This article ended up being mostly about the Tampa Bay Rays. It certainly didn’t start out that way when I sat down, but every story that kept popping seemingly had a Ray involved. I ended up writing about Wander Franco, Blake Snell, Randy Arozarena, Mike Zunino and Hunter Renfroe. There’s also some talk about 75-inch televisions, Lester, Thames, Hand, Puig, Shaw and a trade between the Rockies and Reds that was all hot air.
WANDER FRANCO INJURY?
I spoke about Wander Franco playing winter ball, and how we were hearing that he had a biceps issue that was considered minor. Well, turns out there might be a little fire here as Franco has been called back to the states to have tests on his arm. The baseball universe will hold their break until we get the all-clear with the top prospect in baseball.
I talked about players who were designated for assignment in this podcast. I gave my full thoughts on Hunter Renfroe in the pod. Just giving the official – he became a free agent Wednesday notification, so he is free to sign with anyone at this point. The same can be said for Renato Nunez and Junio Guerra who were also discussed in the above podcast.
Jon Lester is barely getting it done anymore, but it sounds like he still wants to pitch with the Giants reportedly interested. San Francisco is always a good place to pitch and you would have to think that many a squad would have an interest in Lester as a 5th starter.
Eric Thames may look to extend his career overseas. It’s not who he is, but still, in 2015 here are his 142 game KBO numbers: .381-47-140-130-40. Those are astounding numbers (in fact, he went .320-35-120 in all three of his KBO seasons). The last two years he’s been a disappointment going .237-14-36-38-2 over 599 plate appearances.
Yasiel Puig changed agents to Rachel Luba in the hopes of finding a starting gig in 2020. Puig, a noted hothead, didn’t play a single Major League game last season as he was ultimately derailed by Covid (he agreed to a deal with the Braves that never materialized. Puig turns 30 in about 10 days, and the last we saw him on a big-league field, in 2019, he was busy going 24/19 while driving in 84 runs. His last three seasons, 2017-19, his average fantasy effort was .265-25-74-69-16. That will play in just about any setup, and he’s certainly capable of re-establishing himself as a player who can post those type of numbers, even though a missed season, and his attitude, are certainly warning signs to some.
FREE AGENT NO MORE
Charlie Morton signed a 1-year, $15 million deal to toss pitches for the Braves in 2021. The Braves also signed Drew Smyly for $11 million on a one-year deal who will fight for a rotation spot alongside the 37 year old Morton. That leaves the Braves with Morton, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Mike Soroka (Achilles) and Smyly/Kyle Wright/Bryse Wilson.
Morton was third in the AL Cy Young race in 2019 going 16-6 with a 3.05 ERA, a year after he went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA. Things took a step back for Morton last season as he went 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA. He was also saddled with a terrible 1.39 WHIP and saw his K/9 rate literally fall an entire point from 2018-19 levels (10.97 compared to 9.95). He also made only nine starts, he’s never full healthy, and though his velocity was up in the playoffs his heater was town two mph from 2018 and a mph from 2019 during the regular season. The deal is fine. The landing spot is fine. The performance in 2020 leaves a lot to be desired though and should cause some pause about rostering Morton in 2021 if the price is costly.
THE RAYS COULD BE DEALING?
The Rays have already lost Morton/Renfroe and Mike Zunino, and there are issues with their superstar youngster (see below). Despite all that is swirling around them, it sounds like the Rays might be interested in making some other moves as well as there is a report suggesting that dealing Blake Snell could happen. I actually mis-typed right there. The report suggests that multiple sources believe the Rays could be open to dealing their sometimes-starring lefty.
Snell is set to earn $10.5 million, 12.5 million and $16 million the next three years. Given his talent, that certainly seems like the going rate, though we know that the Rays aren’t always willing to pay the going rate. The Angels and Mariners are said to be at the top of the contender list, and with Snell hailing from Seattle, that might be a strong fit. I’ll certainly have more to write about Snell moving forward, but I do wonder that if he got out of Tampa if a team would actually just cut him lose and let him pitch more than five innings a start?
I guess it’s ok, but I don’t think it is recommended. Especially if there are gators or crocs about.
I bought a 75-inch television for my new house (also grabbed a 55 and a 65 so I’m all decked out). I had been rockin’ my 51-inch Samsung Plasma, which I really wish they still made cause that judder that happens on movement really ticks me off, but I knew it was time to step up. Now… I think I’m spoiled. I spent about $5,000 on the TV, sound bar, 4K player, the wires and the install, so it was a good chunk of change. That said, I’m sitting there looking at my huge 75-inch TV thinking… why hell didn’t I get the 85 inch and just blow it out? I shoulda just spent the extra grand. My advice, always go big, bigger than you think, and don’t let your significant other talk you down.
PLAYER WHO WAS CLAIMED
Chris Shaw was claimed by the Orioles after being released by the Giants. Shaw hit .185 as first year player, .056 in 2019, that’s .153 in 72 at-bats, and he didn’t have an at-bat in 2020. He has had some minor league success though. In 2017 he went .292-24-79 at AA/AAA in 125 games. In 2018 he went .259-24-65 in 101 games at Triple-A. In 2019 he went .294-28-94 in 120 games at AA/AAA. He might end up being a quad-A player, not really good enough for the majors to be an every day player, but he’s got enough pop that he could grab a gig on the Orioles bench in 2021 with his ability to play first base and the outfield.
I’m guessing this dude may have crapped his pants when he found out.
I HATE THIS…
One of my least favorite things happened Wednesday. I’m plowing away on my 13,000+ work weekly NFL Matchup Article, and I took a quick break to check out social media. I see reports suggesting that the Rockies and the Reds are closing in on a deal. There have been rumors that Sonny Gray could be dealt. There have been rumors that Nolan Arenado could be playing elsewhere next season. Some have even suggested that Trevor Story could be dealt. Obviously when news started to break, it was intriguing.
Here is the tweet that started it all.
Turns out the trade was the following:
#Rockies acquire RHP Robert Stephenson and OF Jameson Hannah
#Reds for RHPs Jeff Hoffman and Case Williams.
No offense to those guys – but come on.
I absolutely hate when someone tries to drum up exciting about a deal before it is announced. What was the value of announcing there’s a trade happening, but we don’t know who is in it? As journalists, we have to do better than that. Here’s a novel idea… don’t announce something until, you know, you actually have something to announce.
Are you gonna apply?
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK
Randy Arozarena was the story of the playoffs. He hit like Jimmie Foxx and lit up the diamond with his joyous attitude (from 1932-39 Foxx’s average season was .341-44-141-128-7 with a 1.111 OPS). He was amazing.
Then reality happened.
It is unclear as of this writing exactly what happened, but it sure looks some highly questionable issues might have occurred from the outside. This will be a story to follow closely because there could be significant ramifications to Randy’s fantasy outlook in 2021.
For a little history… HAPPY THANKSGIVING.