The baseball world took some time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but the lack of major news for a few days only means one thing: big news is coming.
The bids for Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani's services could begin as early as this coming Friday, one star is heading back to his home country, and one team's interest in Giancarlo Stanton could not be as strong as previously reported.
Oh, and did I mention a player has signed a new contract out of free agency?
Hope you're done digesting turkey, folks, because here's the Rumor Roundup!
Byung-ho Park goes home
After two failed years in the Minnesota Twins' system, Korean slugger Byung-ho Park is going home. The big righty was posted by the Nexen Heroes of the KBO League prior to the 2016 season and signed a four-year, $12m deal with the Twins and given his hitting .343 with 53 home runs and 146 RBI with Nexen in 2015, big things were expected despite Korean baseball heavily favoring hitters.
The opposite happened. Park hit .191 with 12 home runs and 24 RBI across 244 plate appearances in 2016 and spent all of this past season at Triple-A Rochester, where he hit .253 with 14 home runs and 60 RBI.
As a result, per Korean beat writer Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News, Park has decided to leave the Twins organization and will sign a one-year deal to return to Nexen. It's a sad end to his time in MLB, but this is probably the right decision on both ends. Minnesota no longer has to pay someone to just wallow in the minors, and Park can return to his home country and (hopefully) return to performing at a high level.
Boston sours on Stanton
It was reported earlier this month that Miami Marlins star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton would veto a trade to the Boston Red Sox and if the latest rumors are true, the feeling is mutual. According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, Boston's interest in the recently crowned NL MVP is "tepid," not exactly the news Miami wants to hear from any team regarding a superstar they are heavily shopping.
Granted, the report should be taken with a small grain of salt as Cafardo stated it was a Marlins source that told him of Boston's lukewarm interest in Stanton as opposed to one from the Red Sox, but this could make sense. Boston might have the money to take on most if not all the remaining $295m on Stanton's contract, but not necessarily the minor league prospects. Boston gave those up in trades for Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz and now must focus on adding minor league talent as opposed to further depleting the farm system.
Just the same, the world of MLB trade rumors has been around long enough that fans now know one thing when a big name is on the market: expect the unexpected, and for Boston's name to not disappear from talks just yet.
Ohtani bidders, start your engines!
It may take a few days, but the Nippon Ham Fighters will post pitching and hitting sensation Shohei Ohtani this week. Ken Davidoff of The New York Post is reporting that Ohtani could be posted as early as next weekend and that he and his representation want any and all interested teams to do their due diligence in wooing him.
This includes a questionnaire that asks everything from a general evaluation of Ohtani's skills as both a hitter and pitcher, a report on minor league facilities, how they would help with Ohtani's adjustment to living in a team's respective city, and more. As of now, the teams expected to be in on Ohtani are the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, both of whom have the most international bonus money to spend on the right-hander at $3.55m and $3.5m respectively, and the Seattle Mariners are expected to be a strong suitor as well given their strong ties to Japanese baseball.
Either way, one thing is certain. Ohtani could wind up being the hottest name on the market in spite of only being allowed a minor league contract under the current posting system. Whichever team lands him could wind up striking gold in an epic manner and if Ohtani succeeds as a two-way player, he could wind up changing the game forever.
Doug Fister's new home
At long last, a free agent has signed a new contract! According to NBC Sports Boston, veteran righty Doug Fister is expected to sign a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, with Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reporting it as being worth $3.5m for 2018 with a $4.5m option for the following year, plus a $900k buyout.
Fister appeared in 18 games for Boston last year, of which he started 15, and was 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA. Those numbers may not look pretty on the surface, but Fister upped his strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) from 5.74 in 2016 to 8.24 in 2017. He also saw an increase in velocity and made more use of his sinker.
Just how well Fister will do in Texas remains to be seen, especially since Globe Life Park in Arlington favors hitters, but the Rangers finished 21st in baseball in 2017 with a staff ERA of 4.66. The rotation could use some veteran help behind Cole Hamels as young arms in Martin Perez and Nick Martinez continue to come into their own. For this price, Fister is a fine addition to kick off free agency.