March 29, 2017
Suspensions, Extensions, and Depth
Familia expected to receive suspension this week
Mets closer Jeurys Familia is expected to receive a suspension this week for his involvement in an alleged domestic violence incident from last fall. The team anticipates a ban of fewer than 30 games and is predicting one of about 15, per reporting from Kristie Ackert and Christian Red of the New York Daily News.
Familia and his wife, Bianca Rivas, met with league officials on Monday. Rivas was the alleged victim when Familia was arrested and charged with simple assault in October, but she later requested that the charges be dropped. The case was dismissed from municipal court in December. Under MLB’s domestic violence policy, however, the league has the ability to discipline players regardless of whether there is a criminal conviction. This will be the fourth time that the policy has been used since going into effect last year.
Jose Reyes was suspended 52 games after being arrested and charged with abuse of a family member, though his wife later dropped charges; Aroldis Chapman was suspended 30 games for firing a gun in a fight with his girlfriend, though he was neither arrested nor charged; and Hector Olivera was suspended 82 games for being arrested and charged with assault and battery of a woman. (Olivera was also found guilty in court and sentenced to 10 days in jail.)
Addison Reed will likely take Familia’s place as closer if and when he’s suspended.
Cardinals continue extension talks with Molina
After weeks of rumors on the Yadier Molina contract extension front, a new report from Jon Heyman indicates that the Cardinals have made “big progress” and a deal “appears to be getting close.” The catcher said last weekend that he’s not interested in contract talks once the season begins, meaning that this week is the team’s last chance to lock him down.
Now entering the fifth and final season of a $75 million extension that he signed in 2012, Molina will likely become a free agent this winter if an extension isn’t reached. (His current deal includes a mutual option, but it doesn’t seem likely that both sides would be interested in pursuing that after this winter’s negotiations.) Over the weekend, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the team was “prepared to make a significant offer to keep him”—alongside quotes from Molina about how he isn’t afraid of free agency and fully realizes that there are other catchers currently making more money than he is.
According to Heyman, one of the original points of impasse for an extension was the timeframe, which isn’t surprising for a catcher in his mid-30s. The 34-year-old Molina entered negotiations seeking a four-year deal, while the Cardinals were interested in a two-year version; presumably, if the two sides are indeed getting close, a compromise of three years is now on the table.
Dodgers respond to early test of pitching depth
The Dodgers’ rotation depth was tested frequently last year—Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy were each sidelined by injuries of varying severity and duration—and this season has already begun to follow that pattern. After Monday’s news that Kazmir will begin the year on the disabled list with a hip problem, the team announced that Ryu would receive a rotation spot.
It’s a change of plans, not even a week after the Orange County Register reported that a starting spot wouldn’t be in the cards for Ryu, and it will be the first time in two years that the 30-year-old will be able to start the season in the rotation. He’s had both shoulder and elbow surgery in the interim and has made just one major-league start since 2014. Additional injury concerns gave him a late start to Cactus League play this spring, but he’s looked healthy and hasn’t struggled with his velocity in the three starts he’s made so far. Ryu joins Kershaw, Hill, and Kenta Maeda in the rotation as McCarthy and Wood compete for the fifth spot.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers have also added right-hander Justin Masterson on a minor-league deal. Following shoulder surgery, the 32-year-old didn’t pitch in the majors at all last year and only saw minimal time as a reliever in the minors. With significantly reduced fastball velocity and persistent struggles against lefties, it’s been years since the sinkerballer has been effective, but he could potentially work in long relief or as a ROOGY if he’s able to reach the majors.