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Friday, January 18, 2019

Baseball

Russell Martin thinks return to Dodgers can bring back ‘magic’

Russell Martin

Russell Martin is returning to the Dodgers, the team that drafted and groomed him, and for whom he made two All-Star teams. Though his play dropped off last season, he’s hoping a return to Los Angeles can bring back some “magic” for him, much like it did for Matt Kemp.

Martin was acquired by the Dodgers in a trade with the Blue Jays on Friday, one that will see the Jays pay most of the $20 million the catcher is owed. Martin talked about his desires to bring back the “magic” in comments shared by the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett on Friday.

Kemp went from being a guy the Dodgers expected to release before last season to making his first All-Star team since 2012. Martin was an All-Star in 2015 for Toronto, but he batted a horrid .194 last season. He’s always been a solid on-base percentage player at catcher, but the Dodgers will need much more from him in the batting average department. Maybe the change of scenery and return to LA will help with that.

Rockies’ Nolan Arenado headed for record arbitration salary

Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is well on his way to a record salary via the arbitration process.

Arenado and the Rockies swapped figures on Friday, with the third baseman asking for $30 million and the team offering $24 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Even if the Rockies were to win proceedings, the $24 million salary would still set a new record for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $23 million figure the Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson settled on prior to 2018.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, it is likely that the two sides will settle before going to a hearing, placing the record figure somewhere between the two.

Arenado hit .297 with 38 home runs last season, a year in which he made $17.75 million. It’s plausible that he could also break the record for the biggest raise to come from arbitration, also set earlier this offseason, though that one might be a bit tougher.

Luis Severino, Aaron Nola will go to salary arbitration

Luis Severino

Luis Severino and Aaron Nola will be headed to arbitration to determine their salaries for the 2019 season.

Friday was the deadline for teams and players to agree on contracts without the need for arbitration. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that Severino and Nola are two players who did not agree to contracts and will therefore go to arbitration.

The arbitration process works as follows. The two sides submit a salary figure for how much the player should be paid the upcoming season. The player’s submitted figure is higher than the team’s. They have a hearing date set for February and can try to negotiate and reach an agreement on a salary before the hearing date. If no agreement is reached, an arbitrator hears the case for both sides and then rules in favor of either salary amount submission, but not a number in between.

Severino, 24, has earned arbitration for the 2019 season as a “Super Two” player. That means he has less than three years of MLB service time but ranked in the top 22 percent, in terms of service time, among those who have amassed between two and three years in the Majors. He went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and should see a nice boost from the $604,975 he made last season.

Nola, 25, is in his first year of arbitration eligibility and has just over three years of service time. He went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA last season and is also in for a nice raise from the $573,000 he earned in 2018.

Report: Manny Machado, Yankees have had little or no contact since meeting

Manny Machado

There has been a lot of talk about Manny Machado preferring to sign with the New York Yankees and potentially taking less money to do so, but that would require the Bronx Bombers making him an honest offer. At this point, that hardly seems like a given.

Machado is said to be seeking somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million, and there has been no indication that the Yankees are willing to go that high. It has been more than three weeks since Machado met with the Yanks in New York, and Jack Curry of the YES Network reports that there has been barely any communication between the two sides over that period.

It seems like one of two things is happening with the Yankees and Machado — either they don’t think there is another team willing to meet his contract demands and are opting to slow-play things, or they simply don’t want to sign him. Whatever the case, we have heard numerous reports that they are not aggressively pursuing him.

Unless a mystery team emerges, it sounds like Machado does not have many suitors. If the Phillies end up signing Bryce Harper and the Chicago White Sox truly aren’t willing to make a substantial offer, Machado may not be in a great position of strength. That probably has a lot to do with the way the Yankees are handling negotiations with him.

Jacob deGrom lands record arbitration raise

Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom is now a record-setter in salary after posting a historic pitching season.

deGrom received a $17 million salary for 2019 in arbitration, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. His $9.6 million raise from $7.4 million in 2018 to $17 million this year is a record arbitration raise.

Mookie Betts received $20 million in his second year of arbitration from the Boston Red Sox, jumping $9.5 million from what he received last year. So deGrom’s $9.6 million stands as the biggest jump.

While deGrom and Betts are still underpaid based on the value they provide their teams, the new arbitration amounts show they are at least able to earn very healthy salaries despite being under team control.

deGrom, 30, went 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 217 innings last season. He won his first Cy Young award, received his second All-Star nod, and even finished fifth in NL MVP voting during his historic season.

Blue Jays agree to trade Russell Martin to Dodgers

Russell Martin

Russell Martin began his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers what seems like a lifetime again, and the catcher will now be reuniting with his former team.

According to baseball reporter Arash Madani, the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to trade Martin to the Dodgers.

Martin will turn 36 in February, and he is coming off a 2018 season to forget in which he batted just .194 in 94 games. The catcher is owed $20 million next season and has steadily declined in each year since signing a five-year, $82 million deal with the Jays. Not surprisingly, Toronto will be eating a large portion of his salary.

While Martin hit below .200 last season and just .221 the year before, he still walks plenty and had a respectable .338 on-base percentage. The Dodgers had a need at catcher after losing Yasmani Grandal in free agency, so Martin should pair with Austin Barnes behind the plate.

Phillies willing to offer Bryce Harper $350 million?

Bryce Harper

Most Philadelphia Phillies fans would be extremely disappointed if their team did not land one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado this offseason, and one prominent MLB reporter still believes they are going to sign the former.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today has been predicting since early in the offseason that Harper will end up with the Phillies. While reports lately have indicated that the Washington Nationals are making a push to keep Harper, Nightengale is not backing down from his prediction. In an appearance on the 94WIP High Hopes Podcast with Jack Fritz and James Seltzer, Nightengale said he thinks the Phillies signing Harper is “more probable than ever before.”

“The Cubs aren’t involved, the Dodgers—the Dodgers would probably be his first choice because he lives in Vegas, Spring Training in Arizona and everything else,” he said. “I still got Bryce Harper going to the Phillies.”

The Nationals have offered Harper somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million, and it doesn’t sound like the Chicago White Sox are willing to spend anywhere near that. When it comes time to make a final offer, Nightengale believes the Phillies will push toward $350 million.

“I would think for them to make sure the Nationals aren’t involved, you gotta go more toward the 350 (million) mark,” he said. “I would think a 10-, 12-year contract between 300 and 350 (million) would be at least the starting point to get it done. Probably 12 years.”

For what it’s worth, some rival executives believe the Phillies are going to make the biggest offer to either Harper or Machado. They already acquired shortstop Jean Segura from the Seattle Mariners earlier this offseason, so Harper may be a better fit.