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Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Report: Mookie Betts asking for enormous contract from Red Sox

Mookie Betts

The Boston Red Sox are willing to trade outfielder Mookie Betts, and a report about his contractual demands may summarize why.

According to WEEI’s Lou Merloni, the Red Sox offered Betts a 10-year, $300 million deal during the 2019 offseason. Betts, however, countered by asking for 12 years and $420 million.

That’s just shy of Mike Trout’s 12-year, $430 million deal with the Angels, which Betts clearly views as a benchmark if the report is accurate. With the Red Sox making no secret of their desire to cut down on payroll, it’s also easy to understand why they’d balk at that price.

Betts trade talks appear to be growing more serious, with two teams involved at the moment. If a trade is made, the team acquiring Betts will not only have to give up top prospects, but it sounds like they might have to pay him a fortune if they want to keep him around beyond 2020.

Dusty Baker to reportedly be named manager of Astros

Dusty Baker

The Houston Astros will have more than a few distractions to deal with as they head into spring training and the 2020 season, and they are reportedly hiring an experienced manager to help navigate them through it.

Dusty Baker is expected to be named the next manager of the Astros, a person familiar with the hiring told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The deal had not been finalized as of Tuesday morning, but an agreement was in place.

Baker is a three-time National League Manager of the Year who is widely respected throughout baseball. He won three division titles in the last five years he managed with the Washington Nationals and Cincinnati Reds. The 70-year-old has plenty of experience dealing with scandals, as well.

Baker was the manager of the San Francisco Giants when Barry Bonds set the single-season home run record with 73 moonshots. Bonds, of course, was wrapped up in the BALCO scandal at the time. Nightengale also reminds us that Bonds and Jeff Kent did not get along and once fought in the dugout, and Baker was able to keep the team together despite that.

If the Astros are going to contend in 2020, they will need to lean Baker’s experience. Baker recently spoke highly of the team and sounded like his interview went well, and apparently Houston executives are confident he is the man to lead the team during the most tumultuous time in franchise history.

Baker has a regular-season record of 1,863-1,636 and a playoff record of 23-32 in stints with the Nationals, Reds, Giants and Chicago Cubs.

Report: Jessica Mendoza likely to be removed from ‘Sunday Night Baseball’

Jessica Mendoza

Jessica Mendoza’s time in the “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast booth is reportedly over.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN is preparing to remove Mendoza from the Sunday night booth. Play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian’s status is also in question; only analyst Alex Rodriguez reportedly has received definitive assurances about his spot in the booth being safe.

ESPN has yet to inform Mendoza of such a decision, which leaves a bit of room to backtrack if the network chooses to. She signed a multi-million dollar deal with the network last year and is expected to work in the studio or on weeknight games.

Vasgersian could stay, but ESPN is also looking at Jon Sciambi and Karl Ravech as possible replacements if they decide not to bring the current play-by-play man back. David Cone remains a candidate to partner with Rodriguez as an analyst.

Mendoza was sharply criticized for her comments on Mike Fiers’ whistleblowing, though that does not appear to have been the motivating factor behind ESPN’s reshuffle.

The only thing clear right now is that ESPN intends to build the booth around Rodriguez, and everything appears based on how well individuals mesh with him.

Starling Marte traded from Pirates to Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks have made a significant move to bolster lineup.

Outfielder Starling Marte has been traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to Arizona, ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported. The D-Backs will send two prospects to Pittsburgh in return.

Marte, a former All-Star and two-time Gold Glover, is coming off a career year in which he hit .295 with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs. He is under contract for $11.5 million next season with a $12.5 million team option for 2021. Marte is 31 and had some issues in Pittsburgh, but he’s a good outfielder who should provide the Diamondbacks with some pop in their lineup.

The New York Mets were also believed to be interested in Marte.

Report: MLB umpires will be able to address crowd in 2020

Major League Baseball is reportedly making a significant change to how umpires can communicate about reviewed calls in 2020.

According to ESPN’s Pedro Gomez, umpires will wear microphones starting this coming season allowing them to address the call and explain rules and replay decisions, much like the NFL has always done.

This is long overdue. Since the institution of replay in MLB, it has been the worst league in terms of communicating what is being reviewed and why calls do or do not change. A large part of that is down to the umpires simply being unable to communicate with anyone, which results in the outcome of the replay review being announced and nothing else. That leaves fans and media alike to guess why certain calls changed and others did not. That doesn’t even cover controversial calls, either. It certainly would have been nice to get an explanation for calls like this one while the game was taking place.

Could the designated hitter rule come to the NL within a year?

There has long been talk about the National League instituting the designated hitter rule, but there is apparently some thinking that it could happen much sooner than anticipated.

Jim Bowden of The Athletic has heard from NL general managers that there is a “growing belief” that the DH could become universal as soon as 2021.

There isn’t really any word on how this might happen or why it’s happening now, so it should be taken with a hint of caution. However, we’ve heard chatter about the DH becoming universal for several years now, and it does seem like an inevitability at this point. Purists — and some pitchers — will likely be infuriated, but the NL is essentially the only high-profile baseball league anywhere that still has pitchers hitting. It needs to happen just for that reason alone.

Nicholas Castellanos agrees to deal with Reds

The Cincinnati Reds have made another move that proves they are trying to contend in 2020.

Free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos has agreed to a multi-year contract with the Reds, Ken Rosenthal and C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic first reported. The deal is reportedly for four years.

Castellanos was the top free agent remaining on the market. The 27-year-old batted .289 with 27 homers and 73 RBI in time split between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs last year. He’s a career .277 hitter.

The Reds have been very active this winter after missing the playoffs last year for a sixth consecutive season. In addition to Castellanos, they have also signed third baseman Mike Moustakas, Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama and veteran starting pitcher Wade Miley.

Castellanos was being pursued by at least two other teams, with the Atlanta Braves looking like they may have been the biggest losers.