Luis Valbuena and José Castillo die in car accident
We got some tragic news early Friday morning when Maria Torres of the LA Times reported that major-league infielder and former Angel had died along with former major-leaguer José Castillo. The two were winter league teammates and were driving home after their game, along with teammate Carlos Rivera. Valbuena just finished his 11th year in the majors, spending the last two with the Angels before being designated for assignment and eventually released in August. He also spent time with Houston, Chicago, Cleveland and Seattle. Castillo had a five-year career in the mid-2000’s in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Houston. Valbuena was 33 and Castillo was 37.
Carlos Carrasco signs extension with Indians
There’s no good way to transition from that kind of news to this, but here we are. Cleveland is having a weird offseason in which they are trying to cut payroll while also stay at or near the top of the American League. There’s been speculation that they’d trade one of their big three in the rotation, but it apparently won’t be Carlos Carrasco. The righty agreed to an absurdly team-friendly deal on Thursday, signing a four-year, $47 million deal with a $14 million option for a fifth year. Carrasco is one of the more consistently solid pitchers in baseball, pitching to ERA+’s of 119, 136, 139 and 129 over his four years as a full-time starter. He is entering his age-32 season, which likely explains the team-friendly terms, but it still seems wild to me. Now, Cleveland is likely to trade either Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber.
Jonathan Schoop signs with Twins
The Twins are an interesting team to me, as they are in a position to take advantage of so many teams deciding they don’t want to compete. Minnesota definitely needs some help if they want to take a leap, but if they can get steps back forward from Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, that’s suddenly a strong core around which you build. Well, they didn’t make a huge splash on Thursday but did take a chance on second baseman Jonathan Schoop. The Twins agreed to a one-year, make-good deal with the former Oriole. Schoop does have intriguing power for the position, and he just turned 27, but he also has two years with an OBP over .300. Some wanted the Red Sox to look at Schoop as Dustin Pedroia insurance, but that was never realistic. Even if it was, I’m not sure Schoop is ever going to be the player we thought he may be. Minnesota also signed former Yankees utility man Ronald Torreyes.
Brandon Morrow undergoes elbow surgery
The Cubs suffered a bit of a blow this winter with their closer, Brandon Morrow, undergoing elbow surgery that will cause him to miss the start of the year. Why do we, as Red Sox fans, care about this? Well, for one thing the Cubs are expected to be good and we should be keeping our eyes on all good teams. On top of that, the one area the Red Sox are still looking to upgrade is in the bullpen. With Chicago losing their already injury-prone closer, they could join them on that market.
Kyler Murray to play baseball
This one has no affect on the Red Sox, at least not right now, but it’s a big story in the league. You may have heard that the A’s drafted Kyler Murray with the ninth overall pick last summer, which was significant because Murray was expected to play quarterback at the University of Oklahoma. Oakland allowed the incredible athlete to pursue that dream for one year, and all Murray has done is become one of the favorites to win the Heisman while leading Oklahoma to the college football playoff. With all of that success, there has been some speculation he may end up entering the NFL draft, but his agent Scott Boras put that to bed. There are a lot of reasons to choose baseball over football — health and financial security, mostly — but if you’re going to be a top ten pick as a quarterback like Murray could be, that decision becomes tougher. It’s not going to happen, but I’d love to see a true two-sport athlete. It’s been too long.