D.J. Short

Offseason Lowdown

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Offseason Lowdown: Upton Stays

Friday, November 3, 2017


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The Astros were just crowned World Series champions late Wednesday night, but the Hot Stove waits for nobody. The first major offseason domino fell on Thursday afternoon, as outfielder Justin Upton decided against testing free agency by agreeing to a five-year, $106 million contract with the Angels. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the terms involved.

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In recent weeks, Upton was mulling over whether to opt out of the remaining four years and $88.5 million on his contract, which was originally signed with the Tigers in January of 2016. Many expected that he would indeed test the open market, but the Angels tacked on another year at $17.5 million to hammer out an agreement. The new deal includes a full no-trade clause and will take Upton through his age-34 season in 2022. It’s a crucial move for the Angels, as left field has been a major trouble spot in recent years. His bat is desperately needed in this lineup.

Upton amassed career-highs in homers (35) and RBI (109) this season while posting a .273/.361/.540 batting line. This includes seven homers and 15 RBI over 27 games after the Angels acquired him from the Tigers for right-handers Grayson Long and Elvin Rodriguez (originally announced as a player to be named later) on August 31.

While it’s true that Upton will play half of his games in one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the majors, fantasy owners can live with that now that he’ll be slotted behind Mike Trout (.441 OBP over the last two seasons) in the Angels’ lineup for the foreseeable future. Remember, Albert Pujols managed 101 RBI this season despite some otherwise horrible numbers. It’s a great gig.

With Upton officially off the market, J.D. Martinez is now the clear No. 1 outfielder on the free agent market. Martinez’s new agent, Scott Boras, has to be thrilled with that. Other outfielders of note in this year’s free agent class include Lorenzo Cain, Jay Bruce, and Carlos Gonzalez. For a full breakdown, be sure to check out Matthew Pouliot’s Top 111 free agents.

Surgery for Sano

After being hampered down the stretch with a stress reaction in his left shin, Twins slugger Miguel Sano is scheduled to undergo surgery on November 13 to address the injury. The procedure will involve having a titanium rod permanently inserted into his leg.

It sounds scary, but Twins general manager Thad Levine recently told reporters that if surgery was required, Sano would likely be facing 6-8 weeks of recovery time before resuming baseball activities. Assuming all goes well here, that should give Sano enough time to participate in spring training in preparation for the season.

Sano took a step back in his sophomore campaign, but he bounced back when healthy this year, batting .264/.352/.507 with 28 homers and 77 RBI over 114 games. He earned his first All-Star Game selection in the process. The 24-year-old was limited to three games after August 19 due to his shin injury and was forced to sit out the AL Wild Card game against the Yankees.

Quick Hits: The Red Sox had the easy calls of picking up their club options on ace Chris Sale ($12.5 million) and closer Craig Kimbrel ($13 million) for 2018 … Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Japanese hitting and pitching sensation Shohei Otani has yet to hire an agent stateside, which could potentially be linked to uncertainty of the expired posting system … Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday that he’s “optimistic” that Daniel Murphy (knee) will be ready for the start of the 2018 season … According to Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, the Royals are expected to make qualifying offers to impending free agents Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Lorenzo CainAdam Lind became a free agent after his $5 million mutual option with the Nationals was declined … As expected, the Tigers declined their $16 million club option on right-hander Anibal Sanchez … The Athletics exercised their $6 million club option on second baseman Jed Lowrie … The Mariners declined their club options on Hisashi Iwakuma ($10 million) and Yovani Gallardo ($13 million for 2018 … The Angels declined club options on Huston Street ($10 million) and Ricky Nolasco ($13 million) … According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Rays infielder Brad Miller underwent core muscle surgery last month … The Diamondbacks picked up their $2 million club option on infielder Daniel Descalso … The Rays exercised Nathan Eovaldi’s $2 million club option for 2018 … The Red Sox have hired Tony La Russa as vice president and special assistant to their baseball operations staff … The Nationals have hired Kevin Long as their new hitting coach … The Mets and Red Sox essentially swapped first base/baserunning/outfield coaches, as Ruben Amaro has joined Mickey Callaway’s staff in New York while Tom Goodwin was hired for Alex Cora’s staff in Boston … Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Rangers are set to hire Don Wakamatsu as their bench coach …



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld senior baseball writer and hosts the Rotoworld Baseball Podcast. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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