AL Notes: Mahomes, Haggerty, Vogt, Rays

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Patrick Mahomes’ ties to baseball are well known, as the NFL superstar is the son of longtime big league reliever Pat Mahomes.  However, the future Chiefs quarterback was himself a standout high school baseball player, and was even a 37th-round pick for the Tigers in the 2014 draft.  As Tigers scout Tim Grieve told 12Up’s Mark Powell in an interview in 2020, there was no doubt Mahomes was going to play college football at Texas Tech, but the Tigers figured “let’s be that team that started to build the relationship so that if he wants to play baseball 2-4 years down the road, we’ve got our foot in the door.”

Mahomes would likely have been picked in the third or fourth round of the MLB draft if he hadn’t been committed to football, and his father initially felt baseball might be his son’s sport.  “He was going to get drafted as an outfielder, and I have no doubt he would’ve made it and been successful,” the elder Mahomes told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale this week. “He loved baseball.  But when he went out for football, and saw all of the nuances and things you had to learn to be a quarterback, I think it really intrigued him to see what he could do.”  Speaking to Patrick Mahomes’ overall athletic ability, his godfather LaTroy Hawkins thought basketball would end up being his sport of choice.

Now that Mahomes has led the Chiefs to another Super Bowl title, the sports world can turn its attention to the start of Spring Training this week.  Since every season is baseball season here at MLBTR, here are some notes from around the American League…

  • “There are indications” that Mariners utilityman Sam Haggerty had to undergo surgery to fix a grade 2 adductor strain suffered at the end of last season, Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times writes.  The team hasn’t officially confirmed Haggerty’s status, and GM Jerry Dipoto that Haggerty is “a little behind” in his offseason work.  However, Dipoto also noted that Haggerty has started full baseball activity and has “been hitting for quite some time.  So he’s in a good place.”  In his fourth MLB season, Haggerty got an extended look in a utility role with Seattle last season and delivered, hitting .256/.335/.403 (good for a 114 wRC+) over 201 plate appearances while playing in the field at second base and all three outfield spots.  Haggerty looks to continue to play a key role on the Mariners’ bench this season, especially since fellow utilityman Dylan Moore might be a little more impacted during camp while recovering from core surgery.
  • Stephen Vogt weighed two other “serious baseball job offers” before becoming the Mariners’ new bullpen and quality control coach in January.  As Vogt told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Brodie Brazil, “the Mariners were the best situation, the best offer, and being close to home — we did the best we could to make it not be a factor in our decision making.  The cherry on top is that I get to be with my family more in a season than I ever have.”  2022 was the last of Vogt’s 10 Major League seasons, and given that he has long been considered a future managerial candidate, it isn’t surprising that several teams were interested in being the first stop in Vogt’s post-playing career.
  • After a pretty quiet winter on the transactional front, the Rays are now viewing their slower offseason as an opportunity for their core players to enjoy some relatively rare stability, given how Tampa so often shuffles up its roster.  “Generally, we’re always trying to build that next year’s team to be as strong as we possibly can,” general manager Peter Bendix told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  “And this year, that led to us having this continuity and banking on some of this continuity, allowing our young players to grow and develop together and see if we can kind of gain from the experience that they’ve had up until this point.”  The Rays did part ways with several players in trades, free agency, or non-tenders, yet most of those holes were filled internally.  As Topkin notes, Zach Eflin (signed to a three-year, $40MM contract) and Rule 5 Draft selection Kevin Kelly are the only new players on Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster.  Of course, there is still plenty of time in the offseason for the Rays to make some more additions, plus one of the team’s many non-roster invitees could win a job in Spring Training.

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