MLB News and Notes: Braves Making Early Moves

The period right before Thanksgiving is typically a slow one for the Major League Baseball Hot Stove. But that doesn’t mean nothing of interest is happening in the baseball world. Let’s recap some of the top stories from the past week.

Another Arm

The Braves added yet another bullpen arm this week, re-signing Chris Martin to a two-year deal worth $14 million. Atlanta acquired Martin over the summer from the Rangers to provide depth to a bullpen in need. He likely would have proven useful in the postseason if not for an oblique injury he suffered while warming up during a National League Division Series game.

Martin figures to be one of Atlanta’s primary setup men in 2020 alongside recently signed Will Smith, with Mark Melancon penciled in to serve as the team’s closer.

Big Ben

There’s a new Big Ben in the city of Pittsburgh. The Pirates have named Ben Cherington as their new general manager. He took the job after previously serving as the vice president of baseball operations for the Blue Jays. Cherington is best known for his stint in the Red Sox front office, taking over as the team’s GM after Theo Epstein left in 2011.

Under Cherington’s watch, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013. He also deserves a lot of credit for developing the core of the team that won the World Series again in 2018 after his departure. His first task as GM of the Pirates will be to hire a new manager.

Say Goodbye

The Yankees have parted ways with two of their longtime players, releasing outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and designating Greg Bird for assignment. Ellsbury still has a nice chunk of change on his contract, although he hasn’t played in the majors since 2017 because of a series of injuries.

Bird has also been a victim of the injury bug in recent years and has struggled to produce when he’s been healthy enough to play. The Bronx Bombers parted ways with the two largely to free up space on their 40-man roster for prospects they want to protect from the Rule 5 Draft.

The Plot Thickens

As Major League Baseball investigates the Astros in a potentially serious sign-stealing scandal, more news and accusations are coming out about the team’s inner-workings. Jeff Passan reported that in 2017, Kevin Goldstein, who was working as Houston’s director of pro scouting at the time, asked scouts to look into how feasible it was to steal signs from the opposing dugout and whether cameras or binoculars would be needed. On its own, it’s inconclusive evidence, but it appears to be another piece of the puzzle in a potential scandal.

Fresh Start

The Reds are taking a chance on pitcher Jose De Leon, acquiring him from the Rays for either cash or a player to be named later. De Leon was once one of the top pitching prospects in baseball but has yet to live up to that promise due to injuries.

After starting with the Dodgers, he was traded to the Rays in 2017. De Leon has pitched just 23 2/3 innings in the majors but could contribute to the Reds in 2020 after completing his comeback from Tommy John surgery.