NL West Notes: Casali, Vogt, D’Backs, Tatis (www.mlbtraderumors.com)

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Curt Casali’s offseason negotiations with the Giants were interrupted by a surgery, as Casali underwent a hamate bone procedure on his left hand in December.  The catcher told MLB.com’s Maria Guardado and other reporters that he suffered the injury while playing for the Reds in the postseason and initially planned to just rehab the issue before opting for surgery.  There was already a verbal agreement in place between Casali and the Giants prior to his surgery, and once the Giants were satisfied about Casali’s health, the two sides officially finalized a one-year, $1.5MM deal in early January.

In a nod to Casali’s recovery, he said the contract contains a $500K bonus if he makes the Opening Day roster.  He fully expects to be ready, as he has been playing catch and taking swings already in camp, though Casali has yet to get behind the plate for a bullpen session.  The seven-year MLB veteran is slated to work as Buster Posey’s chief backup this season, and San Francisco also has Chadwick Tromp and top prospect Joey Bart waiting in the minors as further catching depth.

More from the NL West…

  • Stephen Vogt tested positive for COVID-19 and has yet to arrive at Diamondbacks camp, manager Torey Lovullo told The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan (Twitter link) and other reporters.  It isn’t known if Vogt might be available or if he is suffering any symptoms, though Lovullo did bring some lightness to the situation by mentioning that Vogt was practicing his putting stroke in his kitchen while having a FaceTime conversation with Lovullo.  Vogt made 20 starts at catcher and 26 appearances overall in 2020, which was enough (in prorated fashion) for his $3MM vesting option for 2021 to become guaranteed, and unlock a further $500K in salary.  Carson Kelly will serve as Arizona’s starting catcher with Vogt slated for backup duty, and star prospect Daulton Varsho and veteran Bryan Holaday are also in camp as possible options if Vogt has miss any time.
  • The Diamondbacks have continued pay cuts for employees throughout the organization, FanSided’s Robert Murray reports.  The cuts have impacted both the baseball operations and business departments, and while the D’Backs are reportedly waiting on their 2021 revenue situation before restoring full salaries, they “are believed to be one of the only teams in baseball still implementing pay cuts to employees.”  Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that most of the salary cuts are in the range of 10 percent or less, after the organization cut remaining salaries by an average of 15 percent last year after furloughing or laying off over a quarter of its staff.  The cuts operate on a sliding scale, so higher-paid employees like team president/CEO Derrick Hall and general manager Mike Hazen are thought to have taken the largest salary reductions.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 14-year, $340MM extension with the Padres represents not just a huge payday for the star shortstop, but also for Big League Advance firm, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes.  Tatis is the most prominent of the 344 players who have signed with BLA since the company was founded by former Phillies right-hander Michael Schwimer in 2016, with BLA offering these players a $50K advance — up to a $500K maximum — in exchange for one percent of any future earnings derived from baseball contracts (not non-baseball income like endorsement deals).  It isn’t known how many advances Tatis received, but even a single $50K advance would result in a $3.4MM return on investment for Schwimer’s firm, and BLA would earn $34MM if Tatis took the full $500K advance.  While striking big on a future star like Tatis is obviously good news for Big League Advance, Schwimer is pleased at how his company has helped many players through the low-paying struggle faced by many minor leaguers, including Schwimer himself during his six pro seasons.  “Fernando’s deal is what everyone wants to talk about, but nobody wants to think of the literal dozens of players that we’ve invested in that are no longer in baseball,” Schwimer said.  “Players that without us, who knows what situation they’d be in….And now with us, in some cases, they have hundreds of thousands of dollars. They can go back to school, start their second chapter.”



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