The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t sound particularly enthralled with Madison Bumgarner’s secret rodeo career.
Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen admitted Monday that the team had no idea Bumgarner had used the alias Mason Saunders to secretly compete in professional rodeo events, but the team does believe the pitcher has not done so since signing with Arizona.
The early part of the MLB offseason has already brought with it some blockbuster moves, as well as some under-the-radar signings that could have a big impact in 2020. Here’s a look at the best moves of the early offseason, as of Dec. 20.
1 of 20
Angels hire Joe Maddon
The Angels last made the playoffs in 2014, and their one year with Brad Ausmus at the helm didn’t go well. The organization continues to waste Mike Trout’s talent, but Maddon is as capable as any manager to get L.A. back to the postseason. He started to wear thin with the Cubs recently but should be able to give the Angels a jolt of energy and new-age thinking.
2 of 20
Angels acquire Dylan Bundy
Seemingly over the injury issues that plagued him early in his career, Bundy was a massive disappointment in Baltimore over the last two years and fetched only a group of middling prospects from Anaheim. Much of his issues have been directly related to the long ball, and getting out of Baltimore’s hitter-friendly confines can only help. The Angels desperately needed to beef up their rotation this offseason, and Bundy is a nice start.
3 of 20
Braves sign Will Smith
Smith was a dominant closer for the Giants last season, and he’s been one of the league’s best left-handed relievers since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2018. A three-year contract for any reliever is a risk, but Smith is still only 30 and has seen nothing but success in the majors since converting to the pen in 2013. He can serve well in any bullpen role for a Braves team with World Series aspirations.
4 of 20
Brewers sign Josh Lindblom
Lindblom has a history of MLB experience and some success, which is important to remember after three terrific seasons as a starter in Korea. He returns to the majors on a three-year, $9.125 million contract with Milwaukee, which seems like a minimal risk for a pitcher with excellent control and the ability to pitch in multiple roles. For the cost, there’s nothing but upside.
5 of 20
Brewers acquire Omar Narvaez for Adam Hill and draft pick
Milwaukee remedied the loss of Yasmani Grandal by acquiring Narvaez. The catcher is in no way comparable to Grandal, but he did prove to be one of the league’s best offensive catchers in Seattle last year by hitting .278-22-55. Poor defense is a concern, but the price was right for the Brewers. 6 of 20
Brewers acquire Eric Lauer and Luis Urias for Zach Davies and Trent Grisham
Milwaukee is always in search of undervalued assets and stuck with that mindset in this deal. Lauer is a former first-round pick who is unproven at the major league level, but he has a good minor league track record and has been serviceable in two seasons with the Padres. Urias was considered a top prospect just one year ago and gives the Brewers insurance at shortstop with Orlando Arcia continuing to struggle. Davies would seem like a big cost with a career 3.91 ERA in 111 starts, but he doesn’t miss bats and became strictly a five-inning starter late last season. Grisham is a former first-round pick who didn’t hit in the minors until last year, so the jury is still out on him.
7 of 20
Cardinals sign Kwang-Hyun Kim
The Cardinals seem to be going for values more than splashes this offseason, a product of spending big money on the extensions of Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt. Signing Kim to a two-year, $8 million contract brings with it minimal risk with plenty of upside, after the lefty posted a 2.51 ERA in 190.1 innings in Korea last season. He has an MLB-quality slider and could contribute in a variety of roles. 8 of 20
Diamondbacks sign Stephen Vogt
The pending expansion to a 26-man roster will enable many teams to carry three catchers, a strategy that the Diamondbacks have already liked to employ. Vogt gives the team a veteran backup for Carson Kelly, and he was able to reestablish his health last year as Buster Posey’s backup in San Francisco by posting a career-high .804 OPS. Not only could Vogt be used as a backup catcher, but he also is a strong pinch-hitter for only $3 million. 9 of 20
Dodgers sign Blake Treinen
It’s no mystery that the bullpen was L.A.’s biggest weakness last year, and Treinen gives the team a big boost. He fought shoulder issues in Oakland last season but was one of MLB’s best relievers in 2018, with an 0.78 ERA and 38 saves in 68 appearances. An extreme groundball pitcher, he gives the A’s another setup option and potentially a closer alternative if Kenley Jansen struggles again.
10 of 20
Giants sign Kevin Gausman
Gausman clearly isn’t the pitcher he was when he was first promoted by the Orioles, and he is coming off the worst season of his career. The silver lining is that he was terrific as a reliever for the Reds late last year and posted a career-high 10.0 K/9. San Francisco clearly saw that upside when it signed Gausman, and the move to a larger park will help the home run-prone right-hander. There’s no such thing as a bad one-year contract, and this is one of the highest upside one-year deals so far this offseason.
11 of 20
Giants acquire Zack Cozart and Will Wilson
San Francisco took Cozart’s contract off the Angels hands to bring on Wilson, the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft. The Giants are effectively paying $12.7 million for Wilson, a middle infielder out of NC State. That’s a hefty price for a prospect, but the Giants have some spare change now that they’re in rebuilding mode. If Wilson turns into an MLB regular, the trade is easily a win for San Francisco.
12 of 20
Marlins claim Jesus Aguilar off waivers
Aguilar was one of the league’s top offensive first basemen in 2018, hitting .274-35-108, but he fell flat last year. After continuing to struggle late in the season with Tampa Bay, Aguilar was waived and claimed by the nearby neighbors in Miami. As the Marlins continue to rebuild, they have at-bats to provide players like Aguilar who are looking to revitalize their careers as the former minor league veteran tries to prove his 2018 season wasn’t a fluke.
13 of 20
Marlins select Sterling Sharp in Rule 5 draft
There aren’t many treasures to be had in the Rule 5 draft these days, but Sharp could be one. The former Nats prospect missed much of last season with a back injury, though he has a career 3.71 ERA in the minors and is coming off a great showing at the Arizona Fall League. An extreme groundball pitcher, Sharp has a chance to not only make the Marlins out of spring training but also to serve in their starting rotation.
14 of 20
Rangers sign Kyle Gibson
Gibson has regained the former talent he showed as a top prospect with the Twins recently, posting a 3.62 ERA in 32 starts during 2018. He struggled late last season after stomach issues but has shown an uptick in velocity lately to go along with an excellent slider. He also had a career-best 2.86 K/BB ratio last year, showing enough upside to be worthy of the three-year, $28 million contract he signed with Texas. The contract is strikingly similar to the one Lance Lynn signed with the Rangers last offseason, and there’s similarly interesting upside.
15 of 20
Rangers acquire Corey Kluber for Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields Jr.
It’s rare that a two-time Cy Young winner can be had for what’s effectively a salary dump, but the Rangers were able to pull it off. In fairness, Clase looks like an outstanding bullpen arm and DeShields can really track the ball in center field, but neither player is a true impact performer in the short term. Kluber missed most of last season with a fractured elbow and struggled before the injury, but he’s entering only his age 34 season and was an elite pitcher as recently as 2018. The Rangers rotation looks terrific with Kluber added to Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and Kyle Gibson. 16 of 20
Rays acquire Hunter Renfroe and Xavier Edwards for Tommy Pham
Tampa Bay got a great 2019 season out of Pham but might have sold high on the soon-to-be 32-year-old by acquiring Renfroe and Edwards. Renfroe struggles defensively, but he hit 33 home runs in only 494 plate appearances last season and is just entering his prime. Edwards is the kicker in the deal, a first-round pick from 2018 who hit .322 between Low-A and High-A last season at age 19. He very well could be the Rays’ second baseman of the future next to top shortstop prospect Wander Franco. 17 of 20
Red Sox sign Jose Peraza
Cincinnati’s shortstop of the future just one year ago, Peraza was non-tendered after an awful 2019 season. Boston signed him to a one-year, $3 million contract, and he will effectively replace Eduardo Nunez on the roster. He brings the upside of a young Nunez, as shown by his 2018 season in which he hit .288 with 14 home runs, 23 stolen bases and appearances at multiple positions. The Red Sox can use some defensive versatility as they figure out the futures of Michael Chavis and Mookie Betts. 18 of 20
Twins re-sign Michael Pineda
Pineda’s market was hurt by the 60-game PEDs suspension that he will continue to serve at the start of 2020, but he looks like a bargain on a two-year, $20 million contract. No team knows him better than Minnesota after employing the big right-hander last year, and the Twins were able to get a lot out of him after a slow start to the season. With great control and a 5.00 K/BB ratio last year, Pineda shows huge potential.
19 of 20
White Sox sign Yasmani Grandal
Chicago didn’t waste much time in the offseason, signing Grandal to a four-year deal in November. He’s been one of the leagues best and most consistent catchers in recent seasons, providing plus-plus ability both offensively and defensively. He should still have some life left as he enters his age 31 season, and he gives the team a nice middle of the order hitter to add to its young talent.
20 of 20
Yankees sign Gerrit Cole
Cole signed a record-breaking nine-year deal with a Yankees organization that has been surprisingly patient and restrained in recent seasons. Clearly an elite starting pitcher, he gives the Yankees the one missing piece that could put them over the top, and he is potentially capable of offsetting the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium dimensions after posting a 13.8 K/9 and 6.79 K/BB ratio last season.
With Mike Trout down to his penultimate season of team control, the Angels have recently considered offering the center fielder a record-breaking contract – a $350M extension over 10 years – though it’s unclear if they’ve actually proposed it, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Per Rosenthal, the accord would run from 2021-30, Trout’s age-29 to 38 seasons, meaning the future Hall of Famer would finish out the remaining two years and $66.5M on his current contract before the extension would take effect.
A $350M guarantee would be the highest in the history of baseball, quickly unseating the $330M pact Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper received this week. It would also set a new high-water mark for average annual value at $35M, defeating Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke’s $34.4M per year. Still, as Rosenthal rightly observes, neither number appears adequate for Trout – a seven-time All-Star and two-time American League MVP who, at age 27, is already one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Since his first full season in 2012, Trout has posted a ridiculous 64.0 fWAR, just over 27 wins more than second-place man Josh Donaldson, while easily leading the majors in wRC+ (174, 17 percent better than runner-up Joey Votto) and slashing .310/.420/.579 with 235 home runs and 185 stolen bases across 4,538 plate appearances.
Just as Trout has lapped his competition on the diamond, he’s on track to do the same on his forthcoming deal – whether he signs an extension in the next two years or reaches free agency after 2020. Harper, the Padres’ Manny Machado (10 years, $300M) and the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (eight years, $260M) have each signed enormous contracts in recent weeks, but as superb as they’ve been, their careers pale in comparison to Trout’s.
Since he first graced the majors in 2011, Trout has produced nearly $500M in on-field value, according to FanGraphs. Trout has a case to aim for that figure (or $400M-plus at minimum) on his next contract, but it doesn’t seem he’s in any rush to determine his long-term future just yet, having already achieved financial security when he landed a $144.5M extension back in March 2014. When asked Friday if he’d be open to discussing a second extension with the Angels this spring, Trout didn’t slam the door shut, but he did suggest he’s more worried about readying himself for the regular season.
If Trout holds off on an extension, the Angels’ performance as a team this season could impact whether he’ll be open to discussions next winter. Trout “desperately” wants to win and has done everything in his power to carry the Angels to glory, but they’ve been startlingly inept despite his presence. Through the first seven full campaigns of Trout’s career, the Angels have earned just one playoff berth and haven’t even won a single postseason game. They’re now mired in a four-year playoff drought and haven’t finished above .500 since 2015.
Two things were abundantly clear about the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night, and both propelled them into their second straight National League Championship Series.
First: Yu Darvish, a trade-deadline acquisition brought in specifically for this time of the year, gave the Dodgers exactly what they needed.
Second: Even before Darvish was added, the Dodgers were baseball’s best team with top-to-bottom excellence, featuring a deep roster that had been unexpectedly bolstered by the right-on-time arrival of the National League’s top rookie, Cody Bellinger.
All of this was on display Monday, as the Dodgers stymied the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 to complete the only three-game sweep of the four division series this season.
“Yu really stepped up huge for us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He was in command and control from the first pitch, working to both sides of the plate.
“It was just fun to watch him have his nerves calm and just compete. He was out there having fun.”
With Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke on the mound, the efficiency of the Dodgers’ lineup waited out Greinke time after time.
Chris Taylor worked Greinke deep in the count to lead off the game, then unloaded on a slider for a double. He scored on Bellinger’s roller for the first run, all the scoring there was until the fifth inning.
But the Dodgers worked Greinke for five walks — the most he’d allowed since Aug. 15, 2014, when he pitched for L.A. By the end of the fifth, his pitch count had topped 100.
“It’s just a collective group of guys willing to do whatever it takes to win a ballgame,” Bellinger said. “Unselfish and the way guys pass the baton and pick each other up is incredible.”
Breaking down the National League wild card game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies at Chase Field:
Diamondbacks 11, Rockies 8: The Diamondbacks advance to the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 1 is Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
The game: Paul Goldschmidt’s three-run homer off Jon Gray set the tone, putting the Diamondbacks ahead 3-0 a mere eight pitches into the bottom of the first, but they needed plenty more help to fend off the hard-charging Rockies.
That included the first relief appearance since 2014 by left-hander Robbie Ray, who went 15-5 in 28 starts during the season. Ray took over in the fourth and gave up a run in 2 1/3 innings, throwing 34 pitches and getting credit for the win.
But his was hardly the most memorable performance by a pitcher in the game. That honor belongs to reliever Archie Bradley, and it was as a hitter. Bradley’s two-run triple in the seventh – on his fifth plate appearance of the season – put Arizona ahead 8-5.
Of course, then he would serve up two home runs in the eighth to allow the Rockies to narrow the gap in the wild and entertaining game. A.J. Pollock finally salted it away for the Diamondbacks with their fourth triple of the game, a two-run drive to right-center off Greg Holland to extend the lead to 10-7. Jeff Mathis followed with an RBI bunt single to cap the three-run eighth
Arizona leadoff man David Peralta and second-place hitter Ketel Marte combined for six hits, with Marte becoming the first player to hit two triples in a postseason game since the Philadelphia Phillies’ Mariano Duncan in 1993.
Daniel Descalso’s two-run homer off Tyler Anderson in the third inning stretched the Diamondbacks’ lead to 6-0 and the rout was on, or so it seemed.
Major League Baseball officials are so alarmed by recent equipment breakdowns at Chase Field that they might require the Arizona Diamondbacks to leave Phoenix unless the county government pays for millions of dollars in stadium repairs, an attorney for the team warned Tuesday.
It’s the first time the team has indicated that MLB is directly involved in the dispute, ramping up pressure in its long-running lawsuit against Maricopa County.
County officials counter, however, that recent pipe failures being pointed out by the team were the responsibility of the Diamondbacks and were subject to routine maintenance that doesn’t apply to the bigger argument over major repairs.
Leo Beus, an attorney for the team, raised the MLB specter as he argued to a Superior Court judge that the case should be decided quickly because the team is “facing a crisis.”
“Major League Baseball … they’re very, very concerned,” Beus said, noting he has spoken with six of the league’s top lawyers. “If Major League Baseball decides they want to create issues for us, there might not be baseball at all in Arizona.”
“We’d like to keep the franchise in place, we’d like to make peace with Major League Baseball, not that we’re at war,” he continued. “We don’t know where that’s going to come out. They’re very concerned.”
Beus cited two incidents in June: a sanitation pipe that burst in an office, and an air-conditioning system that failed after a downtown-wide power surge.
The air-conditioning pipes flooded suites, restaurants, an office and a gym hours before a game, drawing complaints from fans who got wet or had to sit in warm indoor temperatures, he said.
J.D. Martinez had been the subject of trade speculation for weeks, and it reached such a crescendo Monday night that even his mom texted to ask if Detroit’s star outfielder had been dealt when he left a game in Kansas City with a sore back.
Turns out she was only off by a day.
The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired Martinez for a trio of prospects on Tuesday, hoping to solidify a trouble spot in the outfield with a sorely needed right-handed bat for a run at the playoffs.
“I don’t think he was surprised,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said. “I think he was hoping it didn’t happen, quite frankly. I didn’t want it to happen. I wanted to be out here in first place. I think it was hard for him because, like he said, this is his home. This is where he became J.D. Martinez.”
Martinez, who is making $11.75 million this year and can become a free agent after the season, acknowledged he would likely be traded with the Tigers sliding from contention. The 29-year-old former All-Star is hitting .305 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs, making him one of the premier right-handed bats on the market.
“You knew it was going to happen. You don’t really know how you’re going to feel. It doesn’t hit you until they tell you,” he said. “It’s definitely tough. I love this organization. I love the fans. I love everything in Detroit. That’s home for me. I’ve always said that.”
But as the Diamondbacks try to hold down the top spot in the NL wild-card race, their desire to make a playoff push led them to Martinez, who happens to provide exactly what they needed.
Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks are taking steps this week to protect fans from a record-setting heat wave during their upcoming home stand this weekend in Phoenix.
The Diamondbacks will host a four-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies at their home stadium, Chase Field, which begins Friday and concludes Monday. The National Weather Service on Wednesday issued an excessive heat advisory for the greater Phoenix area, with temperatures expected to reach as high as 120 degrees.
While Chase Field has a retractable roof that allows for temperature control inside the stadium, team officials told FOX Business the roof will close 30 minutes earlier than usual before game time to allow the interior to cool off. In addition, the Diamondbacks say they will have a heat relief station set up outside the stadium, as well as first aid staffers on standby “a couple of hours early” to handle any heat-related issues.
The Diamondbacks expect “larger crowds this weekend and next” despite the hot temperatures, a team spokesperson added.
National Weather Service officials warned the temperatures carry “a major increase in the potential for heat-related illness and even death,” especially for the elderly, people who remain outside during the day and those without access to air conditioning.
The excessive heat advisory is currently slated to remain in place for the Phoenix area through Sunday evening.
High temperatures in Arizona are impacting local air travel. American Airlines (AAL) was forced to cancel several flights to and from Phoenix earlier this week.
Wednesday marks the final day of May, so we’re just about through two of the six months of the Major League Baseball season. Yes, mathematicians, we’re about one-third of the way through the MLB season.
For many, getting through Memorial Day is the right time to start looking at the standings and taking them seriously. For me, I’ve made it an Official Power Rankings rule that you aren’t allowed to say things like “it’s early” once we get to June. There are surprises and there will be turnarounds — both in the positive and the negative — moving forward for sure, but we’ve got a nice chunk of baseball banked.
Let’s zero in on the most surprising things so far and if I expect it to continue.
Twins are tied for AL Central lead
I liked the Twins to be better than last year, but how could they have possibly been as bad? They didn’t even win 60 games last year. To look at the AL Central this season without a horse in the race, it seemed pretty obvious the Indians would win it. They still probably will (that would be my prediction), but kudos to the Twins for this early-season run. Ervin Santana is throwing like a Cy Young candidate, Miguel Sano is hitting the ball harder than anyone, Robbie Grossman is an on-base machine and Jose Berrios has been filthy since his call-up.
As noted, I still have the Indians taking the division, but I think the Twins can hold second place and hang around in wild-card contention (mid-80s in wins, maybe?). Sometimes that’s all it takes for a successful season.
Brewers lead the NL Central
The consensus coming into the season was that the Cubs would win the division with ease. If offered a fall-back option, most people would have likely taken the Cardinals. The Pirates have recently been a contender as well. The Brewers are still in the midst of a bit of a rebuild.
And yet, the Brewers hang onto first place past Memorial Day. Thanks in part to a ridiculous April from Eric Thames, the offense has exhibited great power throughout the season while getting fine rotation work from Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson. Corey Knebel has settled in as closer and done an outstanding job.
Alas, I don’t see this holding. The only reason the Brewers are still in first is the Cubs can’t get themselves together. But they will. Even if the Cubs only win 85-88 games, it’ll be enough to take the Central again. The Cardinals will finish second. The Brewers, though, continue to make progress with GM Doug Stearns’ rebuild. They won 73 games last year. Let’s assign them a .500 record this year, which is an eight-game improvement.
Rockies and Diamondbacks in the NL West mix
Last September, I said the Rockies were set up to be a sneaky contender this year, and nothing we’ve seen so far gives me any reason to change my mind. In fact, they’ll get back Jon Gray in the rotation and my hunch is Jeff Hoffman builds off his last outing at some point. The Rockies would then actually have rotation depth with those two, veterans Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson and then young guns Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland and German Marquez. With their offense and the Greg Holland-led bullpen, that’s enough to grab the top NL wild card.
Yes, I have the Dodgers winning the NL West again. Again, though, I’d pick the Rockies as the top wild card right now.
Can the Diamondbacks remain in the mix for the second one? In my estimation, yes they can. The Cardinals will be there as well and the Mets probably find a way to hang around. Arizona’s success so far, though, seems real. They have a legit MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt and ace in Zack Greinke along with lots of other good pieces.
The first day of the 2017 regular season is in the books. The traditional Opening Day around the league is Monday, though Sunday — what used to be known as Opening Night — brought us three games. Here are the final scores:
Tampa Bay Rays 7, New York Yankees 3 (box score)
Arizona Diamondbacks 6, San Francisco Giants 5 (box score)
St. Louis Cardinals 4, Chicago Cubs 3 (box score)
In the grand scheme of things, Opening Day is just another game, and we shouldn’t read too much into what we see in the season opener. I remember trading Aaron Harang in my old Fantasy league after he allowed nine runs on Opening Day in 2006, then I watched him go on to lead the NL in wins and strikeouts that year. I am much wiser now.
Now, that said, Opening Day is not meaningless. The game certainly counts in the standings, and some of the information it brings is useful, if not in a predictive way than in a descriptive way. Here are eight takeaways from the first day of the 2017 season, in no particular order.
Chris Archer looked like pre-2016 Chris Archer
Last season was a tough one for Archer. He led baseball with 19 losses and, more important, his 4.02 ERA (101 ERA+) was quite a bit higher than the 3.26 ERA (117 ERA+) mark he posted from 2013-15. Archer’s home run rate climbed from 0.8 HR/9 from 2013-15 to 1.3 HR/9 in 2016, which is significant. Home runs were up around baseball last season, so everyone’s home run rate climbed, but Archer seemed to get dinged especially hard.
On Sunday though, Archer looked very much like the 2013-15 version of himself. He held the Yankees to two runs in seven innings on Opening Day while striking out five. Three of the seven hits he allowed were little squibbers that managed to beat the shift. Not exactly rockets. And in the biggest moment of the game, Archer jumped ahead in the count against Gary Sanchez and got him to roll over on a weak grounder with the bases loaded.
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