By Rob Bishop
Back again, and a major trade went down in MLB on Monday as the Diamondbacks acquired veteran outfielder Starling Marte from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a pair of prospects and international bonus pool space. Health is an issue for Marte, but there is no denying his game-changing ability when healthy. His acquisition will push 2019 MVP candidate to second base.
Another outfielder on the move is Nicholas Castellanos. Shining following a mid season trade to the Cubs, Castellanos netted a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. The terms of the deal are favorable enough for the Reds, though the franchise now boasts a glut of viable outfielders. Cincinnati is expected to shop youngster Nick Senzel, potentially in a move to add a bullpen piece.
Red Sox outfielder and 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts has been the subject of trade speculation all off-season, and with many teams missing out on other options, the hot stove is heating up around Betts’s name. The San Diego Padres continue to be the front-runner in negations, though the Dodgers remain an interested party with plenty of cost-controlled assets to entice Boston. Betts is a legitimate superstar capable of anchoring a World Series contender. If–or when–he is dealt, baseball’s landscape will be altered.
Lost in the hoopla of the NBA season and the NFL playoffs was a major move by the Minnesota Twins last week. The Twins signed veteran third baseman Josh Donaldson to a multi-year deal, a clear indicator Minnesota has its sights sets on a championship in 2020. Donaldson had a bounce-back season with Atlanta in 2019 after having to settle for a one-year deal last winter. Now, he is the recipient of a $92 million deal after a bidding war.
Minnesota’s woes continued with what may have been a rock-bottom loss to the Sacramento Kings. The Wolves were winning by 17 with under three minutes to play, but ultimately lost in overtime. Leading the charge for Sacramento was sharp-shooter Buddy Hield, who erupted for a career-best 42 points. Now 15-32, the Wolves continue to be the biggest disappointment of the NBA season.
No Clint Capela, James Harden, or Russell Westbrook proved to be no problem for the Houston Rockets during a road date with the Jazz on Monday. Veteran guard Eric Gordon shouldered the load, going for 50 points on 14-of-22 shooting. It was a rare occurrence for the Rockets as the team is accustomed to inefficient showings from its offensive leaders, and both Harden and Westbrook should have been taking notes from Gordon’s outburst.
As expected, Pacers guard Victor Oladipo practiced on Tuesday and is slated to make his season debut tonight against the Bulls. Out a full calendar year, Oladipo is slated to come off the bench initially, and he’ll be on a heavy minutes restriction for the next few weeks. However, the All Pro guard simply returning to the court is a huge plus for the Pacers, and the playoff-bound team could make some noise in the postseason with Oladipo playing at past levels. Whether or not he recaptures that form this season remains to be seen, but it is a situation to follow as the Eastern Conference playoff field behind the Milwaukee Bucks continues to take shape.