- Jack Flaherty is scheduled for free agency following the 2023 season, but even with the Cardinals’ team control winding down, Ben Frederickson of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch figures the club will wait until next spring to really delve into extension talks. After a big 2019 season, Flaherty ran into some struggles in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, and then tossed only 78 1/3 innings last year due to oblique and shoulder injuries. Since any Cards extension offer in the near future is likely to be tempered by this recent track record, Flaherty himself would probably prefer to re-establish his value with a healthy and productive 2022 season before committing to a longer-term deal. Flaherty is projected for a $5.1MM salary next year via arbitration, and even those shorter-term talks will be interesting considering Flaherty and the Cardinals went to a hearing (won by Flaherty) last spring.
The Cardinals have entered each of the past four seasons with Paul DeJong as the Opening Day shortstop. He’d earned the starting nod in 2018 after hitting .285/.325/.532 across 443 plate appearances as a rookie the year prior. DeJong’s next two seasons weren’t quite as strong, but he still combined slightly above-average offense with highly-regarded glovework.
Over the last two years, though, DeJong’s production at the dish has tailed off. Going back to the start of 2020, he’s just a .213/.295/.378 hitter over 576 trips to the plate. That led to a fall down the batting order and eventually, a reduction in playing time. Edmundo Sosa took the lion’s share of at-bats in the season’s final month, and erstwhile skipper Mike Shildt turned to Sosa in a must-win Wild Card game.
With how the second half of the season played out, it seemed like DeJong could wind up as a trade candidate this winter. The free agent shortstop class was loaded with stars, and the Cardinals don’t have many obvious areas of need on the position player side. Yet there was no indication St. Louis made much effort to move DeJong in the early stages of the offseason, and Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch now writes that the Cardinals “were not active in discussions with any player in this marquee class of free-agent shortstops” prior to the lockout.
While it’s possible the team ignites free agent discussions after the transactions freeze — Carlos Correa and Trevor Story remain available — it seems likelier shortstop will be DeJong’s job to lose. Not only was he not the subject of any trade rumors of note, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak and general manager Mike Girsch gave DeJong a public vote of confidence at November’s GM Meetings. According to Goold, Cardinals executives also privately expressed confidence in DeJong’s ability to right the ship and reclaim the shortstop job in 2022. (Those conversations also occurred before the lockout, which includes a prohibition on contact between team staff and players on the 40-man roster).
DeJong’s contact rate and overall average exit velocity have each dipped over the past couple seasons. Yet he actually barreled balls up at a career-best 10.6% clip last year, and his exit velocity on balls hit in the air hasn’t meaningfully changed. That provides some reason for optimism DeJong’s offensive production can improve, particularly if last season’s .212 batting average on balls in play regresses closer to his .282 career mark. The 28-year-old isn’t merely resting on his laurels awaiting better batted ball fortune, however, as he chats with Goold about changes he’s made to his offseason training routine.
Regardless of whether he rebounds offensively, DeJong should be a key part of a high-end defensive infield. He’s coming off a season regarded highly by both Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average, and DRS has pegged DeJong as a plus gloveman throughout his career. Sosa remains on hand as a potential fallback option, coming off a nice .271/.346/.389 showing. DeJong is guaranteed around $6.167MM next season and is controllable through 2025 under the terms of the contract extension he signed four seasons ago.
The Padres announced their 2022 minor league coaching staffs yesterday, including the hiring of Shane Robinson as the bench coach for the Double-A San Antonio Missions. The news would seemingly indicate that the 37-year-old Robinson is retiring from playing after 15 seasons.
Best known for his time with the Cardinals, Robinson was a fifth-round pick for St. Louis in the 2006 draft, and he appeared in 268 big league games with the club from 2009-14. Robinson then moved on to play with the Twins, Angels, and Yankees over the next four seasons, while also inking minor league deals with Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Atlanta but not seeing any action on their active rosters. His career also took him to the Australian Baseball League and Mexican League within the last three years, and he wrapped up his playing days with a brief five-game stint with the Acereros de Monclova in 2021.
Overall, Robinson hit .221/.288/.292 over 849 plate appearances in the majors, playing in 461 games over parts of nine MLB seasons. Strong glovework was a big reason for that lengthy career, as Robinson was a very solid outfielder capable of playing at all three positions on the grass. Robinson posted +26 Defensive Runs Saved and +12.4 UZR/150 over his 1792 2/3 career innings in the outfield, with above-average career scores as a center fielder and both corner outfield spots.
MLB Trade Rumors congratulates Robinson on his career achievements, and we wish him the best in his move to a coaching career.
After a 16-year major league career, Jon Lester tells Jesse Rogers of ESPN he’s made the decision to retire. “It’s kind of run its course,” the 38-year-old said of his career. “It’s getting harder for me physically. The little things that come up throughout the year turned into bigger things that hinder your performance. I’d like to think I’m a halfway decent self-evaluator. I don’t want someone else telling me I can’t do this anymore. I want to be able to hand my jersey over and say, ’thank you, it’s been fun.’ That’s probably the biggest deciding factor.”
A second-round pick of the Red Sox out of a Washington high school in 2002, Lester entered pro ball as one of the more promising pitching prospects in the Boston system. Within a few years, the left-hander was ranked among the top farmhands in baseball and he made his big league debut at age 22 in June 2006. Lester was faced with incredible adversity just a few months into that run. He was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma late in his rookie season, cutting that year short and requiring chemotherapy treatments.
Lester beat the disease and made an inspiring return to the mound in 2007. He made 12 regular season appearances that year, then pitched in three playoff games during the Red Sox’s run to a championship. Making his first career postseason start in Game 4 of the World Series against the Rockies, Lester tossed 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. He wound up getting the win in what proved to be the title-clinching game, as the Sox wrapped up a sweep.
Entering 2008, Lester was cemented as a key rotation member on Terry Francona’s staff. Incredibly durable, he’d make at least 31 starts over each of his next six seasons in Boston. While Lester only had two seasons (2009-10) with excellent strikeout numbers, he consistently demonstrated strong control and proved one of the game’s hardest pitchers to square up. A pillar of high-end consistency, Lester posted an ERA between 3.21 and 3.75 in five of six years from 2008-13.
Lester’s run in Boston was littered with accomplishments. He tossed a no-hitter in May 2008, earned back-to-back All-Star selections in 2010-11 and finished fourth in AL Cy Young award balloting during a 2010 season in which he tossed 208 innings of 3.25 ERA ball. Perhaps of most importance, Lester was excellent during the Red Sox’s surprising run to another championship in 2013. He pitched to a 1.55 ERA over 34 2/3 postseason innings that year, including 15 1/3 frames of one-run ball to earn two wins as part of a World Series triumph over the Cardinals.
Ticketed for free agency after the 2014 season, Lester began the year stellar as ever. He tossed 143 innings with a 2.52 ERA for the Red Sox, earning his third career All-Star nod in the process. Yet with free agency looming and the Red Sox on their way to a last place finish, they traded him to the A’s at the deadline. Lester continued to excel over his final few months in Oakland, eventually getting the nod in the AL Wild Card game. The A’s were knocked off by the Royals in one of the more thrilling back-and-forth contests in recent memory, and Lester hit the open market for the first time shortly thereafter.
Ranked by MLBTR as that offseason’s #2 free agent, Lester commanded a six-year, $155MM deal with a Cubs team looking to emerge from a massive rebuild. That’ll go down as one of the best free agent investments in franchise history, as he picked up right where he’d left off upon switching to the National League.
Lester worked 205 innings of 3.34 ERA ball his first season, helping Chicago to the NLCS. The following year, he compiled a 2.44 mark across 202 2/3 frames. He finished second in NL Cy Young voting, earned a fourth All-Star nod, and was arguably the top pitcher on a 103-win team. As he had so often in Boston, Lester shined in the playoffs yet again. He was tabbed that year’s NLCS MVP after tossing 13 innings of two-run ball to knock off the Dodgers. Lester made three outings with a 3.68 ERA during the World Series, in which the Cubs erased a 3-1 deficit against the Indians to end the franchise’s legendary 108-year title drought.
The third World Series title of Lester’s career proved to be his final one, as the Cubs never had quite the same level of success from that point forward. That wasn’t much fault of the veteran southpaw’s, though, as he remained effective for the next few seasons. He paced the NL with 18 wins in 2018, earning another All-Star nod in the process. As he entered his late-30s, Lester’s production finally began to tail off, although he remained remarkably durable and took the ball every fifth day through the expiration of his contract after 2020.
Last winter, Lester hooked on with the Nationals on a one-year, $5MM deal. He made 16 starts with Washington before being flipped to the Cardinals at the trade deadline. Despite lackluster strikeout and walk numbers, he managed a decent 4.36 ERA over 12 starts in St. Louis, proving to be a much-needed stabilizing force for a Cardinals rotation that had been hit hard by injuries. St. Louis made a miraculous September run to a playoff spot, but they fell to the Dodgers in the Wild Card game. Lester didn’t appear in what’ll go down as the final contest of his career.
One of the league’s most reliable hurlers for more than a decade, Lester leaves a fantastic legacy in the game. He tossed 2,740 innings over parts of 16 MLB seasons. He pitched to a 3.66 ERA, won exactly 200 games and struck out just under 2,500 batters. The five-time All-Star was a key contributor to three World Series teams with two separate franchises, and he’ll be remembered by both Red Sox’s and Cubs’ fans as one of the more impactful players in each organization’s recent histories. Lester’s career was valued at between 44 and 46 wins above replacement by FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, before accounting for an incredible 2.51 ERA over 154 playoff innings. According to B-Ref, he earned just over $188MM.
Lester will likely garner some Hall of Fame support five years from now. Whether or not he’s ultimately enshrined in Cooperstown, there’s no question he had a long run of excellence and reliability. MLBTR congratulates Lester on his fantastic career and wishes him all the best in his post-playing days.
- Cardinals prospect Ian Bedell is set to make some light throws off a mound this week, according to Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This marks Bedell’s first work off a mound since he underwent Tommy John surgery back in May, and the 22-year-old has been able to continue his rehab normally with minor league staff, as Bedell and minor league team personnel aren’t subject to the lockout. The right-hander is tentatively still on schedule to return to action by May 2022, as Bedell is eager to resume a pro career that has already been set back by the pandemic and now his TJ procedure. Bedell was a fourth-round pick for the Cardinals in the 2020 draft, and he tossed only 2 2/3 innings for the team’s high-A affiliate before being shut down for surgery last season.
The Cardinals have made one big addition to the pitching staff this offseason, signing starter Steven Matz to a four-year deal. They’ve not done much to address the bullpen yet, though, with the re-signing of T.J. McFarland the only big league move in the later innings.
Adding to the bullpen figures to be a priority for the St. Louis front office coming out of the lockout. As part of a reader mailbag, Katie Woo of the Athletic writes that the Cardinals are likely to pursue free agent relief help on major league contracts once the transactions freeze is lifted.
As is the case every offseason, there are a decent number of bullpen options in free agency from which to choose. Raisel Iglesias and Kendall Graveman, arguably the top relievers available this winter, have already signed. Each landed a deal of at least three years in length, and Woo suggests the Cardinals are likely to look into one-year or two-year offers.
Kenley Jansen, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, Joe Kelly and Collin McHugh are among the top unsigned relievers. The Cardinals are plenty familiar with Kelly, a former Cards’ draftee who spent his first two and a half MLB seasons in St. Louis. Meanwhile, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote last month that the Cardinals were “intrigued” by Tepera, who has been quietly excellent over the past couple seasons with the two Chicago clubs.
Adding some veteran stability to the bullpen could allow the Cards more freedom with in-house options like Alex Reyes, Jordan Hicks and Génesis Cabrera. All three have worked in relief over the past few seasons, but the front office has seemingly left the door open for each to compete for a rotation spot (or at least a hybrid, swingman type role) in 2022. Some or all of that trio will eventually remain in a single-inning role, but bringing in an established veteran capable of working alongside Giovanny Gallegos in high-leverage spots could ease the pressure to have Reyes, Hicks and Cabrera all available in the late innings.
In other potential areas for an upgrade, Woo suggests the front office could look externally for some offensive help if the designated hitter comes to the National League in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement. As things currently stand, Juan Yepez and Lars Nootbaar might be the favorites for DH playing time among the in-house options, at least until top prospect Nolan Gorman is ready for everyday MLB run.
Nelson Cruz is the top bat-only free agent available, but St. Louis could address the position by adding a bat-first utilityman capable of rotating through DH and other positions on the diamond. Speculatively speaking, old friend Brad Miller — or another player of his ilk — could be a viable target. An offensive-minded utilityman could assume a good chunk of the DH at-bats early in the season while retaining enough flexibility to contribute in other ways if Gorman, Nootbaar or Yepez prove worthy of everyday playing time.
We’ve now passed the deadline for teams to tender contracts to pre-arb and arbitration-eligible players. We’ll keep track of the more minor players non-tendered in the National League here. The American League non-tenders are available at this link.
As a reminder, you can view MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players here:
- The Cardinals announced they’ve non-tendered utilityman José Rondon. The right-handed hitting infielder tallied 90 plate appearances this past season while suiting up at a handful of position.
- The Giants announced they’ve non-tendered outfielder Luis González, right-hander Sam Delaplane and southpaw Joe Palumbo. None of that trio was arbitration-eligible, and all three were recently acquired via minor transactions. It wouldn’t be a surprise if San Francisco attempts to work out minor league pacts with one or more of that group now that they’ve been removed from the 40-man roster.
- The Phillies have non-tendered southpaw Kyle Dohy and re-signed him to a minor league contract, per a team announcement. He’ll remain in the organization but no longer occupies a spot on the 40-man roster. Dohy made on major league appearance in 2021.
- The Padres announced they’ve non-tendered relievers José Castillo, Trey Wingenter, and Matt Strahm. Castillo and Wingenter haven’t pitched since 2019 because of arm injuries that necessitated Tommy John surgeries. Strahm was limited to just 6 2/3 frames in 2021 by health issues himself.
- The Cubs are non-tendering reliever Jason Adam, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. The southpaw missed much of the season after suffering a gruesome ankle fracture in Triple-A in May, but he made a triumphant late-season return to the big leagues. Adam ultimately tossed 10 2/3 innings over 12 outings. Chicago also announced they’ve non-tendered outfielder Michael Hermosillo, who made a late-season appearance on the big league roster.
- The Mets have non-tendered outfielder Mark Payton, per a club announcement. The left-handed hitter was acquired from the Reds midseason but never suited up for New York at the major league level.
- The Reds have non-tendered righty Brandon Bailey, per a team announcement. The 27-year-old made five appearances with the Astros in 2020. He missed all of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery, the second such procedure of his career. Bailey is re-signing on a minor league deal with a Spring Training invitation but will no longer occupy a spot on the 40-man roster, reports C. Trent Rosecrans of the Athletic.
- The Nationals announced three non-tenders: relievers Wander Suero and Ryne Harper and first baseman Mike Ford. Suero is the most notable of the group, having been an effective set-up option at times during his four-season run in D.C. He struggled to a 6.33 ERA across 42 2/3 innings in 2021, though.
- The Mets have non-tendered reliever Stephen Nogosek, reports Robert Murray of FanSided (on Twitter). The right-hander made just one three-inning appearance at the big league level in 2021. He worked 35 innings of 5.14 ERA ball with Triple-A Syracuse.
- The Diamondbacks are non-tendering reliever Taylor Clarke, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter). The 28-year-old has pitched with the D-Backs in each of the past three seasons. The left-hander worked to a 4.98 ERA over 43 1/3 innings this past season, showing solid control but posting a 20.1% strikeout rate that was about four percentage points below the league average mark for bullpen arms.
- The Dodgers have non-tendered southpaw Andrew Vasquez, tweets Fabian Ardaya of the Athletic. Vasquez wasn’t eligible for arbitration, but Los Angeles decided to bump him off the 40-man roster without placing him on waivers. Acquired in a minor trade with the Twins, Vasquez made two appearances for the Dodgers in early September. The 28-year-old struck out a massive 37.4% of batters faced in Triple-A in 2021.
- The Pirates have non-tendered right-hander Chad Kuhl, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). A productive back-of-the-rotation arm at times, Kuhl has developed escalating control problems over the past couple seasons. The 29-year-old throws in the mid-90s and has posted decent strikeout numbers, but he’s coming off a 4.82 ERA/4.89 SIERA over 28 appearances (including 14 starts)
- The Mets have non-tendered reliever Robert Gsellman, reports Tim Healey of Newsday (on Twitter). The right-hander has appeared with New York in each of the past six seasons, moving to the bullpen full-time in 2018. While Gsellman showed quite a bit of promise over seven starts as a rookie, he’s yet to find much consistent success in the years since. The 28-year-old did manage a solid 3.77 ERA with a 49.5% ground-ball rate over 28 2/3 innings in 2021, but he also missed a couple months because of a lat strain and only punched out 14.3% of batters faced.
The Mets announced Wednesday that they’ve signed outfielder Nick Plummer to a one-year, Major League contract. The Cardinals opted to let the 25-year-old become a minor league free agent earlier this month rather than adding him to the 40-man roster. Plummer is repped by Wasserman.
The Cardinals likely gave at least some thought to keeping Plummer, given that he’s a former No. 23 overall pick (2015) who enjoyed a breakout season between Double-A and Triple-A this season. In 478 plate appearances across 117 games, Plummer raked at a .280/.415/.479 clip with 15 home runs, 20 doubles, six triples and 13 stolen bases (in 24 attempts). He played center field earlier in his career and has continued to do so into the upper minors, but he’s begun to see more time in the corners in recent seasons as well.
Strikeouts and struggles with opposing lefties have both been an issue for the left-handed-hitting Plummer in the past, but he improved in both areas in 2021. After striking out in 31% of his career plate appearances in the low minors, Plummer cut that to a more manageable 26.5% in 2021. He also slashed .315/.457/.534 in 92 plate appearances against lefties — a small but nevertheless encouraging sample for a former first-rounder who appeared to make strides in various areas.
Signing Plummer to a big league deal puts him on the Mets’ 40-man roster but also prevents the rare (but not unprecedented) scenario where he inks a minor league deal after Rule 5 protection day and then is subsequently selected by another club in the Rule 5 Draft. This is Plummer’s first addition to a 40-man roster and, as such, he still has all three minor league option seasons remaining. He’ll give the Mets an intriguing upper-level depth option in the outfield.
The Cardinals have made a late-night strike to bolster their rotation, reportedly reaching agreement with free agent starter Steven Matz on a four-year, $44MM guarantee, pending a physical. Incentives could eventually push that figure as high as $48MM. Matz is a client of Icon Sports Management.
Matz reportedly fielded offers from eight clubs, and interest was robust enough that he’d been expected to sign before Thanksgiving. Teams’ affinity for the 30-year-old is also evident in the eventual contract terms, as Matz’s deal fairly handily tops MLBTR’s three-year, $27MM projection entering the winter.
The left-hander has been a reliable rotation member for the majority of the past few years. He’s eclipsed 150 innings and posted an ERA between 3.82 and 4.21 in each of the last three 162-game seasons. His peripherals haven’t been quite as impressive, but Matz has typically offered near league average rate numbers while reliably taking the ball every fifth day.
Matz has never had elite swing-and-miss stuff. That continued to be the case in 2021, as his 22.3% strikeout percentage and 9.4% swinging strike rate were both a bit shy of the respective league average marks (22.6% and 10.9%) for starting pitchers. That’s arguably less alarming for St. Louis than it would be for other clubs around the league, as the Cardinals have reportedly been seeking pitchers best equipped to take advantage of the team’s elite defense. Matz seems to fit that bill, as he annually posts walk rates lower than most and typically induces ground balls at a slightly higher than average rate.
He’s also one of the harder throwers available, averaging 94.5 MPH on his sinker in each of the past two years. That’s particularly rare for a left-handed starter, with only seven other southpaws (minimum 100 innings) throwing harder on average in 2021. He’ll add a different look to a Cardinals rotation that otherwise projects to include right-handers Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson.
Further adding to Matz’s appeal is that the Blue Jays declined to issue him a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason. The signing won’t cost St. Louis any draft pick compensation, and Toronto won’t receive any form of compensation for his departure. The Jays were reportedly among the teams to put forth an offer in hopes of keeping Matz north of the border, but that effort proved not to be enough to keep him in a Jays uniform for more than one season.
There’s plenty about Matz for the St. Louis front office to like, but this deal does come with its share of risk. While Matz was a solid performer in three of the past four seasons, his 2020 campaign was nothing short of a disaster. He was tagged for a 9.68 ERA across 30 2/3 innings that year, serving up a staggering 14 home runs in that time. Including that showing deals a heavy blow to Matz’s otherwise fairly solid recent work.
Going back to the start of 2018, he owns a cumulative 4.36 ERA/4.55 FIP in just under 500 frames. That’s not particularly impressive production in aggregate, worse than that of Anthony DeSclafani, who signed for three years and $36MM with the Giants on Monday. DeSclafani is a year older than Matz is, and perhaps the Cardinals are simply willing to write off 2020 as a small sample in an overall anomalous year.
Homers have been an issue for Matz for the bulk of his career in spite of his ground-ball proclivities, though. He’s generally given up a lot of hard contact when batters have managed to get the ball in the air against him. The 2021 campaign was the first of his career in which he’s allowed a homer per fly ball rate lower than the league mark. Whether he can sustain that kind of success keeping the ball in the yard could go a long way towards determining whether he’ll continue to post a sub-4.00 ERA over the coming seasons.
The specifics on Matz’s contract have yet to be reported, but he’ll receive an average annual value of $11MM. The Cardinals have the flexibility to accommodate an eight figure salary over the coming few seasons, with Jason Martinez of Roster Resource projecting the club’s 2022 player commitments in the $142MM range before accounting for Matz’s deal. Their obligations come out around $77MM in 2023. The franchise has opened the past few seasons with payrolls hovering right around $160MM, so a flat $11MM annual payment would leave somewhere around $7MM – $10MM in 2022 spending capacity if ownership signs off on a similar payroll next year. (Backloading the deal would obviously leave more immediate space but have a higher hit on the club’s future commitments).
That could allow St. Louis to make another addition or two elsewhere on the roster, and Katie Woo of the Athletic tweets that the Cardinals are expected to continue to add. It’s already a solid group without many obvious holes on paper, although shortstop, backup catcher and the bullpen all stand out as speculative possibilities for upgrades over the coming months.
Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the Cardinals and Matz were in agreement on a four-year, $44MM guarantee that could max out at $48MM based on incentives.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
Nov. 23, 10:08 pm: Matz has at least one two-year offer in hand, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com (on Twitter).
Nov. 23, 10:01 am: Matz is weighing offers from each of the Giants, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels and Mets, Heyman tweets. The Giants’ offer remains on the table even after re-signing DeSclafani.
Nov. 22: The free agent starting pitching market has moved very quickly over the offseason’s first few weeks, and it seems another domino could soon fall. Southpaw Steven Matz is likely to pick his destination before Thanksgiving, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
Interest in Matz has been robust, with the Red Sox, incumbent Blue Jays, Mets, Dodgers, Cardinals and Angels among teams already rumored to have interest. Jon Heyman of the MLB Network adds the Tigers, Cubs and Giants to that mix. The Mets have put forth a formal offer, although they’re joined in that regard by seven other clubs, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter).
Matz is coming off a nice season in Toronto, rebounding from an awful 2020 campaign to toss 150 2/3 innings of 3.82 ERA ball. The 30-year-old didn’t miss too many bats, but he only walked 6.6% of opponents and induced grounders at a solid 45.5% clip. Matz’s 4.12 SIERA wasn’t quite as impressive as his ERA, but both his actual run prevention and peripherals have typically hovered right around 4.00.
That’s valuable mid-rotation production, although Matz has previously had some issues with the long ball. Home runs weren’t an issue in 2021, but he served up an astonishing 14 round-trippers in just 30 2/3 frames with the Mets in 2020. That showing seemingly marked for an ugly end to a generally solid tenure in Queens, but the New York front office apparently has interest in bringing him back into the fold after his bounceback showing this year.
Each of the Tigers, Cubs and Giants entered the offseason known to be targeting rotation help. The Cubs claimed Wade Miley off waivers from the division-rival Reds. Detroit has already signed Eduardo Rodríguez, while San Francisco has reunited with Anthony DeSclafani and are seemingly on the verge of a deal with Alex Wood. None of that trio has as marked a rotation need as they did just two weeks ago, but there’s enough uncertainty on all three clubs’ staffs that they can and probably will make another rotation addition of some sort this winter.
The Jays considered making Matz an $18.4MM qualifying offer but ultimately decided against it. Toronto won’t receive a compensatory pick if he were to sign elsewhere, then, while adding Matz wouldn’t cost another team a draft pick.