Joe Strauss, who covered the Braves, Orioles and Cardinals over three decades as a reporter and columnist for several news outlets, passed away today at age 54 due to complications from a battle with leukemia. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko are just a few of the many peers who paid tribute to Strauss with chronicles of his outstanding career and remembrances of their friend and colleague. Countless news items from Strauss appeared on this website’s pages over the years, and all of us on the MLB Trade Rumors staff send our condolences to Strauss’ friends and family.
Here are some notes from around the game as we head into a new week…
- The Tigers have been getting calls about Nick Castellanos, Tony Paul of the Detroit News reports. Castellanos was a 2010 first-rounder and a former top prospect, though he’s underwhelmed both offensively and defensively in two full Major League seasons, posting negative fWAR totals in both 2014 and 2015. These struggles notwithstanding, it’s probably unlikely that Detroit would move Castellanos since he’s only 23 and under team control through the 2019 season.
- Also from Paul, he guesses that once J.D. Martinez and the Tigers get talking about an extension, the negotiations will be in the neighborhood of a four-year, $60MM deal. This contract could be backloaded, which would allow the team to pursue more upgrades now and pay Martinez his biggest salaries later once other large contracts have come off the books. Martinez is entering his age-28 season now and has two remaining years of arbitration eligibility before hitting free agency, so under Paul’s projected extension, Martinez would reach the open market as a 32-year-old having given up two free agent years. The $60MM number may be a little conservative, in my view, given how first-rate hitting is at a premium.
- While the Tigers aren’t shy about spending, Paul doesn’t think the team will stray too far (if at all) over the luxury tax limit, so landing a top outfield name like Yoenis Cespedes or Alex Gordon is probably unrealistic. Detroit could move another big contract like Ian Kinsler to make payroll space, though Paul points out that the team would just be creating a new hole at second base to solve a hole in left field. The Tigers could instead save any payroll room for a trade deadline addition.
- At the Winter Meetings, Orioles manager Buck Showalter told MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko that the club was willing to surrender its first round draft pick (14th overall) to sign the right qualifying offer free agent but it wouldn’t be without great consideration. “It would have to be something that really fits. But we would if we had to,” Showalter said. “But one of our big days is going to be…in June, we got seven picks in the first 100 in the draft. I don’t know if we’ve ever had that. This is big for us. We can solidify our already strong system.” An interesting wrinkle to Showalter’s statement is that the O’s are actually guaranteed to have only five picks within the first 91 selections. They would only receive those two other picks if QO free agents Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Davis both signed elsewhere. Since Showalter’s statement was made during the Meetings, it would’ve come roughly around the time that Baltimore pulled its $150MM offer to Davis off the table, so the manager’s words could be interpreted as a hint that the O’s could be prepared to move on from the first baseman (though the two sides have since continued to talk).