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NL Notes: Dodgers, Cards, Arenado, Beltran

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By Connor Byrne | January 14, 2020 at 12:41am CDTThe Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series in seven games to a franchise that’s now embroiled in one of the biggest scandals in baseball history. The Astros, who defeated the Dodgers, fired the GM (Jeff Luhnow) and manager (A.J. Hinch) of their championship team Monday after the league determined they were key figures in a sign-stealing scandal from that year. Luhnow and Hinch received one-year suspensions before the Astros dismissed them, while the tea also lost four draft picks (first- and second-rounders in each of the next two years) and earned the maximum fine of $5MM. The Dodgers could perhaps feel slighted as a result of the Astros’ misdeeds, but the organization is prohibited from making any complaints known. The team issued a statement Monday, saying: “All clubs have been asked by Major League Baseball not to comment on today’s punishment of the Houston Astros, as it’s inappropriate to comment on discipline imposed on another club. The Dodgers have also been asked not to comment on any wrongdoing during the 2017 World Series and will have no further comment at this time.”
More from the National League…
The Rockies and Cardinals have engaged in preliminary negotiations centering on Rox superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has been on St. Louis’ radar for years. They’ve held talks with Colorado “at least dating back” to December 2018, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch relays. A few months later, the Rockies extended Arenado for seven years and $234MM on a deal that will kick in this season. That money, not to mention Arenado’s no-trade rights and his ability to opt out after 2021, could help prevent an acquisition from materializing for the Cardinals or anyone else. The Cards haven’t been willing to meet the Rockies’ asking price for Arenado in the past, per Goold, though it’s unclear what Colorado asked for in return. Now, as you’d expect, Goold notes that the Cardinals are unwilling to trade young ace Jack Flaherty and also seem unlikely to part with high-end outfield prospect Dylan Carlson.
New Mets manager Carlos Beltran, a member of the Houston team in 2017, was part of the league’s investigation into the Astros. MLB did not issue him any punishment, however, after he was gave the league his full cooperation “and admitted to everything,” Andy Martino of SNY tweets. It seems Beltran changed his tune since the league’s investigation started in November, though, as he initially denied any knowledge of violations on the Astros’ part.

Carlos Beltran Colorado Rockies Dylan Carlson Jack Flaherty Los Angeles Dodgers New York Mets Nolan Arenado Notes St. Louis Cardinals0 comments

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MLB

Ryan Braun Discusses Future – MLB Trade Rumors

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Franchise icon Ryan Braun is entering the final guaranteed season of the contract extension he signed with the Brewers nearly a decade ago. Now 36, the former MVP is nearing the end of a storied career. In fact, it’s not out of the question that 2020 could prove to be his final season, he acknowledged to reporters (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) today at Fan Fest.
“I don’t take for granted this could be my last year playing baseball,” Braun told reporters. “It’s definitely a possibility,” he elaborated when asked if he would contemplate retirement after the 2020 season. “We’ll see how the year goes, see where I’m at physically. Obviously, my family’s always my top priority, so we’ll see how everything’s going then.”
Needless to say, that’s hardly a declaration that he’ll certainly hang up the spikes. He added that he doesn’t anticipate making a final decision until after this season, when he can reevaluate his health and family situation as well as the team’s outlook. Braun’s contract does come with a $15MM mutual option for 2021, but mutual options are rarely exercised. Typically, the price point is either high enough that the team would prefer to buy the player out or low enough that the player would rather explore free agency. In Braun’s case, it seems likely the Brewers would buy Braun out for $4MM rather than exercise their end.
That’s not to say, however, that Braun won’t be a key factor on Milwaukee’s 2020 outlook. He’s coming off a strong 2019 effort, in which he hit .285/.343/.505 (117 wRC+) in 508 plate appearances. The club anticipates him taking a similar number of plate appearances this season, he told reporters today. The longtime corner outfielder confirmed that some of that work figures to come at first base, where he’s played just 18 career games (all in 2018). Milwaukee’s corner outfield mix is crowded, with offseason signee Avisaíl García joining MVP candidate Christian Yelich and Ben Gamel. Yelich, notably, is at full strength for spring training after a knee injury ended his 2019 season in September, he told reporters today (including Haudricourt).
Today’s comments from Braun are perhaps unsurprising; that a 36-year-old player may at least entertain thoughts of retirement after the season won’t raise many eyebrows. Nevertheless, it’s notable to hear Braun verbalize the possibility. He is, as mentioned, still a productive hitter. In all fourteen of his MLB seasons, he’s been above-average at the dish by measure of wRC+. He’s certainly unlikely to return to the vaunted offensive force he was in his prime, but Braun still figures to be a valuable player in 2020. Should he again produce at the plate, he’d no doubt draw interest from teams next offseason, if he chooses to keep playing.

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Astros Interview Mark Kotsay For Manager

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The Astros interviewed A’s quality control coach Mark Kotsay last week as part of their ongoing search for A.J. Hinch’s replacement, reports Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (via Twitter). Kotsay becomes the ninth known candidate in Houston’s wide-ranging managerial search.
Kotsay also drew consideration from the Giants and Pirates for their vacancies earlier in the offseason, but he ultimately lost out to Gabe Kapler and Derek Shelton, respectively. He has no MLB managerial expereience, but he’s worked in the Padres’ front office and on the Pads’ and A’s coaching staffs since retiring as a player in 2013.
Kotsay joins Joe Espada, Eduardo Pérez and Will Venable as potential first-time managers to sit down with Houston. The Astros have also interviewed former MLB skippers Brad Ausmus, Dusty Baker, Jeff Banister, John Gibbons and Buck Showalter.

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