Spring training is in full swing.. In a few days, Cactus League and Grapefruit League games will begin. Hooray for that. Here are some stray hot stove items to help you pass the time until real live baseball returns.
Lindor open to extension
Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor has been subject to trade rumors for a year now. Yet he remains open to signing long-term with Cleveland, according to comments he made as part of a Q&A with The Athletic's Zack Meisel. "If the negotiations or whatever make sense, it's gonna happen," Lindor said. "The team is not broke. The league is not broke. There's money. However, if it makes sense for both sides, it's gonna happen." The four-time All-Star added that he "wants to stay" in Cleveland.
Meisel also quotes Chris Antonetti, Cleveland's top decision maker, who says the organization has made efforts to extend Lindor. Antonetti notes the team has to be mindful of spending too much of its (self-limited) resources on a single player.
In other words, a Lindor extension still seems less likely than a Lindor trade.
Brewers add Holt
The Brewers add another piece of infield depth to their collection on Monday, reportedly agreeing to terms with free-agent utilityman Brock Holt, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Holt hit .269/.354/.375 (94 OPS+) in his final three seasons with the Red Sox, numbers weighed down a little by a putrid 2017. He's capable of standing just about anywhere on the field, and provides a healthy dose of average and on-base skills against righties.
Holt is a somewhat curious addition for Milwaukee, if only because they signed a similar player (albeit with less of a track record) in Eric Sogard earlier this winter.
Angels could still add a starter
On Monday, Angels owner Arte Moreno confirmed he pulled the plug on the Joc Pederson/Ross Stripling trade after the Mookie Betts/David Price deal was held up, according to Greg Beacham of the Associated Press. "I'd rather not talk about it, but that's not going to happen," he said. Moreno added the Angels team could still add another starting pitcher.
Clay Buchholz, Collin McHugh, and Jason Vargas. Also, the trade market is usually slow in spring training. Teams with pitching depth don't like to give it up because they know they'll need it throughout the year. It'll be hard, if not impossible, to do better than Stripling before Opening Day.. The best available free agent starters are
Bard attempting a comeback
Former Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard is attempting a comeback, reports the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham. He threw for scouts recently. Bard last pitched in the big leagues in 2013 and hasn't pitched in the minors since 2017. He had been working with the Diamondbacks as part of their mental skills staff.
Bard, 34, spent several years as a dominant setup man with Boston before coming down with extreme control problems. He walked 24 batters in 9 1/3 minor league innings with the Mets in 2017 before calling it a career. The odds of a successful comeback are not good, needless to say, but Bard always had talent. He could contribute if he's able to get over the control hump.
Braves extend Anthopoulos, Snitker
The Braves have signed general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager Brian Snitker to contract extensions, the team announced Monday morning. Snitker is now signed through 2021. His coaches also received extensions. Anthopoulos added president of baseball operations to his title and is signed through 2024.
"I am very pleased that Alex will be leading the Atlanta Braves' baseball operations for years to come," chairman Terry McGuirk said in a statement. "Since he joined the organization, Alex has continued the winning tradition that Braves fans have come to expect."
Snitker replaced Fredi Gonzalez on an interim basis in May 2016 and was given the job full-time in 2017. Anthopoulos joined the Braves in November 2017. The two have led the Braves to back-to-back NL East titles and, given their young talent base (Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, etc.), they appear poised to sit atop the division for years to come.
Baez extension talks are 'up and down'
Contract extension talks between the Cubs and Javier Baez have been "up and down," the star shortstop told ESPN's Jesse Rogers. Baez is due to become a free agent following the 2021 season. "It's been up and down. It's business. It's really tough. I'll let them work that out. If it works, great. If not, we have another year. You can't be your own agent and play baseball," he said.
Baez and the Cubs avoided arbitration with a one-year, $10 million contract last month. That puts him in line for $15 million or so in his final arbitration year next year.. The 27-year-old hit .281/.316/.531 with 29 home runs in 138 games last season.
Astros ready to add payroll
Despite being over the $208 million luxury tax threshold, Astros owner Jim Crane is willing to increase payroll, GM James Click told the Houston Chronicle's Chandler Rome. "I know where our payroll is relative to the [luxury tax] line. [Crane] just shot it down and was like 'We're over it, that's fine because we're going to win. And if you need more for us to win, I'll get you more,'" Click said.
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, Houston's payroll currently sits at $227.8 million for luxury tax purposes. That is not only over the $208 million threshold, it's approaching the $228 million second threshold, which triggers stiffer penalties. Payroll is up about $30 million this year thanks to Zack Greinke, extensions for Justin Verlander and Alex Bregman and arbitration raises.
Phillies acquire Garlick
In a minor trade, the Phillies have acquired outfielder Kyle Garlick from the Dodgers for lefty Tyler Gilbert, the team announced. Philadelphia designated outfielder Nick Martini for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot. Los Angeles designated Garlick for assignment last week to clear 40-man roster space following the Mookie Betts/David Price trade.
Garlick, 28, made his MLB debut last season and authored a .250/.321/.521 batting line with three homers in 30 games. He also hit .314/.382/.675 with 23 homers in 81 Triple-A games and gives the Phillies a little more right-handed hitting outfield depth. Gilbert, 26, had a 2.83 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 47 2/3 relief innings at Triple-A last season.