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MLB News and Notes: Strasburg Wins MVP, Opts Out

After a long journey that started with pitchers and catchers reporting in February, the Major League Baseball season came to a close when the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros in the World Series 4-3. In what was an odd World Series, with not a single home team winning a game. That’s right, the Nationals became the first team in Major League Baseball history to win the World Series having won all four of their games on the road.

As the Nationals continue to celebrate, general managers around the league are now on the clock as decisions on their own rosters have to be made, and plans for the upcoming offseason have to be laid out. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the news from around the league.

Strasburg Opts Out Of Contract

The postseason really elevated the stock of Washington Nationals righty Stephen Strasburg, and he appears ready to take advantage of it. This week, Strasburg, the World Series MVP, decided to opt out of the remaining four years and $100 million on his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. He will now compete with Gerrit Cole as the most attractive starting pitcher on the market and is sure to get a deal at or above $200 million this offseason.

This season, Strasburg went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and struck out 251 batters in 209 innings. He was even more dominant in the postseason, and, with his success, teams should be lining up for his services.
It is not out of the possibility that he could return to the Nationals, but it will be at a much higher price. For the Nationals, they will certainly have some work to do as they are at risk of losing both Strasburg and free-agent slugger Anthony Rendon this offseason.

Yankees Moves

Early indications were that if Aroldis Chapman did not get an extension from the New York Yankees, he was considering opting out of the remaining two years and $30 million that were left on his current contract. That now appears to be a moot point as Chapman has agreed to a one-year extension worth $18 million that will make the total of his current contract three years and $48 million.

There were certainly signs of aging in Chapman this year, most notably the fact that he no longer seems to be the hurler that can hit 103 or 104 on the radar, but that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t still solid in his role. On the season, Chapman was 3-2 with a 2.21 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and had 37 saves. In 57 innings pitched, he also had 85 strikeouts.

For Chapman, it was a bitter end to the season, as he gave up the game- and series-winning home run to Jose Altuve in the American League Championship Series that ultimately ended the Yankees season. Still, with him in the fold for the next three years, the Yankees certainly have their closer and anchor of their bullpen.

On a separate note, the Yankees did not pick up the option of designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion had a $20 million option on his contract that the Yankees declined, instead choosing to pay a $5 million buyout.

Despite being 36, Encarnacion was still relatively solid at the plate. In 418 at-bats, he hit .244/.344/.531 with 34 home runs, 86 runs batted in and 81 runs scored. It will be interesting to see who he can latch on with, though, as he is primarily a designated hitter, and many of the contending teams already have that position mostly filled.

Beltran New Manager For The Mets

The New York Mets have officially named their next manager, and it is someone that they are pretty familiar with. The Mets have named former slugging outfielder Carlos Beltran as manager and have signed him to a three-year deal with a club option. This will be Beltran’s first experience as a manager, although he did spend last year as a special advisor in the New York Yankees system.

Interestingly, there is an above-average chance that during his tenure with the Mets, he will also likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame (or at least has a chance, depending on the voters).

Indians Exercise Kluber’s Option, Decline Others

As expected, the Cleveland Indians made a couple of their own roster decisions. Most notably, the Indians decided to exercise their $17.5 million contract on veteran righty Corey Kluber. It was a pretty frustrating season for Kluber as he missed time with injuries (both a forearm fracture and an oblique injury).

Not only was it frustrating due to injuries, but it was frustrating on the field this year for Kluber, too. He went 2-3 in seven games started with a 5.80 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. Still, at $17.5 million, it is worth the risk for the Indians, hoping that even if he can’t return to his former Cy Young status, he should still be able to return to a solid pitching option.

While Kluber had his option picked up, the Indians did decline the options of Jason Kipnis ($16.5 million) and Dan Otero ($1.5 million). Kipnis didn’t have a horrific season, as he hit .245/.304/.410 with 17 home runs, 65 runs batted in and 52 runs scored in 458 at-bats, but it certainly wasn’t worth the $16.5 million to the Tribe for the aging infielder.

Otero threw 29 2/3 innings, striking out 16 and ending with a 4.85 ERA. Although his price was not nearly as high, every dollar counts for the financially-restricted Indians.

Rangers Acquire Castillo

The Chicago White Sox and the Texas Rangers made a pretty low-key move this week as the White Sox sent catcher Welington Castillo and $250,000 in international draft bonus pool money to the Rangers in exchange for minor leaguer Jonah McReynolds.

Interestingly, it is likely that the Rangers will decline Castillo’s $8 million option, so it is really like they traded McReynolds just for the bonus pool money. Last season, Castillo hit .209/.267/.417 in 230 at-bats with 12 home runs and 41 runs batted in.

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