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Rival Roundup, Vol. 17: I’ve Benintending to write this

A divisional transaction spawns some delicious, low-hanging headline fruit.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Hey, you. You’re finally awake. You were trying to go to Twitter, right? Walked right into that Rival Roundup ambush, same as us, and that thief over there.

Chicago White Sox

  • Young arm Alex McRae — with 15 major-league games under his belt (two with Chicago) — re-joins the team on a minor-league deal.
  • South Side Sox previews the team’s walk-up songs for 2021, and let me tell you, they’re worth checking out.

Cleveland Billiams

  • Billy Hamilton is coming back to the division. It’s a minor-league pact with the veteran speedster, who did his thing with Cincinnati for six years, his thing being stealing bases and not hitting for power. This will be Billy’s sixth team since 2018.
  • Outfielder Ben Gamel joins the organization on a minor-league deal, after a couple decent seasons between Milwaukee and Seattle.

Detroit Tigers

  • Greg Garcia joins the Tigers on a minor-league deal; at 31 with five-plus years of major-league service, Garcia is sort of a scrappy utility infielder who got into 35 games with the 2020 San Diego Padres.
  • Renato Nunez is another spring invite pick; a potential sneaky signing after a 120 wRC+ in 2020, although he doesn’t look like the surest defensive option.
  • In major-league news, 26-year-old Nomar Mazara gets a guaranteed deal with Detroit.
  • Most recently with the Sox, Mazara started his career in Texas and was always one of those “if he can just take the next step” guys. Nomar hit an even 20 homers in each of his first three seasons, but ran a below-average wRC+ every year, and only put together 1.2 fWAR over that period. Chicago took a flier on him in a December 2019 trade, but his .228/.295/.294 slashline in 42 short-season games was not enough to warrant a reunion.
  • Now Mazara gets his third fresh start in as many years, as he continues his journey north, en route to...Toronto? Only he really knows.

Kansas City Royals

  • The biggest divisional news this week came when the Royals orchestrated a three-team trade, the focus of which was their acquisition of Boston outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
  • It’s the latest move in an offseason that almost can’t be called surprisingly aggressive, because we’ve gotten used to the Royals making a new maneuver through the market every couple of weeks. If expanded playoffs are in the near future — and if they actually somehow manage to incentivize competitiveness over mediocrity — then it kind of makes sense for a team like the Royals to start getting into position now.
  • The Kansas City lineup is starting to get some name recognition. Merrifield, Mondesi, Perez, Santana, Soler, and Benintendi project to make up the first six spots of their batting order. Combined with a young pitching staff and a talented bullpen, we could easily be looking at third-place Royal squad.