The Major League Baseball offseason hasn’t quite picked up steam just yet with the Winter Meetings still a couple of weeks away. However, there’s still plenty going on around the league. Let’s catch up on what you might have missed over the past week.
I Choose Martin
The Braves will not stop their quest to have the best bullpen in baseball. This week, the club agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with reliever Chris Martin. Atlanta acquired Martin from the Rangers as part of their mid-season bullpen overhaul last season.
He was solid for the Braves down the stretch but suffered an oblique injury while warming up to pitch in the National League Division Series, preventing him from pitching in the postseason at all.
The Braves have already re-signed Darren O’Day and added former Giants closer Will Smith this offseason, so it’s safe to say they’re serious about having a formidable bullpen in 2020.
While most teams are trying to add players this time of year, the Yankees have parted ways with two longtime players. First, the club officially released Jacoby Ellsbury, who hasn’t played in two seasons because of a variety of injuries.
The Yankees also designated first baseman Greg Bird for assignment. Bird came up in 2015 with much promise but has hit under .200 in three straight seasons amidst a series of injuries. He should get a chance with another team, but the Yankees are apparently tired of waiting.
Guiding the Ship
The Pirates have tapped Ben Cherington to be their new general manager. Cherington was recently working with the Toronto Blue Jays but is best known for his years in the Red Sox front office.
He was Boston’s GM when it won the World Series in 2013 and then helped put together the core that won the title again in 2018.
Of course, he has a big job ahead of him in Pittsburgh, inheriting a team that won just 69 games this past season and still doesn’t have a manager.
Not Getting Out
Speaking of the Pirates, Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vazquez is finding himself in deeper and deeper legal trouble these days. He was arrested in September on multiple counts of sex crimes involving a minor.
At a hearing on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Vazquez was denied bail and hit with 21 additional felony charges. He has pled not guilty and plans to fight the charges at trial. He will be formally arraigned on Jan. 22. Needless to say, his baseball career is in jeopardy and is likely over at this point.
Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda has told the club that he’s unhappy with how the team is using him. In recent years, Maeda has started the season in the starting rotation, only to be moved to the bullpen late in the season and in the playoffs. He’s been effective in both roles, especially coming out of the bullpen.
However, his contract provides incentives based on games started and total innings, so the move to the bullpen hurts him financially, especially since he has a modest salary based on how much he’s contributed to the Dodgers over the last four seasons. Maeda is set to make $3 million in base salary every year though the 2023 season.