December 2017

Braves Trade With Dodgers Has Future Implications

ATLANTA — After a trip to the Winter Meetings didn’t really produce any headlines, the Atlanta Braves certainly made some on Saturday when they hooked up with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a five-player trade that could have a big-time impact on the future of both clubs.

Atlanta dealt left fielder Matt Kemp back to L.A. in exchange for pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, infielder Charlie Culberson and cash considerations.

It’s a truly fascinating deal for both sides. Though this trade involved a host of veterans, it also has a direct effect on Atlanta’s best and brightest prospect.

Ronald Acuña was already on the fast track to SunTrust Park in 2018, but this deal allows him to make his final approach after a spot in the Atlanta outfield was officially opened up. Now the club just has to make a decision on his official arrival date, which could be delayed in order to maintain an extra year of contractual control.

“We expect Ronald Acuña to factor at some point in 2018 and I’m not prepared to say,” said Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos when asked for an ETA on the club’s most highly-touted prospect in recent memory.

“He’s a young player at 19, turning 20 here soon,” Anthopoulos continued. “We expect him to factor in 2018. Whether that’s early, middle, late, I’m not sure. We’ll continue to evaluate it, but we expect Ronald Acuña to be a very good player for a very long time. We’re not going to be overly concerned with how soon or how fast, but when he’s ready to go… we’re going to look to make room for him and certainly a move like this won’t hurt.”

The Braves cleared a path for Acuña as they divested themselves of Kemp’s contract obligation, a $36 million sum which stretched into 2019. They did so by taking on a couple of well-paid veteran starting pitchers and a utility option while also assuming financial responsibility for cutting loose Gonzalez, who was immediately designated for assignment. The Dodgers sent some cash over in the trade, which helps even out the contracts coming to Atlanta.

If that sounds like a lot, well, it certainly is.

With $4.5 million in cash considerations coming over with the four players, the money in this deal is a wash. Anthopoulos acquired players on expiring contracts in order to push his club’s financial obligations ahead to the 2018 payroll. In other words, the money due for Kemp’s 2019 salary is now being used to pay ahead on McCarthy, Kazmir and releasing Gonzalez. Ultimately, the Braves took on some salary for next season in order to add at least one pitcher who should join Atlanta’s starting rotation in McCarthy, though Kazmir’s future is less certain.

The bottom line is that this trade should allow for more flexible spending for the Braves in next year’s stellar free agent market. It will also enable the club to have the necessary capital to pursue other, bigger trade targets in the future as well.

“[Going] through 2019 and [looking] at the rosters, we had a lot of different ideas, concepts and proposals,” said Anthopoulos of the trade talks to move Kemp’s salary. “We talked with a lot of teams about various things with players making some significant money coming back. We explored a lot of things. This is the one that got some traction, so it’s the one that we pursued. Really, being candid, this was the only one that was going to work for us.”

The Braves have only three players on long term contracts beyond 2018, first baseman Freddie Freeman, center fielder Ender Inciarte and starting pitcher Julio Teheran. Adding McCarthy and Kazmir to outfielder Nick Markakis and catchers Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers and the Braves have nearly $50 million worth of contracts set to expire at the close of next season.

McCarthy, 34, made 16 starts for Los Angeles last season and, most importantly, ended the year healthy. Anthopoulos worked in the Dodgers front office for the past two years and said he believes McCarthy is primed to contribute to the Atlanta starting five in 2018.

“We see him being in our rotation,” said Anthopoulos. “He had an intermittent year in L.A. but the stuff was very good. He came back at the end of the year and was on the World Series roster just because of how good he looked, how good stuff was, up to 94 mph. He started throwing a slider that he just added at the end of the year that was really good. Still very good stuff and even early in the year he was on a roll in L.A. when I was there. First few months was really throwing the ball well and then he missed time. Excited about him, think there’s some upside to him.”

Kazmir will turn 34 years old in January and did not pitch in the majors in 2017 because of a hip ailment which affected his velocity. He underwent hip surgery and made a handful of minor league rehab appearances. Anthopoulos said Atlanta will take a look at Kazmir in spring training to determine if he’s in position to help in the rotation as well.

Anthopoulos wanted to find some veteran arms to help bridge the gap to some of Atlanta’s prized pitching prospects, several of which could contribute over the course of the 2018 season, including Max Fried, Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka. The club also wants to leave the door open for those young arms to come in and compete in spring training.

“If a guy like Scott Kazmir can throw the way he’s capable of throwing and the way he’s thrown in the past, even stronger for us in terms of depth,” said Anthopoulous. “We have a lot of young arms. We don’t know that they’re all necessarily going to be able to go 200 innings, perform over 200 innings. We’re going to need that depth.”

“With the other wave behind those [veteran] guys, with the Allards, the Frieds and the Sorokas that are starting to get close, and obviously Fried has already been up, just to have that depth over the course of the year, especially knowing how young we are on the mound, is going to be really important,” said Anthopoulos.

The Braves also added the versatile Charlie Culberson, who has a good glove, should help out off the bench and is capable of playing just about everywhere. The 28-year-old is from nearby Calhoun, Ga., and was a first round draft pick by San Francisco in 2007. Culberson has spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Giants, Rockies and Dodgers.

While the club did strengthen its roster in a couple of areas, the biggest move Atlanta made with this deal was clearing a path to the majors for Acuña, the 19-year-old wunderkind who lit the minor leagues on fire as he blazed a trail from A-Ball to Triple-A in 2017. Though he may or may not break camp with the big club for reasons not related to his ability or readiness, Acuña will be the story in spring training. If he puts together a strong showing, Acuña could make for a difficult decision for the Braves, a decision that Anthopoulos said has not been made by any means at this time.

The Dodgers. meanwhile, are setting themselves up to potentially get under the luxury tax threshold of $197 million this season in order to gets their funds in order and spend on the robust 2018 free agent class next winter headlined by Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and a host of other All-Stars.

It seems unlikely that their reunion Kemp will be a lasting one, with Los Angeles likely trying to find a way to flip the injury-prone veteran slugger to another club. The American League would offer Kemp a chance to DH, a role which bests suits him at this stage of his career.

The other veteran slugger in this deal was just looking for a route to free agency. Gonzalez agreed to waive his no-trade clause if the Braves would designated him for assignment. He will make about $22 million in 2018 and is now searching for a place to play. Gonzalez missed significant time in 2017 due to injury and the Dodgers are now set at first base with the emergence of rookie of the year Cody Bellinger.

 

Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can subscribe to the “Around The Big Leagues” podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

 

2017 MLB Winter Meetings Live Blog (Day 3)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Below you’ll find the latest updates from Day 3 of the Winter Meetings. The newest will be placed at the top.

11:16 a.m. — Just finished up with Brian Snitker’s media availability and will head over to have the annual manager’s luncheon this afternoon. As usual, he was peppered with roster questions and how he sizes up the returning players, particularly the young talents that will once again be relied upon to help the Braves take a step forward from 2017. With a new GM and front office in place that clearly puts value on the analytics side of the game, Snitker said his conversations with Alex Anthopoulos and others have been “enlightening” and will only help in the efforts to get the maximum return from the team in 2018.

Snitker, who has been in and around the game for over four decades is not altogether unfamiliar with the advanced scouting and metrics that have become increasingly prevalent over the past two decades. However, as a member of the field staff and a minor league manager who has been tasked with development and not encumbered by the statistical influence as much, he is in fact learning on the job and trying to add to his knowledge base in order to better communicate information that may be helpful to his players and ultimately the team.

Here’s what Snitker had to say about his discussion with Anthopoulos so far:

“Yeah, it’s been real interesting to me because I told him, hey, I’m 62 years old, and I spent my entire career relying on my gut and my eyes and getting to know the people that Alex has brought in, it’s been enlightening to me, because this is kind of where we’re at and where we’re going in the game, and I’ve spent the last couple days up in the suite talking to those guys, and they’re showing us the information and there’s a lot to it. It’s very interesting for somebody like me that’s — I don’t have that background.

So it’s going to be real beneficial, and the thing they preface everything by is, “We’re not going to push this on you. We’re going to give you information.” And now I kind of get what I’ve been reading about, what I’ve been hearing about with the analytics side of the game, I’m already understanding what that’s all about and now as these guys say, we’re going to get the information and get it in the players’ hands, it’s kind of like you see what they’re talking about.

It’s going to be good. They have already shown me information I think that the players are really going to latch on to it, and it’s going to be good for them, their careers, day in, day out workings of us playing the game. It’s going to be very useful and it’s going to help a lot.”

This conversation and information obviously extends to the players:

“Players are going to give us their feedback too. You present it all to them and then ultimately they’re the ones that decide what they’re going to use. Us too, as a staff, we’ll get together and I think each guy that has their area or whatever are going to know little things maybe that they want and how they want to present it to the guys. So it’s going to be something that it’s going to be new to all of us, I think, and again it’s going to be very beneficial to all of us.”

How has the success of others club, like the Dodgers, helped him see the benefits of implementing analytics?

“It’s legit stuff. I’m seeing things that — I think the thing that I think it’s going to be a really — it’s for the players. How they break things down. It’s not going to be negative stuff to these guys either, it’s going to be things that can help them to get better and it will be up to them, what they want to grab hold of and use, but I think there’s going to be a lot of guys that I think that some of the information that they’re going to give them is going to be good for them. It’s going to give them another avenue to try and to improve their game. So I think they’re going to like it.

Nothing but positive is going to come out of the whole thing. They made it very clear they’re not going to ram things down your throat, but there’s information there. I understand now they talk about the manager getting it in the hands of the players, what to give them. I think that you talk to them as they learn it, they understand it, they’re going to know and probably want more in some situations too, but it is very interesting stuff.”

What is the plan for Dansby Swanson heading into 2018, following a very up and down rookie season?

“Things change as we go. You start the season with a plan and with a lineup, and then things have a way of working themselves out and things change. I think it was another — again, we forget I think, too, with Dansby that he had going into this year he had a year total, I think, of professional experience. Because that first year he didn’t do a whole lot. He didn’t play a whole lot.

So that was a big year, it was a big year for him last year. Now he’s going to go into this year a lot more prepared, I think a lot more versed in what to expect when we get to Spring Training. Last year he probably thought he did but then it didn’t go like we wanted. Earlier in the year he had a lot of hard-hit balls that were caught. To his credit he kept working, he kept playing, went down, came back, and finished the year okay.

So we like Dansby a lot and I think again we like all the young players last year, it was a really beneficial experience year for him.”

What has impressed Brian Snitker about Ronald Acuña, and how realistic are his chances to break camp with the big club this spring?

“Well, I think he’s just has to do what he does. I mean, like I say, last year he came in as a very impressive young man, I was most impressed about the adjustments he would make on the fly and in at-bats and again the kid’s skill set defensively, what he brings offensively, the potential is going to be really good. We’ll get him down there and he’ll be part of the mix and see where he’s at.”

8:50 a.m. — Heading over the Swan and Dolphin for the last full day here in the Orlando area. A very quiet Day 2 could give away to some movement in Day 3. Or it may not. There seems to be some action on the relief market, with the Phillies signing a pair of relievers, which is very much something the Braves would like to do at some point this winter.

I posted the latest Around The Big Leagues podcast following our Day 2 chat with Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos (Hear it here). We talked about analytics, the young core of the team, possible moves and the impending arrival of super prospect Ronald Acuña.

There are plenty of trade rumors swirling this time of year, with Atlanta looking to deal away a corner outfielder (or two) and perhaps looking to acquire one as well. Christian Yelich of the Marlins stands out as an obvious target and many clubs are interested in his services. While no GM is going to dangle the names of the players he’s pursuing, Anthopoulos told me the Braves continue to monitor the market for the right players, the right deals and the right moves in general:

“There’s a lot of good players out there and we’d love to say ‘hey, we made some transactions.’ Conversely, people are going to ask for our good players so that’s where it gets challenging. And then also you’re going to weigh things like the years of control. Some names have already been reported, but obviously there’s some rumors out there and some names of some really good players, but maybe the club control is not very appealing to us. You’re always weighing that off too. We’re trying to build something that’s going to be sustainable that’s going to be long term. But the fact that good players are out there, you’re still going to engage [in talks] and see if there is a fit and if we can get a deal done.”

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Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can subscribe to the “Around The Big Leagues” podcast on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

2017 MLB Winter Meetings Live Blog (Day 2)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Below you’ll find the latest updates from Day 2 of the Winter Meetings. The newest will be placed at the top.

4:12 p.m. — Heading to the suite to have our daily media session with Alex Anthopoulos. Obviously, not much has transpired, but it’s a good chance to continue to pick the brain of the new man in charge. I don’t think he’s worried whatsoever about having to make a deal to make a statement here in Orlando, but the talks here often lead to the possibility of deal happening down the road.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is the annual manager luncheon, so I’ll have a chance to catch up with Brian Snitker and see what he has in mind for roster construction and needs for the 25-man roster as well as the new coaching staff.

1:58 p.m. — There have been plenty of questions posed to me and plenty of speculation about what Miami may do with its other two, young, talented outfielders. With slugger Giancarlo Stanton now a Yankee, the Marlins can turn their attention to shedding further payroll by dealing away Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. These are two very different players, however.

Most believe that Yelich has the potential to become a superstar, while Ozuna had a quietly dominant offensive season in 2017 and he did so in the shadow of Stanton’s 59-homer campaign. Oh, and throw in a gold glove for Ozuna – something Yelich had won previously.

Bottom line, both men will attract plenty of interest from multiple clubs.

Ozuna, 27, hit .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI. He is under team control for two more seasons through arbitration, but Yelich signed a multi-year extension that keeps him under contract for five more seasons if his 2022 team option is picked up. Yelich, 26, has put up a .290/.369/.432 slash line while averaging 15 homers and 18 stolen bases over his first five years in the majors.

Moving one of those two young outfielders will not purely be for salary relief purposes, and neither man will be able to exercise the kind of control that Stanton was able to over trade negotiations thanks to his iron clad no trade provision. Teams that missed out on Stanton, like the Cardinals and Giants could turn their attention to Ozuna as they look to bounce back from off years. Clubs building for the future and taking a more long term approach would prefer to have Yelich, especially when paying the prospect price.

If the Braves were to go for one of the two, you can bet it would be Yelich.

10:21 a.m. — Day 2 won’t start with quite the same fanfare. There’s no Hall of Fame press conference and no $300 million slugger being introduced by his new team today. At least not yet for the latter.

Atlanta has some definite needs as the restructured front office builds out the 25-man roster. While new GM Alex Anthopoulos is no stranger to wheeling and dealing, he’s not looking to pull any trades simply to make a splash at the Winter Meetings. He discussed a “cautious and measured” approach with the media on Monday. This is especially true as he gets to know the cache of prospects in the Atlanta system, which still remains one of the best in baseball.

Does that mean we don’t need to expect any trades in Orlando?

“That can change in a phone call,” Anthopoulos said.

The Braves are definitely in pursuit of trade partners to help them improve the defense, which means veteran corner outfielders Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis are on the block. As you may have heard in my chat with MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (which you can catch here), moving Kemp is the priority and will prove a much more difficult task thanks to the $36 million he’s owed over the next two seasons combined.

As I wrote here yesterday, there’s a case to be made for biting the bullet and eating the money if it comes down to it. However, that’s a decision the Braves would make only after exhausting all options that don’t involve dealing away other, younger talents simply to facilitate a trade. Markakis should be much easier to move and may very well stay put as he heads into the final season of the four-year deal he signed prior to 2015. It goes without saying, the Braves are going to do everything they can to open up a place for super prospect Ronald Acuña to play, whether that’s on opening day or shortly thereafter.

Outside of the the outfield, the Braves could certainly use some veteran arms in the bullpen, likely two of those. Former Brave Peter Moylan is a name that continues to come up. He’d offer some help in the sixth and seventh innings and would also be useful in what is a younger bullpen by in large. The configuration of the bullpen seems to be leaning toward carrying eight relievers. Anthopoulos said that could change throughout the season, because there may be a need to carry an extra reserve player. If the rotation and bullpen are both doing their respective jobs, it could mean that a five-man bench would be preferable. After all, we are talking about a National League team which will need its share of pinch hitters throughout the season. The four-man bench makes that challenging in long games and extra-innings.

Also worth noting, you can count Anthopoulos among those who is looking forward to seeing what Austin Riley has to offer and that’s a factor when planning an upgrade at third base for 2018.

“Short term, we’ve talked about third base,” Anthopoulos told me on Monday. “We think Riley has a chance to be a really good player long term. I know people in the organization are incredibly excited about him and excited about the Fall League.”

Riley, 20, slugged his way through the AFL, finishing second in the league with six home runs and third with a 1.021 OPS. He trailed his teammate Acuña in both those categories. Riley is coming off back-to-back 20 home run seasons and finished 2017 with a good run in Double-A Mississippi. By all reports, Riley continues to make strides with the glove as well, which was a question mark for him during his first season in pro ball. However, he figures to be a 2019 arrival, so the Braves need at third base would be a year or two. In house, the club has the versatile Johan Camargo, a switch-hitter who has made strides at the plate the last two years and could warrant a longer look at third base. Atlanta also has Rio Ruiz in the mix, but the Braves seem set on exploring the FA market and potential trades to bolster the position rather than relying on that duo to platoon at the hot corner. Acquiring a proven veteran would allow for Camargo to fill a super-sub role, where most see his value at its highest.

There are some veterans out there that will command big money, with Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas perhaps the biggest name. While Atlanta won’t get in that derby, veteran Todd Frazier could be a player who makes sense for the Braves on a two-year deal. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about a Martin Prado reunion. The Braves obviously like him, but at age 34, coming off an injury-riddled season and owed nearly $29 million the next two seasons, the Marlins would have to eat some serious cash to make any deal happen.

 

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Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can subscribe to the “Around The Big Leagues” podcast on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

2017 MLB Winter Meetings Live Blog (Day 1)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Below you’ll find the latest updates from Day 1 of the Winter Meetings. The newest will be placed at the top.

9:21 — I’ve been a very busy man this afternoon, catching up on the Braves beat after spending most of my day moonlighting with the news from other teams. New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos held his media availability a few hours ago. It sounds like he’s looking to ease into what is a familiar role, but with an all new team. We asked a bevy of questions about the winter shopping list and where his club could use some improvement.

Here are a few noteworthy items from today’s chat with the general manager, beginning with roster construction.

Perhaps the most interesting discussion topic was how he will go about filling needs and approaching trades with all the young talent he inherited on the farm. Caution seems to be the operative word.

Basically, what I gathered from speaking with him is that Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t want to come in and just start making aggressive moves without properly weighing/evaluating the talent they’d be parting with from a prospect perspective.

“To make real significant decisions, especially with young players, unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely unless there’s real conviction among everyone in the organization,” said Anthopoulos. “With young players you’re always going to have debate and split camp. It’s just important to be thorough. It’s hard to be aggressive when you’re not completely comfortable with information yet.”

My latest podcast tackles all of that and more, and includes an interview with Anthopoulos as well as new Hall of Famer Jack Morris. I’m joined by Mark Bowman of MLB.com in the latest episode of Around The Big Leagues.

2:49 p.m. — Giancarlo Stanton was introduced to the media and the newest Yankees slugger looked very comfortable in pinstripes. After voicing his excitement to join a winning franchise, it became apparent that he was perhaps even more overjoyed to avoid another Miami rebuild. Armed a full no-trade clause, Stanton was sought after by several play-off clubs and hopefuls. He declined to accept a trade to both the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals before landing in the Bronx, where he’ll join fellow 50-homer slugger Aaron Judge. That tandem will not make life easy on opposing pitchers.

“This has been quite the experience, quite the road to get here,” Stanton said in his first remarks with his new team. “When I signed up in Miami, I wanted things to work out, and I had a good vision there, but sometimes things just spiral out of place and you have to find a new home. So I’m very excited to be here and to be a part of the Yankees, and I’m just looking forward to stepping up and being with this winning environment and winning culture.”

It’s also fairly obvious that Stanton was not overly enamored by the new ownership group as the process played out. There were no warm and fuzzy exchanges between he and new front office figurehead Derek Jeter, the longtime Yankees captain. Stanton’s monster contract has 10-years and $295 million remaining, which was never going to allow for many teams to even inquire. However, it was Stanton’s no-trade provision that proved most difficult for the Marlins to control the negotiations. The player had all the leverage, and exercised it in order to join a club that appears to be putting together the pieces to build a perennial playoff contender. Stanton’s agent Joel Wolfe told the media that his client has no intention to exercise his opt-out clause after the 2020 season.

1:25 p.m. — The Braves have a few needs to fill as they go through the winter and a few pieces they wouldn’t mind moving prior to spring training. Let’s start with the obvious corner outfield conundrum which has been a running storyline since top prospect Ronald Acuña took the minor leagues by storm last season. Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis are both candidates for trade this winter, though both men come with entirely different circumstances attached. Specifically, Kemp’s health, which will be a stumbling block as the club looks to unload as much of the $36 million he is owed over the next two seasons while simultaneously opening a spot for Acuña.

Make no mistake, a high-value return for either is not in the cards. Creating that spot for Acuña is the single most important thing that trading away one of their veteran outfielders will accomplish.

Kemp, 33, came to spring training this year in good shape, but after a hot start he added back the weight he’d lost as hamstring injuries landed him on the disabled list. Kemp’s days in the outfield appear to be numbered, but if healthy his bat could help an American League club looking for some power. That said, Kemp has compiled a total 1.6 fWAR since the beginning of 2013. Chronic leg injuries have diminished his value in the field and on the bases to the point where both are non-existent. He has power, but his on-base skills are limited. It’s unfortunate to see from a guy who was among the best all-around players in baseball about five years ago.

The issue for Atlanta as the seller in this case is two-fold. First of all, Kemp hasn’t been able to remain healthy. Second, finding a club that is willing to take on that $18 million annual salary is going to be a significant challenge. The Braves can shop him around in hopes of attracting a buyer, and could also sweeten the deal by attaching a prospect to help offload more of Kemp’s salary and off-set the risk for the buyer. This is perhaps an all too familiar place for the Braves in recent years, trying to move bad money contracts by attaching other, better talents to the deal (See: Upton, Melvin and Kimbrel, Craig). It’s not an enviable position. There could be a bad contract swap that would benefit Atlanta and another club. If all of that fails, releasing Kemp and/or eating all the money he’s owed is another possibility.

Markakis, 34, has provided the Braves with a decent right field option for the past three seasons. While he is far from an impact player, he has provided a steady presence in the Atlanta lineup – averaging 1.2 fWAR over the last three years – and a valued veteran with workman’s approach to a clubhouse that has constantly been in transition since the start of 2015. Markakis has just one year and $10.5 million remaining on his contract, which should not create any issue when seeking a trade partner. He should be much easier to move if Atlanta chooses to go that route.

12:10 p.m. — The Hall of Fame press conference just wrapped up as Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were introduced as the newest members of the hall. Both men were incredibly gratified to be going in with one another. After all, these two men were each drafted in the Tigers 1976 draft class and went to play as teammates in Detroit through 1990. Both Trammell and Morris spent the 15 years on the BBWAA ballot, hoping to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Those 15 years came and went, but they were elected on their first appearance on the Modern Era Ballot.

“It’s been a little hard at times to see guys way younger than me being first,” Morris said of the waiting game. “I’m proud of them. I’m happy for them. But I’m so happy that I can go in with guys that were my peers and maybe get to know each other better and celebrate.”

Morris is also keenly aware that baseball’s turn to analytics over the past two decades has changed forever the way clubs and fans digest the statistics. That in turn has changed the way players are viewed in both an annual basis and in perpetuity for an honor like the hall of fame. While the analytics don’t paint Morris in the same light as others in Cooperstown, his place in history is now cemented.

“I want all the writers to know that I’m not mad at any of you,” Morris joked of waiting 18 years to receive his spot in Cooperstown. “I appreciate and understand how difficult it had to be. I finally grew up and learned that there’s reasons I maybe didn’t deserve to be in. I wasn’t born and raised in the analytics that are in the game today. None of it was a part of the game when we played. I always found it puzzling to wonder why I’m being judged on a criteria that didn’t even exist while we played, but it is what it is.”

“But I also want to appreciate and acknowledge all the writers who did support me and even the guys who didn’t because that’s our country. We have that right. And we shall cherish that right, and I respect everybody for whatever they thought.  Now that I’m in, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Trammell’s case was definitely helped out by the advanced stats, which help make the case that he was one of the greatest shortstops of his era. Though he may not have the counting stats that have long been customary for hall of fame players, Trammell’s all around game and contributions to the Tigers and baseball in the 1980s are hard to ignore. They will go begging no longer.

“When I ranked myself as a player, I thought I could do a lot of things well, but probably one thing — there wasn’t one thing that just was at the top. But I think that’s part of the criteria when you look at all the ingredients of becoming a Hall of Famer is a well-rounded player, and that’s just who I was. I couldn’t be anybody else. That’s just the good Lord gave me this ability, and I tried to do the best I could,” said Trammell of earning a spot in Cooperstown.”

‘For my peers to be able to recognize that, that’s very much appreciated, very much appreciated,” Trammell continued. “I look at that, and I’ll look on it for my lifetime very fondly, that it didn’t go unrecognized. Again, just proud to be a part of this thing.”

You will year from Jack Morris on today’s episode of Around The Big Leagues. So stay tuned for the podcast tonight.

9:40 a.m. — The Atlanta Braves’ contingent has arrived in central Florida along with the rest of the sport. Here you’ll find 30 teams all looking to better themselves for the 2018 season and beyond.

The weekend preceding the Winter Meetings may have already set the tone. Highly sought after Japanese star Shohei Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels, while the Yankees landed Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton in a blockbuster trade. The official press conference to introduce Stanton will take place Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

The other big news from Day 1 is Monday’s Hall of Fame press conference. Detroit Tigers legends Alan Trammell and Jack Morris were elected from the Modern Era Ballot and will be on hand to discuss receiving baseball’s highest honor. That will take place at 11 a.m. ET and I’ll have notes, quotes and photos from the event.

Longtime St. Louis Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons fell just one vote shy of the necessary 12 needed for election from the special committee. Simmons played briefly with the Braves and alongside two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy, who fell well short of the necessary support. Both men can go back on the Modern Era Ballot in two years.

I’m going to circulate around the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort for a while and check out the set-up for this years meetings. You can expect daily podcasts and regular social media updates, so make sure you’re following all the right places:

Twitter: @grantmcauley and @BigLeagueShow

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Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can subscribe to the “Around The Big Leagues” podcast on iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud and Stitcher.