Now that free agent starter Zack Wheeler has signed, the entire pitching market looks set to take off.
The next domino to fall could be Madison Bumgarner. The free agent left-hander has two major suitors in AL Central rivals Minnesota and Chicago, according to Andy Martino of SNY.
In the wake of Wheeler signing with Phillies and Hamels signing with Braves, Bumgarner market is clarifying. Per sources, White Sox and Twins among heaviest suitors there. Yankees involved to some degree.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) December 4, 2019
Both the Twins and White Sox are eager to upgrade their rotations, so it’s no surprise that they’re aggressively chasing Bumgarner. Both teams were in on the Wheeler sweepstakes, with Chicago actually making the highest known offer there. It’s not clear what the asking price is financially for Bumgarner, but it’s probably not that dissimilar from what Wheeler was asking. Given that both teams were willing to pay up there, they likely won’t back down when it comes to Bumgarner.
Bumgarner is still only 30 and should have several good years left. That said, his 3.90 ERA for the San Francisco Giants in 2019 was a career worst.
Zack Wheeler is getting an impressive sum of money from the Phillies, but reportedly left some cash on the table in order to sign with the team.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Wheeler turned down more money from the Chicago White Sox than the $118 million he got from Philadelphia. His desire to stay close to his wife’s New Jersey home was apparently a major factor in his decision to sign with the Phillies.
#WhiteSox’s offer to Wheeler was for MORE than the $118M he will receive from the #Phillies, sources tell The Athletic. As @MarcCarig said, Wheeler’s wife is from New Jersey, and that proximity was an important consideration in his decision.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
We can take a couple things from this. First, the Phillies had a huge inherent advantage geographically that allowed them to land Wheeler at something of a discount. With that in mind, it’s hard to see anyone else as having a great chance unless they blew Philadelphia’s offer out of the water financially.
Second, the White Sox are serious. They’ve already brought in catcher Yasmani Grandal, and the fact that they were willing to go big in a Wheeler deal suggests that they want to take a big step forward in 2020. Some of the trades they’ve reportedly discussed also bear that out.
The market for Zack Wheeler has been sizzling since the start of free agency, and as expected the right-hander has turned that into a massive contract.
Wheeler has agreed to a five-year, $118 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. Rosenthal’s colleague Marc Carig was the first to share the news of the sides coming to an agreement.
Wheeler with #Phillies, per source: Five years, $118M
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 4, 2019
Wheeler is still just 29 and has put up solid numbers throughout his career, but he had a 3.96 ERA last year with the New York Mets and has a career ERA of 3.77. Those aren’t exactly ace numbers, but starting pitchers are in extremely high demand this offseason, and Wheeler was able to take advantage of that.
The Phillies badly needed starting pitching after an extremely disappointing season last year, so Wheeler should give them a nice boost in that department. It would not be a surprise if they added another big piece to their rotation before the winter is over.
Wheeler, who went 11-8 with 195 strikeouts in 31 total starts last season, was also being heavily pursued by the Chicago White Sox. They were believed to be the highest bidder as of less than two weeks ago, but Wheeler ultimately settled on Philly.
One of the lingering questions about the Houston Astros’ alleged 2017 sign-stealing operation is just how much of a benefit their hitters got from it. One member of the team says, at least on his account, it wasn’t much.
J.D. Davis, currently with the New York Mets, spent parts of two seasons with the Astros in 2017 and 2018. He claimed he had no knowledge of the sign-stealing operation while playing for Houston — and hilariously joked that he wished he had considering how poorly he hit there.
J.D. Davis said he didn't know anything about the 2017 Astros' alleged cheating system.
"I wasn’t aware of anything," he said. "And even there was, I wish I would have known because I batted only like .180, .200, something like that."
(Davis batted .226 in 24 games.)
— Tim Healey (@timbhealey) December 4, 2019
Davis hit four home runs in his 24 games, but hit for a very low average. He was even worse in 2018, hitting .175 with no power in 42 games. He was ultimately traded to the Mets, where he broke out to the tune of a .307 average and 22 home runs in 2019.
Obviously, this isn’t evidence that nothing happened — there’s enormous evidence that something was going on in 2017. It doesn’t make Davis’ quote any less funny, though.
Cole Hamels had several teams pursuing him in free agency, but the veteran left-hander has wasted no time choosing one.
Hamels has agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves worth $18 million, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports.
Left-hander Cole Hamels and the Atlanta Braves are in agreement on a one-year, $18 million deal, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019
Hamels should help bolster an Atlanta starting rotation that was already 12th-best in baseball last year with a 4.20 team ERA. The 35-year-old has gone just 16-19 over the past two seasons but had a serviceable 3.81 ERA last year with the Chicago Cubs. He has also been plenty durable despite his age, as he made 27 starts in 2019 and 32 in 2018.
As many as a dozen teams had interest in signing Hamels, so he probably could have signed at least a two-year deal elsewhere. However, he stated early on that he wanted to sign with a World Series contender, and the Braves are the defending NL East champions and have an excellent core in place. They’ll certainly give Hamels a chance to contend in the twilight of his career.
Another man who has been accused of playing a role in David Ortiz being shot in the Dominican Republic earlier this year has been arrested.
Alleged drug kingpin Cesar Emilio Peralta was taken into custody in Colombia on Monday, according to a report from CBS News. Peralta had been wanted by the FBI since 2018 in connection with drug trafficking.
More than a dozen arrests have been made so far stemming from Ortiz being shot, though details and motives remain largely unclear. There were rumors that a drug lord issued a hit on Ortiz after believing the former MLB slugger was having an affair with his wife, but authorities have not confirmed that. Prosecutors in the Dominican Republic have said Ortiz was not the intended target of the attempted assassination.
Authorities arrested another man back in June who they believe was one of the orchestrators of the plot that resulted in Ortiz being shot.
Initial reports indicated that Ortiz was shot in an attempted robbery, but a disturbing video of the incident showed a man walk up behind the 43-year-old and shoot him in the back before fleeing. The bullet entered Ortiz’s back and exited through his stomach, and he had to undergo extensive surgery after some of his intestines and organs were damaged.
Fortunately, Ortiz has made a full recovery. He was able to once again work as an analyst during the MLB playoffs and appears to be doing quite well.
Just in case you needed more proof than the results of Game 7 to know that A.J. Hinch blew it by taking Zack Greinke out in the seventh, just listen to what Howie Kendrick said.
The 2019 World Series documentary has been released, and it includes an interview with Kendrick. Kendrick was coming to the plate when Houston removed Greinke and replaced him with reliever Will Smith. Kendrick hit a 2-run home run off Smith to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead and completely change the game. They went on to win 6-2.
In the World Series documentary, Kendrick said “it’s kind of crazy to me that they took [Greinke] out of the game.” Kendrick’s reaction to Greinke being removed was “yesss.”
"Oh, that was awesome."
— MLB (@MLB) December 4, 2019
Not only was taking Greinke out a poor tactical move considering how well he had been pitching, but Kendrick’s comments point to another factor regarding the move: psychological.
Just taking out a guy who really had Washington’s number that game gave the Nats a big mental boost. Once he was out, they suddenly felt relieved and some confidence. That was no doubt a big factor in them running away with the game.
We already called out Hinch for blowing the World Series with that move. Kendrick’s comments are further proof of the gravity of the error.