We are a matter of weeks until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, but that has not prevented teams from still trying to improve their clubs. From trades to extensions to a front office hire, this week has had a bit of everything.
Let’s take a look at the biggest stories from around Major League Baseball this week.
Rays Extend Trio Of Players
The Tampa Bay Rays have long been known as one of the most savvy organizations, finding a way to compete annually despite not having the biggest budget. Part of that success is knowing when to extend their star players, and this week saw the club sign a trio of players to extensions.
First, the club announced that the team has agreed to a four-year, $31 million deal with left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Springs. The deal also includes an option and the opportunity for more money in incentives.
Last season, the 30-year-old Springs went 9-5 in 33 games (25 starts) for the Rays. In that span, he had a 2.46 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and struck out 144 in 135.1 innings.
On Friday, the club also announced that they signed pitcher Pete Fairbanks to a three-year extension worth $12 million. Last season, the 29-year-old righty pitched 24 games in relief, finishing with a 1.13 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, struck out 38 in 24 innings, and had eight saves.
Over the weekend, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that the club and Yandy Diaz were also working towards a three-year extension worth $24 million. In 473 at bats last year, the 31-year-old corner infielder hit .296/.401/.423 with nine home runs, 57 runs batted in, and 71 runs scored.
The Rays currently have the fifth-best odds of winning the American League pennant in 2023 at +1200, and they are +2500 to win the World Series.
Mets Also Sign Regular To Extension
The Rays weren’t the only team to sign a player to an extension this week. As first reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN, the New York Mets and second baseman Jeff McNeil agreed to a four-year extension worth $50 million. The deal also includes an option for a fifth year.
Last season, the 30-year-old McNeil hit .326/.382/.454 with nine home runs, 62 runs batted in, and 73 runs scored in 533 at bats.
Injuries have been an issue for McNeil in the past, as he has only eclipsed 500 at bats twice in his career, but he showed last year how valuable he can be when healthy.
After a massive spending spree this offseason, the Mets currently have the best odds of winning a loaded NL East at +135. They are tied for the third-best odds of winning the World Series at +750.
Pair Of Trades For AL East Teams
This week not only saw several extensions, but there were a couple trades made as well by AL East clubs.
First, the Boston Red Sox brought in some shortstop help by acquiring Adalberto Mondesi from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for lefty reliever Josh Taylor.
Especially with Xander Bogaerts having walked in free agency and Trevor Story injured, Mondesi has an opportunity to solidify the shortstop position for Boston.
The big question is whether he can stay healthy. With tantalizing speed and tools, Mondesi has long been seen as a player that could be elite if he could stay healthy. Unfortunately, in seven seasons, he has only had more than 300 at bats once, and even that was only 415 in 2019.
In that 2019 season, he finished with a .263/.291/.424 slash line and had nine home runs, 62 runs batted in, 58 runs, and 43 stolen bases.
Last season, with Kansas City, he played in just 15 games, amassing a .140/.204/.140 line.
Elsewhere, the Baltimore Orioles helped solidify their rotation by acquiring left-handed starter Cole Irvin from the Oakland Athletics. Last season, the nearly 29-year-old Irvin went 9-13 with a 3.98 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and struck out 128 in 181 innings.
In return, the A’s received a pair of prospects in pitcher Kyle Virbitsky and infielder Darell Hernaiz.
The Orioles and Red Sox are tied with the worst odds of winning the AL East at +2000.
Astros Find Their GM
Despite winning the World Series last year, the Houston Astros have largely been working without a general manager this offseason as they did not bring back James Click, the previous general manager, after last season.
That changed on Thursday as they agreed with Dana Brown to become the team’s new GM. Brown previously worked as the Vice President of Scouting for the Atlanta Braves.
He has also worked in the Blue Jays and Nationals organizations.
Now in control of the Astros, Brown will look to help guide them to another title in 2023. They currently are the favorites to win it all again at +600.