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While plenty of big names have committed to play in the World Baseball Classic this March—think Nolen Arenado, Xander Bogaerts, Shohei Otani—there also are plenty of not-so-big names providing roster depth. Going down the lists can bring quite a bit of “wait, who? him?” And yesterday, Team Canada added some pitching depth with two guys who are the feeling of “wait, who? him?” personified: Eric Gagne and Ryan Dempster, now 41 and 39, respectively.
If you thought both of the former big leaguers had long ago retired from baseball, you’d be exactly correct. Gagne announced his retirement at the age of 34 in 2010, two years after he’d made his final MLB appearance. Dempster left baseball a few years later, making his retirement official after the 2014 season and more than a year after his last professional game.
It’s been a while since either of the pitchers last played in MLB, but it’s been even longer since either was at all effective. Gagne’s 2010 retirement came only after an attempt to make a comeback that spring with the Los Angeles Dodgers, seven years after he’d become the first closer to record 50 saves in a season and six years after he converted a record 84 consecutive save opportunities with the team. That comeback, as you may remember, went extremely poorly—with six runs allowed in less than three innings over three spring training appearances and zero chance of making the major league roster.
Dempster’s retirement was less flashy (more of a garden-variety fade into irrelevance before a quiet step back from baseball altogether), but it offers just as little reason to think that he’ll have anything to offer for Team Canada now. While the two probably don’t have much to give in terms of their pitching, they at least make it possible for Canada to say that they’ve added two All-Stars, however old those All-Star honors might be—and, hey, you never know.
- The San Francisco Giants haven’t had an arbitration hearing in more than a decade. Will that ever change?
- The Washington Nationals’ blueprint for trying to keep Stephen Strasburg healthy in 2017 involves planning ahead and making training tweaks as needed.
- After scooping up Edwin Encarnacion, the Cleveland Indians are reportedly still in contact with Jose Bautista.
- Drew Smyly makes the Seattle Mariners rotation better, but is he enough?
- The Chicago Cubs are holding a contest to choose the ring bearers for the ceremony this spring where the players will receive their championship rings.
- Adjustments are necessary, but can the Oakland A’s young talent make them?
- The Pittsburgh Pirates’ strategy for drafting prep pitchers may be starting to reap good results.
- The best of the New York Yankees out of position from the last decade—hello, pitcher Nick Swisher and second baseman Francisco Cervelli.