MLB Notebook: Blake Snell rumours continue to swirl, Dodgers and Padres arrive in South Korea, and more

Brett Holden
30 days ago

Blake Snell rumours continue to swirl

The Blake Snell rollercoaster of free agency has taken another loop. Ken Rosenthal and Chandler Rome reported the Houston Astros had reached out to Snell after losing José Urquidy to a forearm strain. The injury will put Urquidy on the injured list to start the year. 
The Astros have an entire rotation on their IL starting the season: Justin Verlander, Luis Garcia, and Lance McCullers Jr. will all begin the year on the injured list. Garcia had Tommy John surgery in May of 2023 and could be back post-All-Star game. McCullers Jr. underwent surgery in June to repair a flexor tendon in his forearm, which also turned into an operation to remove bone spurs in his elbow. Lance was given a 13-15 month recovery, also putting him out until the All-Star break. Verlander has felt soreness in his throwing shoulder and is a little behind schedule, taking him out of his Opening Day start. 
However, that rumour quickly took a twist. The Astros suddenly became a “longshot” to snag Snell as Houston reportedly are cold on the idea of guaranteeing the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner $60 million over two years. The deal would put the Astros over the luxury tax mark, and considering Houston already sits second in the MLB for the highest project payroll at $256 million, it makes sense.
Shortly after the sharp left turn, the Los Angeles Angels popped back up again. Buster Olney said that he believes Snell’s personal preference is to sign with the Angels. The two sides have “been back-and-forth” with each other, but despite Olney’s positivity, it also seems like a longshot. Ken Rosenthal reported on Foul Territory that Angels GM Perry Minasian has been campaigning for Blake Snell to Owner, Arte Moreno, but Moreno will not budge. 
Right now, the new ‘most likely‘ and seemingly consensus favourite team to nab Snell is the San Francisco Giants. After already splurging on Matt Chapman during Spring Training, San Fran could land another Scott Boras client. Plus, the Giants have been active this offseason as they’ve also brought in Jorge Soler and Jung Hoo Lee, who won the KBO Rookie of the Year and the 2022 KBO MVP. 
Snell’s mysterious social media post recently has triggered the fire around him once again and injuries have only fed the flame. Gerrit Cole going down and reports of the Yanks reaching out to the big lefty earlier in the winter and now Urquidy’s injury. It seems like this ride is finally reaching its falling action, but the end is still far from near.

Dodgers and Padres arrive in South Korea

The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres have arrived in Seoul like rockstars. From crowds flooding the airport to mega-hit bangers of player chants, the Dodgers and Padres have been well received. 
From the moment the Dodgers touched down in Korea, flashing lights and screaming fans reigned down on the stars as Shohei Ohtani and his wife, Mamiko Tanaka, dashed through the busy runway. 
The teams have now settled in, playing in a couple of tuneup games against the Korean national team and two KBO teams out of Seoul, the LG Twins and the Kiwoom Heroes. But for one MLB pro, the Seoul Series means a lot more. Ha-Seong Kim returns to his home country to play for his MLB team, but it doesn’t stop there; the Padres faced off against the LG Twins in the Gocheok Skydome, the stadium Kim played in the KBO before heading to the MLB. The LG Twins are managed by Kyoung-youb Youm, who was Kim’s first manager in the KBO. And then he topped it off with a two-homer performance, bringing in four runs as the Padres would beat the Twins 5-4. 
Ha-Seong Kim became a star in Korea and to have the type of return left his teammates in admiration. 
It’s not easy to do the things he’s done in the big leagues. But coming from here and doing it at the big-league level, not a lot of guys do it,” Padres third baseman, Manny Machado said. 
Can’t script it much better,” echoed Padres manager Mike Schildt. 
Speaking of Machado, he was also the subject of a fun viral video on this trip. The fans of the KBO and the atmosphere of the games have been widely documented as vastly different from the games in North America, and they made that apparent when Machado went up to the plate.
A choreographed dance and song broke out for Machado, which personally sounded like a hit. The number was led by cheerleaders standing on top of the dugout, along with a dance, but this is nothing new for Korean Baseball fans. There are singing and chanting sections in Korean ballparks that will pre-plan songs and chants for every player on the team. The songs for the batters will last the entire half-inning they are hitting… CHAOS. You thought the wave was the wildest thing going on at a baseball game? YOU EVER BEEN TO KOREA!?
It’s cool to see the cultural differences between countries and teams in one sport and the Seoul Series has been a fantastic showcase of exactly that. 
Now with the fun and fanfare of the Seoul Series, there is still news to report out of the celebration. 
The first bit of big news comes from the Dodgers side as Shohei Ohtani will begin his throwing program when Los Angeles returns to the United States. Dodgers Manager, Dave Roberts also announced that even though Ohtani’s focus is on DHing for the Dodgers and will not pitch this season, Shohei may be available to play the outfield for L.A. later in the season. Ohtani has played in the outfield 14 times in his career but hasn’t played the position since 2021. 
Sticking with the Dodgers, they have also announced that Gavin Stone will the Los Angeles’ fifth starter to start the season. L.A. has a few impactful injuries to their rotation, including Ohtani, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Emmet Sheehan, which would make for a wicked rotation in itself. Lucky for the Dodgers, they have plenty of depth at the position and will be comfortable with Stone and James Paxton at the tail end of it. 
On the other side, Jackson Merrill will crack the Padres lineup to start the season. The organization’s No. 2 prospect travelled to Korea with the team and will be San Diego’s starting outfielder when the season kicks off in Seoul. 
As Opening Day creeps closer with the Seoul Series, everything has been positive and memorable, laying a fantastic groundwork for more foreign excursions in the future. 

Quick Notes:

  • Tommy Pham and the Padres are reportedly discussing a deal. Pham and the Padres could be nearing a one-year deal that could be completed when San Diego returns from Korea. 
  • Kole Calhoun retires from baseball. Calhoun played over 1200 games for four organizations throughout his 12-year career, wrapping up his career with Cleveland last season.
  • Joey Votto hits a home run in first game with the Blue Jays. Votto went deep on Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler, on the first pitch he saw in a Jays uniform. He was taken out shortly after the at-bat after he rolled his ankle on a bat in the dugout. 
  • Pirates sign a pair of free agents. Outfielder Michael A. Taylor and pitcher Domingo German have signed deals with the Bucs. Taylor will join the team on a one-year $4 million deal as German will enter on a minor league contract. 


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