The Mets and Lucas Duda intend to cut off extension negotiations when the season opens, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. It remains to be seen whether anything gets done, of course, especially since the 29-year-old still has just one complete season of strong performance on his ledger. A league executive tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the comparables suggest a deal in the four-year, $30MM range could make sense, pointing to the cases of Allen Craig, Alex Gordon, and Billy Butler. In spite of his somewhat late start, Duda could have a higher earning capacity than that trio if he keeps hitting thirty-plus home runs.
While details of Garcia’s stint in Taiwan are hard to dig up, it appears that he at least threw a full season as the Taipei Times credits him with picking up a Gold Glove award. Garcia had seemed ticketed for the Braves rotation last spring before the club dropped him in favor of Aaron Harang — a decision that delivered Atlanta a surprisingly excellent season from Harang and sent Garcia out of the bigs for the first time since he broke into the league in 1999.
Garcia came up with the Mariners, promptly reeling off 200+ inning campaigns in seven of his first eight years. He carried a 4.01 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 to that point. Injuries intervened, however, and Garcia did not even crack the 60-inning barrier from 2007 through 2009 (even while working as a starter).
He has been a useful swingman since then, however, and figures to provide a depth option for a Los Angeles club that is approaching the season looking somewhat thin on pitching.
9:23pm: Johnson will earn $1MM if he makes the roster, MLB.com’s Bill Ladson tweets.
3:36pm: Though outfielder Reed Johnson was released by the Marlins earlier this morning, his brush with unemployment will apparently be fleeting, as the Nationals announced that they’ve signed him to a Minor League contract. Johnson, 38, will report to big league camp and be in the mix for a bench spot.
The Nationals could use some additional outfield depth with Denard Span likely out through mid-May and Jayson Werth unlikely to be ready for Opening Day. As I noted this morning in discussing Johnson’s release, while his overall work with the bat is light, he’s still a solid option against left-handed pitching. Johnson batted .303/.319/.409 in 69 PA against lefties last year and is a lifetime .310/.363/.454 hitter when facing opposite-handed pitching. He has experience in center field but is likely best suited for left field at this stage of his career.
It remains unclear exactly how the Nationals’ outfield situation will play out, but prospect Michael Taylor figures to slide into Span’s spot and receive the bulk of the playing time in center field.
With teams making decisions on the final piece of their Opening Day rosters, especially regarding Article XX(B) players, we’ll keep tabs on the day’s moves to add non-roster invitees to the 40-man.
Right-handed relievers, somewhat unsurprisingly, dominate today’s news in this arena:
“Today is a bad day for baseball. We all know that if @KrisBryant_23 were a combination of the greatest Players to play our great game, and perhaps he will be before it’s all said and done, the @Cubs still would have made the decision they made today. This decision, and other similar decisions made by clubs will be addressed in litigation, bargaining or both.”
There are several items in this statement to unpack, of course. For starters, it seems difficult to disagree with the sentiment that it is unfortunate for the game as a whole that Bryant will not start the year in the big leagues. While imagining a mutually agreeable rule tweak to make that happen in the future will not be easy, it certainly seems a worthy pursuit.
Then, there is the interesting second sentence, which seems to draw attention away from the Cubs’ particular decision and focus it instead on the set of incentives that seemingly made it inevitable. Certainly, those words strike a somewhat different posture than that adopted by Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras.
Finally, and most ominously, the union fired a parting shot suggesting that “litigation” could be a method employed in “address[ing]” the Bryant decision and others like it. Presumably, that refers to the possibility of pursuing grievance proceedings under the CBA, rather than some kind of action in open court, but it is interesting regardless because it suggests the union may seek to argue that weighing service time at the start of a player’s career violates the current iteration of the CBA.
Of course, the statement also notes that collective bargaining may be the route pursued to deal with the issue, and regardless of the MLBPA’s actual intentions, the union clearly wishes to put the league on notice that the promotion timeline of top prospects will be at or near the top of the labor agenda in the next round of bargaining. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has recently come out strongly in favor of some form of international draft, and both sides increasingly appear to be lining up their positions. Negotiations are expected to launch in earnest next winter.
Kris Bryant, arguably the best prospect in baseball and inarguably the crusher of more home runs than any other player this spring training, will start the 2015 season in the minor league. But don't blame the Chicago Cubs—blame Major League Baseball.
After all, it's the rules that made this decision entirely inevitable and anything but surprising.
The Cubs announced Monday they had sent Bryant to minor league camp despite his ridiculous .425/.477/1.175 triple-slash line and, count 'em, nine homers.
Bryant could have batted 1.000 and hit a home run every time up, and still, the 23-year-old righty slugger would have begun the regular season in Iowa instead of Chicago. And while it might seem like this makes no sense at all, it actually is a perfectly sound and logical call for the Cubs.
You see, a player's service-time clock begins ticking as soon as he makes his MLB debut, and once a player accrues six years' worth of action—or 6.000 in years and days—he becomes a free agent. But if a player is even a few days shy of that mark, it allows the club to pick up what essentially is an "extra" season of team control.
For the Cubs, the decision boils down to this: Miss out on two weeks of Bryant in April 2015...or miss out on Bryant for the entire 2021 season.
In other words, this question of whether Bryant should begin the year in the bigs really isn't a question at all, given the importance of Bryant, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2013, to the rebuilding Cubs organization—and given the construction of the current collective bargaining agreement, which allows this path.
No matter what Bryant's agent Scott Boras argues:
That's because everybody—the front-office executives, managers, coaches, players and media—knows that this is a no-brainer for the Cubs.
"Everybody is conscious of it," New York Yankees lefty reliever Andrew Miller said, via Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "Hey, we have a chance to make a lot of money in this game, but the rules are the rules. If that works in the Cubs favor, and the Cubs are a better team for that, they're entitled to (use the rule to their favor). We negotiated that. It's the reality of what our collective bargaining agreement says."
Note: This statement is coming from a player.
But this decision is also a bad one for all parties involved.
Bryant will have to wait an extra year to reach free agency and score his first massive contract (unless he signs a long-term extension first). The Cubs could be second-guessed for not putting their best 25 players on the roster, particularly if they fall short of the playoffs by a game or three. The fans won't get to see a potential superstar in the making at the outset of the season, when attention and attendance are often at their peak.
And we'll all have to put up with more complaints and criticism from Boras, who admittedly isn't wrong, either.
Meanwhile, Cubs president Theo Epstein has a point in claiming that Bryant needs more time to marinate in the minors, even though he's undeniably one of the most talented players in the organization.
"I think it's very rare that teams keep their 25 most talented players [out of spring training]," Epstein said during an on-air interview from a recent ESPN broadcast. "I like to call guys up for their major league debut in the middle of the season, when they're in the flow of the game, the grind of the season and they're comfortable."
There's some merit to that sentiment, but it's also little more than lip service under these circumstances.
And it leads to an uncomfortable situation for everyone, not to mention awkwardly phrased quotes like this one from Cubs manager Joe Maddon, per ESPN.com news services: "[Bryant is] a brilliant talent. I'm not going to sit here and say things that are disingenuous. This guy is good. He's going to be really good."
Or the fact that even new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was asked to weigh in on this controversy.
"Look, I don’t think the Cubs' decision on what’s going to happen to Kris Bryant is really any of Mr. Boras’ business," Manfred said, per Sullivan. "The club is in the best position, and the Cubs are in the best position, to decide what’s going to make them the most competitive over the longest period of time."
All of the above taken into consideration, Bryant is not a completely and utterly finished product, even though some have already seemingly begun to design his Hall of Fame plaque.
His defense remains a work in progress, especially since he's struggled with his throwing at third base at times this spring and has begun seeing action in the outfield, too. Bryant also has a propensity to swing and miss often, having struck out 27 percent of the time last season and 14 times in 44 exhibition plate appearances.
But Bryant has also done just about everything a young player can do in the minors, having hit .325/.438/.661 with a best-in-baseball 43 home runs between Double- and Triple-A in his first full pro season last year.
Bryant is primed to test himself in the majors. He's ready for his big-league closeup. Now all we need is for MLB to find a way to solve this problem with the next collective bargaining agreement. That way, when the next Kris Bryant surfaces, the best course of action will involve having him on the field as long—and as soon—as possible.
"[Bryant's strong spring performance] demonstrated clearly to everybody that he's really close to being not just in the big leagues but to playing an important role on the team," Epstein said, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. "His camp mattered. We're more likely to get him sooner than later with how he's playing and how close he showed [he is]."
Just not soon enough, thanks to MLB's silly #ServiceTimeShenanigans.
Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com
Thanks to a new nursing suite, the Cincinnati Reds are making it easier for families to enjoy a night at the ballpark.
The Reds spent this offseason giving their stadium a bit of a makeover. With the 2015 MLB All-Star Game coming to Cincinnati, the team has upgraded the look of its concession stands and even added a new bar. However, the biggest upgrade went beyond the usual amenities.
On Monday, the Reds announced that they have added a nursing suite to Great American Ball Park:
This new nursing station will make it easier for fans to take care of their young children. Per the Reds' Michael Anderson, via Better Off Red's Jamie Ramsey, the nursing station will include "comfortable gliders, a kitchenette with a sink, ice and refrigeration, a private restroom, changing stations and lockers for storing your items during the game."
Per ESPN's Darren Rovell, Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini said many fans had asked for the team to look at ways to make it easier to accommodate those who needed to nurse their children while at the game. The club decided to go all out in order to help its fans.
"It just didn't make sense that we would put a couple chairs in the women's bathrooms," Castellini said.
For those who don't want to miss a second of the game while taking care of your child, the Reds have you covered.
"We'll also have flat-screen TVs so that they won't miss the game, and there will be toys to play with if the three-year-old has to come with them," Castellini said.
Some fans may not be able to go to the ballpark because they have young children. With the addition of the nursing station, the Reds have made it easier for families to spend a night at the stadium.
Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com
Although the Cleveland Indians would like everyone to support them, they don't get too upset about some of the negative things said about them on the Internet.
In fact, they like to have fun with that criticism.
Taking a page from Jimmy Kimmel, the Indians took some time to read mean tweets. Nearly everyone in the organization—whether it be players, coaches, broadcasters or the front office—has been a target of criticism on Twitter.
Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com
Without question, the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout is the most valued player in fantasy baseball. Three of the four mock drafts studied for this article had Trout as the No. 1 pick. The reigning MVP is coming off a season that saw him lead the majors in runs scored and RBI.
His batting average dipped below .300, and he led the league in strikeouts with 184, but there's no questioning his ability to put big numbers up for the Angels and your fantasy team.
Bleacher Report's Jason Catania shared a draft he was involved in, and that was the only one of the group to have someone other than Trout go first.
In that draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw was the top pick. Kershaw is just 27 years old, and he's already won three Cy Young Awards in the last four years. In 2014, he also won the National League MVP when he went 21-3. He led the league in wins, ERA (1.83) and complete games with six.
You can't really go wrong with either man. Both are pretty clearly the top fantasy producers in the sport. They both seem impervious to down years, but quite honestly, with so many pitchers suffering arm injuries in this day and age, I'd always take the stud hitter with the top pick.
Let's take a look at the top five picks for the four experts' mock drafts I researched.
As you can see from the picks, others may have felt the same way about selecting a pitcher. Kershaw was selected as low as seventh in one of the drafts.
The second-most coveted hitter is the Pittsburgh Pirates' Andrew McCutchen. Cutch's consistency encouraged those selecting in the mock drafts not to let him slip past the fourth spot in any case. He's never eclipsed the 100-RBI mark, but he's almost a guarantee to hit .300 with at least 20 home runs.
In 2014, he hit .314 with 25 home runs and drove in 83. While not astronomical, Cutch's stats are dependable, and he's never missed more than 16 games in a season.
If you're looking for a pitcher and can't get Kershaw, who should be next on your list? In all four of the examined drafts, the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez was the second pitcher taken. King Felix was only 15-6, but he had an American League-leading 2.14 ERA. With better run support and bullpen work, he could have easily been a 20-game winner.
Fantasy owners don't care much about his bullpen. Thus, he's a hot commodity.
Part of doing well in fantasy baseball is about drafting a breakout star. The Chicago Cubs' Jorge Soler has the look of a guy ready to explode. Soler wasn't taken before the seventh round in any of the four drafts.
Super prospect Kris Bryant is getting all of the attention during spring training, but Soler is quietly hitting .333 with three home runs. Cubs manager Joe Maddon gave Soler a huge compliment with a lofty comparison. Per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago, Maddon said:
“He’s a beautiful man, though. I really, really enjoy the way he is. Really, I mean, he’s like Vladimir (Guerrero) with plate discipline. That’s what he is.”
His spring training success follows up a 24-game run with the big club in 2014 where he hit .292 with five homers and drove in 20. With most of the pressure and attention on Bryant—whenever he reaches the majors—Soler should be able to continue to prove why he's such a great prospect in his own right.
Think about snatching him up at some point between the fifth and ninth rounds. If he stays healthy, this could be a huge year for the 23-year-old Cuban.
I know he plays for the Houston Astros, but Collin McHugh was pretty solid in 2014. Because of his team's inability to score runs, he was only 11-9, but he had an ERA of 2.73 and he struck out 157 batters in just 154 innings.
Still, the earliest he was taken in any draft was the ninth round in the FFToolbox mock. That's pretty insane.
Last year was McHugh's first full season in the majors. Obviously, it's possible he falls off a bit and incurs a sophomore jinx, but that can be said for just about any pitcher who hasn't put together a proven track record of excellence.
McHugh is one of those guys you'll select and your buddies will be like, "Who?" Later in the season, their tune might change when he's become one of your most consistent performers.
Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com
Whether you've played before, won a million dollars or have never even heard of DraftKings before now, MLB daily fantasy is for you. Anyone who loves the sport and knows how the game works can succeed with a little time and effort.
Daily fantasy is a huge deviation from regular fantasy baseball in several aspects. Filling out a roster is based on a fixed salary cap of $50,000 per 10-man roster. Each owner chooses two pitchers, a first-baseman or designated hitter and all eight other positions to make a complete lineup.
Once an applicable lineup is set, owners can enter myriad different contests including head-to-head, 50/50 and multipliers on a daily basis. Hence the name daily fantasy, where no day is the same and lineups are constantly changing.
Now that the standard rules are out of the way, here's a look at some advice to dominate in DraftKings MLB leagues this year.