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Rival Roundup, Vol. 50: At Witt’s End

A huge extension dominates this week’s Central news.

Houston Astros v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
  • If you missed the numbers, you heard ‘em now — Bobby Witt. Jr is going to be in Kansas City for a loooong, long time.
  • The deal is delivered to a fanbase in sore need of some good, hopeful news; as their rebuild teeters on the decade mark, Kansas City has seen a once-promising farm system dry up a bit, and counted-upon pitching projects falter at the major-league level. For the first time in a while, they have a genuine homegrown superstar in Witt Jr., and they’ve followed the lead of other successful franchises by locking him down early.
  • The mega-deal guarantees the young Royal at least 11 years and $288.8MM, provided Witt were to execute a string of four player options at the end of the initial contract period. After that, the team has the option to add another three years, bringing the potential sum of this contract to 14 years and $377MM. Hot dog.
  • On the absolute other side of the financial spectrum, starter Carlos Carrasco is returning to Cleveland — the franchise with which he spent nearly his entire career — after what can only really be described as an ill-fated detour with the New York Mets.
  • Not only that, but you can get baby back ribs after leaving Progressive Field quicker than you can get them after leaving any other major-league facility.
  • Sticking with Cleveland, on Friday afternoon Guardian fans were greeted with the news of longtime ace Corey Kluber’s retirement announcement. Kluber, a 2-time Cy Young winner and 3-time All-Star, did two things: burned about as brightly as you can as a pitcher in the major leagues, and subsequently reminded fans of how quickly it can all come crashing down, as after his 2018 All-Star season, Kluber pitched just over 300 innings over the next five years.
  • It was an incredible run for the Klubot, who Twins fans will remember well as an absolute buzzsaw of divisional pitching talent. It seems like every time I tuned into the radio from 2014 to 2018, Kluber was working on seven no-hit innings against Minnesota. Farewell to one of the more established pitchers of his time!
  • The Chicago White Sox are getting “serious” about moving into the South Loop. Currently situated well past downtown in a concrete desert facing away from the skyline off the Sox-35th stop, the stadium would instead move (not literally, they’d build a new one) to Clark and Roosevelt, a bit closer to the action.
  • The lease on Guaranteed Rate Field is up after 2029, which will be here before any of us are comfortable with it. The location, dubbed “the 78” to reflect its potential position as the 78th neighborhood in the city proper, is an undeveloped site upon which the White Sox would intend to spend 12-14 acres on ballpark real estate, while possibly sharing the site with other investitures such as one of the University of Illinois’ tech research centers.
  • WGN TV has some early renderings, which look the same as all ballpark propositions (it’s on the water! it’s made of glass! there are trees everywhere!) but the reason they make it like that is because those renderings always look cool as all hell. Chicago being the baseball city it is, I think it would be a great dichotomy to have the Cubs representing hallowed vintage history on one side of town, and the White Sox leading a charge into contemporary design on the other.
  • Finally, circling back around to young prospects; the Detroit Tigers took a page out of the Royals’ playbook, although they did so about a week earlier and with a prospect who hasn’t cracked the bigs yet.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with this name, read up, because he’ll be developing in the big leagues this year after being drafted out of Biloxi, Missouri in 2020 and posting a .977 OPS at Double-A Erie and .890 OPS at Triple-A Toledo last season in 126 combined games.

We’re 46 days and change away from the start of the baseball season. Hopefully, these morsels of knowledge will tide you over for another week. Until then, happy rounding!