Despite cold temperatures in many parts of the nation, spring is almost in the air, as in just about a month, the four best words in sports will be said: Pitchers and catchers report. Despite the fact that most big names are already off the free-agent market, there is still plenty of news from around the league.
Let’s take a look at some of the most recent news stories from around the league this week.
Cardinals, Rays Pull Off Big Trade
In one of the bigger trades of the offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Jose Martinez, outfielder Randy Arozarena and their Competitive Balance Round A draft pick to the Tampa Bay Rays for prized pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore, a Competitive Balance Round B pick and a lower level catching prospect.
For the Rays, the key to this deal was Martinez. The slugger is really more suited for the American League as his defense can be suspect at times, and the Rays may be able to utilize him a little more as their designated hitter.
Last season with the Cardinals, Martinez hit .269/.340/.410 with 10 home runs, 42 runs batted in and 45 runs scored in just 334 at-bats.
At the time of the trade, Arozarena was the Cardinals’ 10th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, so there is some prospect value there as well. The Rays also move up about 28 spots in the draft with the swap of the Competitive Balance picks as well.
For the Cardinals, the clear prize of this deal is Liberatore. The left-handed hurler was the 16th pick in the 2018 draft and has the pedigree to be a top-of-the-rotation-type starter.
Depending on the publication, he has been ranked anywhere from 31st to 63rd in terms of the top 100 prospects in baseball. Dealing from an area of strength, the Cardinals were able to trade one of their extra outfielders for a gem of a pitching prospect.
It will be interesting to see where the Cardinals go from here. Some have speculated that Liberatore could be included in a package for Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, while others have thought the trade of Martinez and Arozarena could lead to a reunion between the Cardinals and Marcell Ozuna.
Regardless, the Cardinals may not be done this offseason in trying to make acquisitions.
Twins Give Extension To Sano
Miguel Sano will be with the Minnesota Twins for the foreseeable future. The star third baseman has signed a three-year deal worth $30 million that also includes a $14 million option for 2023. Last season, in 380 at-bats, Sano hit .247/.346/.576 with 34 home runs, 79 runs batted in and 76 runs scored.
The Twins hope that he is just scratching the surface of his potential, and this deal is reflective of that notion.
Rangers Sign Chirinos
The Texas Rangers have signed catcher Robinson Chirinos away from their intrastate rival Houston Astros. It is a reunion of sorts, as Chirinos had caught for the Rangers prior to his one year in Houston last season.
The backstop signed a one-year, $6.75 million deal, which includes an option for 2021 as well. Last year with the Astros, Chirinos hit .238/.347/.443 with 17 home runs, 58 runs batted in and 57 runs scored.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have quietly had a nice offseason. They have signed Madison Bumgarner to help their rotation and signed Kole Calhoun to help in the outfield.
This week, the Diamondbacks also announced that they agreed to an extension with outfielder David Peralta on a three-year deal worth $22 million plus incentives.
Last season, Peralta hit .275/.343/.461 with 12 home runs, 57 runs batted in and 48 runs in just 382 at-bats.
In addition to extending Peralta, the Diamondbacks also helped their bullpen depth by signing righty Hector Rondon. Last year with the Houston Astros, Rondon went 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and struck out 48 in 60 2/3 innings pitched.
Rondon is a reliever that can certainly give some quality outings in the middle innings.
Nationals Sign Thames
The Washington Nationals have been busy this offseason after winning the World Series last year. They were able to re-sign Stephen Strasburg but lost Anthony Rendon to the Los Angeles Angels. Still, the Nationals have been looking for opportunities to help with their infield, signing Howie Kendrick, Asdrubel Cabrera and Starlin Castro.
This week, they added another infield option in first baseman Eric Thames. Thames, who can also play some outfield, signed for $4 million with an option.
Last year with Milwaukee, Thames hit .247/.346/.505 with 25 home runs, 61 runs batted in and 67 runs scored in just 396 at-bats. Likely a platoon-type player, Thames certainly can add some extra pop to the Nationals’ lineup.
Brewers Extend Counsell
The Brewers announced this week that they signed their skipper, Craig Counsell, to an extension that will keep him in Milwaukee through the 2023 season. Counsell was entering the last year of his contract, so this gives him a vote of confidence entering the season.
In the last two years under Counsell, the Brewers have won the division and, last year, a Wild Card spot. Always battling the budget constraints of being a small market team, Counsell has seemingly gotten the most out of his guys as they have been a playoff contender for the last few years.