Minor-league season to be delayed
There are a lot of questions still up in the air in baseball right now, and one of the big ones was what will happen with the minors. After missing all of 2020, everyone has been wondering if they will be back for 2021. Right now it appears they will, though for the most part it won’t be on time. According to reporting from J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, who has been all over everything MiLB over the last 12 months, Double-A and Single-A clubs can expect their seasons to be delayed.
This is, as one would probably expect, due to COVID protocols. MLB is trying to avoid too much crowding at spring training sites and therefore is going to have Double-A and Single-A players wait until the major-league and Triple-A players leave. Specifics still need to be worked out, but essentially the expectation for now is that these leagues will start their season about four to six weeks after it was originally planned, and their schedules would be pushed back, likely through the month of September in order to still give them a normal season length. Note that this does not apply to Triple-A, who shouldn’t see any changes since many of their players are up and down between the majors and minors.
That is the big news from that report, but there are some more details about the coming minor-league season. Among them is that there is a good chance we are going to see set days off for leagues through the season, going with a six-on, one-off set up. In other words, expect to see six-game series at the minor-league level in 2021 in order to cut down on travel through the season. Minor-league clubs seemed to unanimously favor this idea in the report.
Note that none of this is official at this point, but as I said above Cooper has been all over everything in regards to minor-league baseball. He also reports that none of the teams have gotten their Professional Development Licenses (effectively their contractual agreement to be an affiliate of a given major-league club) to sign yet, and actual schedules won’t be made until those go out and come back signed.
Dodgers sign Blake Treinen
The Dodgers are, of course, the reigning champs, and they have spent this offseason so far largely building their bullpen up. They’ve acquired Corey Knebel and Tommy Kahnle (who won’t pitch in 2021 but is under contract for 2022 as well), and on Tuesday they also brought back righty Blake Treinen. He got a two-year deal worth $17.5 million.
A couple of years ago, while still in Oakland, Treinen was one of the best relievers in baseball if not the best. He followed that up with a rough 2019 before heading to the Dodgers for 2020. He wasn’t elite again last year, but he was good and showed flashes of who he once was. It was enough for L.A. to bring him back, where he is now one of their top relievers along with Kenley Jansen and Brusdar Graterol. For what it’s worth, Treinen did get more than was predicted by both FanGraphs readers and MLB Trade Rumors.
Treinen was one of my favorite reliever targets for the Red Sox, who very clearly need some help in the back of their bullpen. That said, I’m not going to be too upset about missing out on this deal. I don’t think it’s a massive overpay by any means, but I also think there are still enough other options that are better or as good as Treinen that it would have had to be a total steal of a deal for me to be overly upset about missing out.
Robbie Grossman signs in Detroit
The Tigers are one of the clearest rebuilders in baseball, and it had been years since they signed their last multi-year free agent contract. That trend ended on Tuesday, when they inked former Athletics outfielder Robbie Grossman to a two-year deal worth a total of $10 million.
Grossman isn’t the type of player that instantly makes Detroit a wildcard contender or anything like that, of course, but he is a somewhat underrated option on the free agent market this winter. He has been an above-average hitter in four of the last five seasons, including a career-best performance this past season when he finished with a 130 wRC+. In 2020 he started to hit the ball with a lot more authority than ever before, and if that continues he will be an absolute steal for Detroit, either to keep their lineup afloat or potentially to flip as a trade piece this summer or next winter.
I had thought that Grossman could be a nice, underrated option for Boston’s outfield this winter too. A switch hitter, his splits situation has been a bit strange. Earlier in his career he was much better against lefties, but the last two seasons that’s actually flipped fairly dramatically. If we go off the more recent splits, he would have been a nice pairing with Hunter Renfroe, at least offensively. All that said, as with Treinen it’s not something I’m losing my mind over. It’s not a bad deal, but also not one that the Red Sox had to be all over.
Giants sign Curt Casali
This one actually happened on Monday, but I wasn’t going to devote an entire post to this one. I’ll keep it quick. The Giants signed backup catcher Curt Casali to a major-league deal. Casali is actually one of the better backup catchers in the sport right now and is a nice depth addition for any team. He also has a relationship with Trevor Bauer, who is of course the top free agent starting pitcher on the market. The most interesting part of this, though, is what it means for Joey Bart, the Giants top prospect who was expected to spend all of this year in the majors after spending most of 2020 there. However, with Casali and Buster Posey already there, it’s not clear what the plan is.
While Bart is a very good player, it wouldn’t appear the Red Sox would be in play if he was indeed put on the trade block, which to be clear is not a given by any stretch. But even if he was, Boston seemingly wouldn’t have what it takes to get him from San Francisco.