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Thor’sLinks: Halo, Mr. Rendon!

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Eppler finally solves the LAA 3B conundrum, gets Anthony Rendon DONE.

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CLASSIC MLB
2nd-highest career fWAR as 3B for the Los Angeles Angels
Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

THE HOT CORNER

Ok. It looks too good. I have been whining around here for a true third baseman since Troy Glaus was let go in 2004. And, sure, 3B was the position I played in my youth (most excellent fast twitch muscles, except for that one bloodshot eyeball I get when I am tired but that happened when I was only 10 so I’m giving myself a pass.) Neither of those are the reason I chose this week to feature historic LAA third baseman from our history.

And, yeah, it’s Winter Meeting Week and the Angels were destined to sign somebody and Anthony Rendon might be the #3 most featured Free Agent in this winter market. And he probably was going to sign someplace other than Washington and he is a threat to land here in the AL West to haunt us and I would hate that. Adrian Beltre 2.0. Those were not the reason I chose to feature LAA 3B’s this week, either.

Honestly, I wish I could take credit for being cognizant. That would be a distraction. It was really because I needed to pick a new position and thought it sad to realize who it will be that shows up on Friday as the #1 all time WAR leader for our franchise. Like a punchline. That’s all there was to it.

My instinct is pretty old school: to be strong up the middle. We got CF nailed. We got a decent bullpen. My personal priorities have been catcher and starting pitching, and thinking about achieving any desired improvements at 2B via internal options. Solving a 25-year old problem out on the wings was a tier 3 concern. I was NOT expecting this at all. Not for reals. Certainly not last weekend when I teed up the week’s linkage photos.

But DAYUM is it not the most excellent news to learn that Arte Moreno and Billy Eppler just added 29-year old Anthony Rendon, the best non-trash-can-aided 3B in Major League Baseball!?! 7 years, $245 million ($35MM AAV). That’s a big paycheck, but it brings in a big big bat who plays a very fine defense at the hot corner.

We are likely less than 15 months away from having Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, Anthony Rendon and Jo Adell on the same lineup card. Color me impressed, and that is before we know by then what happens with Andrelton Simmons, David Fletcher, Tommy LaStella, and whatever happens at catcher and then at first base post Albert Pujols.

I don’t want this to come off as “OK, but what have you done for me lately?”, but now is the time we learn just how serious Moreno and Eppler are about going big. We still need that front-line ace for our rotation. And the necessary catcher upgrade must still happen. And then getting another mid-rotation guy might be the point where the LAA winter now just falls short. But it falls “short” by locking up none other than Anthony Rendon for his prime. Again, DAYUM! Coming off the past four seasons that we have had I’ll take that “falling short” every damn time.

Good morning, one and all. The skies are clearing. You probably don’t even care to know about all the other stuff happening in MLB that you can find below.


ANGELS

The predominant news focus on the Angels yesterday was split into two threads.

The first common thread to score the Halos as a loser or winner for failing to sign Cole...........The Ringer has the Halos as a Loser. And Mike Trout. And all the other lesser teams............CBS has the Halos as a Loser, seeking consolation prizes...........($$) - The Athletic has the Angels as a winner (surprised, are you not?). Because the Halos can now spend that money on multiple needs. But they also have the same Angels as a Loser (what you expected). Because Cole knows all too well the Angels have lots of other problems and ain’t winning much any time soon..........

The second common thread was what the hell do they do now?.............ESPN offers up 3 actual options: Hyun-Jin Ryu + Dallas Keuchel + Martin Maldonado...or...Josh Donaldson + Keuchel + Willson Contreras...or...Anthony Rendon + Corey Kluber + Josh Hader..........The Sporting News has the Angels now in scramble mode, but with avenues still open............CBS has them going after any two out of Bumgarner/Keuchel/Ryu.............

And in lesser news, MLB is mandating news netting standards for all ballparks. So the Angels, who just extended their netting back in 2018...are now going to be extending that netting just a little bit further to comply..........

Finally, Gerrit Cole was not the only target that Arte Moreno had plans to pay in deferred money. He is planning to use deferred money to pay Anaheim for the stadium and parking lot, too...........


HOT STOVE ACTION AND OTHER RUMORS

And while everyone was sitting around figuring out what to do next, ($$) - And the Angels still do have plenty of options to pursue - they need to pursue quickly, because the barn doors were left wide open:

The Rockies signed RHP Scott Oberg for 3-years/$13 million..........

The Giants signed RHP Kevin Gausman for 1-year/$9 million...........

The Mets sign RHP Michael Wacha for 1-year/$3 million + $7 million in performance bonuses..........

The Brewers signed RHP Josh Lindblom for 3-years/$9.125 million..........

The Blue Jays signed RHP Tanner Roark for 2-years/$24 million...........

The Dodgers signed RHP Blake Treinen for 1-year/$10 million...........

The White Sox added outfielder Nomar Mazara via trade from the Rangers to play right field.........

The Dodgers are looking to acquire Francisco Lindor. This would be awesome, actually. The two very best shortstops in MLB would be playing just 35 miles apart here in SoCal...........

The Yankees want your catcher, too...........Because the Death Star is back............

Carlos Correa is going up on the trading block so that the Asstros can afford to retain the rest of their tank core?............

David Price can be had, and his price to Billy Eppler probably just went up. Because Eppler is now more desperate...........

Kole Calhoun won’t be unemployed much longer...........

Scott Boras is getting high praise for having played the Gerrit Cole bidding “beautifully”. And the first part of that strategy was to get Stephen Strasburg signed fast so that a low-water comp was firmly in place. To which I say, sure, good for Cole. But if Strasburg were still on the market now, while it might have cost Cole $10 - $20 million overall, might things now be even better for Strasburg? Maybe not so good for him, if true.............

Rule 5 Draft Day today. So that’s something..........


ASSTROS NUTZ

MLB is going to extraordinary lengths to, at a minimum, appear serious. They are not expecting to finish their investigation in 2019. And they are proud to announce that they are reading through more than 76,000 emails. That last part cracks me up. Rob Manfred is an attorney. He probably has lots of attorneys doing that “investigation”. I used to work for attorneys and I am in the IT business. And few things make a big time attorney happier than to be able to employ an army of paralegals to read through mountains of material while they get to bill $450 per hour, per paralegal. Sure, nowadays they use search engines to cull the info and direct research towards the more suspicious documents and emails, but that billing spigot does continue to ooze tasty reasons to keep doing new searches and keep doing more reading so that they can keep doing more billing.............

Guys like Asstros manager A.J. Hinch and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts are the kind of MLB employees who face of with the baseball journalists at the Winter meetings. And they did. And they got barraged with cheating questions that they couldn’t even begin to answer...........


BASEBALL THINGS IN GENERAL

I keep waiting for somebody to dive deep into the breakdown of the Cole deal, listing what the Yankees now lose is draft picks and pool money and tax penalties. And also listing how the Asstros are getting to pick up a new comp pick in June. Unless MLB takes it back away..........

Rob Manfred is pissed off at MiLB for not rolling over on his behalf.....And MiLB is responding by pointing out that Manfred is even more pissed off because MiLB took the fight to the public, surrounding him...........

MLB has finally surrendered to the reality that their 2019 baseball had a lot to do with home run surging. Because that is not sneaking in some superball core, and because it’s accidental, they still claim that the ball is not “juiced”. The excuse is that because the process involves a lot of hand-made fabrication steps, it’s all just natural, and unavoidable, variations in the final product. And they promise to try and take some simple steps to manage the handling of the finished product before introduced into future MLB games. And here comes one of those moments when you need to have me at the pres conference with the ability to ask these numb nuts a question, since I cannot find evidence that the media asked it: “then what’s so different about the manufacturing process today, which was not in place up until 2015, since this variability (and the impact of this variability) looks remarkably new when looking at the same data which revealed the problem in the first place?”.....Never lose sight of the fact that this is the SECOND MLB “scientific” study into this issue. The first one denied any such thing and it took outsiders to reveal the bullshit of that report...........

It’s official, 2020 will see the start of the three-man minimum rule..........

Man, the history of MLB’s highest-paid pitcher is stunning..........

The San Francisco Giants almost made Rachel Balkovec the first female MLB coach in history. She decided to stay with the Yankees in an MiLB role...........

The opt out clause in Gerrit Cole’s MFY deal is worth an extra $20 million to him, when you dive into the what ifs?............

I keep seeing this shit, that a Gerrit Cole “...record deal will look to blow past deals out of the water, but that’s only because revenue has, too.” I beg to differ. Are MLB revenues at an all-time high? Yes. are the current revenues blowing past annual revenues out of the water? Hell no. Everybody points to the same Forbes study that shows MLB raking in $10.3 billion in 2018. But they appear to have read only the headlines. The same study notes that MLB already had passed $10 billion as of 2017, so year-over-year growth was less than $300 million, which is less than 3%. If my company saw that level of growth, our stock would take significant hit and Wall Street would be looking for the problems within my company. That is why you read, in that same Forbes article, sentences such as: “...even as growth slowed compared with previous years...” and “...growth slowed from the highly accelerated rate seen in years prior...” and “...attendance was down, television revenues were largely flat, with no significant deals kicking in. Sponsorship revenues were up...”. The article does forecast better growth going forward, but writers are not saying that MLB revenues will blow past current revenues in the future. No, they are saying that this has already happened and implying that owners are already swimming in their pools full of green backs. And the implication is that big money for players is long overdue..........


STUFF

Aaron Judge is happy. Aaron Judge should be asking himself why is not getting one of those pre-arb buyout mega-deals that are raining down elsewhere in MLB?............Yahoo Sports! fires the guy who founded their Big League Stew blog??..........Bruce Bochy shall manage again! The French National Team...........Dodgers co-owner blocked from buying Chelsea..........