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Updated: 2018-02-20T13:15:00+00:00

 



11 Hitter BABIP Surgers For 2018

2018-02-20T13:15:00+00:00

A year ago, I introduced the latest and greatest version of my hitter xBABIP equation, this time incorporating shift data. Even though it was leaps ahead of any previous iterations and attempts at an xBABIP equation, it still only resulted in an adjusted R-squared of 0.5377. There’s still a whole lot more work to be […]A year ago, I introduced the latest and greatest version of my hitter xBABIP equation, this time incorporating shift data. Even though it was leaps ahead of any previous iterations and attempts at an xBABIP equation, it still only resulted in an adjusted R-squared of 0.5377. There’s still a whole lot more work to be done here! I would have liked to spend some time doing more research in the hopes of unveiling a further improved equation before the season begins, but alas, I haven’t had the time. So we’ll stick to the current equation and begin by identifying 11 fantasy relevant hitters whose xBABIP marks sat significantly above their actual BABIP marks. Assuming similar skills driving my BABIP equation, these are the guys who should enjoy a spike. Be careful not to confuse this with a batting average spike, as there’s more to a batting average than just BABIP. Both strikeout and home run rate will affect batting average, so this is just one of the drivers. 2018 BABIP Surgers Name LD% TFB%* TIFFB%** Hard% Spd PGBWS%*** % BIP Shifted BABIP xBABIP BABIP-xBABIP Rhys Hoskins 23.8% 41.2% 4.0% 46.0% 3.4 1.4% 9.3% 0.241 0.335 -0.094 Miguel Cabrera 27.3% 32.1% 0.8% 42.5% 1.1 1.8% 8.4% 0.292 0.354 -0.062 Ian Kinsler 20.6% 39.8% 6.7% 37.0% 5.6 1.8% 12.6% 0.244 0.301 -0.057 A.J. Pollock 23.3% 28.1% 4.0% 35.0% 7.5 2.7% 7.3% 0.291 0.343 -0.052 James McCann 28.2% 31.2% 3.0% 38.2% 3.3 2.3% 10.7% 0.300 0.349 -0.049 Russell Martin 23.7% 24.5% 3.6% 30.2% 2.2 5.0% 20.7% 0.261 0.310 -0.049 Gregory Bird 17.9% 46.2% 5.7% 36.5% 1.3 16.7% 72.4% 0.194 0.241 -0.047 Brad Miller 16.5% 33.9% 2.2% 38.4% 4.6 5.3% 36.1% 0.265 0.307 -0.042 Yasmany Tomas 20.5% 31.7% 0.8% 41.9% 2.3 2.4% 9.3% 0.294 0.332 -0.038 Ryan Braun 18.9% 29.0% 2.9% 39.0% 5.3 1.5% 5.2% 0.292 0.330 -0.038 Nick Castellanos 24.5% 37.6% 0.6% 43.4% 4.6 4.9% 21.3% 0.313 0.351 -0.038 Unweighted Avg**** 20.3% 32.3% 3.4% 31.9% 3.8 4.9% 22.3% *True FB%**True IFFB%***Pull GB While Shifted%****Averages not weighted by PA and only from my population set of 435 And now you have more context for why I selected Rhys Hoskins 37th overall during last week’s LABR Mixed draft. I noted in my recap that my batting average projection is higher than the rest of the systems, and this is why. While Hoskins is a fly ball hitter, he hit a high rate of line drives, didn’t pop up too frequently, hit the ball ridiculously hard, and rarely got shifted. Perhaps my favorite part of Hoskins’ profile is his contact ability. For a power hitter, a 7.1% SwStk% is fantastic. Sure, it came in a small sample, but he posted single digit SwStk% marks at Double-A and Triple-A as well. Another day, another “bad luck” list that Miguel Cabrera appears on. What’s important to note is that he has not been a consistent xBABIP underperformer. Since 2012, his BABIP marks have remained rather close to his xBABIP, with the lone exception coming in 2015, when he vastly outperformed his xBABIP. But at this point, I’m not questioning an offensive rebound, I’m just wondering about his health. That’s going to be the determinant of whether he ends up a bargain at his current ADP (94.5). Ian Kinsler appears to be a bargain this draft season. I’m not entirely sure why, though I’m guessing it has a little something to do with him entering his age 35 season. He has underperformed his xBABIP mark a couple of times, but never anywhere close to this degree. Figure he’ll return to the .280-.300 range. A.J. Pollock did almost everything right, between hitting line drives, hitting it hard, rarely grounding into a shift, and showcasing his speed. Yet, his BABIP fell below the league average for no reason whatsoever. In fa[...]



2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 40 Starting Pitchers (#1-20): Youngsters Rising Up The Rankings

2018-02-20T11:00:01+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) You can argue that starting pitching is as deep as it has ever been, with impressive pitchers filling the rankings.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some questions, especially when it comes to health (and we all knowby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) You can argue that starting pitching is as deep as it has ever been, with impressive pitchers filling the rankings.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some questions, especially when it comes to health (and we all know the fragility of pitching, with Tommy John surgery always hanging in the back of our mind), but it’s hard to ignore the upside.  Who are the top pitchers we’d be targeting?  Let’s take a look: 1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers 2. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals 3. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians 4. Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox 5. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians 6. Noah Syndergaard – New York Mets 7. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants 8. Luis Severino – New York Yankees 9. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets 10. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals 11. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies 12. Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals 13. Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks 14. Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays 15. Yu Darvish – Chicago Cubs 16. James Paxton – Seattle Mariners 17. Dallas Keuchel – Houston Texans 18. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks 19. Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels 20. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs Thoughts: The biggest surprise on this list may be the presence of Aaron Nola, who comes in just outside the Top 10 ahead of big names like Carlos Martinez and Chris Archer. Keep in mind that Nola is coming off a year where he posted a 3.54 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, producing impressive results in all three metrics we look for with the underlying numbers suggesting further improvement.  There’s a lot to like, and while you won’t have to draft him this high he should easily get there. Yu Darvish saw his stock improve with the move to Chicago, which is a good thing after many were down on him due to a disastrous post season. For our thoughts as to why, click here. When healthy there is no question that James Paxton is among the elite starters in the game, which he showed last season with a 2.98 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. The problem is he hasn’t proven capable of making 30+ starts in a season, having thrown 121.0 innings in ’16 and 136.0 in ’17.  Will this be the year he finally stays on the mound?  If it is he could easily be a Top 10 performer. While they aren’t back-to-back on the rankings, it’s an interesting debate between Noah Syndergaard and Luis Severino (when you compare Syndergaard’s 2016 to Severino’s 2017 the numbers are extremely similar). Clearly we prefer Syndergaard, but we’ll discuss why next week. Zack Greinke is coming off a renaissance season, with a 3.20 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, but does anyone believe he can maintain those numbers? You shouldn’t, as even last season he showed signs of struggles as both his strikeout rate (10.13 K/9 to 8.79) and walk rate (2.86 BB/9 to 3.66) regressed in the second half.  That was closer to what he’s done over the course of his career, so make sure to pay for that and not the impressive first half. ** ORDER ROTOPROFESSOR’S 2017 DRAFT GUIDE TODAY ** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.50!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation. Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings: PositionStandard LeagueOBP League Catchers01/02/1802/02/18 First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18 Second Basemen01/15/18-- Shortstops01/22/18-- Third Basemen01/29/18-- Outfielders1-20: 02/05/18 21-40: 02/07/18-- Starting Pitchers---- Relief Pitchers---- [...]



The Physics of the Rarified Air of Spring Training

2018-02-20T11:00:00+00:00

How do the atmospheric conditions of Arizona and Florida influence preseason stats?The air is definitely thinner in spring training, especially in the Cactus League. (via Nick Panico) The blue planet has finally move along its orbit past the days when the sun’s direct rays only brighten only the southern hemisphere. Now our sweet orb has eased into a more egalitarian position where the equator has its time in the spotlight. In less cosmic terms, it is time for the sense of renewal only spring training can provide. The veterans are taking the month to adapt their offseason regimens to the rigors of 162 games and hoping for a precious few more. Meanwhile, hundreds of young ballplayers get to don the uniform of the big club while they vie for a coveted spot on an affiliated team, nurturing the small chance they could make it to The Show. The air is indeed rarified. Coaches, players, and even we physicists know rarified air has a profound and measurable effect upon the National Pastime. So, let’s look at the air in both Florida and Arizona. The table below illustrates the simply delightful weather for both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. With the exception of relative humidity, the climates are remarkably similar in March. March Average Weather Location Daily High Temp. Rain Days with Rain Humidity Wind Speed Phoenix, Ariz. 77˚ F 1 in. 4 38% 6.4 mph Tampa, Fla. 76˚ F  3 in 7 71% 8.3 mph In 2016, Alan Nathan summarized the effect of air on a fly ball in “Going Deep on Goin’ Deep.” He stated that a 10=degree increase in temperature would result in a 3.3-foot increase in distance for a typical fly ball, so the temperature variation between the leagues will make little difference. The same can be said of the humidity, because a 50 percent increase only results in a 0.9-foot change in distance. The wind might make a bit of difference, because a five mph wind will change the distance by about 19 feet. So, the difference here would result in about eight feet. However, the direction of the wind could be in, out, or across the field so, the wind-related variation from Grapefruit to Cactus is something of a wild card. There must be something funny about the way the air across Florida interacts with the ball compared to Phoenix because the ballparks are different. Below is a table indicating the distance to center field for each park in each league, courtesy of Ballparks of Baseball. Centerfield Distrances Cactus League CF (ft) Grapefruit League CF (ft) Camelback Ranch 410 Bill Hammond Stadium 405 Goodyear Ballpark 410 Bright House Field 408 Hohokam Stadium 410 Champion Stadium 400 Marysville Park 400 Charotte Sports Park 402 Peoria Stadium 410 Ed Smith Stadium 400 Salt River Fields 410 Florida Auto Stadium 400 Scottsdale Stadium 430 Jetblue Park 410 Sloan Park 410 Joker Marchant Stadium 420 Surprise Stadium 400 Lecom Park 400 Tempe Diablo Stadium 420 Roger Dean Stadium 400 Steinbrenner Field 406 Ballpark of Palm Beaches 408 Tradition Field 410 Average 411 Average 405 You have probably guessed the reason the Cactus League parks are on average larger than the Grapefruit League venues. Phoenix is at an elevation of about 1,100 feet, while Florida is a couple of decades away from being below sea level. Nathan’s work tells us that fly balls should travel an extra six feet for every thousand feet of elevation. It is a lovely coincidence that this matches the difference in average center field distance between the two leagues. One might therefore expect the number of homers in the two leagues to be roughly the same. Here are the numbers for 2017 from FoxSports.com. There are many more at-bats in the Cactus league, which is probably due to fewer rainy days. So one should expect more dingers in Arizona even though there are 15 teams in each league. Overall, there are still 10 percent more homers per at-bat in Phoenix even with the larger stadiums. Here are a couple of possible explanations. I’m sure more will be [...]



NL East Notes: Harper, Glover, Sherman, Mets, Flores

2018-02-20T06:00:00+00:00

Nationals star Bryce Harper preempted any questions about his future, telling reporters including Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com today that he’s focused exclusively on “winning and playing hard” in the current season. Harper also says he’s in top physical form entering what could be his final year in D.C. Zuckerman’s write-up and Harper’s comments provide some…Nationals star Bryce Harper preempted any questions about his future, telling reporters including Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com today that he’s focused exclusively on “winning and playing hard” in the current season. Harper also says he’s in top physical form entering what could be his final year in D.C. Zuckerman’s write-up and Harper’s comments provide some worthwhile perspective on what has been quite a notable MLB tenure for Harper, who is now the fourth-longest-tenured Nationals player at just 25 years of age. More from the NL East: There was some ominous news to open camp for young Nationals righty Koda Glover. Per Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, shoulder soreness is preventing him from throwing at this point. New skipper Dave Martinez understandably said the club will look to bring Glover along slowly, particularly in view of the fact that the 24-year-old hit the shelf with rotator cuff issues after 19 1/3 otherwise promising innings in 2017. Hopes had been that the hard-throwing youngster might push his way back into the Nats’ late-inning mix after picking up eight saves last year, though he’ll first need to reestablish his health. Marlins owner Bruce Sherman held a discussion with the press, with Tim Healey of the Sun-Sentinel rounding up his comments. The organization’s designated control person, Sherman has mostly stayed in the background over the initial few months since the sale was completed. But he made clear he’s on board with the approach taken thus far by the front office while emphasizing the need for patience in building a sustainable contender. Most notably, perhaps, Sherman pushed back at the notion that the new ownership group is under-capitalized. “There’s nothing further from the truth,” he said. “We are a very sophisticated, well-heeled, financially set organization, not just for this year but for many, many years to come.” Unsurprisingly, the Mets’ binge on veteran free agents is likely over for the winter, per GM Sandy Alderson (via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). One might quibble with some of the decisions along the way, or see cause for another addition or two, but Alderson made clear he feels he has seen through his plans for the 2017-18 offseason. “We’ve come a long way from the Trade Deadline last year,” he said. “With Jason’s signing, we’re pretty much where we want to be. … I would be surprised, if not shocked, if somebody else walks into this clubhouse.” With Jose Reyes back in the fold and new additions Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez helping to fill out the infield, the Mets are planning to see whether Wilmer Flores is capable of contributing on occasion in the corner outfield, David Lennon of Newsday writes. The idea is to create some more opportunities for getting Flores in the lineup against lefties. Though it’s anybody’s guess how he’ll fare on the outfield grass, Flores says he’s more than willing to give it a try if it means potentially expanding his role. [...]



Minor MLB Transactions: 2/19/18

2018-02-20T04:11:00+00:00

Here are Monday’s minor signings from throughout the league… The Reds announced that they’ve signed right-handed reliever Ben Rowen to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Rowen has just 11 2/3 MLB innings under his belt (none since 2016), but the sidearmer has a lengthy track record…

Here are Monday’s minor signings from throughout the league…

  • The Reds announced that they’ve signed right-handed reliever Ben Rowen to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Rowen has just 11 2/3 MLB innings under his belt (none since 2016), but the sidearmer has a lengthy track record of success in Triple-A. While Rowen had a down season in 2017, working to a 4.41 ERA in 63 1/3 innings, his struggles came in a hitters’ paradise — the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. Overall, Rowen has a career 2.81 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9 in parts of five Triple-A campaigns, and he has routinely racked up ground-ball rates north of 60 percent thanks in large part to his unorthodox delivery.
  • The Dodgers have inked former Cubs/Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin to a minor league deal, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Now 32 years old, Colvin hasn’t been in the Majors since 2014 and hasn’t been affiliated with a big league organization since a 2015 stint with the White Sox’ Triple-A club. He spent the 2016 season with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League and struggled to a .218/.264/.339 slash through 277 plate appearances, and he didn’t play professionally in 2017. Colvin had success in the Majors back in 2010 (113 OPS+) and 2012 (114 OPS+), but his overall .239/.287/.446 slash through 1309 MLB PAs is reflective of the fact that he’s had more struggles than success in the big leagues.
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Padres Sign Eric Hosmer

2018-02-20T03:30:00+00:00

MONDAY: The deal is official, with the Padres announcing the signing of Hosmer as well as the key terms. SATURDAY: The Padres have agreed to sign first baseman Eric Hosmer, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.  The contract is an eight-year deal that includes an opt-out clause after the fifth season, according to MLB Network’s…MONDAY: The deal is official, with the Padres announcing the signing of Hosmer as well as the key terms. SATURDAY: The Padres have agreed to sign first baseman Eric Hosmer, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.  The contract is an eight-year deal that includes an opt-out clause after the fifth season, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter).  The deal contains a full no-trade clause for the first three seasons and then limited no-trade protection afterwards, Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller reports (Twitter links).  Hosmer will be paid $20MM in each of the first five seasons and $13MM in the three remaining years, plus a $5MM signing bonus.  The $144MM total figure represents the largest contract in the history of the Padres franchise.  Hosmer is represented by the Boras Corporation. The agreement concludes a rather unusual trip through the open market for Hosmer, and he winds up on a team that nobody could’ve predicted as a potential suitor last fall.  With a rebuild underway and Wil Myers safely locked in at first base, the Padres didn’t at all appear to fit as a landing spot for Hosmer’s services.  Instead, San Diego rather quickly emerged as an interested party in Hosmer, as the team felt that his young age (he turned 28 last October) indicated that he could still be a productive cornerstone player when the Padres were again ready to contend.  With Hosmer now signed, in fact, it’s possible that the Friars could push that contention timeline forward by at least one season. [Updated Padres depth chart at Roster Resource] Hosmer is the second major free agent first baseman to join a surprise team this winter, after Carlos Santana’s deal with the Phillies.  Both signings represent aggressive moves by rebuilding clubs, and while Philadelphia has been widely expected to kickstart their ride back into contention with a big splurge in the 2018-19 free agent market, the Padres were seen to be at least a couple of years away since most of the top names in their well-regarded farm system were still in the lower minors.  General manager A.J. Preller is no stranger to aggressive moves, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he tried to deal some of those young blue-chippers for players that could help the Padres as soon as 2019. The lackluster San Diego lineup has now added three notable veteran upgrades this offseason, though obviously Hosmer is a long-term asset in a way that Chase Headley and Freddy Galvis (potential trade chips and both signed through only 2018) are not.  Myers will shift into a corner outfield spot, leaving Jose Pirela, Hunter Renfroe, Alex Dickerson, Cory Spangenberg, and Matt Szczur all battling for regular at-bats in the other corner position or in bench roles.  The Padres could also look to deal from this surplus to add pitching depth in the rotation or bullpen. Hosmer entered free agency on the heels of a career year that saw him hit .318/.385/.498 (all career bests) with 25 homers and 98 runs scored over 671 plate appearances with the Royals last season, and he was also one of five players who appeared in all 162 of his team’s games in 2017.  As good as he was, however, Hosmer is still looking to string together consecutive quality seasons as a big leaguer — he has alternated between strong years and replacement-level performances in each of the last six seasons.  Hosmer’s grounder-heavy offensive attack seems to leave him prone to a wide varian[...]



The Rays are a disgrace to baseball

2018-02-20T03:00:00+00:00

Forget the Marlins. Tampa Bay’s offseason has proven the team has no interest in winning, now or in the future. There’s a certain baseball team in Florida that’s had a really bad offseason. This team has a history of poor management, but recently it’s sunk to a new low; instead of making a few moves to improve a roster that was close to the playoffs in 2017, its ownership decided to — oh, forget it, I’m too angry to do the bait and switch. Yeah, the Marlins suck, but this isn’t about them, it’s about the Rays. They’re one of the most miserly clubs in MLB, and this offseason is worse than the rest — while they have a chance to build a great team, they’re refusing to spend money and destroying yet another window for contention. Here’s a recap of some of Tampa Bay’s recent moves: Trading Evan Longoria (3.1 projected fWAR* in 2018, five years of team control) to the Giants for Christian Arroyo (0.3, five years), Denard Span (0.9, one year), and prospects Matt Krook and Stephen Woods. Designating for assignment Corey Dickerson (1.0 projected fWAR in 2018, two years of team control, made the 2017 All-Star team). Trading Jake Odorizzi (0.9 projected fWAR in 2018, two years of team control) to the Twins for prospect Jermaine Palacios. *All projections are from FanGraphs’ Depth Charts. Each of these transactions looks like a net loss for the Rays. They’ve given up solid big-leaguers and gotten unproven prospects and over-the-hill has-beens in return. Why would a team that finished five games from a Wild Card spot last year get rid of these guys like this? You and I both know the answer to that question, but I’ll say it anyway: money. Longoria, Dickerson, and Odorizzi will earn $25.75 million this year; by contrast, the Rays will pay Arroyo and Span about $11.5 million, and the rest of the players will stick to the minors. Even though these moves made the club worse, they saved a few bucks, and that’s Tampa Bay’s priority. Let’s think about this another way. Look at these six players: Image from MLB.com’s free agent tracker Those are all the big-leaguers Tampa Bay has brought in this offseason — yes, all of them. They combined for 2.0 fWAR in 2017, and FanGraphs’ Depth Charts expects them to earn 4.2 fWAR in 2018. Now, compare that to these players: Image from MLB.com’s free agent tracker Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, and Logan Morrison are just three of the free agents the Rays haven’t re-signed. They accumulated 6.8 fWAR last year, and they’re projected to rack up 4.7 fWAR this year, which means they alone could give Tampa Bay the same production of those six scrubs. Yet the team hasn’t brought back Cobb, or Duda, or Morrison, and it probably never will. You might have seen Jeff Passan’s superb article last month on the frigid hot stove. In it, he quoted an MLB official who argued against the league’s current economic system: “Of course [the MLB economy] doesn’t make sense,” a league official concurred. “We pay you the minimum for three years and arbitration for three or four years, and then you get paid more in free agency for your decline?” While that phrasing is overly simple, it’s true. For their first three years in MLB, players will usually earn about $550,000; each season after that, they’ll start to see a few more millions coming their way, getting raises each year in arbitration and then cashing in when they become free agents. If you’re a greedy owner, you can easily game this system — there’s no reason to spend millions on dependable veterans when you can pencil in a young guy who’s making the minimum, even if he’s an inferior player. Most teams are just catching onto this now, but the Rays have known it for years. It&rsquo[...]



Josh Donaldson Expects To Test Free Agency

2018-02-20T02:11:00+00:00

Blue Jays fans have long hoped that 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson would ink a long-term deal to remain with the club beyond the 2018 campaign, but the third baseman acknowledged to reporters today that he expects to reach free agency after initial extension talks didn’t prove fruitful (link via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). “We’re not quite there,” said…Blue Jays fans have long hoped that 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson would ink a long-term deal to remain with the club beyond the 2018 campaign, but the third baseman acknowledged to reporters today that he expects to reach free agency after initial extension talks didn’t prove fruitful (link via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). “We’re not quite there,” said Donaldson. “…not at the same type of area, the same ballpark.” Donaldson added that an extension is not a “major focus” for him at this time and said he’s “turning the page” on the matter and shifting his focus to the 2018 season. The Athletic’s John Lott tweets that Donaldson did suggest talks could “ramp back up” if things change, but it sounds like the Jays and Donaldson’s representatives at MVP Sports aren’t especially close at the moment. Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins spoke two weeks ago about the possibility of signing Donaldson to a long-term contract, revealing that while the two sides hadn’t conversed at the time, the team had done its homework in determining a valuation for Donaldson that they’d take to negotiations. Said Atkins at the time: “…We have come up with a clear walkaway that we would be willing to commit to him to extend (the contract) for him to remain a Blue Jay probably for the rest of his career.” Evidently, that (still-unknown) offer level was not sufficient to interest the star. Donaldson, 32, rebounded from a pedestrian start to his 2017 season to post a ludicrous .302/.410/.698 slash and 22 homers through his final 227 plate appearances last season. That brilliant stretch brought him to a final batting line of .270/.385/.559 and 33 home runs on the year overall. Donaldson, unsurprisingly, expressed to Nicholson-Smith, Lott and others that he feels he can maintain an elite level of play for years to come (Twitter links). “I truly believe that where I’m at today, I have longevity in this game performing at a high level,” said Donaldson. Donaldson will play out his final season of team control on a $23MM salary that is a record for a player on a one-year deal in the arbitration process. Barring a revival of negotiations, he’s in line to hit free agency in advance of his age-33 season. Donaldson was, of course, something of a late bloomer, as he didn’t cement himself as a big league regular until his age-27 season. The fact that he’ll reach free agency a couple of years later than many of his peers only stands to present further hurdles for the two sides to clear in determining contract length and annual value.[...]



Diamondbacks Sign Jarrod Dyson

2018-02-20T00:46:00+00:00

7:06pm: Arizona has announced the signing. Dyson will earn $3.5MM per year and also receives a $500K signing bonus, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). 4:52pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent outfielder Jarrod Dyson, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Dyson will be promised $7.5MM, per Jon Heyman…7:06pm: Arizona has announced the signing. Dyson will earn $3.5MM per year and also receives a $500K signing bonus, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). 4:52pm: The Diamondbacks have agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent outfielder Jarrod Dyson, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Dyson will be promised $7.5MM, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). The physical has already been completed, Crasnick notes. Dyson will be able to boost his earnings a bit through incentives, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). He’ll earn $50K apiece upon reaching 100 and 125 games played, as well as at 350, 400, and 450 plate appearances. While it’s easy to see this as a reaction to the fact that Arizona has reportedly lost out on J.D. Martinez, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert says that’s not the case (via Twitter). Rather, he says, the D-Backs were slated to add Dyson regardless of the outcome of the Martinez situation and will continue to shop for outfielders. [RELATED: Updated Diamondbacks Depth Chart] The move looks like a high-value addition for the Snakes, who can now utilize Dyson as a big part of an outfield rotation that has its share of questions. Dyson is more than capable of spelling A.J. Pollock in center and will also function as a nice platoon match with  Yasmany Tomas — a lumbering, right-handed-hitting slugger who is more or less the exact opposite player from Dyson. To be sure, Dyson is best utilized in less than an everyday role. Notably, he has never hit against left-handed pitching, with an abysmal .215/.293/.259 slash. Dyson’s prior organizations have recognized this, as he has never once even reached 400 plate appearances in a given season. When deployed properly, however, Dyson is a highly useful player. He has averaged more than 2 WAR annually over the past six seasons while barely topping three hundred plate appearances per campaign. The formula is well-established by this point: elite glovework in any outfield position, top-of-the-line baserunning ability, and near-league-average batting output against right-handed pitching. The Diamondbacks will no doubt appreciate the many ways that Dyson can help a roster win a ballgame. It helps, of course, that he can be utilized frequently against right-handed starters. His rather extreme positives and negatives make him an obvious player to bring in or remove in particular late-inning situations, too, increasing his overall roster utility. Dyson did undergo surgery to end the 2017 season. And it’s fair to wonder how long his legs will remain among the most valuable in baseball. But he has shown no signs of slowing down to this point, and Dyson seems to make for an excellent fit on the Arizona roster — whether or not the team ends up adding another piece or instead relies on Tomas to provide some right-handed corner pop. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.    [...]



Red Sox To Sign J.D. Martinez

2018-02-20T00:33:00+00:00

After months of negotiations, the Red Sox have reportedly reached an agreement to sign slugger J.D. Martinez. ESPN.com’s Pedro Gomez first tweeted that a deal was in place; Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports had tweeted that the sides were close. Martinez is represented by the Boras Corporation. The contract is for five years and $110MM, per…After months of negotiations, the Red Sox have reportedly reached an agreement to sign slugger J.D. Martinez. ESPN.com’s Pedro Gomez first tweeted that a deal was in place; Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports had tweeted that the sides were close. Martinez is represented by the Boras Corporation. The contract is for five years and $110MM, per reports. Notably, it includes two opt-out opportunities — after the second and third seasons of the deal. Martinez will earn $50MM through the first two years and another $22MM in the third, so the salary is front-loaded. That structure locks in a nine-figure guarantee but still leaves him some added opportunity to consider chasing further salary upside in the future, as he could bypass the first opt-out chance and still enter the 2020 season with what is effectively a two-year, $38MM player option in his pocket. Boston has been the primary suitor connected to Martinez for virtually all of the offseason — especially since their decision to re-sign Mitch Moreland effectively took them out of the Eric Hosmer sweepstakes. Martinez figures to slot in as the primary DH for the Sox but should see some occasional time in the outfield when any of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley or Mookie Betts needs a breather. His addition calls the role of Hanley Ramirez with the Red Sox into question, as Ramirez now appears to be, at best, a backup DH and a part-time first baseman that is on the short side of the platoon. [RELATED: Updated Red Sox Depth Chart] Though the Sox have a substantial commitment to Ramirez already in place, that didn’t stop them from making a sizable offer to bring Martinez into the fold, and it’s not difficult to see why they felt he was a key piece to pushing into World Series contention. Martinez slashed a Herculean .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 26 doubles in just 489 plate appearances last offseason. In all, an out-of-the-blue breakout with the 2014 Tigers, Martinez has been one of the game’s most feared hitters — as evidenced by the .300/.362/.574 batting line he’s logged in that four-year period. Context-neutral metrics like OPS+ (149) and wRC+ (148) feel that the 30-year-old Martinez has been nearly 50 percent better than the league-average hitter in that time, when adjusting for park and league. That 148 wRC+ ties him with Bryce Harper and now-former teammate Paul Goldschmidt for fourth in all of baseball over the past four years; only Mike Trout, Joey Votto and Giancarlo Stanton have posted better wRC+ marks in that time. The Red Sox ranked 10th in the Majors in runs scored last season as it was, though their combined .258/.329/.407 batting line was below-average on a rate basis, and they ranked 27th in the Majors with 168 homers. Martinez will serve as a particularly potent upgrade in the DH department, as Boston designated hitters combined to hit just .244/.327/.419 last year. Clearly, the contract isn’t quite as massive as many had anticipated coming into the season. Martinez’s camp was said to be seeking over $200MM at the outset of free agency; MLBTR predicted that Martinez could reach $150MM in guaranteed money. As things developed, there just wasn’t sufficient demand around the game to drive a real bidding war. The Diamondbacks reportedly made a real run to keep Martinez, but never figured to have a war chest large enough to really push Boston’s offer up. Martinez’s new deal also refle[...]



Braves Agree To Terms With Peter Moylan

2018-02-20T00:03:00+00:00

6:03pm: Moylan is slated to earn a $575K salary with a $625K roster bonus if and when he is placed on the 25-man roster, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). It is not known how much, if any, money is guaranteed, but clearly Moylan will have to earn a bullpen job in camp. 7:28am: The…6:03pm: Moylan is slated to earn a $575K salary with a $625K roster bonus if and when he is placed on the 25-man roster, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). It is not known how much, if any, money is guaranteed, but clearly Moylan will have to earn a bullpen job in camp. 7:28am: The Braves are in agreement on a contract with veteran right-handed reliever Peter Moylan, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Moylan, a client of Paragon Sports, is in Orlando to take a physical for the deal today, Crasnick adds. It was reported yesterday that the Braves and Royals were both in the mix to sign the 39-year-old veteran. Moylan will head back to the Braves for what will be his third stint with the team. He made his Major League debut for Atlanta as a 27-year-old back in 2006 and went on to serve as a key member of their bullpen up through the 2012 season, appearing in 295 games with a 2.59 ERA out of the bullpen. He’d land back in Atlanta for the 2015 season after undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career, pitching 10 1/3 solid innings late in the year. The Royals picked Moylan up in 2016, and he’s spent the past two seasons with Kansas City, where he’s pitched quite well out of the ’pen. Moylan paced the Majors with 79 total appearances last season, appearing in nearly half of his team’s games on the year. He logged a 3.46 ERA in 104 innings with the Royals in total over those two seasons, averaging 6.9 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 and logging a hefty 61.3 percent ground-ball rate. Moylan has had his struggles with left-handed opponents in that time, serving up a .318/.444/.535 slash to 108 batters when they hold the platoon advantage. Right-handed hitters, though, probably wonder if it’s even worth stepping into the box against the side-arming Moylan, who has held same-handed opponents to a comical .181/.252/.253 slash through 326 PAs in that same span. Suffice it so say, he can be relied on by the Braves something of a right-handed specialist, though he probably won’t be called upon to face elite lefties on too many occasions. The Braves figure to add Moylan to a late-inning mix that currently features Arodys Vizcaino as the closer and hard-throwing Jose Ramirez as the top setup option. Sam Freeman and A.J. Minter are on hand as left-handed options, and other candidates to fill right-handed spots in the relief corps include Josh Ravin, Dan Winkler, Chase Whitley, Mauricio Cabrera, Akeel Morris, Jason Hursh, Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler and Rule 5 pick Anyelo Gomez. It’s a rather deep mix from which to choose, though the group does have an overall lack of experience, so it’s not hard to see why the Braves sought a complementary veteran such as Moylan. If it proves to be a guaranteed Major League pact for Moylan, he’ll be the first free agent to sign such a deal with the Braves this offseason under new general manager Alex Anthopoulos. He’d represent a viable upgrade to a bullpen that finished 26th in the Majors with a 4.58 ERA and allowed a .264/.339/.450 slash against righties in 2017 (as pointed out yesterday by MLBTR’s Connor Byrne).[...]



Giants Sign Tony Watson

2018-02-19T23:55:00+00:00

FEBRUARY 19: Watson is officially a member of the Giants. He will earn $3MM in 2018 and $3.5MM in 2019 before considering a $2.5MM player option ($500K buyout) for 2020, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). FEBRUARY 17: The Giants have reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent lefty Tony Watson that includes a player…FEBRUARY 19: Watson is officially a member of the Giants. He will earn $3MM in 2018 and $3.5MM in 2019 before considering a $2.5MM player option ($500K buyout) for 2020, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). FEBRUARY 17: The Giants have reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent lefty Tony Watson that includes a player option for a third season. Watson is represented by the Boras Corporation. Watson receives a $9MM guarantee, but it’s far from certain that he’ll end up earning precisely that amount. His total earnings could increase to $14MM over two years or $21MM for three years, depending on escalators and performance bonuses. Of course, Watson could also elect to return to the open market and leave some of the guaranteed money on the table.   [RELATED: Updated Giants Depth Chart] The complicated structure will allow the Giants to stay shy of the luxury line, at least for the time being. Despite having had only limited availability at this stage of the winter, the San Francisco organization was able to fit another veteran piece as they seek to engineer a dramatic turnaround from a ghastly 2017 performance. Watson, who’ll turn 33 at the end of May, has long been a productive late-inning reliever, though he has also long outperformed his peripherals. It seemed he was fading a bit during a less-than-stellar first half of the 2017 season with the Pirates. But Watson finished strong after being dealt to the Dodgers and ended 2017 with a 3.38 ERA over 66 2/3 frames. Rather remarkably, that quality run prevention effort matched the worst full-season earned run average of Watson’s career. Over his seven campaigns and 453 innings in the majors, Watson carries an excellent 2.68 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He also has ample late-inning experience, including thirty saves. Watson got much better results after changing uniforms, though it’s not crystal clear just what changed. He tweaked his horizontal release point, shifted toward his two-seamer and away from his slider, and started working higher in the zone with his fastballs. The bottom line remains that he brings 94 mph and a ~12% swinging-strike rate from the left side. Regardless, the main question probably remains whether skipper Bruce Bochy will deploy Watson more as a general setup man in front of former Pittsburgh teammate Mark Melancon, or whether instead he’ll use the southpaw in a more targeted fashion against opposing lefties. Righties tagged Watson for a .271/.348/.460 slash last year and have long found greater success against him than their left-handed-hitting counterparts. Jon Heyman and Robert Murray Fan Rag reported the signing (Twitter link). Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic tweeted the structure, while Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com had the guarantee (via Twitter).  Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



Braves Designate Mauricio Cabrera

2018-02-19T23:50:00+00:00

The Braves have designated righty Mauricio Cabrera for assignment, per a club announcement (h/t David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Twitter). His roster spot will go to fellow right-hander Peter Moylan, whose signing is now official. Dropping Cabrera would have been inconceivable this time last year. When camp opened in 2017, after all, the…

The Braves have designated righty Mauricio Cabrera for assignment, per a club announcement (h/t David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on Twitter). His roster spot will go to fellow right-hander Peter Moylan, whose signing is now official.

Dropping Cabrera would have been inconceivable this time last year. When camp opened in 2017, after all, the young flamethrower was seen as a major part of the late-inning mix in Atlanta.

In 2016, Cabrera posted a 2.82 ERA in his first 38 1/3 innings at the game’s highest level while averaging an eye-popping 101.2 mph with his four-seamer. Though he only managed 7.5 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9, he sported a solid 11.7% swinging-strike rate and got a strong 49.1% groundball rate.

Things went south last year, however. Cabrera experienced some arm issues in camp and struggled badly while working back through the minors, never returning to the MLB roster. Walks have always been a concern, but Cabrera was irredeemably wild in 2017. Over 43 total minor-league frames, he walked more than a batter per inning while stumbling to a 6.49 ERA.

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Three Super Early Spring Training Value Changes

2018-02-19T23:08:00+00:00

Players and managers are beginning to upset our offseason expectations. Here are three players on the rise or fall.We sometimes assume things based on a very small piece of information. Over the stagnant winter months, that assumption can crystallize into a certainty. This guy will break out. That guy will play every day. Then, Spring Training rolls around. The whims of managers – and injuries, mostly injuries – quickly lay waste to months of fantasy baseball dogma. No religion experiences as much upheaval as baseball. Already, a few potential sleepers are seeing their value change. Austin Barnes, C, Los Angeles Dodgers – DOWN If you watched the postseason… Wait. Let’s start that again. You watched the postseason. You saw a whole lot of Barnes starting over Yasmani Grandal. If Barnes got nearly all the postseason starts, it stands to reason that he’d get the lion’s share of the reps in 2018. If you made offseason trades based on this assumption – I tried to but was rebuffed – I’m here to deliver you a heartfelt sad face emjoi. Yasmani Grandal and Austin Barnes will split time at catcher, with Grandal likely to see most of the ABs against RHP, Dave Roberts said. So, basically, close to the status quo from the 2017 regular season. — Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) February 15, 2018 Barnes was without a doubt the better catcher in 2017. They’re both above average defenders. They both have more bat than the typical backstop. Grandal’s offense manifests in the form of power – 49 home runs in his last 939 plate appearances. Barnes was a contact and OBP machine. He demonstrated enough power to keep pitchers honest, but it was ability to reach base frequently that really stood out. Notably, Steamer projects them to be very similar in 2018. Regression is real, and it makes sense to expect Barnes to decline. If he doesn’t – if he keeps producing a .400 OBP, he’ll eventually find himself starting four out of every five games. Not even the Dodgers can afford to sit a .400 OBP. As of the start of the season, it looks like he’ll be playing two of five games. Jake Odorizzi, SP, Minnesota Twins – UP The AL East is a hell of a place to live. Although Tropicana Field was a pitcher friendly park, the rest of the divisional venues skew heavily towards hitters. Odorizzi is an extreme fly ball pitcher – one who doesn’t benefit from home run prevention. The juiced ball affected him disproportionately, leading to 1.88 HR/9. That’s a lot of home runs. Not even a .227 BABIP could save his season. By comparison, joining the AL Central is a soft landing. He’ll frequently play against the Royals, Tigers, and White Sox. Those are three of the 10 worst teams in the league. Maybe three of the five worst teams. Aside from Guaranteed Rate Field, the divisional parks suppress home runs – perfect for a fly ball pitcher. There’s also a general feeling that Odorizzi may only be an adjustment away from becoming an effective pitcher. He was fine from 2013 through 2016. There’s nothing stopping him from being better in 2018. The ingredients are there including a five pitch repertoire. Finding the right combination of pitches and locations could unlock a sub-4.00 ERA and 12 or more wins. Even though I labelled Odorizzi as gaining value, it should be noted that he’s very similar to Dan Straily. By NFBC ADP, Odorizzi is 276 and Straily is 320. There’s a good chance Straily is the better pitcher these days. The best explanation for the discrepancy – the Marlins are terribad. Adam Frazier, 2B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates – UP[...]



Utilizing Changes in Pitch Mix

2018-02-19T22:25:00+00:00

A quick guide to what owners should look for when a pitcher is messing with his pitch mix.Changing a pitcher’s pitch mix seems to be the newest path to success. Having a pitcher utilize his two to four best pitches can help him focus his arsenal for peak results. Finding these pitchers can be a huge advantage and the great and wonderful Eno Sarris used the original work to find Carlos Carrasco. I’m going to step an owner through the procedure using a few examples from the news so they can find their own diamond in the rough. The basic idea behind changing a pitcher’s pitch mix is to have them throw as many effective pitches as possible. The original studies focused on above-average pitches. This is a simple method and one I use when examining a pitcher. The pitcher’s pitch results can be found by going to their page at FanGraphs, clicking o the Splits tab, then the Pitch Type Splits tab (example). While these values are a great quick reference, I took the information and created pERA which gives each pitch an ERA grade and a 20-80 scouting scale grade (80 is elite, 20 is completely useless). The biggest change is that pitches which generate popups get valued correctly. A pitch is considered good when it generates swings-and-misses, groundballs and/or flyballs. If it doesn’t do any of these three, a pitcher should try to change or drop the pitch. A pitcher will need a pitch they can consistently throw for strikes so some may need to keep and utilize their weak fastball more than they would like. I do believe a pitcher can take it too far. A hitter may have in his mind the possibility of the third pitch. They aren’t looking for just two of them. BatFlipCrazy posted an example of when Blake Parker stopped throwing his curve and the results on his other pitches dropped. As Blake Parker went from 3 pitches (fourseam, splitter, curve) to 2, the effectiveness of both his fourseam & splitter at getting whiffs dropped. He also got hit harder: xHR: 2.1 Apr-June / 5.8 July-SeptxOBA by month: .211/.228/.234/.292/.261/.339#FantasyBaseball #Angels pic.twitter.com/6pRjMQzqSk — BatFlip Crazy (@batflipcrazy) February 19, 2018 There’s a fine line between too many and not enough pitches (more on those who need to add them tomorrow). It’s tough to exactly know how a certain pitch mix will work together. There is a chance the pitcher’s performance could get worse. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are four pitchers who are looking at changing their pitch mix and the possible outcome. Note: For each pitcher, I’m just using their 2017 pitch values. An owner can definitely dig deeper into previous seasons for additional information. I’m focusing on the most recent results as they’ll be more predictive of the future. Anibal Sanchez Sanchez is not close to the being the best pitcher on the list but he’s the easiest to see how changing his mix could help. Here’s the report on why the team thought they could improve his performance. Analytics played a role in Sanchez’s signing, as the Twins believe they can alter his pitch usage to help him be more successful. … Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Obviously, the long ball bit him a lot. A lot of people think it has to do with pitch usage and some other things. But they really liked a lot of the weapons he still has.” The first step is to compare his pitches. Anibal Sanchez’s 2017 Pitch Mix Values Pitch Usage GB% SwStr% ERA Grade FF 32% 29.0% 8.0% 4.43 56 CH 21% 39.4% 19.2% 2.04 55 SI 17% 40.2% 4.7% 4.89 31 SL 11% 50.0% 9.7% 4.13 33 CU 10% 27.0% 7.2% 4.67 40 FC 9% 33.3% 7.6% 2.74[...]



Giants Designate Joan Gregorio For Assignment

2018-02-19T21:49:00+00:00

The Giants have designated right-hander Joan Gregorio for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Tony Watson, whose contract with San Francisco is now official (Twitter link via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area). Gregorio, 26, has yet to reach the Majors and missed the second half of the 2017 season…

The Giants have designated right-hander Joan Gregorio for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Tony Watson, whose contract with San Francisco is now official (Twitter link via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area).

Gregorio, 26, has yet to reach the Majors and missed the second half of the 2017 season in Triple-A due to a PED suspension. Prior to that, he’d pitched to a 3.04 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 32.5 percent ground-ball rate in 74 innings of work there. Overall, Gregorio has a 4.37 ERA in 181 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. Gregorio was, at one point, a mainstay on Giants’ prospect rankings, topping out at No. 7 among their farmhands in the 2016-17 offseason, per Baseball America. BA noted that he had an average fastball and slider with an improving changeup but questionable command, pointing to a potential shift to the ’pen.

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Red Sox, J.D. Martinez Nearing Deal

2018-02-19T21:39:00+00:00

The free-agent dam is slowly beginning to break, as Eric Hosmer, Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas and Tony Watson have all agreed to multi-year deals in the past five days, while Eduardo Nunez, Jaime Garcia and Chris Tillman have all come off the board on one-year pacts. J.D. Martinez, though, remains available as the top bat on…The free-agent dam is slowly beginning to break, as Eric Hosmer, Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas and Tony Watson have all agreed to multi-year deals in the past five days, while Eduardo Nunez, Jaime Garcia and Chris Tillman have all come off the board on one-year pacts. J.D. Martinez, though, remains available as the top bat on the market despite a lack of obvious suitors for his services outside of the Red Sox and D-backs. Here’s the latest chatter on the slugger… Drellich tweets that he, too, hears a deal between the Sox and Martinez is near, adding that Dombrowski would not comment on the matter.. Piecoro tweets that the D-backs are also under the impression that Martinez is going to the Red Sox, and they’ll need to find a replacement for him. The Red Sox and Martinez are now “moving close to a deal,” tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. There’s nothing finalized yet, he adds, noting that details on the pact remain unclear at this time. Earlier Updates Martinez and the Red Sox are still negotiating as of this afternoon, reports Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. Chairman Tom Werner deferred questions on the matter to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Drellich writes, noting only that, “Obviously, there’s no news,” at this time. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, meanwhile, tweets that the door for a deal between Boston and Martinez remains open but adds that the team’s interest isn’t going to be indefinite. The Red Sox, according to Abraham, are “prepared to move on entirely or to another player” if they reach the point where they feel there’s no compromise possible with Martinez. Logan Morrison has been reported to be a possible fallback option for the Red Sox if they move on or if Martinez signs elsewhere. “I don’t think we’re done by any means right now,” D-backs CEO Derrick Hall told reporters on Monday (via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic). Hall said he’d be “surprised” if his team’s roster didn’t change before Opening Day, noting that GM Mike Hazen is looking both at free agency and the trade market. Hall said he entered the offseason hopeful of having an “outside chance” at retaining Martinez — a nod to an expected level of demand for his bat that never seems to have fully materialized. The D-backs’ new television deal, increased revenue from a playoff season and the $50MM BAMTech payout are all cited by Hall as reasons that ownership has taken the 2018 payroll to new heights. It’s not clear based on his comments, though, how strongly he believes Martinez can be fit into the mix. Hall did cite a history of getting “creative” when it comes to retaining/acquiring players about whom they feel strongly. “It’s time to finalize that roster one way or the other, if we are going to improve, which I believe we are,” said Hall. [...]



Pro Hockey Rumors: Your Source For NHL Trade Deadline Coverage

2018-02-19T20:50:00+00:00

There is just one week remaining until the February 26th NHL Trade Deadline, and our sister site Pro Hockey Rumors is the best place to stay up to date on the latest news. The Chicago Blackhawks started selling off their expiring contracts today—will it continue? Are the Anaheim Ducks a good fit for Thomas Vanek?…

There is just one week remaining until the February 26th NHL Trade Deadline, and our sister site Pro Hockey Rumors is the best place to stay up to date on the latest news. The Chicago Blackhawks started selling off their expiring contracts today—will it continue? Are the Anaheim Ducks a good fit for Thomas Vanek? Which prospects will the New York Rangers be able to acquire?

Visit Pro Hockey Rumors today and be sure to follow us @prohockeyrumors on Twitter!

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Nationals To Sign Joaquin Benoit

2018-02-19T20:07:00+00:00

The Nationals have agreed to a contract with free-agent reliever Joaquin Benoit, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). It’s a one-year, Major League contract worth $1MM for the ACES client, per Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Benoit, 40, split the 2017 season between the Phillies and Pirates, delivering solid results in 42 innings…The Nationals have agreed to a contract with free-agent reliever Joaquin Benoit, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). It’s a one-year, Major League contract worth $1MM for the ACES client, per Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Benoit, 40, split the 2017 season between the Phillies and Pirates, delivering solid results in 42 innings with Philadelphia before being torched in 8 1/3 frames with the Bucs late in the season, Overall, Benoit logged a 4.65 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.25 HR/9 and a 33.3 percent grounder rate in 50 1/3 innings of work. That represented a down season for Benoit, of course, but it was only the second time in the past eight seasons that he’s posted an ERA north of 3.00. Benoit’s average velocity (94.8 mph) and swinging-strike rate (13.3 percent) both remained solid as he pitched for both Pennsylvania clubs last year, and he’ll look to keep those positive trends going as he seeks to rebound in terms of overall run-prevention. Dating back to the 2010 season, Benoit has turned in a 2.64 ERA (3.37 FIP, 2.95 SIERA) with 9.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9 and a 38.3 percent ground-ball rate. He’s no stranger to high-leverage roles, having notched 45 saves and 168 holds across that terrific late-career renaissance, and he’ll give the Nats an experienced arm to complement a late-inning relief corps that also features veterans Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler. It’s not clear on what level the two are related, but it’s nonetheless worth noting that young Koda Glover reported to camp with shoulder soreness and was diagnosed with inflammation following an MRI (via a report from Castillo). He’s not throwing at present, making the added depth from Benoit all the more important. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



Tim Lincecum Reportedly Has Guaranteed Contract Offer

2018-02-19T19:34:00+00:00

Around two thirds of the league reportedly had at least one scout on hand at Tim Lincecum’s showcase last week, and SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee reports that one club came away with a favorable enough impression to offer Lincecum a guaranteed, Major League deal. That team is not the Giants, Brisbee adds, noting that the presence…Around two thirds of the league reportedly had at least one scout on hand at Tim Lincecum’s showcase last week, and SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee reports that one club came away with a favorable enough impression to offer Lincecum a guaranteed, Major League deal. That team is not the Giants, Brisbee adds, noting that the presence of a big league contract offer for Lincecum likely eliminates the chances of a reunion with his original team. Among the teams that were reported to be in attendance at Lincecum’s showcase (in addition to the Giants) were the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, Twins, Tigers, Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Padres, Braves, Mariners and Cardinals. The Mets reportedly did not attend. Texas and San Francisco were said to be impressed by Lincecum’s showing, via Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. (The Rangers have been stockpiling affordable pitching depth.) The Yankees reportedly thought he looked “fine,” per NJ Advance Media’s Brendan Kuty. An NL scout told the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish that Lincecum’s breaking ball had a better shape than in recent years but questioned whether he had a true out pitch. Lincecum’s fastball velocity was widely reported be sitting in the 90-92 mph range, which would be a marked improvement from the 87 mph he averaged with his fastball in an ill-fated run with the Angels during his 2016 comeback bid. At this point, it’s been more than a half decade since Lincecum was an above-average big league contributor, when he logged a pristine 2.74 ERA in more than 200 innings for the 2011 Giants. Since that time, he’s mustered just a 4.94 ERA in 654 Major League frames, battling through injuries, diminished velocity and diminished control as his home-run rate spiked. Given those struggles and his absence from baseball entirely in 2017, it’s a bit surprising that someone would offer a 40-man roster spot and the promise of a guaranteed salary. The now-33-year-old certainly isn’t devoid of any upside, especially relative to the cost of acquisition, but a return as an upper-echelon pitcher is a decisive long shot. Lincecum does have some name value with fans, though, and perhaps he could ultimately come back as a mid-rotation piece or an interesting reliever if he can sustain the low-90s velocity he reportedly displayed at last week’s workout. (He had some success pitching with similar velocity earlier this decade.) Any big league deal he signs would presumably contain a minimal guarantee and significant incentives based on his number of appearances (either games started or relief appearances, dependent on his role) and innings totals.[...]



Trevor Bauer, The Viking God

2018-02-19T19:00:00+00:00

Eno Sarris has departed from Fangraphs. One of my favorite writers in the industry was a dream interview of mine and I spoke with him twice (one; two). He is an inspiration for how I've adapted as a writer in this space, taking a clever approach to analysis... and music. [Jay's Note: And he really knows his beers. Like, more than we all think. He actually filled the hotel bathtub with ice and microbrews and was the beer sommelier the whole night at a Spring Training party with Grey and other industry peeps. I'd say I smelled his hair when he wasn't looking, but his hair is OMNIPRESENT. If you're in a 100-foot radius you can't help but run into it...] Prior to any of his chats on Fangraphs, he would a link to a song; good, bad, weird, or confusing, your taste didn't matter. It was there for you to consume. While I won't do this religiously as the 2018 season nears, for I question where my musical taste falls among our audience of readers, when opportunity presents itself, I act. The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points! Eno Sarris has departed from Fangraphs. One of my favorite writers in the industry was a dream interview of mine and I spoke with him twice (one; two). He is an inspiration for how I've adapted as a writer in this space, taking a clever approach to analysis... and music. [Jay's Note: And he really knows his beers. Like, more than we all think. He actually filled the hotel bathtub with ice and microbrews and was the beer sommelier the whole night at a Spring Training party with Grey and other industry peeps. I'd say I smelled his hair when he wasn't looking, but his hair is OMNIPRESENT. If you're in a 100-foot radius you can't help but run into it...] Prior to any of his chats on Fangraphs, he would a link to a song; good, bad, weird, or confusing, your taste didn't matter. It was there for you to consume. While I won't do this religiously as the 2018 season nears, for I question where my musical taste falls among our audience of readers, when opportunity presents itself, I act. The 2018 Razzball Commenter Leagues are now open! Free to join with prizes! All the exclamation points![...]



Middle Relievers Are Man’s Best Friend

2018-02-19T18:00:00+00:00

From a straight love em' and leave 'em perspective, the middle relief guys (the ones that are only there for stream-ability) are the daily glue that keeps a lineup together.  Unlike hitters who get the spot start and we know pregame that they are in the lineup, inserting the correct reliever to help with K's and ratios becomes a guessing game.  So we are still in draft mode and we can always go into the season with some idea of the guys in the middle relief core that don't get the save love, but still are vital contributors to the fantasy community.  Their spotty appearances allow you to add innings with substantial K/9 value, and at a fraction of the innings price that streaming a starter would.  Because if there was a starter on the waiver wire that had a 12-plus K/9 rate, he would not be on the waiver wire. So adding to the sum total one inning at a time is a nice way to get a good chunk of strikeout and ratio help.  Granted that they don't suck when they are in your lineup. My theory on in-season middle relief for leagues that don't use Holds is this: Find two.  Fall in love with one (but don't move in together) and promise the other you will call her all the while you are totally looking for that next best one the very second that the other pitcher pitches. I call it the "steady girl and grass is greener" theory. With the innings limit, and minimums upcoming for the Fantrax Razzball leagues, it is important to find middle relief that gives you some middle relief.  Roster one all the time, and always find a new fling on the horizon.  Here are some K/9 relievers that are late draft day boons to your fantasy roster from the jump. We are talking about the guys after Chad Green, Carl Edwards Jr., Chris Devenski and Dellin Betances are long off the board.From a straight love em' and leave 'em perspective, the middle relief guys (the ones that are only there for stream-ability) are the daily glue that keeps a lineup together.  Unlike hitters who get the spot start and we know pregame that they are in the lineup, inserting the correct reliever to help with K's and ratios becomes a guessing game.  So we are still in draft mode and we can always go into the season with some idea of the guys in the middle relief core that don't get the save love, but still are vital contributors to the fantasy community.  Their spotty appearances allow you to add innings with substantial K/9 value, and at a fraction of the innings price that streaming a starter would.  Because if there was a starter on the waiver wire that had a 12-plus K/9 rate, he would not be on the waiver wire. So adding to the sum total one inning at a time is a nice way to get a good chunk of strikeout and ratio help.  Granted that they don't suck when they are in your lineup. My theory on in-season middle relief for leagues that don't use Holds is this: Find two.  Fall in love with one (but don't move in together) and promise the other you will call her all the while you are totally looking for that next best one the very second that the other pitcher pitches. I call it the "steady girl and grass is greener" theory. With the innings limit, and minimums upcoming for the Fantrax Razzball leagues, it is important to find middle relief that gives you some middle relief.  Roster one all the time, and always find a new fling on the horizon.  Here are some K/9 relievers that are late draft day boons to your fantasy roster from the jump[...]



Indians Sign Rajai Davis

2018-02-19T17:53:00+00:00

Feb. 19: Davis would earn $1.75MM upon making the big league roster and has an additional $3.25MM available to him via incentives, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Davis can ask for his release on March 22 if he hasn’t been added to the Major League roster by that time. Feb. 17, 1:32pm: The…Feb. 19: Davis would earn $1.75MM upon making the big league roster and has an additional $3.25MM available to him via incentives, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Davis can ask for his release on March 22 if he hasn’t been added to the Major League roster by that time. Feb. 17, 1:32pm: The signing is official, Bastian tweets. 12:15pm: The Indians are set to sign outfielder Rajai Davis to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to spring training, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. The deal is pending a physical (Twitter links). Davis is repped by the Legacy Agency. There’s already familiarity between Cleveland and the 37-year-old Davis, who was a member of the Indians during their American League-winning season in 2016. Davis authored one of the most memorable moments in World Series history that year when he hit a two-run, game-tying homer off then-Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning of Game 7. Unfortunately for Davis and the Tribe, the Cubs went on to win the game. While Davis is known for that HR, the righty-swinger hasn’t been a major offensive threat during his career. The lifetime .264/.313/.384 hitter is coming off a year in which he batted a meager .235/.293/.348 across 366 plate appearances between Oakland and Boston. As has typically been the case, though, the speedster provided value on the base paths, with 29 steals (giving him 394 for his career) to go with solid reviews from FanGraphs’ BsR metric. Davis was less successful in the field, on the other hand, as he earned subpar marks in Defensive Runs Saved (minus-1) and Ultimate Zone Rating (minus-3.4) during a 117-game season divided among center field – his primary position – and the two corner spots. The Indians’ penciled-in starting outfield for 2017 consists of three left-handed hitters (center fielder Bradley Zimmer, left fielder Michael Brantley and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall), and righty Brandon Guyer is recovering from October wrist surgery. Davis could earn a spot with the Tribe as a platoon option, then, especially given his solid career line against southpaws (.284/.340/.432). However, he’ll face competition from fellow minor league signing and right-hander Melvin Upton Jr., among others.[...]



MLB Announces 2018 Pace Of Play Initiatives

2018-02-19T17:33:00+00:00

Major League Baseball announced on Monday that beginning in the 2018 season, teams will be limited to six non-pitching-change mound visits per nine-inning game. In extra-inning games, teams will receive one additional non-pitching-change mound visit per inning. Major League Baseball will also reduce between-innings down time to 2:05 during locally televised regular season games, 2:25…

Major League Baseball announced on Monday that beginning in the 2018 season, teams will be limited to six non-pitching-change mound visits per nine-inning game. In extra-inning games, teams will receive one additional non-pitching-change mound visit per inning.

Major League Baseball will also reduce between-innings down time to 2:05 during locally televised regular season games, 2:25 during nationally televised regular season games and 2:55 during tiebreaker and postseason contests. There will be no pitch clock implemented for the 2018 season.

Under the new rules, mound visits are defined as: “a manager or coach trip to the mound to meet with the pitcher” and “a player leaving his position to confer with the pitcher, including a pitcher leaving the mound to confer with another player … regardless of where the visit occurs or the length of the visit.”

In addition to visits that result in a pitching change, there are notable exceptions to the mound visit rules as well. Communication between players and pitchers which “occur between batters in the normal course of play and do not require either the position player(s) or the pitcher to relocate” are still permitted, as are visits from position players to clean their spikes in rainy conditions, injury-related visits and visits following the announcement of an offensive substitution.

Once all six visits have been used, catchers may appeal to the umpires to make an additional mound visit in the instance of a cross-up between signs. Cross-up visits prior to the limit being reached will still count against the six-visit limit.

Punishment for violation of these rules will be subject to commissioner discretion: “Players who consistently or flagrantly violate the time limits will be subject to progressive discipline for just cause by the Office of the Commissioner pursuant to Article XI(C) of the Basic Agreement.”

The instant replay system is also changing in 2018. Teams’ video review rooms will now receive “direct slow motion camera angles” for the 2018 season, and phone lines “connecting the video review rooms and the dugout” will be installed and monitored so that they are not used for the purposes of sign stealing.

“I am pleased that we were able to reach an understanding with the Players Association to take concrete steps to address pace of play with the cooperation of players,” said Rob Manfred in announcing the changes. “My strong preference is to continue to have ongoing dialogue with players on this topic to find mutually acceptable solutions.”

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2018 Fantasy Impact: Rookie Outfielders

2018-02-19T17:15:01+00:00

As the infancy stage of the 2018 season begins, rookie outfielders from across the league are reporting to camp with an eye to having a major impact on the 2018 season. Some of those hopes will come true, while others will stumble and face a frustrating campaign. Over the next week, we’ll take a look […]As the infancy stage of the 2018 season begins, rookie outfielders from across the league are reporting to camp with an eye to having a major impact on the 2018 season. Some of those hopes will come true, while others will stumble and face a frustrating campaign. Over the next week, we’ll take a look at the Top 10 rookie outfielders that this author feels have the best chance at impacting both their teams and the game in 2018. *Shohei Ohtani was not considered a rookie given his professional experience in Japan Ronald Acuna, CF, Braves: The path to playing time is always an important piece when discussing potential rookie impact. With Acuna, that is not an issue with the current crop of outfielders that the Braves 40-man roster possesses. Looking at the Braves depth chart at FanGraphs, only Ender Inciarte projects to be more than a one-win player, and the left-field picture is a giant suck hole. Now, the club may choose to delay Acuna’s arbitration eligibility by sending him down to the minors for a few weeks to begin the year (especially since they’re not going to challenge for a playoff spot) but it’s pretty clear that he fits prominently into the picture for the coming year. It’s possible, though, that he could struggle early like 2017 rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson. Despite his massive ceiling (20+ homers, 30+ steals), Acuna also showed some contact issues in 2017 and his impressive batting line was aided by a BABIP of .400. He might very well have the most long-term success of any of the 2018 rookie outfielders but I foresee solid but unspectacular numbers for the coming season in Atlanta. Victor Robles, CF, Nationals: For me, Robles is a safer bet to a be a solid contributor at the big league level in 2018 than Ronald Acuna, above. However, the Nationals rookie will face stiffer competition for playing time with the likes of Adam Eaton, Bryce Harper and Michael Taylor all frolicking on the outfield grass — not to mention the presence of Howie Kendrick, Brian Goodwin, and Matt Adams. Robles isn’t a huge power guy but he makes good contact and has shown the ability to hit for a solid average. He has the ability to steal 20-30 bases but it would be nice to see him be a little more patient and take some more walks so he doesn’t have to rely quite so heavily on his batting average to get on base. If he is given an opportunity for the playoff hopeful Nats, Robles could be in the Rookie of the Year conversation. Austin Hays, OF, Orioles: Hays rocketed his way through the minors after signing with the Orioles in 2016 and made his MLB debut late last year. The current outfield picture, as seen through the eyes of the FanGraphs depth chart, shows a pretty wide open opportunity for the rookie outfielder to secure a starting gig. He showed plus power potential in 2017 by slugging 32 home runs in the minors. The freshman outfielder has also shown the ability to hit for average and doesn’t strike out as much as the typical slugger. Unfortunately, he’s also a very aggressive hitter that doesn’t walk much (k[...]



Robert Stephenson’s Slider, and the Paradigm Shift in Motion

2018-02-19T17:15:00+00:00

Alex posits how Robert Stephenson, who was dreadful despite developing one of baseball's most lethal pitches overnight, might take the next step in 2018.Normally I don’t write about bad players. It’s more of a truism than anything: writers like to analyze the breakout or peak-performance potential of top prospects or, alternatively, red flags associated with the game’s premier talents. Rarely do we write about objectively bad players. Through 120 Major League innings (and change), Robert Stephenson has been an objectively bad starting pitcher, having compiled a 5.10 ERA, an anemic 1.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB), and 0.1 WAR. A former 1st-round pick and a consensus top-100 prospect for four consecutive years, Stephenson quickly fell from grace after a catastrophic small-sample debut in 2016. Entering his age-25 season, though, he still has plenty of time to turn things around. That’s the beauty of baseball: an objectively bad player can become an objectively good one, sometimes overnight. 2017 was a banner year for post-hype prospects, all of whom seemed, at one point or another, destined for eternal mediocrity and former-prospect bustitude. I think Stephenson can become an objectively good pitcher, but it’ll take work. Here’s a top-10 list, presented ordinally and without the statistic by which I’ve ordered it, of pitchers who accomplished something in 2017, from a list of hundreds of other data points: Corey Kluber Carlos Carrasco Max Scherzer Stephen StrasburgDanny Salazar Clayton Kershaw Zack Greinke Nathan Karns Dallas KeuchelRobbie Ray Dylan BundyBlake Snell Stephenson That’s a healthy list. Perhaps Karns seems out of place here, but if you paid attention to his April prior to thoracic outlet surgery (ugh), you’d know it was excellent. If you need a preposterously cheap lottery pick in the late rounds of deep leagues (or any format, really), keep in mind Karns, whose 27% strikeout rate (K%), 7% walk rate (BB%), and 50% ground ball rate (GB%) momentarily dazzled us. Sorry — distracted. So, Karns might seem like an outlier, but he’s not. Same with Bundy and Snell, too, but Bundy has been a serviceable (a term used loosely here) starter for two years; Snell, more so, with a promising second half of 2017. No one is truly out of place — no one, that is, except Stephenson. Here’s how that list looks in full, and tabulated: Whiff Rates by Individual Pitch, 2017 Name Pitch Whiff Rate (SwStr%) Corey Kluber Slider 29.3% Carlos Carrasco Slider 27.3% Max Scherzer Slider 27.0% Stephen Strasburg Change 26.9% Danny Salazar Change 26.9% Clayton Kershaw Slider 26.5% Zack Greinke Slider 26.4% Nathan Karns Curve 26.1% Dallas Keuchel Change 25.7% Robbie Ray Slider 25.7% Dylan Bundy Slider 25.2% Blake Snell Slider 25.2% Robert Stephenson Slider 24.6% SOURCE: Baseball Prospectus, c/o PITCHf/x Min. 200 thrown Turns out sliders and change-ups can be really good pitches, and Karns threw an electric curve in 2017. And there, with the 13th-whiffiest pitch of 2017, is Stephenson. More incredibly, he didn’t start throwing the pitch until last April, and he didn’t throw it regularly until July, after returning from an 8-start demotion to Triple-A. Stephenson basically introduced and developed his best pitch on a whim. Moreover, he knew it was good. From July 22 onward, in 12 s[...]



Orioles Agree To Terms With Chris Tillman

2018-02-19T16:42:00+00:00

10:42am: Kubatko tweets that Tillman can earn another $7MM via incentives, meaning the deal can max out at $10MM. 10:18am: The Orioles are in agreement on a contract that will bring right-hander Chris Tillman back to Baltimore, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets that it’s…10:42am: Kubatko tweets that Tillman can earn another $7MM via incentives, meaning the deal can max out at $10MM. 10:18am: The Orioles are in agreement on a contract that will bring right-hander Chris Tillman back to Baltimore, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets that it’s a big league contract, and Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com adds that it’s a one-year deal. Tillman, a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, receives a $3MM guarantee, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (all Twitter links). Kubatko adds that Tillman is taking his physical this morning and, unsurprisingly, can boost his salary via performance bonuses for innings pitched. The 29-year-old Tillman will return to the only organization he’s known as a Major Leaguer. The former second-round pick (Mariners, 2006) has spent parts of the past nine big league seasons pitching for the Orioles since coming to Baltimore alongside Adam Jones in the 2008 Erik Bedard blockbuster. Last season was the worst full season of the veteran Tillman’s big league career, as the long-time rotation stalwart opened the year on the disabled list due to bursitis in his throwing shoulder and seemingly never made a full recovery. Tillman struggled to a ghastly 7.84 ERA in just 93 innings due to that ailment, posting the worst full-season averages of his career in strikeouts (6.1 K/9), walks (4.9 BB/9) and home runs (2.3 HR/9). His average fastball velocity (90.7 mph) dropped by a full mile per hour from 2016 as well. Those undesirable results notwithstanding, the Orioles did well to bring Tillman back on a modest $3MM base. Last offseason, for instance, rotation rebound candidates such as Tyson Ross and Derek Holland each landed $6MM contracts, while Andrew Cashner took home a $10MM guarantee from the Rangers. That said, shoulder issues tend to throw up significant red flags for clubs, and several potential suitors for Tillman have already made rotation acquisitions this offseason (e.g. Mike Fiers to the Tigers, Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, Jaime Garcia to the Blue Jays). Tillman joins Cashner, whom the Orioles signed to a two-year deal worth $16MM last week, as the second arm added to a rotation that was in dire need of some veteran additions entering the offseason. Baltimore had as many as three vacancies to fill, and GM Dan Duquette has said in the past that he’d like to add a left-hander to the mix, so it’s possible that there’s another addition yet to come. Assuming he passes his physical, Tillman will slot into the rotation behind Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy and the newly signed Cashner, giving Baltimore a fairly experienced quartet of arms on which to rely. If he’s healthy, Tillman could very well be among the best of that bunch, too. From 2012-16, he started 143 games for the Orioles and worked to a 3.81 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 with a 40.2 percent ground-ball rate. He doesn[...]



Mets Sign Jason Vargas

2018-02-19T16:40:00+00:00

Feb. 19: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Vargas will earn $6MM in 2018 and $8MM in 2019. The option year is valued at $8MM and comes with a $2MM buyout. Feb. 18: The deal is official, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweets. Along with the previously reported incentives, it includes a $250K assignment bonus if…Feb. 19: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Vargas will earn $6MM in 2018 and $8MM in 2019. The option year is valued at $8MM and comes with a $2MM buyout. Feb. 18: The deal is official, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweets. Along with the previously reported incentives, it includes a $250K assignment bonus if the Mets trade Vargas, according to Heyman (Twitter link). To make room for Vargas, the Mets placed infielder T.J. Rivera on the 60-day DL. Rivera underwent Tommy John surgery last September. Feb. 16, 1:20pm: Heyman tweets that Vargas will earn an additional $250K for reaching 160, 170, 180, 190, 200 and 210 innings in each season of the deal. 10:15am: The option year is worth an additional $8MM, DiComo reports (on Twitter). 9:55am: Puma tweets that Vargas’ contract also contains an option for a third year. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets that Vargas will be guaranteed $16MM. Heyman adds that Vargas’ deal also contains incentives that will allow him to earn an additional $1.5MM per season, based on his innings totals. 9:44am: The Mets are in agreement with free-agent lefty Jason Vargas, pending a physical, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). It’s a two-year deal, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (Twitter link). Mike Puma of the New York Post had recently reported that the Mets were maintaining “solid interest” in Vargas, who is represented by CAA Baseball. Vargas, who turned 35 two weeks ago, will add some much-needed stability to a Mets rotation that has been devastated by injuries in recent seasons. Last year alone, the Mets saw Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman all combine to spend significant time on the disabled list, with only Jacob deGrom remaining healthy to shoulder a full season’s workload. The 2017 season, meanwhile, served as a platform for the veteran Vargas to prove that he was healthy after Tommy John surgery wiped out most of his 2015-16 campaigns. It was a rather dichotomous season for Vargas, who surged to a 2.22 ERA through his first 101 innings of the season, earning a deserved All-Star berth in the process. Vargas’ early success was buoyed by an unsustainable 86 percent strand rate, however, and that figure cratered over the final three months as his control took a turn for the worse. After that sparkling 2.22 ERA through the end of June, Vargas limped to a 6.66 ERA in his final 16 starts. It’s possible, of course, that some fatigue in his first full year back from Tommy John surgery impacted Vargas. Control has never been an issue for him, after all, but he nonetheless averaged nearly four walks per nine innings pitched over the final three months of the season. Overall, though, the results on the year were solid. Vargas totaled a 4.16 ERA while averaging 6.7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 with a 40.3 percent ground-ball rate. That body of work lines up fairly closely to the 4.01 ERA he turned in over 1082[...]



Orioles Sign Alex Presley To Minor League Deal

2018-02-19T15:25:00+00:00

The Orioles announced that they’ve signed veteran outfielder Alex Presley to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Presley, a Sports Pro Services client, gives the Orioles a left-handed-hitting option to add to their outfield mix, which they’ve reportedly been seeking for much of the offseason. Given that Presley isn’t…The Orioles announced that they’ve signed veteran outfielder Alex Presley to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Presley, a Sports Pro Services client, gives the Orioles a left-handed-hitting option to add to their outfield mix, which they’ve reportedly been seeking for much of the offseason. Given that Presley isn’t guaranteed a 40-man spot, it’s possible that the O’s could continue to explore other additions for that role as well. Presley, 32, quietly had a very solid season at the plate with the Tigers in 2017, hitting .314/.354/.416 with three homers, 10 doubles, three triples and five steals (in five attempts). That marked his most productive stint in the Majors since a promising .298/.339/.465 showing as a 25-year-old rookie back in 2011, though it’s worth noting that last year’s output was buoyed by a .383 BABIP and 31.1 percent line-drive rate that both seem likely to come back down to Earth. Overall, with 29 career homers and 30 steals in 1500 MLB plate appearances, Presley has demonstrated a bit of power and speed while hitting a combined .263/.306/.388 in the Majors. He’s had more power against righties but doesn’t have a huge platoon split in terms of batting average or OBP. In the outfield, Presley has plenty of experience at all three positions, having turned in 620 innings of work in center, 690 in right and 1582 in left field. Ultimate Zone Rating is bullish on his work in left field, where he has the largest sample of data, but has given him below-average marks at the other two spots. Last season, in particular, was a rough season for Presley in the eyes of defensive metrics (-11 Defensive Runs Saved, -2.5 UZR, -2 Outs Above Average). That said, he’s considerably more experienced in the outfield than Trey Mancini and could give the O’s a left-handed complement to Mancini, Adam Jones, top prospect Austin Hays, part-time outfielder/DH Mark Trumbo and fellow non-roster invitee Craig Gentry.[...]



Cardinals Sign Jason Motte To Minor League Deal

2018-02-19T14:50:00+00:00

Feb. 19: Motte has passed his physical, as the Cardinals announced the signing this morning. Feb. 16: The Cardinals have struck a minor-league pact with veteran reliever Jason Motte, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The agreement is still pending a physical. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation first connected the sides…

Feb. 19: Motte has passed his physical, as the Cardinals announced the signing this morning.

Feb. 16: The Cardinals have struck a minor-league pact with veteran reliever Jason Motte, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The agreement is still pending a physical. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation first connected the sides on Twitter.

Motte, 35, rejoins his long-time organization after a three-year hiatus. The former Cards closer has spent time with the Cubs, Rockies, and Braves since the start of 2015.

There’s little question that Motte did not regain his prior form after missing all of 2013 for Tommy John surgery. The converted catcher had posted 192 1/3 innings of 2.43 ERA pitching over the prior three seasons at that point. Since, he has allowed 4.12 earned per nine over 137 2/3 innings, with 6.7 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9.

Motte once averaged about a 12 percent swinging-strike rate and roughly 97 mph heater. Since returning from surgery, Motte has declined precipitously in both regards. He generated whiffs at a marginal 7.6% rate last year and averaged 93.8 mph with his heater.

To be fair, Motte found a way to succeed despite managing only 6.0 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 in his 40 2/3 innings in 2017. He ended the season with a 3.54 ERA, after all. But there’s little reason to believe that Motte will be able to replicate a .200 batting average on balls in play.

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Eric Hosmer signs eight-year, $144 million deal with the Padres

2018-02-19T14:00:00+00:00

How does Scott Boras keep doing this? The Padres have reportedly signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million deal. The deal includes an opt-out after the fifth year, and it is front loaded up to that point. Hosmer will make $21 million a year through the first five years, and then $13 million through the last three if he chooses to stay. Those of you reading this are probably well aware of the fact that former FanGraphs Managing Editor Dave Cameron now works for the Padres. You are also probably aware that Cameron placed Hosmer at the top of his list of 2018 free-agent landmines. It was an assessment I fully agreed with. I am not sure I would have given Hosmer half of what he is now guaranteed, and this is coming from somebody who thought Yu Darvish got a raw deal. On the bright side, I am sure the players’ union is thrilled with this contract. The problem is that there is an awful lot of risk attached to Hosmer. Yes, he is coming off the best season of his career, a year where he hit .318/.385/.498. However, that was inflated by a .351 BABIP that came while also having his lowest hard-hit rate since his rookie season. There is also the question of why a team would want to sign a first baseman to such a deal who has a career groundball rate of 53.4 percent. While that likely contributes to his career .316 BABIP, it also contributes to his unremarkable career .155 ISO. Hosmer has no track record of hitting like he did in 2017. He has the odd habit of hitting well in odd-numbered years and poorly in even-numbered years. One of the points in Hosmer’s favor is that he is fast for a first baseman, but even his baserunning has shown the same kind of volatility. PECOTA gives Hosmer no greater than a 10 percent chance to repeat his 2017 offensive performance. His 50 percent regression point, which is what all projection systems give, is still pretty good. But given Hosmer’s volatile track record, I bet that the error bars on those projections are larger than most. Dan Szymborski tweeted out his ZiPS projections for Hosmer’s entire deal. It looks like he will be fairly paid for the first three years of the deal, but then things go south. This also ignores the fact that the Padres will almost certainly be uncompetitive in 2018, and unless a lot of things break right with their excellent farm system, they will probably be uncompetitive in 2019 and maybe 2020 too. There is a good chance that the Padres end up wishing that they had waited a year or two and spent their money elsewhere. Then there is the controversial issue of Hosmer’s defense. He has a reputation of being a good defender, but he has a career -21 DRS and -29 UZR. Say what you will about defensive metrics, but they are far more reliable in large sample sizes. What frequently gets overlooked is Baseball Prospectus’s defensive metric, Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA). He actually has a career +18.4 FRAA, though the metric has rated him as below average since 2016. For what it’s worth, my not-scouting eye thinks he is an average defender. Claiming that he is a plus defender or better is a very difficult argument to make. Hosmer gets a lot of credit for his elite skills at scooping up low throws. The receiving requi[...]



2018 LABR Mixed Draft Recap

2018-02-19T13:15:00+00:00

A recap of the 2018 LABR Mixed draftThe introductory section below is going to be similar to previous LABR recaps since little has changed and there’s no sense in rewording things. The clearest sign of a new baseball season is the annual super early LABR Mixed draft. Last Tuesday, 15 of us fantasy nerds virtually gathered to speculate where the swath of still-free agents will sign and hope our early picks don’t suffer spring training injuries. Though I’m certainly not a fan of February drafts, at least it provides me the needed motivation to finish my first run of Pod Projections that drive my player values. Without the forecasts and valuation spreadsheet, I’d be drafting blind, and that’s no blueprint for a Yoo-hoo shower. LABR Mixed is a 15 team league composed of fantasy baseball industry veterans, with traditional 5×5 roto scoring, standard 23-man active rosters (which means two catchers and nine pitchers), a six man reserve squad and unlimited DL spots. We use FAAB and begin with 100 units. The minimum FAAB bid is 1, not 0, so if your team is ravaged by injuries, there may come a time where you’re literally out of FAAB units and are forced to keep a hurt player in your lineup (yes, this has happened to me before and I’ve seen it happen to many a team I’ve competed with as well). Before I recap my team, let’s talk strategy. To be honest, I hate being asked what my strategy is heading into a draft or what it was after the draft has ended. Strategy, seriously? Obviously, my strategy is to draft the best team possible by acquiring as much value as I can, while being mindful I don’t draft 300 steals and just 100 homers. However, there is kind of an answer to this silly “what was your strategy?” question. I’m probably so used to the way I draft that I don’t even think of it as strategy anymore, but rather just “correct” or “proper” drafting. Two years ago, I described an important piece of snake draft prep that I perform. The exercise helps me determine a) which players are undervalued, so that I could afford to pass on the top players at value at that position in order to wait for the bargains to appear later on and b) which positions are fairly valued, so that I shouldn’t expect to find undervalued names, and therefore would be okay with snatching up the top tier guys. So in other words, if I don’t see any players I feel are undervalued at shortstop, then I’m perfectly happy using an early round pick on a Carlos Correa or a Corey Seager at value. I don’t need to save the spot to scoop up a bargain later. However, if I notice a couple of first basemen I feel are undervalued later on, I might decide to pass on a Joey Votto or a Freddie Freeman early to take advantage of the potential for profit later. Of course, this analysis is all based on NFBC ADP (filtered for 15-team leagues and a starting date of 1/1/2018), and as you are well aware, it only takes one owner to realllllly like a player to make ADP useless. In a league full of industry vets, many owners tend to take “their guys” whenever they feel like it, even if they could have selected[...]



Another Look At Why Willson Contreras Is Destined To Be A 2018 Overdraft

2018-02-19T11:00:01+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) When we think of the elite catchers in the league Gary Sanchez is the easy selection as the best of the best.  Buster Posey, who once held that title, is a step behind entering 2018 but he’s still amongby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) When we think of the elite catchers in the league Gary Sanchez is the easy selection as the best of the best.  Buster Posey, who once held that title, is a step behind entering 2018 but he’s still among the better options.  J.T. Realmuto?  While we believe (he was ranked #2 in the initial posting of our Top 15, which you can view by clicking here), others likely do not. Then there’s the Cubs’ Willson Contreras, who most want to believe belongs in the top class.  The numbers from last season seem to support that conclusion as well: 377 At Bats .276 Batting Average (104 Hits) 21 Home Runs 74 RBI 50 Runs 5 Stolen Bases .356 On Base Percentage .499 Slugging Percentage .319 Batting Average on Balls in Play We’ve touched on him before, but many still don’t believe in our assessment.  So why do we think that the perception will cause him to be among the most over drafted players heading into 2018?  Let’s take a look:   Power Obviously it would appear to be his carrying tool, and the number last season was impressive.  While he was fairly consistent, there is an obvious red flag that can’t be ignored: First Half – 20.4% HR/FB Second Half – 37.0% HR/FB Does anyone truly believe that he can maintain that second half mark?  In the first half he averaged a home run every 22.6 AB (in the second half he was at a home run every 12.8 AB).  We all know catchers aren’t going to play every day, so even if you want to assume that he gets 450 AB the first half mark would put him on pace for 20 HR on the season.  Want to split the difference and assume he can maintain around a home run every 17 AB?  That puts him in the 25-27 HR range. Throw in a 53.3% groundball rate and coming in closer to the first half mark becomes that much more believable.  Last season there were 13 catchers who hit at least 17 HR and six who hit 20 HR or more.  Obviously Contreras has power and an advantage over much of the field, but he’s not the 30-35 HR threat that many want to believe. Overvaluing his power is likely going to be the key mistake.   AverageThis goes hand-in-hand with the power risk, because a drop in power is going to bring added risk to the average.  While he was solid last season overall, these two marks bring significant concern: SwStr% – 13.4% Line Drive Rate – 17.4% An increase in his strikeout rate (22.9%) is likely as things are, but what happens when he starts to see fewer fastballs?  Look at the Whiff% by pitch type: Hard – 10.12% Breaking Balls – 18.83% Offspeed – 25.36% So it’s likely that the strikeouts rise even further, and the bulk of his power came against fastballs as well…  In other words the outlook gets cloudier.   Conclusion This isn’t to say that Contreras isn’t going to b[...]



Bad Beats: Baseball’s Worst Losses, NL Edition

2018-02-19T11:00:00+00:00

How bad did it hurt? Team by team, a roll call of painful memories.The Washington Nationals may not have suffered a bad beat in 2012 if Stephen Strasburg had been allowed to pitch. (via David King) It happened in Game Two of the Indians-Yankees ALDS last October. New York had built an 8-3 lead, but Cleveland was threatening with two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth. Chad Green came in tight to Lonnie Chisenhall, and home plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled a hit-by-pitch. Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez protested that the ball struck the knob of the bat, not Chisenhall, and told manager Joe Girardi so. Girardi declined to challenge the play.  Replays showed it was just as Sanchez had said. Girardi paid for his passivity. Francisco Lindor hit a grand slam to close the gap to 8-7. Jay Bruce homered in the eighth to tie the game. Girardi finally used a challenge on a 10th-inning wild throw, and lost. Cleveland manager Terry Francona made a challenge in the 11th on a back-pick play at first, and won. The real win came in the 13th, Yan Gomes driving in Austin Jackson to put Cleveland up 2-0 in the series. In the immediate aftermath, my fellow Yankees fan and sometime THT collaborator Paul Golba stated that this could well be the worst loss in Yankees playoff history. I replied that, if true, this should make it the worst Yankees defeat ever, but the designation would have to wait until New York lost the series, or not. As it happened, the Yankees won three straight and defeated Cleveland, so I couldn’t see my way to calling it their worst loss ever. This left open the question of what their worst loss was. It also opened the question of what would be considered the worst defeats for all the other teams in baseball. I decided I wanted some answers to this question, but first I needed to think a little about what exactly my question was. An Anatomy of Anguish What do I mean by “worst loss ever?” In graphic terms, I mean a loss that tears a team’s fans’ hearts out and stomps on their guts. I mean a loss that makes them lose sleep. I mean a loss they don’t want to think about again, ever—but they can’t help it. What makes a defeat this awful? There is no formula as such, or at least I’m not concocting one today. Telling criteria are numerous, though, and I will try to cover them briefly. If the defeat wrecks a team’s postseason aspirations, good*. If it wrecks the team during the postseason, better**. If it ruins the team in the World Series, within reach of the brass ring, best of all***. * Meaning bad. ** Meaning worse. *** You can fill in the blank by now. Losing a big, comfortable lead is always crushing. The bigger the lead, and the later you lose it, the more awful. This counts for leads in the standings before the game, as well as the score in the game. Not to say that a pure where’s-the-mercy-rule trouncing doesn’t count, because it sure does. A loss where a key blow is delivered by a third party, such as an umpire, is gut-wrenching. A loss where the worst wounds come from your own mistakes, physical or mental, is that much worse. Losing in what fans at large[...]



Hosmer Joins The Pads Cast, Serially

2018-02-19T08:01:00+00:00

It's the Winter Meetings, Part 2:  This Time Free Agents Are Really Signing.  Starring as Eric Hosmer is Turtle! Starring as Wil Myers is your goofy friend from high school who now works for Enterprise Rent-A-Car: Trailer Voice, "What if all of MLB's owners weren't in collusion....But just the rich teams!"  In the last few days, the Padres, Twins and Rays got some deals done, which is kinda like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Some 'perts will likely move Hosmer down in their rankings, but I always assumed Hosmer would be a Padre, and ranked and projected him as one in my top 20 1st basemen for 2018 fantasy baseball.  There, I said, "Here’s what I will say when Hosmer signs, “I made the case last year that Hosmer was Joey Votto Jr.  I called him Kangaroo Embryo.  I just thought of a kangaroo wearing a Kangol, but I’ve never thought about an alligator wearing an Izod shirt, I’ll have to discuss this with my shrink.  At one point, Wil Myers said he’d move to the outfield for Eric Hosmer to come to the Padres, and I thought to myself, “If I were Hosmer, I’d tell Myers to please not do me any favors.”  San Diego is like the Trojan Horse of cities (for baseball and just visiting).  It’s like this, “Oh, man, San Diego is gorgeous.  What’s this, 77 degrees every day?  I can get used to this!”  Five minutes later, “I am bored out of mind.”  Five minutes after, “Damn, can we get out of here?”  Ten minutes after that, “If I see one more white person in flip-flops I’m going to readily embrace going to Tijuana.”  Any hoo!  Hosmer isn’t exactly a home run hitter.  His fly balls were goofy low last year for a guy with 25 homers.  He was the third lowest for fly balls (22.2%), fourth highest ground balls and the 29th lowest for Hard Contact.  He does hit a decent amount of line drives, and feels like a 23-26 homer guy with a few more fly balls.  He might be Kangaroo Embryo this year, but to emulate Joey Votto Jr. he’s going to need to elevate the ball more.”  And that’s me quoting future me!"  And that's me quoting me quoting future me!  Anyway, here's what else I saw in spring training for 2018 fantasy baseball:[...]It's the Winter Meetings, Part 2:  This Time Free Agents Are Really Signing.  Starring as Eric Hosmer is Turtle! Starring as Wil Myers is your goofy friend from high school who now works for Enterprise Rent-A-Car: Trailer Voice, "What if all of MLB's owners weren't in collusion....But just the rich teams!"  In the last few days, the Padres, Twins and Rays got some deals done, which is kinda like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Some 'perts will likely move Hosmer down in their rankings, but I always assumed Hosmer would be a Padre, and ranked and projected him as one in my top 20 1st basemen for 2018 fantasy baseball.  There, I said, "Here’s what I wil[...]



AL Central Notes: Abreu, Kipnis, Moustakas, Cuthbert, Sano

2018-02-19T05:45:00+00:00

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu shed over ten pounds already this offseason, James Fegan of The Athletic writes. The weight loss comes thanks in part to a diet with a lot more fish and white meat. But aside from eating healthier, the Cuban native has another, more surprising goal: to steal more bases. Abreu…White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu shed over ten pounds already this offseason, James Fegan of The Athletic writes. The weight loss comes thanks in part to a diet with a lot more fish and white meat. But aside from eating healthier, the Cuban native has another, more surprising goal: to steal more bases. Abreu said he’ll be asking for the green light from manager Rick Renteria more often. “Just because I think I can do it,” he added. “I really believe I can do it and I like the challenge. I like to challenge myself and I think that’s a good challenge for me and I’m ready for it.” Renteria laughed a bit at the idea, but he did say that if Abreu ends up being able to take a base, “that would be awesome.” However, the skipper suggested that he’s more concerned about making sure his first baseman can swing the bat and catch a ball first. A full read of the piece provides some insight not only into the plans of Abreu and Renteria headed into 2018, but into their personalities as well. More notes about American League’s midwestern teams… Indians manager Terry Francona held his individual meetings with position players on Sunday morning, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. One of those meetings was with Jason Kipnis, who’s faced a lot of uncertainty this offseason as to what position he’ll play in 2018 and which team he’ll be playing it for. Kipnis apparently told Francona he’d do whatever he was told to do, but Francona felt it was better for the two to make the decision together. “Because of who he is and what he’s accomplished, and what he can accomplish, I think it’s better if we do it together.” Francona said. “Asking somebody to do something they don’t think they can do isn’t going to help us.” It was reported earlier this offseason that the Tribe planned to move Kipnis back to second base, and Francona confirmed those intentions on Sunday by telling reporters that “he’s a second baseman… the idea is for him to play second.” In line with reports from earlier today, it seems as though the Royals are prepared to move on from Mike Moustakas. Jeffrey Flannagan of MLB.com shares some eye opening notes from an impromptu news conference with GM Dayton Moore this afternoon, including a quote about third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert. “We like [Cuthbert] a great deal,” Moore said. “We feel it’s his time to become a consistently producing player. We also have Hunter Dozier, who can play third and corner outfield, and first base — he has some versatility.” Moore also expres[...]



Hunter Renfroe Reportedly Drawing Trade Interest

2018-02-19T04:46:00+00:00

Trade interest in outfielder Hunter Renfroe has picked up, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The report comes less than 24 hours after the Padres’ signing of Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144MM contract. The signing of Hosmer would seem to displace incumbent first baseman Wil Myers, pushing him back to the outfield where he…Trade interest in outfielder Hunter Renfroe has picked up, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The report comes less than 24 hours after the Padres’ signing of Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144MM contract. The signing of Hosmer would seem to displace incumbent first baseman Wil Myers, pushing him back to the outfield where he began his career. That would correspondingly create a logjam in the outfield for the Padres, as Renfroe, Jose Pirela and Manuel Margot had previously seemed tabbed for the three spots there. The team also has Alex Dickerson, Travis Jankowski, Cory Spangenberg and Matt Szczur, all of whom are candidates to compete for at least some at-bats. With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that teams would be calling about the 26-year-old Renfroe. Whether or not the Padres are seriously considering trading him remains to be seen, of course. Renfroe boasts less than a full season’s worth of MLB at-bats for his career, and has struck out in over 28% of them. His power upside is tremendous, however, and that potential has translated to 30 career long balls thus far. It’s worth noting that after being recalled from the minors on September 18th of last season, Renfroe smashed six homers in his final 11 games of the season. If the former top prospect can work to reduce his sky-high 33.7% career chase rate and improve his contact overall, he’d be a truly valuable hitter for any major league ballclub. Which teams are interested in acquiring the righty-hitting Renfroe and what they’d be willing to give up is unclear at this time. Morosi notes that the Braves are currently looking to add an outfielder, and Renfroe is a long-term piece (he’s under team control through at least 2023) that could certainly help the Braves during their next window of contention if he pans out. The Indians are in need of a right-handed hitting outfielder as well, though that fit is merely speculative. It’s also easy to wonder at this point whether teams who’ve shown interest in Brewers outfielder Domingo Santana (the Diamondbacks come to mind) might also have interest in Renfroe. Renfroe was taken 13th overall by the Padres out of Mississippi State University during the 2013 draft, and rose quickly through the minors at first, reaching the Double-A level by the midway point of the following season. Prior to 2016, MLB Pipeline described him has having “plus-plus raw power to his pull side.” The publication also noted one of his biggest drawbacks: an aggressive, lengthy swing that makes him vulnerable to “quality secondary pitches” on the outer part of the plate. He’[...]



Blue Jays Notes: Smoak, Biagini, Estrada, Granderson

2018-02-19T03:14:00+00:00

Justin Smoak’s breakout 2017 season ended with a whimper, as the Blue Jays first baseman dealt with fatigue and a then-undisclosed injury. Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that Smoak dealt with patella tendinitis in one of his knees during the season’s final two months, during which he produced just a .211/.311/.406 batting line. However, the former top prospect…Justin Smoak’s breakout 2017 season ended with a whimper, as the Blue Jays first baseman dealt with fatigue and a then-undisclosed injury. Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that Smoak dealt with patella tendinitis in one of his knees during the season’s final two months, during which he produced just a .211/.311/.406 batting line. However, the former top prospect made some adjustments to his offseason workout routine to try and avoid similar struggles in 2018. “I feel like I’ve done some things this offseason to make that better, and I just have to keep doing the things that I was doing to keep it strong and try to alleviate that pain.” The 31-year-old will try to build on a surprisingly dominant 2017 season during which he earned his first All-Star appearance and hit a career-high 38 homers. Though Smoak had been near replacement level for his entire career, he was worth 3.4 fWAR last year; whether that production is sustainable will be an interesting storyline to watch this season. More news from up north… Though right-hander Joe Biagini endured his fair share of struggles last season, Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker has faith in him (h/t Ben Nicholson-Smith of sportsnet.ca). “I still envision him as a quality major-league starter,” says Walker. A Rule 5 Draft pick of the Jays back in 2015, Biagini has just two full seasons and 18 MLB starts under his belt. Though his 5.34 ERA last season wouldn’t seem to offer much promise on the surface, it doesn’t tell the entire story, either. Biagini showed flashes of potential last season by going at least seven innings on four separate occasions, including a September start during which he struck out ten Orioles hitters and posted an 87.5% ground ball rate. If he can harness some of that ability, he may yet become a valuable member of Toronto’s rotation. In retrospect, right-hander Marco Estrada feels good about his decision to sign a one-year deal with the Blue Jays (via Nicholson-Smith). “I’m blessed and happy that I was able to take care of that stuff early so I had none of those headaches and none of the stress about where I was going to end up,” Estrada said earlier this week. “It was really nice to enjoy this off-season.” Outfielder Curtis Granderson, who is one of two elected MLBPA Player Representatives, also offered his views on the offseason to this point. “Everything is still moving up. Revenue is at an all-time high. Minimum salaries are at an all-time high,” he said. “As long as every[...]



NL Central Notes: Brewers, Reds, Pirates

2018-02-19T01:45:00+00:00

Reiterating a familiar stance for the Brewers this offseason, GM David Stearns says that the club has confidence in its current group of starters, but they’re exploring upgrades (via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “We’ve explored a variety of starting pitching options out there, and have a pretty good sense of what the market is,” Stearns said…Reiterating a familiar stance for the Brewers this offseason, GM David Stearns says that the club has confidence in its current group of starters, but they’re exploring upgrades (via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “We’ve explored a variety of starting pitching options out there, and have a pretty good sense of what the market is,” Stearns said Sunday. “Our stance is if we can make an acquisition that we think can meaningfully upgrade the team at a responsible investment level, that’s something we’re open to.” Stearns went on to say that he believes the Milwaukee front office has done a nice job of adding to their depth. This isn’t the first time the Brewers GM has expressed confidence in the club’s current group of starters, though that notion might be met with some skepticism considering the club’s lengthy pursuit of Yu Darvish that ultimately came up short. Some other notes out of the NL Central… Stearns expressed confidence in the club’s catching group as well when asked about the possibility of a reunion between the Brewers and Jonathan Lucroy (Twitter links from Haudricourt). The GM thinks that the team got “pretty meaningful production” last year from a position split between Manny Pina, Stephen Vogt and Jett Bandy (though there’s room for skepticism on that front too, considering the team’s catchers combined to finish 20th out of 30 MLB teams by positional fWAR). Haudricourt notes that Bandy is out of minor league options while Vogt’s deal is non-guaranteed, meaning the Brewers may have a tough decision to make during spring training camp. Though Reds franchise icon Joey Votto has shown faith in the club’s rebuild in past seasons, the first baseman seems to be growing impatient, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball,” he told the press on Sunday. “I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.” Votto certainly did all he could for the Reds during their recent losing stretch. Though the team lost at least 90 games in each of the past three seasons, he managed a stunning .320/.449/.557 slash line with 94 home runs and more walks (385) than strikeouts (338) during that time. In part due to player feedback, the Pirates have made changes [...]



Reactions To And Effects Of The Eric Hosmer Deal

2018-02-19T00:13:00+00:00

Though the Royals reportedly made Eric Hosmer a contract offer that would’ve stood as the largest in franchise history, GM Dayton Moore says that the club’s long time first baseman and fan favorite “took the better offer” in choosing the Padres (via Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star). One big difference between the two offers…Though the Royals reportedly made Eric Hosmer a contract offer that would’ve stood as the largest in franchise history, GM Dayton Moore says that the club’s long time first baseman and fan favorite “took the better offer” in choosing the Padres (via Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star). One big difference between the two offers was that Kansas City never included an opt-out clause; Hosmer’s deal with the Padres contains one after his fifth season with them. Of course, that contract is also believed to guarantee him more years and overall dollars than the offers he reportedly received from the Royals. In addition, the offer from the Royals was apparently more “back-loaded”. Moore adds that he had a “pretty good sense about four days ago” that Hosmer wouldn’t be returning. Though he still held out hope, it was at that point that he began to “develop a mindset” that the club was probably going in a different direction. More rumblings around the league following last night’s big news… Now that Hosmer has officially signed elsewhere, the Royals are saying that they plan to move forward with a rebuild, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports. The club also says that they don’t plan to pursue any more marquee free agents. Rumors in the past 24 hours have connected the Royals with outgoing third baseman Mike Moustakas (at least in theory), but Nightengale’s sources would seem to throw some cold water on the idea of a reunion between the two. A similar report from ESPN’s Buster Olney runs parallel with that of Nightengale. Manager Ned Yost texted Hosmer multiple times over the offseason, reports Jeffrey Flannagan of MLB.com. Yost never heard back, and jokingly says that he didn’t get a response even when he was “on [his] death bed.” Dodd reports that Yost (and Moore) really wanted Hosmer back, and believed that his legacy would be “cemented” in Kansas City. Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star argues that fans are missing the point by focusing on Hosmer’s departure, when they should be focused on the moments he created during his tenure in Kansas City. Mellinger describes Hosmer as having “something like the perfect Royals career.” He cites myriad memorable moments from Hosmer’s time with the club, including his call up and playoff contributions. The Padres are “more than a player away” from being a good baseball team, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports argues. However, he also makes the case that Hosmer m[...]



Quick Hits: Tillman, Tigers, O’s, New York, G. Torres, Tebow

2018-02-18T22:51:00+00:00

The Tigers remain on the lookout for a starter, which could lead to a Chris Tillman signing, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Tillman threw for the Tigers on Saturday, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun adds (via Twitter). Both Heyman and Encina note that Tillman is deciding among three teams and likely to sign…The Tigers remain on the lookout for a starter, which could lead to a Chris Tillman signing, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Tillman threw for the Tigers on Saturday, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun adds (via Twitter). Both Heyman and Encina note that Tillman is deciding among three teams and likely to sign within the next day or two, and they agree that a return to the Orioles is a legitimate possibility. More from Baltimore and a few notes on the two New York franchises: The Orioles will more likely sign a left-handed-hitting outfielder than trade for one, GM Jim Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com and other reporters Sunday (Twitter links). A move is unlikely to come today, however. The Mets’ Jason Vargas signing will likely conclude their heavy lifting for the offseason, general manager Sandy Alderson suggested Sunday (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, on Twitter). “With Jason’s signing, we’re pretty much where we want to be,” said Alderson, who has been rather active in free agency since last season ended. Vargas was the sixth big league signing of the offseason for the Mets, who previously added or re-upped Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Anthony Swarzak, Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Reyes. The Yankees would buy themselves an extra year of control by having infield prospect Gleyber Torres spend at least 16 days in the minors this year, but that’s not going to factor into whether he earns a roster spot, according to GM Brian Cashman (via David Lennon of Newsday). “It’s not part of my evaluation process,” Cashman told Lennon. “We’re trying to win. If we feel that somebody could benefit from more time in the minors, we’ll make that decision at the end of camp. But I’ll take all the information from what I see and factor that into the evaluation. Every win for us is valuable.” Torres, one of the game’s top prospects, may well emerge as the Opening Day second baseman for the Yankees, who lack an obvious solution there. That would be especially impressive given that Torres is still just 21 and has only totaled 235 plate appearances above the High-A level. He raked over that sample size last year, with a .287/.383/.430 line between Double-A and Triple-A, before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery on his left (non-throwing) elbow in June. Torres has fully recovered from the procedure. The Mets actually have “modest expectations” that minor league outfielder Tim Tebow will eventually earn a major league call-up, Alderson revealed (Twitter link via James Wagner of the New York Times). “He’s great for baseball. He was phe[...]



Minor MLB Transactions: 2/18/18

2018-02-18T22:31:00+00:00

The latest minor moves from around baseball: The Marlins have outrighted right-hander Severino Gonzalez, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets. Miami acquired Gonzalez from Philadelphia in a minor trade last month. The 25-year-old spent the 2017 season in the minors (mostly Double-A) and recorded a 4.82 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 80 1/3…

The latest minor moves from around baseball:

  • The Marlins have outrighted right-hander Severino Gonzalez, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets. Miami acquired Gonzalez from Philadelphia in a minor trade last month. The 25-year-old spent the 2017 season in the minors (mostly Double-A) and recorded a 4.82 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 80 1/3 innings. Gonzalez worked out of the Phillies’ bullpen from 2015-16 and yielded a 6.68 ERA across 66 frames, despite strong strikeout and walk rates (8.45 K/9, 1.91 BB/9).
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Angels Sign Chris Young To One-Year Deal

2018-02-18T20:58:00+00:00

The Angels have signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, major league contract, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter links). The deal comes with a $2MM base salary plus incentives for the CAA Sports client. The 34-year-old Young brings experience at all three outfield spots and has been a plus defender in…The Angels have signed outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, major league contract, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports (Twitter links). The deal comes with a $2MM base salary plus incentives for the CAA Sports client. The 34-year-old Young brings experience at all three outfield spots and has been a plus defender in his career (19 Defensive Runs Saved, 8.5 Ultimate Zone Rating). He hasn’t seen much action lately in center field, though, and that’ll be the case again this year if Mike Trout stays healthy. Playing time could be hard to come by in the corners, too, given that the Angels also feature established starters in left field (Justin Upton) and right field (Kole Calhoun). Young logged 363 innings in the corners with the Red Sox in 2017 and accounted for minus-4 DRS and a minus-3.4 UZR. Young is known more for his work on the offensive side, where he has produced a .237/.316/.430 line with 185 home runs and 140 stolen bases across 5,188 plate appearances with several teams. Given that the righty-swinging Young has become a southpaw-hitting platoon player as his career has progressed, the former 30-home run hasn’t racked up great counting stats in recent years. However, he tends to make his playing time count, evidenced by a .262/.361/.466 slash in 1,366 PAs versus left-handers. Young was uncharacteristically poor against lefties last year, though, en route to a .235/.322/.387 overall line and a minus-0.2 fWAR in 276 trips to the plate. The Angels are obviously betting on a bounce-back showing from Young, who was a terrific bench option for the Yankees in 2015 and the Red Sox in ’16. If he returns to his lefty-mashing ways in 2018, it’d be a boon for an Angels offense that scuffled versus southpaws last season (.240/.332/.356).[...]



West Notes: Hosmer, CarGo, Rox, Mariners, D-backs, Giants

2018-02-18T20:49:00+00:00

The Padres’ signing of Eric Hosmer “is the most inexplicable move of the offseason,” Keith Law of ESPN opines (Insider required). Despite only bidding against the Royals for Hosmer, the Padres significantly overpaid for Hosmer in handing him an eight-year, $144MM guarantee, writes Law, who doesn’t expect the player to justify the cost. Hosmer has…The Padres’ signing of Eric Hosmer “is the most inexplicable move of the offseason,” Keith Law of ESPN opines (Insider required). Despite only bidding against the Royals for Hosmer, the Padres significantly overpaid for Hosmer in handing him an eight-year, $144MM guarantee, writes Law, who doesn’t expect the player to justify the cost. Hosmer has endured an inconsistent career, hasn’t lived up to the considerable hype he had as a prospect, and isn’t enough of an impact player to help turn around the Padres’ fortunes, Law contends. Further, adding Hosmer and bumping Wil Myers from first back to the outfield is unlikely to benefit the latter, who “will probably become an adequate-not-good player” in the grass, as opposed to the “good-not-great player” he was at first base, Law offers. While Law is bullish on the Padres’ overall direction, he regards this signing as a “baffling misstep” by their front office. More from the majors’ West divisions: The Rockies have continued to keep in touch with Scott Boras in regards to free agent outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, general manager Jeff Bridich told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sunday (Twitter link). Ian Desmond, Gerardo Parra and David Dahl rank as the Rockies’ most prominent corner outfielders at the moment, but all three come with question marks. Desmond was subpar last year, Parra is out several weeks after undergoing hand surgery (and hasn’t been particularly good as a Rockie) and Dahl didn’t play in the majors at all in 2017 on account of a rib cage injury. Meanwhile, Gonzalez posted the worst season of his career – which helps explain why he’s still available – though he went on a tear in September (.377/.484/.766 in 93 plate appearances) to end on a high note. Injuries tore through the Mariners’ rotation last season, and their starting depth is already being put to the test early this year. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times was among those to report (Twitter links). It’s only a precautionary measure by the Mariners, according to Divish, though it obviously makes for a less-than-ideal start to the year for their staff. The Mariners haven’t done anything to upgrade their rotation since last season concluded, but GM Jerry Dipoto has insisted he’s content with the group. If healthy, Ramirez will slot in fourth in the[...]



Angels To Sign Chris Carter

2018-02-18T20:01:00+00:00

The Angels have agreed to a minor league deal with first baseman Chris Carter, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. He’ll rake in $1.75MM if he makes the Angels’ roster and could earn up to $600K in incentives, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports. The 31-year-old Carter could provide the Angels a replacement for…The Angels have agreed to a minor league deal with first baseman Chris Carter, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets. He’ll rake in $1.75MM if he makes the Angels’ roster and could earn up to $600K in incentives, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports. The 31-year-old Carter could provide the Angels a replacement for fellow first baseman C.J. Cron, whom they traded to the Rays on Saturday. But Carter will have to spend the next several weeks rebuilding his stock in camp after he fared horribly in the majors with the Yankees last season. The powerful Carter hit just .201/.284/.370 with eight home runs and a .168 ISO over 208 appearances with New York before the club jettisoned him. Carter then caught on with Oakland on a minor league pact, but he didn’t return to the majors with the A’s. He instead took 154 PAs at the Triple-A level and batted .252/.357/.511. Of course, the righty-hitting Carter isn’t far removed from leading the National League in home runs (41) as a Brewer in 2016, so he could emerge as a quality buy-low pickup for the Angels. While Carter has always been prone to strikeouts (he owns a career 33.3 percent K rate) and low batting averages, his .217/.312/.456 line across 2,853 big league PAs has still been 9 percent better than average, according to FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric (Cron has been 7 percent above in 1,475 PAs). Carter’s power (.239 ISO, four seasons with at least 24 HRs) and patience (11.5 percent walk rate) are to thank for that. In the event Carter does find his way to Anaheim, he’ll join a team whose first base/designated hitter options were among the majors’ worst last year. Albert Pujols and Luis Valbuena are the Halos’ most prominent holdovers at those positions from 2017, and they’ve since added DH candidate/potential ace Shohei Ohtani.[...]



Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Expansion, Free Agency, Bucs, Jays, Giants, O’s, Mets

2018-02-18T19:40:00+00:00

This week in baseball blogs… Expos Reloaded urges MLB to add multiple expansion teams. Nyrdcast searches for the causes of the slow free-agent market and the increase in arbitration hearings this offseason. Pop Fly Baseball names the most underrated team in each league. Pirates Breakdown reacts to David Freese’s critical assessment of the club. BP…This week in baseball blogs… Expos Reloaded urges MLB to add multiple expansion teams. Nyrdcast searches for the causes of the slow free-agent market and the increase in arbitration hearings this offseason. Pop Fly Baseball names the most underrated team in each league. Pirates Breakdown reacts to David Freese’s critical assessment of the club. BP Toronto notices a trend with respect to pitchers the Blue Jays have signed to MLB contracts in recent offseasons. Know Hitter agrees with the Giants’ win-now approach. Stats Swipe analyzes Lance Lynn. Camden Depot weighs in on the Orioles’ signing of Andrew Cashner. Good Fundies compares new Met Todd Frazier to Jason Kipnis, whom they nearly acquired. Chin Music Baseball lists six dark-horse MVP candidates for 2018. The K Zone looks for the secret to Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage’s success. World Series Dreaming explains how the Cubs could divvy up innings with various rotation setups. Baseball Takes argues against the notion that the Indians’ window is closing. Call to the Pen names three Phillies entering make-or-break seasons. Clubhouse Corner touches on labor unrest and teams that could be in for rough years. Underthought looks beyond the traditional saves stat to determine how closers performed in 2017. STL Hat Trick has five reasons for optimism regarding the Cardinals’ offseason. Motor City Bengals, using Baseball Reference’s player comparison tools, predicts how each Tiger will fare this year. Hardball Via Hardcore shares its Mariners spring training preview. Dodgers Way offers a position-by-position breakdown of the team’s farm system. The Point of Pittsburgh explains why the Pirates may not be able to extend Josh Bell or Jameson Taillon. Puckett’s Pond is OK with the Twins coming up short in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes. District On Deck lists five spring training storylines for the Nationals. Jays Journal looks at PECOTA and FanGraphs projections for Toronto. DiNardo’s Dugout (podcast) discusses the Cubs’ new-look rotation and other subjects. The Sports Tank expects Rick Porcello to bounce back this year. Rox Pile highlights two things already learned about the Rockies this spring. The Runner Sports (links: 1, 2, 3, 4) responds to the Twins’ Jake Odorizzi pickup, ranks the A’s top 25 prospects, delves into some recent Justin Verlander comments, and reacts to Goose Gossage’s bashing of Yankees GM Brian Cashm[...]



White Sox Outright Dylan Covey

2018-02-18T19:15:00+00:00

The White Sox have outrighted right-hander Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte, thus opening up a spot on their 40-man roster, James Fegan of The Athletic reports on Twitter. A fourth-round pick of the A’s in 2013, Covey spent the first few years of his professional career in Oakland’s system before joining the White Sox in…

The White Sox have outrighted right-hander Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte, thus opening up a spot on their 40-man roster, James Fegan of The Athletic reports on Twitter.

A fourth-round pick of the A’s in 2013, Covey spent the first few years of his professional career in Oakland’s system before joining the White Sox in the December 2016 Rule 5 draft. The 26-year-old Covey ended up playing a fairly prominent role in Chicago last season, but he struggled mightily in his first taste of major league action.

Across 70 innings (18 appearances, 12 starts), Covey logged a 7.71 ERA/7.20 FIP with 5.27 K/9 and 4.37 BB/9. While Covey did keep the ball on the ground at a respectable clip (48.5 percent), the fly balls he allowed tended to lead to disaster. In fact, he surrendered 2.57 home runs per nine – the worst mark on the team and the third-worst figure in the majors among those who amassed at least 70 frames.

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2018 Fantasy Baseball Team Previews: Washington Nationals

2018-02-18T18:00:00+00:00

Welcome to Razzball’s 2018 team previews. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be previewing all of the teams and talking to writers who represent those teams around the web. We want to provide the best and most in-depth fantasy projections to go along with the asking the most useful questions to those who know their teams best. We want to talk about the players in the first half of your draft and also the deep sleepers that make you log into google and start watching Midwest Single-A ball for hours. Just kidding, don’t do that, hopefully we don’t go that far… Baker finally hit the dust...y. Dave Martinez now takes over as the National's manager as they try to bring Washington D.C. a World Series title. This lineup remains an offensive machine and still boasts a top half of the rotation that causes a lot of whiffs. There are still a couple of new faces to talk about and also a highly touted prospect who is sure to see at bats in the majors this season. I talked to Drew Douglas from District on Deck.Welcome to Razzball’s 2018 team previews. Over the next couple of months, we’ll be previewing all of the teams and talking to writers who represent those teams around the web. We want to provide the best and most in-depth fantasy projections to go along with the asking the most useful questions to those who know their teams best. We want to talk about the players in the first half of your draft and also the deep sleepers that make you log into google and start watching Midwest Single-A ball for hours. Just kidding, don’t do that, hopefully we don’t go that far… Baker finally hit the dust...y. Dave Martinez now takes over as the National's manager as they try to bring Washington D.C. a World Series title. This lineup remains an offensive machine and still boasts a top half of the rotation that causes a lot of whiffs. There are still a couple of new faces to talk about and also a highly touted prospect who is sure to see at bats in the majors this season. I talked to Drew Douglas from District on Deck.[...]



Latest On Pirates’ Josh Harrison

2018-02-18T17:56:00+00:00

After the Pirates traded franchise cornerstones Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole last month, utilityman Josh Harrison suggested he’d like to play elsewhere if “the team does not expect to contend this year or next.” The Pirates haven’t done anything to assuage Harrison since then, he explained to reporters (including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette…After the Pirates traded franchise cornerstones Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole last month, utilityman Josh Harrison suggested he’d like to play elsewhere if “the team does not expect to contend this year or next.” The Pirates haven’t done anything to assuage Harrison since then, he explained to reporters (including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) when he showed up to camp on Sunday. Regarding a conversation he had with general manager Neal Huntington, Harrison said: “At the end of the day there wasn’t anything said or done that was like, aw man, I can breathe easy. He talked to me, said he wants to win and this or that. At the end of the day I said it’s about action, not speaking.” Harrison also knocked the Pirates for a lack of transparency – “Some of it goes with not knowing the direction. I understand the business side. Every year, there’s going to be guys coming in and going out. You just want to know where we stand as a team, where you stand as a player” – and backed up teammate David Freese’s recent comments criticizing the Bucs for an absence of “accountability.” “I don’t care how we do it, but things need to be done,” Harrison declared. “As Freese said the other day, it’s got to be urgent and not just from a couple guys, a couple people in the office. It has to be top to bottom. You talk about Freese, he’s a World Series MVP. The guy’s been there. He knows what it takes to win. I think it will go without saying that he and I, even some of the comments he mentioned, had been conversations we’ve had during the season. It’s been brought to light.” Although Harrison isn’t content with the state of the Pirates, it’s unclear whether they’re interested in trading him or whether there’s even a market for his services at this point. The New York teams and Toronto have shown the most reported interest in Harrison since last season ended, but both the Mets and Blue Jays have made several moves to address their infield and outfield in recent weeks. Consequently, both teams are likely out of the running for Harrison. The Yankees still don’t have a proven second or third base solution, meanwhile, and credible[...]



Braves Working To Sign Peter Moylan; Royals Remain Interested

2018-02-18T17:20:00+00:00

11:20am: Moylan to the Braves might not be a foregone conclusion. The Royals remain interested in re-signing him, per Bowman (Twitter link). 8:37am: The Braves are attempting to complete a deal with free agent reliever Peter Moylan, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. It’s unclear whether it’ll be a major league pact for the 39-year-old Moylan,…11:20am: Moylan to the Braves might not be a foregone conclusion. The Royals remain interested in re-signing him, per Bowman (Twitter link). 8:37am: The Braves are attempting to complete a deal with free agent reliever Peter Moylan, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. It’s unclear whether it’ll be a major league pact for the 39-year-old Moylan, who already has two stints with the Braves under his belt (2006-12 and 2015). The right-handed Moylan spent the previous two seasons in Kansas City and combined for a 3.46 ERA with 6.92 K/9 and 3.55 BB/9 across 104 innings, including 59 1/3 (his most since 2010) in 2017, when he led all pitchers in appearances (79). The sinker- and slider-throwing Moylan notched a superb 61.3 percent groundball rate to rank eighth among qualified relievers during that two-year span. Moylan’s success with the Royals was particularly surprising after he combined to throw fewer than 40 big league innings with the Braves and Dodgers from 2011-15, owing to a laundry list of injuries. The Australia native dealt with back, shoulder and elbow problems at various points during that stretch, and he missed all of 2014 after undergoing the second Tommy John surgery of his career. Moylan then rejoined the Braves prior to the 2015 campaign on an unconventional deal, one in which they picked him up as a player/coach. If he’s able to catch on with the Braves for a third time, Moylan will become the elder statesman of a bullpen that hasn’t added any other proven commodities since finishing last season 26th in ERA (4.58) and 27th in fWAR (1.1). Braves relievers especially struggled versus right-handed hitters, who slashed .264/.339/.450 against them. Moylan, meanwhile, limited righties to a meager .161/.244/.236 mark and has held them in check throughout his career (.204/.269/.295). Although lefty-swingers have roughed up Moylan (.296/.422/.430), he has nonetheless managed a 3.00 ERA during his 390 1/3-inning career.[...]