MLB Hot Stove Lowdown: Gary Sánchez joins the Brewers
The baseball season is just around the corner and pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training within days. In fact, the Padres and Dodgers have reported to camp as their ramp up to the season started earlier because their season starts sooner with their two-game series in South Korea beginning on March 20th. There are still plenty of big-time free agents looking for a home, so one would think they would sign soon but it feels like I have been writing that weekly. There were a couple of big news items that happened this week, so let’s jump right in!
Gary Sánchez joins the Brewers
Earlier this week, the Brewers reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with free agent backstop Gary Sánchez. The contract also contains a mutual option, and Sánchez is guaranteed $7 million. Sánchez has had an interesting and winding career. He signed with the Yankees as an international free agent and earned a $3 million signing bonus. He spent the next five seasons working his way through the Yankees’ minor league system before making his major league debut at the end of the 2015 season. He spent the next six seasons in the Bronx and hit .230/.318/.487 with 138 homers across 2,192 plate appearances.
Before the 2022 campaign, he and Gio Urshela were traded to the Twins for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt. Due to his struggles with the Twins, he had to settle for a minor league deal with the Giants last spring but opted out before signing another minor league deal with the Mets. He appeared in only three games with the big league club before he was designated for assignment on May 25th. The Padres claimed him off waivers, and he performed quite well for the Friars, hitting .218/.292/.500 with 19 homers across 260 plate appearances.
A .500 SLG is a bit obscene, especially knowing that his home ballpark was Petco Park, the second-worst ballpark for offense according to Baseball Savant, but power has never been an issue for Sánchez. His questionable defense was his largest flaw coming up through the minors and most of his time with the Yankees. It has improved over time, and he ranked as the 15th-best catcher with a 4.6 DRP (deserved runs prevented) per Baseball Prospectus. His tenure with the Padres also coincided with Blake Snell’s outstanding run to his second Cy Young award. While in San Diego, Sánchez was Snell’s battery mate for 18 of his 32 starts, and Snell posted a 1.29 ERA over that span. Pretty darn impressive!
Now, Sánchez heads to Milwaukee, where he will be William Contreras’ backup while getting some time as the Brewers’ designated hitter. Due to his projected role hitting into the season, he should only be drafted in the deepest of fantasy leagues, but if he comes into more playing time during the season, he could be an excellent addition to a team looking for power on the waiver wire.
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Dodgers bring back Clayton Kershaw
Future Hall of Fame pitcher Clayton Kershaw is heading back to Los Angeles. He and the Dodgers came to terms with a contract for 2024, which also includes a player option for 2025. After becoming a free agent this fall, the veteran underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for game action sometime in the summer. Although on Thursday, the southpaw said he would return sometime “July-ish, August-ish. Somewhere in there. I don’t know.” Assuming everything goes to plan, this will be Kershaw’s 17th season with the Dodgers and all but secures that he will spend his entire career wearing Dodgers blue. Kershaw is easily the best pitcher in his generation, just ahead of Justin Verlander in my opinion, but injuries have been a recurring issue of the last handful of years.
After tossing at least 170 innings in his first seven full seasons in the majors, he has only passed that bar once since 2016. However, he has been outstanding whenever he has been on the bump and holds a 2.48 ERA for his career, which is mind-blowingly great. Last year, Kershaw battled shoulder issues and landed on the injured list with a strained shoulder in July. He returned on August 10th and was limited to a max of five innings per start for the remainder of the season. From a re-draft standpoint, he is on my do not draft list due to the injury woes and uncertainty about when he will pitch again. However, I might consider it if I were in a league with unlimited IL spots or in deeper draft-and-hold leagues, where late draft picks are nothing more than lotto tickets.
MLB Quick Hits: Gio Urshela is drawing interest from the Marlins, Mets and Yankees, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi… Infielders Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby were officially invited to spring training by the Orioles on Tuesday… Mauricio Dubón will earn $3.5 million this season after winning his arbitration case with the Astros… Austin Hays won his arbitration case with the Orioles and will make $6.3 million in 2024… Taylor Ward prevailed in his arbitration case against the Angels and will make $4.8 million this season. Phillies designated RHP Andrew Bellatti for assignment… Phillies acquired RHP Michael Rucker from the Cubs in exchange for cash considerations… Twins sent RHP Ryan Jensen outright to Triple-A St. Paul… Mariners claimed RHP Collin Snider off waivers from the Diamondbacks… Rockies signed OF Bradley Zimmer to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training… Mets signed LHP Jake Diekman to a one-year, $4 million contract… Mets designated RHP Austin Adams for assignment… Nationals signed RHP Stephen Nogosek to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Mets have had dialogue with free agent slugger J.D. Martinez… Phil Bickford won his arbitration hearing against the Mets and will make $900,000 in 2024… Jacob Webb won his arbitration hearing against the Orioles and will make $1 million in 2024… According to Daniel Alvarez-Montes of ElExtraBase, the Marlins have reached an agreement to acquire Jonah Bride from the Athletics… Marlins designated INF Jordan Groshans for assignment… Andrew Painter isn’t expected to pitch in games this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery last July, Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Wednesday… Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that Johan Rojas likely will be the team’s starting center fielder… Red Sox signed INF-OF Dalton Guthrie to a minor league contract… Marlins designated RHP Kaleb Ort for assignment… Marlins claimed RHP Declan Cronin off waivers from the Astros… Twins designated OF Bubba Thompson for assignment… Twins designated RHP Jordan Balazovic for assignment… Twins claimed RHP Zack Weiss off waivers from the Red Sox… Twins agreed to terms with RHP Jay Jackson to a one-year contract with a club option for 2025… Twins agreed to terms with 1B Carlos Santana on a one-year contract… Angels designated RHP Austin Warren for assignment… Angels acquired RHP Guillermo Zuñiga from the Cardinals in exchange for cash considerations… Phillies designated OF Simón Muzziotti for assignment… Phillies claimed RHP Max Castillo off waivers from the Red Sox… Mariners designated RHP Darren McCaughan for assignment… Mariners claimed OF Canaan Smith-Njigba off waivers from the Pirates… Mariners signed RHP Casey Lawrence to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… Brewers signed RHP Jakob Junis to a one-year, $7 million contract… Brewers designated LHP Clayton Andrews for assignment… Tigers sent RHP Devin Sweet outright to Triple-A Toledo…Vladimir Guerrero Jr. won his arbitration hearing against the Blue Jays and will make $19.9 million in 2024… Nationals signed RHP Luke Farrell to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… Orioles acquired INF Nick Maton from the Tigers for cash considerations… Mariners signed reliever Sean Poppen to a minor league contract… Pirates signed reliever Brent Honeywell to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training… According to MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer, Harry Ford will play multiple positions aside from catcher during spring training… Rays agreed to a contract extension with manager Kevin Cash… Red Sox signed reliever Michael Fulmer to a two-year minor league deal… Bryce Miller has altered his pitch mix in the offseason in the hopes of performing better against lefties in 2024… According to Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant, the Rangers avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension with outfielder Adolis García… Orioles claimed infielder Livan Soto off waivers from the Angels… Dodgers signed infielder Chris Owings to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training… White Sox reliever Lane Ramsey cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A… White Sox signed INF Danny Mendick to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training… J.D. Davis will earn $6.9 million this season after winning his arbitration case against the Giants… Dodgers signed RHP Ryan Brasier to a two-year, $9 million contract… White Sox signed RHP Jesse Chavez to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training… Dodgers placed RHP Dustin May on the 60-day injured list following elbow surgery… Angels released RHP Austin Warren… Rangers agreed to terms with OF Adolis Garcia to a two-year contract.