The big news in the baseball world Friday was the loss of one of the biggest titans the sport has ever seen. Hall of Fame slugger Hank Aaron died at age 86. He's most well known for breaking Babe Ruth's long-standing career home run record and here are four things to remember about that. It wasn't just that, though. His long-term consistency in so many different areas was remarkable, as was his effort to improve civil rights. Should the Braves change their name to honor him?
In the background, MLB free agency continues to churn and there were some signings of note Friday. Let's take a quick look.
Profar stays put in San Diego
Profar, 27, hit .278/.343/.428 (113 OPS+) with six doubles, seven homers, 25 RBI, 28 runs and seven stolen bases in 202 plate appearances for the upstart Padres last season. On a rate basis, it was the best year of his career. He even posted his second-best WAR (1.4) despite the abbreviated season.
The Padres are stocking up on depth and there isn't really a clear line to everyday playing time for Profar. The infield has Eric Hosmer at first, Jake Cronenworth at second, Fernando Tatis at short and Manny Machado at third. In the outfield, there is Wil Myers in right, Trent Grisham in center and Tommy Pham in left. Ha-Seong Kim and Profar would be the primary options to back up at several positions now.
It's true that the Padres could still trade from depth and we know GM A.J. Preller isn't shy on that front, but depth is also key to surviving the grueling 162-game season.
Red Sox ink Hernandez
Hernandez entered the winter ranked No. 51 on our top-60 free agent list. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Hernandez's value to a team is straightforward. He's a fun-loving presence, a versatile defender, and a capable batsman against left-handed pitching. It's theoretically possible that some team will give him a chance as an everyday player, just to see if there's something more there ... but from this vantage point, his optimal role is the one he's been occupying for the Dodgers.
Hernandez figures to serve in a multi-position capacity for the Red Sox, likely seeing action at both second base and in left field.
Nationals bring back Zimmerman
Zimmerman, 36, opted out of last season because of COVID-19 concerns. This upcoming season, then, will mark his 16th -- all spent with the Nationals. During that time, he's hit .279/.343/.475 (116 OPS+) with 270 home runs and 38.5 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball-Reference's calculations.
Zimmerman seems likely to platoon with recent acquisition Josh Bell at first base.
Marlins land Bass
The Miami Marlins have agreed to sign right-handed reliever Anthony Bass to a two-year deal, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The move continues a theme for new general manager Kim Ng, as Bass marks the fifth reliever from outside the organization she has added since taking the reins.
Previously, Bass was mostly ineffective in his MLB career, but something jarred loose in 2018 with the Cubs. In these last three seasons, Bass has pitched to a 3.44 ERA (127 ERA+), 3.63 FIP, 1.06 WHIP and has struck out 78 in 89 innings. He saved seven games in nine chances last year for the Blue Jays, so it's possible they head to the season planning on him being their closer.
Cubs add catching depth
Having traded their No. 2 catcher Victor Caratini to the Padres earlier this offseason in the Yu Darvish deal, the Cubs have now added a viable big-league backup for Willson Contreras (assuming he isn't traded, which remains to be seen) in Austin Romine. The deal is for one year and $1.5 million, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago.