The Major League Baseball postseason is in full swing, but there’s news around baseball outside of the playoffs. Let’s take a lot at some of the biggest newsmakers.
Cole In Line For Huge Payday
The Astros’ Gerrit Cole continues to add dollars onto his offseason contract with every start he makes. Not only did he set a record for most consecutive games with 10 or more strikeouts at nine in his last outing of the regular season, he kept it going in his first start of the postseason.
He was absolutely filthy in the Astros’ Saturday win over the Rays, striking out 15 and setting a record of 33 swings and misses in the outing. A free-agent-to-be this offseason, the Astros would love to keep him but know that he will likely price himself out of their budget, given that they would likely have to exceed the luxury tax to sign him.
Regardless, the Astros are trying to ride their unbelievable trio of arms (Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke) to their second World Series in the last three years. As it stands right now, they are one win away from moving onto the American League Championship Series.
Betts Likely To Be Traded?
While it’s no guarantee, there have been some rumblings that the Boston Red Sox could look to move Mookie Betts this offseason in an effort to stay under the luxury tax. Betts will be entering his last year of arbitration, and, after earning $20 million in arbitration in 2019, he is likely due for another substantial raise.
Thus, if they don’t think they can get him signed long-term, it could make sense for the Red Sox to explore a deal this offseason so that they can not only shed some payroll obligations, but they also could get something of value in return for the All-Star outfielder.
Betts has continued to produce at a high level, as this season he hit .295/.391/.524 with 29 home runs, 80 runs batted in and 135 runs scored. He also added 16 stolen bases. According to baseball-reference, he had a WAR (wins above replacement) of 6.8.
Next season, he will be 27, meaning that it is very likely that he will continue to produce at a high level. It will be interesting to see if that is with the Red Sox or another team. If it is another team, it will also be interesting to see what type of return the Red Sox can get for one of the top players in the game.
Indians Likely To Keep Kluber, Move On From Kipnis
Last week, Chris Antonetti, the Cleveland Indians’ president of baseball operations, announced that the team is intending to exercise its option on starting pitcher Corey Kluber. While Kluber had a disaster of a 2019 campaign, he is still a two-time Cy Young Award winner and brings a lot of value to the club.
At $17.5 million, it seems like a no-brainer, even for an organization that has traditionally had financial restrictions. This year, Kluber’s season was cut short as he suffered a fracture to his forearm early in the season and an oblique injury later in the campaign.
In total, Kluber pitched just seven games, going 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings. Still, he is just a season removed from going 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA, and the Indians hope that he will be able to recapture that form next season, despite being 34 years old.
While the Indians intend to bring Kluber back, they are planning to move on from longtime second baseman Jason Kipnis. Kipnis had a $16.5 million option or a $2.5 million buyout, and it appears the Indians will take the latter.
In 2019, Kipnis had 458 at-bats and hit .245/.304/.410 with 17 home runs, 65 runs batted in and 52 runs scored. While that production is not awful from the 32-year-old, the Indians feel they can better use the $16.5 million elsewhere.
The Indians are also planning on declining the $1.5 million option of reliever Dan Otero. This season, Otero was 0-0 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 29 2/3 innings pitched. In that time, he had 16 strikeouts and three walks.