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White Sox Hire Wes Helms As Triple-A Manager

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The White Sox announced some notable hires at the minor league level Monday, as LaMond Pope of the Chicago Tribune relays. Former major league infielder Wes Helms will manage the White Sox’s Triple-A team in Charlotte. Meanwhile, ex-MLB reliever Danny Farquhar will work as the organization’s pitching coach at High-A Winston-Salem. It was already known Farquhar would serve as a pitching coach in the organization when he retired in August, but the destination was unclear at that point.
Taking over in Charlotte represents a homecoming of sorts for the 43-year-old Helms, a North Carolina native. And he’ll be the second member of his family to manage in Charlotte, joining his uncle, Tommy Helms. Wes Helms spent last season as the bench coach with the White Sox’s Double-A club, and he served in the same role with the Phillies’ top minors affiliate in 2018, but this will be his first experience as a manager.
Of course, Helms is best known for his playing days in the majors. He suited up for the Braves, Brewers, Marlins and Phillies for a combined 1,212 games from 1998-2011.
As for Farquhar, the fact that he’s making news right now is especially interesting, considering the impact he had on the momentous events that just occurred in Houston. The sign-stealing accusations Farquhar made against the Astros in November helped lead to an investigation from Major League Baseball. The league then found enough evidence against the Astros to hit them with a massive penalty on Monday, and the team fired GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch as a result.
Houston was also the site of a scary health situation involving Farquhar, who in 2018 suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm there while with the White Sox. That upended Farquhar’s MLB career, though he did attempt to return to the game’s highest level last season. Farquhar will now try to help some of Chicago’s young pitchers climb their way up to the bigs.

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NL Notes: Marlins, Brewers, Knebel, Taylor

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By Anthony Franco | January 26, 2020 at 11:51pm CDTWe’ll round up a few notes from the Senior Circuit to finish the weekend.
The Marlins are in ongoing negotiations with Sinclair Broadcast Group about a new TV rights contract, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The parties’ current deal, which will pay the club a league-low $20MM for broadcast rights on Fox Sports’ regional networks in 2020, expires at the end of the season. The figures the parties are discussing for 2021 and beyond are unclear. However, Jackson notes that the Marlins turned down an offer which would’ve paid north of $50MM annually in 2017; that offer was put on the table after the current Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter group agreed to buy the franchise, but before the franchise sale was completed, and new ownership preferred to negotiate the TV deal on their own. Whether that particular offer (or something higher) is still on the table isn’t known. What is apparent, however, is the new TV contract will be far more lucrative than the old deal, which could spur ownership to significantly increase spending on player payroll (Jackson estimates an extra potential $20MM annually) in future seasons.
Brewers’ reliever Corey Knebel is progressing well from March 2019 Tommy John surgery, manager Craig Counsell told reporters (including Adam McCalvy of MLB.com). Knebel won’t be ready for the start of the season, but he’ll begin throwing from a mound next week as he ramps up his rehab, McCalvy reports. Knebel signed a one-year, $5.125MM contract to avoid arbitration in December, suggesting the club believes he’ll make an impact in 2020.
Brewers’ outfielder Tyrone Taylor underwent minor surgery this offseason to repair a wrist injury, he told reporters (including McCalvy). Nevertheless, Taylor should be at full strength for the start of spring training. The 26-year-old has only 12 MLB plate appearances to his name. Coming off a passable two-year run in Triple-A and with Milwaukee having traded Trent Grisham to San Diego this offseason, though, Taylor has a shot to earn a reserve outfield spot in spring training.

Corey Knebel Miami Marlins Milwaukee Brewers Notes Tyrone Taylor3 comments

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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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