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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Baseball

Mike Trout: Manny Machado, Bryce Harper free agencies were ‘red flag’

Mike Trout

Mike Trout chose to forego free agency once again by signing a long-term extension with the Los Angels Angels two years before his previous deal expired, and the star outfielder says what happened with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado was part of the reason he wanted to go that route.

Trout spoke with reporters on Sunday about his record $430 million contract, and he said he informed the Angels he either wanted to sign a new deal now or was going to test free agency following the 2020 season. However, he preferred to lock in an extension and viewed the “tough couple months” for Harper and Machado as a “red flag.”

Trout added that he would not have felt right moving to another team in two years to chase a championship. Some have wondered why he committed to the Angels despite reaching the playoffs just once in his eight seasons, but Trout said “teams go through ups and downs” and he prefers to ride that out.

No one is going to weep for Machado and Harper after they got $300 million and $330 million, respectively, and even Harper said he is pleased with the way things unfolded. Given what Trout has said about his commitment to the Angels, it’s clear his contract situation could not have worked out more perfectly.

Indians owner urges fans to ‘enjoy’ Francisco Lindor before free agency

Francisco Lindor

Cleveland Indians owner Paul Dolan offered some advice to fans that comes off as rather ominous long-term.

Dolan said Tribe fans should “enjoy” shortstop Francisco Lindor now before he becomes a free agent after the 2021 season amid fears that Cleveland won’t be able to afford him.

“Enjoy him,” Dolan said, via Zack Meisel of The Athletic. “We control him for three more years. Enjoy him and then we’ll see what happens.”

Dolan added that it is “painful” when budgetary reasons prevent the team from keeping hold of one of its own players, though he wasn’t necessarily speaking about Lindor.

Cleveland faces budget restraints, and a short playoff run in 2018 has not helped matters. That’s why they considered dealing some of their high-end starters. That doesn’t really bode well for their hopes of retaining Lindor, who figures to demand a payday in the bracket of Manny Machado and players of that caliber. Perhaps something will change within the next three years.

Reds’ Nick Senzel not blaming service time for losing outfield job

A day after his agent blamed service time manipulation for him not winning a roster spot, Cincinnati Reds top prospect Nick Senzel is refusing to take the same approach publicly.

On Saturday, Senzel simply credited teammate Scott Schebler for nailing down the team’s center field job, and wouldn’t go anywhere close to as far as his agent did.

Schebler hit .379 during spring, so keeping him on the roster is far from indefensible. Senzel wasn’t bad either, though, hitting .308.

Ultimately, Senzel’s agent has a lot more leeway to speak on this publicly than Senzel probably does, but he’ll probably earn points for his professionalism whether he feels it’s fair or not.

Sean Doolittle explains jersey number change, plan to make it up to fans

Washington Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle has quickly become one of the most popular players on the team over the past two seasons, but any merchandise that has been sold with his jersey number on it is suddenly outdated. The left-hander is trying his best to make that up to fans.

On Monday, Doolittle announced that he is changing from No. 62 to No. 63 this season. He said the number “carries a special significance” for his family and he decided to switch after leaving the Nationals to tend to a family emergency earlier this year.

Doolittle added that he understands fans have purchased jerseys and other items with his previous No. 62 on them, and he’s planning to give away some free stuff to help offset that.

The Nationals acquired Doolittle in a trade with the Oakland A’s back in 2017, and he has stabilized the back end of their bullpen since they made that deal. He was lights-out last season and converted 25 of 26 save opportunities, finishing the season with a 1.60 ERA and just 21 hits allowed in 45 innings. Doolittle has already proven he is a team-first guy with some remarks he made this year about Washington potentially bolstering its bullpen, and the fans have to appreciate him showing them some love as well.

Jacob deGrom less optimistic about new contract with Mets

Jacob deGrom

New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom had been optimistic about reaching a contract extension with the team before his self-imposed deadline. Now, that seems less likely.

On Saturday, deGrom said he was not as optimistic that the two sides could reach a deal before the end of spring training, at which point the pitcher will not engage in further discussions until the end of the season.

deGrom has two seasons left to go on his contract, but there is an eagerness to get something done now before it becomes a real distraction. Plus, there could be far-ranging ramifications on the field if deGrom and the Mets can’t come to an agreement this spring.

Ryan Braun missing exhibition games in Montreal due to passport

Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun is not participating in two games against the Toronto Blue Jays this week due to his passport.

The Milwaukee Brewers are in Montreal this week for exhibition games against the Jays on Monday and Tuesday. Braun is not with them because he did not have his passport, which prevents him from traveling to Canada.

Not surprisingly, this sort of thing does happen on occasion with professional athletes. Thankfully for the Brewers, they do not have any games on their regular season schedule outside of the United States.

Braun is preparing for his 13th major league season, all with the Brewers. In 125 games last year, Braun hit .254/.313/.469 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs.

Trevor Bauer disputes notion he is unhappy about not being Opening Day starter

Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer once again used his Twitter account to protest something written by Cleveland Indians reporter Paul Hoynes.

The Indians announced on Saturday that Corey Kluber would start Opening Day while Bauer would follow him in the rotation. In his opening sentence for a story on the matter, Hoynes said on Cleveland.com that Bauer was “not happy” about Kluber getting the nod.

Bauer disputed that characterization and let it be known via Twitter.

Indians manager Terry Francona was quoted as saying Bauer might be “a little cranky” over the decision, but acknowledged that they couldn’t go wrong choosing between the two pitchers.

Though Bauer was better than Kluber by most statistical measures last season, the Opening Day honor often goes to a pitcher with a more proven history when there is a doubt. If Bauer repeats his performance from 2018 and out-pitches Kluber this season, he’ll probably have earned the 2020 nod. For now, you can’t really argue with choosing a pitcher who has won two Cy Youngs and has five straight 200-plus inning/200-plus strikeout seasons. And you also can’t argue with an athlete so competitive that he wants to earn the highest honors in his sport.