Major League Baseball lifted its transaction freeze on Friday in anticipation of a second spring training, and the White Sox responded by releasing five players who might not have survived the first one:
- Caleb Frare
- Zach Putnam
- Matt Skole
- Matt Tomshaw
- Ramon Torres
Unless you recognized Putnam picking a bad year to try coming back from Tommy John surgery or Skole being the rare three-time spring training non-roster invitee, the only name that stands out is Frare. It wasn’t that long ago that he looked like a potential second lefty for the White Sox bullpen, showing some effectiveness during a September call-up in 2018. He actually broke camp with the White Sox in 2019, but his control took a different flight and he hasn’t seen it since.
With Frare’s release, the state of Montana suffers a blow. So does the White Sox’s effort to get something for all the international money they traded away. Now that Frare’s out, Ryan Burr is the last hope for production out of all the players they received for pool money.
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While beat reporters heard from Ricks Hahn and Renteria about the resumption of the season on Thursday, James McCann and Lucas Giolito stepped in on Friday to provide the players’ perspective. According to James Fegan’s account, last year’s winning battery delivered “a full story’s worth of quotes from their Friday Zoom calls with media that encapsulate a sense of worry and dread about a worsening COVID-19 pandemic.”
McCann’s concerns ranged from the map of the country (he cited the spiking case counts in Florida and Texas) to the area behind home plate (he’s sandwiched between an umpire and spitting hitters). Giolito says he has to trust the league’s protocol, but his emphasis on personal responsibility — and suggesting a team meeting to get everybody on the same page — suggests that players can really only look out for themselves, and to a limited effect.
“Take it one day at a time” is a well-worn cliché, but considering both players acknowledged the chance that they or some teammates could be taken out of circulation upon arrival by an initial positive test, there’s enough big-picture uncertainty to breathe new life into the phrase.
(A note to McCann: Testing in the Nashville area is free and plentiful.)
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*Speaking of Texas, several Rangers employees tested positive for COVID-19, leaving coworkers to tell Jeff Passan, “We are terrified for our safety.”
*One thing we hadn’t heard about the health and safety agreement was whether the league had put shutdown language in writing. Andy Martino of SNY.tv says it does:
The March 26 agreement is now updated to include this passage, which SNY has obtained:
The Commissioner retains the right to suspend or cancel the 2020 championship season or postseason, or any games therein, in the event that (i) restrictions on travel throughout the United States are imposed; (ii) there is a material change in circumstances such that the Commissioner determines, after consultation with recognized medical experts and the Players Association, that it poses an unreasonable health and safety risk to players or staff to stage those games, even without fans in attendance; or (III) The number of players who are unavailable to perform services due to COVID-19 is so great that the competitive integrity of the season is undermined.
*The Pirates reportedly laid off around 25 employees, including several department heads, in a massive organizational purge. It looks like the most aggressive business response by a club during the pandemic, although given that the Pirates hired a new GM during a chaotic offseason, some of this reorganization probably was made with baseball purposes in mind.
*Ryan Zimmerman wrote a guest article for the Associated Press in which he floated the idea of opting out of the 2020 season. The reasons are personal, but I’m guessing we’re going to hear others weighing such priorities as well.
I’m still deciding whether to play.
When it comes down to it, it’s a decision not just for me, but for my family as well.
I have a 3-week-old baby. My mother has multiple sclerosis and is super high-risk; if I end up playing, I can pretty much throw out the idea of seeing her until weeks after the season is over.
And all draft picks are signed….
Horn might be a player. I wonder if they will make him a Starter?
Ryan Zimmerman is 35 and has made $130 million in his career. It should be a pretty easy decision for him.