Title Town USA
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers capped off the 2020-21 sports season with a Super Bowl victory. What a year for Tampa Bay sports! Our local teams have given us reason for joy in what for many of us has been a terrible year. Of course it is bittersweet to have pennant and championship winning teams in a year when we pretty much can’t enjoy live sports.
And note to Rays ownership — amazing how you can take a good team to the next level if you are willing to spend on an established free agent.
It was crazy to think the Rays could land a top free agent like Marcel Ozuna, right? Yet the Rays were indeed consistently mentioned among the teams making serious offers to him. He ultimately elected to return to the Braves, where he is receiving a reported 4 year, $64 million contract. Were the Rays really close to this? There was some speculation that Ozuna’s value would have fallen for National League teams, since he might be most valuable as a DH and the National League has no DH in 2021, but apparently the Braves were still willing to make a commitment to him.
Ji-Man Choi has won his arbitration case. He will be paid $2.45 million this year. ($) But he’s not enjoying the high life just yet:
Asked about his thoughts on making seven figures, Choi quipped, “I will believe it when I see those numbers in my bank account. After taxes and fees to my agent, I won’t end up with much anyway.”
This came from a press conference he held with Korean media before heading to Florida, you can read more about it here.
Ryan Yarbrough’s arbitration hearing will be this week; many baseball people have been intrigued by his case because it may speak to whether pitchers playing unusual roles will be hurt by the arbitration process.
A lot to unpack about teams across the league in this Ken Rosenthal column, but for Rays-related material, see his thinking about the Rays pitching decisions — “creative” he calls it ($). Buster Olney also has a longer league run-down, including a discussion of whether expanded playoffs could still be negotiated, and he also gives a shout out to Rays pitching depth ($).
We know that Spring Training will start on time, but we know little more.($) With COVID-19 still a factor, schedules may still be in flux as the league and teams figure out ways to minimize travel. The Rays have not yet decided whether to allow fans in Charlotte Sports Park.
Around the League
Trevor Bauer has signed with the Dodgers. This came after baseball media tweeters had the Mets as his likely landing spot (and a few reporters actually said the signing was a done deal). Ken Rosenthal parses some of the off-field considerations that could have shaped the calculus of teams considering signing this sometimes controversial pitcher ($) Ben Clemens has a very good overview of the contract and the pitcher.
Nolen Arenado has thus far been playing half his season at hitter-friend Coors Field. What might we expect from him now that he’s a Cardinal?
Rangers and Athletics trade position players:
The Athletics are acquiring SS Elvis Andrus from the Rangers for DH/OF Khris Davis, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 6, 2021
Baseball mourned the loss of ESPN journalist Pedro Gomez. The Cuban-born Gomez accompanied the Rays on their trip to the island in 2016.