Just because there are no games doesn’t mean there isn’t news. Pitcher List keeps you up to date with what is happening in the offseason with MLB Offseason News, which is published on Fridays.
As MLB front offices continue to look for improvements on the 40-man roster, there was another wave of signings that took place this week that likely won’t have an impact for a few more seasons. I’m talking about international prospects and the opening of the signing period, which began Jan. 15. Prospects had to be 16 years old to sign, with many having reached deals years ago and waiting until this week to make it a formality.
Venezuelan infielder Jose Perdomo received the highest signing bonus of $5 million from Atlanta. That was almost the entirety of Atlanta’s signing pool, which was $5.925 million. For a full list of signings, check out Baseball America’s signing tracker.
All contract and trade agreements are pending physicals before becoming official (i.e. when the team announces the move).
Amazon Rescues Local TV Broadcasts
What happened: E-commerce powerhouse Amazon has committed $115 million to help Diamond Sports Group in its bankruptcy case.
What it means: Diamond currently holds the TV rights for 11 MLB teams, with another, the Minnesota Twins, having had its deal run out after the 2023 season. Diamond, which carries games for 15 NBA and 11 NHL teams, broadcasts under the Bally Sports banner. Under a plan announced Wednesday, Diamond has worked with creditors on a $450 million plan that would all it to continue operating after 2024. A federal bankruptcy judge needs to approve this plan. Not only does Amazon help with the $115 million, but its Prime streaming service is a pathway for additional distribution for MLB. Currently, Diamond only holds the streaming rights for five of the 11 MLB teams (it has all streaming rights for its NBA and NHL teams). Outside of the Twins, whom Diamond has been negotiating with to carry games in 2024, the Cleveland Guardians and World Series champion Texas Rangers remain in a state of flux regarding their deals, with a potential answer due by Feb. 1. Diamond stopped paying two teams, the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks, during the 2023 season, with MLB making games available via MLB.tv. Where Padres and D’backs games will be carried in 2024 is unknown.
Giants Grab Hicks For Rotation
What it means: Hicks, who has made just eight starts in 212 career MLB appearances, is expected to be converting to a full-time starter as part of his deal with San Francisco. Possessing one of the top fastball velocities — he averaged 100.1 mph, second in MLB in 2023 — Hicks has struck out 24.5% of batters faced in his career, including 28.4% in 2023. But Hicks has had trouble with command, walking 12.7% in his career. All eight of his starts came in 2022 as the St. Louis Cardinals, who traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline in 2023, experimented with him in the rotation during the season. Considering he was not stretched out to be a starter, Hicks pitched 26⅓ innings in those eight starts, compiling a 5.47 ERA and 1.557 WHIP, walking 21 and striking out 25. Bad numbers all around. If the Giants are able to unlock Hicks’ potential as a starter, he would likely be at best a five-and-dive type. But if he fails, the Giants can move him back to the bullpen, where he could be a lethal late-inning option setting up Camilo Doval.
Blue Jays Add Cuban Righty
What it means: Rodriguez, who turns 27 on March 10, did not pitch in 2023 following his appearances for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. He had been a reliever in Japan for the Chunichi Dragons, with a 1.15 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 54⅔ innings in 2022. Rodriguez could be either a starter or a reliever for the Jays. Toronto was not necessarily in need of another starter as the rotation currently consists of Kevin Gausman, José Berríos, Chris Bassitt, Yusei Kikuchi, and Alek Manoah — with top prospect Ricky Tiedemann waiting in the wings — so Rodriguez would be more of a depth move for the rotation.
Anthopoulos Gets Atlanta Extension
What happened: Atlanta extended the contract of Alex Anthopoulos, the team’s president of baseball operations and general manager, through the 2031 season.
What it means: After giving a good chunk of the roster long-term deals, Anthopoulos was on the receiving end of this transaction — and for good reason. Since joining the organization following the 2017 season, Atlanta has won six straight NL East titles and the 2021 World Series. He secured team-friendly contracts with outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. (the 2023 NL MVP), second baseman Ozzie Albies, first baseman Matt Olson, third baseman Austin Riley, right-handed starter Spencer Strider, catcher Sean Murphy and center fielder Michael Harris II, all of whom are signed through at least 2027, some with club options surely to be exercised.
The Injured List
⚾ Houston Astros right-handed reliever Kendall Graveman will miss the 2024 season after having surgery on his right shoulder. Graveman, acquired from the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline, did not pitch in the postseason for the Astros after reporting soreness in the shoulder.
Around The Horn
⚾ Dusty Baker, who retired from a lengthy career as a manager following the 2023 season, is set to return to the Giants as a baseball operations special assistant. Baker was manager of the Giants for 10 seasons.
⚾ Former Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright is joining Fox Sports as an MLB analyst. Wainwright retired following last season.