There’s quite a lot going on in this article about the most recent negotiations between Major League Baseball and minor league affiliates. Here are the big takeaways:
- Under this proposal 42 teams, or about 25% of minor league teams, would be eliminated from affiliated baseball.
- There would be league consolidation and contraction based on geography.
- Some Triple-A teams would become Class A teams; some Class A teams would become Triple-A teams.
- The Northwest League would become full-season.
- Rounds would be eliminated from the amateur draft.
- The “eliminated” teams might become part of a new “Dream League,” with teams not affiliated with any major league team but associated with MLB-MiLB and rostering undrafted players who previously would have been drafted in late rounds.
The impetus for these dramatic changes are that MLB is unhappy with the current two-year professional development contracts they need to sign, and that many minor league stadiums around the country, they say, are not up to their standards.
I’m not sure what I think about all this other than the Dream League sounds like a boondoggle.
The content of the article from Patrick Saunders suggests that Wolters provides more than just “solid” defense. I didn’t watch a lot of non-Rockies baseball this season, so I don’t have a great comparison for other teams, but my eyes tell me that Tony is pretty great defensively. I don’t know how to judge game calling or handling a pitching staff, but Wolters does seem to be pretty good at those as well. The content here also suggests that Bud Black loves Tony, and that he is already penned in as the Rockies starting catcher in 2020.
I like Tony too, and I think he adds a lot to the team. But I also think that the Rockies have a golden opportunity to make a significant upgrade at catcher by going after Yasmani Grandal — Saunders reminds us that that is very unlikely. Grandal is also a good defensive catcher, and he’s a much, much better hitter. Tony did make advances at the plate in 2019, but he was still one of the worst hitters in baseball. Of the 207 batters to log at least 400 plate appearances in 2019, Wolters ranked 185th in DRC+. The only member of the Rockies who was worse was Raimel Tapia.
Even with Grandal, Wolters would still get a hefty chunk of playing time, as “backup catcher” doesn’t really mean the same thing as, for instance, “backup first baseman.” The latter might only start 10 games, while the former will start at least 50.
Embracing what Tony is good at and creating more team depth by putting those skills to use in a backup role is the most obvious upgrade the Rockies can make this offseason. Instead, 2020 will see Wolters as the workhorse behind the plate while sharing time with someone like, I dunno, Martín Maldonado?
Not that Jeff Bridich is all that straightforward with his words, but he reaches a new level of obfuscation in this explanation about why he thought it was a good idea to give Nolan Arenado an opt-out in his contract:
“The length of time. What’s the average length of a Major League career? Four and a half, five years?” Bridich said. “The contract alone. Nolan’s already been with us for — we’ve known him since he was 18. He’s 28 years old. He’s been here a decade. So another eight, nine years on top of that, that’s a long time. Organizations are not — things change, people change, situations change. I don’t know if ownership’s going to change. Sometimes that happens in organizations. That’s not going to happen, seemingly. But stuff comes up. When you commit to each other at a certain time, that’s what you’ve got. You’ve got a certain time. And you have a certain period in everybody’s life. The life of the player, the life of the organization.”
That, to me, sounds like someone already thinking about a divorce arguing for a pre-nuptial agreement.