Tigers hire A.J. Hinch to fill manager vacancy
And then there was one. The Red Sox now have the only managerial opening in baseball as the Tigers have hired A.J. Hinch to fill theirs, one day after the White Sox hired Tony La Russa. Hinch, of course, just finished serving a one-year suspension from baseball after heading the Astros dugout during their 2017 sign-stealing scheme. It took only a few days for him to get a job after being eligible.
This obviously has some ramifications for the Red Sox, who are talking to Alex Cora about coming back after he also served a one-year suspension. The writing seems to be on the wall that this is happening, though nothing is official and the Red Sox are indeed talking to other candidates. Even beyond the sign-stealing stuff, I don’t love this for baseball. It’s become very common for teams to just continue recycling old managers around to different jobs with it becoming more and more difficult for new managers to get their chances. Assuming the Red Sox do bring Cora back, which I fully expect, that will be three managerial openings with no new managers getting the job. This can be justified by each club on an individual level, of course, but as far as a league-wide trend, I don’t love it.
Brad Hand goes unclaimed on waivers; Indians decline option
The Indians made quite a few moves on Friday, picking up their team option for catcher Roberto Pérez and declining the options for Carlos Santana, Domingo Santana and Brad Hand. The first two for whom they declined their team options are interesting enough players, but likely don’t have a fit with the Red Sox. Domingo Santana could potentially be a fit in the event of an Andrew Benintendi trade, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
It’s the Brad Hand decision that stands out the most. The Red Sox, and every other team, had a chance to acquire one of the better relievers in all of baseball for a one-year commitment of just $10 million. No team bit on that chance. Not one team thought that was worth it. If you’re looking for a foreboding sign for the coming offseason, look no further than this. Specifically with the Red Sox, this seemed like a slam dunk of a move. That they didn’t jump on this certainly has me worried about their plan for the winter, and specifically with the bullpen. I’ve said before and still believe Boston should be among the top spenders this winter. I’m just not sure what that even means in a winter like the one we’re going to see coming up.
Cubs to pick up Anthony Rizzo’s option, but not Jon Lester
The Cubs had a couple of high-profile option decisions to make, and they made them on Friday. Anthony Rizzo’s option has been picked up and he’ll be back with the Cubs in 2021. No surprise there, of course, as he’s one of the best first basemen in all of baseball. However, Jon Lester’s option was declined. This one doesn’t come as too much of a surprise as the option was for $25 million. Lester has still been solid in the recent past, but he’s certainly past his prime and $25 million is a hefty price even in a normal offseason.
So, the former Red Sox ace will not be a free agent, and a return to Boston is certainly on the table. Both sides will certainly see what else is out there, but Lester is an aging player who has been more average-at-best than good, and in a market like this it’s not hard seeing him be squeezed and having to wait a while to sign. On the other side of the equation, the Red Sox should be looking for multiple starting pitchers. If Lester is the best starter they bring in, that would be an issue. If he’s a secondary player, however, that would be a reunion most of us would love to see.