Well, it’s over. The 2018 MLB season is officially over with the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. Of course, that means that the hot stove season has begun. Let’s take a look at all the baseball news from the past week, as we wrap up the regular season and look ahead what should be an intriguing winter.
The One, True King
As you may have heard, the Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series, knocking off the Dodgers in five games. Even Yankees fans can surely admit that the best team ended up winning the championship. Ever since the Red Sox went on a month-long hot streak in April, it’s been clear that they were the best team in baseball, and going 11-3 during the postseason only confirmed that.
Apparently, the Minnesota Twins are looking to get younger. At least that’s the message they sent by hiring Rocco Baldelli as their new manager. At 37, Baldelli is the youngest manager in baseball. If not for the medical ailments that forced him to retire early, Baldelli could almost still play in the big leagues. However, the Twins will settle for him being their new skipper as they try to bounce back from a rough 2018 season in which they fell well short of expectations.
North of the Border
The Toronto Blue Jays also filled their managerial vacancy this week, hiring Charlie Montoyo. The 53-year old has been part of the Tampa Bay Rays organization since before the franchise played its first game. He served primarily as a minor league manager until joining the big league coaching staff in 2015. He takes over a Blue Jays team that will need to do some rebuilding but has some exceptional talent in the minors.
Keep the Band Together
The Oakland A’s have no intention of making any major changes any time soon. After winning 97 games and qualifying for the postseason as a wild card, VP of baseball operations Billy Beane, GM David Forst, and manager Bob Melvin were all given contract extensions this past week. Whatever those three are doing in Oakland, it’s clearly working, encouraging the team’s ownership to remain on the same path.
A New Direction
The New York Mets went in a surprising direction when hiring their new GM, choosing former agent Brodie Van Wagenen. Making an agent a front office executive is rare in baseball. Needless to say, this is a risky move by the Mets, especially since Van Wagenen has no experience working in a major league front office. However, he clearly understands the game, particularly from the business side, albeit from a different point of view. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Who Gets to Stay
Teams are already starting to exercise their options on certain players and cut ties with others. Here is a rundown of some of the players who will be staying with their current team this winter:
- Justin Smoak – At a price of $14 million, the Blue Jays will keep Smoak around as their primary first baseman.
- Chris Sale – In a not-so-shocking move, the world champion Red Sox decided to keep their ace for the 2019 season at a price of $13.5 million. Of course, Sale will be in line to be a free agent next winter.
- Madison Bumgarner – The San Francisco ace will make $12 million next season in his final year before hitting free agency.
- Paul Goldschmidt – This was another no-brainer, as Goldschmidt will make $14.5 million in his final year under contract. However, Arizona could potentially shop him this offseason.
- Elvis Andrus – This was actually an opt-out that Andrus is choosing not to exercise. He has four years and $58 million left on his deal, plus a $15 million vesting option for the 2023 season.
- Carlos Carrasco – After winning 17 games, the Indians surely want him back for just $9 million next season.
- Sean Doolittle – For just $6 million, the Nats will bring back their closer for the 2019 season. Doolittle also has a $6.5 million option for 2020 before he’s scheduled for free agency.
Back on the Market
On the other side of the coin, several players either opted out of deals or had teams decline their options. Here is a quick look at the players who are joining the free agent market.
- Ervin Santana – He was great in 2017, but after missing most of 2018, the Twins didn’t want to guarantee him $14 million for next year.
- James Shields – While he helped to eat up over 200 innings for the White Sox this year, the 36-year old clearly isn’t worth $16 million per year, so Chicago gave him a $2 million buyout instead.
- Mike Moustakas – He’s turning down $15 million to stay in Milwaukee in hopes of landing a multi-year deal, although that didn’t work out too well for him last offseason.
- Joakim Soria – He will also leave Milwaukee in search of greener pastures. Soria only turned down a $10 million mutual option, and even at 34, should get a lucrative multi-year deal as a late-game reliever.
- Gerardo Parra – The Rockies balked on picking up his option for $12.5 million, as they have some younger, more affordable players in their outfielder. Parra, at this point, is more of a fourth outfielder.
- Denard Span – The same can be said of Span, who got a $4 million buyout from Seattle rather than the Mariners bringing him back for $12 million.