March 12, 2021
As spring training continues, the Nationals are now over .500, with a 4-3-3 record. I'm trying to get caught up with "hot stove" news about off-season acquisitions before the regular season starts (just three weeks from now!), so here goes.
In February the L.A. Dodgers signed former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer (a free agent) to a three-year contract worth $102 million. He won the 2020 NL Cy Young award, He will be joining a pitching rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and . It will be extremely hard for any team to beat the defending world champion Dodgers this year.
Bauer had also been negotiating with the New York Mets, who have been busy otherwise. Thanks to their new owner, Steve Cohen, the Mets acquired shortstop Francisco Lindor in an early January trade with the Cleveland Indians. (What is the team's new name?) He adds a lot of offensive firepower, which the Mets really needed.
Meanwhile, the AL Cy Young winner, Shane Bieber, is back on the field for Cleveland, after a bout with covid-19. He had only mild symptoms.
The New York Yankees acquired pitcher Corey Kluber in a one-year deal. After lengthy negotiations, they also signed second baseman D.J. LeMahieu to a six-year extension for $90 million. He was arguably the team's most valuable player last year, when they finished second in the AL East race. He will be 38 by the time the contract expires, however, so there is some risk of reduced performance.
In late December, the Chicago Cubs traded pitcher Yu Darvish to the San Diego Padres. Having parted ways with Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester, it appears the Cubs are in rebuilding mode. The Padres, in contrast, continue to strengthen their already-solid lineup, and are likely to give the favored Dodgers some serious competition in the NL West this year.
In late January Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto signed a new five-year contract with the team, worth a total of $115.5 million. He had elected free agency in late October. The $23.1 million annual salary is the highest ever for a catcher, just barely. The Twins paid Joe Mauer $23 million a year from 2011 to 2018.
[Also in late January, the Toronto Blue Jays signed former Houston Astros outfielder George Springer to a six-year $150 million contract, instantly making them a team to be reckoned with. He is a classic home-run slugger, with ample postseason credentials to prove he can come through in the clutch.]
On February 1, the Colorado Rockies traded their star slugger Nolan Arenado (third baseman) to the St. Louis Cardinals for an assortment of young prospects. One of those teams will be a contender once again this year, and the other will not.
Finally, the Nationals released pitcher Jeremy Jeffress for unspecified "personal" reasons. He signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in late February after getting eight saves for the Chicago Cubs last year. Apparently, however, he has a history of domestic violence.
Bruce Orser sent me an image showing a very detailed profile of the Metrodome, and I realized that my previous diagram indicated that each level was three feet too short -- 10 feet rather than 13 feet. So, I went about making some minor corrections on the diagram profiles, and while I was at it, I decided to make the first-deck diagram more accurate and detailed. The suites in the mezzanine level are now 15 feet deep, rather than 18 feet as before. The space for refreshments, restrooms, and entry gates along the perimeter of the first-deck diagram is now differentiated from the (quite narrow) concourse. Evidently, excavation down to field level was done in some parts of the stadium, but not in others, hence the tranparent rendering of the parts below ground in the profiles. Other than the profiles, the other Metrodome diagrams were virtually unchanged.
And, for the record, I made a few tiny tweaks to the Truist Park diagrams -- specifically, the portion around the "Chop House" restaurant beyond right-center field.
Three days ago I wrote that Washington Nationals' star Ryan Zimmerman got his start in the minor leagues with the New Orleans Zephyrs (then the Nats' AAA affiliate), but my assumption was false. He actually went straight from the AA level to the majors.