Let’s take a look at some of the biggest news stories from around Major League Baseball as we head into the Holiday season.
Machado Continues Meetings With Teams
Prized free agent infielder Manny Machado will continue meeting with teams this week. Machado met with the Chicago White Sox at the beginning of the week, before getting together with the New York Yankees on Wednesday. The Phillies will host Machado on Thursday, which should wrap up the meetings before the shortstop decides which team to sign for. Machado was brought up in the Baltimore Orioles organization before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the trade deadline in July. He is averaging 36 home runs, 96 runs batted in and an OPS of .856 over the past four seasons. Machado is expected to sign one of the biggest free agent contracts in MLB history with whatever team he decides to choose.
MLB and Cuba Reach Deal
Major League Baseball announced that they along with the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) have reached an agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) that will allow Cuban players a safe and legal transition to sign with a Major League team. The hope is that the new agreement will end the dangerous practice of trafficking Cuban players to the United States. This agreement is the fourth of its kind with professional baseball clubs around the world.
The Cuban Baseball Federation will be required to release all players who are at least 25 years old and have at least six years of professional baseball experience if they wish to sign with a Major League Baseball team. The FCB can also release younger players, making that player free to negotiate and sign with any MLB team without being forced to leave Cuba. All released Cuban players will be negotiated under the same rules and restrictions that apply to other international free agents.
Yu Darvish Begins Throwing
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish has begun light throwing off of flat ground in hopes of making a return to the mound in 2019. Darvish posted a brief video on his Instagram giving Cubs fans a glimpse of his recovery process. The veteran right-hander underwent arthroscopic surgery on September 12 in an effort to clean up his elbow that caused him to miss almost all of the 2018 season.
The Cubs signed Darvish to a six-year $126 million deal before the start last season, but he was able to make just eight starts and was not effective while on the mound. Darvish attempted two different rehab assignments with the Cubs a season ago but was shut down for the remainder of the season on August 18. The hope is that Darvish will be healthy for the start of the 2019 Spring Training.
Angels Sign Matt Harvey
Matt Harvey has agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The deal is set for $11 million, but Harvey could earn up to $3 million more in incentives for games started. Harvey must pass a physical before the deal becomes official, but it appears that he will give the Angels much-needed depth in their starting rotation. The Angels originally drafted Harvey out of high school in the 2007 MLB Draft, but the hard-throwing right-hander did not sign. Harvey was forced the entire 2014 season after Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome forced him to miss all of 2016. The Mets traded Harvey to the Cincinnati Reds last season after he was designated for assignment. Harvey posted a 4.50 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 128 innings last season with the Reds.
Mariners Reach Deal With T-Mobile
The Seattle Mariners have announced that they have reached a deal with T-Mobile that includes naming rights to their home ballpark. The Mariners will begin playing games at T-Mobile Park in a deal that runs through the year 2043. Seattle has played at Safeco Field since the inception of the new ballpark, but that deal ends on December 31. Sources have indicated that T-Mobile will pay the Mariners $3.5 million per year for the naming rights. The Mariners will begin to replace the signage in and around the ballpark, but it is expected to be completed before the home opener on March 28. The deal has to be approved by the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District, but it is expected to be approved quickly.