Inside Baseball AL Notes | Will Upton stay with Angels?

Inside Baseball news and notes from around all 15 AL teams. Click here for notes on all 15 NL teams. Click here to read Jon Heyman’s picks for AL and NL Cy Young, MVP, Rookie of the Year and manager and executives of the year.

Baltimore Orioles

  • Though GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter have a difficult relationship, it’s hard to blame owner Peter Angelos for not breaking them up. The Orioles have the second best record to the Yankees since 2012. Both have a year left on their deals, and with Manny Machado and Zach Britton under control for one more year, next year should be an interesting one.
  • They have better prospects than they’re given credit for, though mostly on the positional side.
  • They need to hunt for pitching, but have some resources with the contracts of Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley up. Despite terrible years for the first two and an up-and-down one for Miley, they should all get jobs somewhere considering the paucity of proven pitching.

Boston Red Sox

  • Speaking about possibly pitching on three days rest, Chris Sale said, “I’m pitching until my arm falls off. This is what I live for.” And believe him when he says it, too.
  • Drew Pomeranz gets the Game 2 nod. So Boston looks like it made the right call to stick with that trade when it had a chance to reverse it after finding out Pomeranz wasn’t quite as healthy as they thought. Don’t look for a lot of deals with San Diego coming, though.
  • Big Papi was sorely missed. But the pitching gives them an outside shot.

Chicago White Sox

  • Rick Renteria gets a lot of the credit for Avisail Garcia’s breakout year, writes Dan Hayes of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • Prospect Mickey Duarte’s sister Christiana was killed in that horrible attack in Las Vegas, and his girlfriend was injured. Here’s a way to help.
  • Good luck to Hawk Harrelson, a good egg who always had TWTW (the will to win).

Cleveland Indians

  • Terry Francona shocked folks by starting Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber in Game 2. But it is hard to question Francona at this point. John Perrotto of FanRag Sports wrote about Francona’s curious move.
  • Kluber became the first Indians player to lead the league in ERA since Mike Garcia in 1949. Anyone who knew that, take a bow (beyond Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, who provided the info).
  • Nice feature on Joe Smith, his wife Allie LaForce (the CBS sportscaster) and his bond with his ailing mother by Zack Meisel of The Athletic.

Detroit Tigers

  • Joe McEwing interviews Thursday for the managerial job.
  • Fredi Gonzalez’s name has been heard a lot in connection with the Tigers’ open job. He was a coach with the Marlins when GM Al Avila was in Detroit’s front office. Alex Cora, who is getting serious consideration in New York, is another managerial possibility for the Tigers.
  • The Tigers gathered suggestions from all their decision makers, and word is they started with a list of as many as 52 managerial possibilities. Avila and his inner circle have been narrowing that down.
  • They have interviewed in-house candidates Omar Vizquel and Dave Clark (via Katie Strang of The Athletic), and will also interview Lloyd McClendon. But one person familiar with their thinking highlighted Avila’s “fresh start” comment to suggest he believes there’s more chance they ultimately look to the outside, though that isn’t a given.
  • The Tigers lost 34 of 45, which ain’t easy, to take the No. 1 overall pick.
  • Brad Ausmus has said he’d consider taking another managerial job. But while we’ve said here he will be a fine candidate at some point, maybe a year off would do some good. The players seemed to like him, and he has a lot going for him. But it didn’t work in Detroit, ultimately. He will get another job, of that there is little doubt.

Houston Astros

  • The Astros had a terrific year – but they keep losing people. They let go of a long list of people (they won’t say exactly how many) and lost some others to other jobs. Alex Jacobs, looked upon as a rising star, has departed for the Diamondbacks.
  • As we’ve mentioned here many times, the Justin Verlander acquisition gives them a real chance.
Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) throws to the Texas Rangers in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Kansas City Royals

  • There is speculation again that GM Dayton Moore is a target of the Braves. While Moore has a long-term deal, it is believed he has an arrangement where he could leave for the right job, and the Braves did show interest two years ago, when it is believed he could have gone there had he wanted to leave. However, someone close to Moore said he “loves Mr. Glass,” referring to the Royals’ owner.
  • The Royals shook things up, letting go of Dave Eiland and Don Wakamatsu, two successful coaches. Eiland’s pitching expertise is unquestioned and he should get another job, especially with so many openings.
  • The Royals are all but sure to give Lorenzo Cain a qualifying offer but have no plans to extend one to Jason Vargas.

Los Angeles Angels

  • While someone with ties to the team guessed that Justin Upton would either opt out or use the opt out to enhance his deal — which has $88 million over four years left – most see it as a very close call. It is interesting that the people involved suggest nothing’s been discussed yet by the sides (Upton has until three days after the World Series to make that call).
  • Indeed, it’s not an easy decision. He is believed to love it there, and they are thought to love him. So hopefully they can work it out. One rival GM suggested Upton should just stay and that the risk-reward wasn’t worth it, but another GM said he expects Upton to opt out. Upton’s agent Larry Reynolds is one of the good ones, and he’s making that calculation now. When Upton signed his $132.75 million, six-year deal, who would have envisioned the Tigers could trade him for prospects, and he might actually use the two-year opt out?
  • Though it was never stated exactly what the trade involved, Parker Bridwell was picked up for just a small amount of cash, making it one of the better deals of the year. The Angels’ Steve Martone first brought it to club higher-ups’ attention a year ago, and GM Billy Eppler tried to swing a deal at that time. When Bridwell was slumping in the pen in the Orioles’ minor leagues, Eppler pounced.
  • The Angels received a league-low 481 innings from the five starters who broke camp with them, making it several straight years where the rotation seems snakebitten. They did get Andrew Heaney and Garrett Richards back by the end, and they return seven guys with major league experience (plus Jaime Barria who shot through the minors and will be in the mix), but pitching needs to be a focus .
  • They also have possible openings at second base and third base with Brandon Phillips and Yunel Escobar both free agents.

Minnesota Twins

  • Bartolo Colon, in the losing Twins clubhouse after a long year, indicated with one finger up he thinks he could probably play one more year. “Just one,” he emphasized. Of course at 43, that’s still remarkable.
  • The Twins’ locker room was filled with hugs and well wishes, and no one had their head down, which makes sense since no one thought they’d get anywhere near as far as they did. Beyond that, manager Paul Molitor’s message after the game was “to keep your heads high.” They really should after all they accomplished. And they obviously listened well.
  • Twins higher-ups won’t say how they’ll deal with Molitor’s expiring contract, but he had a terrific year, is a Hall of Famer from St. Paul and obviously deserves a big new deal. They will admit he had a good year but say nothing more beyond that, for now.
  • The patience shown in Byron Buxton paid off following his slow start offensively. Twins people reassured him, “You know we believe in you.” And they were right to.
  • Buxton and the Reds’ Billy Hamilton are in a virtual dead heat for baseball’s fastest player. Buxton couldn’t think of anyone faster in the AL, but he did note that Cleveland rookie Bradley Zimmer is very fast. Reputedly, Buxton has told folks he is only the third fastest in his family, behind his father and sister.

New York Yankees

  • Aaron Judge suggested he really doesn’t care about the MVP trophy. “Not really,” he said. “I’d rather be holding a World Series trophy.”
  • Judge came up big on the big stage once again, Danny Knobler ‎writes.
  • David Robertson, after his wild-card game heroics, said about his return to NY: “I feel like I never left.”
  • The Yankees did quite a great job with that pen. Chad Green, a failed starter, is certainly a weapon.
  • Interesting Q&A done with GM Brian Cashman about working for George Steinbrenner and the rest of his 20 years in that job. One interesting tidbit: They had a tentative deal with Albert Belle before Belle got cold feet. That shows that good luck doesn’t hurt. Belle was not the right guy to add to that great clubhouse (or probably any clubhouse).
  • CC Sabathia seems as happy as he’s ever been. Life’s been good, and it’d make sense for him to stay with the Yankees.
New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Oakland Athletics

  • The A’s once again were killed by pitching injuries. They got the second fewest innings from their original starting rotation, at 483.
  • A’s higher-ups say they may look to lock up young stars early. Matt Olson was only up awhile. But he made an impact.
  • Looks like the A’s also may have significant power in coming years, with Ryon Healy, Matt Chapman and Khris Davis.
  • Khris Davis and Chris Davis both wound up with 195 strikeouts. When making contact, Khris Khrushed Chris, however.
  • Scout Marc Adair left the Astros to take a job with the A’s.

Seattle Mariners

  • Jerry Dipoto, who fired two coaches and longtime friends in the wake of Seattle’s very disappointing season, defended manager Scott Servais.
  • It was a surprise to many that bench coach Tim Bogar, a longtime ally of GM Jerry Dipoto, was let go following Seattle’s disappointing season. Casey Candaele, who is close to manager Scott Servais, also was let go. So serious changes were made following their rough year. (To be fair, injuries decimated their starting rotation, so there’s a reasonable excuse for the record.)
  • There would seem to be some serious pressure on Servais now, after two more non-playoff years (that’s 16 straight for the M’s, including 14 before he and Dipoto got there). Dipoto sold a new ownership group on the untested Servais, so it’s going to be time to deliver soon. Players don’t seem enamored with him at the moment, which doesn’t help.
  • They like both free agents Lucas Duda and Mitch Moreland as first base possibilities, seemingly better than their own free agent, Yonder Alonso.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • It was a shocker to see longtime pitching coach Jim Hickey let go. As they said upon making the moves, nobody knows more about pitching than Hickey. Kyle Snyder is up from Triple-A to take over.
  • Charlie Montoyo was promoted from third base coach to bench coach, but he also is expected to get multiple managerial interviews, perhaps with the Tigers and Mets.

Texas Rangers

  • Rangers people canvassed the clubhouse to try to ascertain what moves need to be made, but it was no surprise they picked up manager Jeff Banister’s option for 2019, giving him two years and eliminating the lame duck storyline, which is a good idea. The Royals might have been interested after Ned Yost retires, and Banister has earned a lot of admirers.
  • Texas let go bullpen coach Brad Holman and may make another smaller change.
  • People scoffed when Texas gave Andrew Cashner $10 million for 2017, but Cashner had a big year and Texas is even considering extending him a qualifying offer.
  • One rival GM said he believes Shohei Otani winds up in the AL since the DH affords him the chance to DH as well as pitch. In the NL, he’d want to play right field more, which seems even more difficult (though maybe he doesn’t mind). That in mind, some view the Rangers, Yankees and Red Sox as among the favorites.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Jose Bautista once again made public his desire to stay with the Jays. But this time it would be an even greater surprise if they accommodate him. (It was a surprise last year.). Bautista had a -1.8 WAR for the year.
  • Looking back on it, it would have been better to sign Edwin Encarnacion rather than make the free agent signings they did make. Easy to second guess, though.

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