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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Baseball

Chase Utley to join Dodgers’ broadcast team

Chase Utley Dodgers

Newly-retired Chase Utley is not staying far away from baseball.

Utley will be joining the Los Angeles Dodgers’ SportsNet LA broadcast crew for “a select number of games,” as announced by SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo on Wednesday.

Though he will likely always be best known for his tenure with the Philadelphia Phillies, Utley carved himself out a nice niche in Los Angeles in a little over three years there. Though he didn’t put up big numbers, he was valued as a leader and a winner, and he clearly knows a thing or two about the sport. We can only hope that the Dodgers bring him to New York for Mets games as part of his limited duty.

Report: White Sox finalizing long-term extension with top prospect Eloy Jimenez

White Sox

The Chicago White Sox are aggressively moving to lock down one of the brightest young talents in their organization for quite some time.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it will be a long-term deal for the 22-year-old outfielder. Dominican journalist Hector Gomez reported that it would be an eight-year deal worth between $65 and $70 million.

Jimenez is a consensus top-five prospect. He hit .337 with 22 home runs between AA and AAA last season. He has yet to actually make his MLB debut, which is, in the minds of most, down to service time manipulation. If Jimenez has already penned a long-term deal, that will no longer be an issue, and it seems safe to assume that he’ll be on the Opening Day roster.

Brewers reportedly in ‘serious’ talks with Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel remains a free agent with just over a week to go until Opening Day, but there appears to be some momentum toward him potentially signing with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that contract negotiations between Kimbrel and the Brewers have gotten “pretty serious.”

Kimbrel is one of the best closers in baseball history, and he went 5-1 with 42 saves and a 2.74 ERA last season for the Boston Red Sox. He may be asking for a bit more than teams are willing to spend this offseason, and there have been rumblings that he is open to sitting out a season rather than signing a below-market deal.

Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who was outstanding as the team’s closer in 2018, is beginning the season on the injured list due to a shoulder injury. That likely explains why Milwaukee is interested in adding Kimbrel.

Padres support GM by giving players ‘In Preller We Trust’ shirts

Padres logo

The San Diego Padres are coming off a season in which they won just 66 games and finished last in the NL West, but they feel good about the moves their general manager made heading into 2019.

When Padres players entered their clubhouse on Wednesday morning, a shirt that featured general manager AJ Preller’s face and the message “In Preller We Trust” was hanging at every locker.

The Padres named Preller their general manager back in 2014, and it wasn’t that long ago that it looked like he might be dismissed. If you remember, Preller was suspended by MLB for 30 days following some shady antics when he traded left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox in 2016.

All is apparently forgiven now, and the Padres are obviously pleased that Preller was able to beat out the big-market teams to sign Manny Machado to a $300 million deal this offseason. While Machado has already tried to temper expectations heading into his first season in San Diego, the Padres are clearly confident with where they’re at.

Gio Gonzalez says offer from Yankees was only one he received

Gio Gonzalez Max Scherzer

Gio Gonzalez made a somewhat surprising decision to sign a minor league contract with the New York Yankees earlier this week, but the left-hander really didn’t have another option. As in, there were no other offers.

Gonzalez told reporters on Wednesday that the only offer he received this offseason came from the Yankees.

That explains why Gonzalez waited until there was less than two weeks until Opening Day to sign with a team. The original belief was that the 33-year-old did not receive any offers that were to his liking, but apparently he received no offers at all.

Gonzalez went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.44 WHIP last season, though he seemed revitalized by a late-season trade from the Washington Nationals to Milwaukee. He posted a 2.13 ERA in five starts with the Brewers to close out the year. Gonzalez’s deal with the Yankees includes an opt out on April 20, but he may find a spot on the major league roster if he can get up to speed quickly, as Luis Severino is recovering from an injury.

Bryce Harper shares thoughts on Mike Trout’s massive extension

Bryce Harper Phillies

You would think Bryce Harper might be jealous of the fact that Mike Trout has agreed to an extension with the Angels that will pay him a whopping $100 million more than what Harper got from the Phillies, but the man who had a record contract for less than a month insists that is not the case.

Harper told reporters on Wednesday that he is “very happy” for Trout and told him previously that he hoped his contract blew Harper’s away. He also said he is excited to see what Trout’s $430 million deal means for future star free agents like Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge.

If teams felt Harper was worth as much as Trout, he would have gotten offers that were a lot higher than the 13-year, $330 million deal he signed with Philadelphia. In reality, the Angels probably overpaid to keep Trout, as they were clearly willing to do whatever was necessary to keep him in LA.

By the numbers, Betts can make the argument that he is closer to Trout than he is to Harper. He has already turned down at least one extension offer from the Red Sox, and he said this week that he fully expects to become a free agent after the 2020 season.

Folks on Twitter had quite a bit of fun at Harper’s expense after news of Trout’s contract broke, but you can only be so upset when you just inked a deal that will pay you $330 million guaranteed. Even if Harper is feeling sorry for himself, he’s smart not to say it.

Mookie Betts does not expect extension with Red Sox before free agency

Mookie Betts

The massive contract extension Mike Trout agreed to with the Los Angeles Angels this week should be outstanding news for Mookie Betts, but Boston Red Sox fans are right to be concerned that it will make keeping their MVP that much more difficult.

It seemed like the market for Betts was set when Bryce Harper signed his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but Trout’s $430 million contract blows that out of the water. Betts is eligible to become a free agent after the 2020 season, and he said Wednesday that he does not envision signing an extension with the Red Sox prior to that.

Betts added that he is not concerned about the “economics of the game” and is only focused on winning another World Series, but the comments are telling. The star outfielder is more than a year younger than Trout and has a career average of .303. He’s coming off an MVP season in which he hit .346 with 32 home runs, 80 RBI, a 1.078 OPS and 30 stolen bases. Betts also won his second Gold Glove.

Like Trout, Betts is the whole package. While a $430 million contract may not be realistic, there’s no reason he can’t aim for a deal that falls somewhere between the one Harper got and the one Trout has agreed to. While Betts doesn’t quite have the body of work that Trout has, he accomplished an incredibly rare feat last season and is getting better by the day. The Red Sox might regret not signing him to a long-term deal sooner.