This is the digital version of the Windup newsletter. Sign up here to receive this content straight to your inbox every morning.
We have a hall of fame! We also look at recent, all-time baseball history and the Royals’ search for Rhys Hoskins’ new home. I’m Levi Weaver here with Ken Rosenthal – welcome to Windup!
Beltré, Mauer, Helton elected to HOF
In the end, it went as expected: no doubt and a handful of people hanging around the 75 percent threshold for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. When all the polls were officially revealed on Tuesday, three (Adrian Beltre, Todd Helton and Joe Moyer) and three others – Billy Wagner (73.8 percent), Gary Sheffield (63.9) and Andrew Jones (61.6) fell short.
I had the opportunity to cover Beltre during his final three seasons with the Rangers. I’ve done my best to describe what it’s like to watch one of the all-time greats – and one of the most unique personalities in the game – use his craft on a day-to-day basis. Cheater: It was encouraging.
Mauer was this year’s big surprise. There was some early sense that he would eventually get in, but few expected him to be a first-ballot inductee. He cleared the margin with 76.1 percent of the four votes, joining Johnny Bench and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez as the only catchers to be elected in their first year on the ballot.
Helton trailed Moyer for most of the early trail, but he eventually jumped out and won 79.7 percent of the vote. Helton is the first player to play his entire career for the Rockies, and as Tyler Kepner pointed out, “… Only Stan Musil and Ted Williams could match him in all of those critical categories: batting average (.316), on-base percentage (.414) and slugging percentage (.539).“
For Wagner and Jones, their chances of getting in next year seem… a bit promising? Jason Stark has more context here (and a whole lot more analysis), but 2025 will be Wagner’s 10th and final year on the ballot. If he doesn’t get the writers’ vote, as was the case in Sheffield this year, he’ll need a veterans committee vote to put him in. Any members in the hall, Grant Brisby will use the Moyer election to make the case for Buster Posey, and why not look to the 2025 ballot?
Ken’s Diary: The Royals are looking to trade more.
The Royals spent $105 million on six free agents this offseason, most notably right-handers Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha. But they remain open to adding one more piece – a closer one.
Unless the free agent market picks up, the Royals’ preference is to trade, he said, giving a brief overview of their thinking. The problem? That market is also thin on conditions.
The Brewers are unlikely to trade National League reliever Devin Williams in 2020 and 23. They probably won’t send him to an AL Central rival on the slim chance they moved Emanuel Klass, the major league leader the past two seasons. And Kenley Jansen of the Red Sox, who is set to make $16 million in 2024, is certainly too expensive for the Royals to pick.
Williams, who recently agreed to a one-year, $7 million contract through 2025 with a $10.5 million club option, had better financial standing. If the Brewers signed Ardis Chapman, they had “high interest” in the free agent According to FanSided’s Robert MurrayPerhaps they would have felt comfortable using Williams’ two years of club control for other purposes.
But the Williams trade became viable when Chapman signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the Pirates. The Brewers don’t have a clear internal candidate to replace him at closer. And the signing of upcoming free agent first baseman Rhys Hoskins to a two-year, $34 million contract is the strongest indication yet that they plan to compete.
Clase, guaranteed 13 in the next three seasons with a pair of $10 million club options 2027 and ’28, is even more affordable Williams. But while the Rangers’ modus operandi is to listen to all players, they’re certainly paying a hefty price for an inexpensive, five-season deal.
So, for now, the Royals’ leading candidate to close remains Will Smith, who the team signed to a one-year, $5 million free agent contract earlier this summer.
Smith, who turns 35 in July, has won three consecutive World Cups with three consecutive teams. He went 22-for-27 in save opportunities last season, with an expected ERA of 3.35 below his actual figure of 4.40. But the Rangers closed with Chapman and Jose LeClair toward the end of the season and then LeClair and Josh Sborth in March to their first World Series title.
With the Royals getting more closer, they could move Smith into more of a setup role and bolster the bullpen. It will not be easy for them to pull such a step. But they don’t consider their season over just yet.
The rooster (Craig Council) works at midnight
You may have heard this story before – the magical moment happened in 1997 – but I forgot that the new Cubs manager, Craig Counsell, was “the chicken”.
Okay, you probably haven’t heard it yet, so let’s recap. It begins with Rich Donnelly, the third baseman of the Pittsburgh Pirates, chatting with his 18-year-old daughter, Amy, during the 1992 NLCS. She asked him what he was saying when he put his hands to his mouth to talk to the base runners and joked that he might be speaking in code – “The chicken runs at midnight” she corrected.
I’m not surprised the Donnelly family remembers the phrase. Amy was battling a brain tumor at the time and passed away the following January. In such situations, those little moments of happiness become precious. The Donnellys had Amy’s code message engraved on her tombstone.
In the year In 1997, Donnelly was with the Marlins, who went 11 in Game 7, one run away from winning the franchise’s first World Series. Coming in third was Craig Council, nicknamed “The Chicken” by some because of his brawling stance.
“The Chicken” ran at midnight (technically 12:05, if the box score is to be believed, but we won’t let that story spoil it) when Edgar Renteria came out.
John Greenberg has the details and a new angle: Radio host Danny Parkins at 670 The Score (home of Cubs radio) is the younger brother of the late Brad Parkin and Counsell’s best friend since childhood.
Hoskins signs with the Brewers, leaving a legacy in Philly.
Last spring, Rhys Hoskins entered the final year of his contract before hitting free agency and was set to become the Phillies’ first baseman. Those plans fell through a week before Opening Day when he tore his ACL, costing him his final season with the team he drafted in 2014.
He is now headed to Milwaukee on a two-year, $34 million deal. The signing gives the Brewers a right-handed bat with heavy pop; He has 148 home runs in 667 big league games. Yes, the swing-and-wives are true (689 strikeouts), but they’re dwarfed by his good eye — 388 walks (119 of which led the league in hitting in 2019). His .353 career on-base percentage is passable for a guy with a .492 slugging percentage.
That adds up to a career OPS of .846 (because two numbers don’t add up @ don’t me – it’s tied to a fourth-digit total) which should go a long way to helping the team. Last year’s home run leader was Willie Adams with 24. Hoskins has struck out less than 27 times since his debut in 2017: 18 in 50 games his rookie year and 10 in 2020 in a 60-game season. Which still feels more like a post-apocalyptic fever dream than reality.
While the Phillies may miss his offensive output, others in the Delaware Valley will miss Hoskins for a different reason. Matt Gelb has put together a great story about his work with children with Hoskey’s Muscular Muscular Dystrophy.
Handshakes and high fives
If you’re confused about the direction of the Boston Red Sox, you’re not alone. Britt Giroli lays it all out here, making the case that leadership in Boston needs to pick a message and stick with it.
It was his when Josh Hader signed with the Astros. second Time to join the org. Houston acquired him from Baltimore in the 2013 Bud Norris trade, then sent him to Milwaukee in 2015 as part of a package for Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez.
Katie Woo details Ollie Marmol’s future as Cardinals manager and the challenges he faces in 2024.
April 8, the moon is going to block the sun. It’s the first total solar eclipse in Cleveland since 1809, and it’s also the day of the Guardians’ Homecoming. What is the plan?
A few more notable free agent signings: James Paxton to the Dodgers, Matt Moore (back) to the Angels and Joey Gallo to the nations.
Ryne Sandberg has revealed he has metastatic prostate cancer.
Subscribe to our other newsletters:
Bounce 🏀 | Heart beat | full hour ⚽ | Main tire 🏁 | Until Saturday 🏈
(Top photo of Adrian Beltre: Jennifer Buchanan / USA TODAY)