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MLB Rule 5 Draft 2016 Results: Team-by-Team Breakdown

The final day of the winter meetings Thursday means it’s time for all 30 teams to partake in the annual Major League Baseball Rule 5 draft, though clubs are under no obligation to make a selection. 

For those new to the process or just in need of a reminder, per, the Rule 5 draft involves players not currently on a 40-man roster who have been in professional baseball for at least five years, if they signed at 18 years old, and four years, if they signed at 19 years old. 

Like the amateur draft in June, the selection order is determined by the reverse order of records from the previous season. Teams can pick or pass when their turn comes up, but if they pass, they forfeit the right to make a selection in subsequent rounds. 

Players selected must remain on their new team’s 25-man MLB roster for the entire season or they are offered back to their original team for a minuscule financial payment. 

With that out of the way, here are the players whose names were called during the 2016 MLB Rule 5 draft, per

Notable Picks

Miguel Diaz to Minnesota Twins (Traded to San Diego Padres)

The San Diego Padres took a gamble on the upside of oft-injured, hard-throwing right-hander Miguel Diaz by making a trade with the Minnesota Twins, who took him with the first overall pick.’s Jonathan Mayo reported the deal between the Padres and Twins for Diaz. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America reported San Diego also appeared to be making a deal for catcher Luis Torrens, who was taken second by the Cincinnati Reds. 

Diaz was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011 out of the Dominican Republic. He made his professional debut the following season, but he has been unable to stay on the field for any length of time prior to 2016.

He suffered a fractured elbow in 2015 that required surgery, keeping him to just 20.1 innings all season. 

Last year, Diaz did set career highs in games (26), starts (15), innings pitched (94.2) and strikeouts (91) in the Midwest League (Low-A). The Padres also have an affiliate in that league, so their scouts certainly got a look at him in 2016. 

There is plenty of talent for the Twins to work with, as Diaz’s scouting report on suggests:

When healthy, Diaz’s lightning-quick arm generates a fastball in the mid-90s with late movement from a high three-quarters slot. His slider, thrown in the 75-77 mph range with good lateral action, has the chance to be an out pitch if he can throw it for strikes. His changeup lags behind his two other offerings, but club officials believe it will become an effective third pitch for him once he creates better velocity separation relative to his heater.

The problem is Diaz has had so little time to develop in games because of his injuries, so despite being 22 years old, he’s only thrown 236 innings in five seasons. 

The Padres have gone all-in on rebuilding their roster, so taking a chance on a promising young arm who throws hard out of the bullpen is hardly a bad strategy for them to take. 

That’s asking a lot of a player who has never pitched beyond Low-A, though at least the Padres can see where Diaz is at during spring training to make a final determination. 


Anthony Santander to Baltimore Orioles

The last pick of the MLB Rule 5 draft is one of its most intriguing. Anthony Santander has not been lauded during his time in the Cleveland Indians system but has posted solid offensive numbers over the past two seasons. 

Though he only played 72 games due to injuries in an abbreviated 2015 season, Santander played in a career high 128 games last season and posted a .290/.368/.494 slash line with High-A Lynchburg. 

Tony Lastoria of Indians Baseball Insider noted some similarities between Santander’s swing and a former Cleveland All-Star:

He shows above average power with the potential to be more as he continues to mature and add strength to his frame and also refines his approach so he can get to his power more consistently. He attacks the baseball from both sides of the plate well with some quick wrists and good bat speed, but is also a well-rounded hitter who shows a feel for hitting and the ability to control the bat through the zone. He has an advanced, fundamental swing that is clean and well developed for his age, and has a load and leg kick that is similar to former Indian Victor Martinez.

This isn’t to suggest Santander will become Martinez at the plate, because Martinez has been one of MLB’s best hitters over the past decade, but there are raw tools for the Baltimore Orioles to work with. 

In this current era of the Rule 5 draft, where everything is so watered down to the point it’s virtually impossible to turn these picks into anything meaningful, Santander is the perfect pick because he’s a quality hitter with power who might give a team something, even if it’s just as a fourth outfielder. 


Justin Haley to Los Angeles Angels (Traded to Twins)

The Twins stocked up on intriguing pitchers in this draft, making a trade with the Los Angeles Angels to acquire right-handed starter Justin Haley. 

Per Bernie Pleskoff of Today’s Knuckleball, the Twins are expected to send cash back to the Angels in the deal. 

Haley spent significant time at Triple-A last season for the Boston Red Sox. He pitched 85.1 innings over 14 starts at that level with a 3.59 ERA. He didn’t overpower opposing hitters, with 67 strikeouts at Pawtucket, but he only allowed 70 hits. 

Per Cooper, Haley is able to succeed on a combination of command and quality off-speed pitches:

As a starter, Haley’s velocity ticked up as the season warmed up. Late in the season he was sitting 90-92, but his fastball plays up because he locates it well. He also has an above-average slider as well as a useable curveball and changeup. He was dominant in Double-A this year and solid in Triple-A as a starter.

Haley fits the old Twins model of starting pitching that featured the likes of Carl Pavano, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn: throw a lot of strikes and rack up innings. 

Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press heard another comp for Haley:

It’s not a glamorous profile, but the Twins are coming off a 103-loss season and just need to find starters who are capable of giving them innings to ease pressure on the bullpen. 

Among the players selected during the draft, Haley is one of the few who actually has a strong chance to stick in the big leagues with his new team in 2017. 

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MLB Free Agents 2017: Rumors and Predictions for Top Available Players

It’s hardly a surprise that the winter meetings have been notable for trades, both finalized and speculative, because this year’s free-agent market features more questions than immediate answers. 

Yoenis Cespedes did take some of the drama out of this week by re-signing with the New York Mets early, though it never felt like another significant team was in the sweepstakes for him. 

Talented players who can make an impact for teams in 2017 are still available, but questions of age and/or position value make it hard for a front office to justify handing out a lucrative four- or five-year deal. 

It’s a buyer’s market with prices for top players seemingly coming down each day, so here are the major names teams will look to get friendly deals on based on the latest rumors floating around. 


Two Suitors for Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion is the big hitter left on the market. At nearly 34 years old and largely limited to designated hitter, a position American League teams don’t seem to be prioritizing this offseason, his value has dropped enough for two surprising team to enter the mix. 

According to ESPN Deportes’ Marly Rivera, the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians are in talks with Encarnacion. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted that Encarnacion has taken a wait-and-see approach because of the limited market, adding that no team has even made an offer of at least three years and $60 million. 

Passan also passed along this comment from a general manager:

This is the best thing that could have happened to a team like the Indians, who are in search of someone to alternate at DH and first base with Carlos Santana next season.

Mike Napoli is a free agent whose future is uncertain, and the Indians don’t have the ability to get in a bidding war for top players, so their approach has always been to let the market work in their favor.  

The Rangers have openings at first base—assuming they don’t just give Joey Gallo a shot to play the position, where his immense power would fitand designated hitter.

Based on past production, Encarnacion would warrant a deal close to $20 million per season.  

The problem, though, is that Encarnacion has to be evaluated for what he will do in the future. A soon-to-be 34-year-old with “old-man skills” (power, walks) doesn’t tend to age gracefully. Players like David Ortiz are the exception to the rule. 

A three-year deal, while still posing some risk, looks better for the team than a four- or five-year pact. 

The Rangers and Indians have motivation to get a deal done, especially after watching the Boston Red Sox boost their starting rotation in a big way by trading for Chris Sale.

If the bidding remains between those two teams, the Rangers have the edge because they aren’t as constricted by finances as the Indians are. 

If the Rangers decide they are comfortable going into the season with Gallo as their primary DH and Jurickson Profar playing first base, that would knock another suitor off the board and give Cleveland the opening it couldn’t have anticipated when the offseason started. 

Since the Rangers have shown little faith in Profar or Gallo over the previous two seasons, don’t bet on them being comfortable starting a season with those two penciled into the starting lineup. 

Prediction: Encarnacion signs with the Rangers.


Fowler’s Budding Market

After settling for a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs last offseason, Dexter Fowler appears to have a more robust market this winter. 

Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Toronto Blue Jays made Fowler a contract offer in the range of four years and $60 million.’s Mark Saxon noted that the St. Louis Cardinals made an initial offer “in the same range as the four years and $60 million” the Blue Jays offered. 

The Blue Jays and Cardinals are interesting suitors for Fowler for different reasons. 

Looking at things from Toronto’s perspective, Kevin Pillar is one of the best defensive center fielders in MLB. By FanGraphs‘ defensive value, he was the best at the position last year and led MLB center fielders with 21 defensive runs saved. 

Fowler is a superior offensive player to Pillar, though. Fowler’s on-base percentage was .393; Pillar’s was .303. Fowler slugged .447; Pillar slugged .376. 

The Blue Jays are looking for ways to supplement their offense with Encarnacion and Jose Bautista both being free agents. Fowler is a different kind of hitter than that duo, but his ability to hit at the top of a lineup and set the table for Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales boosts his value. 

The Cardinals are desperate for a new center fielder. Randal Grichuk has nice power, especially for the position, but a .302 on-base percentage doesn’t work unless you are an elite defender like Pillar. 

Versatility is also something the Cardinals need, as they finished 29th in stolen bases and had the second-worst baserunning value last year, per FanGraphs.

Fowler isn’t a speed demon, reaching 20 stolen bases in a season just once since 2010, but he brings the threat of running more than anyone else on the Cardinals. He fits exactly what they need to get back in the playoff chase in 2017.

Based on team needs, Fowler makes too much sense for the Cardinals not to sign him. 

Prediction: Fowler signs with the Cardinals.


The Joey Bats Agenda

Like Encarnacion, Bautista’s market seems to be taking its time developing. It’s more understandable in his case because he’s older (36) and has missed at least 44 games three times in the previous five seasons. 

It doesn’t help that Bautista’s OPS went from .928 in 2014 to .817 in 2016. He was also horrendous defensively last year, costing eight runs in right field by FanGraphs‘ metrics and struggling with velocity and accuracy on throws from right field.

As a result of Bautista’s limited market, Heyman reported that the Blue Jays met with him at the winter meetings about a possible reunion. 

Heyman added that the Indians started talking to Bautista right before the Blue Jays got into contact with him. 

The Baltimore Orioles, who also need to supplement some offense with Mark Trumbo being a free agent, could be a match for Bautista, though the team seems to be good at holding a grudge. 

“We told [Bautista’s] agent that we are not interested because our fans don’t like him,” Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said on Sportsnet Radio 590 The Fan, via “Our fans don’t like [Bautista], with good reason.”

The Blue Jays are an interesting fit because everything they’ve done so far this offseason would seem to indicate they have moved beyond Encarnacion and Bautista. Ezequiel Carrera, Steve Pearce and Dalton Pompey can play right field. Pearce and Morales also figure to split time at DH and first base, along with Justin Smoak. 

The Indians need to find a right-handed power hitter to serve as their DH. Bautista will almost certainly come cheaper than Encarnacion, which helps Cleveland’s chances. 

Bautista does cost extra because whichever team signs him will have to give up a first-round draft pick, but if his price continues to diminish, a contender such as the Indians would make perfect sense if they sign him to a one- or two-year deal. 

Prediction: Bautista signs with the Indians.

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Wade Davis to Cubs for Jorge Soler: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Kansas City Royals shook up their bullpen Wednesday after trading All-Star closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs for Jorge Soler.  

The Cubs announced the deal after Bob Nightengale of USA Today first reported the agreement. Soler took to Twitter after the announcement to thank Chicago’s fans for his time with the club before commenting on his move to Kansas City:

Davis had been an instrumental part of Kansas City’s recent resurgence. He was a middling starter after coming up with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 and during his first year with the Royals in 2013, but a move to the bullpen turned his career around. 

In 2014 to 2015, Davis put up numbers that were as good as any reliever in Major League Baseball over that span. 

He remained strong in 2016 with a 1.87 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings, but his walk rate (3.3 per nine innings) was his highest since 2013. He also had two stints on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right forearm.

The Royals are in a difficult spot heading into 2017. Several core members from the 2015 championship team are entering the final year of their contracts, including Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas. 

Davis was also in that group, but now that he’s gone, it creates financial flexibility for the upcoming season in Kansas City. His contract will pay him $10 million in 2017, per Spotrac.

The Royals still have Kelvin Herrera to close games. 

Its two-year playoff run in 2014 and 2015 briefly altered the way Kansas City does business, with Cot’s Baseball Contracts estimating its payroll last season at $131.5 million. That’s not a level this franchise can consistently operate on, so trading a reliever and adding an impact asset it controls through 2020 is the right move. 

The Cubs will happily take advantage of the Royals’ transition phase. They have a solid bullpen, even with the possible loss of Aroldis Chapman to free agency, as Hector Rondon has 77 saves since 2014. 

However, adding an impact arm to the team’s crop of relievers gives Cubs manager Joe Maddon depth and versatility—areas in which the defending World Series champions were lacking. 

In return, the Cubs deal from a crowded position group. The potential loss of free agent Dexter Fowler takes away one option, but they can still use some combination of Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr., Jon Jay and Kris Bryant in the outfield. 

Soler has never been able to put it all together since signing with Chicago in 2012, due to injuries and inconsistent performance. He started to look like a future star in the second half last season with a .258/.348/.515 line in 36 games. 

That’s a small sample size; though, at 24 years old, Soler is still young enough to develop into a star right fielder.

Moving Davis now, while painful for Kansas City fans, represents the Royals’ best opportunity to have financial flexibility in the offseason and keep adding young, cost-controlled talent who can help them return to glory next season. 

Davis comes with risk after his injuries last year, but the Cubs are a franchise with the financial resources and depth to take on his contract with the hopes he can return to his 2014-15 levels when he was the best reliever in baseball. 

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Shelby Miller Trade Rumors: Latest News, Speculation Surrounding Diamondbacks SP

New Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen continues to explore ways to improve the team, including exploring trade options for starting pitcher Shelby Miller.  

Continue for updates. 

D-backs Open to Trading Miller

Wednesday, Dec. 7

According to Nick Piecoro of AZCentral Sports, the Diamondbacks have been discussing trading starting pitchers during the winter meetings, with Miller and Patrick Corbin being the most talked-about trade chips from Arizona’s side. 

Piecoro did note the Diamondbacks still have a high asking price for their pitchers, so any potential deal would have to be considered a long shot. 

The Diamondbacks acquired Miller last year in a five-player deal that sent Ender Inciarte, Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair to the Atlanta Braves.

The move was part of Arizona’s hopes for contention in 2016 after signing Zack Greinke. Things never came together for the team, with Miller completely falling apart. He had a 6.15 ERA with 127 hits allowed and 70 strikeouts in 101 innings over 20 starts.

Things got so bad for Miller that the team demoted him to Triple-A in July, hoping to fix his mechanics. It did seem to work, at least a little bit, with a 3.98 ERA in a small sample size of 31.2 innings, though he still allowed 40 hits during that span.

Hazen has been aggressive trying to patch things up, acquiring Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte from the Seattle Mariners last month. The Diamondbacks do have a wealth of intriguing starters to deal, including Miller, Walker, Greinke, Corbin, Robbie Ray and Archie Bradley. 

Even though things were disastrous for Miller and Arizona last year, this team is capable of turning things around quickly because of the depth in its rotation. It also hopes to get a full season from A.J. Pollock and continued development from Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury. 

Miller’s value is at its absolute lowest right now, so trying to deal him only makes sense if the Diamondbacks think he’s a lost cause. Since he’s just 26 years old and one year removed from being an All-Star, there’s reason to be optimistic that 2016 was an outlier in his career. 

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Chris Sale to Red Sox: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Chicago White Sox have taken the bold step of building for their future by trading ace starting pitcher Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

The White Sox announced they have acquired Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz in exchange for Sale.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal initially reported the deal.

Bruce Levine of also reported the Red Sox will pay the $31.2 million remaining on Moncada’s $63 million deal. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Red Sox refused to include Jackie Bradley Jr. in any trade talk.

Boston beat out the Washington Nationals, who tried “hard” to land the ace by offering top prospects, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reported the Nationals weren’t willing to give up Trea Turner and that the Red Sox’s willingness to part with Moncada led to the swap.

Buster Olney of ESPN reported that a “popular theory in the industry” is that the White Sox pushed the Nationals to the brink of a deal to use as leverage to get the package they did from the Red Sox.

Ian Browne of and Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe provided comments from Sale on Wednesday:

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski spoke with reporters on Tuesday, saying talks between the sides “accelerated” on Friday.

“Sale gives us a chance to win now…At this point, this gave us a really significant chance to win,” Dombrowski said.

The White Sox seemed to be moving toward dealing Sale or Jose Quintana shortly before the trade deadline this past summer.

Heyman reported on July 22 Chicago began taking calls on the pair, though he added the White Sox hadn’t “decided how seriously to shop their stars, and there’s no certainty that either will be traded, as they love both pitchers.”

Like most trade negotiations, the White Sox were waiting to get the best deal. It’s not an unreasonable position for them to take, even as they appear headed for their fifth straight losing season, because Sale’s contract is so team-friendly.

Recently retired Red Sox star David Ortiz is a fan of the move:

Sale, who is 27 years old, has one more guaranteed year on his deal at $12 million, with club options for 2018 and 2019 that total $26 million, per His contract looks even better considering 43-year-old Bartolo Colon was among the top names of the available free-agent starters.

The White Sox have taken a short-term approach to fixing their roster, signing players such as Melky Cabrera and Jose Abreu and trading for Todd Frazier, yet it hasn’t worked out. It’s time for the franchise to start acquiring as many young, cost-controlled assets as possible to avoid a total collapse.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters he thinks Moncada can play second or third base, “but at this point we’ll have him playing second base” in the minors. Hahn added that the two sides had talked about Sale for over a year.

“If a team is interested in talented, controllable starting pitchers, we do have others,” Hahn told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox get the top-of-the-rotation starter they needed. Dombrowski has not been shy about making deals to improve the team since taking over late in the 2015 season, acquiring Craig Kimbrel in a trade with the San Diego Padres and signing David Price last offseason.

Yet things did not work out for Boston’s rotation in 2016, aside from Rick Porcello’s breakout campaign. The Red Sox finished eighth in the majors with a 4.22 ERA from the starting rotation, though, so there was upside even before acquiring Sale.

It also helps that their offense led the league in most major offensive categories last season, including runs scored, doubles, total bases, average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Sale is the horse Boston needs to get over the hump in October after a quick playoff exit last season.

Dombrowski has been making a lot of moves involving Boston’s prospects, but it’s such a rich farm system that he can get away with it and not leave the cupboard bare.

The White Sox could afford to move Sale because they still have Quintana to build a rotation around. This move will help them secure their future and start competing for a playoff spot for the first time since 2008.

Sale did everything in his power to make the White Sox a contender, finishing in the top six of AL Cy Young Award voting in each of the last five seasons. He’s never had a chance to show off his stuff in October, but he will have an opportunity to change that with his new club.

It’s never easy to give up multiple top-level prospects, but it’s also rare when a true No. 1 starter who is under team control for more than two months becomes available. That made it easy for the Red Sox to make the call.

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Rich Hill Re-Signs with Dodgers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

The Los Angeles Dodgers were so enamored with Rich Hill after acquiring him in August that they have decided to keep him around with a new contract extension, announcing Monday that they had signed him to a three-year contract.

Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reported the deal is worth $48 million.  

While Hill is always a significant injury risk, there’s no denying his performance on the mound when he’s able to take the ball. 

Hill showed his capability for dominating a terrific lineup when he shut down the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. He gave up two hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings in a 6-0 win. 

When Hill is at the top of his game, even at 36 years old, there is a strong argument to be made that he’s one of the best left-handed starters in baseball. The Dodgers already have the best one (Clayton Kershaw), so keeping Hill makes perfect sense. 

The problem is Hill has never shown himself to be capable of staying healthy. He made only 20 starts in 2016 for the Dodgers and Oakland Athletics. He was traded to the Dodgers on Aug. 1, but didn’t debut for the team until Aug. 24 due to lingering blister problems. 

On Monday, Hill told reporters that his blister problems are behind him.

Since making his MLB debut in 2005 with the Cubs, Hill made 30 starts just one time and was relegated to bullpen duty from 2010-14 because it was seemingly impossible to keep him on the mound. 

Despite those injury concerns, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors did note there is recent precedent for injury-prone pitchers to get multiyear deals in free agency:

If demand is strong enough for Hill’s services, teams will simply have to make three-year offers to have a chance to sign him, even if they don’t expect the contract to end well. Hill can also make the argument that he will age well, since he’s not reliant on fastball velocity and has less mileage on his arm than a typical pitcher his age.

It also helped Hill’s free-agent case that this year’s crop of available starting pitchers is bad, to put it nicely.

The Dodgers have been burned by recent deals for free-agent pitchers like Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy, but Hill brings with him a level of domination difficult to replace. He can also serve as a bridge for Julio Urias when the 20-year-old is ready and allowed by the team to take on the task of throwing 200 innings in a season.

Given the way Hill is still able to put up gaudy strikeout numbers without allowing much hard contact and keeps the ball in the park, it’s not a surprise that the Dodgers brought him on board to boost the rotation knowing he probably won’t pitch more than 120 innings during any season of his contract. 

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MLB Winter Meetings 2016: Dates, Schedule, Rumors and Predictions

The first week of December is typically an optimistic time for all 30 Major League Baseball teams because it marks the start of the winter meetings, where club executives and agents discuss potential deals.

There was a storm cloud hanging over this year’s meetings, though, with owners and the players’ union struggling to agree to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Fortunately, the two sides found the middle ground to keep the two decades of labor peace alive and well. It also ensured this year’s winter meetings, which begin Sunday, will continue to be an active spot for teams to talk potential free-agent signings and trades to boost their outlooks for 2017.



Extended Party at Napoli’s

Mike Napoli proved as a member of the Cleveland Indians last season that he still has some gas left in the tank with a .239/.335/.465 slash line and new career highs in home runs (34), RBI (101) and games played (150).

It’s no surprise that Napoli‘s looking to cash in on one more multiyear deal, but there’s reportedly a gap between what he wants and what the Indians are willing to offer.

“Club executives say Mike Napoli is looking for a three-year deal, following a season in which he hit 34 homers and drove in 101 runs,”’s Buster Olney reported. “The Indians, responding to the glut of sluggers in the market, would prefer to limit their investment in Napoli or another slugger to one year.”

While Napoli was a valuable piece in Cleveland’s lineup last season, he has severe limitations, recording a .322 on-base percentage against right-handed pitching while rating as one of the worst defensive first basemen in the American League, per FanGraphs.

Despite their success in 2016, the Indians are still a small-market team that has to be diligent in how it spends money.

The Indians know they already have one player who’s capable of shifting between first base and designated hitter—Carlos Santana. If they don’t want to rush Michael Brantley back to the outfield from his various shoulder problems, he can handle DH duties early in the year. 

The Seattle Mariners have reportedly shown interest in Napoli, per Jon Morosi of But Bob Dutton of the News Tribune reported they plan to use a combination of Dan Vogelbach and Danny Valencia at first base.

This isn’t the ideal market for Napoli to cash in, with Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Brandon Moss and Steve Pearce among the other available options.

The New York Yankees have also been linked to Napoli, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, though they don’t seem to be a fit as a rebuilding club that should be giving at-bats to young talent in hopes of competing for a playoff spot in 2018.

Things can change, especially when teams get desperate, but as it stands, the Indians look like they could luck out by virtue of a market surplus and bring back Napoli at their price for one more run at the World Series title in 2017 after finishing one win short this year.

Prediction: Indians re-sign Napoli for one year.


The Chapman Conundrum

On the heels of another dominant season that ended with a World Series title with the Chicago Cubs, closer Aroldis Chapman could end up earning the biggest deal ever given to a reliever. 

Since being promoted to the big leagues in 2010, Chapman ranks second among all relievers in wins above replacement (14.1), per FanGraphs. He’s achieved that status by posting a 2.08 ERA with 636 strikeouts and 201 hits allowed in 377 innings.

George A. King III of the New York Post reported the Yankees will likely be the front-runners to sign Chapman, though he noted that could change if the closer “really is looking for five years and $100 million.”

Per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the highest average annual salary for a reliever in MLB history is $15 million, which Yankees legend Mariano Rivera received from 2008 to 2012. 

Chapman has the on-field pedigree to warrant that kind of money, and he picked an opportune time to hit the market after an October in which relievers dominated the conversation.

But there are other options for teams to pick from. Kenley Jansen, who has been nearly as dominant as Chapman, is also available. Mark Melancon is an older free agent at 31, but he’s had sub-2.00 ERAs in three of the previous four seasons.

At this point, it seems like it will be the Yankees or bust for Chapman, who hasn’t hidden his love for the organization.

It would be a puzzling fit, however. The Yankees need to find starting pitchers, especially since Masahiro Tanaka can opt out of his contract after next season, for when their young position players are ready to take off—and their dominant bullpen featuring Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances didn’t lead to results last year.

Prediction: Yankees sign Chapman for five years.


Running Up That Rich Hill

In a particularly dreadful market for starting pitching, Rich Hill, who still possesses the ability to miss bats and limit hard contact, is the best of the bunch.

There’s a steep downside with Hill, who turns 37 in March, as last year marked the first time he’s hit 100 innings in an MLB season since 2007.

Despite those red flags,’s Jim Bowden reported the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros are in full pursuit of Hill, with the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles also expressing some interest.

The Yankees need more starting pitching, but their focus should be on finding someone who can contribute in 2018 and beyond. They’ve also largely gotten out of the habit of giving multiyear deals to players on the wrong side of 30, at least for the time being.

The two Texas teams could also use starting pitching to get over the hump in 2017, yet neither feels like an ideal fit for Hill—and putting his fragile body in the exhausting Texas heat during the summer months is an easy way for him to fall apart.

The Dodgers should still provide Hill with the best overall package. They need a strong No. 2 starter behind Clayton Kershaw, have money to spend and understand how to handle Hill to keep him healthy after acquiring him from the Oakland Athletics in August.

A two-year deal with a sufficient average annual salary could be just the thing to entice him to remain on the West Coast.

Prediction: Dodgers re-sign Hill for two years.

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Tyson Ross Non-Tendered by Padres: Latest Details and Reaction

The San Diego Padres have made this year’s crop of free-agent pitchers more intriguing by opting not to give right-handed pitcher Tyson Ross a contract for 2017. 

Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Padres did not tender Ross a contract, and he immediately becomes a free agent. 

Ross only appeared in one game last season, giving up seven earned runs in 5.1 innings before his right shoulder flared up and caused him to miss the rest of the year with inflammation. 

In October, per’s AJ Cassavell, Ross opted to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. It’s the same procedure New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey had in July that ended his 2016 season prematurely. 

Cassavell noted Ross’ recovery timetable is four to six months, which would put him on track to return as soon as February or as late as mid-April. 

Prior to 2016, Ross was one of the best pitchers in the National League the previous three seasons. He posted a 3.07 ERA with 526 strikeouts and 437 hits allowed in 516.2 innings and made a total of 64 starts in 2013-15. 

Per FanGraphs, Ross ranked ninth among all NL starters who had at least 500 innings pitched from 2013-15 with 9.6 wins above replacement. 

Matt Snyder of noted how starkly things changed for Ross and the Padres from 2015 to the point where the former All-Star was not tendered a contract:

This year’s crop of free-agent pitchers is horrendous, with 36-year-old Rich Hill being the top available arm because he can miss bats, despite having no history of staying healthy. 

Ross’ recent track record certainly makes him a cautionary tale for whatever team wants to take a chance on him, but if he returns to anything close to his previous skill level, the 29-year-old will end up being one of the biggest bargains for anyone in search of a starting pitcher. 

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MLB, MLBPA Agree on New CBA: Latest Details, Comments, Reaction

After some concern about labor strife between Major League Baseball’s owners and the MLB Players Association, the two sides have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement.

MLB announced the news, adding the two parties are continuing to draft the entirety of the agreement, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet on Wednesday.

The MLBPA and MLB released a joint statement on Friday with words from Commissioner Rob Manfred:

“I am pleased that we completed an agreement prior to the deadline that will keep the focus on the field during this exciting time for the game. There are great opportunities ahead to continue our growth and build upon the popularity that resonated throughout the Postseason and one of the most memorable World Series ever. This agreement aims to further improve the game’s healthy foundation and to promote competitive balance for all fans.”

“I thank Tony Clark, his colleagues and many Major League Players for their work throughout the collective bargaining process. We appreciate their shared goals for the betterment of the sport. I am grateful for the efforts of our Labor Policy Committee, led by Ron Fowler, as well as Dan Halem and our entire Labor Relations Department.”

Clark also shared his thoughts on the new deal in the statement:

Every negotiation has its own challenges. The complexities of this agreement differ greatly from those in the past if for no other reason than how the industry has grown. With that said, a fair and equitable deal is always the result you are working toward, and, once again, I believe we achieved that goal. I would like to thank our Players for their involvement, input and leadership throughout. Their desire to protect our history and defend and advance the rights and interests of their peers is something I am truly grateful for.

On Friday, USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale reported that “owners are scheduled to vote on Dec 13 to ratify the new CBA, which should be a formality.”

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported the two sides finalized the deal on Wednesday. 

Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted on Wednesday that under parameters of the new CBA, the luxury-tax threshold will start at $195 million next season and gradually increase to between $210 million to $215 million before the deal ends in five years.

Rosenthal reported the potential threshold increments over the course of the new CBA:

Sherman also reported there will be a greater penalty of about 60 to 70 percent for teams in excess of $250 million in payroll, compared to the previous CBA penalty of 50 percent.

MLB and the players have gone 21 years without any serious labor strife. There were eight different work stoppages from 1972 to 1995, including the 1994-95 labor dispute that led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series and limited the 1995 season to 144 regular-season games.

Rosenthal reported on Nov. 22, nine days before the previous CBA expired, that there was growing concern about a lockout due to owners’ frustration with the “slow pace of the discussions” and two key negotiations the sides didn’t agree on:

The owners offered to resolve two of the biggest issues by offering a straight exchange, telling the players they would eliminate direct draft-pick compensation in free agency in exchange for the right to implement an international draft, sources said. The players, however, rejected the proposal, wanting no part of an international draft.

Per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, teams will no longer have to give up a first-round pick to sign free agents who receive a qualifying offer. However, draft compensation won’t completely go away, as teams over the luxury-tax threshold would lose a second- and fifth-round pick, while teams under would lose a third-round pick, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported an international draft is not part of the new CBA, and teams will be limited to between $5 million to $6 million for international signings.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports added the new CBA includes the “death penalty” for teams caught cheating internationally, allowing the league to penalize up to 50 percent of international money through 2021.

Passan noted the international signing age will be raised to 25, meaning Japanese star Shohei Otani will not be coming to MLB until 2019.

The new CBA reportedly also eliminates the All-Star Game as the deciding factor for home-field advantage in the World Series, with Ronald Blum of the Associated Press reporting the change.

Blum also reported the minimum stay on the disabled list will go from 15 days to 10 days.

Another wrinkle will be that new MLB players will be banned from using smokeless tobacco, with current players being grandfathered in, per Sherman.

Sherman also reported rosters will remain the same with 25 active players and September call-ups.

Morosi added that all of the changes in free-agent compensation structure will go into effect next season, with prior rules still applying to this year’s class.

While Rosenthal’s report did raise questions about a potential work stoppage with the winter meetings scheduled to begin Dec. 4, Mark Armour of the Society for American Baseball Research tried to ease those fears.

“Most CBAs have been signed [weeks] or months after expiration, with no intervening labor strife,” Armour wrote. “Seriously, people, the deadline means nothing.”

Up to the point Rosenthal’s report came out, there was nothing about potentially difficult or disastrous labor negotiation to suggest a stoppage was going to happen.

Maury Brown of Forbes reported MLB revenue in 2015 reached $9.5 billion, the 13th straight year the league saw a revenue increase. The league’s new television contracts with ESPN, Fox and TBS, which began in 2014, pay a total of $12.4 billion through 2021.

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Terry Ryan Hired as Phillies Special Assignment Scout: Latest Details, Reaction

Terry Ryan needed only five months to find a new job, with the Philadelphia Phillies hiring the former general manager as a special assignment scout. 

The Phillies announced Ryan’s hiring in a press release on their official website. 

“I have known Terry for more than a decade and have enormous respect for all that he accomplished during his tenure with the Twins,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in the release. “Terry’s work ethic, loyalty and track record as a talent evaluator are simply unparalleled in our game.”

Ryan previously worked with the Minnesota Twins, serving 19 years as general manager in two different stints from 1994 to 2007 and 2012 to 2016. He helped lead the franchise to four American League Central titles between 2002 and 2006, including an appearance in the American League Championship Series in 2002. 

The Twins became one of the American League’s worst teams since 2011, losing at least 92 games five times in the previous six seasons. The team fired Ryan in July due to a reported disagreement with owner Jim Pohlad over how to go about improving the club, per Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

The role of a special assignment scout can vary depending on the team. Typically, he will be used as one of the last channels of communication to a general manager before the GM decides to make a talent acquisition. 

Even though things fell apart with the Twins, Ryan did oversee a front office that led to the franchise having the best farm system in MLB before the 2014 season, with talent like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano among the top prospects. 

The Phillies are still in rebuilding mode with a promising farm system that will likely start to pay dividends as soon as 2017. Adding another sharp scouting mind to the mix like Ryan will ensure the talent pipeline in Philadelphia continues to stay strong. 

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