Major league baseball’s offseason is upon us once again, and every team and every player is suddenly newsworthy again. This week has featured teams releasing players to trim their 40-man rosters, and decisions made on contract options. Teams also have until Friday, November 2 to decide which pending free agents are worthy of qualifying offers. When all that is accomplished, bidding officially opens for free agents on November 3.
The first big key to the postseason has been the source of a lot of rumor this week. Clayton Kershaw has two years for a combined $65 million remaining on his contract and has to decide whether to opt out of that deal. After another rocky postseason, that might seem like a simple call, but even with his stock, and velocity, down right now, there is a strong likelihood that he could receive a bigger contract that those remaining two years will provide.
Kershaw’s opt-out decision was supposed to be made by midnight on Wednesday. However, Jon Morosi for MLB.com reported a few hours before midnight that the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to extend the window for Kershaw’s decision until 4 p.m. on Friday.
On the surface, the extension seems to indicate a degree of difficulty or uncertainty in the decision. However, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports opines, virtually everyone in the know believes the agreement to postpone the decision indicates a willingness between the two parties to fashion an extension for the 30-year-old ace. Our friends at Lone Star Ball concur. For years, the Texas Rangers have been thought of as the most likely landing spot should Kershaw leave Los Angeles, but the chances of such a move seem pretty much nil at this point.
It’s been clear that Clayton Kershaw wants to stay with the Dodgers. It’s clearer now, with the extension of the deadline to opt out of his deal until 4 p.m. Friday, that the Dodgers want him, too. Something like a two-year extension on top of two option years seems likeliest.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 1, 2018
SB Nation’s own and most estimable Grant Brisbee ranks the top 50 free agents as only he can. You should read it. CBS Sports has the offseason calendar, including the Winter Meetings and the awards season. ESPN looks at the top 10 storylines this offseason. You can follow all free agents and contracts with Spotrac’s MLB free agent tracker.
Free agent Trevor Rosenthal missed the 2018 season to Tommy John surgery, but is slated to become the first free agent signing of the offseason as he and the Nationals agree on a one-year, $7-million deal with an option for 2020. The Nationals also picked up closer Sean Doolittle’s option, which was a no-brainer. Meanwhile, the Sporting News reports that the New York Yankees won’t pursue free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. The grooming restrictions always seemed in the way of a deal anyway.
Rest in peace, Willie McCovey
Baseball lost a legend on Wednesday, as San Francisco Giants Hall of Famer, Willie McCovey died at 80 years of age. The 1959 NL Rookie of the Year and 1969 NL Most Valuable Player went on to hit 521 home runs in a storied 22 season career in the major leagues. As a player, McCovey was famed for his outlandish raw power and uppercut swing though knee injuries plagued him throughout much of his career. Since his retirement in 1980, McCovey has been a constant presence around the Giants organization. The San Francisco Chronicle has the story of a player who became one of the most beloved figures in Giants’ history.
McCovey, who lends his name to McCovey Cove at AT&T Park in San Francisco, was also the subject of a famous Peanuts cartoon. The strip referenced the loud out McCovey made to end the 1962 World Series with the winning run on second base. The Giants slugger ripped a line shot off New York Yankees starter, Ralph Terry. Unfortunately for the Giants, the ball was hit directly to second baseman Bobby Richardson who retired McCovey to bring the title home to New York.
RIP Willie McCovey, baseball legend who appeared twice in a Peanuts comic. First instance: pic.twitter.com/TvE0XkwQwg— Luke Epplin (@LukeEpplin) November 1, 2018
David Price is staying in Boston
To no one’s surprise, freshly minted World Series hero, David Price, decided to decline the opt-out in his seven-year, $217-million contract on Wednesday. The 33-year-old will make $127-million over the next four years, and wasn’t going to find a better deal on the open market. After three contentious and somewhat disappointing years in Boston, Price made everything whole with a pair of excellent performances in Boston’s five-game dismantling of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’ll likely retire with the Red Sox someday.
Boston welcomes home the champs
Speaking of David Price, the Red Sox had their World Series parade on Halloween night in Boston. Predictably, things got a little crazy. Beyond the usual chaos of a World Series parade, fans at various points began throwing full cans of beers. Whether they were directed at, or to, the players is debatable, but the drunken revelry led to a few scary moments. Mookie Betts was playing defense for everyone on his truck at one point as a hail of heavy metal cans flew toward unsuspecting heads. Manager Alex Cora was struck by an open can of the cold stuff, and he was not pleased. They even managed to damage the World Series trophy.
Great work, Boston. On the other hand, David Price was received triumphantly and had a fabulous time.
Yeah, yeah Boston, we all know you didn’t believe in him until a week ago.
Around the horn
David Laurila continues his superb pitcher interviews series for FanGraphs by talking changeup development with Jack Morris, among others. Astros catcher Brian McCann is a free agent after the club declined their $15-million team option for him. Depending on his knees, he’s not a bad idea for the Tigers either. The New York Mets hired an agent to become their general manager, and good luck to them. Finally, J.T. Realmuto, perhaps the best catcher in the game, wants out of Miami and his agent made no bones about it.
The 2018 Boston Red Sox were one of the best teams of all-time, if you didn’t already know. Rookie manager Alex Cora is getting a lot of the credit, and personally has back-to-back titles after serving as A.J. Hinch’s bench coach with the Houston Astros in 2017.