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MLB Notebook: Kiké Hernandez accuses MLB teams of collusion, prospects who have been mashing in Spring Training, and more

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Photo credit:© Brett Davis - USA Today
Brett Holden
1 month ago

Kiké Hernandez accuses MLB teams of collusion…

After re-signing with the L.A. Dodgers, Kiké Hernandez had some pretty interesting comments about teams during the offseason. Hernandez appeared on the ‘Foul Territory’ show, which includes numerous former players like A.J. Pierzynski, Adam Jones, Todd Frazier and many more, and suggested that teams could be colluding with each other during the offseason.
I’m not going to say the C-word, but I think the C-word needs a capital C,” he said.
Hernandez is not pleased with how long it took for him to finalize a deal and get into Spring Training. The last time Hernandez was a free agent, he inked his deal with the Boston Red Sox in January of 2021, six weeks before pitchers and catchers reported to Red Sox camp. This time around, Kiké heads into camp three weeks after Dodgers pitchers and catchers reported. 
Hernandez suggests that the teams are using similar scouting and evaluating systems and may not be very careful with the concealment of their findings with other teams. 
I think the teams that are using these computer systems to project numbers, project salaries; they’re all using the same one and I think they all have the same password,” he said
This entire offseason has been odd and slower than usual. Tirelessly we hear about the availability of Blake Snell, Matt Chapman, Jordan Montgomery, J.D. Martinez and the man who represents them all, Scott Boras. Pitchers who could contribute to rotations and bullpens right away like Mike Clevenger and Michael Lorenzen, still sit without a contract. A trend that Hernandez implied didn’t only apply to him. 
There’s still a lot of really good quality baseball players, big leaguers that are more than capable of being everyday guys on a lot of teams, and the fact that they’re still out there, it’s a shame,” he said.
Scott Boras advocated last week that these teams have the money to spend but are opting to “regress on their payrolls,” and are putting the money into different areas. A sentiment that has been reiterated by not only Hernandez but MLBPA Executive Director, Tony Clark.
All three blame the recent spout with television deals across the MLB as the red herring for teams’ reluctance in the market. Hernandez just came out and straight up blamed the teams on falling back on the TV deals.
It seems like a lot of the owners had an excuse in terms of the TV deal and things like that,” he said. 
Clark is none too pleased with the situation, putting the onus on teams who should’ve had the foresight to consider this situation. 
The league has been very aware this day was coming for some time,” he said. 
Kiké gave a deadline to the Dodgers and other teams who showed interest in him, before ultimately signing with L.A., returning to the team he has spent seven of his ten seasons in the MLB. 
The deal was not a simple one for the Dodgers either. Without any space on their 40 man roster, the Dodgers shipped out recently acquired Manuel Margot, who they traded two highly regarded prospects for. (Tyler Glasnow was also in that deal, which obviously merits the departing of Pepiot and DeLuca.) 
But it was not an automatic deal. Los Angeles reportedly had a deal in place with a team before signing Hernandez, but it fell apart by the morning. 
I guess there was a trade in place and it fell apart overnight. I went to bed thinking we had a deal, and I woke up being unemployed again,” he said. 
Unfortunately for most players that were on the market this offseason, and the ones that still are, most other teams have not been as accommodating. 
Could Manfred’s suggestion of a signing deadline help with this collusion accusation? Possibly. But could teams also find ways around it as well? Most likely.

MLBPA expects the jersey issue to be resolved by Opening Day…

Speaking of Tony Clark, he is just as upset with the uniforms as the rest of us. The reception has been far from raving after the debut of the Nike and Fanatics production of the MLB jerseys and pants. 
Tiny lettering, see-through pants, tight torsos, wrong colours, everything has been an utter failure from the two companies. And players are just as confused and agitated as everyone else, leading to the MLBPA stepping in. 
The powers that be are paying attention to the concerns that are there and are engaging how best to address them moving forward,” he said.
Players were left in the dark about the manufacturing of the new uniforms and have been far from pleased with them. But it doesn’t stop at the pants’ fit or transparency. Dansby Swanson, who is a Nike athlete, said the blue on the Cubs jersey is the wrong shade. 
This blue on the uniform is a little bit different than Cubbie blue,” he said.
That is an utterly unacceptable error, especially when the team never went through a rebrand, and especially when it is one of the most storied franchises in baseball history. This issue has been the story of Spring Training and still has yet to subside.
“It’s calm because the commentary that’s being offered suggests that the powers that be are paying attention to the concerns that are there and are engaging how best to address them moving forward.” Clark told reporters from Newsday and The Associated Press. “And so the tension that was drawn early, the concerns still exist. We’re hopeful that as we sprint toward opening day over the course of the next month or so that we don’t have a second batch of commentary around the pants when the lights come on.”
And the heat has been felt by Fanatics and their CEO, Michael Rubin. 
We’re doing everything as we’ve been told and we’re getting the s**t kicked out of us. So that’s not fun.”
The bullying has evidently worked, now it’s time to see when the changes we all want corrected are made. 

Feb 20, 2023; West Palm Beach, FL, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder James Wood (20) looks on during a spring training workout at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Prospects have been mashing in Spring Training…

The future of the MLB is in good hands. Numerous top MLB prospects are dazzling in Spring Training this year, making many people around baseball very excited about the future. 
Jon Morsi of the MLB Network outlined some of the top prospects who are raking during the first week of Spring, including some who have been involved in pretty high-profile moves. 
James Wood, a player who the Nationals acquired from the Padres in the first Juan Soto trade has not only turned heads, but has absolutely spun heads at Spring Training. Wood, who is the No. 14 ranked prospect in all of baseball this year, is currently tied for the lead in home runs this spring, but it doesn’t stop there. Wood is currently smacking a .533 average, leading the league in OBP, slugging, and OPS.
His hot hand during camp has led to much praise from around the league. Morosi says the only question for Wood is whether or not he will be in the Opening Day lineup for the Nationals, claiming he sees a path for the massive Outfielder: James Wood debuts with the Nationals this season.”
Wood, who has never played higher than AA, stands 6’6″ and has cemented himself as the future of the Nats outfield, along with 2023 2nd overall selection, Dylan Crews. Wood’s performance has led to Washington media questioning if he could be the Nats next franchise player? With the way he has carried himself this spring, that is a very real possibility. 
Speaking of Juan Soto and 6’6″ outfielders, how about the Yankees’ Spencer Jones, who hit a 470-foot bomb last weekend? In only eight at-bats this spring, Jones has a .625 batting average and has already brought in four runs in four games. The Yankees are excited about Jones, especially the prospect of having both Jones AND Aaron Judge in the outfield. Imagine having two dudes who mash baseballs and both standing over 6’5″ in your lineup, oh, never mind that other Juan Soto guy.
Morosi says that Jones, who is only 22-year-old, could be an option for the Yanks in the second-half of the season considering they already have Soto, Verdugo, and Trent Grisham in the outfield. But, whenever we do see Jones in pinstripes, it may be time for the Yankees opposition to try and place some outfielders in the stands. 
The final prospect that Morosi highlighted was Tigers infielder, Colt Keith. Keith and the Tigers agreed on a six-year deal worth $28,642,500 million last month and the expectation is that he will be the Tigers Opening Day starting Second Baseman. Keith, a more contact-type hitter, has brought in four runs already in his eight at-bats while smacking an even 1.000 OPS. 
But it doesn’t stop there. Wyatt Langford, who was selected with the 4th overall selection in 2023 by the Texas Rangers, has also turned some heads in Spring Training. Langford is the No. 6 prospect in baseball right now, and while he hasn’t had the hottest of bats yet in spring, he has received some high praise from within the Rangers organization.
Mike Maddux, the Rangers pitching coach said that Wyatt Langford was the “the best player on the field.”
Langford has thoroughly impressed the Rangers organization, absolutely mashing through the minor leagues last season, maintaining a .360 average amongst all levels, smacking 10 homers and bringing in 30 runs. His rise through the minors fascinated the Rangers to the point of considering bringing him up to make his MLB debut in last season’s postseason. A postseason where the Rangers would go on to win the World Series. 
It is beyond likely that we see Langford suit up for the Rangers and make his debut this season, the question will be if it comes Opening Day. 
Finally, TerMarr Johnson. A guy who Jays fans are already familiar with after he hit two homers against them earlier this week. Johnson was selected fourth in the 2022 draft, (what’s with the fourth overall pick?), and is the No. 44 ranked prospect in all of baseball. While the hype around him is not as prevalent and loud as the others in this piece, the fascination around him is.
Pirates Manager Derek Shelton said Johnson “is going to like the lights” of the Major Leagues, claiming he is “not afraid, in a beautiful way.”
His 1.722 OPS would sit second behind Wood this Spring Training and his 1.222 slugging actually surpasses Wood’s total of 1.133 with two homers and a double, bringing in four runs. 
Johnson is more of an outside shot to make the Pirates than most of these other guys, but when he does, the Pirates will have an absolutely deadly, young squad. 

Quick Notes…

  • C.J. Cron inks a minor league deal with the Red Sox. Cron, who spent last season with the Angels and Rockies, will sign a one-year deal worth $2 million. 
  • Ronald Acuna Jr. is being assessed for right knee soreness. Acuna left the Braves game on Friday against the Orioles. Braves Manager Brian Snitker is not too worried about the injury, saying, “I don’t think it will be anything,” but still significant enough for the star to exit early.
  • Tarik Skubal etched in as Tigers Opening Day starter. In a move that shocked nobody, early Cy Young favourite, Tarik Skubal will get the ball for the Tigers as they open their season against the White Sox later this month.

ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETANO

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