On the same day that three NBA games were postponed in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds decided to also take the night off.
Per Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, the Brewers and Reds were unified against playing the night game scheduled to occur at Miller Park. Neither team will forfeit. No makeup plan was immediately announced.
The Bucks were the first professional sports franchise to go on strike on Wednesday afternoon to protest after Blake, a Black man, was shot at least seven times by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday. Blake survived but is reportedly paralyzed.
After the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets also elected to not play, the NBA called off the nightcap between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. The NBA expects to reschedule those games.
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.
Baseball’s stretch run is in full swing, and while a handful of clubs — the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers and Braves — are locks to be playing in October, the remaining playoff spots are very much up for grabs. Every team in the hunt has legitimate stars aiming to lead it to the game’s biggest stage, but here at Yardbarker we’re focusing on guys who are not quite household names but will still have a big impact on the season’s final six weeks.
1. Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers
Hiura had long been the crown jewel in the Brewers system, and since arriving in the big league’s to stay in late June, he’s done nothing but impress. Since July 1, the former first-round pick has hit .307 with 14 home runs, and his emergence has allowed Milwaukee to shift veteran Mike Moustakas back to his natural position of third base and send struggling Travis Shaw to AAA. The Brewers were a trendy pick to dethrone the Dodgers in the National League this season, and while the year has not gone entirely to plan, they’re still right in the thick of not one but two heated races. Entering play tonight, Milwaukee sits just one game back of both the Cardinals and Cubs in the NL Central and one game out of an invitation to the NL wild-card game. If they do ultimately get to participate in the postseason, Hiura may well be the primary reason why, as while the rookie has thrived toward the top of the Brewers lineup, several veterans on this team have underperformed.
2. J.D. Davis, IF/OF, New York Mets
The January trade the Mets made with the Astros to bring utility man J.D. Davis to Queens drew few headlines. The right-handed hitter had always crushed minor league pitching during his tenure with Houston but had failed multiple times at the game’s highest level. New York, though, was undeterred, as it felt his struggles with the Astros were a direct result of sporadic at-bats because of a logjam of talented players at the positions he could play. Fast forward seven months, and that bet is paying huge dividends. In the early portion of 2019, Davis was mostly a power threat off the bench for the Mets. But after injuries opened up regular playing time for him, the 26-year-old has become impossible to take out of the lineup. Since the beginning of July, he’s hit an incredible .367 while reaching base at an absurd .428 clip. He’s begun to hit for a little more power in August, as he’s already blasted four homers this month and driven in 11 runs, and his somewhat surprising production is one of the biggest reasons the Mets have been able to climb back into the pennant race.
3. Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals
DeJong is now in his third big league season, but he’s yet to generate much fanfare outside of St. Louis. That’s probably a little bit of an oversight, as while he’s far from being the best shortstop in the league, he’s been a productive and consistent right-handed bat for the duration of his career. After a red-hot start to this season, DeJong went into a terrible slump, but he’s broken out of it big time since the All-Star break. A recent surge that included a three home run game in Pittsburgh has put him in position to set new career highs in homers and RBI, and the Cardinals are certainly hopeful he can continue producing at a high level. Similar to Milwaukee, St. Louis is locked in heated races for both the NL Central crown and a wild-card spot, and DeJong’s bat in the bottom half of the lineup is crucial, as opposing teams are unlikely to let fellow right-handed sluggers Paul Goldschmidt or Marcell Ozuna beat them in a big spot.
4. Zach Plesac, SP, Cleveland Indians
The nephew of longtime big leaguer Dan Plesac, the young right-hander was not considered much of a prospect entering this season. A dominant 10-start beginning to his minor league season opened eyes, however, and with the Indians in need of a starter at Fenway in late May, it was Plesac who got the call. Since then he has been an absolute godsend for a Cleveland rotation that has sustained injuries to Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar as well as a trade of outspoken Trevor Bauer. In 14 starts for the Tribe, Plesac has worked to a 3.27 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP in 77 innings, bringing a level of consistency to a pitching staff that desperately needed it. His performance has helped Cleveland erase an 11.5 game deficit in the AL Central, as earlier this week it caught Minnesota, and the club is counting on him for continued success as this race is likely headed for a photo finish.
5. Scott Kingery, IF/OF, Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies made headlines in spring training a year ago when they inked Kingery to a long-term pact before he’d ever played in a major league game. The organization obviously believed immensely in the University of Arizona product’s potential, and while it’s hard to call his rookie season much of a success (.226/.267/.338), Kingery has become a much more important Phillie in 2019. Playing all over the diamond, the 25-year-old has hit .275 with 14 homers and 27 doubles in 324 at-bats while serving as an offensive table setter for Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto for most of the season. Philadelphia has underwhelmed following a massive importation of star power last winter, but the Phils are still right in the thick of a chaotic NL wild-card race. Having Kingery on base and wreaking havoc down the stretch will drastically help their chances of reaching October.
6. Austin Meadows, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better-run major league baseball operation than the Tampa Bay Rays. Year after year Tampa Bay finds a way to not only compete but also to often triumph over behemoth division rivals in Boston and New York all while operating in one of the smallest markets in the game. The 2019 season has been no different, as despite the Yankees having the AL East all but sewn up, the Rays are positioned to make the postseason as a wild card. Their young right fielder is a huge reason why. Meadows was acquired in the ’18 deal that sent Chris Archer to Pittsburgh, and he has absolutely thrived in his first full season in the big leagues. In just short of 400 at-bats thus far, the left handed slugger has hit .283 with 20 home runs and 25 additional extra-base hits. He was even named an All-Star last month. Moving down the stretch, Tampa will continue riding the young 24-year-old, as he’s already become arguably the focal point of the offense.
7. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
Oakland is eerily similar to the aforementioned Rays, as it deals with a lot of the same market challenges but still finds a way to remain a force to be reckoned with. In fact, there’s a reasonable chance the two clubs square off head to head in the AL wild-card game in just a few weeks. The Athletics left-handed-swinging first baseman has flown by under the radar in recent seasons, but his production is soon going to render that impossible. After missing a month-and-a-half early in the season, Olson has rallied to crush 25 home runs since Mother’s Day, putting him just four short of his previous career high. With Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, Stephen Piscotty, Mark Canha and most importantly a healthy Khris Davis, the A’s are exceedingly right-handed heavy, making Olson’s left-handed bat imperative to the middle of their lineup.
8. Victor Robles, CF, Washington Nationals
Robles was supposed to be the next big outfielder to come out of the Nationals system last season, but injuries prevented him from making an impact and ultimately contributed to Juan Soto coming up and making a bid for last year’s NL Rookie of the Year. While his young teammate has blossomed into a star, Robles breakout rookie season has not been discussed as much as it should. Yet he’s become a critical player on a team looking to return to October. Playing in almost all of Washington’s games, Robles has launched 15 long balls from the bottom part of the lineup while swiping 18 bases and playing tremendous defense at the premium position of center field. He does strike out too much, as his 110 punch outs in just 397 at-bats are unsightly, but he’s obviously immensely talented. If he can turn it up just a little, Washington should have the inside track on a playoff berth.
9. Josh Taylor, RP, Boston Red Sox
The underlying narrative surrounding the 2019 Red Sox nationally has been a horrific bullpen that consistently blows leads and lets winnable games get out of hand. That’s accurate, but it’s also why few fans outside of New England have been privy to what Taylor, a 26-year-old rookie, has been doing. In 33 contests the southpaw has worked to a strong 3.27 ERA in 33 innings while delivering a 1.18 WHIP and striking out well over a batter/inning. The Arizona native has delivered six scoreless outings in consecutive appearances while becoming the closest thing the Red Sox have had to a reliable relief pitcher. That will have to continue moving forward for Boston to have any chance to make a late surge, as barring a serious run, the defending champs will find themselves on the outside looking in come October.
A lot went down prior to Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline. More deals could be coming in August, but for now, let’s rank July’s trades by how much impact the moves will have on each team’s roster:
Just about everyone knows at this point that publicly financed stadiums, on balance, don’t work out for the municipalities funding them. Most often, the promised economic growth never comes and taxpayers wind up sinking millions into venues that don’t come close to paying for themselves.
That makes life difficult for officials in towns like Gilbert, Arizona who—due to ego, personal interest or delusion—decide they want a stadium no matter the cost.
Gilbert officials recently asked consultants to evaluate the economic impact of a spring training facility the town wants to build for the Milwaukee Brewers. The complex is expected to cost $90 million, and the Brewers have offered to pay only $20 million of that cost. According to the Arizona Republic, the consultants studied the matter and determined that, ” the cost of investing in the stadium versus the value of the mixed-use development may not be justifiable.”
This finding did not please those in Gilbert who desire a cool spring training complex in their town. So the chamber of commerce simply called up another consulting firm. Via the Republic:
Kathy Tilque, president and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, said the Applied Economics study was fairly limited in its scope and did not take into account the indirect economic benefits of a potential stadium.
The chamber is working with a different economic consulting firm to provide a broader economic analysis. That report should be completed soon and will be turned over to town officials for review, Tilque said.
“It would be a great thing not only for the East Valley but for Gilbert. We just need to make sure the numbers work,” she said.
It sounds as the chamber will keep “making sure the numbers work” until they actually do and will then push those totally-not-at-all-cooked numbers on Gilbert’s taxpayers. Because really, who even needs numbers when you have deeply researched assurances that, “It would be a great thing.”
As the great stadium finance website Field of Schemes points out, spring training facilities are a notoriously bad deal for the towns and counties that build them. They’re used one month of the year, for only a handful of games, and don’t often draw large crowds. Developers insist a new facility would bring $85 million into Gilbert, but Field of Schemes’ Neil DeMause says that’s basically nonsense.
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.
Written by Todd Rosiak at MilwaukeeWisconsinJournalSentinel.com
This certainly wasn’t how Matt Garza envisioned opening the 2016 season.
Rather than making his first scheduled start for the Milwaukee Brewers against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday at Miller Park, the right-hander will instead be watching teammate Taylor Jungmann take the baseball in his place.
Garza was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to April 2, with a strained right lat behind his shoulder. He suffered the injury April 1 while making a start in an exhibition game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
In a case of good news/bad news, Garza was heartened by the fact the injury didn’t actually involve his shoulder as previously had been thought. The downside is that he’s expected to miss as many as six weeks now as he rehabs.
The Brewers recalled reliever Tyler Cravy to take Garza’s place on the 25-man roster.
“We were hoping for better than this,” Garza said. “Just going to stay positive and keep grinding. I’m not afraid of work. It just wasn’t what I was looking forward to the beginning of April.”
Garza said he felt “a little different soreness” before making that start in Houston but chalked it up to some changes in his routine. He underwent an MRI on Monday in Milwaukee, and after meeting with team physician William Raasch the lat strain was confirmed.
Garza went 1-0 with a 4.50 earned-run average in six Cactus League starts — he pitched a team-high 22 innings in all — and left camp No. 3 in the rotation behind Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson.
He was also upbeat, positive and enthusiastic throughout camp as he tried to put a disappointing 2015 behind him. Garza finished last year with a 6-14 record and 5.36 ERA in 26 games (25 starts), then caused a stir with some caustic comments after being pulled from the rotation in early September.
We conclude our trek through ranking the positions with right field. We’ll have starting pitchers, relievers and DHs in the coming days.
As was the case with previous rankings, let’s keep these things in mind:
1. We are ranking the players based upon which ones we’d most want to have for the 2016 season only, ignoring salary. Quite simply, if money were no object and you were trying to win the World Series this season, which player would you most want to have?
2. These are subjective, as voted on by Matt Snyder, Dayn Perry and Mike Axisa. We ranked the players at each position individually and averaged out the results.
3. These aren’t fantasy baseball rankings. All-around play matters.
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