Pirates trade Jameson Taillon to Yankees for prospects

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 1/24/21

The New York Yankees have had a rather slow winter, but they added to their rotation on Sunday. 

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Yankees acquired Jameson Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for prospects Miguel Yajure, Roansy Contreras, Maikel Escotto, and Canaan Smith.

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Braves legend, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron dies at 86

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 1/22/21

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron battled racial prejudice and hatred throughout his career in Major League Baseball, but that didn’t stop him from breaking MLB’s career home run record. It certainly didn’t stop him from trailblazing a path for other athletes of color to find success at baseball’s highest level. 

Sadly, the Atlanta Braves announced that the former home run king died Friday morning at 86 in his sleep. 

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Yadier Molina mentions possibility of retirement as free agency lingers

Originally posted on MLB Trade Rumors | By Steve Adams | Last updated 1/14/21

Cardinals icon Yadier Molina remains in a stare-down of sorts with the only team he’s ever known, seeking a two-year deal while the Cards idle amid budgetary uncertainty. Molina noted earlier in the winter that he’s heard from as many as five other clubs, but his preference has clearly been to return to the Cardinals.

Now, in an interview with La Vida Baseball’s Polo Ascencio (hat tip: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch), Molina suggests that if he doesn’t receive the right offer, he feels he could retire with his head held high after a terrific 17-year career. Molina made clear that he’s still working out, getting ready as if he’ll play in 2021.

It’s hard to imagine Molina walking away when he’s previously been so adamant about continuing his career, but the Cardinals haven’t been aggressive in their efforts to retain Molina or longtime teammates Adam Wainwright and Kolten Wong — both free agents themselves (Wong after having his 2021 club option declined).

The rest of the market for Molina’s services, meanwhile, may have changed a bit since receiving that early interest. The Mets signed James McCann, taking them out of the market for another catcher. Molina previously mentioned interest from the Padres, but they picked up Victor Caratini from the Cubs. The Yankees are still in a staring contest of their own with DJ LeMahieu and don’t appear willing to spend elsewhere until there’s resolution on that front. The Angels, another club mentioned by Molina himself, could still be a fit but are surely looking at the pitching market and perhaps at J.T. Realmuto, who also remains unsigned. The Phillies would make another on-paper fit, but they, too, are intently waiting to see where Realmuto’s market goes. Goold notes that the Nationals have also been in touch with Molina, but they’ve been focused on adding more thump to their lineup to this point.

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Mets acquire Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco in blockbuster trade with Indians

Originally posted on MLB Trade Rumors | By Mark Polishuk | Last updated 1/7/21

The Mets have made their first huge deal of the Steve Cohen era, acquiring shortstop Francisco Lindor and right-hander Carlos Carrasco from the Indians as part of a six-player trade. To replace their star shortstop, Cleveland will receive two prominent young infielders in Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez and a pair of Mets prospects — right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene.

It has been widely assumed that Lindor would be on the move at some point this offseason, as the Tribe is looking to cut payroll and Lindor is now entering his final season before free agency. The Mets have been one of many teams mentioned as a plausible suitor, though comments made by both new owner Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson implied that the Mets would be more apt to sign big-name players rather than trade for them, due to a lack of minor-league depth in New York’s farm system.

Instead, Alderson and new Mets GM Jared Porter have now swung a major blockbuster. Financial terms of the deal haven’t yet been made public, but it’s safe to assume the Mets are picking up all of the $27M owed to Carrasco through the 2022 season. Between Carrasco’s contract and Lindor’s projected salary (between $17.5M and $21.5M) in his final year of arbitration, Cohen’s willingness to spend manifested itself in a different way, as the Mets will now upgrade their roster by taking some salaries off the books of the cost-cutting Cleveland organization.

Since his debut in 2015, no shortstop in baseball has a higher fWAR (28.9) than Lindor. A four-time All-Star with two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards, Lindor has hit .285/.346/.488 with 138 home runs over his six big league seasons, and further established himself as an all-around talent by stealing 99 bases. 2020 was a down year for Lindor, as he hit only .258/.335/.415 over a league-high 266 PA, but that would certainly be explained by the unusual nature of the shortened season rather than a clear sign of a decline.

It is also fair to wonder if Lindor might have been impacted by the trade speculation that has been swirling around him for the better part of three years. After some early-career extension talks with the Tribe failed to lead to a deal, it became increasingly clear that Cleveland would look to trade Lindor rather than just let him walk in free agency. Indians owner Paul Dolan said last year that his team didn’t have the resources to invest heavily in a single player, and rather notoriously told Cleveland fans to “enjoy [Lindor] and then we’ll see what happens.”

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MLB spring training, 2021 season likely to start on time

Originally posted on MLB Trade Rumors | By TC Zencka | Last updated 1/3/21

In the time of COVID-19, no scheduling occurs without caveats to consult and confirm with health officials. Cases of coronavirus could surge further,  and breakouts and hot spots remain possible even as vaccines begin to make their way into circulation. And despite ubiquitous uncertainty, as well owners advocating for a delay, it appears the 2021 season will start on time, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. MLB and the MLBPA have each announced their intentions to stick to the CBA and have regularly scheduled starts for spring training and Opening Day.

The presumption has been that any potential delay would come from the urging of the league office, but Drellich provides this statement from MLB:

“We have announced the dates for the start of Spring Training and the Championship Season. As we get closer we will, in consultation with public health authorities, our medical experts, and the Players Association, determine whether any modifications should be considered in light of the current surge in COVID-19 cases and the challenges we faced in 2020 completing a 60-game season in a sport that plays every day.”

Owners would prefer to delay the start of the season in order to get more people vaccinated and generally provide a safer playing environment. But they also want to limit the number of games played without fans in attendance. With the CBA in place, however, MLB has little recourse but to start the season on time. Considering the success of the NFL and NBA to operate under the present circumstances, it would likely take a significant, state-levied change in circumstances to seriously derail the season.

This is good news for the players, who have continually advocated for a full 162-game season. None of this is to say the season’s schedule is set in stone, of course, but it does seem likelier than ever that there will be a full season in 2021.

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Padres acquire Blake Snell from Rays in five-player trade

Originally posted on MLB Trade Rumors | By Anthony Franco | Last updated 12/27/20

The Padres have an agreement in place to acquire Blake Snell from the Rays, report Dennis Lin, Josh Tolentino and Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (Twitter link). Luis PatiñoFrancisco Mejía and prospects Blake Hunt and Cole Wilcox would head back to Tampa Bay. The deal is pending review of medicals. R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports had first reported the two sides were in discussions about a potential Snell trade.

It’s a shocking, out-of-the-blue acquisition for San Diego. The Rays were known to be open to offers on Snell, but there had been no indication prior to tonight any deal was particularly close. Snell, 28, is one of the sport’s best pitchers. The 2018 American League Cy Young winner, he has posted a 2.85 ERA across 337.2 innings over the past three seasons. Along the way, he’s struck out 32.1% of opposing hitters, holding them to a .206/.279/.350 slash line. This past season, he worked to a 3.24 ERA/4.35 FIP with his typical strikeout and walk numbers.

Snell becomes the second big-ticket starting pitcher acquired by the Padres within the past six months. San Diego picked up Mike Clevinger in a trade with the Indians prior to the August 31 trade deadline. Clevinger, though, required Tommy John surgery after the season, leaving the Padres looking to add to their rotation. They’ve done so with a bang, picking up perhaps the top starter available on the trade market. Snell will join Dinelson Lamet, who’s coming off a Cy Young caliber 2020, at the top of a rotation that also features Zach Davies and Chris Paddack and should soon welcome top prospect MacKenzie Gore.

The Padres are clearly aiming to push the reigning World Series champion Dodgers in the NL West in both 2021 and beyond. In addition to that high-end rotation, San Diego boasts an enviable position player core including Fernando Tatís Jr.Manny MachadoJake CronenworthTrent Grisham and a resurgent Eric Hosmer. It’s a win-now strike, but it’s not solely a move for next season. Snell comes with three seasons of remaining control under the terms of the extension he signed with Tampa Bay in March 2019. He’ll make a bargain $10.5M salary next season, with respective salaries of $12.5M and $16M the following two years (his 2023 figure has potential escalators based on future Cy Young finishes).

Snell’s combination of high-end talent and cheap, long-term control meant the Padres had no choice but to offer an elite package to pry him from Tampa. All four players headed back to the Rays are highly-regarded youngsters, headlined by the 21-year-old Patiño. A 2016 international signee out of Colombia, the extremely athletic Patiño quickly emerged as one of the game’s best prospects. Each of Baseball America, The Athletic’s Keith Law and FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen placed him among the top twenty prospects in the sport entering 2020. He draws praise for a mid-high 90’s fastball and plus slider and shows the makings of a plus changeup and above-average control, per Baseball America.

Patiño made his MLB debut, mostly working out of the bullpen, in 2020. His first 17.1 MLB innings didn’t go well, as he struggled to throw strikes and only managed a 5.19 ERA. But Patiño had only thrown 7.2 innings above A-ball entering the season and surely would’ve been given more minor-league seasoning in 2020 had there been a season. He was nothing short of dominant in the low minors from 2018-19 and is a high-upside arm who could contribute for Tampa Bay in the near future. Patiño has yet to accrue a full year of service and comes with six seasons of team control. If he were to stick in the majors for good, he’d be controllable through 2026.

Hunt, too, has emerged as a top 100 caliber prospect, tweets Longenhagen. The 22-year-old catcher has “been hitting to all fields with power” and shown elite arm strength in recent workouts, he adds. Hunt ranked just 20th among Padre farmhands in Baseball America’s midseason Padres farm system ranking but seems to have turned a corner in recent months. In 2019, Hunt slashed .255/.331/.381 over 376 plate appearances in Low-A ball.

While Hunt may have the brighter long-term future behind the plate, Mejía isn’t far removed from being seen as an elite catching talent himself. The 25-year-old ranked among Baseball America’s top 35 overall prospects every year between 2017 and 2019 and headlined the Padres-Indians 2018 Brad Hand blockbuster. He comes with question marks about his aptitude behind the dish and has compiled just a .225/.282/.386 slash line in 362 MLB plate appearances over the past four seasons. As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently examined, though, it’s easy to understand the long-term appeal he still holds to Tampa Bay. Mejía’s a switch-hitter who demonstrated elite bat-to-ball skills in the minors and has a top-of-the-scale arm. Given his lack of MLB track record, there’s more risk in his profile than there may have been at the peak of his prospect status, but Mejía carries some long-term intrigue and can immediately step into the Rays’ MLB catching mix with Mike Zunino. Mejía has two-plus years of MLB service and can controlled through the 2024 season. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time next winter.

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Rob Manfred, MLB announce elevation of Negro Leagues to ‘Major League’ status

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 12/16/20

The Negro Leagues that ran from 1920-48 have officially been elevated to “major league” status by Major League Baseball.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the news on Wednesday via the league’s communications department. Manfred described the move as “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history.”

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Cleveland Indians to change team name

Originally posted on MLB Trade Rumors | By Mark Polishuk | Last updated 12/13/20

The Cleveland Indians have decided to change their team name, according to David Waldstein and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.  An announcement from the club could come at some point this week, though the team might retain the name throughout the 2021 season and then officially adopt a new nickname for 2022.  The club is also considering adopting a generic name (such as “The Cleveland Baseball Team”) in the interim.

The Cleveland organization announced it was considering a possible name change in a statement last July, not long after the NFL’s Washington franchise indicated it was weighing a move away from its former nickname — hence the creation of the “Washington Football Team” designation for the 2020-21 NFL campaign.  Even before July, however, there had been indications that the Cleveland team was slowly laying the groundwork for a name change, such as how the club’s old “Chief Wahoo” mascot was no longer prominently featured on uniforms, and the now-familiar “C” logo had become the primary choice on caps.

This won’t be the first name change for the franchise, as they were first known as the Grand Rapids Rustlers upon their original foundation in 1894 (when based in Grand Rapids, Michigan) and then became known as the Cleveland Lake Shores after moving to Ohio.  When the team joined the American League in 1901, the name changed twice in as many seasons, going from the Bluebirds (or Blues) in 1901 and then the Bronchos in 1902, before settling on becoming “the Cleveland Naps” from 1903-1914 in a nod to newly-acquired superstar Napoleon Lajoie.

A new name was obviously required after Lajoie was sold to the Philadelphia A’s following the 1914 season, and it then that Cleveland adopted its current nickname.  The proper origin of the “Indians” name has remained unknown, as the popular story that the nickname was chosen in honor of Louis Sockalexis (a Native American and fan favorite for the National League’s Cleveland Spiders in 1897-99) isn’t exactly true, as there are also several indications that Cleveland chose the name to capitalize on the popularity of the 1914 World Series champion Boston Braves.

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White Sox acquire starting pitcher Lance Lynn in trade with Rangers

By Blake Harper | Last updated 12/8/20

The White Sox were one of the surprise breakout teams last season, earning a playoff spot while going 35-25 over the shortened season. Chicago is hoping to improve its roster heading into the 2021 season and has added some valuable starting pitching, acquiring Lance Lynn via a trade with the Texas Rangers in exchange for pitcher Dane Dunning and a young prospect to be named later, reportedly a second pitcher.

The 33-year-old has been a solid pitcher over his lengthy career, finishing in the top sox during both of his seasons with the Rangers. In 13 starts last season, he went 6-3 while posting a 3.32 ERA. Lynn becomes a valuable third starter for the White Sox pitching rotation, as Chicago lacked a real option behind starting pitchers Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel.

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One prospect to watch for every MLB team in 2021

By Justin Mears

The 2020 calendar year took a lot away from a lot of people, but in the world of Major League baseball nobody lost more than the minor leaguers. The entire minor league season didn’t happen at all, and while some top prospects got to participate at their parent club’s alternate site, it was not the same as playing in real games. Provided this ends up being a normal season, the year of lost development bears watching when it comes to rookies potentially making an impact in the year ahead. Let’s look at one prospect from each team who’s yet to make their big league debut that could have the greatest impact on his club in 2021. 

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New York Yankees: Luis Gil, RHP

New York Yankees: Luis Gil, RHP
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Gil finished the 2019 season pitching for the Yankees A+ team in Tampa, but as a member of the team’s 40-man roster he was able to at least spend 2020 at the alternate site rather than on his couch. In 20 total minor league starts in ’19, the big righty posted a strong 2.72 ERA in 96 innings while striking out 123 hitters and holding opponents to a .207 batting average. The number that really jumps off the page looking at Gil’s numbers is his home run rate, as he’s served up only SEVEN long balls in over 200 career innings. He’ll probably begin 2021 in AA, but on a Yankees team desperate for impact starting pitching, don’t be surprised if he ends up skipping AAA all together. 


Boston Red Sox
: Jeter Downs, SS/2B

Boston Red Sox: Jeter Downs, SS/2B
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Had he not lost the 2020 minor league season, Downs very well could have put himself in position to potentially begin 2021 with the big club. Even with the way things stand, don’t be shocked if he works his way onto the Fenway Park infield sooner rather than later. Downs was Boston’s prize return in their controversial trade with the Dodgers that sent Mookie Betts to the west coast, and while it’s a tough ask, they’re hoping he can blossom into the type of player that can ease the fanbase’s frustrations a little. Across two levels of LA’s system in ’19, the 22-year-old slashed .333/.429/.688 with 24 homers and 86 RBI. A natural shortstop, Downs will have to shift to second in the big leagues, as the Red Sox have Xander Bogaerts locked up long term at position number six.

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Tampa Bay Rays: Shane Baz, RHP

Tampa Bay Rays: Shane Baz, RHP
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Wander Franco is the best prospect in all of baseball, but there’s no guarantee he plays for the Rays in 2021. On the other hand, Baz was the final piece of Tampa Bay’s heist of the Pirates in the now infamous Chris Archer trade from a few trade deadline’s ago. Pittsburgh’s 1st round back back in 2017–#12 overall I should add–joined Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow in heading from western Pennsylvania to western Florida in the trade that just keeps on giving. The latter two are already cornerstone pieces of a team that just won the American League pennant, and in 2021 Baz should establish himself the same way. In 17 minor league starts in ’19 the righty pitched to a 2.99 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP, while blowing away well over a batter/inning and surrendering only five home runs. The Rays love to get creative with the pitchers, and while he might start out as an opener or potentially a reliever, Baz should become an integral part of this pitching staff in short order. 

Toronto Blue Jays: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP

Toronto Blue Jays: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
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