Fresh off a World Series win, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is going home. The free-agent catcher who grew up in South Florida — he went to Royal Palm Beach High School and his family has a home in the area — agreed to a three-year deal with the Marlins, who outbid the Twins and the Red Sox, Saltalamacchia’s former team. The deal is worth around $21 million and is pending a physical, according to numerous reports.
A pair of cellar dwellers struck a deal on Tuesday, with the Astros acquiring outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named from the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Brandon Barnes and right-handed starter Jordan Lyles. This is a deal with good upside for Houston. For Colorado, it’s a move that makes less sense.
With two years remaining before he hits free agency, Fowler, 27, has been the subject of trade rumors for some time now; Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd made some eyebrow-raising remarks about Fowler in a recent interview on 850 KOA. “I think he’s got to get tougher, no doubt,” said O’Dowd. “He’s got to show up and play with an edge every day, not just when he thinks he has to.”
The Rays did some wheeling and dealing on Wednesday, acquiring both reliever Heath Bell and catcher Ryan Hanigan in a three-way, five-player trade involving the Diamondbacks and Reds. Both Bell and Hanigan are coming off disappointing 2013 seasons, but it appears that they fit into Tampa Bay’s never-ending quest to find value.
The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2014 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here.
It is easy to forget the extent to which Hideo Nomo changed everything. Before his arrival in the United States with the Dodgers for the 1995 season, the idea of a Japanese star coming stateside to test his mettle in the majors was literally a foreign concept. Only one previous Japanese-born player from Nippon Professional Baseball, Masanori Murakami, had pitched in the majors, and that was back in 1964 and ’65. American fans remember the way Nomo took the nation by storm with the Dodgers in 1995 and ’96, baffling hitters with his unorthodox delivery, though he spent the better part of the next decade bouncing around the majors while struggling to overcome his control issues.
Since Nomo’s debut, the floodgates have opened, and while it would be a stretch to say the arrival of Japanese players has become downright routine, the success of so many has helped to globalize the game, raising MLB’s profile overseas. Wrote Japanese baseball expert Robert Whiting, “The history of the Japan-America baseball relationship can be divided into two eras: Pre-Nomo and Post-Nomo.”
I had initially planned to include my writeup of Nomo among the handful of pitchers who are new to this year’s ballot and have no real chance to be elected. Even if his statistics from Japan could be taken into consideration, he doesn’t have numbers that merit induction in Cooperstown, which is after all the National — not International — Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. In the end, he stands as a pioneer of sorts, so I decided to give his career a closer look and a more detailed valedictory.
The Red Sox came to terms with catcher A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year deal worth $8.25 million on Tuesday morning, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. The signing marks the unofficial end of fellow free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s three-year run as Boston’s starting catcher. Pierzynski doesn’t necessarily represent an upgrade over Saltalamacchia on the field, but his contract represents a significant savings for the Red Sox without a significant change in projected value at the position.