There may be a new and somewhat surprising entrant in the Sonny Gray sweepstakes.
According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Seattle Mariners are considering a pursuit of the Oakland A’s right-hander.
“He is going for it these next two years,” a source told Feinsand of Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. “If he is going for it, he might as well go completely in. Obviously, he will trade anything not nailed down.”
At 49-51, Seattle sits 2.5 games out of the second AL wild card spot, putting them in a difficult position. The Mariners’ farm system lacks depth, but top prospect Kyle Lewis would be a nice get for the Athletics in such a deal.
Gray has a 3.66 ERA in fifteen starts and is under team control through 2019, making him a very appealing trade chip. The Athletics would probably trade Gray to a division rival, as evidenced by talks with another team, but Seattle is joining the party a bit late.
Chrissy Teigen reached out to the Mariners with a suggestion for a new name for their stadium and the team obliged, sort of.
The Mariners currently play at Safeco Field. However, the insurance company will not have its name on the ballpark after the 2018 season, the team announced on Tuesday. That’s when Teigen chimed in.
TEIGEN FIELDS IT IS
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 13, 2017
The Mariners responded with this photoshopped image of the inside of the stadium, which prompted Teigen to inquire about the money needed to make it happen.
— Mariners (@Mariners) June 13, 2017
How much is this I have some savings! https://t.co/mTOf3SNQCj
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 13, 2017
Teigen Field wouldn’t necessarily be the craziest sounding name for a stadium. Louisville’s men’s basketball program plays in the KFC Yum! Center and the Phoenix Suns call Talking Stick Resort Arena home. Then there’s Smoothie King Center, where the New Orleans Pelicans play. The Mariners could certainly do worse.
H/T For The Win
The Seattle Mariners will be a couple of players short to start their game in Toronto on Thursday.
The team said on Thursday that left fielder Guillermo Heredia and starting pitcher Ariel Miranda were not set to arrive at the ballpark until midgame because they had visa issues. The two were not on the team flight to Toronto.
Due to visa mix-up, Guillermo Heredia and Ariel Miranda not on team flight to Toronto. They're en route now, but will be late to game today.
— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) May 11, 2017
The Mariners are taking the blame for the issue, which affected Heredia and Miranda, both Cuban players.
Mariners reps have said the Visa issues should be blamed on the organization and not on the players.
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 11, 2017
Heredia is batting .313 and has been hot lately, with three multi-hit games in his last four contests. Miranda is 3-2 with a 5.20 ERA this season and is set to start on Sunday.
Who will be this year’s big MLB disappointment? There is inevitably a team or two that comes into a season with high expectations, only to fall flat on their face when the competitive games begin.
Here is a look at five teams that have performed very poorly during the first week of the season despite undeniable talent and higher expectations.
5) Kansas City Royals (2-5)
It’s been a rather rapid fall from grace for the 2015 World Series champions, with the team finishing 81-81 in 2016 and looking worse in 2017.
Offense has never been the team’s strong point, and with a team average of just .195 through seven games, it’s clear that the Royals simply are not hitting. .179-hitting Eric Hosmer and .227-hitting Lorenzo Cain have been particular disappointments. Though the Royals have clubbed 10 home runs, that’s about all they can do — they simply haven’t manufactured runs well.
Even in their best years, the Royals lacked an elite offense, but they made up for it with excellent pitching and defense. While the defense is still good, the pitching isn’t.
The rotation is anchored by Danny Duffy, but the lack of depth beyond that has already manifested itself, with Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel looking shaky. The real erosion, however, has been at the back of the bullpen. The three-headed monster that was Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera is long gone now. Only Herrera remains, and the closer has only appeared in two games, yet to collect a save. This matters in a big way.
The Royals could shorten games to six or seven innings in past years, and even when trailing, those three elite arms enabled Kansas City to keep games close and give the offense a chance to mount a comeback. Those days are gone, and in what may be the last season we see this core of players together, it may consign them to a disappointing year.
4) Seattle Mariners (2-6 entering Tuesday)
The Mariners have introduced a new item to snack on while watching a game at Safeco Field and (for at least one day) they couldn’t have too many of them.
When it comes to ballpark foods, teams appear to be trying to outdo each other at this point. There’s almost no limit to what you can find a stadiums across the country with some choices more extreme than others. At Safeco Field, you can munch on a well-seasoned insect.
For $4, you can get a bowl of toasted grasshoppers that have been tossed in chili lime salt. They will, obviously, not appeal to everyone. However, on Monday, enough people purchased them the concession stand selling them reportedly sold out.
Mariners broadcast reporting that the grilled grasshoppers have sold out.
— David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) April 10, 2017
A few fans took to Twitter and either posted photos or gave their impressions of the crunch snack.
— Joyce Kehoe (@JoyceKehoe) April 10, 2017
— David Krueger (@Krueger_David) April 10, 2017
— Alejandra (@alejandraruiz29) April 10, 2017
A post shared by Scott Iwata (@scottiwata) on
The chili lime salt might actually entice me to try a couple if given the opportunity. I’d just have to get over the whole, you know, grasshopper thing.
Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training, and most teams have at least some optimism for the 2017 season. Some teams have higher hopes than others, with playoff appearances and World Series contention on their minds.
Only ten teams can play into October, though, and here are a few franchises that have postseason ambitions but may find themselves falling short when the time comes.
5) New York Yankees
It’s easy to be excited about the Yankees in 2017. They sold at the trade deadline and still went 84-78, with young players such as Gary Sanchez stunning the league with their power and impact. It was enough to keep the team in the playoff race, at least nominally, into September.
To be clear, the return of Aroldis Chapman does help the Yankees on the field, as does the fact that Mark Teixeira and some other dead weight has been trimmed away. What isn’t clear is how a lot of the younger players will respond to being given larger roles.
Sanchez, for instance, still hit nine home runs in September, but his batting average dropped to .225. Was the league adjusting to his hitting? Greg Bird and Aaron Judge will also likely have larger roles, and Bird definitely showed flashes in his stint with the team in 2016. Judge has little MLB experience, though, and rookies like this can struggle as often as they succeed.
Matt Holliday isn’t an ideal replacement for Carlos Beltran, which is illustrative of an issue for the Yankees. Their offensive players are either young and have yet to make an impact or older and playing with their best days behind them. The Yankees were 13th in the American League in OPS in 2016; a significant improvement will be required in 2017 for the team to contend.
They will also need the pitching staff to hold up. They have an unquestioned ace in Masahiro Tanaka, but his right arm is always a concern. He’s dealt with forearm and elbow issues, even a partial UCL tear, though none of them have ever proven terribly serious. It’s still worrisome. CC Sabathia turns 37 in October and is coming off of knee surgery. Michael Pineda has the stuff, but the results — a 4.82 ERA in 2016 — have not quite followed in New York. Put it this way: there’s a reason the Yankees continued to search for rotation upgrades during the winter.
Will the Yankees hit enough and stay healthy enough? It’s a risk. And in a strong American League East, their roster might not have enough to get them to October.
4) Colorado Rockies
When the Seattle Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a $240 million contract, it seemed safe to assume they were not done adding pieces. You don’t spend that kind of coin without a larger plan in mind. Seattle could still make some significant moves before the start of the regular season, but they really haven’t done much since signing Cano. And even he knows it.
Now that Cano is the face of the Mariners’ franchise, he has no problem playing general manager.
“I’m not going to lie. We need an extra bat, especially a right-handed bat,” Cano told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. “We have many left-handed hitters. We need at least one more righty. You don’t want to face a lefty pitcher with a lineup of seven left-handed hitters.”
The Mariners had the worst OPS in baseball last year (.657) against left-handed pitching. They have added Cano and Logan Morrison to the middle of their lineup this year — both left-handed hitters. Cano also mentioned how he would like to see the team bring back switch-hitting Kendrys Morales to give the lineup some balance.
“He’s a switch hitter who’s got power,” he said.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik agreed with Cano, admitting that Seattle’s current roster is “a little lefthanded.” But Cano didn’t stop there. He also pounced on the opportunity to praise free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana.
“He’s great,” Cano said. “The guy’s always pitching; he never gets hurt.”
The Mariners spent a lot of money on Cano, and handing out a contract that massive will come back to haunt them if they can’t assemble a well-rounded team. This isn’t the NBA. One player isn’t going to carry an entire team. Zduriencik and company have plenty of work to do. Everyone, including Cano, realizes that.