The Angels have locked in an important part of their rebuild.
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- Opening Day for MLB started out with a bang and then a fizzle, with the Mets following up their major extension of Lindor with their opener against the Nationals postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. Not really a heartening start to the season.
- The Angels have signed David Fletcher to a five-year, $26M extension, reports Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic. The second baseman slashed a career best .319/.376/.425 over 230 plate appearances last season. While he offers almost no power at the plate, his consistency and jarringly low strikeout rate. The extension will begin this season and extend through 2025. The 26-year old wouldn’t have been arbitration eligible until after this season and wouldn’t not have hit free agency until after the 2024 season. There is also a club option and buyout of $8.5M and $1.5M, respectively. The Angels have locked down their man for a long time to come.
- The big news from last night without question was the Mets successfully extending Francisco Lindor with a huge 10 year, $341 million extension. This puts Lindor amongst the highest paid players in all of baseball and gives the Mets a cornerstone shortstop for the next decade. History has not been kind to long-term mega deals in baseball, so we will now see if Lindor can make such a deal worthwhile, especially in the latter years.
- The Nationals find themselves in a pickle yet again on Opening Day as it was reported that one player tested positive for COVID-19 and several others were deemed close contacts which means they will be without some guys for at least a week. The team was unable to identify the specific players involved, but our guess is that will become readily apparent once we see their lineup on Opening Day.
- Former All-Star infielder Jake Lamb had a dreadful spring with the Braves and was released over the weekend, even after earning a major league deal from Atlanta. Luckily for Lamb, the White Sox are simply in need of warm bodies after losing outfielder Eloy Jiménez for an extended period. Lamb signed a one-year deal with Chicago on Tuesday and is expected to get reps as the DH with Andrew Vaughn moving to left field.
- In the second surprising development involving Todd Frazier over the past few days, the two-time All-Star slugger was unable to find a major league job elsewhere after being informed that he wouldn’t make the Pirates’ Opening Day roster and opting out of his minor league deal. Frazier returned to the Pirates organization on a new minor league contract Tuesday, and one would think he’ll be one of the first players they turn to in the event of injury or poor performance after he posted a .996 OPS with three homers this spring.
- The health and safety protocols that the league has put in place for the 2021 season have been a hot topic given that we are amidst a vaccine rollout that should, in theory, make existing out in the world much safer and easier. Monday, MLB sent out a memo to teams saying that if at least 85% of a team’s roster becomes vaccinated, that the health protocols they are operating under will be relaxed.
- Remaking your bullpen a few days before the start of a season is not exactly ideal, but that is what the Angels are going. Monday night, with the 2021 season just a couple days away, the Angels signed Steve Cishek and Tony Watson to one year deals. That brings the total to four relievers they’ve acquired in the last few days before the season opener. Bold strategy to be sure.
- Félix Hernández has officially run out of time to make Baltimore’s Opening Day roster, thus opting out of his contract and setting out for free agency, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Hernández suffered an elbow injury earlier this month, and there was speculation that he wouldn’t be healthy enough to take the hill every five days. The 34-year-old would have earned a $1M salary if he was able to make it to Baltimore’s big league roster this season. King Félix is a far cry from his Cy Young years with the Mariners, recording an average 3.42 ERA and 2,524 strikeouts from 2005-2019. Who knows, with his very short time with the Orioles over, could he go back to the Mariners to finish off his career? Everyone loves an underdog.
- The White Sox, fresh off an impressive run to the postseason last year, are primed to win the AL Central this year, but things just got a bit harder. It was announced last week that slugger Eloy Jimenez ruptured his pectoral tendon and will miss around 5-6 months of action as he recovers. While the White Sox do have a good number of quality bats in their lineup, Eloy’s injury is really going to put their depth to the test and place a lot of pressure on some young guys to perform.
- One of the more exciting guys set to hit free agency after this season is shortstop Carlos Correa who, despite having trouble staying healthy in his career, would be one of the biggest names on the free agent market if he made it there. It was reported that the while Astros did offer an extension to him, Correa considered the offer so low that he now seems resigned to test the waters in free agency after the season.
- While it doesn’t look super promising that the Astros are going to be able to lock up Carlos Correa and already lost George Springer to free agency, they did get some good news last week as they were able to lock up Lance McCullers with a five-year extension. It isn’t the marquee extension/signing they probably need to prolong their competitive window, but hey....progress.
- Right-hander Zac Gallen was the Diamondbacks’ ace in 2020, but it appears they won’t have him to begin 2021, as he’s been diagnosed with a hairline stress fracture in his right lateral forearm. He’ll continue playing catch, but it’s doubtful that he’ll be ready to take the mound again by Opening Day.
- Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland has a left shoulder strain — obviously a concern for a pitcher who is likely the most reliable starter in the organization.
- After signing a one-year deal with Toronto over the offseason, former All-Star reliever Kirby Yates may never get a chance to pitch in a Blue Jays uniform. Yates underwent Tommy John surgery, knocking him out for the entire 2021 season.
- As if the Yates injury wasn’t troubling enough for the Blue Jays, they may also be without their biggest offseason addition on Opening Day, as outfielder George Springer suffered a Grade 2 oblique strain, leaving his status uncertain for the beginning of the season.
- We love a good comeback story here at MLB Daily Dish. Brent Honeywell was once considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, but injuries cost him most of the last 3.5 years. Fortunately, the four surgeries he had on his elbow did not deter him and he made his 2021 spring debut Monday. It was successful on all fronts.
- The Royals and Salvador Perez have agreed to a monster contract extension. The deal will keep Perez in Kansas City for four more years to the tune of $82M. Slashing a career .269/.300/.449, the 30-year old was a cornerstone of the team’s 2015 World Series run. The extension also comes less than two years after Perez had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2019 season. Despite that, the Royals seem to have no intention of letting the franchise icon leave any time soon.
- Lefty swingman Roenis Elías, who joined the Mariners for a third stint this offseason after missing the entire 2020 season with a flexor strain, underwent Tommy John surgery and miss the entire 2021 campaign. Elías was in camp as a non-roster invitee, so the Mariners have offered him a two-year minor league deal so he can rehab in the Seattle organization.
- In their flurry of a rebuild, the Orioles have finalized a deal with free agent infielder Maikel Franco. While Franco, a former top prospect with the Phillies, didn’t live up to the hype in Philadelphia, he redeemed himself last season in Kansas City, playing in all 60 games and slashing .278/.321/.457. If Franco keeps up his improvement at the plate, not only would he be an affordable power hitter for Baltimore, but his trade value come the deadline would skyrocket.
- A few seasons ago, MLB tested out some new rules in the minor leagues that ended up being used in the major leagues, including the extra inning rule where a runner started each extra inning on second base. Now, it looks like MLB is eyeing some other changes with new rules getting tested out in the minors during the 2021 season. Such changes include an automated strike zone, limits on the shift, limits on pickoff moves, and changes to the physical bases designed to lead to less slipping and less collisions on the basepaths.
- Yankees reliever Zack Britton will miss the beginning of the season, as he’ll undergo arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow and be out for at least a month. That’s a major loss for the Bronx Bombers, as the two-time All-Star had a stellar 1.89 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with eight saves in 20 games last season.
- The Astros have signed Jake Odorizzi to a two-year deal. It’s shocking that it’s taken a team this long to swipe the 30-year old off of the market. 2020 was a rough year for Odorizzi, who was slammed by injuries from all angles. However, he’s still the proud owner of a combined 3.88 ERA from 2014-2019. The Astros stayed on the conservative side this offseason, only making a major move to bring back Michael Brantley after he opted for free agency, so maybe giving the starter $30M was the plan all along.
- There was some hope that the COVID-19 pandemic would calm down quickly enough that the Triple-A season could begin at the same time as the major league season. That hope has now dried up, and minor leaguers with a chance of contributing in the big leagues at the outset of the season will be assigned to an alternate site, just like during the 2020 season. There’s hope that the Triple-A season might begin in May, but everything remains in question until teams feel comfortable transporting minor leaguers — in particular, those who might be promoted to the big leagues — on commerical flights.
- The Kansas City Royals and Hunter Dozier have settled on a four-year extension. The deal will give Dozier a $25M guarantee with a $10M option for 2025. But it doesn’t end there — if he maxes out all his bonuses and incentives, he’s look at a ceiling of $49M. The 29-year old was some time away from reaching free agency, not hitting the open market until after the 2023 season. In 2019, the third baseman slashed .279/.348/.522 with 26 home runs over 586 plate appearances. The curt and strange 2020 season saw a vastly different Dozier, hitting .228/.344/.392, however he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in July, no doubt effecting his power at the plate even after recovery. With Maikel Franco back on the free agency market, Dozier will remain at third base rather than being bounced around from first to the corner infield.
- On the heels of a video coming to light of him insulting numerous members of the Mariners organization in a Zoom meeting with a local rotary club, Seattle president and CEO Kevin Mather announced his resignation. Now the Mariners begin the process of smoothing over the damage he caused by taking shots at several players who will be essential to Seattle’s future success.
- MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to health and safety protocols for the 2021 season. Returning for a second season — ostensibly because they’ll keep players at the ballpark for shorter periods of time — are the runner-on-second rule in extra innings and seven-inning doubleheaders.