With the holiday season upon us and the Winter Meetings on the horizon, things are finally starting to pick up during the MLB offseason. Let’s check out all of the important news and signings from the past week.
The New Man
The Pirates finally got around to filling their managerial vacancy, naming former Twins bench coach Derek Shelton to the position. This will be Shelton’s first managerial job in the majors, although he served as a manager in the minors for a few seasons. Hiring Shelton completes an overhaul of organizational leadership after the Pirates also replaced their team president and GM earlier this offseason.
After locking up catcher Yasmani Grandal last week, the White Sox continued to say busy, agreeing to a three-year, $50 million extension with first baseman Jose Abreu. After accepting a qualifying offer from the White Sox earlier in the offseason, Abreu and the club finally came to terms on a long-term deal that should help keep Abreu in Chicago for the rest of his career.
The Braves continued their busy offseason this week by signing catcher Travis d’Arnaud to a two-year deal worth $16 million. After missing most of 2018 because of Tommy John surgery and getting released by the Mets early in the 2019 season, d’Arnaud ended up having a resurgent season with the Rays, earning him a multi-year deal from Atlanta. With the Braves, d’Arnaud will share time with Tyler Flowers, essentially replacing Brian McCann, who retired after last season.
Kendall Graveman sat out all of 2019 after Tommy John surgery but will get a chance to re-establish himself in the majors with the Seattle Mariners. Graveman is getting a base salary of just $1.5 million for the 2020 season, although there are incentives for innings pitched and a club option for the 2021 season.
Before the surgery, Graveman was a steady part of Oakland’s rotation from 2015 to 2017. He was actually with the Cubs during his rehab last year, although they declined his $3 million option for 2020, making him a free agent. In Seattle, Graveman should be guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation with the Mariners rebuilding.
Returning to the Hill
Free-agent pitcher Rich Hill is hoping to pitch in 2020 at the age of 40, but he won’t be able to make his season debut until at least June. Hill underwent a relatively new type of surgery last month to address a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. The procedure is considered an alternative to Tommy John surgery and comes with roughly half the recovery time. Hill is yet to sign with a team but is confident that he’ll be able to pitch in the big leagues by June.
The world champion Nationals are doing their best to keep the band together this offseason. That includes agreeing to a two-year, $10 million deal with catcher Yan Gomes. Washington acquired Gomes from the Indians last winter, and he split catching duties with Kurt Suzuki during the season. The Nationals figure to use that same catching tandem as they try to defend their crown in 2020.