Keeping the Claw
Now that the Red Sox have triumphed over the Dodgers to secure the World Series title, the MLB offseason is officially upon us.
It didn’t take long for the hot stove to heat up either. Immediately following the World Series, Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw indicated that he was still mulling over whether or not to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract to test the free agent market.
News trickled out in the coming days that the two sides were likely to work out a mutually-beneficial short-term extension that would keep the left-hander in Los Angeles for another couple of years.
On Friday, the two sides were able to reach an accord, with Kershaw inking a three-year, $93 million contract. The deal also contains incentives. In essence, Kershaw used his opt-out as leverage to get another year and at least $28 million added on to his contract.
Kershaw hasn't made 30 starts in season since 2015 due to injury and his velocity was noticeably down in 2018, but he was still highly effective with a 2.73 ERA and 155/29 K/BB ratio over 161 1/3 innings. He will turn 31 next March.
It’s a great deal for both sides, as it keeps the Dodgers’ World Series window open for a few more years while maintaining the ace atop their pitching staff.
From a fantasy perspective, there’s no denying Kershaw’s continued effectiveness when he has been on the hill, though the game-breaking strikeout numbers may be a thing of the past. He hasn’t logged more than 175 innings in a season since 2015 though and given his chronic back issues, durability is going to continue to be a concern going forward.
A perennial first round draft pick in most formats, I would expect Kershaw to begin to slide into the middle of the second round in most 15-team drafts, somewhere in the 20-26 range. If he gives you a full season without missing any starts from that draft spot, he’ll deliver ample profit.
All that Glitters
Major League Baseball handed out some hardware on Sunday night, announcing the winners of the Rawlings’ 2018 Gold Glove Awards.
Here’s a look at the winners, with the number of Gold Gloves that each player has won in parentheses.
C - Salvador Perez (5) - Perez has been the gold standard of the position in the American League, winning the award five times in the last six seasons.
1B - Matt Olson (1) - Not bad work for Olsen, winning his first Gold Glove in his first full season on the job. He led all MLB first baseman with 14 defensive runs saved on the year.
2B - Ian Kinsler (2) - It's the second win for Kinsler, who also took home the award with the Tigers during the 2016 campaign.
3B - Matt Chapman (1) - The first-time winner is very deserving, as Chapman racked up a jaw-dropping 29 defensive runs saved at the position in 2018, which is 19 more than any other third baseman in the league. He has to be considered the favorite to take home the Platinum Glove in the American League.
LF - Alex Gordon (6) - It's the second straight win for Gordon, and sixth overall, after he won the award in four straight years from 2011-2014 as well.
CF - Jackie Bradley Jr. (1) - This one was definitely a long-time coming, as Bradley has played phenomenal defense for years in Boston, but has always had to battle Angels' superstar Mike Trout for the award.
RF - Mookie Betts (3) - Betts led all MLB outfielders with 20 DRS on the season, en route to his third straight gold glove. He's the gold standard by which other right fielders are currently judged.
P - Dallas Keuchel (4) - It's the fourth win in the last five years for Keuchel, who will hit free agency this winter.
C - Yadier Molina (9) - It's the ninth Gold Glove for the Cardinals' star backstop, but his first since winning eight straight from 2006-2015.
2B - D.J. LeMahieu (3) - This one was a mild surprise, as many predicted Kolten Wong (who led all MLB second baseman in DRS) to take home the honor. It's the third win for LeMahieu, who has snagged the award in each of the last two seasons.
SS - Nick Ahmed (1) - The first-time winner has long been considered one of the top defenders in all of baseball, all it took was getting a full-time job for the first time in his career to land the Gold Glove.
3B - Nolan Arenado (6) - Arenado has now captured the honor in each of his first six seasons in the big leagues. He also surpassed Larry Walker (5) for the most Gold Gloves in Rockies' franchise history. He's also in the running to take home his second straight Platinum Glove in the National League.
LF - Corey Dickerson (1) - Long considered to be an all-hit, no-glove outfielder, this one has to be especially rewarding for Dickerson, who finished second in DRS among National League left fielders.
CF - Ender Inciarte (3) - It's the third straight year that Inciarte has taken home the award. While he's obviously a terrific defender and deserving of the honor, you really have to feel for Lorenzo Cain who continues to get overlooked here each and every year.
RF - Nick Markakis (3) - It's the third time that Markakis has won the award, but the first time since 2014. It caps off a phenomenal year for the free agent outfielder who also earned his first All-Star nod.
P - Zack Greinke (5) - It's the fifth straight win for Greinke, who is widely considered the top fielding pitcher in all of baseball.
Nats Strike Quick
The Washington Nationals also struck quickly on the free agent market, inking former Cardinals’ closer Trevor Rosenthal to a one-year, $6 million contract.
The deal also includes an option for 2020, rumored to be at least $7 million with a $1 million buyout, making it $7 million guaranteed for the right-hander. The deal also includes incentives that could take the deal to $28 million over the two seasons, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post
Rosenthal didn't pitch in 2018 but isn't far removed from being one of the league's premier closers. It's a nice low-risk, high-reward move for the Nats. It’s expected that Rosenthal will work in a setup capacity in front of closer Sean Doolittle.
Tragedy hits in Dominican Republic
Unfortunately, tragedy struck the baseball world in the Dominican Republic when
Reds minor league pitcher Jairo Capellan died in a car crash early Saturday.
Fellow minor leaguers Raul Hernandez and Emilio Garcia were also injured in the crash; Hernandez is in critical condition, and Garcia in stable condition, both in Dominican hospitals. "We received this terrible news and send our condolences and support to the families, friends and teammates of Jairo, Raul and Emilio," Reds Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini said in a news release. "Our Dominican operations are an integral part of the Reds organization, and this tragedy affects us all. We will remain closely involved to help everyone through this difficult time." All three players are 19 years old.
Our deepest condolences go out to the Capellan family and the Reds organization at this difficult time.
Rangers tab Woodward as manager
Woodward will get a three-year deal, with a club option for 2022, becoming the 27th manager in Texas Rangers’ history.
He’ll be officially introduced at a press conference in Arlington on Monday.
The 42-year-old has no prior managerial experience. He began his coaching career as the minor league infield instructor for the Mariners before working his way up to the big league staff. He has spent the past three seasons as the third base coach under Dave Roberts in Los Angeles.
Friday marked the deadline for MLB clubs to extend $17.9 million qualifying offers to impending free agents. This time around, a new record-low seven players were issued qualifying offers. Under the current system which began in 2012, the previous low for players issued qualifying offers in a season was nine.
Here’s the list of players who did receive the qualifying offer, all of whom are expected to decline:
Patrick Corbin - Diamondbacks
Yasmani Grandal - Dodgers
Bryce Harper - Nationals
Dallas Keuchel - Astros
Craig Kimbrel - Red Sox
A.J. Pollock - Diamondbacks
Hyun-Jin Ryu - Dodgers
There are a couple of players who were expected to receive qualifying offers, but didn’t, which came as a mild surprise. Among those, were Astros’ right-hander Charlie Morton, Rockies’ second baseman D.J. LeMahieu and Indians’ outfielder Michael Brantley.
American League Quick Hits: ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Orioles have been in contact with former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington regarding their front office opening… The Astros claimed Chris Herrmann off of waivers from the Mariners… The Orioles re-signed left-hander Sean Gilmartin to a minor league contract… Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the Rays are likely to trade designated hitter C.J. Cron this offseason… The Blue Jays fired hitting coach Brook Jacoby...Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio reports that the Yankees "will not be in on (Bryce) Harper" this offseason… White Sox’ general manager Rick Hahn noted that the organization has discussed a possible position change for Yoan Moncada…
National League Quick Hits: The Pirates hired Rick Eckstein as their new hitting coach… Cubs claimed Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Mets… The Reds announced the hiring of Derek Johnson as their new pitching coach… Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that the Dodgers have started contract extension talks with manager Dave Roberts… The Brewers have hired Andy Haines to be their hitting coach, taking the place of Darnell Coles who resigned last week… Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals "intend to explore" the market for Bryce Harper "and see how they fit."... Despite not making him a qualifying offer, Rockies' general manager Jeff Bridich still plans to reach out to free agent right-hander Adam Ottavino...According to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic, the Cubs have yet to make a decision regarding the future of Addison Russell.