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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: 2017-01-19T04:17:00+00:00

 



Red Sox Sign Kyle Kendrick To Minor League Deal

2017-01-19T04:17:00+00:00

10:17pm: Kendrick’s contract comes with a $1MM base salary and multiple opt-out dates, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). 4:20pm: The Red Sox announced that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Kyle Kendrick to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Kendrick, 32, was a fixture on the…

10:17pm: Kendrick’s contract comes with a $1MM base salary and multiple opt-out dates, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).

4:20pm: The Red Sox announced that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Kyle Kendrick to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

Kendrick, 32, was a fixture on the Phillies’ pitching staff from 2007-14, totaling 1138 2/3 innings of 4.42 ERA ball with 4.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 46.1 percent ground-ball rate. Upon reaching free agency for the first time, the durable innings eater inked a one-year deal with the Rockies that proved to be ill-fated. In 142 1/3 innings with Colorado that year, Kendrick was rocked for a 6.32 ERA. Unsurprisingly, he struggled more at home in Coors Field (7.62 ERA) than on the road (5.24).

Kendrick signed a minor league deal with the Braves last offseason but was cut loose late in camp and ultimately latched on with the Angels in late April. He went on to spend most of the season with the Halos’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake, tossing 93 1/3 innings with a 4.72 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. While Kendrick is a long shot to crack the Opening Day roster, he could head to the minors and serve as a depth option that can surface and make spot starts and long relief appearances as needed. (Boston deployed fellow right-hander Sean O’Sullivan in that role last season.)

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Minor MLB Transactions: 1/18/17

2017-01-19T04:08:00+00:00

Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league… The Pirates have announced the signing of first baseman/outfielder Joey Terdoslavich to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to MLB camp. The longtime Braves farmhand, now 28, spent parts of three seasons in the Majors with Atlanta from 2013-15 but batted just .221/.296/.324 across 162…Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league… The Pirates have announced the signing of first baseman/outfielder Joey Terdoslavich to a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to MLB camp. The longtime Braves farmhand, now 28, spent parts of three seasons in the Majors with Atlanta from 2013-15 but batted just .221/.296/.324 across 162 plate appearances. Terdoslavich does have a better track record in Triple-A, where he’s authored a career .258/.331/.410 in parts of five seasons. Joining the Indians on a minors pact is lefty Kelvin De La Cruz, per a club announcement. He will not receive a big-league camp invite. De La Cruz hasn’t performed well in the upper minors as of late and spent last season in the independent Atlantic League, tossing 116 innings with a 4.19 ERA and 6.8 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. His 2013 season split between the Dodgers’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates was strong enough for the Orioles to give him a Major League deal in the offseason despite the fact that he’d never pitched in the Majors, but his results from that time haven’t been encouraging. Red Sox signed righty Erik Cordier and lefty Cesar Cabral, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The hard-throwing Cordier, 30, will return stateside after a brief and unsuccessful stint with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2016 (10 runs in 12 1/3 innings). Cordier has long battled control issues but has shown a consistent ability to hit triple digits with his fastball in the past. His last Major League stint came in 2015. As for Cabral, the 27-year-old former Rule 5 pick has averaged about a strikeout per inning throughout his minor league career but has yet to find success at the Triple-A level. He pitched just 8 1/3 innings last season, all with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, and allowed nine earned runs on 13 hits and four walks. He’s logged 5 2/3 innings in the Majors in his career but has never been able to stick on a 25-man roster. The Marlins have added former Braves right-hander Brandon Cunniff on a minor league deal, also according to Eddy. The 28-year-old has totaled 52 innings for Atlanta over the past two seasons, posting a 4.50 ERA with 53 strikeouts but an unsightly 31 walks in that time as well. Cunniff’s fastball sits around 93 mph, and he has a history of missing bats in the minors, although his overall results began to tumble when he reached the Triple-A level. He’ll give Miami an experienced option to compete for a bullpen gig at some point in 2017, though the team’s offseason additions of Junichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler make for a somewhat crowded right-handed relief picture behind A.J. Ramos, David Phelps and Kyle Barraclough. [...]



Rays Matt Duffy Forgotten Man: Fantasy Value in 2017

2017-01-19T03:54:00+00:00

Matt Duffy struggled through an injury last season with the Giants and then Rays. But, after his breakout 2015, should fantasy owners be showing him more love heading into 2017? At the trade deadline, last season Matt Duffy was sent packing from the Giants to the Rays for Matt Moore. For some, it was surprising […]

Rays Matt Duffy Forgotten Man: Fantasy Value in 2017 - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

Matt Duffy struggled through an injury last season with the Giants and then Rays. But, after his breakout 2015, should fantasy owners be showing him more love heading into 2017? At the trade deadline, last season Matt Duffy was sent packing from the Giants to the Rays for Matt Moore. For some, it was surprising […]

Rays Matt Duffy Forgotten Man: Fantasy Value in 2017 - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Trade/Free Agent Rumors: Holland, Astros, Feliz, Saunders, Twins

2017-01-19T02:54:00+00:00

Former Royals closer Greg Holland is getting closer to selecting a new team and could make a decision within the next week, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Holland has been said to be seeking a two-year guarantee with an opt-out after the first season as he looks to re-establish…Former Royals closer Greg Holland is getting closer to selecting a new team and could make a decision within the next week, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Holland has been said to be seeking a two-year guarantee with an opt-out after the first season as he looks to re-establish himself following Tommy John surgery late in the 2015 season. Roughly two-thirds of the league has been linked to Holland in some capacity, though it’s unlikely that the majority of teams would be comfortable with that type of contractual arrangement. The 30-year-old figures to draw interest from contenders and non-contenders alike so he’ll have to weigh not only the financial strength of the offers he receives but also the ability to pitch for contending club and the opportunity to compete for a ninth-inning job (which non-contending clubs may be more willing to offer right away than contenders). Some more notes pertaining to the free-agent and trade markets… The Astros haven’t given up on the notion of acquiring one of Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana or Chris Archer and remain in contact with the Athletics, White Sox and Rays, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted recently. The extreme asking prices on each starter makes it seem unlikely that Houston would be able to pry any of that trio loose. They’ve already balked at Chicago’s reported asking price of Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove for Quintana, and MLB Network’s Peter Gammons tweets that he received a flat “No” when he asked one source if Gray could land in Houston. Archer, meanwhile, seems like an even longer shot to contend. The Rays have already moved one of their starters, trading Drew Smyly to the Mariners, and the remainder of their offseason dealings have been largely focused in improving the 2017 club. While the Brewers and right-hander Neftali Feliz have yet to finalize an agreement, the two sides are still talking and working toward that goal, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Reports over the weekend suggested that the two sides could be moving toward a deal, though there’s been little news since. Feliz had a strong 2016 season with the division-rival Pirates (3.52 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings) but finished the season on the shelf with a somewhat vague arm injury. Both the Blue Jays and Orioles were “in” on Michael Saunders before the outfielder agreed to a one-year, $9MM with the Phillies (which includes an $11MM club option and escalators), tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Per Crasnick, Saunders also drew some level of interest from the Brewers and the Diamondbacks as well, Crasnick adds, which is somewhat interesting given the fact that neither club has a clear on-paper need for an additional regular in the outfield. Twins manager Paul Molitor tells La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he’s hopeful the front office will add a veteran to the roster to help bring some experience to what is overall a young clubhouse. “I’ve talked to Thad and Derek about my opinions about adding, where we could, more experienced people who have the reputation of being influential in clubhouse culture as well as leadership,” said Molitor, “and a guy who can still play.” Neal speculates that an outfield bat would be the likeliest fit, noting that Minnesota is pretty well stocked in terms of infield options and DH types. [...]



MLBTR Chat Transcript

2017-01-19T00:28:00+00:00

Click here to view MLBTR Chat Transcript With Jason Martinez: January 18, 2017

Click here to view MLBTR Chat Transcript With Jason Martinez: January 18, 2017

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Athletics Agree To Minor League Deal With Ross Detwiler

2017-01-19T00:10:00+00:00

The A’s have agreed to a minor league contract with lefty Ross Detwiler, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). The 30-year-old will return to the A’s organization as a non-roster invite and compete for a job in Spring Training. Detwiler, a client of CAA, spent the majority of the 2016 season with Oakland,…The A’s have agreed to a minor league contract with lefty Ross Detwiler, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). The 30-year-old will return to the A’s organization as a non-roster invite and compete for a job in Spring Training. Detwiler, a client of CAA, spent the majority of the 2016 season with Oakland, tossing 44 innings in green and gold. However, he struggled quite a bit, logging a 6.14 earned run average with 4.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. The former No. 6 overall pick was once a very solid arm for the Nationals, who originally drafted him, pitching to a 3.61 ERA over the course of 394 1/3 innings from 2010-14. A trade to the Rangers prior to the 2015 season marked the beginning of a pronounced decline for Detwiler, though, and he’s limped to a 6.73 ERA in 107 innings with the Rangers, Braves, Indians and A’s since that time. Though Detwiler made seven starts for Oakland down the stretch last season, he seems like a notable long shot to factor into the team’s rotation mix. The A’s will trot out a group consisting of Sonny Gray, Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman, with Andrew Triggs and Jharel Cotton as likely candidates for the final two spots. Others that will be in consideration for rotation work include Jesse Hahn, Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn, Frankie Montas and Dillon Overton. However, Sean Doolittle is the only lefty that’s a lock to make Oakland’s bullpen in 2017, so Detwiler could compete for a left-handed setup gig or a long relief role. In parts of nine Major League seasons, left-handed hitters have batted just .233/.313/.304 against Detwiler (including a .237/.304/.342 slash last year).[...]



Baseball Hall of Fame results 2017: Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez inducted

2017-01-18T23:19:01+00:00

The BBWAA continued to clear the backlog on the crowded Hall of Fame ballot this year, as three players passed the 75 percent vote threshold needed for induction. The Baseball Hall of Fame released the results of this year’s voting today, with three players getting the 75 percent of votes needed for induction. Headlining the group was Tim Raines (86.0 percent), who has been the beneficiary in recent years of a dedicated push led by Jonah Keri. Raines was in his last year on the ballot, and after starting with low levels of support — 24.3 percent in 2008, and 22.6 percent in 2009 — he had seen a steady increase. He saw a 15-point jump from 2015 to 2016, when 69.8 percent of voters included him on their ballots, and received another 16-point jump this year. Raines ended his career with a 125 wRC+ in 10,359 PA, 808 stolen bases, a 12.8 percent walk rate (versus a 9.3 percent strikeout rate), and 66.4 fWAR. Jeff Bagwell (86.2 percent) also crossed the 75 percent threshold this year, in his sixth year of eligibility. Like Raines, Bagwell saw his support steadily creep upward as he remained on the ballot; he missed the cut by less than four points in 2016, with 71.6 percent of voters supporting him. Bagwell is one of several players on the ballot who was dogged by steroid suspicion, though without much in the way of concrete proof; along with Mike Piazza’s induction last year, this year’s result may be a sign that attitudes on the subject are continuing to shift. Bagwell had a relatively short but explosive 15-year career, all of it with the Astros, over which he had a 149 wRC+, 449 home runs, and 80.2 fWAR, the seventh-highest total among all first basemen. In his first year on the ballot, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez (76 percent) also made the 75 percent threshold, by a narrow margin. Rodriguez, like Bagwell, had been mentioned as a possible steroid user, most notably in Jose Canseco’s book Juiced. Rodriguez had a reputation for defensive excellence (along with 13 Gold Gloves), and while Baseball Prospectus’s new metrics suggest he was an average framer at best, his ability to control the running game was unparalleled. Over the course of his 21-year career, he was a .296/.334/.464 hitter, and in the prime of his career (spanning the eight years 1997 to 2004), he had a 126 wRC+, making Pudge one of the best catchers of all time and a deserving Hall of Famer. Several players fell just short of induction, including Trevor Hoffman (74.0 percent, in his second year on the ballot), Vladimir Guerrero (71.7 percent, in his first year on the ballot) and Edgar Martinez (58.6 percent, in his eighth). Notably, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose fates seem to be entwined for reasons that are likely obvious, both saw bumps of about nine points, to 54.1 percent for Clemens and 53.7 percent for Bonds, in their fifth year on the ballot. After appearing on 39 percent (Bonds) and 38 percent (Clemens) of ballots in their first year of eligibility, neither player had experienced a groundswell of support, receiving 45.3 percent (Bonds) and 46.0 percent (Clemens) of votes in 2016. But after this jump, they, along with Martinez and Guerrero, now seem more likely than not to make the Hall before they fall off the ballot. Other notable vote totals included Mike Mussina’s 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling’s 45.0 percent, Lee Smith’s 34.2 percent, and Manny Ramirez’s 23.8 percent. The full results can be found here. [...]The BBWAA continued to clear the backlog on the crowded Hall of Fame ballot this year, as three players passed the 75 percent vote threshold needed for induction. The Baseball Hall of Fame released the results of this year’s voting today, with three players getting the 75 percent of votes needed for induction. Headlining the group was Tim Raines (86.0 percent), who has been the beneficiary in recent y[...]



Athletics sign Trevor Plouffe: 2017 Fantasy Impact

2017-01-18T23:19:00+00:00

The Athletics add depth by signing infielder Trevor Plouffe. His addition will shift some other players around. What is the fantasy impact of the move? The Oakland Athletics were heading into the 2017 season with a decent lineup. However, the team added another outfield bat. Days later, the team signed another bat. This time, it is […]

Athletics sign Trevor Plouffe: 2017 Fantasy Impact - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

The Athletics add depth by signing infielder Trevor Plouffe. His addition will shift some other players around. What is the fantasy impact of the move? The Oakland Athletics were heading into the 2017 season with a decent lineup. However, the team added another outfield bat. Days later, the team signed another bat. This time, it is […]

Athletics sign Trevor Plouffe: 2017 Fantasy Impact - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez Elected To Hall Of Fame

2017-01-18T23:06:00+00:00

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez have been elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, per an announcement from the Baseball Writers Association of America (full balloting available at that link). Both Raines and Bagwell had to wait for their enshrinement among baseball’s all-time elite, as Raines was on his 10th (and final)…Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez have been elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, per an announcement from the Baseball Writers Association of America (full balloting available at that link). Both Raines and Bagwell had to wait for their enshrinement among baseball’s all-time elite, as Raines was on his 10th (and final) ballot this year, while Bagwell was on his seventh. Rodriguez, meanwhile, will receive the call to Cooperstown as a first-ballot Hall of Famer — just the second catcher to ever receive that honor (joining the great Johnny Bench). Raines, now 57, spent the majority of his career with the Expos, suiting up for Montreal in 13 of the 23 seasons during which he played a Major League game. One of baseball’s greatest leadoff hitters during his peak, the former fifth-round pick played in 2502 Major League games and tallied 10,359 plate appearances while batting .294/.385/.425 with 170 home runs, 808 stolen bases, 1571 runs scored and 980 runs batted in. Not only did Raines rack up stolen bases in bunches during his career — including four straight league-leading seasons of 71+ steals in 1981-84 — he was also extremely efficient in doing so, as evidenced by a career 84.6 percent success rate. The seven-time All-Star spent the bulk of his career playing left field, though he did have cameos in center field and at second base over the life of his illustrious career. Baseball-Reference pegs that career at 68.4 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs credits him for 66.4 WAR. Now 48 years of age, Bagwell spent his entire 15-year career in an Astros uniform and is widely regarded as one of the greatest Astros of all time (if not the greatest). In 2150 games and 9431 plate appearances, Bagwell batted .297/.408/.540 with 449 home runs, 202 stolen bases, 1529 RBIs and 1517 runs scored. Bagwell was a near-unanimous (one vote shy) National League Rookie of the Year in 1991 when he batted .294/.387/.437 as a 23-year-old, and he was the unanimous NL MVP in a strike-shortened 1994 season that saw him hit .368/.451/.750 with 39 homers and a league-leading 116 RBIs. Bagwell earned four All-Star nods, a Gold Glove at first base and three Silver Sluggers in his brilliant career. In addition to his ’94 MVP win, he finished as second to future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones in 1999 and third behind MVP Larry Walker (who many believe should be in Cooperstown) and runner-up Mike Piazza (another Hall of Famer) in 1997. Baseball-Reference credits Bagwell with 79.6 WAR in his career, while Fangraphs is ever so slightly more bullish at 80.2 WAR. Rodriguez, 45, spent parts of 20 seasons in the Major Leagues and finished his career as one of the most decorated catchers of all-time. A 14-time All-Star, “Pudge” also won the American League MVP Award in 1999 and was the recipient of an incredible 13 Gold Glove Awards, to say nothing of seven Silver Slugger Awards. In 10,270 career trips to the plate, Rodriguez batted .296/.334/.464 with 311 home runs, 1332 runs batted in and 1354 runs scored. He also prevented an incredible 46 percent of stolen base attempts against him in his career (661 of 1447), leading the league in caught-stealing percentage on nine occasions (including a ridiculous 60 percent mark in 2001). Falling painfully shy of the 75 percent of votes needed to be immortalized in Cooperstown was Padres legend Trevor Hoffman, who fell just five votes and one percent short of joining this trio[...]



Tigers Acquire Mikie Mahtook From Rays, Designate Anthony Gose

2017-01-18T22:38:00+00:00

The Rays announced that they’ve traded outfielder Mikie Mahtook to the Tigers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Detroit, too, has announced the move, adding that fellow outfielder Anthony Gose has been designated for assignment to clear a spot on the roster for Mahtook. [Related: Updated Detroit Tigers Depth Chart]…The Rays announced that they’ve traded outfielder Mikie Mahtook to the Tigers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Detroit, too, has announced the move, adding that fellow outfielder Anthony Gose has been designated for assignment to clear a spot on the roster for Mahtook. [Related: Updated Detroit Tigers Depth Chart] Tampa Bay selected Mahtook, now 27, with the 31st overall pick in the 2011 draft, but the LSU product struggled in his second stint against Major League pitching this past season. Mahtook debuted in 2015 and batted an impressive .295/.351/.619 with nine home runs in just 115 plate appearances, but he’d never shown that type of power throughout his minor league tenure. Mahtook’s bat regressed (and then some) in 2016, as he received 196 Major League plate appearances but slashed just .195/.231/.292 with three homers over the life of 65 games. A broken left hand did sideline Mahtook for a good portion of the 2016 season, though it doesn’t seem likely that the injury had much to do with his lack of production, as Mahtook wasn’t performing at the plate even prior to being hit by the pitch that ultimately caused the fracture. Defensively, Mahtook is capable of playing all three outfield spots and has split his time across all three slots fairly evenly (though he’s played a slight bit more in center than in either outfield corner). Mahtook has been primarily a center fielder throughout his minor league career, so he’ll give the Tigers an option in center field for the team to consider. And it should be noted that he does come with a sound track record of performance in Triple-A, where he’s batted .277/.342/.420 with 17 homers and 33 steals (40 tries) in 1088 plate appearances. Mahtook will compete with out-of-options Tyler Collins and his former college teammate, JaCoby Jones, for playing time in center field. He could also serve as a right-handed complement to Collins in a platoon setting. Mahtook does have a minor league option remaining, so the Tigers can also send him to Triple-A for further refinement if he struggles this spring. As for Gose, his time with the Tigers has long looked to be in jeopardy. Though the 26-year-old has been mentioned by GM Al Avila as an option in center field at times this offseason, he’s out of minor league options and hasn’t hit in the Majors with the Tigers since being acquired from the Blue Jays in exchange for Devon Travis two years ago. The fleet-footed Gose has batted just .247/.315/.363 with Detroit. That includes a .209/.287/.341 slash in 30 games last season and an even more disheartening .203/.276/.312 slash in 90 games between Triple-A and Double-A. Beyond his on-field struggles, Gose also received a brief, team-issued suspension due to a dugout altercation with Triple-A skipper Lloyd McClendon (followed by a demotion to Double-A). As for the Rays, the trade of Mahtook opens a spot on the 40-man roster which could clear way for fellow outfielder Colby Rasmus, who has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with Tampa Bay that has yet to be formally announced. The Rays are also reportedly nearing a Major League deal with right-hander Shawn Tolleson, so Mahtook’s spot could go to him as well. Either way, it seems that the Rays stand to make at least one additional 40-man roster tweak in the days to come. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



Should We Believe in Jose Ramirez?

2017-01-18T20:15:00+00:00

  As we begin to approach the 2017 season, one of the larger wild cards at the third base position is Cleveland Indians third sacker Jose Ramirez. While Ramirez is coming off of a remarkable season that saw him excel in a variety of offensive aspects, there isn’t a tremendous basis for it at the […]  As we begin to approach the 2017 season, one of the larger wild cards at the third base position is Cleveland Indians third sacker Jose Ramirez. While Ramirez is coming off of a remarkable season that saw him excel in a variety of offensive aspects, there isn’t a tremendous basis for it at the Major League level. Should we expect that 2016 will become more of the norm than his previous big league stints, or is a regression in the cards for one of the breakout stars of last season? Prior to 2016, Ramirez spent a good chunk of time at the Major League level in both 2014 and 2015, with plate appearance totals of 266 and 355, respectively. Neither appearance saw him justify consistent big league time, especially in a 2015 season where he hit only .219 and reached base at a paltry .291 clip. Of course, his .232 batting average on balls in play didn’t exactly help, but his park-adjusted offense still came in 27 points below league average. The 2016 season represented an entirely different situation for Ramirez. His line featured marks of .312/.363/.462/.825. That batting average was tops among qualifying third basemen, while his OBP ranked fifth among that group. After a season in which he posted a wRC+ of 73, he was able to bring that figure all the way up to 122, which ranked 10th among that same group. While he’s not a tremendous power threat, he demonstrated an ability to consistently reach base while making things happen on the basepaths, where he recorded 22 steals on the season. So what exactly should we be expecting from Ramirez moving forward? There are aspects of Jose Ramirez’s game that are extremely encouraging. The lack of power notwithstanding, there’s always intrigue surrounding a guy with high on-base skills and can make things happen in the run game. The following represents Ramirez’s career figures in swing rate, contact rate, swinging strike rate, and hard contact rate: The consistency is encouraging. His ability to make contact has always been well above league average, while that swing rate is well below league average. His swinging strike rate has always been low, with a 4.9% figure in 2016 that was the 23rd lowest among the 24 qualifying third basemen. That’s probably no surprise given that he posted a strikeout rate of only 10.0% in 2016. His ability to swing and make regular contact is undeniable at this point. It’s a matter of whether that will continue to translate to the type of success that it did this past season. One interesting aspect is that Ramirez has been able to steadily increase his ability to make hard contact. His 26.8 Hard% last year was the highest of his career. Of course, the harder the contact, the more likely that Ramirez is generally able to reach base. Especially when he’s not putting the ball on the ground as much. Which is one aspect where Ramirez experienced a significant change that’ll be interesting to watch moving forward. His groundball rate experienced a drop from 47.6% in 2015 to 40.9% in 2016. That coincided with a LD% that rose from 16.2% to 22.8% in those two years. That probably comes as no surprise, simply based off of the rise in BABIP from .232 to .333 across each year. While the swing and contact rates change, there was a notable difference in the pitch types that Ramirez hacked at: I’m going to totally oversimplify this, but in swinging at hard pitches on a more regular basis, Ramirez was able to generate h[...]



Angels Extend Kole Calhoun

2017-01-18T20:05:00+00:00

The Angels have agreed to a three-year contract extension with right fielder Kole Calhoun, per a club announcement, covering the 2017 through 2019 seasons. Importantly, the deal includes an option for 2020, which means that the team will pick up an added season of control while buying out all of Calhoun’s remaining arbitration eligibility. Calhoun…The Angels have agreed to a three-year contract extension with right fielder Kole Calhoun, per a club announcement, covering the 2017 through 2019 seasons. Importantly, the deal includes an option for 2020, which means that the team will pick up an added season of control while buying out all of Calhoun’s remaining arbitration eligibility. Calhoun will be guaranteed $26MM in the agreement, while the option is valued at $14MM, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). He will be paid annual salaries of $6MM in 2017, $8.5MM in 2018, and $10.5MM in 2019, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). There’s also a $1MM buyout on the option year. The deal represents a bit of a surprise given its structure. The sides had already agreed upon a $6.35MM arbitration salary for the coming season after Calhoun earned $3.4MM in 2016 as a Super Two. While arb-only agreements do occur from time to time, it’s not often that a mid-arbitration, high-quality regular gives up the rights to a free-agent eligible season just to lock in two more seasons of guarantees over arb-eligible years. While it’s important to note that Calhoun’s future free-agent earnings were limited somewhat by his age — he’d have hit the market in advance of his age-32 season — this still looks to be a rather notable bargain for the Halos. There’s relatively little risk in the deal, given Calhoun’s track record and relative youth (he just turned 29). And promising just under $20MM for his final two arb years likely represents a discount on what he’d have earned through arbitration — barring a total fall-off in play. Adding a reasonably priced free-agent season, without taking on any lengthy commitment, provides a lot of value to the organization. Though he was never hyped as a prospect, the former eighth-round draft pick has done nothing but perform as a professional. Calhoun showed plenty of promise during his first extended stay in the majors, back in 2013, and hasn’t looked back since. In over 2,000 trips to the big league plate, he carries a .266/.328/.436 batting line with 69 home runs. With solid glovework and baserunning added into the mix, he has steadily checked in with between 3 and 4 wins above replacement annually, making him one of the Angels’ best players. With this move, the Angels have two-thirds of their outfield under control through 2020 at very appealing rates, given the quality of the players involved. That’s also the last season of the organization’s six-year deal with star center fielder Mike Trout. For a club that is attempting to remain highly competitive while managing some significant salaries, not all of which have gone according to plan, these extensions both represent strong values. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



The Unwritten Rules

2017-01-18T19:15:00+00:00

Over the course of the last few weeks of the regular season last year, I had explored different ethical and strategic questions posed to me via email and social media. It was a fun series to write and while some definitely did not like me or my advice, others loved it. So, I am hoping […]Over the course of the last few weeks of the regular season last year, I had explored different ethical and strategic questions posed to me via email and social media. It was a fun series to write and while some definitely did not like me or my advice, others loved it. So, I am hoping to make this a reoccurring series that will pop up periodically throughout 2017. Feel free to send me more questions at JustinMasonFantasy@gmail.com or on twitter @JustinMasonFWFB and when I have enough, I will do another installment. Thanks for playing along! My league has a scoring system that devalues stolen bases compared to standard leagues. We also keep track of historical records in categories. My teams (in various years) have made it such that at some point various teams of mine have been the all-time leader in every category except SBs. I could theoretically fix that, but seeing as that is the lowest priority category for a competitive team, is it unethical to build a team to make a run at history–“All-time leader in everything”(… in different years, but still)– instead of building the team I think has the best shot at winning the league next year? -Stan M. Is it unethical? No, but it isn’t smart either. We play fantasy baseball for a multitude of reasons, but ultimately like Herm Edwards once said, “you play to win the game!” Now, if in the course of this, you set some records along the way, then more power to you. You obviously have different motivation than me. I would never do this, but there is nothing unethical about it as far as I can see. I’m in a league has a compensation rule (from his money leagues) for the sudden and irreversible loss of a player due to injury or death (but it was never codified), so far the compensation has been rejected in the case of Taveras and Fielder, but he has imposed it on a manager that didn’t ask for it that is lavish to say the least. The league is a very deep keeper and we do a blind draft based on waivers every year to fill out our roster spots from 22-26. He wanted to give the team losing Jose Fernandez a free pick after keepers are set but before claims are sent in. This would give the manager the pick of the litter which is usually saved for the last place team. He insists that this is even light, while I’ve been saying that it’s stealing from the neediest teams to give a team that is competitive without Fernandez an unfair advantage. He insists on ‘fair value’ for the player, I insist on fair value for the team to remain competitive. I pleaded for some sort of methodology using numbers to evaluate the players in each instance, but he flatly rejected the idea. Am I wrong to believe that this opens up him and the league to questions of bias and using an uneven hand? Chris W. First and foremost, I really like this rule. It protects the owners in case of unfortunate events like the loss of a player. However, as much as I like the rule itself, it is not being properly employed. A rule like this should have strict guidelines to follow when such occurrences do happen. I don’t understand how the Prince Fielder owner doesn’t get compensated, but the Jose Fernandez owner does. Shouldn’t both owners get compensation? Fielder was going around pick 90 in NFBC leagues last season while Jose Fernandez was going around pick 34. Do I think the compensation is too much? No, I think it[...]



J.P. Arencibia Announces Retirement

2017-01-18T19:10:00+00:00

Former big league catcher J.P Arencibia has announced his retirement from the game in a message on Twitter. He’ll hang ’em up after parts of a half-dozen seasons at the major league level. Arencibia didn’t spend any time in the big leagues last year, when he played at Triple-A with the Rays and Phillies organizations.…

Former big league catcher J.P Arencibia has announced his retirement from the game in a message on Twitter. He’ll hang ’em up after parts of a half-dozen seasons at the major league level.

Arencibia didn’t spend any time in the big leagues last year, when he played at Triple-A with the Rays and Phillies organizations. But he had reached the majors in each of the prior six campaigns, beginning in 2010 with the Blue Jays.

Surely, Arencibia will be remembered most for his time in Toronto, where he was the regular catcher for three seasons. The first two of those went pretty well for the slugging receiver, as he combined for a .225/.279/.437 slash with 41 home runs over 2011-12.

But 2013 proved a turning point for Arencibia, who hit just .194/.227/.365 — though he appeared in a career-high 138 games. Always prone to swinging and missing, he ended that year with 148 strikeouts against just 18 walks. He later saw time in the majors with the Rangers and the Rays, but never regained his standing as a regular behind the dish.

Having failed to make it back to the game’s highest level in 2016, there was little question that the 31-year-old would have been looking at another minor-league assignment while waiting and hoping for another opportunity. Instead, he’ll move on.

As he humorously put it in his announcement: “I really never could take a walk in my career but this walk will be my biggest yet, I’m walking away from baseball.” MLBTR wishes Arencibia the very best in his future endeavors.

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Braves, Blaine Boyer Agree To Minor League Deal

2017-01-18T18:22:00+00:00

TODAY: Boyer will earn $975K if he makes the MLB roster, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. YESTERDAY: The Braves have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Blaine Boyer, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter link). Bowman notes that the Aegis Sports client will have a good chance to make the Atlanta bullpen. The 35-year-old Boyer…

TODAY: Boyer will earn $975K if he makes the MLB roster, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets.

YESTERDAY: The Braves have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Blaine Boyer, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter link). Bowman notes that the Aegis Sports client will have a good chance to make the Atlanta bullpen.

The 35-year-old Boyer was originally drafted by the Braves back in 2000 and spent the first five seasons of his career in Atlanta. After a two-year absence from the Majors from 2012-13, during which Boyer has previously said he believed his career to be over, the right-hander returned to MLB on a minors pact with the Padres. Since that time, he’s posted a very strong 3.31 ERA in 171 1/3 innings with the Padres, Twins and Brewers.

Most recently, Boyer tossed 66 innings for the 2016 Brewers, posting a 3.95 earned run average with 3.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. That K/9 rate stands out as the likely reason that Boyer has continually had to settle for minor league deals in recent years. Boyer misses fewer bats than just about any reliever in the game — he’s averaged just 4.6 K/9 since returning the bigs — but demonstrates strong control and induces plenty of weak contact, which helps his cause.

Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik recently penned a fascinating look at Boyer in an attempt to determine how he’s been able to succeed despite that lack of strikeouts. Sawchik observes that Boyer allowed the fewest number of barreled balls to opponents in 2016. Beyond that, opponents averaged a feeble 86.2 mph exit velocity against Boyer, which was the 11th-lowest mark in baseball. Sawchik likened Boyer’s knack for inducing consistent weak contact to that of Mark Buehrle, another low-strikeout arm that thrived for more than a decade despite his own lack of missed bats. Braves fans are encouraged to check out the piece in its entirety, as it’s a thorough look at one of the game’s more unique skill sets.

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2017 Magazine Contributions

2017-01-18T18:15:00+00:00

This season, I was lucky enough for a couple print publications, Lindy’s and The Fantasy Baseball Guide, asked me to contribute their fantasy preview magazines.  While the quality of both magazines is top notch, print publications have limited room for explanations and no ability for back-and-forth discussions. Today, I am going to go over my […]This season, I was lucky enough for a couple print publications, Lindy’s and The Fantasy Baseball Guide, asked me to contribute their fantasy preview magazines.  While the quality of both magazines is top notch, print publications have limited room for explanations and no ability for back-and-forth discussions. Today, I am going to go over my contributions which I feel could use more explanation and will answer any questions on my thought process. Lindy’s For Lindy’s, I participated in their 12-team mock draft ( standard team except 1 C, 4 OF, 8P) and I picked out of the 3rd position. Here is my team Position – Name (Round Drafted) C – Buster Posey (3) 1B – Hanley Ramirez (7) 2B – Rougned Odor (2) 3B – Adrian Beltre (4) SS – Marcus Semien (12) MI – Jung Ho Kang (17) CI – Albert Pujols (10) OF – Andrew McCutchen (5) OF – Mark Trumbo (9) OF – Marcell Ozuna (14) OF – Matt Holliday (16) Util – Mike Moustakas (18) P – Clayton Kershaw (1) P – Chris Archer (6) P – Rich Hill (11) P – James Paxton (13) P – Michael Pineda (19) P – Jharel Cotton (20) P – Andrew Miller (8) P – Shawn Kelley (15) Overall thoughts Strengths I love my starting pitching staff. I have five of the top 22 starting pitchers according to our auction calculator. I will have a ton of home runs and RBI. Weakness I am missing stolen Bases and Run producers. I should have targeted a few top of the order guys in the later rounds. My closers are talented but not guaranteed Saves. I will likely be hunting for Saves throughout the season. Thoughts on individual picks Kershaw at #3 overall was easy. Using auction values, the projected difference between Kershaw and Scherzer in this format is $27. The difference between Trout and Betts is $7. Kershaw has easily the best chance of being the top rated player at the end of the season. I still value hitters over pitchers and can usually find some gems later. But Kershaw is a difference maker.  If given the opportunity, I will take Trout #1, but Kershaw is next off the board for me. I like getting Posey in the 3rd round. After looking over the numbers several times, I don’t see position scarcity (long article coming later on this subject) except with catcher. Rich Hill’s an injury risk, but in a shallow league like this one, he can be replaced easily. The picks of Jung Ho Kang (law) and Mark Trumbo (no team) look to be shaky at this point in the offseason. I think they have acceptable talent but I worry about their playing time. From about the 14th round and on, I had problems finding hitters I really coveted. Either the player is boring with no upside like Carlos Beltran or a completely risky pick like Max Kepler or Hunter Renfroe. I am going to work my way through these hitters later to see if I can find some gems. Additionally, I should find the power, speed, and average contributors at the various positions and use these late picks to balance my team’s needs. Pineda in the 19th is a steal. He might have a high ERA again or he could put it together and be a top 10 pitcher. I will take the chance on him this late. The Fantasy Baseball Guide For this publication, I wrote about winning Tou[...]



Blue Jays Re-Sign Jose Bautista

2017-01-18T18:10:00+00:00

12:05pm: The deal includes attendance bonuses as well, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In each year of the deal, Bautista can earn up to $900K depending upon how the club draws. He’ll take home $150K for every hundred-thousand fans through the gate between 3.5 and 4.0 million. It’s not known just how…12:05pm: The deal includes attendance bonuses as well, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In each year of the deal, Bautista can earn up to $900K depending upon how the club draws. He’ll take home $150K for every hundred-thousand fans through the gate between 3.5 and 4.0 million. It’s not known just how attendance will be calculated, but per ESPN.com, the Jays drew 3,392,299 guests to the Rogers Centre last year. 9:58am: The Blue Jays have now formally announced that they’ve re-signed Bautista (via press release). One of the few teams to publicly disclose the financial details of their contracts, the Jays announced that Bautista will earn $18MM next season. His 2018 option is a mutual option worth $17MM which comes with a $500K buyout that is paid out if either side declines their half of the option. Bautista’s deal also contains a $20MM vesting option for the 2019 season. JAN. 18, 7:36am: The final guarantee is $18.5MM, Passan tweets. An official announcement is expected in short order. JAN. 17, 3:45pm: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Bautista’s 2017 salary will be $18MM, but the buyout on the second-year option will tack another $500K to $1MM onto the overall guarantee (Twitter links). Bautista will have mutual option for the 2018 season and a vesting option for the 2019 season, according to Passan. The two sides are still finalizing the details surrounding the vesting option, he notes, but there’s a framework in place for the agreement. 2:35pm: Bautista receives an $18MM guarantee, per Steve Phillips of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). The maximum value of the deal — with incentives and the consecutive mutual options — is $60MM. The 2017 salary remains unknown, but buyouts on the option years help contribute to the total guarantee, Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes on Twitter. 1:53pm: The Blue Jays have agreed to a deal with free-agent outfielder Jose Bautista, according to reports from Baseball Prospectus Toronto (Twitter link) and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). It’s a one-year deal that includes at least one mutual option, and could reportedly extend to three total seasons in duration. Bautista will receive a guarantee that exceeds the $17.2MM qualifying offer value, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter), assuming he passes his physical. [RELATED: Updated Blue Jays Depth Chart] Bautista was said to be nearing a reunion with the Jays, who’ll plug his bat back into the middle of their order for at least one more season. At the outset of the offseason, Bautista had declined a QO from the organization, which set the stage for Toronto to recoup draft compensation if he signed elsewhere. Instead, the team will give up that possible first-round pick in order to fill the noticeable void that remained in right field. The signing brings to an end — for now, at least — what has been a lengthy dance between the organization and the player who was perhaps most singularly associated with it. Both Bautista and fellow slugger Edwin Encarnacion were reclamation projects that turned into stars in Toronto. After performing admirably under their respective extensions, both hit the market when they were unable to reach new long-term accords[...]



2017 Minor League Preview: Oakland Athletics

2017-01-18T18:00:00+00:00

Whenever I write a post about Oakland, I open with a shout out to the King Of Hyphy, and fallen solider Mac Dre. I know he's from the Valley-Jo, but the man gets a great deal of Oakland love. It's only a half hour north after all. Or maybe all this is just a poor excuse to link to this video. So put on your best Thizz Face, and let's get into some Moneyball A's talk. You ready? After unloading eventual MVP, and mullet superstar Josh Donaldson, the A's have been in full on rebuild mode. Of course treadmill hero extraordinaire Billy Beane is still pulling the strings behind the scenes, but the sort of prospect crop needed for the A's to compete has alluded them for the better part of a decade. However, things changed last July, spearheaded by the signing of Cuban Hype Machine Lazarito. The A's then became heavy players in an active trade deadline, settling on a solid trade with the Dodgers. Unloading the aging Rich Hill, and impending free agent Josh Reddick for three solid prospect arms with some upside. All three Jhael Cotton, Frankie Montas, and Grant Holmes should factor into Oakland's rotation in the next few seasons. With Cotton the closest to the O.Co, followed by Montas, and Holmes bringing up the rear. They then followed both of those moves with the savvy December signing of Cuban pitcher Norge Ruiz for $2 million; a player many think was the best arm in the 2016 international class. Saying the rebuild of the once prospect and pitching rich A's began this July is a little disingenuous, as they did swing a trade for 2016 breakout rookie pitcher Sean Manaea at the 2015 deadline. Unloading Ben Zobrist to the future World Series champion Royals in the process. With a crop of young hitters, and pitchers matriculating to Oakland over the next few years, we could be looking at an up and coming organization.  Time will tell if that holds true. It's the Top Oakland Athletics Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.Whenever I write a post about Oakland, I open with a shout out to the King Of Hyphy, and fallen solider Mac Dre. I know he's from the Valley-Jo, but the man gets a great deal of Oakland love. It's only a half hour north after all. Or maybe all this is just a poor excuse to link to this video. So put on your best Thizz Face, and let's get into some Moneyball A's talk. You ready? After unloading eventual MVP, and mullet superstar Josh Donaldson, the A's have been in full on rebuild mode. Of course treadmill hero extraordinaire Billy Beane is still pulling the strings behind the scenes, but the sort of prospect crop needed for the A's to compete has alluded them for the better part of a decade. However, things changed last July, spearheaded by the signing of Cuban Hype Machine Lazarito. The A's then became heavy players in an active trade deadline, settling on a solid trade with the Dodgers. Unloading the aging Rich Hill, and impending free agent Josh Reddick for three solid prospect arms with some upside. All three Jhael Cotton, Frankie Montas, and Grant Holmes should factor into Oakland's rotation in the next few seasons. With Cotton the closest to the O.Co, followed by Montas, and Holmes bringing up the rear. They then followed both of those moves with the savvy December signing of Cuban pitcher Norge Ruiz for $2 million; a player many think was the best arm in the 2016 international class. Saying the rebuild of the once prospect and pitching rich A's began this July is a little disingenuous, as they did swing a trade for 2016 breakout rookie pitcher Sean Manaea at the 2015 deadline. Unloading Ben Zobrist to the future World Series champion Royals in the p[...]



Athletics Designate Zach Neal

2017-01-18T17:22:00+00:00

The Athletics have designated righty Zach Neal for assignment, per a club announcement. His roster spot will go to third baseman Trevor Plouffe, whose one-year deal is now official. Neal, 28, made his MLB debut last year, throwing 70 innings of 4.24 ERA ball over six starts and 18 relief appearances. Though he managed only…

The Athletics have designated righty Zach Neal for assignment, per a club announcement. His roster spot will go to third baseman Trevor Plouffe, whose one-year deal is now official.

Neal, 28, made his MLB debut last year, throwing 70 innings of 4.24 ERA ball over six starts and 18 relief appearances. Though he managed only 27 strikeouts, he also permitted just six walks in that stretch while relying on a variety of fastballs (including a cutter sometimes classified as a slider), a change, and a little-used curve.

A noted control artist in the minors, Neal has worked mostly as a starter over his professional career. Over parts of three seasons at Triple-A, he has compiled a 3.95 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9.

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On Surplus and Inflation in Keeper Leagues

2017-01-18T17:15:00+00:00

The ottoneu keeper/cut deadline is less than two weeks away, and the ottoneu communities (official and unofficial) are buzzing with discussions about the keep/cut line of specific players and general keeper strategy. I’ve noticed some confusion regarding the definitions and implications of surplus and inflation as it relates to keeper decisions, so I’m here to […]The ottoneu keeper/cut deadline is less than two weeks away, and the ottoneu communities (official and unofficial) are buzzing with discussions about the keep/cut line of specific players and general keeper strategy. I’ve noticed some confusion regarding the definitions and implications of surplus and inflation as it relates to keeper decisions, so I’m here to explain as best as I can. As the creator of the ottoneu Surplus Calculator, the concept of surplus is one that I’ve thought about ever since I played in my first auction keeper league almost ten years ago. For others, their only exposure to the term is the Surplus Calculator, and I wanted to make some clear distinctions between what surplus refers to on that tool and what it means in general. Surplus, in the broadest sense, is strictly the value of a player above and beyond their salary. To put it another way, a surplus asset is one where their expected production exceeds their cost. Do you own a $20 Kris Bryant? That is a surplus asset, though the specific amount of surplus depends on how much you think Bryant is worth. On the Surplus Calculator player worth is defined by the pre-loaded dollar values (currently based on Steamer), but just because a player shows as a surplus asset on the calculator it does not mean that every owner in your league will agree. To reiterate, defining a player as a surplus asset hinges on whatever dollar values you are assigning to that player. Maybe that’s the values on the Surplus Calculator, maybe it’s those generated by the FanGraphs Auction Calculator, or maybe you’ve created your own values. One owner might think their player has $10 in surplus, while the rest of the league considers that player a questionable keeper value. Another term that is often thrown about by ottoneu owners is that of a par asset. A par asset is simply a player who has very near to $0 in surplus value.  Now that we have laid the groundwork for what surplus means, why do we care? Well, in keeper auction leagues (like ottoneu), teams will generally keep their surplus assets and cut any negative surplus assets (those worth less than their salaries). That almost always means that the league as a whole has keepers that have salaries much lower than their actual worth. That disparity between the value of kept players and their cost/salary results in auction inflation. Auction inflation is the premium (typically expressed as a percentage) the league has to pay at auction to acquire a player. Simply, the effects of inflation mean that there is less talent available at the auction than there is money to spend. Let’s look at a practical example in order to illustrate how to calculate inflation and what it means at auction. Based on my article from last year, the average FanGraphs Points league had 291 kept players with $3,252 in salaries and $3,453 in worth (based on my ’16 personal dollar values), so let’s assume our league mirrors those averages. In order to calculate inflation you need to find the remaining salary that can be spent at the auction, and the remaining dollar values left to spend that money on. Since[...]



Athletics Sign Trevor Plouffe

2017-01-18T17:11:00+00:00

JANUARY 18: The A’s have announced the deal. Plouffe gets a $5.25MM guarantee, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). He can also earn $150K upon reaching 350 plate appearances, another $300K if he gets to 450, and then $300K more if he reaches 525 trips to the plate, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX…JANUARY 18: The A’s have announced the deal. Plouffe gets a $5.25MM guarantee, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). He can also earn $150K upon reaching 350 plate appearances, another $300K if he gets to 450, and then $300K more if he reaches 525 trips to the plate, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There’s also a one-time, $250K trade bonus. JANUARY 11: Plouffe is expected to receive around $5MM of guaranteed money in the deal, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). There are also incentives, though details remain unknown. JANUARY 10: The Athletics have an agreement in place with free agent infielder Trevor Plouffe, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The deal, which is pending a physical, will be a one-year agreement, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). She adds that Plouffe is likely to see the bulk of the playing time at third base for the A’s next season, with Ryon Healy shifting to designated hitter and first base. Plouffe is represented by CAA Baseball. [Related: Updated Oakland Athletics Depth Chart] Prior to this new deal with the A’s, the 30-year-old Plouffe had spent his entire career in the Twins organization. A first-round pick by Minnesota back in 2004, Plouffe took quite some time to blossom into an everyday Major Leaguer but cemented himself as the Twins’ everyday third baseman beginning in 2012. That season saw Plouffe belt 24 homers in 119 games, and while that mark still stands as a career-best, Plouffe has consistently shown solid pop from the right side of the plate over the life of his big league career.  In his first four seasons as a regular, he proved to be a roughly league-average bat, hitting .248/.312/.426 and averaging 23 homers per 162 games played. A right-handed hitter, Plouffe has been significantly more productive against lefties (career .268/.344/.465) than righties (.239/.294/.403). This past year, Plouffe hit .260/.303/.420 with 12 homers in an injury-ravaged season that included three trips to the disabled list for an intercostal strain, a fractured rib and an oblique strain. Those three maladies combined to limit Plouffe to just 84 games and 344 plate appearances — both his lowest marks since establishing himself as a regular with the Twins. The three trips to the DL, Plouffe’s projected $8.2MM price tag in arbitration (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) and a stacked corner infield/DH scene in Minnesota prompted the new Twins front office to part ways with Plouffe following the season rather than tender him a contract in arbitration. Despite possessing fairly notable platoon splits, it seems that Plouffe will be in line for near-everyday at-bats, as was the case during his tenure with the Twins. Plouffe never rated as an exceptional defender at the hot corner, but the converted shortstop went from dreadful Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating marks to above-average grades over the course of his time in Minnesota as he grew more accustomed to his new position. (His 2016 defensive metrics were poor, though certainly one can imagine his persistent injuries impacting his mobility on the field.) Fro[...]



Indians Sign Brandon Guyer To Two-Year Deal

2017-01-18T16:41:00+00:00

10:41am: The deal also allows Guyer to earn up to $400K in plate-appearance-based bonuses in both 2018 and 2019, Bastian tweets. And the option value can rise to as much as $3.75MM with escalators. 9:51am: It’s a two-year, $5MM contract for Guyer, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. He’ll receive $2MM in 2017 (just shy of the…10:41am: The deal also allows Guyer to earn up to $400K in plate-appearance-based bonuses in both 2018 and 2019, Bastian tweets. And the option value can rise to as much as $3.75MM with escalators. 9:51am: It’s a two-year, $5MM contract for Guyer, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. He’ll receive $2MM in 2017 (just shy of the $2.1MM midpoint between the two sides’ arbitration numbers) and $2.75MM in 2018. Guyer’s contract contains a $3MM club option for the 2019 season, which comes with a $250K buyout. 9:35am: The Indians announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed outfielder Brandon Guyer to a two-year deal with a club option for the 2019 season. The 30-year-old Guyer (31 next week) was arbitration-eligible and had filed for a $2.3MM, which the Indians countered with a $1.9MM offer (as shown in MLBTR’s 2017 Arbitration Tracker). Rather than hammer out a one-year pact, Guyer will instead agree to lock in both of his remaining arbitration salaries in exchange for a club option over what would’ve been his first free-agent year. Guyer, a longtime member of the Rays, was a deadline pickup for the Indians, who traded minor league outfielder Nathan Lukes and minor league righty Jhonleider Salinas to the Rays to acquire the remaining two and a half years of control on Guyer’s contract. Guyer has long been a thorn in the side of left-handed pitching, and Cleveland benefited substantially from that trait, as Guyer slashed .333/.438/.469 in a limited role (91 plate appearances) over the remainder of the regular season following the trade. He also chipped in a .333/.500/.389 batting line in 24 postseason plate appearances. Beyond his strong career performance against left-handed pitching (.289/.391/.470), Guyer thrives in one perhaps underappreciated element of the game: getting hit by pitches. Shortly after the trade, August Fagerstrom examined Guyer’s uncanny penchant for being hit by pitches over at Fangraphs, observing that Guyer is not only the active leader in total HBPs over the past couple of seasons, but the leader in HBPs on a percentage basis (min. 500 PAs) dating all the way back to 1921. A ridiculous 6.1 percent of Guyer’s plate appearances have resulted in him being plunked by a pitch, which compensates for a below-average walk rate and has allowed him to consistently post strong OBPs in the Majors. As Fagerstrom breaks down in the aforementioned Fangraphs column, Guyer’s HBP magic isn’t as much from crowding the plate (though he does that, too) as it is from a striding toward the plate and the inside edge of the batter’s box as he loads for a swing. While some might raise an eyebrow at calling that a “skill,” Guyer’s propensity for reaching base the hard way has undoubtedly benefited his teams over the years, and no one in the game seems as adept at doing so. Turning to Guyer’s glovework, he has experience at all three outfield positions but has spent the majority of his time in left field, where he grades out as an above-average defender. With Cleveland, however, he’s likely to spend the bul[...]



2017 FanDuel & DraftKings MLB Cheat Sheets

2017-01-18T16:08:00+00:00

  Hello Fake Baseballers! Are you ready for another six months of the daily baseball grind? I know I am.…  Hello Fake Baseballers! Are you ready for another six months of the daily baseball grind? I know I am.…(image)



The fall of the swingman

2017-01-18T16:00:00+00:00

Starting pitchers aren’t pitching in relief as often. Why? We usually think of starters and relievers as different entities. The starter is the pitcher who starts the game, and the reliever is the pitcher who comes in to relieve the starter. It’s wonderfully simple. But starters don’t always start, and defining what is and isn’t a starter can sometimes be difficult. Pitchers are often used in different roles, even during the same season. Take Clay Buchholz’s 2016 season as an example. He threw 1391⁄3 innings over the past year, but not all of them came as a starter. In fact, only 21 out of his 37 appearances came out of the rotation — meaning that in 2016, Buchholz made 16 appearances out of the pen. Due to bad performance, and the Red Sox high expectations, on May, 29th, Buchholz made his first appearance as a reliever. It was the first time he had made an appearance out of the pen since 2008, and it was only his third appearance out of the pen in his entire career. Buchholz, though, isn’t alone in this regard. In fact, as I was able to find out, pitchers whom one might label as starters, pitch innings out of the bullpen more than one might think, but that trend is drastically decreasing. [1] The trend has somewhat stabilized over the past few years, but it’s undeniable that in general, fewer and fewer starters are pitching innings out of the bullpen. This makes a lot of sense, because pitchers nowadays are very different than they were just 10 years ago. More and more pitchers are becoming specialized, meaning they’re pitching fewer and fewer innings. It also doesn’t make sense to have your starter constantly roaming from being a starter to being a relief pitcher. Both tasks require different skills and different levels of exertion, and the more you play around with a pitcher, the bigger the chance he’ll getting hurt. That’s why, when I found that in previous eras of baseball, more than 50 percent of starters made at least one appearance out of the pen, I was a little shocked. But maybe I shouldn’t have been. A number of studies and articles have been written on how the game is changing. And pitchers may be at the apex of that change. Roles between starters and relievers are being more defined and divided. You rarely see a starter make a bullpen appearance nowadays, unless they started underperforming or are maybe rehabbing from an injury. That said, just because this phenomenon isn’t as common as it used to be, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen — and in fact, some pitchers do walk that fine line, between being a starter and being a relief pitcher. In 2016, Luis Perdomo, Jhoulys Chacin, Ross Stripling, Patrick Corbin, Albert Suarez and Clay Buchholz led all starters in relief innings pitched. The commonality between all of these pitchers is their performance: Every single one of them had a DRA above 4 (except for Jhoulys Chacin, who had a DRA of 3.94, which isn’t a whole lot better). While these pitchers are interesting test cases on their own, the hurler who really stood out to me was Tanner Roark. It makes sense for Buchholz to be moved to the bullpen. He had a 6.08 DRA in 2016, and the Red Sox decided early on to put him in the pen. Roark, on the other hand, pitched more than 200 innings in 2016. Granted, he wasn’t blowing people away, but if you are committed[...]



Fantasy Busts and Opportunities: NL Central

2017-01-18T15:15:00+00:00

The series continues! We’re here to discuss the following question – which current MLB starters might flop in 2017, opening an opportunity for a prospect or non-full time player? During Spring Training, we’ll go into a full dive on team depth charts, fleshing out these opportunities in more detail. This post is meant to be quick and […]The series continues! We’re here to discuss the following question – which current MLB starters might flop in 2017, opening an opportunity for a prospect or non-full time player? During Spring Training, we’ll go into a full dive on team depth charts, fleshing out these opportunities in more detail. This post is meant to be quick and dirty. If you missed the previous editions, you can find the NL East here and the AL West here. I’ve constrained myself to players I believe may predictably fail. The person who asked the question used the Tigers rotation, Jimmy Rollins, Shin-Soo Choo, and Luke Gregerson as examples. He or she profited from Michael Fulmer, Tim Anderson, Ken Giles, and Nomar Mazara. Let’s begin. NL Central Opportunities Brewers Milwaukee has built a roster on upside and volatility. The result is a highly leverageable unit for fantasy owners. Starters like Keon Broxton, Eric Thames, Domingo Santana, and Orlando Arcia should be late-round selections. All have the ability to massively outperform that draft slot. They could also flop spectacularly. Do note, Arcia should be considered less volatile than the other three. The club has depth at second and third base. They’ll use some combination of Jonathan Villar, Scooter Gennett, and Travis Shaw with Hernan Perez serving as the backup. We’re probably looking at a spring battle between Shaw and Gennett with Villar starting at the loser’s position. If Thames flops, Shaw and Perez could share time at first. Perez, if he plays regularly, posts good fantasy numbers despite below average real world production. I love the catchers the Brewers acquired in the last year. Andrew Susac and Jett Bandy both have the talent and the ballpark to be fantasy relevant hitters. This is a spring battle that will extend well into the season. They’ll probably both catch about 50 percent until one emerges as considerably better than the other. In the outfield, Milwaukee would love to finally find a taker for Ryan Braun. As mentioned, Broxton and Santana are high ceiling, no floor players. If things fall apart, Perez or Villar could be tasked with filling in until Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips, and other notable prospects are ready. The rotation is a volume bomb. I count 11 viable starters, and that’s not including Tommy Milone. He may begin the season as the fifth starter, but he’s a terrible fit for that ballpark. Guys to watch outside the top five include Wily Peralta, Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Cravy, Jorge Lopez, Brent Suter, and Josh Hader. Reportedly, Neftali Feliz will soon sign. He’ll presumably take over as the closer. Corey Knebel is the obvious alternative choice. The Brewers have a ton of inventory. There’s no guessing who else might break out to late inning status. Cardinals Jhonny Peralta and Jedd Gyorko are expected to battle for the starting third base job. Kolten Wong‘s ability to rebound will also affect their playing time. I anticipate a [...]



NL Central Notes: Molina, Wainwright, Thames, Cervelli

2017-01-18T14:41:00+00:00

The Cardinals are readying to face some potentially tricky decisions with regard to franchise stalwarts Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. While the organization is hoping for both to finish out their careers in St. Louis, a sentiment the players share, such arrangements are sometimes easier said than done.…The Cardinals are readying to face some potentially tricky decisions with regard to franchise stalwarts Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. While the organization is hoping for both to finish out their careers in St. Louis, a sentiment the players share, such arrangements are sometimes easier said than done. Extension talks are planned at some point this year with Molina, who remains a highly valuable workhorse behind the dish. The guaranteed portion of his contract ends after the season, with a mutual option looming. As Goold explains, it’s hardly a straightforward matter to reach a new deal; the question of how great a commitment the team wants to make will have to account for not only the valuation of an aging catcher, but also the rise of prospect Carson Kelly. As for Wainwright, who tells Goold he’ll only be interested in single-season contracts when his deal is up (after the 2018 season), there’s more time to see how things progress and less pressure given his position. Here are a few more notes from the NL Central… Eric Thames will be the latest data point as teams try to project how star-level performance in the Korea Baseball Organization carries over to Major League Baseball, and Fangraphs’ David Laurila spoke to Brewers GM David Stearns about the factors that went into signing Thames. Stearns explained that improved plate discipline despite a vast increase in the number of breaking balls Thames saw in Korea played into the decision, as did a number of analytics processes and statistical projections. “As more players play in the KBO, or any other foreign league, and then come back to the States, projection systems are going to continue to improve,” said the Milwaukee GM. “Clearly, the translation of KBO stats to (MLB) stats isn’t as straightforward as translating a Triple-A environment to a Major League environment, but it still played a role in our evaluation.” MLB.com’s Adam Berry breaks down the value that Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli brings to the team with his ability to frame pitches. While Cervelli’s lack of pop might make his three-year, $31MM deal look questionable to some, Berry points out that per MLB’s Statcast data, Cervelli rated third in the Majors in total strikes “stolen” for his pitchers in 2015 and, in an injury-shortened 2016 campaign, ranked third once again on a per-pitch basis in that same category. The skill is hardly lost on the Pirates’ young pitchers, several of whom lauded Cervelli’s receiving abilities when speaking to Berry. “He makes every pitch look really good, even your bad pitches,” said Jameson Taillon. “”That’s a big confidence-builder.”  [...]



Trade Retrospective: Rangers send Chris Davis to the Orioles in exchange for Koji Uehara

2017-01-18T14:00:00+00:00

The Rangers smartly chose Uehara over Heath Bell, but who knew what Davis was capable of back then? For the second straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. At the 2011 trade deadline, the Rangers bolstered their bullpen by trading for Koji Uehara from the Orioles. They sent Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter to Baltimore in order to complete the deal. In this trade retrospective series, trades will still be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades because anybody can get lucky. Process over results. That being said, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties involved. The Deal The Rangers were in the thick of a tight divisional race — they were only two games up on the Angels at the end of July. The pressure was really raised on the Rangers when the Angels called up a highly touted prospect a few weeks earlier whom you might have heard of: Mike Trout. He had been struggling pretty badly since making his debut, but it would have been foolish to believe that would continue. Initially, the Rangers really wanted Heath Bell. The problem was that he would only be a two-month rental, and the Padres wanted a lot for him. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Quite frankly, I was surprised that the Rangers did not go after Uehara to start with. He cost less talent to acquire, he had an option for 2012, and he was really good since being converted to a reliever in 2010. Let’s compare the two starting in 2010 and going to when they were traded. Those are all excellent numbers from Uehara, with the exception of his home run rate. That 9.1 K/BB ratio was especially insane. In fact, if we check the Play Index, Koji’s career 7.9 K/BB is the the greatest ever to this day among pitchers with at least 400 IP, and it is the best by a lot. Uehara clearly looked like the better option. The big difference in home run rate can easily be explained by the ballparks in which they played. Bell pitched in cavernous Petco Park, while Uehara worked in homer-friendly Camden Yards. The then-named Rangers Ballpark is also very hitter-friendly. I would much rather have one-and-a-third seasons of the pitcher with the much better strikeout and walk rates as opposed to a third of a season from the alternative. The big caveat is that Uehara was an extreme fly ball pitcher, with a 57.8 percent fly ball rate as a reliever. You would think that somebody with his splitter would induce lots of ground balls, but that was not the case. Putting such a pitcher in the cozy confines of Rangers Ballpark would have its risks. Still, I believe — and so did the Rangers, evidently — that was a worthwhile risk to get the extra year of control and the superior strikeout and walk rates. The Rangers got Uehara without paying too much. Chris Davis had struggled mightily since debuting in 2008; he was demoted a few times and was a sub-replacement level player when he played in the majors. Scouts were always concerned about Davis making enough contact at the major league level, and they were proven correct. At the time he was traded, he had a career 31.7 percent strikeout rate. Coincidentally for the Rangers, he was basically Joey Gallo, though without quite having that kind of legend[...]



On Explaining Player xK% Divergence

2017-01-18T13:15:00+00:00

Yesterday I continued new xK% equation week by discussing the 10 pitchers that have overperformed and underperformed the metric the most since 2011. While I calculated the group averages, pulled in fastball velocity, and most frequently used secondary pitch, the sample size was far too tiny to conclude anything. So at the request of commenter […]Yesterday I continued new xK% equation week by discussing the 10 pitchers that have overperformed and underperformed the metric the most since 2011. While I calculated the group averages, pulled in fastball velocity, and most frequently used secondary pitch, the sample size was far too tiny to conclude anything. So at the request of commenter JUICEMANE, I have decided to do a larger study in an attempt to explain why some pitchers consistently over- or underperform the xK% equation. Do the players within each group on either side have anything in common with their groupmates? I arbitrarily chose to include the top 150 players at the top and bottom to use as my data set to analyze out of my 906 players. I pulled in fastball velocity and the most frequently used secondary pitch. Let’s begin with the group averages: xK% Group Averages Player Average Season K% Average Season xK% Average Season K%-xK% Total K%-xK% FBv Overperformer Average 22.0% 20.5% 1.5% 5.4% 92.3 Underperformer Average 20.1% 21.9% -1.8% -5.7% 91.3 Total Data Set Avg (906) 20.1% 20.3% -0.2% -0.3% 91.8 There are a couple of takeaways here: -The overperformer group isn’t “supposed to” be any better than the average pitcher in the entire data set (nearly identical average xK% marks), but because of their overperformance, actually posted a K% mark nearly 2% higher -The underperformer group matched the entire data set in actually K%, despite posting an xK% 1.6% higher -The overperformer group featured average fastball velocity 0.5 mph higher than the entire data set, while the underperformer group was 0.5 mph lower. From this table, it would sure seem like fastball velocity is an important addition and could add incremental explanatory power to the xK% equation. Unfortunately, I already tried adding velocity into my equation before typing this up and the R-squared didn’t budge. I’m not enough of a statistical wiz to know if velocity isn’t actually meaningful because it didn’t move the R-squared needle, or if a boost in accuracy would simply show up somewhere else. I tested Aroldis Chapman‘s 2014 season, when he averaged 100.3 mph with his fastball, comparing the current xK% to the coefficients calculated with FBv included. The latter equation that incorporated his 100.3 mph fastball only increased his xK% by 0.1%! So I’m at a loss for what to do, if anything, with fastball velocity. I am also hesitant to include it, because I still would expect it to show up in the strike type rates. Last, let’s take a look at the most frequently used secondary pitches of each group: xK% Pitch Type % Group Averages Pitch Type All Overperformers Underperformers SL 49.4% 45.3% 48.7% CB 18.5% 24.7% 12.0% CH 16.3% 10.7% 22.7% CT 12.0% 15.3% 11.3% SF 3.3% 4.0% 4.0% KN 0.3% 0.0% 1.3% Well darn, this may be even more illuminating than the gap in fastball velocity! As you peruse through the matrix, it’s easy to spot the pink elephants[...]



Sleeper Spotlight: Tommy Joseph Provides Power Potential, But Is He Worth Investing In?

2017-01-18T12:30:00+00:00

by Ray Kuhn If you weren’t paying attention to the Philadelphia Phillies in the second half of last season you are not alone. The Phillies are in the process of rebuilding, and the product on the field left a lot to be desired.  That doesn’tby Ray Kuhn If you weren’t paying attention to the Philadelphia Phillies in the second half of last season you are not alone. The Phillies are in the process of rebuilding, and the product on the field left a lot to be desired.  That doesn’t mean that fantasy owners should be ignoring the situation. Even if they might not be trying to win on the field, they are still fielding a team filled with young players and varying degrees of potential, bringing us to Tommy Joseph. It wasn’t a secret that the Phillies were phasing Ryan Howard out, with his performance not doing him any favors, but Joseph made sure the veteran spent a lot of time on the bench late in the year. He also ensured that he will be opening the 2017 season starting at first base and batting in the middle of their lineup. In his first professional season, 2010, Joseph hit 16 HR while driving in 68 runs and followed that up with 22 HR and 95 RBI in 2011. Injuries then hijacked the next four years as he fell off the prospect radar while hitting just 25 HR and ultimately being moved to first base. Joseph got off to scorching start last season as he hit .347 in 100 AB in Triple-A with 6 HR and 17 RBI prior to his promotion. The slugger is a power threat, but that doesn’t mean he is without concern. When he was initially promoted the understanding was that he would be platooning with Howard due to his splits. While Joseph clearly has an advantage against southpaws, he was serviceable against right-handed pitching as hit 14 of his 21 HR against RHP with a .248 batting average (.774 OPS) while hitting .284 (912 OPS) when benefiting from his platoon advantage. That was enough to overtake Howard for the majority of the playing time. Overall Joseph hit .257 while driving in 47 runs in 347 AB while managing his strikeout concern. Making contact has been an issue, and his 78% contact rate could be worse as he struck out 75 times to go along with 22 walks. It will continue to be something to monitor, especially as he adjusts to playing a full season, but there is enough to work with to consider him a sleeper option. While we can’t count on Joseph hitting much more than .250, you can’t deny his power. Per Baseball HQ hehad a Power Index, and expected power, of 144 last season while also having a Hard Contact rate of 16% above the league average.  Those are skills Joseph owns, and there is a real upside for 30 HR. *** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!!   Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! *** Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings: PositionLast Updated Catcher01/09/17 First Base10/31/16 Second Base11/07/16 Third Base11/14/16 Shortstop11/21/16 Outfielder12/05/16 Starting Pitcher12/13/16 Relief Pitcher01/02/17 [...]



Early ADP Thoughts – Third Base

2017-01-18T11:45:00+00:00

There is a palpable unreliability to ADP data that we usually forget about until it punches us in the face three rounds into every draft. This has pushed me toward a “get your guys” tactic that I’ve been employing for a few years now. It’s not new, I didn’t make it up, but I used […]There is a palpable unreliability to ADP data that we usually forget about until it punches us in the face three rounds into every draft. This has pushed me toward a “get your guys” tactic that I’ve been employing for a few years now. It’s not new, I didn’t make it up, but I used to get hung up on taking a guy “too early” because ADP says he’s a 10th rounder. Until one day I told myself, “hey dummy, you do realize the A in ADP stands for average, right?” I’m very rude to myself it seems. It was then I started to look more at the highest a player has gone just to get a feel for where the most aggressive believers are on a player. By the way, this isn’t to say Min Pick (as it’s titled on the NFBC data) is a perfect guide, either. It’s the outlier, but it prepares you for what could happen in your draft. In short, a reach or a bargain really varies between the fantasy players. My reach is your bargain and vice versa… well, assuming I didn’t have perfect rankings, but theoretically you could deem one of my bargains a reach. Just get your guys. Be reasonable, but get the guys that you want. You did the research, you have players you think will greatly outdo expectations, so lock them in. Again, being reasonable is the key part here. This means going a round or two higher within the top 150 picks and then you can stretch it to 2-4 rounds in the double-digit rounds. I’m only looking at third base today because outfield is going to be a biggie and pairing the two would’ve been a bit much. I’ll go deep here to make up for doing just one position. Previous Editions: C/1B 2B/SS THIRD BASE (click to see ADP data) Quick note: This is not a ranking list. Not every player at the position will be discussed.  3B feels particularly rich because there are four first-rounders at the position. There is some depth at the position, but it’s somewhat inflated by the star power at the top. You realistically only have a shot at one of them and if you pick at the back end of a 15-team league, you might miss out on all four. They aren’t that far apart, but I personally prefer Nolan Arenado (pick 6) to Kris Bryant (4). I didn’t include Manny Machado (8) among SS because this data only lists guys at one position, but it does enhance his value to have eligibility at both so you can adjust to the mid-tier options at each position that you like best. It takes 3-4 rounds after the first before another third baseman goes off the board when Kyle Seager (66) gets picked. He’s not a bad consolation pick if you miss the first round studs with an average of 25 HR/85 RBI over the last five seasons, playing at least 155 games in each. His HR total has jumped yearly and he hit the 30 plateau last year. Todd Frazier’s (73) selling out for power tanked his AVG to a career-low .225, but his counting categories output[...]



Hall of Fame Plaques Reflect the Style at the Time

2017-01-18T11:00:00+00:00

As the game has changed, so too has the way we write about it.Babe Ruth’s Hall of Fame plaque is nothing if not concise. (via Dan Gaken)Wade Boggs’ is the first to mention on-base percentage. Lou Boudreau’s describes him as a “player-pilot,” a term that’s been out of use for more than half a century. Jackie Robinson’s initially made no mention of him breaking the color barrier. Phil Rizzuto’s reads almost like a defense for inclusion, noting he had a “solid .273 batting average” and (this seems like an odd thing to highlight) “peaked with a .439 slugging percentage” one season. The first line of Babe Ruth’s is “Greatest drawing card in history of baseball.” We’re talking, of course, about Hall of Fame plaques, which are ripe with charming, informative and idiosyncratic text, often reflective of the era in which they were written. Ruth? He “gathered 714 home runs.” Jack Beckley? He “made 2930 hits.” Cool Papa Bell? “Hit over .300 regularly, topping .400 on occasion.” Love that – “on occasion,” as if it were the decision to wear a tuxedo. “The plaques illustrate the way that we, the baseball fans and the baseball industry, have changed our mindset and the way we talk about the game,” said Jon Shestakofsky, vice president of communications and education for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “Not only have things changed grammatically and linguistically over time, which was pretty funny to see. But also the types of information that are going up on plaques, like a lot more stats.” The writing of the text on the 314 plaques now hanging in Cooperstown has always been a collaborative effort between Hall historians and the communications department, traditionally with no input from inductees. “The way we think about it is, if we ever tried to run it by players, it would never get done,” said Shestakofsky, laughing. Exploring the gallery of plaques is like leafing through old copies of The Sporting News, where many of the terms and descriptions seem quaintly dated – even instructional. Do you know what constitutes a perfect game? If not, you can read the last line of Cy Young’s plaque: “Pitched perfect game May 5, 1904, no opposing batsman reaching first base.” The first five members of the Hall of Fame – Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson – were elected in 1936. Their plaques topped out at around 30 words. If someone asked you to summarize the career of Babe Ruth in so few words, how would you do it? With stats? A description of his stature in the game? A mixture of both? Ruth’s full plaque actually reads: Greatest drawing card in history of baseball. Holder of many home run and other batting records. Gathered 714 home runs in addition to fifteen in World Series.” That’s it, 27 words over three lines — for the greatest player in baseball history. With the help of laser printing and a more concise font, more recent plaques can have around 90 words. If you were charged with writing (or re-writing) Ruth’s plaque, maybe you would mention his pitchin[...]



Top 20 Catchers for 2017 Fantasy Baseball

2017-01-18T08:01:00+00:00

After going over my top 10 for 2017 fantasy baseball and top 20 for 2017 fantasy baseball (clickbait!), I move onto the one post all year that make all the ladies say 'Ooooh...' The manner in which those ladies in question say 'Ooooh...' is as such, "Ooooh...So, are we going to the mall after you're done reading that fantasy baseball nonsense or can we go now and, while I'm shopping, you sit outside Orange Julius reading that shizz while I'm dropping buckets of duckets on earrings?  And, no, we can't go to Lush so you can play with the handmade soaps."  It's better if we leave it at, this post makes all the ladies say 'Ooooh...'  The ellipsis says enough, I think.  The projections noted in the post are my own, and I mention where tiers start and stop.  I also mention a bunch of hullabaloo, so let's get to it.  Anyway, here's the top 20 catchers for 2017 fantasy baseball:(image) After going over my top 10 for 2017 fantasy baseball and top 20 for 2017 fantasy baseball (clickbait!), I move onto the one post all year that make all the ladies say 'Ooooh...' The manner in which those ladies in question say 'Ooooh...' is as such, "Ooooh...So, are we going to the mall after you're done reading that fantasy baseball nonsense or can we go now and, while I'm shopping, you sit outside Orange Julius reading that shizz while I'm dropping buckets of duckets on earrings?  And, no, we can't go to Lush so you can play with the handmade soaps."  It's better if we leave it at, this post makes all the ladies say 'Ooooh...'  The ellipsis says enough, I think.  The projections noted in the post are my own, and I mention where tiers start and stop.  I also mention a bunch of hullabaloo, so let's get to it.  Anyway, here's the top 20 catchers for 2017 fantasy baseball:(image) (image)



White Sox, Cory Luebke Agree To Minor League Deal

2017-01-18T03:35:00+00:00

The White Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with left-hander Cory Luebke, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). Eddy also notes that the Sox have a minors deal with catcher Carson Blair and have re-signed fleet-footed outfielder Jason Bourgeois. The 31-year-old Luebke has undergone two Tommy John surgeries in the past…The White Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with left-hander Cory Luebke, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). Eddy also notes that the Sox have a minors deal with catcher Carson Blair and have re-signed fleet-footed outfielder Jason Bourgeois. The 31-year-old Luebke has undergone two Tommy John surgeries in the past half-decade but made his first big league appearance since 2012 this past season. Luebke broke camp with the Pirates after signing a minor league deal with Pittsburgh last winter, though he didn’t fare well in his return to a Major League mound. Luebke tossed just 8 2/3 innings with Pittsburgh and yielded nine runs on 15 hits and 11 walks with nine strikeouts. He did fare better in 24 1/3 minor league innings, tallying a 1.85 ERA and a 35-to-3 K/BB ratio between the Pirates and Marlins organizations. Luebke once looked like a potential long-term cog in the Padres’ rotation, debuting with the team in 2010 and seemingly blossoming a year later. The southpaw turned in 139 2/3 innings of 3.29 ERA ball with 9.9 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 2011, which earned him a four-year, $12MM extension. While many such deals are panned when they’re signed, Luebke’s decision to accept that then-modest sum now appears wise in light of his arm troubles. A return to a starting role doesn’t appear likely for Luebke following a pair of Tommy John operations, but he could get an opportunity to compete for a bullpen gig with the rebuilding ChiSox in 2017. Dan Jennings currently stands as the top lefty option in new manager Rick Renteria’s bullpen, with less-proven southpaw Giovanni Soto (not to be confused with the catcher of the same, albeit differently spelled name) also in line to get a look this spring. As for Blair, the 27-year-old is a longtime Red Sox farmhand that made his big league debut with the A’s in 2015 after signing a minor league deal there. Blair received just 35 plate appearances and didn’t hit well, but he’s coming off a more productive .250/.339/.372 batting line split between the A’s and Rangers organizations in 2016 (all in the minor leagues). He’s not likely to factor into the Sox’ plans out of Spring Training but could head the minors and serve as a depth piece in either Double-A or Triple-A. Bourgeois, 35, made his Major League debut with the 2008 White Sox (though he played in just six games) and would go on to appear for five teams over the next seven seasons. He’s a career .253/.300/.326 hitter in the Majors and delivered a solid .292/.333/.385 batting line in 122 Triple-A contests with the Sox and D-backs last year.[...]



NL East Notes: Volquez, Bruce, Braves, Nola

2017-01-18T02:11:00+00:00

We at MLBTR would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez, whose 25-year-old brother, Brandy, was stabbed and killed earlier today in Volquez’s native Dominican Republic, per a report from Emmanuel Rosario of QuisqueyanoSports.com and this one from ESPN. A suspect is reportedly in custody. It’s been a rough couple of years…We at MLBTR would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez, whose 25-year-old brother, Brandy, was stabbed and killed earlier today in Volquez’s native Dominican Republic, per a report from Emmanuel Rosario of QuisqueyanoSports.com and this one from ESPN. A suspect is reportedly in custody. It’s been a rough couple of years for Volquez and his family, as Volquez’s father passed away just prior to his son’s start for the Royals in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series. As we keep Volquez and his family in our thoughts, here are a few more notes from the NL East… Recent agreements by the Blue Jays (Jose Bautista) and Phillies (Michael Saunders) have caused the Mets’ potential trade options for right fielder Jay Bruce to dwindle, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. (I’d also note the Orioles’ acquisition of Seth Smith in that list of deterrents to a Bruce swap.) The Giants and Rangers could be the only two remaining plausible landing spots for Bruce, Puma continues, noting that each team has had previous interest in Bruce. However, according to Puma, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has not yet shown a willingness to absorb any of Bruce’s $13MM salary in a trade, which only further exacerbates the difficulty of trading him in a market flooded with cheaper corner options. Puma speculates that the Mets may be forced to open the season with Bruce on the roster and look to move him early in the regular season, as they did with Ike Davis back in 2014. Braves general manager John Coppolella spoke to David Laurila of Fangraphs about his slew of trades this offseason, discussing topics such as longstanding interest in the prospects acquired by Atlanta, moving Alex Jackson back to catcher, and negotiating trades with Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto. Coppolella says that the Braves had a folder on left-hander Thomas Burrows, acquired in last week’s Mallex Smith trade, on their table on draft day before he was selected by the Mariners in the fourth round. “…[W]e literally had our pockets picked by Seattle,” Coppolella said. He also acknowledged interest in lefty Luiz Gohara dating back to his amateur days in 2012 before Gohara agreed to sign in Seattle. Of Dipoto, Coppolella offered high praise. “It’s worth noting that Jerry is extremely professional about returning calls and texts, open to ideas, and not afraid to make moves, particularly in terms of trading prospects,” he said. “It’s amazing how many conversations get shot down almost immediately, but Jerry will listen and engage.” I’d highly recommend a full read-through not just for Braves and Mariners fans [...]



Diamondbacks, Gregor Blanco Agree To Minors Deal

2017-01-18T00:44:00+00:00

Longtime Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco has agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, Blanco’s agent, Wil Polidor, tells Manolo Hernandez of BeisbolPorGotas.com (Twitter link). SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Blanco would receive a $1MM base salary upon making the Major League roster. He adds that the deal…Longtime Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco has agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, Blanco’s agent, Wil Polidor, tells Manolo Hernandez of BeisbolPorGotas.com (Twitter link). SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Blanco would receive a $1MM base salary upon making the Major League roster. He adds that the deal contains $2.7MM worth of incentives and an April 1 opt-out date. Just this afternoon, Blanco had been linked to the Tigers, but it instead appears that he’ll remain in the NL West and compete for a backup job with the D-backs. Arizona is slated to deploy David Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Yasmany Tomas in the outfield. Jeremy Hazelbaker and Socrates Brito are among the fellow outfielders against whom Blanco will compete for a reserve job under new manager Torey Lovullo. While each is already on the 40-man roster, the veteran Blanco could certainly give him a run for that roster spot in Spring Training. Blanco, who turned 32 last month, has spent the past five season in San Francisco. Though he struggled to a .224/.309/.311 batting line last season, he’s been a largely productive reserve outfielder with the Giants. From 2012-15, Blanco slashed .264/.343/.367 with 18 homers and 69 stolen bases across 1780 plate appearances while spending time at all three outfield spots. The bulk of his outfield work in the Majors has come in center field, where he’s graded out as a roughly average defender, but Blanco has more than 2000 innings in left field and another 900+ in right field as well.[...]



Rays Nearing Deal With Shawn Tolleson

2017-01-18T00:30:00+00:00

6:30pm: The deal, if completed, will be a Major League contract, Topkin tweets. 5:30pm: The Rays are close to an agreement with former Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The soon-to-be 29-year-old right-hander was non-tendered by Texas last month after a poor 2016 campaign but was excellent as recently…

6:30pm: The deal, if completed, will be a Major League contract, Topkin tweets.

5:30pm: The Rays are close to an agreement with former Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The soon-to-be 29-year-old right-hander was non-tendered by Texas last month after a poor 2016 campaign but was excellent as recently as 2014-15. In that two-year run of success, Tolleson logged a 2.88 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 across 144 innings of relief. Tolleson’s strong performance earned him a ninth-inning role with the Rangers for most of the 2015 campaign, and he racked up 35 saves that season as the primary closer in Texas.

However, the 2016 campaign was disastrous for Tolleson, who saw his ERA spike to an outlandish 7.68 mark over the life of 36 1/3 innings. Tolleson did pick up 11 saves, but he eventually ceded his ninth-inning job to teammate Sam Dyson, who enters the season as the projected closer in Texas once again. Tolleson was eventually outrighted by the Rangers and elected free agency in search of a better opportunity. Topkin notes that while Tolleson missed time with a back injury in 2016, he’s now said to be healthy, which one would think gives him a decent shot at cracking the Rays’ big league bullpen, even if the deal proves to be of the minor league variety.

Should Tolleson return to form in his new surroundings, the Rays will have the added bonus of being able to control him for another season. Tolleson finished the year four years, 109 days of big league service time, so he’ll be eligible for arbitration again next winter and wouldn’t reach free agency until after the 2018 season (unless the Rays elect to cut ties with him sooner).

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Royals 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview

2017-01-18T00:00:00+00:00

AL East: BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR NL East: ATL, NYM, PHI, MIA, WAS The Royals roster has gone through a lot of changes from 2015 to today. However, the team still features constant and emerging fantasy stars. The Kansas City Royals have lost a lot of key pieces from their 2015 World Series team. […]

Royals 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

AL East: BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR NL East: ATL, NYM, PHI, MIA, WAS The Royals roster has gone through a lot of changes from 2015 to today. However, the team still features constant and emerging fantasy stars. The Kansas City Royals have lost a lot of key pieces from their 2015 World Series team. […]

Royals 2017 Fantasy Baseball Preview - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Padres Extend Wil Myers

2017-01-17T22:43:00+00:00

It’s been an eventful two years for Padres fans, and while the organization is in the midst of a rebuilding phase, San Diego locked up its most important player on Tuesday, announcing a six-year extension for first baseman Wil Myers. The new contract is the largest in Padres history and will reportedly guarantee Myers a total…It’s been an eventful two years for Padres fans, and while the organization is in the midst of a rebuilding phase, San Diego locked up its most important player on Tuesday, announcing a six-year extension for first baseman Wil Myers. The new contract is the largest in Padres history and will reportedly guarantee Myers a total of $83MM. The Padres will also pick up an option for the 2023 season, giving them a potential seven years of control over Myers, who is represented by CAA Baseball. Myers, 26, will reportedly receive a hefty $15MM signing bonus and will earn a $2MM salary in each of the next two seasons. He’ll then earn $3MM in 2019 and $20MM from 2020-22. The club option for the 2023 season is valued at $20MM and comes with a $1MM buyout. [Related: Updated San Diego Padres Payroll Outlook] The new contract covers Myers’ remaining three years of arbitration eligibility and locks in three would-be free agent years (while also providing an option for a fourth). Entering his first trip through the arb process, Myers was projected to earn $4.7MM by MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Instead, he’ll take home a much heftier stack of cash in exchange to contractual rights through his age-32 season. The total package falls well shy of the top recent comparable: Freddie Freeman’s eight-year, $135MM deal with the Braves. Both players were in the three-plus service bracket and were projected for similar first-year arb salaries at the times of their deals. Of course, Freeman’s deal also covered two additional free-agent-eligible campaigns, so Myers figures to have an earlier chance to test the open market. In total guarantee, this contract would fall closer to the recent agreement between the Giants and Brandon Belt. That deal promised Belt — a four-plus service-class player who signed his new deal right at the start of the 2016 season — $72.8MM over five years. If you include his 2016 arb salary in the total, it worked out to a six-year, $79MM package. Myers, long considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, put it all together in 2016 for the Padres, who gave up Trea Turner and Joe Ross to acquire him in a three-team blockbuster before the prior campaign. After two injury-shortened seasons, Myers compiled 676 plate appearances and batted a healthy .259/.336/.461 while providing 28 home runs and 28 stolen bases. That garnered the former Rookie of the Year his first All-Star nod. With quality glovework and outstanding overall baserunning mixed in, Myers was worth 3.8 fWAR and 3.2 rWAR on the year. From a payroll standpoint, the Padres can more than afford to lock Myers into a long-term deal of this magni[...]



Blue Jays Jose Bautista Staying Put: 2017 Fantasy Value

2017-01-17T22:38:00+00:00

Jose Bautista is headed back to the Blue Jays after all. Now back in Toronto, what is his fantasy value heading into 2017? All that drama for nothing. After weeks of rumors and subsequent moves by the Blue Jays, it seemed as though Jose Bautista was on his way out. But, he is coming back […]

Blue Jays Jose Bautista Staying Put: 2017 Fantasy Value - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

Jose Bautista is headed back to the Blue Jays after all. Now back in Toronto, what is his fantasy value heading into 2017? All that drama for nothing. After weeks of rumors and subsequent moves by the Blue Jays, it seemed as though Jose Bautista was on his way out. But, he is coming back […]

Blue Jays Jose Bautista Staying Put: 2017 Fantasy Value - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Rockies Sign Alexi Amarista

2017-01-17T22:05:00+00:00

Several weeks after the agreement was first reported, the Rockies have formally announced the signing of veteran infielder Alexi Amarista to a one-year contract. The versatile Martin Arburua client will reportedly receive a $1.25MM guarantee, which includes a $1.1MM base salary as well as a $150K buyout of a $2.5MM option for the 2018 season.…Several weeks after the agreement was first reported, the Rockies have formally announced the signing of veteran infielder Alexi Amarista to a one-year contract. The versatile Martin Arburua client will reportedly receive a $1.25MM guarantee, which includes a $1.1MM base salary as well as a $150K buyout of a $2.5MM option for the 2018 season. [Related: Updated Colorado Rockies Depth Chart] Amarista, 27, has never provided much at the plate over his six MLB seasons with the Angels and Padres, though he adds some versatile depth to the Rockies bench. The majority of Amarista’s 398 career starts have some at shortstop, but he has also seen quite a bit of action as a center fielder and second baseman. Additionally, he’s logged some time at third base and in both corner outfield slots. The Rockies have a much-publicized glut of outfielders but relatively little infield depth beyond the quartet of first baseman Ian Desmond, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, shortstop Trevor Story and third baseman Nolan Arenado. Amarista can be a backup all across the diamond as well as late-game option off the bench and on the basepaths. New Rockies manager Bud Black knows Amarista quite well, as Black previously managed Amarista in San Diego from 2012-15. Amarista figures to join likely fourth outfielder Gerardo Parra and backup catcher Tom Murphy to occupy three of the Rockies’ bench spots. Out-of-options infielder Cristhian Adames is a candidate to fill one of the remaining spots, as is veteran outfielder Chris Denorfia, who will be in camp as a non-roster invitee this spring (but would give the Rox a needed right-handed complement to their all-left-handed outfield). Other options for the Rockies bench are corner outfielder/first baseman Jordan Patterson and well-regarded outfield prospect Raimel Tapia, though both hit from the left side as well, which would further add to Colorado’s glut of lefty-swinging outfielders. The Padres non-tendered Amarista back in early December following a season that saw the 27-year-old hit .257/.295/.271 over 150 plate appearances. Amarista was projected by MLBTR to earn $1.6MM in his third and final year of arbitration. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported the agreement and the terms of the deal (Twitter links). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



MLBTR Chat Transcript

2017-01-17T20:17:00+00:00

Click here to read a transcript of today’s chat with MLBTR’s Steve Adams.

Click here to read a transcript of today’s chat with MLBTR’s Steve Adams.

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Jose Bautista is coming home

2017-01-17T20:03:00+00:00

The Blue Jays re-signed their right fielder for 2017, bringing back a reliable hitter and a Toronto legend. Back in March of 2016, when players were shaking off the rust in Florida or Arizona, this promo for the Blue Jays came across my Twitter timeline: Ten-odd months later, I still love this spot. Coming Home is a masterpiece — one of the best songs of this decade, and of Diddy’s career — and in conjunction with the imagery, particularly the selective slow motion, it paints a thrilling picture. As an Orioles supporter, I’m not accustomed to feeling this way about the Jays, nor am I particularly comfortable with it. Yet something about the sense of community and camaraderie the ad displays draws me in every time. The team came out of nowhere to win the division in 2015, then surged to a Wild Card spot in 2016, and both times, they just seemed to have a blast while doing it. We already know that one of the core contributors to that Toronto club won’t return. In December, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion took his beloved parrot south, inking a three-year, $60-million contract with the Indians. But the biggest name, responsible for the biggest moment, will be coming back: Earlier today, right fielder Jose Bautista agreed to a one-year contract extension, reportedly with a mutual option for 2018. At first glance, this might seem like an irrational move for the Jays. Bautista’s stats fell off in 2016 — he was worth only 1.4 fWAR in 517 plate appearances, after averaging more than five wins per year between 2010 and 2015. Nevertheless, he stands a good chance of rebounding in 2017: Steamer predicts 2.3 fWAR in 523 plate appearances, while ZiPS expects a 510-plate appearance, 3.1-fWAR finish. Why the optimism? Under this contract, Bautista will play his age-36 and (possibly) 37 seasons with the Jays; as he gets older, he’ll likely lose some speed on his swing. But that hasn’t happened yet. His decline in 2016 — on offense, at least — was because of bad luck, not aging. Per FanGraphs, he put up the highest hard contact rate of his career, at 41.1 percent; that figure placed him seventh among qualified hitters. The 16.3 percent HR/FB rate Bautista put up in 2016 (a year with a lot more power across the majors) was his lowest since his incredible 2010 breakout. Simultaneously, however, he made hard contact on a career-high 40.0 percent of his fly balls. If he keeps stinging the ball in the air, more of them will find their way over the fence, which will help him improve upon his 2016 ISO of .215. Likewise, although Bautista’s inflated popup rate will prevent him from running a high BABIP, he could rise above last year’s .255. In 2016, despite a 31.3 percent hard-hit rate on grounders — his highest mark since 2011 — his ground ball BABIP plummeted to .211, the lowest he’s been since 2010. He faced the shift a little more often[...]



Tigers “In Touch” With Peter Bourjos, Gregor Blanco

2017-01-17T19:47:00+00:00

The Tigers have opened a dialogue with free-agent outfielders Peter Bourjos and Gregor Blanco, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). There’s no agreement close with either player, but the two are under consideration as the team looks to fill its void in center field. Detroit opened the offseason by trading…The Tigers have opened a dialogue with free-agent outfielders Peter Bourjos and Gregor Blanco, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). There’s no agreement close with either player, but the two are under consideration as the team looks to fill its void in center field. Detroit opened the offseason by trading incumbent center fielder Cameron Maybin, which seemed at the time to be one of several potential moves to shed veterans. But further deals have not been forthcoming, in part due to larger market forces as well as complications with the contracts of the team’s established players (many of which are significant deals that include no-trade protections). [RELATED: Tigers Depth Chart] As things stand, then, the Tigers appear set to host a camp battle featuring some internal options and whatever veterans they add. Current players in the mix include the right-handed-hitting JaCoby Jones and lefties Anthony Gose, Tyler Collins, and Alex Presley. Clearly, there’s little in the way of established production in that group, so it stands to reason that Detroit would at least seek to build out the group heading into Spring Training. Beyond Bourjos and Blanco, current free agents with substantial experience in center include righty bats like Austin Jackson, Desmond Jennings, and Drew Stubbs as well as southpaw hitters such as Michael Bourn and Sam Fuld. Switch hitter Angel Pagan could conceivably also be an option, though perhaps he’ll cost more than Detroit is inclined to spend. As for the two names now known to be possibilities, it’s easy to see the potential for a match. Bourjos, 29, has long been known for his speed and glovework, though he’s an uneven performer at the plate. All told, he ended an up-and-down 2016 season with 383 plate appearances of .251/.292/.389 hitting. Bourjos hits from the right side, while the 33-year-old Blanco is a lefty. He had turned in two straight quality campaigns before a downturn in 2016, when he slashed .224/.309/.311 over 274 trips to the plate. After grading as a sturdy defender for much of his career, Blanco hasn’t drawn great reviews for his glove in recent seasons.[...]



Thoracic Outlet Surgery Is The New Tommy John Surgery

2017-01-17T19:25:00+00:00

We’re under a month away until pitchers and catchers report to two of the worst states in the Union. This is a good time to check-in with some of those idiots who ruined your fantasy season last year. Each week I’m going to be taking a look at any player who is listed as injured or is about to come back from injury or who is just an injury waiting to happen--looking at you Mike Stanton--I’ll call you Giancarlo when you start acting like Giancarlo. This first article might be a little long, but hopefully I won’t have to cover 14 injuries in a single week during the regular season. (image) We’re under a month away until pitchers and catchers report to two of the worst states in the Union. This is a good time to check-in with some of those idiots who ruined your fantasy season last year. Each week I’m going to be taking a look at any player who is listed as injured or is about to come back from injury or who is just an injury waiting to happen--looking at you Mike Stanton--I’ll call you Giancarlo when you start acting like Giancarlo. This first article might be a little long, but hopefully I won’t have to cover 14 injuries in a single week during the regular season. (image) (image)



2016 Weighted Arsenal Scores

2017-01-17T19:15:00+00:00

Around this time last year (edit: actually, it was more like sometime in 2014), Eno Sarris introduced the Arsenal Score. It was, and still is, a novel concept: for every pitcher, evaluate each of his pitches based strictly on their strikeout- and ground ball-inducing tendencies. Each pitch would be evaluated relative to its contemporaries — […]Around this time last year (edit: actually, it was more like sometime in 2014), Eno Sarris introduced the Arsenal Score. It was, and still is, a novel concept: for every pitcher, evaluate each of his pitches based strictly on their strikeout- and ground ball-inducing tendencies. Each pitch would be evaluated relative to its contemporaries — in other words, Corey Kluber‘s slider would be compared to all other sliders in the league. I’ll speak for Eno when I say the original Arsenal Scores weren’t meant to be especially rigorous. They received some flak for being mathematically inaccurate — to which I say, it doesn’t really matter. Originally, Eno calculated separate Z-scores for the ground ball rate (GB%) and swinging strike rate (SwStr%) — called “Z-BIP” and “Z-Whiff,” respectively, in the results to follow — of each pitch for every pitcher. The aggregate Z-scores — two Z-scores times X number of pitches — comprise the full Arsenal Score. This time around, I propose a few tweaks: GB% + PU%: Ground balls are excellent, but pop-ups are the theoretically optimal batted ball outcome — the ball-in-play equivalent to a strikeout. Thus, I added pop-ups (PU%) to ground balls to capture critical outcomes, albeit simplistically. Pitch weights: Eno had equally weighted every pitch in a pitcher’s repertoire. This isn’t heavy criticism; I simply saw this as a flaw in which, for example, the game’s low-key best pitch might be overrated if it wasn’t actually thrown very often. Instead, I chose to weight each pitch by the actual frequency at which it was thrown. Z-score weights: This is more experimental than anything, and less of a critical update than the first two bullet points: Eno weighted the SwStr% Z-score twice as heavily as the GB% Z-score based on each statistic’s correlation with various ERA and FIP metrics (see original post). I’ll provide three separate scores: (1) equal weights, (2) Eno’s “2/3” weights, and FIP weights by which strikeout (or, in this case, strikeout inputs) are weighted 6.5 times more heavily than ground balls. It’s true — this isn’t a mathematically legitimate way to do things. Frankly, I don’t care. Again, this isn’t (and wasn’t) mean to be anything more than a crude but interesting way to evaluate pitchers, especially in terms of identifying guys who may have breakout potential. A mathematically[...]



Cubs Claim Dylan Floro

2017-01-17T19:06:00+00:00

The Cubs have claimed righty Dylan Floro off waivers from the Rays, per a club announcement. He had been designated for assignment recently by Tampa Bay. Floro, 26, reached the bigs for the first time last year, working 15 innings over which he struck out 14 and walked five. He showed a 92.5 mph average…

The Cubs have claimed righty Dylan Floro off waivers from the Rays, per a club announcement. He had been designated for assignment recently by Tampa Bay.

Floro, 26, reached the bigs for the first time last year, working 15 innings over which he struck out 14 and walked five. He showed a 92.5 mph average heater and drew plenty of grounders, so there certainly seems to be some promise in his future.

Indeed, the control artist was quite good on the year at Triple-A, where he threw fifty frames of 2.88 ERA ball with 7.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. Long a starter, Floro had converted to being a full-time reliever after struggling in his first attempt at the highest level of the minors in 2015.

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Jake Diekman To Undergo Surgery, Miss Significant Portion Of 2017 Season

2017-01-17T18:39:00+00:00

Rangers reliever Jake Diekman is expected to miss “at least half” of the 2017 season after undergoing surgery to “help alleviate ulcerative colitis,” according to Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). That’s certainly frightening news for the 29-year-old; MLBTR extends its best wishes to him for a full recovery. News of the…Rangers reliever Jake Diekman is expected to miss “at least half” of the 2017 season after undergoing surgery to “help alleviate ulcerative colitis,” according to Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter). That’s certainly frightening news for the 29-year-old; MLBTR extends its best wishes to him for a full recovery. News of the surgery is most unwelcome for both Diekman and the Rangers. It’s a significant blow to the Texas organization’s late-inning bullpen mix. While there’s solid depth overall, Diekman is clearly the team’s top relief southpaw. Alex Claudio now stands as Texas’s top setup lefty. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that can come with a variety of side effects, ranging from the unpleasant to the debilitating. Diekman has long battled the ailment, and it seems that a surgical course was finally deemed necessary. If you’re interested in learning more about the condition and Diekman’s charitable efforts involving it, click here. Diekman had just agreed to a $2.55MM salary to avoid arbitration with the Rangers, and he’ll stand to receive all of that unless the team changes its mind before the start of the season. Odds are, Texas will take its chances on a return. The hope is, it seems, that Diekman will make it back in 2017, and he’s controllable for one more year through the arb process. Missing such a lengthy stretch will obviously dent his future arb earnings, it’s also important to point out. Texas will no doubt miss Diekman’s presence for whatever stretch he is out. Last year, he worked 53 frames and posted a 3.40 ERA. Though he continues to struggle with command at times, Diekman is tough to square up. Relying mostly on a mid-nineties sinker, which he combines with a slider and little-used change, he typically produces plenty of groundballs and strikeouts. Diekman carries nearly a 50% grounder rate to go with 11.0 K/9 for his career.  [...]



Rangers Re-Sign Josh Hamilton

2017-01-17T18:13:00+00:00

12:09pm: Hamilton intends to try his hand at first base, as MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets. Presumably, he could also factor in the corner outfield and DH mix. The organization has been rumored to be pursuing alternatives at first and DH, where Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar currently rate as the top options on the depth…12:09pm: Hamilton intends to try his hand at first base, as MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets. Presumably, he could also factor in the corner outfield and DH mix. The organization has been rumored to be pursuing alternatives at first and DH, where Joey Gallo and Jurickson Profar currently rate as the top options on the depth chart. 11:38am: Texas has announced the deal. Hamilton will earn at the league-minimum rate if he makes it to the majors, Heyman tweets. That’s not surprising, of course, as Hamilton’s free-agent deal ran through the 2017 season. Most of his $30MM salary will be paid for by the Angels, though the Rangers did also take on a total of $6MM (for the 2015-17 seasons) when they acquired Hamilton. 11:18am: The Rangers have wrapped up an agreement to re-sign one-time star slugger Josh Hamilton, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). A deal has been expected since late in 2016. Hamilton’s minor-league pact will give him the right to opt out on April 1 if he has not yet been added to the MLB roster. He’ll obviously hope to earn a spot in the major-league mix during spring camp, but it’s not known whether he’d look to pursue an opportunity elsewhere if Texas doesn’t offer him a big league job to open the year. There remain many questions facing the 35-year-old Hamilton, who was expected to play a significant role for the Rangers last year but ended up requiring consecutive knee surgeries. The veteran outfielder made a brief and largely uninspiring appearance with Texas in 2015, after he was acquired from the Angels, but hasn’t put together a full season since 2013. While Hamilton didn’t maintain his All-Star-level production upon leaving the Rangers to join the Angels in 2013, he did manage to put up a .255/.316/.426 batting line — good for a 110 OPS+ — during his two years in Los Angeles. If he can return to that sort of hitting, he’d likely be a solid piece for the Rangers, though talent has never been the lone issue. Hamilton, after all, has long dealt with balky knees and battled substance abuse, and he’ll need to maintain his overall health in order to be a productive member of the organization.  [...]



Rangers Sign Dillon Gee

2017-01-17T17:49:00+00:00

The Rangers have announced the signing of righty Dillon Gee to a minor-league deal. He can earn $2MM if he’s in the majors, with a $1MM incentive package, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Gee is still recovering from thoracic outlet surgery — as is fellow recent signee Tyson Ross. Last year, Gee joined the…

The Rangers have announced the signing of righty Dillon Gee to a minor-league deal. He can earn $2MM if he’s in the majors, with a $1MM incentive package, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).

Gee is still recovering from thoracic outlet surgery — as is fellow recent signee Tyson Ross. Last year, Gee joined the Royals on a minor-league pact and ended up making 33 major-league appearances, 14 of them as a starter. But even before the surgery, he had struggled. Gee worked to a 4.68 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over his 125 frames with Kansas City.

Just what Texas can expect from the 30-year-old, given his health concerns and recent performance dip, remains to be seen, but he ought to battle for a roster spot in camp. Assuming Ross isn’t quite ready for the start of the season, Gee could compete with pitchers such as A.J. Griffin, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and Nick Martinez for opportunities.

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Phillies To Sign Michael Saunders

2017-01-17T17:05:00+00:00

TODAY: A physical is expected to take place in the next day or two, per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). He adds that the option escalators are based upon award bonuses and plate appearances YESTERDAY, 1:42pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Saunders will sign a one-year, $9MM deal with an $11MM club option for the…TODAY: A physical is expected to take place in the next day or two, per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). He adds that the option escalators are based upon award bonuses and plate appearances YESTERDAY, 1:42pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Saunders will sign a one-year, $9MM deal with an $11MM club option for the 2018 season (Twitter links). Saunders will be paid $8MM in 2017, and his option contains a $1MM buyout. Additionally, Saunders’ contract contains escalators that can drive the value of the option up to $14MM, per Rosenthal. 11:50am: All that’s left at this point is medical reviews, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets that there’s an agreement in place between the two sides, adding that they’d previously been discussing a one-year deal plus an option. 11:30am: The Phillies and free-agent outfielder Michael Saunders are closing in on an agreement, reports MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Saunders, a client of Meister Sports Management, has been linked to the Phillies on multiple occasions over the past several weeks. Philadelphia has had its eye on a number of outfield bats and reportedly has a preference to add a left-handed bat to its lineup. Saunders checks both of those boxes and will deepen a Philadelphia lineup that scored the fewest runs in all of Major League Baseball last year. [Related: Updated Philadelphia Phillies Depth Chart] Saunders turned in his first full, healthy season since 2013 last season, playing in a career-high 140 games and tallying a career-high 558 plate appearances. The overall results — a .253/.338/.478 batting line with 24 homers, 32 doubles and a pair of triples — look very strong on paper, although Saunders’ season was fairly dichotomous in nature. The first half of the 2016 season saw Saunders break out and perform at a superstar level. In 344 first-half plate appearances, Saunders hit a ridiculous .298/.372/.551 with 16 home runs — all of which was impressive enough to merit his first All-Star selection. However, Saunders’ production fell off a cliff early in the second half. Over the final two and a half months of the season, he batted a woeful .178/.252/.357 with eight homers in 214 plate appearances. Certainly, there was some poor luck at play, as[...]