran players. Of course, to really diagnose a trend, we’ll likely need to await the results of next year’s much-anticipated free-agent class.
- The slow-moving free agent action and tepid spending season has obviously been noticed by players and agents, leading to some consternation in some quarters. As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription link), there are some who believe that union chief Tony Clark ought to be replaced — perhaps sooner than later given the need to ramp up for new collective bargaining negotiations. Of course, that’s not a universal sentiment, and there’s evidently no clear plan in place even among Clark’s detractors for finding a new leader.
- ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick has published his always-interesting annual survey of key industry players on a variety of interesting subjects. Of particular note, most of Crasnick’s respondents predicted that Bryce Harper would remain in the NL East — with the Phillies trailing the incumbent Nationals as the favorites. Most believed that Clayton Kershaw would ultimately remain with the Dodgers, unsurprisingly, though a decent number felt he may not end up opting out of the final two years of his current contract. These are all just prognostications, of course, but as with the polls we run here at MLBTR, that’s what makes it fun.
- Veteran infielder and noted clubhouse character Munenori Kawasaki seems likely to be at the end of his career after his Japanese club cut him loose. As the AP reports (via the Chicago Tribune), the 36-year-old has evidently been unable to get to full health this spring. He broke into the majors with the Mariners but received his most extensive playing time — and initial notoriety — with the Blue Jays, for whom he provided 597 plate appearances of .242/.326/.301 batting and versatile infield defense over three seasons. Though he did not play much for the 2016 Cubs, he became something of a non-roster part of the team’s World Series run. Of course, Kawasaki spent the bulk of his career in Japan with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. In a dozen campaigns, he carried a .292/.344/.376 slash and swiped 267 bases.