José Leclerc signs extension with Rangers
As we wait for one of the best closers of all time to sign a deal in free agency, one of the best young relievers in the game, and one of 2018’s biggest breakouts that not enough people talk about, signed an extension. On Wednesday, the Rangers signed closer José Leclerc to a four-year deal worth $14.75 million with two team options worth a total of $12.25 million. The righty hadn’t even reached arbitration yet, set to start that process after the coming season. This deal will now carry him through all of his arbitration years and the two team options buy out two free agency years. This is certainly a risk for Texas, who is committing to a reliever with one great year on his mantle. That’s an inherently risky position. Still, the worst case is that lose $3.7 million per year, which every single team in baseball can handle without even noticing. Leclerc is outstanding, too, and was one of the most productive relievers in the game last year. His name was brought up by some as potential trade targets for the Red Sox this winter, but it never seemed likely for Texas to trade a 25-year-old with his potential in the back of the bullpen. Now, they have him locked up to an extremely team-friendly deal, so holding on to him was clearly the righty decision.
Two minor more rule changes
The league and players have been discussing potential rule changes, either with each other or through the media, for the last month or so. On Tuesday, we learned active rosters will be expanded to 26 men starting in 2020. Now, we have two more pieces of small information. The first doesn’t really affect us all that much, at least I don’t think. According to a confusing tweet from Peter Gammons, teams will now be required to submit their lineups to the commissioner’s office. In the past, lineups were generally sent out by beat writers a few hours before first pitch. Now, there needs to be at least 15 minutes between sending them to the commissioner’s office for review and sending them to the public. This change comes about because of the league’s partnership with MGM, so essentially they are going to be giving Vegas the lineups so lines can be set before the public gets lineups. One manager quoted by Gammons is “very bothered by this.” I’d imagine he’s not alone.
The other change came earlier in the day, and it involves All-Star voting. As we all know, everyone loves All-Star voting and thinks it’s perfect the way it is. Obviously that’s sarcasm, but I don’t really think the league is getting at the crux of the issue here. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the league and players are close to agreeing on a deal that would set up an “Election Day” beginning in 2020. The way it would work is that All-Star voting would work like it always had, with a couple months of fan votes working towards deciding the starts. Then, on some date shortly before All-Star rosters are announced, the top three vote-getters at each position would then be the candidates in a one-day voting event to determine the starter. I mean....I guess? This seems fine, but also the one problem with All-Star voting was the best players not winning. I’m not sure I agree that’s even a problem, but if you think it is this isn’t going to fix that. I’m ambivalent about this change. Passan also mentions the league potentially increasing the Home Run Derby prize money to attract more stars, which is something with which I am down.