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MLB Notebook: Michael Brantley retires, MLB sets 2024 trade deadline, Yankees hunting a front-line starter and more
By Thomas Hall1 month ago
Just under a week into 2024, and there’s already been plenty of news to surface from across the Major League Baseball landscape.
But before we examine the sport’s latest transactions, it simply wouldn’t be right if we didn’t first pay homage to one of the best pure hitters of the last decade-plus, who says he has hung up his cleats for the final time.
So that’s where we’ll begin.
Michael Brantley announces retirement following 15 MLB seasons
All good things must eventually come to an end – a fitting sentiment that applies to veteran Michael Brantley, who announced his retirement from professional baseball on Friday, ending his 15-year career.
The 36-year-old finishes with 1,445 career games played, recording 1,656 hits, 129 home runs and 720 RBIs over 15 seasons split between the Cleveland Guardians and Houston Astros. He appeared in just 15 games last season after recovering from shoulder surgery.
Brantley, a seventh-round selection by the Brewers in 2005, was included in a package as a player-to-be-named-later (PTBNL) – alongside three other players – in a blockbuster trade that sent CC Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee.
“With great appreciation, I’m announcing the end of an amazing journey in Baseball. It’s been a great honor to live out my dreams and wear a Major League uniform for the past 15 years. Representing the Houston Astros and Cleveland Guardians has been an incredible privilege,” Brantley wrote on Friday.
Most Blue Jays fans probably remember the infamous moment when it appeared Brantley had signed a three-year contract with Toronto in January 2021, only for that report to be refuted and later proved untrue. Had it gone through, the franchise would’ve acquired two-thirds of Houston’s outfield (George Springer, Brantley) in the same off-season.
Instead, the five-time All-Star returned to the Astros on a two-year extension just a few hours later.
Injuries played a significant role in the later stages of Brantley’s career, preventing him from contributing to the Astros’ 2022 World Series run. Nevertheless, he still earned his first championship ring and will end his playing days with a career batting average of just two points shy of .300.
2024 Trade Deadline set for July 30
For those looking ahead, next season’s trade deadline is being yanked out of August – where it’s fallen over the last few years – and will land on July 30 at 6 p.m. ET, according to The New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
After whiffing on Yamamoto, Yankees reportedly targeting Snell, Cease
The New York Yankees appear to be circling the waters after missing out on Dodgers ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto earlier this off-season.
One starting pitcher reportedly on their radar is free agent Blake Snell, who, per The New York Post’s Jon Heyman, has garnered interest from the Bronx Bombers. On top of that, the 2023 National League Cy Young winner has privately expressed similar thoughts, according to SNY’s Andy Martino.
But the Yankees also have a backup plan if they whiff on Snell, which would involve turning to the trade market for White Sox ace Dylan Cease, reports The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. He also notes the Baltimore Orioles have expressed “sincere” interest, while teams like the Dodgers, Red Sox and Cardinals could also be in the mix.
Either way, it seems New York is eyeing a front-line starter to position next to the reigning American League Cy Young winner, Gerrit Cole.
Chris Sale traded to Braves, signs two-year extension
The Chris Sale era in Boston officially ended last week, as the often-injured, 34-year-old lefty was traded to the Atlanta Braves in a one-for-one swap that included infielder Vaughn Grissom.
Then, earlier this week, Sale inked a new two-year deal worth $38 million with the Braves that’ll pay him $16 million in 2024 and $22 million in ’25. It also includes an $18 million club option for ’26 without a buyout.
Sale agreed to a five-year, $145-million contract extension with the Red Sox in 2019 – a deal that ran through 2024 ($27.5 million salary) and included a $20 million club option for ’25. As part of the trade with Atlanta, Boston is sending $17 million in cash to cover the remaining amount of his contract.
Previously, that meant the Braves would only be paying Sale $500,000 next season, as $10 million of his salary was deferred down the road. Under his new agreement, his 2024 deferral has been eliminated in exchange for extra security, with his 2025 salary guaranteed rather than being an option.
Atlanta is betting on the seven-time All-Star rebounding from a four-year stint of injuries, including Tommy John surgery in 2020. If successful, he could provide reliable depth behind the club’s trio of Spencer Strider, Max Fried and Charlie Morton.
Mets sign Harrison Bader to one-year deal, could trade Omar Narváez
The Mets scooped up one of baseball’s most elite defenders – when healthy, of course – on Thursday, landing Harrison Bader on a one-year deal worth $10.5 million.
As you’ll remember, that’s the same contract Kevin Kiermaier signed with the Blue Jays last month. Coincidence? Probably not, at least not in this current landscape.
Both clubs appear pleased with their latest outfield signings, and rightly so, as each expects to continue performing at an elite level in the field next season. The Mets, however, might not be finished conducting business this winter, as the New York Post’s Mike Puma reports.
New York has reportedly informed other clubs that catcher Omar Narváez is available via trade. The 31-year-old backstop, who’ll turn 32 next month, is entering the final season of a two-year, $15-million deal that’ll pay him $7 million in 2024.
With Tyler Heineman – claimed off waivers from Toronto – and Tomas Nido in the fold, Narváez appears to have become expendable and will likely be moved between now and spring training, paying the way for Francisco Alvarez to assume the starting reins.
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