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AL Notes: White Sox, Renteria, Indians, Blue Jays

As the Rays and Astros battle for the American League pennant, let’s check in on a trio of teams whose offseasons have already started:

  • On the heels of their first postseason berth since 2008, the White Sox somewhat surprisingly parted ways with manager Rick Renteria yesterday. Jim Margalus of Sox Machine digs into the likely motivations behind that decision. To some extent, Renteria was the victim of circumstances, Margalus feels; when the former Cubs skipper took over on the South Side entering the 2017 season, the Sox were amidst a rebuild. Margalus opines those first few years of losing, while expected, made it easier for the front office to move on from Renteria now if they weren’t convinced the 58-year-old was best equipped to guide the contending club to postseason success. (Indeed, the front office was displeased when Renteria pushed back a bit against the use of data in his in-game decision-making, reports Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). Another factor working against Renteria, according to Margalus: the Tigers’ own vacancy, which could have spurred GM Rick Hahn to launch a managerial search this offseason rather than risk losing an ideal potential candidate to a division rival.
  • Sticking with the AL Central, the Indians face an offseason rife with uncertainty. The catching situation will be particularly interesting, Zack Meisel of the Athletic observes. Cleveland holds a $5MM club option on starter Roberto Pérez, while backup Austin Hedges would be in line for a raise on his $3MM salary in arbitration. That combination might prove too pricey for the low-payroll Indians, Meisel points out. That would seem to hint at Hedges being non-tendered, but Cleveland clearly liked him enough to acquire him from the Padres just over a month ago as part of the return for Mike Clevinger. Pérez had a dismal 2020 but is only a year removed from performing as one of the league’s best catchers; it’s hard to envisioning the Indians declining his option based upon a poor 100 plate appearances, although perhaps Pérez becomes a trade candidate himself if the club is comfortable turning to Hedges as their top option.
  • The Blue Jays acquired Ross Stripling from the Dodgers at this year’s trade deadline, but the right-hander struggled in 15.2 innings after the deal. Nevertheless, he’s likely to be a key piece of the Toronto pitching staff in 2021, Kaitlyn McGrath of the Athletic believes. GM Ross Atkins specifically mentioned Stripling when discussing the team’s pitching options, McGrath notes, suggesting there’s not much of a chance he’ll be non-tendered this offseason. That’s not surprising, as Stripling is likely only in line for a small raise on this season’s modest $2.1MM salary.
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