With the new Major League Baseball Opening Day less than a month away, organizations are quickly getting into gear to prepare for the abbreviated 2020 season. With all of the chaos ensuing to get ready, news has been heavy from around the league.
Let’s take a look at a few of the major stories over the last week.
Desmond To Forego Season
In an Instagram post, Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announced that he would be skipping the 2020 season so as not to risk exposing himself to the COVID-19 pandemic. Desmond has four children and a wife who is pregnant.
Within his post, Desmond went beyond his announcement to also describe a litany of other issues plaguing the game ranging from discrimination to a toxic clubhouse culture to racial inequality in the game.
Last season, with Colorado, Desmond hit .255/.310/.479 in 443 at-bats with 20 home runs, 65 runs batted in, and 64 runs scored.
In the wake of his decision, the Rockies moved hastily to find a replacement. Colorado announced that they are bringing in Matt Kemp on a minor-league deal. Last year, with the Cincinnati Reds, Kemp had just 60 at-bats hitting .200/.210/.283 with a home run, five runs batted in and four runs scored.
While Colorado has some interesting players, most notably Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, on their team, they are not expected to do much this season. FanDuel has them at +16000 to win the World Series.
First Trade Of The New Season
Last Friday, Major League Baseball’s transaction freeze was lifted, giving clubs the opportunities to make signings, trades, extensions, etc. for the first time since the initial shutdown. Since the freeze was lifted, we have now had our first trade.
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel and Jeff Passan reported that the Oakland Athletics are sending Jorge Mateo to the San Diego Padres in exchange for a player to be named later.
Mateo has long been seen as an intriguing prospect but has yet to truly get a chance on the big league club. Since he is out of options, he will need to make the Opening Day roster otherwise be exposed to waivers.
Judge Should Be Ready To Go
As a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, many players around the league that may have had to start the season on the injured list should be good to go. No team may reap the benefits more than the New York Yankees.
It appears that Giancarlo Stanton, James Paxton, and Aaron Hicks may all be good to go for the beginning of the season. General manager Brian Cashman confirmed on Tuesday, though, that one of the most important names on the roster should be good to go in Aaron Judge.
Judge had been dealing with a myriad of issues ranging from a fracture in his rib to a collapsed lung. Regardless, Judge should be able to hit the ground running, and that is good news for the Bronx Bombers.
Last season, in just 378 at-bats, Judge hit .272/.381/.540 with 27 home runs, 55 runs batted in, and 75 runs scored. Needless to say, Judge is one of the staples that make the vaunted Yankees lineup really click on all cylinders.
According to FanDuel, Judge currently sits at +1200 to win the American League MVP, tied with Francisco Lindor and trailing only Mike Trout (+135) as the most favored to win.
No Minor Leagues This Year
In a bit of sad news for the upcoming season, Minor League Baseball has announced that they will not be holding a season in 2020.
While this was anticipated, it still is disheartening on multiple levels. Not only does this affect the minor league teams and those that worked there, but it also leaves a plethora of minor league talent without a place to play this year.
While some teams are including some of their top prospects to be part of their taxi squads, many top prospects will be left stalled out this season without any baseball to play. Organizations are looking into options to get them playing, including an extended fall ball season, but the damage will still likely be done for many players and organizations.
It has already been a tumultuous time to be a minor league club with Major League Baseball looking to reduce the number of minor league teams, but this just adds a whole new layer of stress on minor league teams that struggle to stay afloat as it is.