Last week’s Dose featured three big moves by the Padres; the type of moves that you dream about if you’re a fan of a team that has aspirations of winning a World Series. In the span of barely 24 hours, San Diego went from being a strong contender to maybe the second best team in baseball. That was fun.
Fast forward a week, and we’ve got some rumors and rumors of rumors, but no actual transactions. None that come anywhere close to matching the Yu Darvish or Blake Snell trades, nor the signing of Korean infielder Ha-seong Kim, anyway.
There was no reason to expect this market to move fast; everything pointed to transactions being at a premium based on what we’ve seen in the past few winters and the added fact that there’s so much uncertainty as to how the 2021 season is even going to work. That being said, we’re less than two months away from Spring Training games being scheduled to be played -- less than that from players reporting for the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues -- and the overwhelming majority of top free agents are still on the market.
Someone do something, please. We can’t rely on A.J. Preller doing everything, can we? We’re losing our minds around here.
Hendriks, Hand have interest from big markets
The relief market had a brief spending "splurge" early in the offseason, but it quieted. Quickly. That didn’t change on Monday, but at least we did hear about two upper-echelon closers being targeted by big market clubs.
Robert Murray of FanSided reports that the Dodgers have a “strong interest” in signing free agent closer Liam Hendriks. The 31-year-old has been among the best closers in baseball the last two seasons, and posted ERAs of 1.80 and 1.78 with the Athletics, respectively, while saving 39 games in that time frame. That’s despite not opening the 2019 season as the closer, and being limited to just 24 appearances this summer due to the truncated campaign.
There’s going to be plenty of competition for Hendriks’ services -- he was reported to have been at the Blue Jays spring training facility in Dunedin on Monday, as well -- but one can’t help but think about the possibilities if he did land with the Dodgers. This is not a player who has needed a great deal of luck to post his low ERAs with 162 strikeouts over his last 110 1/3 innings, and while relievers carry a great deal of volatility, nothing that he’s shown suggests he’s going to be slowing down anytime soon. So if you take that stuff, and you add in that he’ be playing for the defending World Series champion? It’s worth salivating over. The question here would be what the Dodgers do with Kenley Jansen, and it’s more than likely that his fantasy relevance would drop considerably unless he was traded. If Hendriks does sign with the Dodgers, you can make a strong argument he should be the first reliever off the board.
On the other side of the country, the Mets apparently have interest in one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball, despite the fact that his former team didn’t want to pay him as such. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Mets have shown interest in free-agent reliever Brad Hand.
Hand 30, was excellent in 2020 for Cleveland with a 2.05 ERA and 29/4 K/BB ratio in 22 innings, and he led all of baseball with 16 saves. Despite those strong numbers, Cleveland decided to decline his $10 million option for 2021, and the Dodgers and Blue Jays have also shown interest in the southpaw.
Because he limits hard contact and can miss bats, Hand would have some fantasy relevance for the Mets even if he’s not the closer, but obviously, the appeal does drop if he’s not the closer. There’d be no lock that he does open the year in that role, as the Mets have the talented -- albeit volatile -- Edwin Diaz in that role right now. If Hand was to land in that role, it would make sense to take a bit of a wait-and-see approach, but you might not be afforded that luxury in fantasy formats. That’s a tough one.
Puig has multiple suitors for 2021
We didn’t see Yasiel Puig play at all in 2020, but based on a report from Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, it seems that won’t be the case in 2021.
Feinsand reports that there are multiple teams interested in signing Puig. He cites the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Marlins have varying degrees of interest in the 30-year-old outfielder. A previous report from Feinsand mentioned the Red Sox, Orioles and Astros; but it’s unclear if those teams remain interested at this point. The last time Puig was on the field, it was as a member of Cleveland after coming to the organization in the three-way deal that shipped Trevor Bauer to Cincinnati. He posted a .785 OPS between the two clubs with 24 homers and 19 steals over 149 games.
Puig’s talent is undeniable, and his power-speed combination makes him an intriguing fantasy bat no matter where he landed. The concern on the field is that he missed all of 2020 after a deal with the Braves was nixed due to a positive test of COVID-19. There’s also a significantly more troubling concern in that Puig is being sued for sexual assault over an incident at Staples Center during a lakers game. He has the talent to be a middle-of-the-order bat for someone, but both things -- particularly the latter -- are things to be cognizant of for the 2021 season.
Marlins have interest in slugger Duvall
The Marlins were one of the few pleasant surprises of 2020, and Craig Mish of SportsGrid reports that they’re interested in making their roster better. What a concept. Mish writes that the Marlins are interested in free agent outfielder Adam Duvall.
Duvall, 32, was non-tendered in December for reasons that have nothing to do with baseball ability, and he’s one of the best power bats on the market after hitting 16 homers in just 57 games with an .833 OPS for the National League runners-up. Miami is in need of power in their lineup, and while there are some concerns about his ability to hit for average and make consistent contact, there’s no doubt that he can provide roundtrippers. Mish also reports that there are several other suitors for his services, but on paper, this seems like an excellent match.
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Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Tomoyuki Sugano is expected to decide by Tuesday where he'll sign … Giants signed C Curt Casali to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Casali posted an impressive .866 OPS with six home runs in 31 games (93 plate appearances) last season with the Reds, who still decided to non-tender him in December … Free agent right-hander Corey Kluber will throw for interested teams on January 13 in Florida, per MLB.com's Jon Morosi … Phillies re-signed C Christian Bethancourt to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … According to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, free agent third baseman Justin Turner is seeking a four-year contract … Giants released LHP Andrew Suarez. Suarez has a deal in place with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization … Red Sox signed RHP Daniel Gossett to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Cubs signed LHP Adam Morgan to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Morgan would make $900,000 if he made the roster … Tigers signed RHP Locke St. John to a minor league contract.