Beltre bids Adieu
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre announced his retirement on Tuesday morning. The 39-year-old Beltre made it official with a statement released through the Rangers. "After careful consideration and many sleepless nights, I have made the decision to retire from what I've been doing my whole life, which is playing baseball, the game I love," Beltre said in the statement. This puts a bow on a fantastic 21-year career in which he was a four-time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glove Award winner. He'll walk away with a .286/.339/.480 lifetime batting line with 3,166 hits (16th all-time), 477 homers (30th all-time), 1707 RBI (24th) and 1524 runs scored (64th). He has more career hits than any player born outside the United States (Ichiro Suzuki is second). He is also considered one of the best defensive third basemen to ever play the game. Beltre is a mortal lock to make the Hall of Fame, probably in 2024, which is the first time he will be eligible.
Beltre signed with the Dodgers when he was just 15 years old -- the Dodgers falsified his birth certificate to make him appear older so they could sign him before anyone else did. He made his major league debut in 1998 when he was barely 19 years old and hit an RBI-double off Chuck Finley in his first plate appearance. Beltre played seven seasons with the Dodgers, culminating in a monster 2004 season that might be the best ever for a third baseman. He batted .334/.388/.629 with 48 home runs and 121 RBI and generated 9.7 WAR that season. He spent the next five seasons with the Mariners and then played the 2010 season with the Red Sox -- the first time he got to call a hitter-friendly ballpark his home. In 2011 he signed with the Rangers and rattled off several seasons in a row of elite production before finally slowing down in his injury-plagued final season this year. He is one of just four major leaguers ever to hit for the cycle three times. His retirement leaves Bartolo Colon as the only player still going who played in the 1990s.
Hall of Fame Voting Season Begins
Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay and Todd Helton are among the first-time eligible players for the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot. Rivera and the late Halladay are highly likely to get in quickly while Helton is less certain of the honor. The full list of newcomers to the ballot also includes Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Travis Hafner, Ted Lilly, Derek Lowe, Darren Oliver, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Miguel Tejada, Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis and Michael Young. From that list, perhaps Lance Berkman, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada and Michael Young will garner a good measure of support while the rest might be one-and-done candidates who won't receive enough votes (minimum 5%) to remain on the ballot past this year.
They'll join an impressive list of ballot holdovers, including Edgar Martinez, who fell just 20 votes short last year. Martinez is in his 10th and final year of eligibility. He netted 70.4% of the vote last year and needs to reach 75% to earn induction. He had a very impressive .312/.418/.515 career triple-slash but is a bit light in terms of counting stats with 309 home runs, 1261 RBI and 1219 runs scored. His 65.5 career WAR is borderline for Hall-worthiness. He also carries the stigma of having been a designated hitter for the bulk of his career. Mike Mussina got 63.5% last year and is in his sixth year of eligibility. Next up are two candidates tainted by alleged PED usage -- Roger Clemens (57.3%) and Barry Bonds (56.4%), both in their seventh year. Also returning to the ballot for another try are Curt Schilling (51.2%), Omar Vizquel (37.0%), Larry Walker (34.1%), Fred McGriff (23.2%), Manny Ramirez (22.0%), Jeff Kent (14.5%), Gary Sheffield (11.1%), Billy Wagner (11.1%), Scott Rolen (10.2%), Sammy Sosa (7.8%) and Andruw Jones (7.3%). Results of this year's voting will be announced on January 22nd.
The Yankees acquired LHP James Paxton from the Mariners for LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson and OF Don Thompson-Williams. The 30-year-old Paxton has struggled with injury throughout most of his career but pitched very well for the Mariners in each of the last two seasons. He went 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 136 innings over 24 starts in 2017, then followed that with an 11-6 record and 3.76 ERA with 208 strikeouts in 160 1/3 innings over 28 starts in 2018. His 11.68 K/9 ranked fourth in the major leagues and his 25.7 K-BB% ranked fifth this year. Those 160 1/3 innings were a career high workload for Paxton in his six-year career. That is not the best of signs that he will hold up over a full regular season and into the playoffs for a contending team like the Yankees. Sheffield is the prime piece heading back to the Mariners in the deal. He went 7-6 with a 2.48 ERA and 123 strikeouts in 116 innings combined across the Double-A and Triple-A levels this year and got a cup of coffee for the Yankees in September. The Yankees originally acquired him along with Clint Frazier from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade back in 2016. He was a first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports that the Yankees remain interested in Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ even after acquiring James Paxton. Morosi adds that the Yankees "are placing a higher priority on adding one more starting pitcher than signing Manny Machado or Bryce Harper." They've already re-signed CC Sabathia in addition to trading for Paxton and it appears that they're not done yet.
Nationals signed C Kurt Suzuki to a two-year, $10 million contract. The agreement was reported on Monday and is now official. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the contract terms, including $4 million in 2019 and $6 million in 2020. The 35-year-old backstop batted .271/.332/.444 with 12 homers over 105 games in 2018, with most of that production coming early in the season before tailing off as the campaign wore on. This will be Suzuki's second stint with Washington, as he previously played for the club in 2012 and 2013.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Astros' have made an "initial offer" of one year with an option to free agent right-hander Charlie Morton. Terms aren't known, but the guarantee would presumably be less than the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer that the Astros declined to make earlier this month. Morton just turned 35 and will likely have short-term offers to choose from on the open market, but he'll surely keep trying for two guaranteed years from someone. His age is the only thing not to like about him. He was one of the best pitchers in the American League this year, going 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA in 30 starts. He punched out 201 batters in 167 innings. His fastball averaged 95.7 MPH this year -- a career high and ranking him ninth in the majors this year.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Twins and Diamondbacks "have had preliminary talks" about a Paul Goldschmidt trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and Cardinals are the two teams "that have had the most meaningful discussions" with the Diamondbacks regarding a Paul Goldschmidt trade. The perennial MVP candidate has one year and $14.5 million left on his contract and is coming off a down year by his standards after batting .290/.389/.533 with 33 home runs in 2018. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be planning a full rebuild and are also shopping ace starter Zack Greinke.
Tuesday was the deadline for teams to protect minor leaguers from the Rule 5 Draft and saw a flurry of players being added to 40-man rosters. Several dozen minor leaguers had their contracts purchased by their major league clubs, including many of the better prospects in baseball. To make room for all those prospects a lot of players had to be designated for assignment. Some of the more prominent players that were designated were DH C.J. Cron of the Rays, OF Derek Dietrich of the Marlins, reliever Parker Bridwell and 1B Jose Fernandez of the Angels, 2B Corey Spangenburg and RHP Colin Rea of the Padres, OF Jordan Patterson of the Rockies, SP Eddie Butler of the Rangers and RHP Braden Shipley of the Diamondbacks.
Quick Hits: According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mariners have discussed a trade with the Padres involving Wil Myers. Rosenthal says shortstop Jean Segura and starting pitcher Mike Leake would head to San Diego in the potential deal... Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that the Mariners have spoken to multiple teams about a potential Mike Leake trade. He is owed $27 million over the next two seasons and put up a 4.36 ERA in 185 2/3 innings for the Mariners in 2018... Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic report that the Padres are selling third baseman Christian Villanueva to the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Villanueva got off to a tremendous start in 2018, but he batted just .232/.292/.351 between June 1 and his final regular-season game on August 21... Indians outfielder Leonys Martin (illness) has been cleared to resume full baseball activity. Martin was diagnosed with a life-threatening bacterial infection in August and missed the remainder of the 2018 season... Jim Hickey has stepped down as the Cubs' pitching coach for personal reasons... Rangers signed C Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $6.25 million contract. Mathis owns a wretched .198/.258/.306 career batting line in parts of 14 major league seasons... Mets released RHP Jenrry Mejia. Mejia has been working on a comeback after having his lifetime PED ban lifted, but it won't happen with the Mets. The 29-year-old hasn't pitched in the majors since July 26, 2015... Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday that the club considers Jurickson Profar the most likely candidate to take over at third base from the retiring Adrian Beltre... Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Indians are "drawing significant trade interest" in veteran catcher Yan Gomes... MBC+ News in Korea has reported that starting pitcher Jacob Turner has signed with the KIA Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization. Turner has posted a 5.37 ERA over parts of seven seasons for five different teams in the majors. The former top prospect is still just 27 years old... Blue Jays prospect outfielder Griffin Conine has been suspended 50 games for violating the minor-league drug prevention and treatment program... Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday that Dustin Pedroia won't have surgery on his left knee this winter. Pedroia only appeared in three games this season due to setbacks from offseason knee surgery and required a cleanup procedure in late July, but the Red Sox are hopeful he'll be ready for the 2019 season... Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that Erick Aybar is looking to make a comeback in 2019. Aybar posted a rough .645 OPS with the Padres in 2017 and didn't play with a major-league affiliated team this year... Indians acquired RHP Chih-Wei Hu from the Rays for INF Gionti Turner.