MLB Notebook: Royals sign Bobby Witt Jr. to largest contract in team history, and more

Photo credit:Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
2 months ago
How has this off-season gone for the Toronto Blue Jays? Well, for starters, ESPN no longer acknowledges that they were a playoff team last year.
Anyways, with that being said, let’s get into what other teams from around the baseball world have been up to over the past few days.

Bobby Witt Jr. signs historic contract extension

The Kansas City Royals and Bobby Witt Jr. have agreed to an 11-year, $288.7 million contract extension, the largest deal in Royals franchise history. Included in the deal is a three-year club option which could bring Witt’s total to $377.77 million over 14 seasons. Witt will also have a player option after the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth years of the deal. A no-trade clause is also added to the deal for Witt. 
The deal surpasses the previous highest contract in Royals history that was given to Salvador Perez when he signed his four-year, $82 million dollar deal in March of 2021. Witt was one of baseball’s top prospects before cracking the big leagues in 2022. Witt has quickly become one of the game’s best young talents and the Royals have rewarded him for it. 
Last season, Witt finished 7th in AL MVP voting and, in his rookie season, finished 4th for the AL Rookie of the Year, eventually losing out to Mariners superstar Julio Rodríguez. Bobby Witt has been as advertised since coming into the league, quickly becoming one of the best shortstops in the MLB. 
Witt signs this deal after two full seasons in the Majors as the Royals rushed to lock up their superstar youngster. However, the conversation about locking up young stars has varied among other organizations. 
Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. both become free agents in 2026, and currently, the Jays are at ends with Vladdy with their active arbitration situation. Discussions around when the Jays would look to extend Bo and Vlad have been prevalent since the duo’s first year in the league in 2019, yet both are set to hit the market in only two years. However, Vladdy’s subpar 2023 has raised questions about his value and what he should be making on his next contract. Meanwhile, Bo followed up his consecutive seasons leading the American League in hits in 2021 and 2022 with an impressive .306 batting average, 20 home runs, and his second all-star nod in his career in 2023. 
For Vladdy, he has had a little bit of a different story. After smacking a league-leading 48 homers in 2021, while also leading the league in OBP, slugging, OPS, OPS+, runs, and total bases, Vladdy would finish second in the MVP vote to none other than Shohei Ohtani. Last season, Guerrero Jr. hit only 26 home runs and had 96 fewer runs than his superstar season in 2021. 
Bichette’s market value has continued to rise in his seasons since making his MLB debut, while Vladdy has only regressed since his MVP-calibre season in 2021. In Bo’s case, the Jays would look like geniuses if they extended Bo at the same time as the Royals and Witt. But, if they were to extend Vladdy at the same time, questions would be raised on the true value and ability of Guerrero Jr. and if the move was the right one to make.
Only time will tell if this was the right move by the Royals and Bobby Witt Jr., and so far, Bobby has given us no reason to believe otherwise. But situations like Bo and Vlad’s will always force the question of ‘is it worth it?’

Dodgers will be every team’s “World Series”

The Los Angeles Dodgers hosted their fan festival, DodgerFest, this weekend and some pretty interesting quotes and stories have come out from the event. 
The most viral quote from the weekend was from Mookie Betts. When talking about the upcoming season and the massive additions the Dodgers have made, Betts said, “every game will be the other team’s World Series.” Which is he really wrong in saying? The Dodgers have been the headliners of the offseason after spending over $1 billion this winter, acquiring some of the most elite talent the game has to offer. Ohtani, Yamamoto, Glasnow, Hernandez, to add to the already elite group the Dodgers have with Betts, Freeman, Smith, Buehler, Muncy, need I go on? 
Yet, Betts almost presents the statement in a way that favours the Dodgers opposition. “We have to embrace that and then we’ve got to go attack and be who we on paper are.” As a player and as a team, you always want to beat the best, but what happens when you are the consensus best? Seemingly to Mookie, you have to light a fire under yourself and almost have an underdog attitude. But he wasn’t the only one making some waves from the weekend.
Shohei Ohtani greeted fans on Sunday as he made his first appearance in front of Dodger fans since signing the deal in December, and he did clear up a few things. First, his surgery was NASTY. Take a look at the scar left over from his UCL surgery in September.
However, Ohtani did say he is confident he will be ready to be the Dodgers Designated Hitter come Opening Day on March 20th, when they face off against the Padres in Seoul, South Korea
“We’re not ahead, we’re not behind. We’re right on schedule. As long as there are no setbacks going forward, I’ll be ready.”
However, unlike Shohei, Walker Buehler will not be ready for Opening Day after missing the entire 2023 season recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. “I don’t have a timeline — I don’t think anybody has a timeline there,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts confirmed. Buehler hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since June 10th, 2022 in a 7-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. But Roberts seems optimistic about Buehler and his 2024 season.
“He’s going to be a late arrival, but the rehab, the work looks great, and I expect Walker to have a heck of a year.”
With Buehler being a late arrival to camp this year, the Dodgers could still be in the market for a starting pitcher. Who could that pitcher be you ask? Well, how about Clayton Kershaw? The Dodgers have reportedly been in contact with the Dodger legend but are in no rush to sign the lefty if he is not ready. 
In November, Kershaw underwent extensive shoulder surgery to repair the glenohumeral ligaments and a capsule in his throwing shoulder. In a social media post, Kershaw confirmed the procedure but did announce his desire to play this summer. Kershaw had a strong 2023 season, matching his strikeout total from the season before with 137, handled a solid 2.46 ERA, and cracked the all-star lineup for the tenth time in his career. Kershaw proved that he still does have some gas left in the tank, but how effective he will be coming off serious surgery on his throwing shoulder will be the question.
Mookie Betts also hosted a bowling event on Sunday which gifted us this beautiful photo of Tyler Glasnow’s luscious locks. Just wanted you to see this really bad. Thank you.

Quick Notes:

  • Twins sign Jay Jackson and Carlos Santana. After trading Polanco last week, the Twins have stayed active, signing Santana and Jackson to one-year deals (still waiting for confirmation on Jackson’s deal); the Twins have added six players to their roster since trading Polanco last Monday.
  • Ken Giles signs with the Braves. Giles, who has not pitched in the MLB since July of 2022, will join NL East Champs, Atlanta Braves on a minor league deal, including an invite to Braves Spring Training.
  • Johnny Cueto is eyeing an MLB comeback. After posting his highest ERA in his career, Cueto, who turns 38 in just over a week, is resuming his throwing program with the intention of returning to the MLB in 2024. 
  • Mariners trade for Gregory Santos. Mariners continue adding as well, as they add RP Gregory Santos from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for RHP Prelander Berroa, OF Zach DeLoach and the 69th overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft.
  • The Dodgers traded Caleb Ferguson to the Yankees. The Yankees will be sending former Blue Jay RP Matt Gage and prospect Christian Zazueta Jr.
  • Dodgers re-sign Ryan Brasier. Directly after trading Ferguson, the Dodgers added a familiar face in RP Brasier, who was initially signed with the Dodgers after being released from the Red Sox in 2023. 


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