The Yankees sent out a tweet on Monday that only a dreamy romantic could have conjured up last week amid the gloom of the Major League Baseball lockout. In slow-motion video from the batting cage in spring training, a right-handed hitter lifted his front knee, pivoted on his back foot and whipped a bat into the platedriving a practice batting fastball over left field, where it disappeared into the clouds.
Ahhhhhhh – baseball.
Even better than the bat crunch was the presence of a new hitter swinging it: third baseman Josh Donaldson, former Most Valuable Player award winner, who arrived in a trade Sunday night. And even better than thisthe Yankees eventually moved on from Gary Sánchez as part of the five-man move, shipping the powerful but flawed receiver to the Minnesota Twins.
The Yankees also dealt infielder Gio Urshela and got Isiah Kiner-Falefa, a versatile defenseman with speed, and Ben Rortvedt, a muscular young receiver. Kiner-Falefa — whose 172 hits for Texas last season would have led the Yankees — will take over at shortstop, pushing Gleyber Torres to second place.
“Making that trade made us better defensively and offensively at third, defensively at shortstop,” general manager Brian Cashman told reporters in Tampa, Fla. “We’ve put Gleyber in a position where he’s the best, at second base. So I think on the inside side we’ve improved three different ways and improved the defense on the catching side as well.
Donaldson, 36, was the American League MVP in 2015 with Toronto, but missed a lot of time with calf injuries in 2018 and 2020. He played 135 games for the Twins last season, with a .352 on-base percentage and .475 hitting percentage. and brings a fiery presence to the Yankees.
Cashman called starter Gerrit Cole before making the deal, knowing his history with Donaldson, who needled Cole last June with comments about spin rates and Spider Tack. Cole and Donaldson spoke to each other on Monday, listening to each other.
MLB lockdown is coming to an end
“Look,” Cole said, “if you’re committed to winning a championship, that stuff doesn’t matter.”
The Championship chase is on again for most teams, with a new collective bargaining agreement in place after 99 days of contentious negotiations between players and owners. But while the players’ union hoped to dissuade teams from tearing down rosters — tanking, that is — some clubs still can’t resist. It was one of many themes of a newsworthy Monday in which the Oakland Athletics and Cincinnati Reds continued to offload veterans.
The Reds, who dealt right-handed starter Sonny Gray to Minnesota on Sunday, sent third baseman Eugenio Suárez and outfielder Jesse Winker to Seattle for outfielder Jake Fraley, starter Justin Dunn, a prospect and a player to be named later. But the A’s, who sent right-handed starter Chris Bassitt to the Mets for prospects on Saturday, made a move with broader implications.
The A’s traded their All-Star first baseman, Matt Olson, to Atlanta, who has given up hopes of a deal with longtime starter Freddie Freeman. Olson, a Georgia native who turns 28 this month, is a left-handed power hitter like Freeman and won two Gold Gloves. But losing Freeman will be a psychological blow to the defending World Series champions; Managing director Alex Anthopoulos, who fought back tears as he announced the swap, called it “the toughest deal I’ve ever had to make”.
Freeman, 32, has sparked a strong interest among the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency. But Olson can be a free agent in just two years, and Atlanta isn’t struggling financially; its owner, publicly traded Liberty Media, reported that the team made $104 million in profit in 2021.
As wealthy owners go, however, there is only one Steven A. Cohen, whose generosity with his Mets payroll earned him his own tax threshold in the new CBA Cohen has splurged for a new ace, Max Scherzer, with a three-year, $130 million deal. contract just before the lockout. His other ace, Jacob deGrom, told reporters in Port St. Lucie, Fla., that he planned to opt out of his contract after the season.
“I’m excited about this team, I love being a Met, I think it would be really cool to be one for my entire career,” said deGrom, who manager Buck Showalter named the matchday starter. opening April 7. “But the plan is to exercise that option and be in constant off-season contact with the Mets, Steve Cohen and the front office.
Credit to Grom – who would otherwise be under the team’s control until 2024 – for confirming his plan and saving us seven months of a will-or-no scenario. The announcement also means deGrom is confident in his health after missing the second half of last season with elbow problems.
DeGrom’s teammate, first baseman Pete Alonso, was also healthy after a crash Sunday that flipped his truck over three times. Alonso, who said another driver ran a red light and boned his truck, had to open his windshield to escape.
“I’m really grateful to be alive,” he said. “Thank you, Ford, for having great engineering.”
Alas, another superstar did not escape a recent accident unscathed. Fernando Tatis Jr., the San Diego Padres’ wonderful shortstop, showed up with a broken left wrist, reportedly from an offseason motorcycle scrape, and could miss three months. Tatis said it “could have been a different story” if he had been allowed to consult with the team’s coaches during the lockdown, but the blame mainly lies with him.
Tatis, apparently, isn’t as adept on two wheels as he is on spikes. Asked by reporters in Peoria, Arizona when his accident happened, Tatis replied, “Which one?”