Big League Stew

  • Pistachio Girl (MLB)
    Pistachio Girl (MLB)

    Emily Youcis, who’s better known around Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia as “Pistachio Girl,” has been fired from her vendor job after a flood of publicity connecting her with the political movement known as the “alt-right.”

    Youcis, 26, was employed by the vending company Aramark, which supplies food vendors for Phillies home games. She spoke publicly about her termination over the weekend, telling “alt-right” network Red Ice TV she was let go because her white nationalist views did not reflect her now former employer’s values.

    A statement from Aramark on Monday confirmed her dismissal.

    “A core Aramark value is treating everyone with integrity and respect always. That includes respecting our associates’ right to privacy and dealing with personnel matters confidentially. We can only confirm that the individual asked about is no longer employed after publicly connecting our company to views that contradict our values.”

    According to Philly.com, Youcis found herself

    Read More »from Phillies vendor fired for involvement in white nationalist movement
  • Is Aroldis Chapman worth $100 million? He seems to think so. (AP)
    Is Aroldis Chapman worth $100 million? He seems to think so. (AP)

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — You don’t need to read too far between the lines to know what free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman thinks he deserves on the open market. Chapman, the No. 3 overall free agent on Jeff Passan’s rankings, isn’t coming out and saying he wants $100M but, well, see for yourself.

    He told ESPN’s Marly Rivera on Monday:

    “The only thing I have expressed is that I would like a six-year contract. I know that doesn’t mean that I will get it, but that’s what I would like to sign. There are rumors out there that I requested $100 million and that’s not true at all. I believe he who deserves something, does not need to demand it.”

    How’s that for a quote! So he’s not saying he demanded $100 million, but everyone should just know he’s worth $100 million? Don’t ever say throwing 105 mph fastballs isn’t great for a guy’s self-confidence. Chapman also told ESPN that he hasn’t reviewed any offers from teams yet.

    Here’s the

    Read More »from Aroldis Chapman wants a ton of money and he just might get it
  • Bryce Harper could leave the Nationals in two years. (Getty Images/G Fiume)
    Bryce Harper could leave the Nationals in two years. (Getty Images/G Fiume)

    Start putting away extra money in your piggy banks now, MLB teams, because Bryce Harper is going to be a free-agent after 2018 … probably. Harper is reportedly seeking a record-breaking 10-year, $400 million deal, and that might be outside what the Washington Nationals are willing to pay for his services, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

    Nightengale’s report mentions a “high-ranking Nationals executive” who believes Harper is looking for a deal in that range. Because of that, the club is preparing for Harper to leave once he’s eligible for free agency.

    Some of those concerns may be premature, however. While the Nationals may be preparing for life without Harper, his agent, Scott Boras, confirmed to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan that the two sides haven’t even discussed a long-term deal.

    Read More »from Bryce Harper, Nats at odds over $400M contract demands
  • In a reunion that makes a ton of sense for both sides, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced Monday that they’ve reached a three-year, $48 million agreement with veteran left-hander Rich Hill. The deal had been talked about for a few days and now that it’s official, it’s the very rich bow on top of a stunning comeback for Hill, who was in independent ball in 2015 and worked his way back to MLB success as a 36-year-old curveball specialist.

    Hill proved to be an excellent addition to the Dodgers rotation last season after being acquired from the Oakland A’s at the trade deadline. That is, when Hill was actually healthy. Blister issues limited his starts during the regular season and on one occasion cost him a chance to complete a perfect game.

    Overall, Hill posted a 1.83 ERA over six regular starts for Los Angeles, and a 2.12 ERA when expanded to include his 14 starts with Oakland. He concluded his season by pitching six scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National

    Read More »from Rich Hill's $48M deal is risky, but the Dodgers are well-equipped to gamble
  • Nippon Ham Fighters star Shohei Otani wants to play in MLB. (Getty Images/Masterpress)
    Nippon Ham Fighters star Shohei Otani wants to play in MLB. (Getty Images/Masterpress)

    The 2016 Major League Baseball offseason may feature a weaker class than normal, but the 2017 offseason is already shaping up to be exciting. Japanese superstar Shohei Otani has expressed interest in coming over to MLB, and would like to do so before the start of the 2018 season, according to Kyodo News.

    That should immediately excite anyone who has heard of Otani before now. The 22-year-old has completely dominated Nippon Professional Baseball over the past three seasons. After standing out as a pitcher in his first two years, Otani played more of a two-way role in 2016.

    Turns out, he can hit. Otani posted a .322/.416/.588 slash line, with 22 home runs, over 382 plate appearances. In his first season taking on a larger hitting role, he also won the NPB’s home run derby. That performance earned him the award for best DH in the NPB at the end of the year.

    He was no slouch on the mound, either. Otani

    Read More »from Japanese star Shohei Otani wants to play in MLB in 2018
  • This is the 2016 Winter Meetings biodome. (Yahoo Sports)
    This is the 2016 Winter Meetings biodome. (Yahoo Sports)

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Here we go again. It’s the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, a marathon three-and-a-half days of rumor-starting and deal-making that this year has set up right outside of Washington D.C.

    Free-agent signings will surely come (and we’ll track them all). Trades will complement a pretty shallow free-agent class (and we’ll write about those too). But we’re also here for the spectacle of it all, the sights and the sounds and every Instagram pic of the big Christmas tree in the middle of the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center that we’re calling home until Thursday.

    Each day we’ll start you off with this primer of storylines, plus some sights and sounds. Enjoy.

    FIVE HOT RUMORS OF THE DAY
    1. Our own Jeff Passan has a juicy one: The Indians have checked in on Edwin Encarnacion, the type of big bat that would make their lineup a lot more dangerous. A big question, though: Would they pay the

    Read More »from Winter Meetings Journal, Day 1: Welcome to the Biodome
  • Andrew McCutchen could be on the move from Pittsburgh soon. (AP)
    Andrew McCutchen could be on the move from Pittsburgh soon. (AP)

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Baseball’s Winter Meetings have begun, meaning you can count on a week of free-agency rumors and trade innuendo. It’s a mid-December tradition!

    This year’s Winter Meetings ought to be especially interesting because the free-agent class is historically weak and the man who had the No. 1 spot on the list, Yoenis Cespedes, is already off the market.

    When Jeremy Hellickson qualifies as a top-10 free agent, you know the market is rough. But when Hellickson opts for a one-year qualifying offer instead of seeing how he plays on the open market, you know anything can happen.

    While the free agents getting attention this week might not blow you away (unless you’re really excited about the latest Mark Melancon rumors), this year’s Winter Meetings could be a swarming with trades. For all the ho-hum that exists in free agency, the trade market could be the exact opposite. There are two ex-MVPs out there (Andrew

    Read More »from The 10 most fascinating players of baseball's Winter Meetings
  • Under Armour will take over as MLB's exclusive jersey-maker in 2020. (Getty Images)
    Under Armour will take over as MLB’s exclusive jersey-maker in 2020. (Getty Images)

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Major League Baseball made official on Monday a new uniform deal that had been reported for two months: It’s linking up with Under Armour in a deal that, in 2020, will see Under Armour become the exclusive jersey-maker of baseball.

    Gone will be Majestic, which had been MLB’s exclusive jersey producer since 2005 (and which last year re-upped through 2019). Gone will be Nike, which is currently a base-layer (i.e. undershirts) provider for MLB. Under Armour will now supply “all on-field uniform components.” New Era, which makes MLB’s caps, will remain in that role.

    Playing an important part in this deal is Fanatics, the apparel company that already fuels MLB’s online store and makes officially licensed products. The new agreement gives Fanatics broader rights to make and market apparel to MLB fans. That includes everything from customizable jerseys to shirseys to postseason gear.

    For

    Read More »from MLB’s new uniform deal with Under Armour brings new star power to baseball
  • Cardinals' outfielder Matt Holliday obliges the fans with a curtain call after hitting a pinch-hit home run during a 7-0 with against the Pirates. (AP)
    Cardinals’ outfielder Matt Holliday obliges the fans with a curtain call after hitting a pinch-hit home run during a 7-0 with against the Pirates. (AP)

    Before general manager Brian Cashman could make his grand entrance at the Winter Meetings, the New York Yankees have landed a key free agent.

    According to FanRag Sports Jon Heyman, the Yankees have reached a one-year, $13M agreement with Matt Holliday, who will likely serve as a part-time first baseman and designated hitter. Sweeny Murti of WFAN in New York was the first to report a deal was close.

    Holliday, 36, is coming off a decent 2016 season with the St. Louis Cardinals. In 382 at-bats, he hit  .246 with 20 HRs and 60 RBIs. Those numbers are a far cry from the huge numbers he put up during his seven All-Star campaigns, most of which were spent in Colorado and St. Louis. But they show there’s still enough fuel left in the tank to contribute on a contending team.

    Holliday shouldn’t be considered for the outfield again. His defense was

    Read More »from Yankees agree to deal with Matt Holliday for $13 million
  • Former commissioner Bud Selig will be elected to the Hall of Fame on his 83rd birthday. (AP)
    Former commissioner Bud Selig will be elected to the Hall of Fame on his 83rd birthday. (AP)

    The Winter Meetings kicked off with big news on Sunday as the newly formed Today’s Game Era Committee elected former commissioner Bud Selig and long-time executive John Schuerholz to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    The new 16-person committee was formed last year after the Hall of Fame overhauled its Veteran’s Committee set up. Their task was to meet, discuss and then vote on 10 Hall of Fame candidates during baseball’s most recent era, which they’ve defined as 1980 until the present.

    Candidates needed 75 percent of the votes for election. It’s reported Shuerholz was a unanimous selection, while Selig received 15 of 16 votes from committee members. Legendary player and manager Lou Piniella was the next closest among the candidates, finishing with seven votes.

    Coming into Sunday, Selig had been considered the most likely candidate to get elected. He’ll be far from the most popular Hall of Famer from a

    Read More »from Bud Selig and John Schuerholz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame
  • Brian Cashman is set to rappel down a 22-story building on the eve of the Winter Meetings. (Newsday)
    Brian Cashman is set to rappel down a 22-story building on the eve of the Winter Meetings. (Newsday)

    New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is continuing a tradition unlike any other in baseball.

    As he’s done each of the last six years, Cashman will spend the night before baseball’s Winter Meetings rappelling down the side of the 22-story Landmark Building in Stamford, Conn.

    It’s part of the city’s “Heights & Lights” holiday program, which is also designated to raise awareness for local businesses. Cashman’s stunt has become a staple of the event, and it sounds like that will continue for many years to come.

    “This is fun – I mean, how many times do you get the chance to jump off a 22-story building? I guess once a year for me, but it’s becoming a habit,” Cashman told the media before making a practice run on Friday morning. “I like doing it. The rappel team are just great people, and when you have good people to have fun with and can be part of a great family event in your

    Read More »from Brian Cashman's Winter Meetings warm up is the ultimate adrenaline rush
  • In a span of two years, A.J. Preller's Padres have gone from baseball's most aggressive team to not employing a million-dollar player. (Getty Images)
    In a span of two years, A.J. Preller’s Padres have gone from baseball’s most aggressive team to not employing a million-dollar player. (Getty Images)

    Remember two years ago when the San Diego Padres were the most aggressive team in baseball under new general manager A.J. Preller? That might as well be two decades ago, because the Padres current philosophy, payroll and roster structure resemble that in no shape or form.

    In fact, over the past 18 months, the Padres have gone aggressive in the other direction, having unloaded every large contract that existed before and after Preller’s arrival. Granted, they haven’t completely eliminated all of the money that’s owed to these players, but they entered stunning territory this weekend after trading Derek Norris to Washington and then non-tendering former ace Tyson Ross and veteran infielder Alexi Amarista.

    Those three players represented the last on San Diego’s roster to earn over $1M in 2016, and it leaves them with no million-dollar players

    Read More »from Padres enter Winter Meetings with no million-dollar player on roster
  • Bug Selig and George Steinbrenner are among the 10 names on the Today's Game Hall of Fame ballot. (AP)
    Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner are among the 10 names on the Today’s Game Hall of Fame ballot. (AP)

    NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Most years, the Veterans Committee voting for the Hall of Fame is an exercise that involves digging deep into the past. Not so this year, as the committee will vote Sunday on the Hall of Fame cases of some rather familiar names, including Bud Selig, Mark McGwire, Albert Belle and George Steinbrenner.

    This is the first year of the Hall of Fame’s Today’s Game ballot, which aims to consider more modern candidates. It’s one of the four rotating committees that was born when the Veterans Committee system we knew was overhauled last year. The other era ballots that will follow in coming years: Modern Baseball (1970-87), Golden Days (1950-69) and Early Baseball (1871-1949).

    This year’s vote will happen Sunday as people begin to arrive here for baseball’s Winter Meetings, which officially begin Sunday night and get busier Monday. The results of the vote — by a 16-person

    Read More »from Do Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner belong in the Hall of Fame?
  • Welcome to The Stew’s Hot Stove Digest, our daily rundown of MLB news, rumors and gossip for Hot Stove season. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

    COMING BACK: Though a deal is not yet complete, multiple reports on Saturday suggested that the Los Angeles Dodgers were on the verge of re-signing left-hander Rich Hill.

    MLB Network’s Peter Gammons was the first to report that at least one rival executive believed that Hill and the Dodgers were in agreement on a three-year deal worth over $40 million. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that while no deal is confirmed, the known competition for Hill had reportedly moved on, leaving the door open for a deal to be completed soon. These reports were seemingly cemented by Bill Plunkett, who noted that a multi-year deal was close.

    Rich Hill seems pumped up at the thought of returning to the Dodgers. (Getty Images)
    Rich Hill seems pumped up at the thought of returning to the Dodgers. (Getty Images)

    As we all know, things can change

    Read More »from Hot Stove Digest: Rich Hill expected to re-sign with Dodgers
  • Orioles' star Adam Jones presents David Ortiz with a dugout phone, which Ortiz smashed during a game in 2013. (AP)
    Orioles’ star Adam Jones presents David Ortiz with a dugout phone, which Ortiz smashed during a game in 2013. (AP)

    The David Ortiz farewell tour was filled with many memorable moments. Most of those happened during games, as the retiring superstar nearly slugged his way into the MVP award.

    His final season was also filled with just as many awkward moments. Most of those actually came before games when teams presented him with going-away gifts.

    Perhaps the most awkward ceremony took place in Baltimore. Prior to his final game at Camden Yards, on Sept. 21, the Orioles rolled out the red carpet, showed highlights of Ortiz mashing home runs against the mutual rival New York Yankees, and then presented him with the actual visitor’s dugout phone he once destroyed during an in-game meltdown.

    For real. That was the Orioles parting gift. Or souvenir, if

    Read More »from Adam Jones didn't like Orioles farewell gift to David Ortiz
  • While we wait for the latest news on baseball’s most notable free agents and trade targets, we often lose track of those fringe players who occupy the final spots on the roster. We’re talking about the players who bounce back and forth between the major and minor leaguers several times a year, and whose future can change week-to-week, day-to-day and even hour-to-hour.

    Players exactly like David Rollins.

    The 26-year-old left-hander is past the point of being a prospect, but he’s talented enough to have pitched 34 1/3 innings for the Seattle Mariners over the last two seasons. He’s respected, but not coveted, which explains how he’s represented four different teams in a span of 14 days.

    While most of us were enjoying Thanksgiving dinner last week, Rollins was probably checking his phone to make sure he

    Read More »from Minor league pitcher joins fourth different organization in two weeks
  • Veteran Carlos Beltran is staying in Texas, but headed to Houston. (Getty Images)
    Veteran Carlos Beltran is staying in Texas, but headed to Houston. (Getty Images)

    The Houston Astros aren’t messing around this offseason. After working themselves into contention after nearly a half-decade of rebuilding, they are aggressively pursuing something greater in 2017. That pursuit continued on Saturday, as ESPN’s Buster Olney reported they have agreed to a one-year, $16M contract with free agent Carlos Beltran.

    The addition of Beltran comes on the heels of Houston acquiring catcher Brian McCann in a trade with the New York Yankees and signing Josh Reddick to a four-year contract. They are obviously looking to bulk up an offense that already possessed some dangerous hitters. Now the lineup will be much deeper, which will create difficult matchups and sleepless nights for managers in the AL West.

    Read More »from Astros continue aggressive offseason with signing of Carlos Beltran
  • Friday at 8 p.m. ET marked the deadline for teams to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible players. By tendering a contract, the team maintains control of the player and has an opportunity to reach a deal with the player in arbitration if a contract can’t be worked out otherwise. Not tendering a contract means the player immediately becomes a free agent eligible to sign with any team.

    Such decisions typically revolve around established players who have worked their way up the pay scale, but may not be seen as worth the money. In other instances, teams are simply looking to cut payroll and non-tendering gives them any easy out.

    Usually, this process doesn’t lead to any truly huge names becoming available. However, this year’s list does have some very interesting names, including a potential difference-making pitcher. With that in mind, we’ll take a quick look at the four most interesting players who are now free agents and who are likely to draw some serious interest.

    Tyson Ross is an intriguing new free agent after being non-tendered by the Padres. (AP)
    Tyson Ross is
    Read More »from Tyson Ross among interesting new free agents following non-tender deadline
  • Welcome to The Stew’s Hot Stove Digest, our daily rundown of MLB news, rumors and gossip for Hot Stove season. Here you’ll find a quick recap of all the day’s action and other fun stuff from around the internet that we think is worth your time.

    WELCOME BACK: The Washington Nationals made a trade Friday, but it wasn’t the deal everyone was anticipating. While the Andrew McCutchen watch continues into Saturday, the Nationals did acquire veteran catcher Derek Norris from the Padres in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Pedro Avila.

    The trade brings Norris’ career full circle in many ways. He was drafted by Washington in the fourth round of the 2007 amateur draft, but never appeared for them in the major leagues. Instead, he was traded to the Oakland A’s before the 2011 season in the Gio Gonzalez trade. After three season in Oakland, Norris was then traded to San Diego. Now he’s back in Washington where it’s expected he’ll compete for regular playing time. It’s also believed this

    Read More »from Hot Stove Digest: Nationals bring back Derek Norris in trade with Padres
  • Albert Pujols may not be ready for opening day after second surgery on right foot. (Getty Images)
    Albert Pujols may not be ready for opening day after second surgery on right foot. (Getty Images)

    It’s deja vu all over for the Los Angeles Angels.

    At this time last year, slugger Albert Pujols was recovering from early November surgery aimed at alleviating pain near the arch of his right foot. The operation carried a four-month recovery time, which ultimately lingered into spring training and impacted his season preparation.

    Now we’ve learned that Pujols required surgery on the same foot on Friday to release the plantar fascia that hobbled him all season long. That too carries a four-month recovery period, which this time puts Pujols’ opening day status in jeopardy.

    This is not an ideal scenario for the Angels or for Pujols, who has now undergone three separate offseason surgeries dating back to

    Read More »from Albert Pujols opening day status in question after foot surgery