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Friday, February 22, 2019

Baseball

Marwin Gonzalez signs with Twins

The Minnesota Twins have agreed to a deal with free agent outfielder Marwin Gonzalez.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that Gonzalez’s contract will be worth $21 million over two years.

Gonzalez, 29, is a career .264 hitter who spent his first seven MLB seasons with the Houston Astros. He’s coming off a season in which he hit .247 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI. His best season was two years ago, when he batted .303 with 23 homers and 90 RBI.

While Gonzalez’s 2017 season looks like a bit of an anomaly, there’s a reason we had him listed among our best bargain free agents at one point. He’s a reliable player with good pop, and he should be a valuable piece in Minnesota’s lineup at a reasonable price.

Nationals owner says team has ‘moved on’ from Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper and his agent Scott Boras may be waiting to see if the Washington Nationals are going to up their offer for the star outfielder before he signs a deal with another team, but that is apparently not going to happen.

As reports continue to swirl that the Philadelphia Phillies are the favorites to land Harper, Nationals owner Mark Lerner told NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas on Friday that his team has turned the page from Harper.

“Nothing’s certainly changed on our end,” Lerner said. “We’ve moved on. As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I’m sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we’ve filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best.”

For what it’s worth, Lerner seems more frustrated with the negotiations than anything. He admitted that the “door is cracked a little bit” and not completely shut, but he said the Nationals have not heard from Harper or Boras in months.

The Nationals reportedly offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million deal at the end of last season, but a large portion of the contract was deferred and not guaranteed. With Manny Machado having signed a fully guaranteed $300 million deal, not a penny less is going to cut it for Harper.

A report from earlier in the week claimed Washington has no intention of offering Harper a deal like the one Machado got from the San Diego Padres, so the Nationals are out if that is true. However, Phillies fans won’t like hearing the latest about Harper’s interest in joining their team.

Bryce Harper not a fan of Philadelphia?

Bryce Harper heckler

The Philadelphia Phillies have been connected to Bryce Harper more often than any other team throughout the former MVP’s free agency process, but Harper remains unsigned. Is that because he has some reservations about being in Philadelphia?

Reporter Jon Heyman told Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on WFAN in New York Thursday that has heard Harper is not enamored with Philly.

The reason why Heyman said that he’s heard from people who don’t talk to Scott Boras is because Boras’ job is to drum up interest for his client and make it seem like the player wants to play anywhere.

Heyman said he genuinely believes Philly would not be Harper’s top choice. He says Harper wanted to sign with a big-market team like the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs or Red Sox. None of those teams seem to have come close on the asking price Harper is looking for.

The White Sox reportedly have dropped out of the running for Harper, leaving San Francisco, San Diego, Philly, and potentially the Nationals as the candidates. If Harper isn’t a fan of Philly, maybe he’s waiting and hoping that another team will step up and beat the Phillies’ offer.

Report: White Sox out on Bryce Harper free agency

Bryce Harper

The Chicago White Sox initially were viewed as one of the contenders to sign Bryce Harper, but they are no longer a factor in his free agency, according to a report.

Bruce Levine of 670 The Score in Chicago reported on Thursday that the White Sox will not bid on Harper. Chicago met with Harper in November and was regarded at one point as a favorite to sign him.

The White Sox also had interest in Manny Machado and were believed to have been targeting the infielder even more. They were stunned when Machado chose to sign with the San Diego Padres instead, leaving them without their top target.

Rather than spend big-time money on Harper, it seems the White Sox will focus on some lower-cost options now.

Baseball community pays tribute to late reporter Nick Cafardo

Red Sox logo

The baseball community suffered an unfortunate loss on Thursday when longtime MLB reporter Nick Cafardo died.

Cafardo, 62, passed away Thursday morning in Fort Meyers, Fla., where he had been going about his usual business covering spring training for the Boston Red Sox. Cafardo had worked at the Boston Globe since 1989, and Bob Hohler of the Globe reported that he appears to have suffered an embolism while visiting JetBlue Park on his day off.

Cafardo had been one of the most respected writers and reporters in baseball. That was evident with the way the sports media community paid tribute to him after hearing of his passing.

Jake Lamb has to make funny adjustment to play 1B for Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks logo

Jake Lamb is preparing to make the transition from third base to first base for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season. He just has a funny adjustment he needs to make.

Lamb joked this week that he received advice from his mother on becoming a better conversationalist now that he’ll be hosting guests frequently at first in the form of opposing players who reach base.

“I’m usually the quiet guy,” Lamb said via the Diamondbacks’ website. “Over at third, you don’t have to talk to anybody. I have to give my mom a shoutout, she was the first one to say, ‘You’ve got to work on your conversation skills.’ That is a part of my game that I’ve got to work on.”

Lamb’s best seasons came in 2016 and 2017 when he hit 29 and 30 home runs, respectively. Usually the transition to first is easier and might allow him to focus more on his hitting, but it sounds like he’s occupying his mind with some other concerns.

Ex-MLB player Aubrey Huff takes shot at ‘stat geek’ Keith Law

Aubrey Huff

Former MLB player Aubrey Huff has been retired since 2012 but has found a way to get his name back in headlines.

Huff saw the 10-year, $300 million contract Manny Machado received on Tuesday and compared his stats to Machado’s, wondering why he didn’t receive such an offer earlier in his career.

He also sent this tweet, showing his old school views on the game.

“WAR, spin rate, launch angle?… who gives a s–t. I’m a HR, Average, RBI’s kinda guy. But the most important thing I look at (above all these geeky new stats that were created by nerds that wanted to be in the bigs but couldn’t) is he a good teammate and does he have heart?” (tweet edited to remove profanity).

Someone saw this tweet and tagged Keith Law, criticizing Huff’s type of thinking in the face of analytics championed by Law.

Huff responded, saying Law is the “poster child for the new era of pointless stat geeks.” He then took a shot at such people, saying they’re using “irrelevant stats” to nose their way into a game they weren’t good enough to play.

Law, never one to back down, responded back.

Huff has made his political views clear in the past and has been crushed for them, so this type of thing is nothing new from him. He could not come off as more ignorant in his views. People have gotten smarter about ways to analyze the game. Those who don’t use such data and methods have fallen behind when it comes to being successful.

Huff’s view that these new stats are useless and only created by people who weren’t good enough to play is laughable. Dave Stewart and Jerry Dipoto are two recent (or current in Dipoto’s case) GMs in MLB who also pitched at the big league level. Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman and Brian Cashman are all executives who never played but embrace these stats and run circles around those two. How about Billy Beane? The guy played in the majors and is recognized as one of the best executives in the game. He and his front office group led the analytics revolution throughout MLB. Guess Huff really failed to do his homework on this one. Maybe he just doesn’t like falling behind the times and feels angry that he does not understand the new stats.