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The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Feed, this feed aggregates the work of the top fantasy baseball bloggers and columnists available via RSS.



Updated: 2016-12-06T04:59:00+00:00

 



Rockies Interested In Encarnacion, Trumbo, Abreu, Carter, Moreland

2016-12-06T04:59:00+00:00

The Rockies are casting a wide net in their search for a first baseman, as GM Jeff Bridich said the team is considering a large array of options, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes.  The list includes such expensive free agents as Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo to more affordable open-market names like Chris Carter or Mitch…The Rockies are casting a wide net in their search for a first baseman, as GM Jeff Bridich said the team is considering a large array of options, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes.  The list includes such expensive free agents as Edwin Encarnacion and Mark Trumbo to more affordable open-market names like Chris Carter or Mitch Moreland. Intriguingly, Harding also reports that the Rockies have been in contact with the White Sox about a possible trade for Jose Abreu.  Talks haven’t advanced beyond the preliminary stage, and sources tell Harding that the Sox want multiple prospects from Colorado in exchange for the Cuban slugger. This is the first concrete link between Encarnacion and Colorado this winter, though since the longtime Blue Jays slugger had been reportedly been contacted by at least a couple of NL teams interested in him as a full-time first baseman, the Rockies were a logical candidate since they’re one of the few National League teams with a first base vacancy.  Colorado’s interest in Trumbo was initially reported over the weekend. Signing Encarnacion or Trumbo would be an expensive endeavor for the Rockies, and either would cost the club the 11th overall pick in the 2017 draft, as both Encarnacion and Trumbo rejected qualifying offers.  Cooper and Moreland would cost much less, likely just one-year contracts.  While neither of that duo carries Encarnacion or even Trumbo’s track record, it could be argued that Cooper or Moreland could at least come close to replicating what the two higher-tier free agents could produce in Coors Field but at a fraction of the price and without any cost of a draft pick. As Harding notes, the Rockies have shown past interest in both Trumbo and Abreu.  Dealing for the latter would be an interesting middle ground between the free agent choices, though it would come at a cost to the Rockies in both minor league talent and money.  Abreu recently opted into arbitration eligibility, so while Colorado would have him under control for three more years, the first baseman would come with a significant price tag. Abreu has delivered very good numbers in his first three MLB seasons, delivering a .299/.360/.515 slash line and 91 homers over 1985 big league plate appearances.  His last two years weren’t as impressive as his breakout Rookie Of The Year campaign in 2014, however, and Abreu has experienced declines in his home run and hard-hit ball rates. The Rockies are also known to still be considering a reunion with Mark Reynolds.  Since the team is being so comprehensive in its search, Harding figures that names like Mike Napoli, Adam Lind, Logan Morrison and perhaps any available first basemen are also under consideration.[...]



The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 409 – The Old Man Episode

2016-12-06T04:23:01+00:00

12/5/16 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @paulkastava  Leading Off: Question of the Day (4:20) Is Chris Carter going to wind up in TB? Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play Carlos Beltran to HOU (8:30) Matt Holliday to NYY (14:30) Mark Melancon to SF (17:00) Rich […]

12/5/16

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live!

Follow us on Twitter

 Leading Off: Question of the Day (4:20)

Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed. Please rate & review the show in iTunes letting us know what you think!

Approximately 51 minutes of joyous analysis.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 409 – The Old Man Episode

2016-12-06T04:23:00+00:00

12/5/16 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @paulkastava  Leading Off: Question of the Day (4:20) Is Chris Carter going to wind up in TB? Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play Carlos Beltran to HOU (8:30) Matt Holliday to NYY (14:30) Mark Melancon to SF (17:00) Rich […]

12/5/16

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live!

Follow us on Twitter

 Leading Off: Question of the Day (4:20)

Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed. Please rate & review the show in iTunes letting us know what you think!

Approximately 51 minutes of joyous analysis.

(image)



Rays Notes: Archer, Odorizzi, Castillo, Pearce, Alvarez

2016-12-06T04:21:00+00:00

Here’s the latest on the Rays from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (multiple story links)… A source on one of the teams interested in right-hander Chris Archer tells Topkin that the Rays are asking for five or six players in return.  Obviously that specific ask could be related to that specific team, but…Here’s the latest on the Rays from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (multiple story links)… A source on one of the teams interested in right-hander Chris Archer tells Topkin that the Rays are asking for five or six players in return.  Obviously that specific ask could be related to that specific team, but with a price tag generally thought to be quite high, Topkin is doubtful Archer will be dealt. Tampa is getting a lot of attention about its rotation in general, including the Pirates showing interest in Jake Odorizzi.  Pittsburgh initially had interest in Odorizzi at the July trade deadline, and it would be fascinating to see what kind of deal (if any) the Rays and Bucs could work out, as fellow small-market teams. Welington Castillo is generating enough interest that he is expected to get a multi-year deal, so the Rays could be priced out of his market.  One source “wouldn’t expect” the Rays to wind up with Castillo, who has also drawn interest from teams like the Braves and Orioles since he was surprisingly non-tendered by the Diamondbacks this week. Steve Pearce was targeted by the Rays before he signed a two-year, $12.5MM deal with the Blue Jays earlier today.  Topkin tweets that the Jays got the edge over the Rays by offering the second guaranteed year and more money. The Rays have interest in Rangers lefty Dario Alvarez, who posted a 5.06 ERA, 13.8 K/9 and 5.86 K/BB rate over 26 2/3 innings with Texas and Atlanta last season.  His ERA was inflated by continuing problems with the long ball, as Alvarez has given up nine homers over his 31 2/3 career innings in the majors.  The Rangers are one of the teams known to be looking into the Rays’ pitching, so Alvarez could potentially be included as part of a trade package. There are so many hitters in the outfield/first base/DH mold available that Topkin believes the Rays could be able to land a good bat at a relative discount price simply by waiting until later in the offseason to make a signing.  Perhaps even a higher-tier hitter like Jose Bautista would be willing to take a one-year, incentive-filled contract to play near his home in the Tampa Bay area and test the market again next winter (though Topkin admits that Bautista is rather a longshot). [...]



Outfield Notes: Fowler, Dyson, Soler, Herrera, Revere

2016-12-06T03:51:00+00:00

The latest in outfielder rumors… The Blue Jays have offered Dexter Fowler a deal in the neighborhood of four years and $60MM, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  This falls short of the $18MM in average annual value that Fowler and his representatives are seeking, though it isn’t such an insurmountable gap that it would rule…The latest in outfielder rumors… The Blue Jays have offered Dexter Fowler a deal in the neighborhood of four years and $60MM, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  This falls short of the $18MM in average annual value that Fowler and his representatives are seeking, though it isn’t such an insurmountable gap that it would rule the Jays out of the running for the free agent outfielder.  The Cardinals continue to be interested in Fowler, Heyman notes, while the Giants and Nationals have also been linked to him in past reports and several other teams are speculative matches for Fowler in all three outfield positions. Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson is another Cardinals target, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).  Dyson has the benefit of coming at a much lower financial or trade cost than Fowler or Royals teammate Lorenzo Cain, plus he would be a good fit for a St. Louis team that has defensive upgrades as a stated offseason goal. The Royals like Jorge Soler, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine tweets.  Rated as one of the game’s best prospects just two years ago, Soler has shown only a few glimpses of his potential at the MLB level and doesn’t have a clear path to regular playing time within the very crowded Cubs outfield.  The Cubs shopped Soler last offseason, and Levine speculates that a deal could be worked out involving K.C. closer Wade Davis, as Chicago is one of several teams interested in Davis. There is some speculation that the Phillies would be open to trading Odubel Herrera, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets.  It would surely take quite a bit to make a deal happen, as Herrera has gone from Rule 5 pick to an everyday contributor for Philadelphia who has hit .291/.353/.419 and 23 homers over his two big league seasons. With the Angels looking for a fourth outfielder who preferably hits from the left side of the plate, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register speculates that Ben Revere could be a good fit.  Revere had a brutal 2016 season and was non-tendered by the Nationals, but Fletcher notes that he has been an Angels target in the past and could be a potential bounce-back candidate. [...]



Indians In Talks With Edwin Encarnacion

2016-12-06T03:05:00+00:00

The Indians are discussing a multi-year contract with slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  Cleveland’s interest in Encarnacion was first reported earlier today, and it appears as though the Tribe has more than just a cursory interest — talks are “serious,” Hoynes writes, though there’s no indication that the two…The Indians are discussing a multi-year contract with slugger Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  Cleveland’s interest in Encarnacion was first reported earlier today, and it appears as though the Tribe has more than just a cursory interest — talks are “serious,” Hoynes writes, though there’s no indication that the two sides are close to any sort of agreement. With Mike Napoli a free agent, the Tribe have been connected to several first basemen this offseason, though Encarnacion (the top first base option on the market) was widely considered to be beyond Cleveland’s financial reach.  When asked if this was the case, however, Indians director of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said “you don’t have to curb expectations. We are being exhaustive in exploring options to improve our position player club.” A source tells Hoynes that the Tribe’s run to Game 7 of the World Series may have generated as much as $48MM in extra revenue for the club, which could provide Antonetti and company with some unexpected payroll flexibility.  It could be something of a perfect storm for Cleveland, as the team’s extra money coincides with a possible downturn in Encarnacion’s market — potential suitors like the Blue Jays, Astros, Yankees have acquired other players, while the Red Sox and Rangers have both shown only lukewarm interest. The draft pick compensation tied to Encarnacion (due to his rejection of the Jays’ qualifying offer) has also reportedly factored into his relatively quiet market, and giving up the 27th overall pick of the 2017 draft to sign Encarnacion is surely a major consideration for the Indians as well.  The loss of a first-rounder is even a bigger hurdle for a smaller-market team like Cleveland that relies on cost-effective young talent, and the Tribe already dealt several top prospects for Andrew Miller at last July’s deadline. In a projected lineup, Encarnacion would split the first base/DH duties with Carlos Santana.  Michael Brantley’s status could also be of note here, as after missing almost all of 2016 with shoulder and biceps injuries, Brantley’s ability to play the outfield next year could be somewhat in question.[...]



Nationals, White Sox Have “Legitimate Chance” At Finalizing Chris Sale Trade

2016-12-06T02:59:00+00:00

8:59pm: The White Sox are still discussing Sale with other teams apart from Washington and a deal with anyone isn’t expected tonight, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets.  An executive on another Sale suitor believes that the Nationals have an 80-20 shot of acquiring the southpaw, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link),…

8:59pm: The White Sox are still discussing Sale with other teams apart from Washington and a deal with anyone isn’t expected tonight, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets.  An executive on another Sale suitor believes that the Nationals have an 80-20 shot of acquiring the southpaw, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link), while FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes that “The Nationals have a clear lead over other teams” in the hunt for Sale’s services.

8:28pm: The White Sox and Nationals continue to be in talks about ace lefty Chris Sale, with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reporting (Twitter link) that there is a “legitimate chance” of a deal between the two sides.  Talks appear to be rather advanced, as Rosenthal says the two sides have the “final pieces” to be worked out.  The trade would involve top Nats prospects Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles as part of the return package headed to Chicago.

Giolito’s name was reportedly included in talks between the two sides earlier today, and while the Nats heavily value both he and Robles (D.C. turned down sending both to Pittsburgh for Andrew McCutchen), Washington’s willingness to include its two best non-Trea Turner trade chips is likely what has attracted Chicago’s attention.

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Padres Notes: Feliz, Aybar, Solarte, Richard

2016-12-06T01:52:00+00:00

Here’s the latest from sunny San Diego… The Padres and Blue Jays are two of the teams who have shown interest in righty reliever Neftali Feliz, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Feliz was bothered by some arm problems late in the season, though he posted a solid 3.52 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and…Here’s the latest from sunny San Diego… The Padres and Blue Jays are two of the teams who have shown interest in righty reliever Neftali Feliz, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Feliz was bothered by some arm problems late in the season, though he posted a solid 3.52 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and 2.9 K/BB rate over 53 2/3 innings out of the Pirates bullpen.  The addition of Feliz would further bolster what is already looking like a strong Padres relief corps, though the Friars may not have the payroll resources of the Jays or the Nationals (another known Feliz suitor). The Padres have some talks with Erick Aybar as they look to once again add a shortstop, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports, though GM A.J. Preller said that the team is primarily looking to the trade market for help at short.  Luis Sardinas is the incumbent at the position in San Diego, though Preller himself mused that the situation is “pretty fluid,” as the Padres weigh finding competition for Sardinas, making a short-term signing or perhaps a larger transaction. Preller denied reports that the team was “aggressively shopping” third baseman Yangervis Solarte and said he would be fine with keeping Solarte in a Padres uniform.  “He’s a guy that we definitely get hit on from other clubs,” Preller said. “I think from our standpoint, we’ll listen, but we’re not actively out there trying to drum up a market or anything like that.” The Padres have reached out to some of the six players they non-tendered earlier this week about returning on minor league deals, Cassavell reports.  It would seem like Hector Sanchez is one of those contacted, as he is a candidate to return and Preller said the team is looking to add catching depth. In a tweet from Cassavell, the Padres will be meeting with Clayton Richard’s agent this week and remain interested in a reunion.  Negotiations between the two sides are “still in early stages.”  After being released by the Cubs in August, Richard signed on with San Diego and pitched well in 11 outings (nine starts), posting a 2.52 ERA over 53 2/3 innings, though his peripherals weren’t too impressive. [...]



Matt Holliday to continue his great career with the Yankees

2016-12-06T01:21:00+00:00

Yankees fans were probably hoping for Encarnación, but Holliday offers better value with less risk. It has been reported that the Yankees have agreed to sign Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13 million deal. It continues a career of a player who has certainly had an interesting one. Besides having been a great player, you would have a hard time finding a long-term deal that has worked out as well as Holliday’s did with the Cardinals. The Yankees outfield is full with Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Judge, so Holliday will most likely be the full-time DH, though he might spend some time at first base depending on how Greg Bird works out there. However, Bird would have to work out very badly at first base to not be an upgrade over what the Yankees trudged out there in 2016. The signing of Holliday might be a disappointment to Yankees fans hoping for the team to acquire Edwin Encarnación (though Encarnación himself is probably the most disappointed). He is three years younger than Holliday, but he likely would have required three to four years at $20-25 million per year. From 2012-2015, Encarnación was the model of consistency at the plate. Unfortunately, he regressed a bit in 2016. A .373 wOBA is very good, and a 19-point drop is not extreme, but his strikeout rate increased by four percentage points. The biggest culprit for that was his decreased ability to make contact on pitches outside the zone. Steamer projects him to regress even further in 2017. If he can stop pressing and lay off those outside pitches, he might be able to duplicate his 2016, but the Encarnación putting up a 150 wRC+ might be gone forever. Holliday had a poor 2016 and missed more than half of 2015, which is why the Cardinals decided not to pick up his option for 2017 for $17 million. The Yankees are likely betting that Holliday’s decreased offensive production was the result of injury, and that he can bounce back to produce a 120-130 wRC+ in 2017. It makes sense to think that on the surface, as a broken right thumb can devastate a hitter’s production. The problem with that is that Holliday actually hit for plenty of power in 2016. His .215 ISO was his highest since 2011. The problem was his walks. His 8.2 percent walk rate was his lowest since he was on the Rockies. He did have a .253 BABIP, though, which I am more comfortable attributing to bad luck than his injury as a result of his 38.5 percent hard-hit rate. It’s not that there isn’t risk with signing a player going into his age-37 season after struggling with injuries during the two seasons prior. However, it is just one year and $13 million, which is nothing to the Yankees. Steamer projects Encarnación and him to be roughly equal offensively for 2016. I would not hold it against anybody who thinks that is a bit too pessimistic of an outlook on Encarnación, and a bit too optimistic on Holliday, so I am curious to see what other projections say once they come out. I believe that Holliday can provide close to what Encarnación can at a fraction of the price. If he stinks, the Yankees can easily cut bait with that contract and try rotating players in and out of the DH role. Encarnación has a higher upside than Holliday, but it is hard to hold it against the Yankees for not wanting to attach themselves to another high priced contract to an aging free agent. The team is doing a great job of getting younger while still remaining competitive. They won 84 games last year, and this upcoming season they will have a full year of Gary Sánchez, better production at first base from Greg Bird, and if Aaron Judge figures things out at the plate, this Yankees team could easily be in the Wild Card hunt. If it turns out that Holliday is done, he will be walking away with a great career behi[...]



Rangers Notes: Daniels, Inciarte, Cobb, Tolleson, Hoying

2016-12-06T01:17:00+00:00

The Rangers have already created some buzz today at the Winter Meetings, and now here’s more out of Texas… It is “unlikely” that the Rangers will sign a “big ticket” free agent, GM Jon Daniels told reporters (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News).  Texas has been linked to the likes of Edwin Encarnacion,…The Rangers have already created some buzz today at the Winter Meetings, and now here’s more out of Texas… It is “unlikely” that the Rangers will sign a “big ticket” free agent, GM Jon Daniels told reporters (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News).  Texas has been linked to the likes of Edwin Encarnacion, Ian Desmond, Mark Trumbo and other notable free agent names this winter, and the team has notable question marks at first base, center field and DH.  If free agency isn’t as likely an option for the Rangers, they could continue to pursue trades.  To that end… The Rangers asked the Braves about Ender Inciarte but talks “went nowhere,” Evan Grant tweets.  Inciarte has drawn trade chatter ever since the Braves acquired him as part of the Shelby Miller trade with the D’Backs last offseason, but it is clear Atlanta regards the defensive standout as a building block in center field. Also from Grant in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link), the Rangers don’t have interest in dealing Rougned Odor or Nomar Mazara.  It would’ve been rather surprising to see Texas trade either young cornerstone player, though the Rangers have been linked to some big names in trade talks (i.e. Chris Sale) that would require a major return. Alex Cobb’s name has been discussed between the Rays and Rangers, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (via Twitter).  The Rangers have targeted such Tampa pitchers as Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Drew Smyly in the past, though Cobb would theoretically come at a lower price tag.  He is only under control through the 2017 season and he missed all of 2015 and most of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. The Rangers are in ongoing talks with Shawn Tolleson about a reunion, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports (Twitter link), as the club wants to bring the former closer back on a minor league deal.  Tolleson elected to become a free agent after a very rough 2016 season that saw him lose his closing job in Texas, spend time on the 60-day DL with a back injury and ultimately get outrighted off the Rangers’ 40-man roster.  The season was a stark contrast to 2014-15, when Tolleson posted very good numbers out of the Texas bullpen. Similarly, the Rangers are talking to outfielder Jared Hoying about a reunion, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets.  Hoying, who made his big league debut last season, was non-tendered by the Rangers earlier this week. [...]



Chris Sale Rumors: Monday

2016-12-06T00:29:00+00:00

Chris Sale’s name figures to dominate headlines in the coming days as baseball’s Winter Meetings pick up steam. We’ll track all of today’s updates on his market in this post… The White Sox continue to put a high price on Sale’s services, and teams in the hunt for the lefty tell ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark (Twitter…Chris Sale’s name figures to dominate headlines in the coming days as baseball’s Winter Meetings pick up steam. We’ll track all of today’s updates on his market in this post… The White Sox continue to put a high price on Sale’s services, and teams in the hunt for the lefty tell ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark (Twitter link) that they don’t expect a deal to be completed at the Winter Meetings. Some in the White Sox organization feel Sale will eventually break down with injuries, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (subscription required), which could be part of the reason why rival executives and evaluators feel the Sox are more ardently pursuing a deal now than they were at the July trade deadline.  Questions about Sale’s mechanics have plagued the lefty even since before he was drafted, though he has been generally healthy throughout his big league career. Earlier updates The Nationals are stepping up their efforts to acquire Sale from the White Sox, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The Nats and White Sox are meeting this afternoon to discuss Sale according to Heyman, who also notes that the Red Sox and other teams are also still in the mix for Sale. Washington reportedly believes it has the prospects to add both Sale and Andrew McCutchen in a trade, though doing so would obviously come with a lofty asking price that would require GM Mike Rizzo to part with a significant portion of his farm system (and likely some MLB-ready talent as well). Trea Turner is reportedly off limits in trade talks, though the Nats have plenty of other young talent to entice other clubs. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted this morning that rival execs get the sense that the Nationals and Astros are the most aggressive teams on the Sale market, and the Braves are in the picture as well. As is the case with the Nats and Turner, the Astros (Alex Bregman) and Braves (Dansby Swanson) each have a young core player whom they effectively deem to be untouchable in trade talks, even for someone of Sale’s caliber. [...]



Nationals Notes: Harper, Kiermaier, McCutchen, Giolito, Wieters

2016-12-06T00:03:00+00:00

There’s a sense within the Nationals organization that it may not be possible to reach agreement with outfielder Bryce Harper on a long-term deal to keep him from reaching free agency after the 2018 season, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  A team source says that the club believes Harper is looking for a deal…There’s a sense within the Nationals organization that it may not be possible to reach agreement with outfielder Bryce Harper on a long-term deal to keep him from reaching free agency after the 2018 season, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  A team source says that the club believes Harper is looking for a deal in excess of ten years and $400M — though it does not appear he has actually made such a specific request.  That level of contract would apparently be a non-starter for the team, which is perhaps not surprising after Harper failed to repeat his outstanding 2015 campaign.  Despite the chatter on the polarizing star, agent Scott Boras says that he has yet to discuss a long- term arrangement with the Nationals, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).  Nats GM Mike Rizzo declined to comment on the subject, as Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post tweets.  Whatever situation may or may not exist involving a Harper extension, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that Harper isn’t the subject of any active trade talks. Some more news out of Washington… Also from Nightengale’s piece, he reports that the Nationals asked the Rays about Kevin Kiermaier but “consider the asking price exorbitant.”  Arguably the game’s best defensive player, Kiermaier has generated 13.1 fWAR over the last three seasons and is under team control through 2020, so it is very understandable that Tampa wants a huge return for Kiermaier’s services. Both Nightengale and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman report that the Nats are willing to discuss prized righty Lucas Giolito, with Heyman noting that Giolito’s name has surfaced in talks with the White Sox about Chris Sale.  If D.C. is unwilling to part with either Trea Turner or Victor Robles, one would think that Giolito would almost have to be involved in a potential Sale trade, as Chicago surely wouldn’t part with its ace without landing at least one blue-chip youngster. The Nats have found the Pirates’ asking price on Andrew McCutchen to be too high, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.  This doesn’t necessarily close the door on a McCutchen trade, though Sherman writes that the Nationals are reportedly more focused on other options, including a deal for Sale. Despite some rumors to the contrary, the Nationals aren’t planning to flip catcher Derek Norris and then pursue Matt Wieters, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. [...]



Bullpen Rumors: Yankees, Brach, Dunn, Davis, Howell, Red Sox, Ziegler

2016-12-05T23:12:00+00:00

Virtually every team in baseball is looking for bullpen help, and here’s the latest in relief pitching buzz… The Yankees are pursuing Aroldis Chapman and will “compete to a certain extent” for his services, GM Brian Cashman told media, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter links).  The club is also talking to Kenley Jansen and looking…Virtually every team in baseball is looking for bullpen help, and here’s the latest in relief pitching buzz… The Yankees are pursuing Aroldis Chapman and will “compete to a certain extent” for his services, GM Brian Cashman told media, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter links).  The club is also talking to Kenley Jansen and looking at trade opportunities, so the Yankees are clearly flexible in their search for back-end relief help if Chapman’s bidding gets too high. The Mets are interested in swinging a deal for Orioles right-hander Brad Brach, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.  The Mets have been rumored to be seeking right-handed help in the ’pen but aren’t pursuing top-tier free agents.  Brach would represent an affordable setup option, but with two years of club control and a 2.39 ERA over his past 158 1/3 innings, Brach should come with a high asking price.  The Orioles have been linked to Mets outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson (they’re said to prefer the latter), but neither of those outfielders would be enough to get the O’s to part with Brach. The Mets haven’t ruled out Mike Dunn as a possible signing, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports via Twitter, but the club is “not so high” on the veteran left-hander. The Cubs are one of the more serious early suitors for Royals closer Wade Davis, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). The Giants are one of the teams who have asked about veteran lefty J.P. Howell, Olney tweets.  Howell is reportedly only looking for a one-year contract.  San Francisco has an open LOOGY role with Javier Lopez hitting the open market.  Howell posted a mediocre 4.09 ERA last year, and though his peripherals were in line with his prior years’ work, Howell was uncharacteristically vulnerable to lefty hitters (.302/.343/.417) in 2016. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters (including ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber) that the Sox “haven’t closed any doors” on re-signing Koji Uehara or Brad Ziegler.  Both pitchers fit Boston’s desire for a setup man with closing experience. The Blue Jays are one of a number of organizations that have had contact with Ziegler, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets.  Toronto is presumably looking to add to to its setup corps in front of closer Roberto Osuna. Ziegler has also drawn some attention from the Nationals, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The Nats are also considering fellow free agent Neftali Feliz as they look to bolster their bullpen. Of course, D.C.’s top priority in the relief ranks is surely in the ninth inning, and it is hard to imagine either of those players being trusted with the closing role. [...]



Blue Jays Sign Steve Pearce: Fantasy Fallout

2016-12-05T23:02:00+00:00

The Blue Jays might have just signed their Edwin Encarnacion replacement in Steve Pearce. What can we expect from him for next season? The Winter Meetings are officially underway. Teams have begun signing free agents and some big names are off the board. The Toronto Blue Jays are one of them, finally signing their first […]

Blue Jays Sign Steve Pearce: Fantasy Fallout - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

The Blue Jays might have just signed their Edwin Encarnacion replacement in Steve Pearce. What can we expect from him for next season? The Winter Meetings are officially underway. Teams have begun signing free agents and some big names are off the board. The Toronto Blue Jays are one of them, finally signing their first […]

Blue Jays Sign Steve Pearce: Fantasy Fallout - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Latest On Royals’ Trade Candidates

2016-12-05T23:01:00+00:00

5:01pm: The Rangers have also spoken to the Royals about Cain, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets. 2:48pm: The Royals have told teams they’re willing to listen to offers on Lorenzo Cain, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that closer Wade Davis is also available and generating plenty of buzz.…5:01pm: The Rangers have also spoken to the Royals about Cain, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets. 2:48pm: The Royals have told teams they’re willing to listen to offers on Lorenzo Cain, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that closer Wade Davis is also available and generating plenty of buzz. Cain, 30, was limited to 103 games by a balky hamstring and also saw his offense take a step back. Set to earn $11.5MM next year before hitting the open market in advance of his age-32 season, Cain batted .287/.339/.408 with nine homers and 14 steals in 434 plate appearances last year. Defensive metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved still lauded him for his defensive prowess, however, so the hamstring troubles didn’t adversely impact his ability to play an elite center field. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported this morning that the Cardinals have been keeping tabs on Cain, and Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweets that the Dodgers are interested in both Cain and Davis. In addition to the Dodgers, the Cubs have shown interest in acquiring Davis, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Chicago hasn’t been heavily linked to the top remaining free agent closers and may prefer to add a shorter-term, more cost effective arm, and Davis would fit that bill. He’s owed $10MM next season before he, too, becomes a free agent. However, Davis also had two different DL stints due to a forearm strain in his right arm and posted some red flags in terms of his K/BB numbers, so while he has plenty of name value there could be some degree of concern when it comes to acquiring him and also parting with premium young talent. Despite concerns surrounding their payroll, the Royals certainly wouldn’t move either of the two for the sole purpose of cutting payroll. Kansas City would feel the need to acquire some meaningful young talent in return, but the revamped structure of the qualifying offer system also puts the Royals in position to receive a lesser compensatory package by making a QO to Cain and/or Davis next year. As such, there’s plenty of logic to seeing what’s out there.[...]



Giants Sign Mark Melancon

2016-12-05T22:54:00+00:00

4:54pm: Melancon will earn $4MM in 2017, $10MM in 2018, and then $14MM in both 2019 and 2020, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links).  Melancon will receive a $20MM signing bonus, $12MM of which will be paid up front and the other $8MM deferred until after the contract is up.  The…4:54pm: Melancon will earn $4MM in 2017, $10MM in 2018, and then $14MM in both 2019 and 2020, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links).  Melancon will receive a $20MM signing bonus, $12MM of which will be paid up front and the other $8MM deferred until after the contract is up.  The deal contains a full no-trade clause, as per Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com.  Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the contract is that Melancon can opt out of the deal after the first two seasons, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. 2:52pm: The Giants have announced the signing of Melancon, pending a physical, as John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. 12:48pm: Melancon’s deal is for exactly $62MM over four years, tweets Rosenthal. 11:57am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter) that it’s a four-year deal in the $62MM range for Melancon. That contract shatters the previous record by $12MM, though it of course isn’t likely to stand all that long given the other names available in free agency this winter. 11:42am: Melancon has agreed to terms with the Giants, and the deal will be finalized once he passes a physical, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). 10:45am: The Giants are close to a deal with free agent closer Mark Melancon, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area tweeted recently that there was a belief in the organization had a strong belief that a deal would get done, and Les Shapiro of Mile High Radio first tweeted that Melancon was wrapping up negotiations with San Francisco. Melancon is represented by ISE Baseball. [Related: Mark Melancon Free Agent Profile] San Francisco made a run at Melancon prior to the non-waiver trade deadline this summer but came up short to the Nationals, who acquired him for lefties Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn. Bullpen struggles wound up being a defining characteristic for the Giants down the stretch, as Santiago Casilla in particular struggled late in the year and lost his hold on closer’s duties. Giants general manager Bobby Evans has implied publicly in the past that perhaps he should’ve made a stronger play to get Melancon into the organization, and it appears now that the Giants made the strongest push of any team to land the highly coveted Melancon in free agency. There are no numbers attached to reports on him just yet, but Melancon reportedly has received four-year offers worth more than $60MM, which would eclipse Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $50MM mark and set a new record for a relief pitcher. The 31-year-old Melancon (32 in March) has been an All Star in three of the past four seasons and has worked to a cumulative ERA of 1.80 across 290 innings in that time (plus 10 innings in the postseason). He doesn’t flash the extreme velocity and/or strikeout rates as free agent counterparts Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, but Melancon misses bats at a slightly above-average rate and also boasts tremendous control and ground-ball tendencies. In that four-year run of dominance, he’s averaged 8.3 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 to go along with a 57.4 percent ground-ball rate. Those immaculate ratios have led to 147 saves for Melancon since 2013, including an NL-best 51 in 2015. He also finished a league-high 67 games between the Pir[...]



Mariners Avoid Arbitration With Jesus Sucre

2016-12-05T22:45:00+00:00

The Mariners have avoided arbitration with catcher Jesus Sucre by agreeing to a one-year, $630K deal, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports (Twitter link).  The contract will pay Sucre $300K if he is sent to the minors. Sucre was arb-eligible for the first time this winter, and he slightly exceeded MLBTR’s projection of…

The Mariners have avoided arbitration with catcher Jesus Sucre by agreeing to a one-year, $630K deal, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports (Twitter link).  The contract will pay Sucre $300K if he is sent to the minors.

Sucre was arb-eligible for the first time this winter, and he slightly exceeded MLBTR’s projection of a $600K salary.  As a Super Two player, Sucre still has three more arbitration years remaining beyond the 2017 season.

Sucre, 28, appeared in just nine big league games in 2016 after suffering a fractured fibula in winter ball and then spending much of his time in the minors after his return from the disabled list.  He’ll likely be the top catching option at Triple-A once again, as Mike Zunino and Carlos Ruiz will handle Seattle’s regular catching duties.  Over 264 career plate appearances in the majors, Sucre has a .209/.246/.276 slash line.

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Red Sox Exercise Club Option On John Farrell For 2018

2016-12-05T22:27:00+00:00

The Red Sox have picked up their 2018 club option on manager John Farrell’s contract, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters (including WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford).  2017 was the last guaranteed year of Farrell’s contract, so he avoids any lame-duck status due to the Sox making the early decision to exercise the option year.…

The Red Sox have picked up their 2018 club option on manager John Farrell’s contract, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters (including WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford).  2017 was the last guaranteed year of Farrell’s contract, so he avoids any lame-duck status due to the Sox making the early decision to exercise the option year.

Farrell’s four years as Boston’s manager have been something of a roller-coaster, as the club won the World Series in his first season but then stumbled to last-place finishes in the AL East in both 2014 and 2015.  That latter season was particularly trying for Farrell both on and off the field, as he took a leave of absence from August to the end of the year in order to get treatment for lymphoma (which thankfully went into remission last fall).  Last season, Farrell led the Sox to the AL East title and, despite a rather ignominious sweep at the hands of the Indians in the ALDS, Boston certainly looks well-positioned to contend in 2017 and into the future.

Farrell has a 339-309 record as Boston’s skipper, and a 493-479 career record as a manager, counting his two seasons as the Blue Jays’ manager in 2011-12.

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Rangers Showing Interest In Soler, Trumbo, Gomez

2016-12-05T22:05:00+00:00

4:05pm: The Rangers are also interested in trading for Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports (via Twitter).  Soler has become something of a forgotten man in a crowded Cubs outfield, though he is still just 24 and under contract through 2020. 3:22pm: The Rangers are showing some interest in Mark Trumbo, tweets Yahoo’s…4:05pm: The Rangers are also interested in trading for Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports (via Twitter).  Soler has become something of a forgotten man in a crowded Cubs outfield, though he is still just 24 and under contract through 2020. 3:22pm: The Rangers are showing some interest in Mark Trumbo, tweets Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, but it’s not clear exactly how strong the interest is. Texas is looking for a right-handed bat, though, he notes. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, meanwhile, tweets that he believes Carlos Gomez is the Rangers’ “preferred plug-and-play” option in center field, but the length of the contract he’s seeking plays a role in the team’s interest. Per Grant, the matter may come down to whether Gomez is willing to take a two-year deal right now or if he wants to seek a three-year deal elsewhere (and perhaps see if Texas is willing to match that offer, if he does find it). Trumbo’s asking price is reportedly considerably steeper than the Gomez price implied by Grant, as Trumbo is said to have countered an offer of $52-55MM over four years from the Orioles with a $75-80MM asking price. The Orioles balked at that lofty ask and, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, are prepared to move on from Trumbo and pursue other options. It’s tough to envision the Rangers (or any club), topping $70MM for Trumbo this offseason. It seems clear that Texas GM Jon Daniels and his staff are looking around at right-handed bats, as they’ve also been connected to Andrew McCutchen in trade talks. However, it doesn’t appear that they’re 100 percent closed off to signing a left-handed hitter, as Grant tweeted this morning that they’ve maintained contact with Mitch Moreland. However, things will only work with Moreland if he’s willing to wait around for a bit while the Rangers explore some other priorities.[...]



Mariners Listening To Offers On Seth Smith

2016-12-05T21:50:00+00:00

The Mariners are listening to offers on outfielder Seth Smith, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Indeed, the M’s have long been willing to consider moving the veteran, who’ll earn $7MM this year after his club option was picked up, according to the report. Smith, 34, could certainly hold appeal to other organizations. Teams…

The Mariners are listening to offers on outfielder Seth Smith, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Indeed, the M’s have long been willing to consider moving the veteran, who’ll earn $7MM this year after his club option was picked up, according to the report.

Smith, 34, could certainly hold appeal to other organizations. Teams such as the Orioles and Blue Jays have been tied to left-handed-hitting corner outfield bats, and surely would like the idea of taking on a more limited commitment than might be found on the open market.

In all likelihood, rival teams would view Smith much in the same way the Mariners have — as a lefty platoon piece who might see 400+ plate appearances. He slashed .249/.342/.415 with 16 home runs over 438 plate appearances last year. That production fell a bit shy of his work over the prior two years, but is largely in line with his career numbers.

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Giants Nab Mark Melancon: Fantasy Fallout

2016-12-05T21:29:00+00:00

Mark Melancon is the first of the big three free agent closers to come off the board, as the Giants inked him to a deal on Monday. What is the fantasy fallout from this deal? Early December is always a fun time in MLB, as the Winter Meetings usually spark the movement of numerous players. […]

Giants Nab Mark Melancon: Fantasy Fallout - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

Mark Melancon is the first of the big three free agent closers to come off the board, as the Giants inked him to a deal on Monday. What is the fantasy fallout from this deal? Early December is always a fun time in MLB, as the Winter Meetings usually spark the movement of numerous players. […]

Giants Nab Mark Melancon: Fantasy Fallout - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Orioles Moving On From Mark Trumbo?

2016-12-05T20:57:00+00:00

2:55pm: Olney tweets the Orioles were comfortable in the four-year, $52-55MM range but backed off when Trumbo’s camp countered between $75-80MM. ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears a bit differently tweeting that the Orioles were only willing to offer three years and an option, however. 2:06pm: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that the Orioles don’t get the sense…2:55pm: Olney tweets the Orioles were comfortable in the four-year, $52-55MM range but backed off when Trumbo’s camp countered between $75-80MM. ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears a bit differently tweeting that the Orioles were only willing to offer three years and an option, however. 2:06pm: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that the Orioles don’t get the sense that they’re close in talks with Trumbo, and they could move on to other targets at this point. 12:54pm: The Orioles have extended a four-year offer to free-agent slugger Mark Trumbo, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter links). While the value of Baltimore’s offer isn’t known, the first baseman/outfielder is said to be seeking $80MM. That price sounds like a non-starter for most organizations, and that likely includes the O’s. Per Kubatko, Trumbo’s side has already signaled a willingness to move down to the $70MM to $75MM range while also taking a backloaded salary structure. But that’s still arguably too much for the thirty-year-old slugger, who’s also said to be seeking a no-trade clause. Kubatko notes that the O’s aren’t going to bite on the no-trade request, though it seems it’s still possible that the sides will work something out. It remains to be seen whether Baltimore will move up to Trumbo’s apparent asking price, or whether interest from other quarters will emerge at or near that level. While Trumbo did lead all of baseball with 47 home runs in 2016, power is in abundant supply on this year’s free-agent market — particularly with Chris Carter now available. Carter, of course, was cut loose despite being arbitration-eligible at a projected $8.1MM arbitration salary. His .222/.321/.499 batting line wasn’t all that much less productive than Trumbo’s .256/.316/.533 slash, particularly once park effects are accounted for, and the two have rather similar lifetime numbers as well. It does seem that the O’s are at least somewhat comfortable playing Trumbo in the outfield, but it’s eminently arguable that neither player should be allowed to roam past the infield dirt.[...]



Phillies, Benoit Agree To One-Year Deal

2016-12-05T20:35:00+00:00

DEC. 5: Gelb reports that Benoit will earn $7.5MM on his one-year deal — the same amount he earned in 2016 (Twitter link). DEC. 4, 11:59pm: Benoit’s deal is a one-year contract and it will be finalized when he passes a physical, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 10:04pm: The Phillies are close to…DEC. 5: Gelb reports that Benoit will earn $7.5MM on his one-year deal — the same amount he earned in 2016 (Twitter link). DEC. 4, 11:59pm: Benoit’s deal is a one-year contract and it will be finalized when he passes a physical, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. 10:04pm: The Phillies are close to a deal with veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports.  The contract is expected to be announced before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday. Benoit’s 15th big league season was really like two seasons in one, as he struggled with both the long ball and his control over 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners before being traded to the Blue Jays in late July.  In Toronto, Benoit turned things around in spectacular fashion, posting an 0.38 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 2.67 K/BB rate and just one home run allowed over 23 2/3 IP as a Blue Jay.  He missed out on the Jays’ postseason run due to a torn calf muscle suffered in a bench-clearing brawl with the Yankees in late September. Assuming a deal is finalized, the Phillies would be the seventh team Benoit has suited up for during his long career.  The 39-year-old has somewhat flown under the radar as one of the best relievers in baseball in recent years, posting a 2.40 ERA, 3.56 K/BB rate and an even 10.0 K/9 over 427 bullpen innings since the start of the 2010 season. As Salisbury notes, Benoit does have some closing experience but for now likely slots in alongside Pat Neshek as the veteran setup options behind Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez.  Salisbury speculates that Benoit could give the Phils added depth so the team could shop Neris or Gomez; Neris in particular would draw a lot of attention on the open market, though Philadelphia would want a lot in return.[...]



Latest On Andrew McCutchen

2016-12-05T20:20:00+00:00

2:20pm: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (on Twitter) that the Pirates asked the Nationals for both Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles but were (unsurprisingly) rebuffed. The Nats do have some questions about McCutchen’s potential decline and also his leadership, according to Biertempfel. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets that the Rangers also find the…2:20pm: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (on Twitter) that the Pirates asked the Nationals for both Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles but were (unsurprisingly) rebuffed. The Nats do have some questions about McCutchen’s potential decline and also his leadership, according to Biertempfel. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets that the Rangers also find the asking price on McCutchen extremely high, as they’ve been asked for an established starting pitcher and additional prospect value in return. 12:39pm: The Rangers have been in “frequent” contact with the Pirates about McCutchen, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. A deal between the two sides is possible but not close at this time, he adds. Heyman adds that he’s heard it’s “not likely” that the Rangers would actually meet the Pirates’ asking price, though. Additionally, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweeted earlier today that the Dodgers have made a recent inquiry on McCutchen as well. 11:10am: There’s a “mystery team” pursuing Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Pittsburgh is said to be looking for a taker for its longtime star. To this point, the Nationals have been tied most closely to the former MVP center fielder. The Dodgers, too, have been mentioned recently as having interest, while the Rangers and Mariners have also been connected. But the other possible suitor is a team that hasn’t yet been publicly associated with the Bucs’ stalwart, per the report. That leaves 25 other organizations that could conceivably have interest. A variety of teams — potentially including the Orioles, Blue Jays, Giants, Phillies, Mets, and Cardinals — might make some degree of sense, and surely there are others that could become involved in the right circumstances.[...]



Rotation Rumblings: Gray, Duffy, Astros, Pirates, Fister

2016-12-05T20:14:00+00:00

The Braves are reportedly still in the mix for Chris Sale, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Atlanta also made a run at Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray but found Oakland’s asking price to be prohibitive (Twitter link). Oakland did not ask for Dansby Swanson to be included in the deal, but Atlanta…The Braves are reportedly still in the mix for Chris Sale, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Atlanta also made a run at Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray but found Oakland’s asking price to be prohibitive (Twitter link). Oakland did not ask for Dansby Swanson to be included in the deal, but Atlanta still felt the A’s were asking for too much in return. A few more notes on the market for starting pitchers… The Royals are gauging interest in left-hander Danny Duffy, reports MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Duffy had a breakout campaign this past season, tossing 179 2/3 innings with a 3.51 ERA, 9.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 36.4 percent ground-ball rate. As Morosi points out, he could make sense for a team looking to augment its rotation but unwilling to part with the talent required to land someone like Chris Sale or Chris Archer. Duffy, however, is a free agent next winter, so he’d be a short-term upgrade rather than a long-term solution like those other names. The Astros are more likely to trade for rotation help than they are to pursue the remaining free agents on the market, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Houston isn’t in on right-hander Ivan Nova and likely considers him to be too expensive, per Olney. The Astros are reportedly open to moving either Collin McHugh or Mike Fiers as they seek to create some roster/payroll flexibility, as Olney’s colleague, Jayson Stark, reported earlier today. Pirates officials are set to meet with free agent lefty Derek Holland at some point this week at the Winter Meetings, reports Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). The Bucs have been linked to H0lland on multiple occasions this winter as the former Ranger looks to rebuild his stock with a healthy 2017 campaign. The Marlins are showing some interest in right-hander Doug Fister, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman, but adding an established closer is the team’s No. 1 priority at the moment. This isn’t the first time Miami has been connected to Fister, but that fact that they’re still interested after adding Edinson Volquez to the mix is notable. [...]



Giants find bullpen help, sign Mark Melancon

2016-12-05T20:00:00+00:00

Have they finally solved their late-inning woes? It only took watching one game — their season finale — to recognize the San Francisco Giants’ fatal weakness. The Giants led the eventual world champion Chicago Cubs 5-2 heading into the top of the ninth in Game 4 of the NLDS, just three outs away from sending the series back to a nervous Wrigley field for a decisive fifth game. All they needed was for their bullpen to not blow it. But blow it they did. That game was not an isolated incident, of course, but rather a microcosm of a weakness — preserving late-game leads — that had plagued the team all season long. In fact, no team in baseball blew more saves than the Giants, who led the league with 30. The difference in blown saves between San Francisco and the next closest playoff team — the Dodgers, with 22 — was the same difference as that between the Dodgers and the Orioles, who tied for the second fewest blown saves in baseball and (remember, Buck) employ Zach Britton. So yeah, no lead was safe once the Giants handed the ball over to their bullpen. That habit reared its ugly head at the worst possible time and ended “even-year bulls**t” in excruciating, if unsurprising, fashion. Today, Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans took a significant step toward solving that problem, reportedly signing former Pirate and National Mark Melancon: Sources: The Giants and Mark Melancon have agreed to a deal, pending a physical; Melancon is going through his physical.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2016 Until Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen inevitably sign their respective mega-deals, Melancon’s new contract will briefly hold the record for the richest ever signed by a reliever, surpassing Jonathan Papelbon’s 4-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies from 2011: Can confirm @Buster_ESPN Melancon in deal with h #Sfgiants. Hear it is 4-yr $62M range— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 5, 2016 Just a few years ago, this would have been crazy money for a closer, even one as good as Melancon. It’s still a little bit crazy, but in this brave new world of Andrew Millers, relief aces are being valued more than ever before, and the terms here make sense. For a team as desperate for late-inning reliability as the Giants, this is a no-brainer. San Francisco is able to reel in one of the three best relievers on the market without paying the truly excessive amounts it would take to land either Chapman or Jansen, allowing the Giants to spend those dollars and shore up weaknesses elsewhere. Since a disastrous 2012 season with the infamous chicken-and-beer Boston Red Sox, Melancon has been an unquestionably elite reliever: Season Team IP ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K/BB BABIP 2013 PIT 71 1.39 1.64 8.87 1.01 8.75 0.297 2014 PIT 71 1.90 2.09 9.00 1.39 6.45 0.258 2015 PIT 76.2 2.23 2.82 7.28 1.64 4.43 0.251 2016 PIT / WSH 71.1 1.64 2.42 8.20 1.51 5.42 0.259 That’s a presidential cycle worth of dominance, and at 31 years old, he figures to have some more left in the tank. Things could get a little dicey on the back end of this deal once Melancon hits his mid-thirties, but he’ll very likely be worth the cost in the immediate term. Melancon’s success can primarily be tied to the dramatically increased usage of his cutter, as you can see in this chart from Brooks Baseball: Bro[...]



Dodgers Re-Sign Rich Hill

2016-12-05T19:48:00+00:00

1:48pm: Hill gets a $2MM signing bonus and will earn $12MM in 2017, $16MM in 2018 and $18MM in 2019, according to the Associated Press. 12:02pm: The Dodgers announced today that they’ve officially re-signed left-hander Rich Hill to a new three-year contract. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reported over the weekend that the…1:48pm: Hill gets a $2MM signing bonus and will earn $12MM in 2017, $16MM in 2018 and $18MM in 2019, according to the Associated Press. 12:02pm: The Dodgers announced today that they’ve officially re-signed left-hander Rich Hill to a new three-year contract. Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reported over the weekend that the two sides were closing in on a deal. Yahoo’s Tim Brown reports that Hill, an ACES client, will receive a $48MM guarantee over the life of the deal (Twitter link). Hill, 37 next Spring, has had one of the most remarkable late-career renaissances in history, as he’s still just 18 months removed from pitching with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. Hill parlayed a September roll of the dice by the Red Sox in 2015 into a one-year, $6MM deal with the A’s last offseason. For Hill, even last year’s $6MM represented a life-changing number, as he’d never earned more than $1MM in a single MLB season. Prior to this deal, Hill had earned just over $9MM in parts of 12 big league seasons, per Baseball Reference. Despite a groin strain and a blister issue that limited him to 110 1/3 regular season innings in 2016, he proved to be a steal for Oakland, who traded him to the Dodgers alongside Josh Reddick for three well-regarded young arms (Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas) just before the non-waiver trade deadline. Over his past 152 1/3 Major League innings (including the postseason), Hill owns a ludicrous 2.13 ERA. He’s racked up 184 strikeouts against just 44 walks in that time while also keeping the ball on the ground at a roughly league-average rate. While the durability concerns that accompany him are very real — Hill has made more than 20 starts just once in his career, back in 2007 — Hill was the only arm on the free-agent market that had the potential to pitch at the top of a Major League rotation. The Dodgers, in need of quality innings behind ace Clayton Kershaw (who missed two months with a back injury in 2016), can afford better than any club to take this level of risk on Hill. With this re-signing, Hill will join Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias in the team’s Major League rotation next season, and the Dodgers are teeming with options beyond that quartet. Los Angeles has three injury-prone options that have proven to be quality arms when healthy in Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-jin Ryu, but reports have indicated that the Dodgers are shopping Kazmir and McCarthy. Other options for the fifth spot include Alex Wood, Jose De Leon, Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, giving president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, GM Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the L.A. front office plenty of flexibility as they explore various trade scenarios this winter. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



Weekend Transaction Analysis: Holliday, Beltran, Garia, & More

2016-12-05T19:46:00+00:00

Note: The great and power Paul Sporer will examine the Mark Melancon, Rich Hill, and Steve Pearce moves in the next day or so. I am just catching up on the moves from the weekend.   Yankees signed Matt Holliday In a vacuum, this signing makes sense for the Yankees and Holliday. The Yankees needed a […]Note: The great and power Paul Sporer will examine the Mark Melancon, Rich Hill, and Steve Pearce moves in the next day or so. I am just catching up on the moves from the weekend.   Yankees signed Matt Holliday In a vacuum, this signing makes sense for the Yankees and Holliday. The Yankees needed a designated hitter and Holliday needed to transition away from playing the outfield. As the Yankees roster stands at this moment, Tyler Austin and Gregory Bird will be competing for time at first base and the outfield is Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Aaron Judge. All the veterans have a role and everyone should be content. I just don’t think the Yankees are done making moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees added another bat like Edwin Encarnacion. Does Holliday push the pair at first base to the bench or does he become a useless defensive stump in the outfield? Only time will tell. Holliday’s talent should not change much. He still has 20 to 25 home runs power. Even though his batting average dropped to a career-low .246 last year, I expect it to regress to around.270. The 36-year-old’s biggest issue was 10-year low walk rate because pitchers just attacked him the zone (44% to 46% Zone%). Pitchers may have attacked him more because he continuously deals with nagging injuries and missed most of 2015 with a quadriceps injury and the last third of 2016 with a fractured thumb. The Yankees will need to likely find a backup for Holliday at some point during the season.   Astros signed Carlos Beltran By signing with the Astros, the 39-year-old Beltran just about guaranteed himself 600 plate appearances as the primary DH and occasional time in the outfield. His home run output will likely drop with him hitting 20 Yankee Stadium home runs and only nine on the road. Twenty home runs are probably more in line with 2017 expectations. His plate appearances, and therefore his Runs and RBI totals, will fluctuate depending on his lineup spot. Otherwise, I don’t expect much production change from the last few seasons. The big losers will be everyone else hoping for the extra DH plate appearances. Backup catcher Evan Gattis along with Brian McCann and A.J. Reed are now projected for less playing time. With the recent signings, every Astro looks more valuable with the overall better lineup. Increase chances for plate appearances, RBI, and Runs will boost everyone’s stats.   The Padres traded Derek Norris to the Nationals for Pedro Avila The Nationals had a void at catcher with Wilson Ramos a free agent. The Padres could move on from Norris with Austin Hedges taking over as their catcher. The trade makes perfect sense for both teams. Norris’s value jumps mainly from an improved starting cast compared to last year’s Padres lineup. Better team, more chances for RBI and Runs. My one worry is that he’ll bat in the dreaded 8th spot which will kill his value. The 27-year-old did take a huge step backward[...]



Astros Claim Ashur Tolliver From Angels

2016-12-05T19:34:00+00:00

The Astros have claimed left-hander Ashur Tolliver off waivers from the Angels, tweets Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The 28-year-old reliever made his big league debut with the Orioles last season after impressing with a 2.23 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 44 1/3 innings across three minor league level. However, Tolliver was…

The Astros have claimed left-hander Ashur Tolliver off waivers from the Angels, tweets Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle.

The 28-year-old reliever made his big league debut with the Orioles last season after impressing with a 2.23 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 44 1/3 innings across three minor league level. However, Tolliver was still designated for assignment when the Orioles picked up Kyle Lobstein, and he want to the Angels on waivers shortly thereafter. Tolliver has just 4 2/3 big league innings under his belt, during which time he allowed three runs on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts, but he’ll give Houston an MLB-ready southpaw option to add to its depth chart.

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Astros Sign Carlos Beltran

2016-12-05T19:11:00+00:00

DEC. 5: The Astros announced that Beltran has passed his physical, making the contract complete. DEC. 3: The Astros have agreed to a one-year, $16MM deal with free agent DH Carlos Beltran, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Twitter links). Beltran is an MVP Sports Group client. Beltran will receive a no-trade clause, Bob Nightengale of USA…DEC. 5: The Astros announced that Beltran has passed his physical, making the contract complete. DEC. 3: The Astros have agreed to a one-year, $16MM deal with free agent DH Carlos Beltran, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Twitter links). Beltran is an MVP Sports Group client. Beltran will receive a no-trade clause, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News had previously tweeted that Beltran would sign today. Since Beltran was traded last season, the Yankees could not extend him a qualifying offer, and thus the Astros will not have to sacrifice a draft pick. [RELATED: Updated Houston Astros Depth Chart] The Astros had repeatedly been connected to Beltran, and earlier this week it emerged that they were confident they could sign either Beltran or Edwin Encarnacion. The Red Sox, too, reportedly were very strongly interested in signing Beltran. The Yankees looked like a possibility as well, although Feinsand tweeted today that they were out of the running. Beltran agreeing to terms with Houston could pave the way for the Yankees to sign Encarnacion, though, as FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. In Houston, Beltran will join a new-look Astros lineup that also now features catcher Brian McCann, left fielder Nori Aoki and right fielder Josh Reddick. Those three veterans will join a young core that includes Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and George Springer, alongside top second baseman Jose Altuve. Before the Beltran deal, Evan Gattis had been slated to fit in with the Astros at DH, and the Astros recently exercised their $5.2MM option on him. Gattis is coming off a strong season in which he hit .251/.319/.508 with 32 home runs. His exact role with the 2017 Astros is unclear, but he figures to catch sometimes (playing while McCann sits), while also sometimes playing corner outfield or DH’ing on days in which Beltran plays in the field. Beltran turns 40 in April, but he showed no signs of slowing down last season, batting .295/.337/.513 with 29 homers for the Yankees and Rangers. That hitting line placed him among the game’s better designated hitters — the only ones who were markedly better were David Ortiz, Nelson Cruz and Encarnacion. The switch-hitting Beltran was particularly deadly against lefties, batting .338/.380/.589 with nine homers in 163 plate appearances, but he also hit righties well. Beltran no longer has the baserunning or defensive value he did as a young man, but his skills at the plate have aged remarkably well, as he’s topped an .800 OPS in five of the last six seasons. Beltran now has 421 home runs in a career that stretches all the way back to 1998. In that span of nearly two decades, he’s played with both Astros manager A.J. Hinch (with the Royals in 2001 and 2002) and bench coach Alex Cora (with the Mets in 2009 and 2010). Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets that Hinch and Cora’s familiarity w[...]



Aroldis Chapman Seeking Six-Year Contract

2016-12-05T19:08:00+00:00

Free agent left-hander Aroldis Chapman is seeking a six-year contract, he tells ESPN’s Marly Rivera. In speaking with Rivera, the flamethrowing southpaw also dispelled any notion that he has ever demanded a $100MM figure when speaking to another club. Said Chapman: “The only thing I have expressed is that I would like a six-year contract.…Free agent left-hander Aroldis Chapman is seeking a six-year contract, he tells ESPN’s Marly Rivera. In speaking with Rivera, the flamethrowing southpaw also dispelled any notion that he has ever demanded a $100MM figure when speaking to another club. Said Chapman: “The only thing I have expressed is that I would like a six-year contract. I know that doesn’t mean that I will get it, but that’s what I would like to sign. There are rumors out there that I requested $100 million and that’s not true at all. I believe he who deserves something, does not need to demand it.” Earlier today, right-hander Mark Melancon shattered Jonathan Papelbon’s previous record reliever contract ($50MM) when he reportedly agreed to a four-year, $62MM deal with the Giants. Chapman and fellow free agent Kenley Jansen are both widely expected to clear the Melancon figure by an even larger margin than Melancon cleared Papelbon, however. A six-year deal for Chapman doesn’t necessarily seem likely, but given widespread expectations that he’ll land a five-year deal, the possibility of a team going to six years is present. If Chapman does get to six years, one would have to imagine that he’ll top $100MM as well. There are other factors to consider, though. One element that could impact the overall value of a deal would be an opt-out clause, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that some officials that have been involved in talks with both Chapman and Jansen believe they’ll seek such a provision in their deal. Opt-out clauses typically require some concession in terms of the overall value of a contract, so it’s possible that Chapman could pursue a deal that’ll allow him to re-enter the market after two or three years. And considering the fact that he’ll pitch all of next season at 29, he could seek such a clause and still hit the open market for a second time at a young enough age to cash in on an even larger commitment. Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald have both written about Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s affinity for Chapman today, and the Yankees are also a team that has been oft-inked to Chapman. ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reported today that there’s been “no momentum” toward a long-term deal between the Cubs and Chapman, further suggesting that Chicago won’t make a significant play to re-sign Chapman after surrendering with a large amount of young talent to acquire him prior to the non-waiver trade deadline back in July.[...]



Why your team should sign Rubby de la Rosa

2016-12-05T18:00:00+00:00

The Diamondbacks let the righty walk after two years in the desert. But he took a big step forward in 2016. BtBS is profiling several prominent players who became free agents after their team didn't tender them a contract. For a full list, click here. The Diamondbacks are moving in a new direction after several years wandering the (figurative) desert. New GM Mike Hazen didn't waste any time shaking things up: He swung a trade for the Mariners' Taijuan Walker, then cut ties with veterans Welington Castillo and Rubby De La Rosa. After a 69-93 finish in a year when some thought the Diamondbacks could break through to the playoffs, a bit of late-autumn cleaning might make sense. However, in tossing out Castillo's pungent bathwater, Hazen may have also disposed of a perfectly good baby in De La Rosa. (Yes, I know that's a strained metaphor, but given my colleague's egregious meat puns, I think it's more than fair.) While he certainly didn't star in 2016, De La Rosa could have the talent to become a dependable mid-rotation starter. An obvious issue arises with De La Rosa: health. Back in 2011, he underwent Tommy John surgery to treat an ailing elbow. Over the subsequent years, he managed to stay on the mound, but that changed in 2016 when his elbow flared up again. After missing a few months, he elected to try stem cell therapy in September; his future for now is somewhat uncertain. If his elbow recuperates, though, he might be able to sustain this tantalizing trend: As it turns our, those strikeouts made him a pretty good pitcher. Prior to 2016, De La Rosa had a career DRA- of 104 and cFIP of 101. This season, though, he improved to an 82 DRA- and 85 cFIP, besting Rick Porcello and Madison Bumgarner (among many others) in both regards. Those results came over just 50.2 innings, and if he could maintain them over, say, 180, he'd be a welcome addition to any big-league rotation. How did De La Rosa take this step forward? He started throwing his breaking ball a lot more often: Out of 206 hurlers with at least 200 sliders, de la Rosa's ranked 28th in swinging-strike rate at 22.2 percent; that clip obviously played a large role in his strikeout spike. The slider also had an immaculate 69.0 percent strike rate, which placed him 46th in that sample. Thanks to that combination of strikes and whiffs, De La Rosa's slider was the best on the Diamondbacks — even superior to that of Zack Greinke, his ace teammate. Earlier in the season, before De La Rosa's injury sidelined him, Diamondbacks catcher Chris Herrmann talked with the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro about the slider. He cited improved command as a big factor in the slider's improvement, remarking that De La Rosa was "starting to get a good idea of where his ball is going now." Velocity's never been an issue for De La Rosa's slider, so now that he can control it better, he's able to unleash it whenever he pleases. Now, De La Rosa might not be able to continue pulling this off. Some evidence suggests heavy slider usage can lead to injuries, which could explain the elbow maladies he's dealt with this year. Those could just be a coincidence, though. He's always had a high-octane[...]



Marlins’ Owner Driving Pursuit Of Top-Tier Closers

2016-12-05T17:39:00+00:00

The Marlins have been somewhat surprisingly tied to names like Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins’ pursuit of the market’s top closers is coming at the urge of owner Jeffrey Loria. Spencer notes that signing any of the “big three” available closers would push Miami…The Marlins have been somewhat surprisingly tied to names like Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins’ pursuit of the market’s top closers is coming at the urge of owner Jeffrey Loria. Spencer notes that signing any of the “big three” available closers would push Miami well past a $100MM payroll for just the second time in franchise history, but Loria is seemingly comfortable with that fact. According to Spencer, the Marlins’ payroll could rise as high as $115MM next year. Right-hander Mark Melancon is reportedly nearing a deal with the Giants, which would leave Jansen and Chapman as the top two potential targets for Miami. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported last night that the Marlins were willing to offer upward of $80MM to Jansen despite the qualifying offer that is attached to his name. And, earlier this morning, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Loria “loves” Chapman and has been speaking directly to the agents for the top relievers himself thus far. Either Jansen or Chapman would be a massive boost to Miami’s relief corps and would give the team a potentially dominant late-inning trio, as right-handers A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough both have gaudy strikeout numbers. It’s been rumored that the Marlins could field offers for Ramos this winter, though, so there’s obviously some degree of fluidity in the organization’s plans to solidify its pitching staff. Also of note for Marlins fans, FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter) that they’re interested in veteran A.J. Ellis as a potential backup to young catcher J.T. Realmuto. Jeff Mathis has been Miami’s reserve catcher in recent seasons, but he recently inked a deal with the Diamondbacks, leaving the Fish in the market for some catching help.[...]



A Minor Review of 2016: Toronto Blue Jays

2016-12-05T17:15:00+00:00

Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues. The Graduate: Joe Biagini (RHP): A Rule 5 draft pick from the Giants last winter, Biagini narrowly snuck onto […]Welcome to the annual series that provides both a review of your favorite teams’ 2016 season, as well as a early look toward 2017. It also serves as a helpful guide for keeper and dynasty leagues. The Graduate: Joe Biagini (RHP): A Rule 5 draft pick from the Giants last winter, Biagini narrowly snuck onto the team at the end of spring training. Within a couple of months, though, he began pitching in more and more meaningful games — becoming one of Manager John Gibbons’ most trusted relievers by the end of the season. The organization feels that Biagini’s stuff would play well in the starting rotation and has considered sending him back to the minors to work him out as a starter in 2017 but reliever values are at an all-time high this winter so the Jays may be hard pressed to find enough depth that make that move a reality. The Riser: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (3B): Just 17, Guerrero Jr. spent the entire 2016 season in advanced rookie ball — his first professional assignment and he excelled against much older competition. He showed great plate/pitch awareness and struck out just 35 times in 62 games (while also walking 33 times). He also has more useable power than most players his age and looks like a potential 20+ home run guy. Guerrero Jr. will turn just 18 in March but the Jays have tentative plans to send him to full-season ball in 2017 — unless he falls flat on his face in the spring. He probably won’t stick at third base but he has the bat to play anywhere. If he continues on this development path in the coming year, Guerrero Jr. will be one of the top five to 10 hitters in the minors. The Tumbler: D.J. Davis (OF): Davis is just 22 but his days of being a prospect are over. He’s spent three years in A-ball and two of them have been horrendous, while the other was decent (His second year in low-A ball). The speedy outfielder just hasn’t developed an understanding for what he needs to do to be successful: make contact and run like the dickens. Davis also lacks baseball instincts — both in the field and on the base paths where he’s just 100 for 154 in steals (and was caught 30 times in 70 tries between 2014-15). After posting a .558 OPS in ’16, he’ll return to A-ball for a fourth try in ’17 but might be due for a change of scenery. The ’16 Draft Pick: T.J. Zeuch (RHP): The Blue Jays love their spring pop-up draft guys (Noah Syndergaard was another one) and the Jays nabbed Zeuch with the 21st overall selection. Standing 6-7, he’s the physical kind of arm that the organization covets and he’s seen his fastball jump into the mid-90s at times. He has a four-pitch mix but the secondary stuff needs a fair bit of polishing before he’s ready for the Majors. With the pitching depth that the club is starting to build u[...]



Why your team should sign Ben Revere

2016-12-05T17:00:00+00:00

Ben Revere was non-tendered due to a poor 2016 season, but might he be a bounceback candidate in 2017? BtBS is profiling several prominent players who became free agents after their team didn't tender them a contract. For the full list, click here. Not to say it wasn’t one of the more predictable moves this offseason, but on Friday the Washington Nationals non-tendered the contract of Ben Revere, releasing him unto the wilderness that is free agency. Through service time Revere was not projected to enter the wild until next offseason, but that was before he put up a feeble .217/.260/.300 slash line in 375 plate appearances in 2016. That kind of offensive struggle helped persuade the Nationals to release him as opposed to paying him the $6.3 million MLB Trade Rumors projected him to make through arbitration. We’ve never seen Revere as a powerhouse at the plate, but he has often been thought of as a prototypical old-school leadoff hitter: a speed guy who hits for a high average. (If you still think like that, please read this SEO masterpiece). You don’t need to know that, out of everyone who made at least 300 plate appearances last season, Revere carried the 2nd-worst wRC+ to know he was bad. His slash line paints the same picture. He was bad. Despite how inept Revere’s offensive production was last season, there is still a market for him. There’s always a market for speed guys, but before we go into why that might or might not be the case for Revere, let's dive into how he got to this position. Revere has always been a guy who does not walk or strike out a ton. He makes a lot of contact and puts the ball in play, meaning his value is heavily tied to maintaining an above-average BABIP, as well as an at-least-decent OBP. At the same time, because Revere doesn’t have a great deal of power, he stands to benefit more from ground balls and line drives than fly balls. This is, of course, what we in the biz call a 'slap hitter.' Getting on base allows Revere to take advantage of his best skill, and this was something he was decent at from 2013-15. What changed, you ask? Most of that. Season PA AVG OBP BABIP LD% GB% FB% 2013 336 .305 .338 .344 23.2% 59.3% 17.5% 2014 626 .306 .325 .330 21.0% 64.7% 14.3% 2015 634 .306 .342 .338 26.4% 54.7% 18.9% 2016 375 .217 .260 .234 18.1% 55.3% 26.5% So why would Revere put the ball in the air more last season, you ask? All he needs to do is put the ball on the ground and run, it seems so simple! Well, like most things in life, it is more complicated that it initially seems. If you recall, Revere suffered a torn oblique on Opening Day last season. This injury sidelined him for the month of April and about a week of May, but there was evidence that the injury lingered for much longer than just the month Revere spent on the disabled list. As Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports reported in late November, Revere never felt entirely healthy: And consider that he pulled his oblique muscle on opening day, and despite returning from the disabled list a month later admitted at season’s end he never did fully heal. "I know guys that have done it an[...]



Trade Rumors: The Best App For The MLB Winter Meetings

2016-12-05T16:40:00+00:00

The Winter Meetings are underway in National Harbor, and there’s one app on the phones of just about every attendee.  It’s called Trade Rumors, and it’s available for free for iOS and Android devices.  With Trade Rumors, you get all of our awesome MLBTR content (plus other sports if you’d like), as well as custom team…

The Winter Meetings are underway in National Harbor, and there’s one app on the phones of just about every attendee.  It’s called Trade Rumors, and it’s available for free for iOS and Android devices.  With Trade Rumors, you get all of our awesome MLBTR content (plus other sports if you’d like), as well as custom team and player notifications.  Trade Rumors is ideal for staying on top of the Winter Meetings insanity as players like Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Sale, and Andrew McCutchen light the hot stove.  Download Trade Rumors today!

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Astros Gauging Interest In Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers

2016-12-05T16:06:00+00:00

The Astros are known to be looking for a front-end arm to add to their rotation, but they’re also “dangling” right-handers Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers in an effort to create flexibility on their roster and in the payroll, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark. McHugh, 29, has been one of the Astros’ best finds since Jeff…

The Astros are known to be looking for a front-end arm to add to their rotation, but they’re also “dangling” right-handers Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers in an effort to create flexibility on their roster and in the payroll, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

McHugh, 29, has been one of the Astros’ best finds since Jeff Luhnow took over as the team’s general manager. Plucked off waivers from the Rockies three years ago, McHugh has given the ’Stros 543 innings of 3.71 ERA ball over the past three seasons, but his ERA has trended in the wrong direction in each of the past two seasons. The 2016 campaign saw McHugh log a respectable 4.34 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 41.3 percent ground-ball rate in 184 2/3 innings. Those are still solid secondary stats, though, and metrics like FIP, xFIP and SIERA all suggest that he pitched better than his ERA indicates, pegging him in the upper-3.00s and low 4.00s. He’s controllable through the 2019 season and is projected to earn $4.6MM next year by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

Fiers, too, is controllable through the 2019 season, though he’s a bit older. The 31-year-old posted a 4.48 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 168 2/3 innings out of the Houston rotation last year. Fiers has seen his strikeout rate trend down in recent years, but his ground-ball rate has increased in its place. He’s also been rather consistent in terms of showing solid control throughout his big league career. Fiers is projected to earn $4.3MM in arbitration, so like McHugh, he’d be affordable for any team from a financial standpoint.

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Why your team should sign Chris Carter

2016-12-05T16:00:00+00:00

Milwaukee bestowed upon Chris Carter the dubious honor of being the first league home run king to be non-tendered. Where might the slugging first baseman land? BtBS is profiling several prominent players who became free agents after their team didn't tender them a contract. For a full list, click here. Acquiring Chris Carter was one of the many thefts Brewers GM David Stearns carried out against the Astros, his former employer, over the past year. After Houston opted to non-tender him a contract, Stearns scooped him up on a one-year, $2.5 million "prove it" deal, and prove things he did, leading the National League in home runs. For a team with no real designs on competing in 2017, a relatively cheap source of crowd-pleasing homers at a position without a clear heir apparent in the minor leagues seemed like a no-brainer. Alas, it was us, the unwashed masses, who were the ones without brains. Milwaukee decided to get cheap and cut Carter loose last week, opting to dream of imported Korean dingers from a returning ex-pat over sticking with the good, old-fashioned American dingers Carter was already providing them. Carter is now a free agent after the Brewers were shockingly unable to trade a player who was about to become extremely available in a couple of hours before last Friday's tender deadline. Is Chris Carter good? It depends on what sort of activities you feel like a baseball player, and specifically a first baseman, should be getting up to. If you're a DREAMer (Dingers Rule Everything Around Me), then Carter is obviously your dude; he hit more home runs (41) than all the other professional baseball players in the National League except forNolan Arenado, who tied him. There are a lot of baseball players in the National League, and several of them are really good! Carter is also your dude if you think it's a great idea for first basemen to just be going around striking out all the time. That'd be a weird skill to value, but look, it's your baseball team and you have to run it however you want to. Striking out a lot could be the new market inefficiency. Carter struck out 206 times in 2016 to easily lead the National League. His career 33.1 percent strikeout rate leads all active players and is the fifth-highest of all time (non-pitchers, min. 1000 PA). He's really quite good at striking out — the dingers come at a price. Despite a low batting average that necessarily results from poor contact skills, Carter does still manage to reach base at an acceptable clip thanks to a healthy amount of walks. Carter ranked 20th in the league with an 11.8 percent free pass rate in 2016, which kept his on-base percentage 100 points higher than his ugly .222 batting average. Fans of the three true outcomes have to adore this guy: His at-bats have ended without the need for fielders 50.3% of the time. All the position players on the other team could meet up in center field to play Settlers of Catan during his at bats and there is a better-than-not chance that it wouldn't matter. Defensively, well, I'm sure Carter wishes th[...]



Bullpen Rumors: Melancon, Marlins, Lefties, Diamondbacks

2016-12-05T15:58:00+00:00

There’s plenty of bullpen chatter circulating as the Winter Meetings get underway. Here’s the latest… The latest updates on Mark Melancon last night revealed that the three-time All-Star has received multiple four-year offers, potentially in excess of $60MM in some cases. The Nationals have indeed made a four-year offer to closer Mark Melancon, according to…There’s plenty of bullpen chatter circulating as the Winter Meetings get underway. Here’s the latest… The latest updates on Mark Melancon last night revealed that the three-time All-Star has received multiple four-year offers, potentially in excess of $60MM in some cases. The Nationals have indeed made a four-year offer to closer Mark Melancon, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, but their offer was for less than $60MM guaranteed. That makes a reunion look unlikely for now, barring an increase in the offer from the Nats. FanRag’s Jon Heyman writes that Melancon is the Giants’ top target, and Greg Holland could be their primary alternative, as opposed to either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Heyman feels it’s unlikely that they’d pursue either Jansen or Chapman if they fall to land Melancon. The Giants and Nationals are pushing the hardest for Melancon, tweets Heyman. The Nationals, Marlins, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees and Giants are all in on Kenley Jansen, per ESPN’s Jim Bowden. Heyman tweets that the Marlins are intent on adding a top closer, and owner Jeffrey Loria is a fan of Chapman in particular. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Loria is at the Winter Meetings and is participating in meetings with the representation for top-tier bullpen arms. The Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Indians, Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks are all in the market for a bullpen lefty, putting names like Mike Dunn, Boone Logan and Jerry Blevins in a good position, Heyman tweets. Heyman also tweeted this morning that the D-backs are focused on the bullpen at the moment and have no plans to “shock the world” like they did last offseason. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets that veteran southpaw Joe Beimel is at the Winter Meetings and is seeking a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Beimel, 40 in April, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2015 but had a nice two-year stretch in Seattle from 2014-15, posting a 3.12 ERA in 92 1/3 innings. [...]



Edwin Encarnacion Rumors: Monday

2016-12-05T15:40:00+00:00

The draft pick forfeiture that is attached to Edwin Encarnacion has been hampering his market, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The lack of a draft pick attached to Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday made them more attractive short-term options for the Astros and Yankees, and Stark calls Encarnacion a “textbook case for why the union made…The draft pick forfeiture that is attached to Edwin Encarnacion has been hampering his market, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The lack of a draft pick attached to Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday made them more attractive short-term options for the Astros and Yankees, and Stark calls Encarnacion a “textbook case for why the union made eliminating first-round draft-pick compensation such a top priority” in the recent CBA negotiations. Here’s the latest on Encarnacion’s market… Toronto’s signing of Steve Pearce “certainly” spells the end of Encarnacion’s time in Toronto, tweets Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. On paper, it’s possible to see Pearce, Encarnacion, Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak coexisting on the same roster, but certainly there’s some redundancy there. The Indians have checked in on Encarnacion, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). Cleveland definitely has a need at first base with Mike Napoli hitting free agency, and Encarnacion could split time there and at DH with Carlos Santana. However, financial constraints are always a factor for the Indians, and while they’re coming off a deep World Series run, spending at the likely levels that are necessary to sign Encarnacion would represent a significant departure from past tendencies for Cleveland. ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports that the Rangers are also a team to watch on Encarnacion, noting that GM Jon Daniels has a history of acting opportunistically when a player’s market changes. Bowden, too, calls Cleveland a sleeper team in the Encarnacion sweepstakes. He also floats the idea of Encarnacion following the path of Yoenis Cespedes from last winter: signing a three-year deal with a high annual value and an opt-out clause after the first year. Of course, the difference in age between Cespedes and Encarnacion is notable; Cespedes re-entered the free-agent market in advance of his age-31 season, while Encarnacion would be doing so prior to his age-35 campaign. [...]



Blockbusting Ottoneu Style

2016-12-05T15:15:01+00:00

Regular ottoneu enthusiasts may recall my retooling efforts from last winter in FanGraphs Staff Two. Here’s the short version. After going all-in to win the 2015 campaign, I was left with a very talented and very expensive roster. I needed to slice more $150 off my payroll without affecting the product. I was open to […]Regular ottoneu enthusiasts may recall my retooling efforts from last winter in FanGraphs Staff Two. Here’s the short version. After going all-in to win the 2015 campaign, I was left with a very talented and very expensive roster. I needed to slice more $150 off my payroll without affecting the product. I was open to rebuilding, but I always prefer to contend. The easy way out was to trade one or both of Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw. Unfortunately, my leaguemates and I have very different ideas about the value of expensive, hyper-elite players. I guess it makes sense that they gravitated to my roster. I had to re-equip the hard way – by making a flurry of incrimental moves. One year later, I get to claim success. The 2016 season may have been my most successful victory yet. Now I’m attempting the same stunt once again. I entered the offseason with $510 spread across 42 players. Of that, only a couple low cost players are obvious cuts. Time to get to work. The Starting Point On the surface, my roster has the same issues as last winter. Trout and Kershaw still clog the top, and Paul Goldschmidt has been arbitrated up to $50. Here’s the entire roster. Position Players Position $$ Position $$ Catchers Third Basemen Jonathan Lucroy $18 Eugenio Suarez $7 Austin Hedges $4 Ryon Healy (1B/3B) $3 Danny Valencia (1B/3B/OF) $5 First Basemen Pedro Alvarez $4 Paul Goldschmidt $50 Brandon Belt $15 Outfielders Tommy Joseph $3 Mike Trout $65 Mike Napoli $3 Charlie Blackmon $12 Eric Thames $2 Odubel Herrera $3 George Springer $24 Second Basemen Hyun-soo Kim $4 Jason Kipnis $21 Rajai Davis $3 Matt Carpenter (1B/2B/3B) $26 Raimel Tapia $3 Seth Smith $3 Shortstops N/A Prospects Dylan Cozens $2 Scott Kingery $2 Yes, I made some weird formatting choices. Get over it. I won’t do a complete roster diagnostic, but let’s hit a few high level bullets. I have too much first base depth. Second base is well covered, as is third base. The original plan was to use Kipnis, Carpenter, and Healy for second base, middle infield, and third base. Obviously, I need a shortstop, third base could be better, and outfield is an obvious place to cut costs due to a wide availability of free platoon fielders. Pitchers Starting Pitchers $$ Relief Pitchers $$ Clayton Kershaw $67 Andrew Miller $11 Jake Arrieta $34 Zach Britton $9 Corey Kluber $31 Carter Capps $8 Justin Verlander $11 Nate Jones $5 Lance McCullers $10 Greg Holland $3 Aaron Nola $6 Koji Uehara $4 Jerad Eickhoff $6 Tony Zych $3 Bartolo Colon $3 Felipe Rivero $3 Luis Severino $7 Matt Andri[...]



Blue Jays Sign Steve Pearce

2016-12-05T15:15:00+00:00

The Blue Jays have announced a two-year, $12.5MM contract with first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce. ESPN’s Buster Olney had reported earlier this morning that talks between the two side were gaining some traction. The 33-year-old Pearce will bring to Toronto a strong right-handed bat that can either share time with Justin Smoak at first base (though…The Blue Jays have announced a two-year, $12.5MM contract with first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce. ESPN’s Buster Olney had reported earlier this morning that talks between the two side were gaining some traction. The 33-year-old Pearce will bring to Toronto a strong right-handed bat that can either share time with Justin Smoak at first base (though Smoak is a switch-hitter, he hits right-handed pitching better than lefties). Pearce’s lefty-mashing ways will complement Smoak’s skill set nicely, and he also has plenty of experience in the corner outfield, where the Jays are lacking options with both Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista hitting the open market. What the signing means for Edwin Encarnacion remains to be seen. Certainly, Toronto could view Pearce and Smoak as a serviceable combination at first base and shift focus to the corner outfield. As was the case with the addition of Kendrys Morales, this signing doesn’t seem to preclude a reunion, but it does appear to further diminish the likelihood of a deal. Dating back to 2013, Pearce has slashed a robust .266/.348/.485 with an average of 27 homers per 162 games played. He’s been especially productive against southpaws in that time, batting .272/.359/.523 in 418 plate appearances. From a defensive standpoint, Pearce has more than 650 innings at both corner outfield spots and first base, and he’s also 242 innings at second base over the past two seasons with the Rays and Orioles. While Pearce may not contend for a Gold Glove anytime soon, his defense in both outfield corners and at first has graded out as average to slightly above average over the course of his career (per Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating). Pearce underwent forearm surgery back in September, but that procedure was said to come with a four- to six-month recovery timeline, suggesting that he should on track for Spring Training. That the Jays felt confident enough to offer two years would indicate that his rehab is progressing as planned. It’s a notable departure from last winter, when Pearce languished on the free agent market into late January before he took a one-year deal with the Rays. Olney was the first to report the agreement and the terms of the deal (via Twitter). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



Why your team should sign Welington Castillo

2016-12-05T15:00:00+00:00

In a surprising decision, new Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen decided to non-tender Welington Castillo. Now the catcher known as "Beef" finds himself atop the menu of free agent backstops. BtBS is profiling several prominent players who became free agents after their team didn't tender them a contract. For a full list, click here. At first blush, the decision to non-tender catcher Welington Castillo seemed like a curious one from new Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen. Offensively competent catchers don’t grow on trees. While a .264/.322/.423 slash line with 14 home runs, a .319 wOBA, and a 92 wRC+ is not exceedingly impressive by itself, each of those rate stats is slightly above average compared to the league average for MLB catchers in 2016. Of course defense is incredibly important for those who don the tools of ignorance, and in that respect Castillo is a mixed bag. He had positive marks in regards to DRS and Baseball Prospectus’ Throwing Runs, but graded poorly as a framer according to BP’s Framing Runs. Framing issues aside it still seemed like a no-brainer to tender Castillo a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors was predicting he would earn $5.9 million in arbitration after the 2016 season that found him worth 1.7 fWAR and 2.4 bWAR, respectively. That price is seemingly a huge bargain for a solid offensive catcher who has eclipsed 375 plate appearances in each of the last four seasons. So what was Mike Hazen's thinking here? Dbacks GM Mike Hazen on nontenders: "We're trying to create strategic payroll flexibility." — Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 3, 2016 That quote appears to be a convoluted way of saying "we want to save money." It's not a sentiment that fans usually love, but clearly Hazen had a plan in place, as he acted quickly following Castillo’s non-tendering. The Diamondbacks utilized their "strategic payroll flexibility" and inked 33-year-old, all-glove no-bat journeyman, Jeff Mathis to a 2-year, $4 million contract. He will presumably split time with 29-year old Chris Herrmann, who had an impressive offensive showing in 2016 (117 wRC+ in 166 plate appearances) but lacks a track record of any sort. Arizona is hoping Hermann’s offense was no fluke, while ensuring that they have an excellent defensive catcher on board in Mathis. Hermann should command around $1 million in arbitration, which combined with the $2 million they’ll be paying Mathis, means both catchers combined will cost about half of what Castillo would have. Now that Castillo is a free agent, we move on to ask "Where’s the beef?" (going to play in 2017). …(you see because Welington Castillo’s nickname is Beef, in reference to the European dish Beef Wellington, and "Where’s the beef?" was a popular ad campaign from the Wendy’s fast food chain from the 1980’s. We have fun here.)... In the short time that he has joined the ranks of free age[...]



Talks Between Blue Jays, Steve Pearce Gaining Traction

2016-12-05T14:23:00+00:00

Talks between the Blue Jays and free agent first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce have begun to gain traction, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). The two sides are progressing toward a deal, Olney adds. Pearce, 33, underwent forearm surgery in September that was said to come with a four to six month recovery timeline, but he’s…

Talks between the Blue Jays and free agent first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce have begun to gain traction, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (on Twitter). The two sides are progressing toward a deal, Olney adds.

Pearce, 33, underwent forearm surgery in September that was said to come with a four to six month recovery timeline, but he’s been quite productive for the bulk of the past four seasons when healthy. Dating back to 2013, Pearce has slashed a robust .266/.348/.485 with an average of 27 homers per 162 games played. He’s been especially productive against southpaws in that time, batting .272/.359/.523 in 418 plate appearances.

Of course, the greater question for Jays fans would be whether the addition of Pearce would close the door on a reunion with longtime cornerstone Edwin Encarnacion. Toronto has already inked Kendrys Morales to a three-year, $33MM deal this winter, and with Pearce potentially joining Justin Smoak in the mix at first base, it could further limit the urgency to extend a lucrative offer for Encarnacion. Then again, Pearce does have extensive experience on the outfield grass, and the Jays do have a need in the corners, so it’s not impossible to see a scenario in which both right-handed sluggers suit up with the Jays in 2017.

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Why your team should sign Tyson Ross

2016-12-05T14:00:01+00:00

The ailing right-hander is a free agent after the Padres non-tendered him. Is he worth the risk? BtBS is profiling several prominent players who became free agents after their team didn't tender them a contract. For a full list, click here. On Friday night, the San Diego Padres announced that they had non-tendered six players. Among those six was starter Tyson Ross. It was a move that shocked a lot of people around baseball, and many wondered what that meant for the right-hander who missed almost all of the 2016 season and is currently recovering from surgery on his pitching shoulder. Ross, who was drafted by the Oakland A's in the second round of the amateur draft in 2008, made 53 appearances for Oakland in his first three seasons. Over that time, he struggled immensely, with a 5.33 ERA, 4.42 xFIP and 5.40 DRA. He was traded to the Padres in November 16, 2012. In 2014 Ross had his best year as a starter. He made 31 starts, threw 195 2/3 innings and finished with a 2.81 ERA, a 3.11 xFIP and a 3.08 DRA. He also struck out 195 batters while walking 72. He was named to the All-Star squad that year as well. 2015 was a little more up-and-down for Ross, who finished the year with a league high in walks (84) and wild pitches (14) but also struck out a career high 212 batters. He earned a 3.26 ERA, 3.15 xFIP and 3.04 DRA. He pitched 196 innings in 2015 and started a career high 33 games. Ross only pitched one game in 2016 — Opening Day against the Los Angeles Dodgers — and it was an unmitigated disaster for the righty. He pitched 5 1/3 innings (94 pitches) and gave up eight runs on nine hits. He hit two batters,but only walked one and struck out seven. The Dodgers went on to win the game 15-0. Ross was placed on the disabled list less than a week later with shoulder inflammation, and he didn't throw another pitch for the Padres the rest of the season. He made one rehab start in High Single-A Lake Elsinore on August 25 and experienced more shoulder discomfort. Ross was finally diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the same affliction that ended both Phil Hughes and Matt Harvey's seasons. He underwent surgery on October 13. The recovery time is usually four to six months, which means Tyson could be ready for Opening Day. Why a team would take a chance on Ross Ross is a good pitcher when he's on, and he has four pitches in his repertoire. He throws a four-seam fastball, a slider, a changeup and a cutter. He tried using a split finger fastball back in the early part of the 2013 season, but he removed it from his arsenal. Before he injured his shoulder, Ross's velocity was between 87-95. He could reach 94-95 on his four-seam, his sinker hovered around 93-94, his changeup — when it was used — could hit as high as 90, and his slider stayed around 87. Toward the end of the 2015 season, his numbers dropped a bit, but [...]



The best non-tender free agent pickups

2016-12-05T14:00:00+00:00

BtBS is taking a look at some prominent players who unexpectedly hit the free-agent market after getting non-tendered. BtBS is profiling several prominent players who became free agents after their team didn't tender them a contract. For the full list, click here. On Friday night, the San Diego Padres announced that they had non-tendered six players. Among those six was starter Tyson Ross. It was a move that shocked a lot of people around baseball, and many wondered what that meant for the right-hander who missed almost all of the 2016 season and is currently recovering from surgery on his pitching shoulder. Ross, who was drafted by the Oakland A's in the second round of the amateur draft in 2008, made 53 appearances for Oakland in his first three seasons. Over that time, he struggled immensely, with a 5.33 ERA, 4.42 xFIP and 5.40 DRA. He was traded to the Padres in November 16, 2012. In 2014 Ross had his best year as a starter. He made 31 starts, threw 195 2/3 innings and finished with a 2.81 ERA, a 3.11 xFIP and a 3.08 DRA. He also struck out 195 batters while walking 72. He was named to the All-Star squad that year as well. 2015 was a little more up-and-down for Ross, who finished the year with a league high in walks (84) and wild pitches (14) but also struck out a career high 212 batters. He earned a 3.26 ERA, 3.15 xFIP and 3.04 DRA. He pitched 196 innings in 2015 and started a career high 33 games. Ross only pitched one game in 2016 — Opening Day against the Los Angeles Dodgers — and it was an unmitigated disaster for the righty. He pitched 5 1/3 innings (94 pitches) and gave up eight runs on nine hits. He hit two batters,but only walked one and struck out seven. The Dodgers went on to win the game 15-0. Ross was placed on the disabled list less than a week later with shoulder inflammation, and he didn't throw another pitch for the Padres the rest of the season. He made one rehab start in High Single-A Lake Elsinore on August 25 and experienced more shoulder discomfort. Ross was finally diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the same affliction that ended both Phil Hughes and Matt Harvey's seasons. He underwent surgery on October 13. The recovery time is usually four to six months, which means Tyson could be ready for Opening Day. Why a team would take a chance on Ross Ross is a good pitcher when he's on, and he has four pitches in his repertoire. He throws a four-seam fastball, a slider, a changeup and a cutter. He tried using a split finger fastball back in the early part of the 2013 season, but he removed it from his arsenal. Before he injured his shoulder, Ross's velocity was between 87-95. He could reach 94-95 on his four-seam, his sinker hovered around 93-94, his changeup — when it was used — could hit as high as 90, and his slider stayed around 87. Toward the end of t[...]



Orioles Interested In Michael Saunders

2016-12-05T13:57:00+00:00

With a need to address in the outfield, the Orioles are showing interest in free agent Michael Saunders, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link). Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said Sunday that he’s comfortable with a platoon of Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard in left field. There’s no clear answer in right field,…With a need to address in the outfield, the Orioles are showing interest in free agent Michael Saunders, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link). Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said Sunday that he’s comfortable with a platoon of Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard in left field. There’s no clear answer in right field, however, which is where Saunders could enter the equation. The 30-year-old has primarily manned left field in his career, including in 2016 as a member of the the Blue Jays – the team that knocked the Orioles out of the playoffs. At the midway point of last season, Saunders looked as though he was playing his way to a qualifying offer and a lucrative multiyear pact. In 344 first-half plate appearances, the former Mariner batted an outstanding .298/.372/.551 with 16 home runs and a .252 ISO en route to his first All-Star appearance. Saunders’ production cratered thereafter – .178/.282/.357 with eight HRs and a .178 ISO in 214 PAs – which put a damper on his seemingly skyrocketing value and led the Blue Jays to elect against tendering him a qualifying offer. It also didn’t help that Saunders graded poorly in left, ranking toward the bottom of the majors in Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. While he comes with negatives, including a checkered injury history, Saunders would add some variety to a Baltimore lineup whose only current lefty-swinging everyday player is first baseman Chris Davis. He’s also not going to sign for a bank-breaking price, with MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projecting a three-year, $33MM deal (from the Orioles, in fact). That’s the same contract the O’s nearly signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to last offseason.[...]



Nationals Attempting To Acquire Both Chris Sale, Andrew McCutchen

2016-12-05T13:22:00+00:00

7:22am: The Nationals regard Robles as an integral long-term piece and are unwilling to trade him for McCutchen, writes Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. A deal could still happen in spite of that, Janes notes. Further, contrary to an earlier report, the Nats never planned to non-tender Espinosa. 12:02am: The Nationals have been linked…7:22am: The Nationals regard Robles as an integral long-term piece and are unwilling to trade him for McCutchen, writes Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. A deal could still happen in spite of that, Janes notes. Further, contrary to an earlier report, the Nats never planned to non-tender Espinosa. 12:02am: The Nationals have been linked to a pair of potential blockbuster deals with the White Sox for ace lefty Chris Sale and the Pirates for former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, though apparently in the Nats’ view, the possible trades aren’t an either/or proposition.  Washington think they have enough prospect depth to manage both trades, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link), and are trying to work out deals with Chicago and Pittsburgh. While the Nationals have been no strangers to big moves over the years, landing Sale and McCutchen would be quite a coup for GM Mike Rizzo.  Doing so without trading Trea Turner (who the Nats have already balked at including in a Sale deal) would be more impressive, though Washington has several other strong young talents both in the minors and on the big league roster. Lucas Giolito, Victor Robles, Reynaldo Lopez and Erick Fedde are each ranked within MLB.com’s top 100 prospects in all of baseball, while less-heralded but still notable youngsters like Dane Dunning, Carter Kieboom or Austin Voth would also draw trade interest.  There’s also A.J. Cole, a former top 100 prospect who hasn’t shown much in limited big league action, or perhaps hard-throwing reliever Trevor Gott.  Looking to the big league roster, McCutchen’s acquisition would push Turner back to shortstop and make Danny Espinosa expendable, while the Nats could also deal from the back end of the rotation and try to move Gio Gonzalez or a younger arm in Joe Ross. There’s no shortage of interesting names in the Nationals organization to speculate about as trade chips, though it would seemingly take several of them to land both Sale and McCutchen.  (In fact, it’ll take several just to pry Sale out of Chicago given how the White Sox have a huge asking price on their ace.)  McCutchen’s price is lower due to his rough 2016 season, though the Pirates still want premium young talent in return. Even if one or both of these trades don’t work out, anything seems on the table for the Nats at this point, given how they’ve al[...]



Will Andrew McCutchen Rebound?

2016-12-05T13:15:00+00:00

This wasn’t the season newly minted Andrew McCutchen owners had in mind when they rostered him during their 2016 drafts. Not only was he a disappointment in fantasy circles, but also in real baseball, where he easily posted the worst wOBA of his career and failed to muster even 1.0 WAR, finishing at a measly […]This wasn’t the season newly minted Andrew McCutchen owners had in mind when they rostered him during their 2016 drafts. Not only was he a disappointment in fantasy circles, but also in real baseball, where he easily posted the worst wOBA of his career and failed to muster even 1.0 WAR, finishing at a measly 0.7. His previous low WAR total was 3.4 set during his 2009 rookie season! Check out where he has ranked among outfielders since 2012 according to our dollar values: Andrew McCutchen Fantasy Rankings Season Rank 2012 3 2013 4 2014 5 2015 12 2016 34 McCutchen was as consistent as it gets from 2012 to 2014, then he regressed marginally in 2015 as his steals fell off, but he still managed to earn strong value. This year it all fell apart as he finished outside the top 30 outfielders. In a 12-team mixed league, that meant he was generally the third best outfielder on your team! His fall from grace could be summed up by this graph: McCutchen’s speed has waned, which is normal and follows typical aging trends. But it has happened quite swiftly, as he had stolen at least 20 bases in his first five seasons, and then from 2013 to 2016, saw his steals tumble each year in lockstep fashion. Going from a steals total in the 20s to just six is going to take a big bite out of your fantasy earnings. In addition to his decline in stolen bases, his batting average has also collapsed. It peaked at .327 in 2012, and while it declined every season thereafter, it still remained high through 2015, earning positive value. This year is plunged to just .256, driven by a career high strikeout rate paired with the second lowest BABIP of his career. My initial thought, especially as an explanation for his lack of speed, was that it was injury related. However, according to his injury page on Pro Sports Transactions, he only dealt with a thumb and heel issue which only lasted a day each. In 2015, he dealt with knee issues, and according to this article… McCutchen won’t reveal the official diagnosis of the injury that hobbled him last year — “it hurt,” he said, “that’s all I can tell you” — but described it as “constant, consistent” soreness. He wasn’t able to do much lower-body weight training during the season, so he doubled down this winter. This paragraph was then followed by the following McCutchen quote during Spring Training — “I feel[...]



Trade/FA Rumors: Bregman, Solarte, Dodgers, Jays, Tribe, Holland

2016-12-05T13:05:00+00:00

It’s possible the Astros will add an ace-caliber pitcher via trade this offseason, but it’s not going to come at the expense of 22-year-old infielder Alex Bregman. Astros executives are telling teams that there’s “no chance” Bregman will go anywhere, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider required and recommended). That’s hardly a surprise, as Bregman is…It’s possible the Astros will add an ace-caliber pitcher via trade this offseason, but it’s not going to come at the expense of 22-year-old infielder Alex Bregman. Astros executives are telling teams that there’s “no chance” Bregman will go anywhere, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider required and recommended). That’s hardly a surprise, as Bregman is controllable through the 2022 season and has been resoundingly successful since the Astros took him second overall in the 2015 draft. After racing through the minors, Bregman thrived in his first taste of big league action this past season and now looks like the Astros’ long-term solution at third base. More rumors from around the majors: The Padres are “aggressively shopping” infielder Yangervis Solarte, and the NL West rival Dodgers are among the teams discussing him with San Diego, relays FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). The Dodgers have openings at both second and third base, two places Solarte has seen action. Most of Solarte’s work has come at the hot corner, where the expectation is the Dodgers will re-sign Justin Turner. The Blue Jays are “in talks” with free agent utilityman Steve Pearce, tweets Olney. Toronto first showed interest in Pearce last month. With Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak already in the fold, signing Pearce would give the Jays another first base/designated hitter type and perhaps signal the end of the Edwin Encarnacion era. The Indians made runs at two notable free agent DH/outfield types in now-Astro Carlos Beltran and the newest Yankee, Matt Holliday, according to Rosenthal and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links). Cleveland continues to look at available “corner bats,” Rosenthal adds. Several free agent first basemen/DHs are reportedly on their radar. Free agent reliever Greg Holland is “a popular guy” at the winter meetings, a major league source told Rob Bradford of WEEI. Holland was a dominant late-game option with the Royals over the first several years of his career, but October 2015 Tommy John surgery prevented him from pitching last season. He’s now ready to return for his age-31 campaign, and MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes expects him to land a two-year, $18MM deal. [...]