Tristan H. Cockcroft:It’s Jack Flaherty – yes, a guy now in the minor leagues – for me, which probably says more about how uninspiring the besides-Ohtani rookie class has been through 11 days than anything. That’s no knock on Colin Moran, Brian Anderson or Tyler Mahle, each of whom has had his moments, but Flaherty’s nine-strikeout performance against the Milwaukee Brewers on the road (at that hitter-friendly ballpark) stands above the rest as the key Week 1 takeaway.
That said, it’s Yonny Chirinos who gets my nod. The Tampa Bay pitcher, part of manager Kevin Cash’s “No. 4 starter collective,” took the mound twice over the first week of the season, holding the Boston lineup scoreless for nine full frames — striking out seven and allowing just four hits. The injured Brent Honeywell may have been the one getting all the hype, but it was Chirinos who was named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2017.
The Rays *should* just place him in the rotation and see what he can do. He’s not likely to continue to outscore the likes of Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco, but he absolutely needs to be on more than just 2.1 percent of rosters, even if Cash continues to use him in his current capacity.
As of Monday morning, the Cowboys were the NFL’s only club not to officially sign a free-agent or re-sign one of their own players since the marketplace opened five days earlier. It’s quite the statement considering even franchises that traditionally are loath to dip into free agency, like Green Bay and Cincinnati, have done just that.
Dallas is hamstrung because of previous decisions that left the Cowboys with less salary cap room (around $2 million) than any other team heading into the NFL’s calendar year. Two recent transactions — cornerback Orlando Scandrick’s release and the restructuring of center Travis Frederick’s contract — have given Dallas a bit more space for moves like the re-signing of long snapper L.P. Ladouceur, which reportedly will happen Monday. Reports say Dallas will be meeting with New England tackles Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle. The arrival of either could pave the way for La’el Collins’ return to left guard.
But as for those top players who were initially available in free agency, that first wave has crested. The Cowboys’ top unsigned player was part of it, as linebacker Anthony Hitchens surfed to a five-year, $45 million deal with Kansas City; Dallas simply could not match.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, the only outside marquee talent Dallas reportedly tried to sign, also went to the Chiefs.