MLB introduces All-MLB Team
The NBA and NFL each have multiple “teams” made up of the best players from each position, regardless of conference, awarded each year with the first, second and third (at least for NBA) All-NBA/NFL teams. The NBA is particularly analogous here, as they also have midseason All-Star game, so it makes sense to have a similar award after everything is wrapped up. MLB has never had this postseason award, but that is changing this year as they have announced that they will hand out their first All-MLB team (and All-MLB second team) at the Winter Meetings this year. The award will be half-decided by a panel of experts which, to my knowledge, hasn’t been given any more specificity than that. The other half will be decided by a fan vote. You can vote here.
There’s a few points here. For one thing, in a vacuum the idea of an All-MLB team is great. It never really made sense for All-Stars to be the only similar honor since it only takes half a season — and the less important half at that — into account. That it is partially up to a fan vote is silly, but then again I don’t fully trust any other group either. Media members would probably be the best option, but we realize every awards and Hall of Fame seasons that writers are far from infallible. I’ve seen some suggest players vote, but every time we have players vote for things or see player polls, their opinions aren’t really much better than the collective fan base. There are going to be some stupid decisions here, I am sure. The key is to just not take it too seriously. That being said, here’s how I voted:
Catcher: Yasmani Grandal
First Base: Pete Alonso
Second Base: DJ LeMahieu
Third Base: Alex Bregman
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz
Outfield: Cody Bellinger, Mike Trout, Christian Yelich
Starting Pitcher: Gerrit Cole, Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander
Relief Pitcher: Liam Hendriks, Kirby Yates
Sox Spin: I would say there are probably four Red Sox players with some case to be included here if you want to be generous. Those would be Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez. Of those, Bogaerts is really the only one I could fairly give a vote to, and even that is no sure thing. Marcus Semien was slightly worse at the plate, but it’s fair to argue his defense more than put his overall value over Bogaerts. I will admit to a little bias here in picking Bogaerts, both because of my obvious fandom and also that most A’s games are past my bedtime and I simply don’t see enough of Semien to really appreciate the defense.
Rays sign Mike Zunino to one-year deal
One of the Rays biggest moves last year was a deal that, among other players involved, sent Mallex Smith to Seattle and brought Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay. The catcher had great defensive numbers and big power and looked like a good addition to their team. Instead, Travis d’Arnaud emerged as the top catcher. The latter has since signed in Atlanta, leaving the Rays without their backstop. They have, in the wake of that, re-committed to Zunino. He is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and the Rays have handed out a guaranteed deal worth $4.5 million with a team option worth around the same for 2021. The Rays could perhaps look for another catcher to pair with Zunino, but the market is rough out there so Tampa Bay will give the slugger one more chance.
Sox Spin: The Rays are obviously one of the biggest competitors for the Red Sox to make the postseason, so having them look at a likely downgrade behind the plate is a good thing for Boston.
Omar Narváez could be traded
In more catcher news, the Mariners are taking offers for starting backstop Omar Narváez. The catcher was just acquired by Seattle last winter from the White Sox, and he put up a 119 wRC+ in 132 games last year. A catcher with a 119 wRC+ seems too good to be true, but the defense here is just not up to par. He is in his first year of arbitration eligibility and is projected to make $2.9 million.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox could very well be looking for a catcher depending on what happens with Sandy León. My guess is that the Red Sox will not be interested, as I get the impressing Chaim Bloom and company value defense too much behind the plate to make this move. They also have a starter in Christian Vázquez, but you really need two acceptable catchers in today’s game. Now, Vázquez can play other positions and Narváez can learn new positions as well, but to this point in his major-league career he’s played a grand total of six innings at a position other than catcher. I don’t see this happening, but an offense-first guy to pair with Vázquez, whose 2020 performance is as up in the air as anyone on this roster, isn’t the worst idea in the world in my mind.