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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Baseball

Report: Mets ‘seriously considering’ trade offers for Noah Syndergaard

The New York Mets have one of the best one-two punches in baseball at the top of their starting rotation, and they are reportedly considering breaking it up this winter.

According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, at least six teams are interested in acquiring Noah Syndergaard and the Mets are “seriously considering” parting ways with the right-hander.

If the Mets are seeking players who can make a “real impact,” that would seem to indicate they want Major League talent and not prospects. Trades of that nature always present challenges, so it still seems unlikely that they will deal Syndergaard.

You could argue that Syndergaard is just as valuable to the Mets as Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, especially since the former is four years younger. The Mets showed an unwillingness to deal either pitcher at the trade deadline despite being long-shots to reach the postseason, but perhaps a team will blow them away with an offer in the coming weeks or months.

Manny Machado tries to walk back comments about not hustling

Manny Machado

Manny Machado has the potential to land the biggest free agent contract in MLB history this offseason, but he will likely have to first answer questions about his character from one or more interested teams. Many of those questions center around his reputation for not hustling, which is one that he perpetuated during the playoffs.

Machado infamously said in an interview last month that hustling down the first base line on a routine ground ball is “not my cup of tea.” He also said he will never be known as “Johnny Hustle” and can’t change the way he plays, but he tried to walk back those comments while speaking with Mark Feinsand of MLB.com this week.

“When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn’t come across how I meant it,” Machado explained. “For me, I was trying to talk about how I’m not the guy who is eye wash. There’s a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I’ve always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team.”

What Machado is trying to say, we think, is that he would never dog it on an important play. What he likely means by “eye wash” is that he simply doesn’t like hustling down the line when he knows he’s going to be thrown out, but isn’t that still a problem?

The point of hustling isn’t just to show fans you play hard. A bobble or errant throw can happen at any time, and giving 100 percent effort allows a player to maximize his chances of capitalizing on any potential mistake. If you choose not to run hard simply because there’s a high probability you’re going to be thrown out, you might not be in position to take advantage of an opponent’s misstep.

Of course, Machado hasn’t only been criticized for his lack of hustle. He also committed numerous dirty plays during the postseason, and interested teams will likely have plenty of questions about that as well.

10 MLB teams in need of a big offseason

Theo Epstein Cubs

The MLB offseason is already underway, as proven by the New York Yankees’ major acquisition of James Paxton from the Seattle Mariners. Still, the largest dominoes have yet to fall, and it may be another week or two — if not more — before that begins happening.

Thus, teams are, in a sense, still positioning themselves for the offseason. Payrolls are being plotted and free agents are being explored, while the trade market begins to come to life as well. But some teams, for a variety of reasons, need to be more active than others given the places where their franchises are.

Here are ten teams who are facing very important offseasons for the future of their franchise.

10. San Francisco Giants

The Giants find themselves in a precarious position a year after an eventful offseason saw them go all-in to contend in 2018. They ended up losing 89 games thanks to injury and underperformance from some of their bigger names. Now, new president Farhan Zaidi is tasked with charting a path forward. How he handles this offseason could tell us a lot. The Giants can spend if they want to, but it seems unlikely that another free agent will put them over the top. Such a signing could ultimately hinder them in the long run. Alternately, they could try to dismantle some of their valuable pieces, but that would prove controversial. It’s a big decision that will have long-lasting impacts.

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Rays DFA CJ Cron after 30-home run season

Tampa Bay Rays logo

The Tampa Bay Rays are getting rid of the biggest power hitter from last season’s 90-win team.

The Rays announced that they are designating CJ Cron for assignment, even though the DH clubbed 30 home runs and posted an .816 OPS last season.

Cron was among the team’s leaders in many statistical categories, with his 30 homers topping the team.

This is the second year in a row the Rays have done something like this. They DFA’d Corey Dickerson before spring training earlier this year and ended up trading him to Pittsburgh.

Cron was set to make about $5 million in arbitration for 2019 and would have likely been the team’s second-highest paid player, behind Kevin Kiermaier. Some other AL teams may have interest in trading for Cron.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs pitching coach for personal reasons

Chicago Cubs logo

The Chicago Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the team’s pitching coach, citing personal reasons.

The Cubs shared the news in a statement and said they are already looking for a replacement.

The Cubs also parted ways with hitting coach Chili Davis after the season, so they will have a few new members of their coaching staff for 2019.

Theo Epstein was not happy with the team’s season, so it’s no surprise that they’ve begun making changes. Manager Joe Maddon is still signed through next season, but whether he will return beyond that likely depends on how next season goes.

Report: Nationals making it a priority to add quality starting pitcher

Washington Nationals

The biggest question surrounding the Washington Nationals this offseason is whether or not they will be able to sign Bryce Harper to a long-term contract, but the team is apparently focusing on other needs as the star outfielder shops around.

According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, the Nationals are making it a priority to add one of the top starting pitchers on the free agent market. Some names they are considering include Dallas Keuchel, Patrick Corbin, Charlie Morton and Nathan Eovaldi.

The New York Yankees made a big move to bolster their starting rotation on Monday when they traded for former Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton, but they are reportedly still looking to add another front-line starter as well. There should be plenty of competition for starting pitchers when the dominoes start falling.

Given the numbers that are being thrown around, the Nationals may feel that they have little chance at bringing Harper back. They could also believe he will give them a chance to beat any other offers he receives, so they can kind of let the market work itself out. But if they sit around doing nothing while waiting for Harper to make his decision, they will only be worse off in the long run.

Baseball world pays tribute to Adrian Beltre following retirement

Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre announced his retirement on Tuesday after playing a remarkable 21 Major League Baseball seasons, and his next stop will almost certainly be the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In a statement released by the Texas Rangers, Beltre said he came to the incredibly difficult decision that it is time to call it a career.

“After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, I have made the decision to retire from what I’ve been doing for my whole life, which is playing baseball, the game I love,” the 39-year-old said. “I have thought about it a lot and although I appreciate all the opportunities and everything that baseball has given me, it’s time to call it a career.”

The list of accolades for Beltre is an incredibly lengthy one. His 3,166 hits rank 16th all-time and are the most ever by a player not born in the United States. He also made four All-Star teams, won six Gold Gloves and four Silver Slugger Awards. Beltre’s on-field earnings of $220 million are the seventh most for an MLB player in his career, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

It goes without saying that Beltre is one of the most respected players in baseball, and the sport paid tribute to him on Tuesday:

Beltre’s career will be remembered as much for his quirky personality as it will for his Hall of Fame resume. He’s a once-in-a-generation player who simply made the sport more fun during his two decades in the league.