Perhaps Oscar Taveras could boost his defensive reputation by bringing a glove with him to the outfield. - Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Oscar Taveras's name has been mentioned a lot this winter but not always for great reasons.
Oscar Taveras has apparently decided to return to his previous agent, Melvin Roman, rendering my previous premature handwringing completely irrelevant. When this news broke, Derrick Goold had a point to add to Heyman's tweet:
Apparently, Taveras's connection to Plummer was never expected to last, at least according to one club official. I'm not sure what Taveras gained by threatening to change agents. Presumably something. Or maybe this was just the case of a naive kid making a decision without fully considering all of the implications. At any rate, this has been an interesting winter for Taveras. Sure, Baseball America and MLB.com have both ranked Taveras as the third best prospect in all of baseball, but his name has also surfaced in less desirable ways.
About one week ago, Strauss cryptically suggested Taveras's offseason, "has included several missteps of protocol." It would have been fantastic for Strauss to outline these missteps but, of course, he did not, so we're left scouring the internet for our own answers.
Thankfully, someone asked Goold about Taveras' off-field actions in last week's chat at STL-Today, and Goold was kind enough to speak directly to those alleged "missteps," which included skipping the Winter Warm-Up and attempting to make more money by taking time away from his Dominican Winter League club. Here's much of Goold's response, but click the link above for the full quote:
Taveras's off-field actions like skipping Winter Warm-Up? His departure from his Dominican Winter League club for what may have been -- and likely was -- a ploy to get a higher salary? These off-field things. Well, Yadier Molina has skipped Winter Warm-Up before. How's he doing? There are constant examples of players trying to get better leverage for a higher salary from the winter ball clubs. They still get work visas. Taveras is 20. We seem to lose sight of that. It's like people expect his batting average to be some sort of reflection on his maturity.
We can probably categorize Taveras's flirtation with joining Team Canada for the WBC and his weird flip-flopping of agents as other "missteps," though it's hard to know exactly how egregious any of them really were. These are the kinds of details that tend to fade when a player translates his minor league performance to major league success. Bryce Harper can blow kisses and grab his crotch towards pitchers, but people don't spend too much time worrying about his maturity because he regularly destroys baseballs.
It's understandable why such developments would frustrate the Cardinals as Taveras's employer. They want him to develop as quickly as possible and not taking at-bats in winter ball theoretically gets in the way of that development. The Winter Warm-Up is one way the Cardinals organization tries to have its players connect with its fan base and, in the process, raise money for charity. And so when Taveras didn't show up to the event despite the club selling $4,000 worth of his autographs, I can see why they were miffed.
It's easy to become defensive on the behalf of players, especially when they're prospects we hope get a fair shot at a major league career, and even moreso when said prospect is invariably considered one of the best in all of baseball. Much of this is probably due to a kid just acting his age which, as Goold reminded us, is 20 years old. Still, no news can be good news, and now might be a good time for Taveras to put his head down and start lighting up spring training box scores. I fully expect that he will.