With the 2017 season about to begin, consider this our effort to get those of you who slept through the Hot Stove season caught up on all the big things you missed. Here are 20 key plot points from what was a typically wild offseason in MLB.
The expectation is that free agent outfielder Angel Pagan will choose his next team in the coming days, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com. The Tigers are among the clubs that have shown interest in Pagan, according to both Bowden and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. However, a Pagan-Tigers union “doesn’t sound like a real possibility,” per Fenech (Twitter link). While Bowden also relays that the Giants are in on Pagan, Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group tweets otherwise. Pagan, of course, spent the previous half-decade in San Francisco. More from around the majors as Opening Day draws closer: It’s likely that outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. will make the Blue Jays, but it’s not a lock, according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. The last spot on the team figures to go to either Upton, whom Toronto acquired last summer from San Diego, or out-of-options middle infielder Ryan Goins. While Upton will make $16.45MM in 2017, the final season of the five-year, $75.25MM contract he signed with the Braves in 2012, the Padres are on the hook for most of that money. The Blue Jays only took on $5MM of the remaining $22MM-plus Upton had coming his way when they traded for him.
Per an announcement from the FOX Sports Network, veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to serve as a full-time analyst for the upcoming season. He is expected to do color work and appear on the “MLB Whiparound” show. Pierzynski, 40, spent each of the past two seasons with the Braves. While he was quite productive in 2015, he tailed off significantly last year. There were signs that he would likely call it quits, though that soon shifted. To this point, nothing had — or, still has, so far as we know — been formalized. With today’s news, though, it seems safe to assume that Pierzynski will wrap up his career after parts of 19 MLB seasons. He has certainly enjoyed the kind of run that few backstops are able to pull off, having played in over 100 games in every single campaign between 2001 and 2015.
TODAY: The D-Backs have indeed re-signed Blanco to a new minors deal, per a club announcement. YESTERDAY, 9:29pm: Arizona would like to re-sign Blanco, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter links). With an oblique injury slowing Blanco, the club wasn’t “comfortable making the call on him for the Opening Day roster tomorrow” (the Article XX(B) deadline), thus leading to tonight’s move. 9:11pm: The Diamondbacks have released veteran outfielder Gregor Blanco, per a team announcement. He’ll return to the open market in search of another opportunity after failing to crack the team’s Opening Day roster. The 33-year-old Blanco was an Article XX(B) free agent, meaning the club would have had to pay him a $100K roster bonus to keep him in the minors (assuming he’d not have opted out at that point).
9:29pm: Arizona would like to re-sign Blanco, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter links). With an oblique injury slowing Blanco, the club wasn’t “comfortable making the call on him for the Opening Day roster tomorrow” (the Article XX(B) deadline), thus leading to tonight’s move. 9:11pm: The Diamondbacks have released veteran outfielder Gregor Blanco, per a team announcement. He’ll return to the open market in search of another opportunity after failing to crack the team’s Opening Day roster.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league: The KBO’s Lotte Giants have released righty Parker Markel, the Yonhap News Agency in Korea reports. Markel struck a deal with the Giants over the offseason but never pitched in a regular-season game with them. The decision was apparently Markel’s, as he asked for the termination of his contract, citing difficulties adjusting to Korean baseball and family issues, and was placed on the voluntarily retired list. The 26-year-old Markel pitched at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Rays minor-league system last year, posting a 2.78 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 71 1/3 innings. He has never pitched in the Majors.
Veteran closer Joe Nathan has been told he will not make the Nationals and has opted out of his minor-league deal with the team, according to tweets from various reporters, including Jamal Collier of MLB.com and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. The Nationals have announced that they’ve formally released Nathan, along with fellow righty Matt Albers. The Nats signed both pitchers to minor-league deals in late January. The 42-year-old Nathan missed much of the past two seasons after having Tommy John surgery, though he fared well (albeit in a very small sample) in 6 1/3 innings with the Cubs and Giants last year. He’s now over three years removed from his last full, strong season in the big leagues — he posted a 1.39 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 while making the All-Star team for the Rangers in 2013. He has 377 career saves, but he’s not done — he hopes to latch on with another team, as MASN’s Mark Zuckerman tweets. The 34-year-old Albers is coming off a poor season with the White Sox in which he posted a 6.31 ERA, 5.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 51 1/3 innings
There’s no mistaking what’s happening in the week ahead: Baseball officially will be back.
No leadoff experience? No problem.