Baseball Daily Dose

Rosenthal Joins the Athletics, Here's Why:

by Christopher Crawford
Updated On: February 23, 2021, 3:30 pm ET

It was a slow weekend in terms of baseball transactions, but one team did confirm their biggest -- and really only -- significant signing of the offseason.

On Monday, the Athletics officially signed closer Trevor Rosenthal to a one-year, $11 million contract. The right-hander will only be paid for one season of work, but he’ll get that $11 million over three years; $3 million in 2021, $3 million in 2022, and $5 million in 2023.

Rosenthal was excellent in 2020, and if he puts up similar type numbers this summer, the loss of Liam Hendriks will not be felt much -- if at all. He registered a 1.90 ERA, 0.845 WHIP, and 38/8 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings while hurling for the Royals and Padres.

Those numbers are fantastic, and Rosenthal does have a track-record of dominance. Having said that, there’s also some, well, not-so-dominant seasons in that record, as well. In 2019, he appeared in 22 games -- one fewer game than he appeared in last summer. In that time, the 30-year-old posted an ERA of 1.350, he walked 26 hitters in 15 1/3 innings, and his WHIP was an ugly 2.413. That’s after missing the 2018 season with Tommy John surgery, and prior to that, there was a shaky 2016-217 run where he posted a 3.89 ERA and walked 49 hitters in 88 innings.

 So, yes, there is a little more risk in Rosenthal’s profile than some of the other stoppers. But there’s an awful lot to like, too. In 373 games, he owns a K/9 ratio of 12.1, and even with the struggles of 2019 and shakiness of the aforementioned seasons, his 3.36 ERA is nothing to sneeze at. Oakland looks worse on paper in 2021 than they do in 2020, but so does the division, and he should get plenty of save chances this summer. 

Maybe Rosenthal doesn’t compete with the Hendriks or the Hader in terms of fantasy closers, but it’s easy to argue that with his ability to miss bats that he’s in that next tier.

Sanchez signs on with Giants to help rotation

We haven’t seen Aaron Sanchez on the mound since 2019, but at least in the Cactus League, that will change in 2021. 

Sanchez signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. The right-hander missed all of 2020 while he recovered from surgery on his right shoulder. The previous year, the right-hander struggled in 2019 with a 5.89 ERA, 115/68 K/BB ratio over 131 innings with the Blue Jays and Astros; the latter after a late-season deal. He wasn’t much better in 2018 with a 4.89 mark, and he was limited to just eight starters in 2017.

While Sanchez has just been so-so as a starter for most of his career, there have been flashes of better in his time as a member of a rotation. The best of these was in 2016 when he went 15-2 with an even 3.00 ERA and 161/63 K/BB ratio over 192 innings. He also reportedly hit 98 mph in his workout for clubs, so there’s no denying his arm strength. The question, of course, is how well he can command his arsenal, as it’s been an issue throughout his brief MLB career.

Sanchez won’t be worth a draft selection in mixed leagues, but he’s an arm to keep an eye on, and could be a solid streaming option in the summer months. 

Nationals add Jeffress to revamped bullpen

The Nationals already have a new stopper in Brad Hand, and on Monday, they added a power right-handed arm that can (potentially) help get the ball into Hands, umm, hand, with leads. 

Mark Feinsand of reports that the Nationals have signed Jeremy Jeffress to a minor league contract. While not official, it’s very likely that the deal includes an invitation to spring training. If he makes the club, he’ll get a $1.25 million salary, and he can make $1.25 million more in incentives. 

Saying that Jeffress has had an up-and-down career is the understatement of this and any other Dose. When he’s been at his best, he’s been dominant; look at his 2018 season (1.29 ERA, 89/27 K/BB ratio for the Brewers in 76 2/3 innings) as an example. When things haven’t gone well, they’ve gone pretty awful, however. In 2019 he registered a 5.02 ERA with a 46/17 K/BB ratio for Milwaukee, and he posted a 4.68 ERA in 2017. It really comes down to command for the 33-year-old: When he throws strikes, he’s awfully tough to hit. When he isn’t able to locate, he creates too much self-inflicted damage, and the baseball can look quite big to hitters. Or so it seems, anyway.

Jeffress isn’t likely to get save chances and offers a ton of volatility, but he’s worth monitoring because of his previous success. 

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National League Quick Hits: Padres officially signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, $340 million extension … J.T. Realmuto (thumb) was able to catch a bullpen session on Saturday … Ian Desmond posted on his Instagram account on Sunday that he is opting out of the 2021 season "for now." Desmond also didn’t play in 2020 … Giants designated RHP Trevor Gott for assignment … Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Gregory Polanco (wrist) has reported to spring training healthy. Polanco suffered a non-displaced fracture of the triquetrum bone in the Winter Dominican League, but appears to be full-go … Mets designated OF Guillermo Heredia for assignment … Diamondbacks signed INF Asdrũbal Cabrera to a one-year, $1.75 million contract … Braves claimed OF Phillip Ervin off waivers from the Cubs … Brewers re-signed Brett Anderson to a one-year, $2.5 million contract … Diamondbacks signed RHP Tyler Clippard to a one-year $2.25 million contract. The deal includes a $3.5 million mutual option for 2022 that includes a $500,000 buyout. 

American League Quick Hits:   Albert Pujols' wife, Deidre Pujols, wrote on Instagram Monday that "today is the first day of the last season of one of the most remarkable careers in sports!" The obvious indication here would be that Pujols is planning to retire at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign, but those remarks were later walked back Kevin Mather has resigned from his role as the Mariners' team president. This comes after Mather made callous and insensitive remarks regarding Mariner prospects and current/former players … Red Sox claimed RHP Joel Payamps off waivers from the Blue Jays … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Monday that Clarke Schmidt was diagnosed with a common extensor strain following an MRI … Trey Mancini (cancer) won't have any restrictions at the start of Grapefruit League action, per Orioles manager Brandon Hyde … Athletics designated OF Dustin Fowler for assignment. It clears a spot on the 40-man roster spot for Rosenthal … Rays placed LHP Yonny Chirinos on the 60-day injured list with a left elbow injury. He’ll miss all of 2021 after Tommy John surgery in August … Rangers signed RHP Ian Kennedy to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.


Christopher Crawford

Christopher Crawford is a baseball and college football writer for NBC Sports EDGE and also appears on the Circling the Bases Podcast.