I hope your turkey engorging went quite well over the holiday weekend, and that you have finally adjusted to this wintery time-change. If ever there was a sleepy week that was to coincide with sleepy baseball news, this one’s it, as the lull between the GM meetings kicking off the offseason transaction spree and the upcoming Winter Meetings generally produces little more than squat on the baseball radar.
With that said, there are still some interesting, topical stories leaking out around the baseballsphere, with even a hint of Cincinnati Reds news chipped in.
For one, MLB.com listed one player from each MLB team who is the most likely to be non-tendered this week, as Friday is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Interestingly enough, they tabbed Curt Casali as the Reds most likely non-tender, although they admit that it’s not exactly likely that will occur. Casali, of course, came to the Reds from Tampa in a cash-only deal during the 2018 season and proceeded to post an .805 OPS (114 OPS+) in 52 games primarily as the backup to Tucker Barnhart. Given that he’s only entering his first year of arb-eligibility and that the Reds don’t have a ready-made backup catcher in the system, I think Casali has a future with the Reds in 2019 and beyond, even - especially now that the college pitching coach he worked with as catcher at Vanderbilt, Derek Johnson, is now the Reds pitching coach.
Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and the MLB Pipeline crew also took a look at another aspect of the offseason where the Reds might be a player - the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. They identified one name from each of the 30 MLB franchises that’s the most intriguing eligible prospect for this year’s edition, and there are certainly several juicy names. We’ll have more specifics on which players might be a good fit for the Reds later this week, as they try to find the next in a long line of successful big leaguers who were selected in that manner, a la Josh Hamilton, Shane Victorino, and the likes.
In bigger baseball news, the Seattle Mariners appear ready to continue their ‘it’s not a fire-sale fire sale,’ this time with future Hall of Famer Robinson Cano on their trade block. Of couse, Cano is coming off an 80-game PED suspension and is now 36 years old, but there’s still plenty to like about his overall game despite such red flags. The $120 million due his way on his guaranteed deal is the larger stumbling block, however, and it’ll take some sort of a massive paydown and/or bad contract swap to even get things considered. The idea of 36 year old Cano lining up next to 35 year old Joey Votto on the right side of the Cincinnati infield for the foreseeable future is certainly a hilarious one, but one that would certainly make for an interesting first year or two; instead, I get the feeling Cano will either a) not be traded given the low return or b) end up on the St. Louis Cardinals, tormenting the Reds for the next four years on his way to Cooperstown.
Over at The Hardball Times, Alex Remington takes a closer look at the infrequent histories of absolutely dominant relievers who weren’t in charge of picking up ‘saves’ for their teams, specifically mentioning Milwaukee Brewers pitching phenom Josh Hader. I mentioned Derek Johnson earlier in this piece, and you’ll remember he came to the Reds after serving as Hader’s pitching coach in Milwaukee, and there’s now some speculation that Raisel Iglesias could be set to move from ‘closer’ to a Hader-type role in the Cincinnati bullpen going forward. There’s even a conspiracy theory that the Reds went ahead and re-worked Iglesias’ contract with that idea in mind, coming to a compromise since the would-be lack of saves on Iggy’s ledger going forward would’ve impacted his arbitration raises, and the team might be preemptively compensating him for his could-be change of role to backfill.
Finally, The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans reported over the weekend that the Reds have signed indy ball fireballer Taylor Grover to a minor league deal, he of the recently discovered 102 mph fastball. MLB Trade Rumors has a bit more on Grover’s story, but this is certainly going to be one of those not-yet-important but still-fun-to-follow stories as we wait for spring training action to begin in Goodyear, since nothing beats the classic rags to riches MLB reliever story.