Here is the latest news from the past few days.
Cubs Extend Theo Epstein on Five-Year Deal
The Chicago Cubs announced that they have extended President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein on a five-year deal today.
Epstein, 42, has been with the Cubs since 2012, leading them through their rebuilding process. His current deal was set to expire after the end of this season, but there was no question on whether he was going to go elsewhere.
Now, the team rewarded him with a contract that will pay him $50 million, according to multiple reports, making him the highest-paid executive in the sport.
It appears, though, that Epstein deserves to be paid as such, taking the Cubs from a 61-win season in 2012 (when he inherited them) to a 101-win (and counting) season in 2016.
The Cubs, who have not won the World Series since 1908, are the odds-on favorite to do so this year. That appeared to have been Epstein's goal when coming to Chicago from the Boston Red Sox in the first place: to break the Cubs' World Series drought.
Marlins Extend Martin Prado
In another extension, the Miami Marlins have agreed to a three-year, $40 million contract with infielder Martin Prado, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald on Monday.
Prado set to become a free agent at the end of the offseason. Now, the 2016-17 free agent class--already notorious for being thin--becomes even weaker. Prado was one of the better position player free agents, but as a known clubhouse leader in Miami, it appears that both sides wanted him to stay put.
Prado has bounced around a bit in his 11-year MLB career, but his past two seasons with the Marlins have been two of his more successful campaigns overall.
His current contract, a four-year, $40 million deal, was signed with the Braves in the 2012-13 offseason, but he was immediately shipped to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade for Justin Upton. He was traded again in 2014 and headed to the Yankees, before landing with Miami in yet another trade that year.
He's been with the Marlins since, and all he has done is hit. In 2016, Prado is hitting .304/.359/.413 with seven home runs and 68 RBI over 647 plate appearances, walking 49 times and striking out 69. With solid defense at third base, Prado has been worth 3.0 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), per FanGraphs.
Prado will now be a mainstay in Miami at least through the 2019 season.
Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez has died early this morning in a boating accident, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Sunday.
Fernandez was 24.
The Marlins released the following statement, and they have cancelled today's Marlins-Braves in respect for Fernandez:
"The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred released this statement:
"All of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez. He was one of our game's great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life."
Many players took to Twitter to share their thoughts about Fernandez.
Kansas City Royals right-handed starter Edinson Volquez wants to return to the team in 2017, he told Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star Wednesday.
Volquez told Dodd that he is considering exercising his side of a mutual option but that he will "huddle" with his agent at the end of the World Series to make a final decision. He is planning on looking at the market and weighing his option.
The Royals signed Volquez to a two-year, $20 million deal during the 2014-15 offseason that included the aforementioned mutual option for 2017. It is valued at $10 million with a $3 million buyout. Both sides would need to pick up the option for it to vest.
Despite not having the best season statistically, it is possible that Volquez would be able to earn more than the $10 million his is due to make with the option on the open market. The starting pitching this offseason is thin, which increases the likelihood that he gets a long-term deal from another team.
This season, Volquez is 10-11 with a 5.25 ERA and a 133-68 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 181 2/3 innings pitched. He has posted a 4.47 FIP and a 4.43 xFIP, according to FanGraphs, and he has been worth 1.6 Wins Above Replacement.
The Baltimore Orioles will meet with agent Scott Boras next week to discuss an extension for catcher Matt Wieters, as Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com reported.
According to Boras, there is mutual interest in getting an extension done, and as Connolly notes, it is somewhat rare for the Southern Californian to travel and visit with a team in-season.
It's possible that Boras is not only coming to Baltimore to discuss Wieters. Designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and closer Zach Britton, both Orioles impending free agents, are Boras clients.
As for the other side of operations, Orioles Executive Vice President Dan Duquette often shies away from making extensions during the regular season, but did sign Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy to long-term deals during play, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
The 30-year-old Wieters is currently signed through 2016 on a one-year, $15.8 million deal completed last offseason. Wieters was among the first round of players to accept a qualifying offer, but, in 2016, the results on the field have been subpar as compared to his standards in past years.
The most likely comparison for a new Wieters deal could be the five-year, $75 million deal signed by Yadier Molina in 2012. Molina was a year younger than Wieters, and definitely more highly touted, but signed the deal with seven years and 123 days of service time. Wieters will begin 2017 with approximately seven years and 129 days of service time.
Perhaps a more likely scenario for Wieters, considering his injury history, would be a four-year, $60 million deal, staying in the same annual average value range as the Molina deal but limiting the years the Orioles will have to commit.
This season, Wieters is hitting .243/.299/.402 with 14 home runs and 60 runs batted in over 110 games (412 PA). According to FanGraphs, he has been worth 1.2 Wins Above Replacement.
San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller has been suspended without pay for 30 days for providing inaccurate medicals during trade talks, Major League Baseball announced.
Preller's suspension specifically relates to the Padres' trade of Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox, though the Miami Marlins, Chicago White Sox and one other unnamed club reportedly complained to the league, believing that San Diego did not provide full medicals when completing trades.
Perhaps the most notable of these incidents came with the Marlins, when right-handed starter Collin Rea exited his first game with Miami with elbow soreness. The Marlins allegedly were informed that the Padres did not provide full details on Rea, and they returned him to San Diego for highly touted right-handed pitching prospect Luis Castillo.
According toESPN's Buster Olney, the Padres' inaccuracies with their medicals ranged just past their trades.
Major League Baseball has a centralized injury report system known as the Sutton Medical System. Here, teams report their players' issues, varying in degree from getting some aspirin to going on the disabled list and having Tommy John surgery.
According to Olney, most teams had approximately 60 entries in the Sutton Medical System by the All-Star Break. The Padres, rather, had fewer than 10.
When teams are close to completing a trade, players' identifications are exchanged in the system, allowing teams to see the medical history of a player they will be acquiring to make an informed decision as to whether they are worth trading for.
The suspension was handed down by Major League Baseball this afternoon. The Padres and Preller each released statements in response.
"I accept full responsibility for issues related to the oversight of our medical administration and record keeping. I want to emphasize that there was no malicious intent on the part of me, or anyone on my staff, to conceal information or disregard MLB’s recommended guidelines. This has been a learning process for me. I will serve my punishment and look forward to being back on the job in 30 days."
From Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler, Managing Partner Peter Siedler and President and CEO Mike Dee:
"We accept the discipline handed down from Major League Baseball earlier today and will fully comply with Commissioner Manfred's recommendations pertaining to changes with our medical administration and record keeping. Rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned in developing comprehensive processes to remediate this unintentional, but inexcusable, occurrence. To be clear, we believe that there was no intent on the part of A.J. Preller or other members of our baseball operations staff to mislead other clubs. We are obviously disappointed that we will lose A.J.’s services for 30 days, but will work closely with him upon his reinstatement to ensure that this unfortunate set of circumstances does not happen again."
Today's suspension was not the first of its kind for Preller.
In 2010, while the Texas Rangers' Assistant General Manager, Preller was suspended for three months for violating international signing rules. Since moving to San Diego, he again was reprimanded for conducting an international workout that is against industry regulations.