Saturday, March 2, 2024

MLB rumors: Red Sox, Angels finalists for veteran slugger, Yankees cut Jeter

Major League Baseball’s teams continue to delay the inevitable. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp in less than a month, yet a lot of notable players remain without homes. One found a home Friday: Josh Hader has agreed to a five-year contract with the Astros. In the space below, we’ll be tracking all of Friday’s new, notes, and rumors.

Yankees cut Jeter

Jeter Downs, that is. The Yankees announced on Friday they have claimed infielder Diego Castillo off waivers from the Mets, and to make room on the 40-man roster, Downs was designated for assignment. New York claimed Downs off waivers from the Nationals earlier this offseason and yes, he is named after Derek Jeter.

In addition to being named after Derek, Downs is also known for being part of the Mookie Betts trade. He went to the Red Sox as a prospect and has been unable to carve out a big-league role. The 25-year-old has appeared in 20 MLB games and is a career .202/.306/.370 hitter in Triple-A. As for Castillo, he is returning to the Yankees. He began his career in their farm system and was traded to the Pirates for Clay Holmes in 2021.

Duvall likely down to two teams

As it stands, veteran outfielder Adam Duvall is “likely” to pick between either the Red Sox or the Angels, according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post. (There is always the possibility that another team enters the bidding late.)

Duvall, 35, spent last season with the Red Sox. He hit .247/.303/.531 (119 OPS+) with 21 home runs and 58 RBI. His contributions were worth an estimated 1.6 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball-Reference’s calculations. 

Duvall would likely slot into a timeshare with either club. The Red Sox are projected to start a pair of lefty outfielders, in Jarren Duran and Wilyer Abreu; the Angels, conversely, have Mickey Moniak positioned as a most-days player. 

Brewers interested in veteran first basemen

The Brewers have had conversations with both Carlos Santana and Garrett Cooper in recent days, according to Robert Murray of FanSided.

Santana is no stranger to the Brewers, having spent the last 52 games of the 2023 campaign in Milwaukee following a midseason trade. He batted .249/.314/.459 (109 OPS+) with 11 home runs and 33 RBI in those games.

Cooper, alternatively, would be serving his first tour as a Brewer. He’s coming off a disappointing season that saw him post a single-season-low 96 OPS+. CBS Sports recently predicted that he would bounce back in 2024:

You might think that we’d be out on this one. After all, Cooper is a 33-year-old right-right first baseman coming off a subpar season in which he swung and missed more than usual. Yet we do think there’s evidence that he’s in for a better 2024. His ball-tracking data, specifically his share of batted balls that had an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher and a launch angle between 10 and 30 degrees, put him in the vicinity of Luis Robert Jr., Jorge Polanco, and Zack Gelof, among others. In other words, batters who had more productive seasons. Cooper certainly wouldn’t be the first of his kind to flame out before he reaches his mid-30s. We just think he deserves the opportunity to prove that he has more in the tank before we’ll write him as such.

The Brewers’ current projected first baseman is Jake Bauers, whom the team obtained from the Yankees earlier this offseason.

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