Stepping away from the Todd Frazier trade for a moment ...
Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez are down in Cuba as part of Major League Baseball's diplomacy trip. Ramirez had already returned once, but Abreu hadn't seen his homeland -- or his son -- in more than two years.
The reunion took place away from all media, but Abreu apparently told the story well enough without words. A highlight among the ones he could summon:
"He knows Daddy's a ballplayer, but he doesn't grasp that his dad is playing in the U.S.," Abreu said earlier in the day. "He thinks his dad plays in Japan."
He also became reacquainted with another one of his young fans:
"Pito!" [Peter Aguila] Prado yelled out, uttering the nickname Abreu only hears in this nation, in front of his people.
Abreu smiled, walked over and embraced Prado, a 17-year-old boy who was born with neurological paralysis and has spent the last two-plus years -- 28 months, as he'll tell you -- waiting to see Abreu again.
"You've gotten so big," Abreu told him. "I used to be able to lift you up."
While the big leaguers are working with kids, David Haugh broke off from the camp to find Minnie Minoso's old home, which he says he reached "thanks to good directions from Minoso's family in Chicago, a pleasantly persistent cab driver and helpful neighbors."
He gave previews throughout the day by posting photos on Twitter ...
More on Minnie in column later but appreciated hospitality of Minnie's family, opening door to American stranger. pic.twitter.com/HUfCsuJJVL— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) December 17, 2015
... and the end result is worth the wait. Haugh wanted to see if and how Cubans are keeping Minoso's memory alive, and thankfully the answer is, "yes," even if there's room for improvement. Haugh talked to Juana Santa Cruz Madrigal, the granddaughter of Minoso's sister (above), with the help of a neighbor who pounded the windows to wake her up, and then translated:
"For (Minnie) I will talk … you can stay,'' she said through Perez, who learned English at the age of 70 and translated. "He loved beisbol.''
He also spoke to a Cuban historian Ismael Sene, who is just as upset as we are that Minoso isn't in the Hall of Fame:
"He was the biggest star. (Luis) Aparicio is in Cooperstown but Minnie isn't there. Why? He should be too. When Roberto Clemente came to the big leagues (in 1955), Minnie already had been to (four) All-Star games. He was the first Latin-American player. He was the most important.''
Something in Sene's memory triggered laughter.
"When Minoso hit the ball, the ball did the 'Cha, cha cha,' and they had a song called "Minoso At Bat,'' that used to play on the radio in Cuba, the cha, cha, cha,'' Sene said. "We want the young people to know those things, to know who Minoso was. We want people to know and love him here as much as they do in Chicago.''
Read the whole thing. It's important.
Abreu approves of Rick Hahn's biggest deal of the winter:
"He’s a good player who can hit," Abreu said, putting his hands together and raising them as if a prayer had been answered. "I love it."
Robin Ventura also spoke to the media about the Frazier trade, and he understood that the Sox still had room to operate. One thing that I hadn't seen reported -- Ventura said that Ramirez wasn't out of the picture.
Unlike Hahn's interview with Spiegel & Goff on The Score 670, which took an uncharacteristically tense turn when they asked him about the power structure with Kenny Williams for the 407th time -- I imagined him muttering "For Fisk's sake" under his breath before starting his answer -- his conversation with the MLB Network covered less familiar ground. In particular, Hahn explains how and why the Dodgers became necessary.
The Reds are ready to move another one of their veteran infielders, as they've agreed on a trade with the Nationals that would send Brandon Phillips to Washington. But Phillips has 10-and-5 rights, and the deal is on hold while he attempts to utilize his leverage.
- Cleveland Indians sign Rajai Davis to one-year deal - Let's Go Tribe
- Cleveland Indians sign Mike Napoli to one-year, $7 million deal - Let's Go Tribe
- Indians DFA Chris Johnson to make room for Rajai Davis - Let's Go Tribe
The White Sox beat the Indians for Frazier's services, so Cleveland has turned to dealing on a smaller scale. The Tribe signed Rajai Davis and Mike Napoli to one-year deals. In order to make room for Davis, they DFA'd Chris Johnson, even with two years and $17.5 million left on his contract.
While most of our outfield conversations here focus on the free agents, there are some intriguing trade candidates, such as Josh Reddick and Carlos Gonzalez. Here, Mike Petriello digs into Gonzalez's numbers and explains why the usual home/road divide for Rockies hitters shouldn't be much of a factor here.