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MLB News and Notes: March 12, 2019

Diamondbacks Sign Adam Jones, But Other Notable Free Agents Remain

We have seen an offseason where players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper spent months upon months before finding a contract to their liking. Another big name has also spent the offseason wondering where he would end up, but for Adam Jones, that wait is over. On Monday, Jones officially inked a one-year deal for $3 million plus incentives with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jones has spent his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles but will now be heading west. Last season, Jones hit .281/.313/.419 with 15 home runs, 63 runs batted in and 54 runs scored. While he may not be the 30 home run guy that he was in previous years, he is still a serviceable outfielder that comes to Arizona on a very team-friendly deal.

While Jones is now off the market, there remain a few notable free agents looming. The most shocking free agents still on the market are closer Craig Kimbrel and starter Dallas Keuchel. The craziest part is that nothing necessarily seems close for either of these players. There have been reports linking Keuchel to both the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros, but nothing appears imminent. For Kimbrel, things have remained even quieter. Still, for two of the better pitchers on the market when the offseason started several months ago, these two are running out of time to be on a team when the season actually starts.

Royals Find Replacement For Salvy

It is never easy for a team like the Kansas City Royals to replace one of the veteran leaders of the team and one of the most respected backstops in all of baseball in Salvador Perez. All things considered, though, they did pretty well. On Monday, the Royals announced that they have signed catcher Martin Maldonado to a one-year, $2.5 million contract that also includes incentives. Maldanado is one of the best defensive catchers in the game and is serviceable on the offensive side. Last season, he split time between the Los Angeles Angels as well as the Houston Astros. Combined, he hit .225/.276/.351 with 9 home runs, 44 runs batted in and 39 runs scored. Interestingly, it was reported that Maldanado turned down a 2-year, $10 million deal at the beginning of the offseason with the Astros, a deal that he may wish that he could have another chance on. Still, for Maldanado, he latches on with a team that needs him, and for the Royals, he may turn into a midseason trade chip.

Couple Of 80 Game Suspensions

A couple of suspensions were announced over the last few days around the league. The most notable was Red Sox reliever Steven Wright. The knuckleballer was suspended 80 games after testing positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2. For a Red Sox bullpen that has been somewhat depleted, this is just another hit. Last season, Wright was 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA and 1.248 WHIP. In 53.2 innings, he had 42 strikeouts. Wright was able to work out of the pen but also made the occasional start. In 20 games pitched, he started 4 of them for the Red Sox.

Another 80-game suspension was announced on Tuesday for a former top prospect of the Houston Astros. Frances Martes tested positive for Clomiphene. At 23, Martes has been recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had last August, but this does not help the case for the former top prospect. Still with the Astros, most of his suspension will come while he is still recovering, but it just continues the downward spiral for a player that was ranked as one of the best prospects in the game as recently as 2017. He is still young enough to have a productive career, but 2019 is certainly off to a rocky start.

Tebow To Triple-A

Love him or hate him, it is hard to deny the fact that Tim Tebow is an engaging figure. He draws peoples attention regardless of what he is doing. His brief career in the minors may prove this more than anything. It is not uncommon to see stories swirl about how he does in the minors and “Tebow-watch” is on for when he will get the call to the big show. For fans, though, that watch is going to be a little bit longer. On Tuesday, Tebow was amongst a handful of players who were cut from the big club and sent back to the minors. In his fourth season in professional baseball, Tebow will likely be starting the season at the Triple-A Syracuse Mets. At 31, the former Heisman Trophy winner is likely not going to be a game changer at the professional level, but one thing remains undeniable, when he does, it will put fans in the seats at New York. If the season heads south for the Mets this year, it may end up being the year of Tebow in the Big Apple.

Blue Jays May Be Bailed Out By Vlad Jr.’s Injury

No one likes to see a player get injured in baseball, particularly the team the player is on, but while the injury to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. causes one problem, it solves another. Let’s be honest, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the consensus top prospect in all of baseball, was not going to start the season in Toronto. That is not to say that he is not good enough to play there, but it just does not make financial sense for the Blue Jays, who are not expected to be competitive this season, to do so. By keeping him in the minors for a handful of weeks, the Blue Jays will be able to add an extra year of service time for Guerrero. It is one of the loopholes in the current collective bargaining agreement that teams have taken advantage of, and frankly, it only made sense for Toronto to follow the same path.

Still, there would have been naysayers to the strategy. The player’s union could have filed a grievance like they did when the same thing happened to Kris Bryant. Fans might have been upset, and it would not have been great for public relations. For the Blue Jays, they seem to have avoided all of that negative pushback as Guerrero has reportedly strained his left oblique muscle. By doing so, it will push him out of action for a few weeks to rest. Add a few more to get caught back up and “game ready’ and, just like that, the Blue Jays have exhausted the time frame to get that extra year of service. While they don’t want to see their star prospect injured, it does solve another problem for them.

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