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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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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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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One move every MLB team should make

Posted 2 days ago | By Justin Mears

The MLB offseason is still in its infancy, but the rumor mill is already in full swing. All 30 clubs will undoubtedly make moves–both big and small–in an effort to improve. Let’s take a look at what move(s) should be on the top of each team’s to-do list. 

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New York Yankees: Re-sign D.J. LeMahieu

New York Yankees: Re-sign D.J. LeMahieu
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The Bombers need help in a few areas as they look to get over the hump in 2021. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ are all free-agents, and while they may not all depart in free-agency, starting pitching is definitely something GM Brian Cashman needs to address. His line-up was also far too right handed in ’20 and they desperately need an impact left handed bat. But the most critical thing on New York’s agenda has to be re-signing the 32-year-old LeMahieu. Since arriving in the Bronx two years ago, Lemahieu has blossomed into an absolute superstar. In the truncated 2020 campaign he led the AL in batting average and OPS, and he’s finished in the top three in hits for two years running. His positional versatility gives the Yankees a ton of flexibility along their infield, and after he declined the qualifying offer New York simply has to find a way to bring him back via a multi-year deal. 

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Boston Red Sox: Sign Brad Hand

Boston Red Sox: Sign Brad Hand
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The Red Sox had the 3rd worst team ERA in baseball last season, and much of that had to do with a bullpen that was horrendous for most of the campaign. A weak unit got even worse when righties Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman were shipped to Philadelphia midseason, and relief pitching simply has to be a priority for the ‘Sox this winter. Enter Hand, who was spectacular for the Indians a season ago before stunningly finding himself unemployed when the team declined to pick up his option for 2021. The lefty would immediately slot into the top spot on Boston’s relief depth chart, and allow guys like Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier to work out of more appropriate roles. 

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Freddie Freeman named National League MVP

Originally posted on MLB Trade Rumors | By Connor Byrne | Last updated 11/12/20

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has awarded the 2020 National League Most Valuable Player to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. He beat out fellow finalists Mookie Betts and Manny Machado for the award.

The summer began in brutal fashion for Freeman, who tested positive for COVID-19 in early July. Freeman was in such bad condition that teammate Nick Markakis decided to opt out of the season. However, Markakis quickly elected to return, and Freeman was able to regain his health by the start of the regular season.

From a production standpoint, 2020 couldn’t have gone much better for the 31-year-old Freeman, who has consistently been a fantastic player since his first full season in 2011. Freeman earned MVP honors thanks largely to a career-best .341/.462/.640 line and 13 home runs in 262 trips to the plate, helping the Braves to their third straight NL East title (though they bowed out to the Dodgers in the NLCS). He wound up first in the NL in fWAR (3.4), and second in batting average, wRC+ (187) and bWAR (2.9).

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Rob Manfred says MLB ‘will be more aggressive’ about fans attending games in 2021

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 11/13/20

With COVID-19 numbers continuing to rise across the United States, fans attending sporting events in certain markets seems like something that won’t happen any time soon. However, it appears Major League Baseball wants spectators back sooner rather than later. 

According to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stated that the league “will be more aggressive about having fans in ballparks” for the upcoming campaign. 

“If local public health authorities allow for fans, I think you’re going to see fans in the ballpark next year,” Manfred said. “Now, will it be full stadiums? I kind of doubt that.

“But we do think it’s important, and it’s why we did it in the World Series and the LCS: To get people accustomed to the idea that you can go to these live events with appropriate protocols, pods of people, social distancing, masks, and do it safely.”

Fans were only allowed to attend games during the 2020 season in a limited capacity during the National League Championship Series and World Series, which both took place at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

According to Manfred, playing another season without fans isn’t something that’s reasonable for the league. MLB says 40% of its revenue comes from fans attending games and cited losses between $2.7 and $3.1 billion in 2020. 

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New owner vows Mets will act ‘like a major market team’

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 11/10/20

Get excited, New York Mets fans. You’re about to have some fun new toys. 

Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, who assumed ownership of the Mets last Friday, told reporters during Tuesday’s media session that the Mets will act “like a major market team” as it pertains to free-agent signings and payrolls. 

“Are we going to act like drunken sailors in the marketplace? No,” Cohen explained, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). “I want to be thoughtful. You can spend a lot of money today and then tie up your team in bad contracts for the next five years.”

Cohen wasted no time getting to work before the weekend, as he parted ways with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and executives Omar Minaya, Allard Baird, Adam Guttridge and Jared Banner. He also appointed former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson team president. 

Alderson said that it is likely Luis Rojas will remain manager through the start of the 2021 season. 

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Tigers hire former Astros skipper A.J. Hinch as manager

By Zac Wassink | Last updated 10/30/20

A.J. Hinch, who guided the Houston Astros to the 2017 World Series title but lost his job with the organization due to the scandal tied to that championship, is back in the big leagues. 

The Detroit Tigers confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in MLB by announcing Hinch as their new manager on Friday. Detroit’s official statement noted that the 46-year-old joined the Tigers one year to the day after he managed the Astros in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series that Houston lost to the Washington Nationals. 

Hinch was previously linked with the Chicago White Sox after general manager Rick Hahn parted ways with manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Don Cooper and explained that he wanted “someone who has experience with a championship organization in recent years” for the club’s new skipper. The White Sox instead hired Baseball Hall of Famer Tony La Russa on Thursday.

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