Masahiro Tanaka declines to use his opt-out
Before free agency really gets underway, teams and players have to decide whether or not they want to utilize the options they have available in some contracts. Most of these decisions end up being no-brainers, but every year there are a few interesting choices. This year, the most interesting one was in New York with Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees starter had a choice between sticking in New York for three more years or hitting the open market. His overall numbers in 2017 weren’t great, but he has put up great numbers over his career and looked outstanding in the second half and for much of the postseason. On the other hand, he has elbow issues that likely would scare off teams looking at him in free agency. At the end of the day, he decided to stick in New York. I would have bet on him leaving, so I am a bit surprised here, but realistically there were reasons to go either way. As long as Tanaka is healthy, this is bad news for the Red Sox. The hope was that the Yankees, while an up-and-coming team, would have to rebuild a rotation this winter. Tanaka staying makes that task much easier, particularly when you consider they’ll likely bring CC Sabathia back as well.
Other major option decisions
Tanaka was the most interesting option decision, but some others could have gone either way. Michael Brantley has been outstanding when healthy, but he’s rarely been healthy over the last two years. Despite that, Cleveland is sticking with him for 2018. Mike Minor has found his groove as a reliever, and he’s decided to hit the free agency market. Expect the Red Sox to at least check in on the lefty. Matt Wieters has never lived up to his hype and he struggled in Washington last year. Because of that, he’ll stick with his current contract for 2018, hurting an already weak catching market. The Blue Jays are declining Jose Bautista’s option, which was an obvious choice and we already knew would happen, but it will be strange that the longtime division foe is no longer in Toronto.
The Fall Stars Game was on Saturday
Saturday was the Fall Stars Game, which is the All-Star Game for the Arizona Fall League. Other than the Future’s Game during All-Star weekend in July, this is the most exciting collection of prospects in one place all year long. Michael Chavis was the one Red Sox participant in the game, and while he’s had an outstanding year at every turn, this game wasn’t his best. He hit third for the West side, going 0-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. There wasn’t a whole lot of offense on either side, with a combined 11 hits in the game and the Padres’ Luis Urias hitting the only homer of the game. The East won the game 4-2, and Washington’s Victor Robles won MVP. Robles may very well be the top prospect in the game when rankings are released next spring and is good at just about everything.