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Updated: 2018-01-16T18:00:00+00:00

 



Fantasy Baseball Podcast: The Top 20 Players for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

2018-01-16T18:00:00+00:00

The dynamic duo is back for the second time. Or potentially the first. Were we in fact back the first time if we had never been there before? Wow, I've talked myself into a circle. Any the flippidy flap, January Grey is back, and he brought his Top 20 with him! That's right, these are the spoken words to go with the written ones. We talk about why Mike Trout is good, Goldy vs. Jose Altuve, Freeman vs. Rizzo, and Lindor vs. Jose Ramirez (psssst not the Braves reliever). We pretty much make all the decisions in the first two rounds for you. It's a glorious discussion of what will be in the two dot eighteen. When Grey isn't dropping Top 20 knowledge, he's rapping lyrics to Belly. Enough of the spoilers, just listen blood! Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 20% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:(image) The dynamic duo is back for the second time. Or potentially the first. Were we in fact back the first time if we had never been there before? Wow, I've talked myself into a circle. Any the flippidy flap, January Grey is back, and he brought his Top 20 with him! That's right, these are the spoken words to go with the written ones. We talk about why Mike Trout is good, Goldy vs. Jose Altuve, Freeman vs. Rizzo, and Lindor vs. Jose Ramirez (psssst not the Braves reliever). We pretty much make all the decisions in the first two rounds for you. It's a glorious discussion of what will be in the two dot eighteen. When Grey isn't dropping Top 20 knowledge, he's rapping lyrics to Belly. Enough of the spoilers, just listen blood! Finally, please make sure to support our sponsor by heading over to RotoWear.com and entering promo code “SAGNOF” for 20% off the highest quality t-shirts in the fantasy sports game. It’s the latest edition of the Razzball Fantasy Baseball Prospect Podcast:(image) (image)



Winter Moves Update: Pirates Re-Tooling, Curtis Goes North

2018-01-16T15:30:00+00:00

The Pirates deal two studs, Reed heads to Minnesota, and two lefty OFs find homes for 2018We’re finally starting to see the market pick back up and as we reach mid-January, we should expect a steady stream of moves from here until camps starting opening up. Even with this bevy of moves, the big ones are still trades as opposed to big free agents finding new teams. The Pirates have firmly declared their future by dealing two stars and the Giants get another aging superstar. Gerrit Cole to HOU; Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, and Jason Martin to PIT You just won the World Series, now what? Go get a big time arm, who has legitimate ace upside and slot him into your #3 spot. Oh, and do it without taking any major pieces off the title team. Musgrove and Feliz were MLB contributors, but neither was essential to winning nor did they project to be in 2018. When the deal was first rumored, there was some interesting analysis on how this move would benefit Cole off the top. Derek Carty outlined how the ballpark is actually a nice little strikeout boost, though could further exacerbate a home run issue that came to light in 2018. No one will look at this Gerrit Cole deal and say, "Damn, that's a nice park upgrade!" Because most only consider HR. But it is. And they should. Huge K upgrade. pic.twitter.com/dAmQ4I2NzI — Derek Carty (@DerekCarty) January 10, 2018 Check out this tweet later in the thread for how a ballpark can help Ks as it’s definitely not something as obvious as home run and hit influence: Lots of different ways. Biggest one is altitude. PNC has one of the higher altitudes in MLB. Also foul ground, atmospheric effects, ball-mudding, background/batter's eye, changes in approach based on fence distance, etc. — Derek Carty (@DerekCarty) January 10, 2018 Meanwhile, Todd Zola highlighted something we’ve been seeing change a bit over the last few years – the AL/NL difference is shrinking. Facing the pitcher no doubt helps in the NL, but the overall benefits of pitching in that league have dwindled: Difference between AL and NL ERA and WHIP the past two seasons is negligible. 2016AL ERA 4.21, WHIP 1.32NL ERA 4.17, WHIP 1.33 2017AL ERA 4.38, WHIP 1.33NL ERA 4.34, WHIP 1.35 — Todd Zola (@ToddZola) January 10, 2018 While PNC Park is a great place to pitch, Cole was actually a touch better over his career on the road. He had a 3.56 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 15% K-BB in 397 IP at PNC Park and 3.44, 1.23, and 18% on the road in 385 IP. His 4.26 ERA in 2017 was easily a career-high (3.23 in 579 IP prior to ’17) and seems to be very closely related to the surge in homers (1.4 HR/9 after 0.6 in 2013-16). If he keeps the ball in the yard – a task made tougher by switching to Minute Maid – then we have a chance to see elite Cole again. Musgrove should now get a shot to start and doing so in Pittsburgh could pay immediate dividends even as he develops his arsenal. You can see the HR advantage between PNC Park and Minute Maid and Musgrove is no doubt looking forward to the move with a 1.4 HR/9 in 171 MLB innings thus far. He’ll likely become a popular late-round gamble by the time draft season peaks in March. Feliz is a power righty (96 mph, 32% K) who is still quite raw (10% BB, 1.5 HR/9). He is unlikely to close, especially after Felipe Rivero locked down an extension. Relievers can flip on a dime with the development of a pitch or tweak of the mechanics so Feliz is a name to know with that elite strikeout rate, but not someone I’m rostering right now. Moran hasn’t lived up to his #6 overall pick status (2013 draft by MIA), but he did have a big offensive jump in 2017 with a 133 wRC+ and career-best 18 HR before a quick taste of the majors (12 PA) with the Astros. He projects to a passable, but unspectacular MLBer with a decent hit tool, but modest power, no speed, and just decent defense at third base. If he wins the job, there’s some NL-only appeal, but only at corner infielder (CI). Martin does a bit of e[...]



The Screw Cancer League Needs Your Help

2018-01-16T15:15:00+00:00

Commissioner Cameron had to recuse himself, but we still plan to weaponize fantasy baseball in the war against cancer.Years ago, in response to his own battle with the disease, Dave Cameron founded the Screw Cancer League, an ottoneu FGpts league designed to raise money for cancer-related charities. Per Cameron, the league has successfully raised over $30,000 since its inception in 2012. Cameron (and a few others) have bowed out due to new responsibilities. It’s considered gauche (fireable) for a MLB employee to play fantasy baseball. Today, I’d like to briefly ask for your help in two ways. With our fearless leader gone, it’s time to form Screw Cancer 2.0. New Owners Wanted! First, we need up to four new owners. I’m new to the league too, having joined in November. We’re looking for two things from applicants. Experience and success in the FGpts format. Willingness to donate to a cancer-related charity. Applications should briefly touch upon these two bullet points. Give us the abridged version of your credentials. In fact, using bullet points isn’t a bad idea. Send your applications to pitchin432 AT yahoo.com. Use the phrase “Screw Cancer Application – YOUR NAME” in the subject line. I’m told that in the past, spots were awarded to whoever was willing to make the largest donation. It wouldn’t hurt to include the amount you will donate in your application. If you have fundraising channels (you’ll see what I mean in a moment), perhaps include those too. As an additional “fun” detail, we’re considering auctioning off the available rosters. Unsurprisingly, they are of varying quality. For example, Cameron’s roster has won five of six seasons and is the favorite to win season seven. It seems only fair that the biggest donation gets the bestest roster. Our Fundraising Drive! The second way you can help is with fundraising. One option is to make a donation to a cancer charity of your choice. There are so many out there conducting research, improving accessibility to expensive treatments, and offering other services to patients and their families. If you find the decision a tad daunting, I recommend starting at square one by asking google how to pick a cancer charity. If you opt to make a direct donation, you should receive a receipt from the charity. I’d appreciate it if you’d forward that information to me – again at pitchin432 AT yahoo.com. Use the subject line “Donation Confirmation – YOUR NAME” in the subject line. If you would like to remain anonymous, replace YOUR NAME with ANON (or leave it as YOUR NAME). Feel free to doctor up the receipt in MS Paint to remove any unwanted identifiers. I really just need the amount and name of charity for our records. By asking for the receipt, I’m only trying to ensure that our accounting is not… over-inflated. This information will be stored in a private google doc. Alternatively, if you don’t have a preferred cancer charity and don’t want to do the research, you can give the money to me via paypal. Send a message to the same email above, using the subject line “Request to Donate – YOUR NAME.” Include your paypal account name in the body of the email. Once you transfer the money, I will then choose charities and donate on your behalf. Don’t worry, everything will be clearly and carefully accounted. Full Disclosure: For tax purposes, I will be claiming all money donated in this manner as my personal charitable contribution. To me, this seems like a nice way to support important charities AND your local neighborhood fantasy writer. It’s up to you to decided if you’re cool with that. I’ll be matching money donated in this manner up to $300 (minimum $100). For visibility, I’ll announce all donations on twitter. Your Support Is Appreciated In some way, everybody has been affected by cancer. I won’t try to drag at your he[...]



Top 60 Remaining Trade Candidates

2018-01-16T14:38:00+00:00

It has been a month since we broke out the top 60 remaining offseason trade candidates in baseball. Since that time, several of the players from that list have indeed been dealt, while situations have also changed for some others. With a few weeks left for transactions to proceed before Spring Training opens, we’ll take…It has been a month since we broke out the top 60 remaining offseason trade candidates in baseball. Since that time, several of the players from that list have indeed been dealt, while situations have also changed for some others. With a few weeks left for transactions to proceed before Spring Training opens, we’ll take a quick look at how the trade market appears to have changed. Starting Pitchers Market Changes: The Astros nabbed Gerrit Cole from the Pirates, taking one of the most obvious and best trade candidates off the market and filling an opening with a contender. That said, multiple organizations are still in play for one or more starters. The possibility of achieving greater value via trade is, perhaps, one of the many reasons that the top starters have yet to reach deals. Top Remaining Trade Candidates Chris Archer & Jake Odorizzi, Rays: Tampa Bay has moved one significant veteran (see below), suggesting the team is as open as ever to swapping out older/more expensive players for younger ones, though there’s hardly an indication that a full-scale rebuild is underway. Michael Fulmer, Tigers: He has come up here and there in rumors, though there’s still no reason to believe Detroit is willing to move its best asset for anything less than a haul. Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy & Jason Hammel, Royals: Similarly, we’ve heard of teams asking about Duffy, but Kansas City has evidently not embarked upon a concerted effort to trade him. The other two players would be salary dumps, though the Royals could just keep them and hope for improvements while also being assured of filling up some innings. Zack Greinke & Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks: Moving Greinke’s contract would be a challenge, but still-simmering chatter on Arizona’s interest in J.D. Martinez suggests it is still plausible. Meanwhile, we’ve heard Corbin come up as another player who could be moved to open payroll space. Dan Straily, Marlins: Dealing the righty would hurt for a pitching-needy team, but it has to be on the table. Danny Salazar, Indians: We keep seeing Salazar’s name arise and Cleveland is said to be willing to deal him, but the team likely won’t do so unless that facilitates the filling of another need. Julio Teheran & Brandon McCarthy, Braves: There’s still no indication that Teheran is being discussed, but he feels like a plausible chip in the right circumstances. It also seems possible that McCarthy could be passed along, though odds are he (and also just-acquired starter Scott Kazmir) will be viewed as necessary veteran depth entering camp. Relievers Market Changes: Three top lefties have departed the potential trade market, none via trade: Zach Britton suffered a serious injury, while Brad Hand and Felipe Rivero have signed extensions that almost certainly indicate they won’t be dealt this winter. There just aren’t any comparable hurlers to be had, so those developments seem to favor the remaining southpaw free agents. Veteran relievers Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan were also traded recently. Top Remaining Trade Candidates Alex Colome, Rays: Colome still seems the likeliest of the game’s top young closers to be dealt. Nothing has come together to this point, but he has appeared frequently in the rumor pages. Kelvin Herrera, Royals: The asking price is said to be high; perhaps the Royals would be willing to take the risk of carrying Herrera to the trade deadline if offers aren’t sufficient. Brad Ziegler, Junichi Tazawa & Kyle Barraclough, Marlins: While the Fish have created some breathing space in the payroll, moving some of the [...]



Revealed: Statcast Charged Batter xHR/FB Rate, Version 2.0

2018-01-16T13:15:00+00:00

Updating my Statcast charged batter xHR/FB rateNearly three years ago, I unveiled my original xHR/FB rate. Back then, Statcast was in its infancy, and wasn’t installed in all 30 stadiums until the upcoming season. As such, my original equation used metrics that Jeff Zimmerman provided me from scraped Gameday data, I believe. The equation was solid enough, producing a 0.649 adjusted R-squared. Clearly, there was more work to be done, but sadly, the data required to make improvements simply wasn’t available. Then Statcast came along and the newest statistical revolution began. I became giddy, playing around with all its fancy new metrics, eventually leading to the introduction of my Statcast charged xHR/FB rate. This equation was composed of just three variables like my original, but the data was far easier to collect. Two of the components were available in our Splits Leaderboard, while the remaining one was found in the Statcast Leaderboard. Bonus — the adjusted R-squared jumped to 0.682, which was a small, but meaningful improvement. But then this happened… League HR/FB Rates 2015-2017 Season HR/FB 2015 11.4% 2016 12.8% 2017 13.7% …and it broke my equation. Over the last two years as this power surge was ongoing, there has been rampant speculation and research into the cause. We seemingly still don’t have an official definitive answer, but rather some likely culprits, such as less drag/a lower spin rate, thanks to a changed ball. Unfortunately, we don’t have this data, so I can’t just throw spin rate into my regression and call it a day. Because I was baffled as to how to fix my broken equation, I cried out for help. Then I did so again on Twitter while working on my fix. Thanks to all who provided suggestions. In my quest to fix my broken equation, I first settled on the suggestion by the majority of commenters of adding some sort of seasonal constant. Whether I simply multiply all xHR/FB rates in a particular season by a constant to force the league average xHR/FB mark to match the actual league HR/FB rate, or add a season constant as a regression variable and let the math determine its value, I thought that was an idea worth investigating. After about six different regression equations, including throwing in the league average HR/FB rate as a variable, and even experimenting with FB%, I was making dramatic progress. My xHR/FB rates were getting much closer to the actual marks, while the adjusted R-squared peaked at around 0.75, representing an even larger jump than from my non-Statcast xHR/FB rate to Statcast xHR/FB rate. But then, a long Slack conversation ensued with the amazing Andrew Perpetua, who summed up the problem quite succinctly: MLB changed the ball to have less drag, drag is making the ball go like 5-6 feet further, and that’s enough to change HR probability by like 10%. Essentially, batters are hitting the ball as hard as usual, but the ball is simply traveling further. As mentioned above, we don’t have the drag (spin rate) stats, so boo. Then, Andrew suggested I incorporate Avg FB Distance. I had no idea this was a metric available on Statcast, but indeed it is! The thing was, my initial, antiquated equation used Avg FB Distance, a statistic I wanted to move away from because I only wanted skill-based metrics (like Barrels), not results. Nevertheless, I was quickly convinced that it should be an included variable, as it would basically act as a proxy for all the ball-related changes that occurred. This is how I got to that point: Andrew: well you’re using barrels to measure the skill and the distance to measure the barrel lol I dunno, its just something I think you should try. maybe it wont work. Pod: basically you’re saying use the distance to quantify how good the barrel is, because not all barrels produce homers at the same rate, right? Andrew: well, yeah, kinda. well, look at it this way. the barrel is how hard [...]



Don’t Draft List: Why J.A. Happ Is A Pitcher To Avoid Heading Into 2018

2018-01-16T11:00:01+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) For the third straight season J.A. Happ posted an ERA of 3.61 or better, giving him the impression of a pitcher who is going to hold appeal.  Is that really the case?   Is he someone that you want toby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) For the third straight season J.A. Happ posted an ERA of 3.61 or better, giving him the impression of a pitcher who is going to hold appeal.  Is that really the case?   Is he someone that you want to go into the year depending on?  In order to answer that, let’s first look at the numbers: 145.1 IP 10 Wins 3.53 ERA 1.31 WHIP 142 Strikeouts (8.79 K/9) 46 Walks (2.85 BB/9) 46.9% Groundball Rate .302 BABIP Solid control, something that’s been consistent for four years running (BB/9 under 3.00), coupled with an improvement in his strikeout and groundball rates?  It seems like an ideal skill set, on the surface, but when you start digging in that’s simply not the case.   Strikeouts Happ owns a career 7.74 K/9, so what happened to justify the improvement?  His 9.4% SwStr% doesn’t, and he also doesn’t appear to own a clear put away pitch (Whiff%): Curveball – 15.27% Fourseam Fastball – 12.76% Changeup – 11.36% Slider – 8.77% Sinker – 6.93% While he was consistent with the elevated mark (8.85 K/9 in the first half, 8.75 in the second), it’s still hard to buy into it moving forward.   GroundballsIt didn’t appear that there was a dramatic change in approach, so why the improved groundball rate (40.1% for his career)?  A few big months helped to skew things, and he showed a distinct HR/FB split as the season progressed: First Half – 1.77 Second Half – 0.64 He’s not as bad as the first half mark, but when you couple fewer groundballs with pitching in the AL East it’s easy to imagine it being closer to the truth.   Fewer strikeouts + Fewer groundballs (meaning more home runs)…  That’s not a formula any pitcher wants to follow.  The control is solid, though it’s not an elite walk rate and consistent matchups with the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles is going to be difficult to manage.  Interestingly he thrived against those three teams a year ago: Yankees (11.2 IP) – 1.61 ERA Red Sox (23.2 IP) – 1.94 ERA Orioles (17.2 IP) – 3.14 ERA A regression against those three teams, when coupled with the other numbers, will likely mean disaster.  It’s going to be easy to just look at last year’s numbers and assume that he’s going to be a pitcher worth targeting.  That’s not the case, as the risk far outweighs the reward and you should be able to get a pitcher with more upside at a similar draft day cost. Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports, Brooks Baseball ** PRE-ORDER SALE ** Pre-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 Projections: PlayerDate Published Cano, Robinson10/09/17 Castillo, Luis10/03/17 Gerrit Cole10/30/17 Didi Gregorius11/20/17 Wil Myers10/24/17 Quintana, Jose11/13/17 Sanchez, Aaron12/05/17 Schoop, Jonathan11/27/17 Stroman, Marcus10/16/17 Walker, Taijuan 11/06/17 [...]



Random Box Score: May 4, 1993

2018-01-16T11:00:00+00:00

One Tuesday night, out of the blue, the Rockies and Cubs delivered a thriller in extras.Wrigley Field was the site of one of the wilder games for the Rockies in the inaugural season. (via redlegsfan21) When I first set out to write the Random Box Score series, I figured it would be a lot of fun (it is) and relatively easy because there is an abundance of old games from which to choose. It seemed like something I could keep going for a while, always with new stories to tell. But for some reason, I had a lot of trouble finding a game to write about this time around. The first game I landed on seemed like fun one to tackle. The score was a bit lopsided but it featured long-time rivals and illustrated just how hapless one team was that season. Except I had already written about that team already, and was afraid of repeating myself. The next three games I chose had already been covered by other Hardball Times authors, so I obviously had to scrap those. A few others I looked at just didn’t grab me. And then, I found this game. It took nearly two days to find it but boy, am I glad that I did. The game took place on Tuesday, May 4, 1993. On that day, “Freak Me” by Silk held the number one slot on the Billboard Hot 100. Indecent Proposal was at the top of the box office. And a number of popular primetime series were about to say goodbye to television audiences: Cheers, The Wonder Years, Knots Landing and Designing Women all ended their runs in May 1993. As for what was actually happening around baseball at that time, May of 1993 was sort of quiet. The only big news was Dale Murphy—who you’ll see later in this piece—calling it quits just two home runs shy of 400. Baseball and the world were only a month away from being introduced to Alex Rodriguez. He would be picked first overall in the 1993 draft by the Seattle Mariners. Other notable draftees that year: Trot Nixon, Billy Wagner, Kevin Millwood, Gary Matthews Jr., Jermaine Dye, Derrek Lee, Torii Hunter, Scott Rolen and John Rocker. Major League Baseball also welcomed two new expansion teams to the National League in 1993: the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies. Unsurprisingly, neither team was very good that first year, a fact to be expected when your roster is mostly made up of other teams’ leftovers. The Rockies would spend their first two seasons playing their home games in Mile High Stadium, the home of the Denver Broncos. They wouldn’t play in their current home, Coors Field, until the delayed 1995 season started. … On May 4, 1993, the Rockies played the Cubs in the first game of a quick two-game weekday series. At the time, the Rockies were in fifth place in the NL West, ahead of the Padres and Reds, while the Cubs were in fourth place, right smack in the middle of the NL East. Remember when the Cubs were in the NL East? It seems like a lifetime ago. I suppose it sort of was. Starting lineups Rockies Eric Young 2BAlex Cole CFDante Bichette RFAndres Galarraga 1BCharlie Hayes 3BJoe Girardi CJerald Clark LFVinny Castilla SSAndy Ashby P Cubs Dwight Smith CFJose Vizcaino SSMark Grace 1BRyne Sandberg 2BDerrick May LFSteve Buechele 3BSammy Sosa RFRick Wilkins CJose Guzman P The umpires that day were Tom Hallion at home, Jim Quick at first, Jerry Crawford at second and Steve Rippley at third. Hallion was the second base umpire in the 2008 All-Star at Yankee Stadium, which famously lasted 14 innings. He debuted in June 1985 and is still umpiring today. Quick was a crew member for many milestone games, among them Nolan Ryan’s 3000th career strikeout in 1980. He also was behind the plate for Steve Carlton’s 300th win in 1983. Crawford was a major league umpire from 1977-2010. He appeared in five World Series, 12 League Championship Series and five Division Series. He retired in 2010 for health reasons. Rippley worked as a major le[...]



Top 20 for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

2018-01-16T08:01:00+00:00

Yesterday, I went over the top 10 for 2018 fantasy baseball.  Today, I throw out preconceived notions, drink some potions and lather up my body with lotions as I sloppily slip and slide my way through the most precarious top 20 for fantasy baseball I’ve ever encountered.  This top twenty is a blind man playing Twister.  Half the time, I’m grabbing for things not knowing if they’re there or not.  I legit think this top 20 could go countless other ways.  Is countless a widowed Countess?  No, it’s not, it’s a confusing AF top 20 for fantasy baseball.  Last year, I ranked no starters in the top 20.  This year I decided to rank one so low you'd never draft him.  If you want to bemoan my low ranking of one starter, then bemoan away.  Just remember, a bemoaner sounds a bit to me like “U be a boner.”   All the positional rankings will live under the 2018 fantasy baseball rankings.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 for 2018 fantasy baseball:(image) Yesterday, I went over the top 10 for 2018 fantasy baseball.  Today, I throw out preconceived notions, drink some potions and lather up my body with lotions as I sloppily slip and slide my way through the most precarious top 20 for fantasy baseball I’ve ever encountered.  This top twenty is a blind man playing Twister.  Half the time, I’m grabbing for things not knowing if they’re there or not.  I legit think this top 20 could go countless other ways.  Is countless a widowed Countess?  No, it’s not, it’s a confusing AF top 20 for fantasy baseball.  Last year, I ranked no starters in the top 20.  This year I decided to rank one so low you'd never draft him.  If you want to bemoan my low ranking of one starter, then bemoan away.  Just remember, a bemoaner sounds a bit to me like “U be a boner.”   All the positional rankings will live under the 2018 fantasy baseball rankings.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 for 2018 fantasy baseball:(image) (image)



NL Central Notes: Nelson, Molina, Cubs

2018-01-16T04:08:00+00:00

Brewers ace Jimmy Nelson is “way ahead of schedule” in his rehab from shoulder surgery, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The initial plan for Nelson had been to begin a throwing program at the beginning of Spring Training, but Nelson tells McCalvy that he’ll now begin throwing next week. Nelson credits his accelerated timeline to regular use of…Brewers ace Jimmy Nelson is “way ahead of schedule” in his rehab from shoulder surgery, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The initial plan for Nelson had been to begin a throwing program at the beginning of Spring Training, but Nelson tells McCalvy that he’ll now begin throwing next week. Nelson credits his accelerated timeline to regular use of a hyperbaric chamber, improved conditioning and diet as well as rigorous arm care and physical therapy. The shortened timeline is music to the Brewers’ ears, though an exact timetable for Nelson remains uncertain following a September operation which, as McCalvy notes, repaired his shoulder in three separate places. Milwaukee already signed Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year deal, and they’ll return right-handers Chase Anderson and Zach Davies as well. That trio will be relied upon heavily while Nelson rehabs, with other candidates to take the ball every fifth day including Brent Suter, Josh Hader, Brandon Woodruff, Junior Guerra, Jorge Lopez ,Aaron Wilkerson and old friend Yovani Gallado (among others). Elsewhere in the NL Central… Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is currently planning to retire after his current contract expires in 2020, he tells MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. Molina says his body still feels up to the rigors of his typically large workload, adding that he has no plans to cut back on his playing time at the age of 35. There’s time, of course, for Molina’s mind to change on the matter of retirement. If he remains healthy and productive through the 2020 season and the Cardinals remain in contention, for instance, it’s not difficult to envision a change of heart. That said, Langosch notes that Molina sounded much more definitive on the matter this time around than he did a year ago when discussing his future after signing a three-year, $60MM extension that spans the 2018-20 seasons. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was dismissive of the notion that collusion has slowed the free-agent market in an interview with Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required & recommended). Ricketts pointed out that in previous years, some teams have somewhat quietly inked new television deals or had those deals kick in, which has led to unexpected spending. (Ricketts doesn’t mention instances by name, though that was very likely a component in the D-backs’ signing of Zack Greinke, for instance.) Asked about the possibility of further spending for his own team, Ricketts replied: “Theo has the resources to do whatever he needs to do to win on the field. …  I don’t know what’s going to happen with the guys that are out there, whether it’s a good fit for us.” Mooney also chats with newly promoted AGM Scott Harris about the slow offseason. [...]



Blue Jays To Sign Curtis Granderson

2018-01-16T01:58:00+00:00

The Blue Jays have reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson on a one-year deal worth $5MM, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The contract, which is pending a physical, includes additional incentives. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes that said bonuses are tied to the veteran outfielder’s playing time. Granderson is represented…The Blue Jays have reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson on a one-year deal worth $5MM, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The contract, which is pending a physical, includes additional incentives. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes that said bonuses are tied to the veteran outfielder’s playing time. Granderson is represented by agent Matt Brown of Pro Prospects, Inc. The veteran Granderson will turn 37 in March and is coming off a down season at the plate in 2017. Granderson tallied 527 plate appearances and hit .212/.323/.452 with 26 homers in 2017 — the final season of a four-year, $60MM contract signed with the Mets prior to the 2014 season. He floundered following an August trade to the Dodgers, hitting just .161/.288/.366 in L.A. However, he was hitting a more palatable .228/.334/.481 through 395 plate appearances with New York. While Granderson obviously had some struggles in the batting average department, he posted a strong OBP which was fueled by a career-best 13.5 percent walk rate. He still displayed plenty of pop as well, as his .241 isolated power mark (slugging minus average) was his highest since a 43-homer campaign with the Yankees back in 2012. Granderson belted 24 doubles and three triples in addition to his 26 big flies. Of course, as is typically the case with Granderson, the vast majority of his damage was done against right-handed pitching; Granderson hit .214/.337/.470 with 21 homers while holding the platoon advantage but limped to a bleak .202/.274/.394 slash against left-handed opponents. As such, it stands to reason that Granderson will be largely platooned in an outfield corner with the Blue Jays in 2018. Kevin Pillar figures to lock down center field on an everyday basis, but Granderson makes a natural platoon partner for Steve Pearce in left field. His left-handed bat will also provide some insurance in the event that young Teoscar Hernandez, a right-handed hitter, struggles early in the ’18 campaign. (The same is true of Anthony Alford, should he make the club out of camp or later down the line in 2018.) From a defensive standpoint, Granderson’s days as top-notch center fielder are in the past, though he showed in 2017 that he can still handle the position in a pinch, logging 473 innings there — mostly for an injury-ravaged Mets roster. The majority of Granderson’s corner work has come in right field, where he’s routinely posted above-average marks, as was once again the case this past season. Though Granderson logged only 273 innings in right field last year, he turned in an excellent +6 Defensive Runs Saved mark and an equally impressive mark of +5.1, per Ultimate Zone Rating. Toronto has been tied to various outfielders as of late, though two potential targets — Jay Bruce and Andrew McCutchen — have come off the market in the past week. Both players are limited to the outfield corners, so it’s possible that Toronto viewed Granderson as a fallback and moved quickly once those younger options were off the board. It remains to be seen if the addition of Granderson halts the Jays’ reported interest in Lorenzo Cain, though there’s certainly room to add him to the roster. An outfield that regularly deployed both Cain and Pillar would be a formidable defensive unit, particularly if Granderson is able to maintain his quality work in t[...]



Giants Acquire Andrew McCutchen

2018-01-15T23:34:00+00:00

5:34pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Pirates are covering $2.5MM of McCutchen’s $14.75MM salary. 5:25pm: It became all the more clear on Monday that Pirates fans are looking at the end of an era, as the team announced that face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen has been traded to the Giants (along…5:34pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Pirates are covering $2.5MM of McCutchen’s $14.75MM salary. 5:25pm: It became all the more clear on Monday that Pirates fans are looking at the end of an era, as the team announced that face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen has been traded to the Giants (along with cash considerations) in exchange for young right-hander Kyle Crick, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and $500K worth of international bonus pool space. Outfield help has been a priority for the Giants all offseason after last year’s collective unit combined to bat .253/.311/.374 in more than 2000 plate appearances. Inserting McCutchen into that mix should provide a significant boost on the offensive side of the equation, as the 31-year-old turned in a very strong rebound campaign at the plate in 2017, hitting .279/.363/.486 with 28 homers (his highest total since hitting 31 back in 2012). Of course, questions about McCutchen’s glovework persisted in 2017 — and it should be noted that the Giants’ outfield defense was the worst in baseball last year. San Francisco outfielders combined to post an MLB-worst -45 mark in Defensive Runs Saved, and they ranked just 28th with a -11.4 Ultimate Zone Rating. The since-traded Denard Span played no small role in those shortcomings, but McCutchen’s marks of -14 and -4.5 in those respective stats  don’t exactly stand out as an indicator that an extensive amount of help is on the defensive horizon. If the Giants were to play McCutchen in an outfield corner, perhaps he could post more meaningful contributions in that regard. At present, he figures to line up in center field, though the Giants could yet play McCutchen in left field and acquire a cost-effective center field option with a stronger defensive reputation (someone in the mold of Jarrod Dyson, speaking from a speculative standpoint). However, it’s important to note that there may not be room for the Giants to make much of an addition. San Francisco will add more than $9MM to its luxury tax ledger by picking up the final year of McCutchen’s deal, which should place them roughly $7MM from the threshold. San Francisco has reportedly been aiming to remain under the tax cap in order to reset its penalty level. [Related: Updated San Francisco Giants depth chart & San Francisco Giants payroll] For the Giants, McCutchen is the second notable veteran bat the team has landed via trade this offseason. San Francisco also picked up Evan Longoria in a trade that sent Christian Arroyo, Span (plus the remaining year of his contract) and a pair of minor league pitchers to the Rays. Depending on their willingness to either shed additional payroll or pivot and exceed the luxury tax for a fifth consecutive season, those two big-name acquisitions could prove to be the Giants’ primary offseason acquisitions. The McCutchen agreement comes just days after the Pirates shipped right-hander Gerrit Cole to the reigning World Champion Astros, further signaling a transitional period in Pittsburgh, though the pair of trades does not necessarily indicate that a full-scale tear-down is on the horizon for the Bucs. Both Cole (controlled through 2019) and McCutchen (a free agent next winter) were short-term and relatively high-priced assets — especially for a Pirates team that operates on a notoriously thin budget. McCutchen is slated to earn $14.75MM in the final season of[...]



Twins Sign Addison Reed

2018-01-15T22:52:00+00:00

The Twins have bolstered their relief corps with the signing of their third free-agent reliever of the offseason, announcing on Monday a two-year deal with righty Addison Reed. The Wasserman client will be guaranteed $16.75MM on the contract, according to the Twins (one of the few teams that disclose financial details in the majority of…The Twins have bolstered their relief corps with the signing of their third free-agent reliever of the offseason, announcing on Monday a two-year deal with righty Addison Reed. The Wasserman client will be guaranteed $16.75MM on the contract, according to the Twins (one of the few teams that disclose financial details in the majority of their transactions). The fact that the Twins will reel in Reed on such a short-term commitment comes as a surprise. MLBTR had projected a four-year pact for the right-hander, and most pundits had him pegged for at least a three-year commitment prior to the onset of free agency. Reed had three-year offers on the table at times this offseason, but his desire was to join a team in the Midwest, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan (Twitter link). The 29-year-old now joins Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke as veteran additions to the Minnesota bullpen. Like Rodney, Reed brings ninth-inning experience, having saved a combined 125 games since debuting in 2011. [RELATED: Updated Twins Depth Chart] Pitching has been the main focus this offseason for the Twins, who are coming off their first playoff campaign since 2010. The club’s 85-victory year came in spite of underwhelming pitching, including a relief corps that ranked 22nd in the majors in ERA (4.40) and 29th in strikeout rate (7.66 K/9). Reed’s lifetime output indicates he’ll significantly help the Twins’ cause over the next couple years, as he has pitched to a 3.40 ERA and posted 9.5 strikeouts per nine across a 402 2/3-inning career with the White Sox, Diamondbacks, Mets and Red Sox. While Reed is coming off a career-low season in terms of velocity, he nonetheless registered an impressive 2.84 ERA across 76 innings between New York and Boston. It was the second straight year with at least 76 frames for Reed, who ranks fifth among relievers in innings since 2016 (153 2/3). His success has come thanks in part to an aversion to doling out free passes, including in 2017, when he issued 1.78 walks per nine. At the same time, he logged a solid K/9 (9.0) and recorded his highest full-season swinging-strike percentage (13.7). The Reed signing is the first time Minnesota has given a multiyear deal to an outside reliever, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press notes on Twitter. With Reed, Rodney and Duke in the fold, it’s possible Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine are done making notable improvements to the team’s bullpen this offseason. But they’re sure to add starting pitching help between now and the opening of the season, and it’s perhaps worth noting that their top free agent target, righty Yu Darvish, shares an agency with Reed. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the agreement (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of FanRag tweeted the exact terms. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



Pirates To Extend Felipe Rivero

2018-01-15T22:39:00+00:00

4:39pm: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Rivero will earn $2.5MM in 2018, $4MM in 2019, $5.25MM in 2020 and $7.25MM in 2021. The deal also comes with a $2MM signing bonus, and his contract contains a pair of $10MM options for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The 2022 option comes with a $1MM buyout,…4:39pm: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Rivero will earn $2.5MM in 2018, $4MM in 2019, $5.25MM in 2020 and $7.25MM in 2021. The deal also comes with a $2MM signing bonus, and his contract contains a pair of $10MM options for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. The 2022 option comes with a $1MM buyout, and the 2023 option has a $500K buyout. 4:34pm: The Pirates have agreed to a four-year deal with closer Felipe Rivero, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (on Twitter). The deal, which will buy out all of Rivero’s arbitration seasons, is believed to guarantee Rivero about $22MM in total, per Rosenthal. It also contains a pair of club options for his first two free-agent seasons. Certainly, the timing of the deal comes as something of a surprise. The Bucs only just recently announced the trade of longtime top starter Gerrit Cole, and mere hours ago the team reportedly agreed to trade face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen to the Giants in exchange for righty Kyle Crick and outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds. In some respects, the timing of the moves is reminiscent of the Pirates’ salary dump of Francisco Liriano, which was quickly followed up by an extension for veteran third baseman David Freese. The long-term deal for Rivero should somewhat reduce the sting of the loss of both McCutchen and Cole in the eyes of Pirates fans, though it’s nonetheless a difficult sequence of events for Pittsburgh faithful to stomach. While the extension for Rivero technically does enhance his trade value, it now seems unlikely that he’ll be moved anytime in the near future. The Bucs now have cost certainty over Rivero for more than half a decade, and his salary won’t even climb higher than $6MM until the 2021 campaign. The Pirates can assuredly hang onto Rivero for the foreseeable future and rest assured that he’ll retain plenty of trade value, barring a massive injury or unforeseen decline. The latter of those two scenarios seems unlikely, as Rivero has looked legitimately dominant since being acquired in the 2016 deadline trade that sent Melancon to the Nationals. (A trade that, much like Pittsburgh’s trade of Cole, emphasized MLB-ready talent with extended team control.) In 102 2/3 innings with the Pirates, Rivero has worked to a pristine 2.10 ERA with 11.1 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 and a grounder rate right around 50 percent. Rivero’s swinging-strike rate jumped to an enormous 15.8 percent, and his average fastball checked in north of 98 mph. Rivero figures to continue to hold down the ninth inning for the Pirates, anchoring a relief corps that features Daniel Hudson, George Kontos and A.J. Schugel. Pittsburgh’s bullpen will also very likely feature newly acquired righties Michael Feliz (picked up in the Cole trade) and Kyle Crick (McCutchen trade). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.[...]



Twins Designate Buddy Boshers For Assignment

2018-01-15T22:37:00+00:00

The Twins announced that they’ve designated left-handed reliever Buddy Boshers for assignment. His roster spot will go to right-hander Addison Reed, whose previously reported two-year, $16.75MM contract has been announced by the team. Boshers, 30 in May, parlayed a minor league deal with the Twins in the 2015-16 offseason into 71 innings of work and more…

The Twins announced that they’ve designated left-handed reliever Buddy Boshers for assignment. His roster spot will go to right-hander Addison Reed, whose previously reported two-year, $16.75MM contract has been announced by the team.

Boshers, 30 in May, parlayed a minor league deal with the Twins in the 2015-16 offseason into 71 innings of work and more than a year of service at the big league level. In parts of his two seasons with Minnesota, the southpaw turned in a 4.56 ERA. Boshers impressed with an 8.2 K/9 rate against 2.2 BB/9, but he’s also been somewhat homer-prone (1.3 HR/9). He’s also been clobbered by right-handed opponents in that time; while Boshers limited lefties to a lowly .231/.262/.345 batting line through 122 plate appearances, righties knocked him around at a .268/.330/.485 clip in 183 PAs.

Boshers does have a minor league option remaining and has had his share of success against left-handed opponents, so it’s possible that he latches on elsewhere as a potential lefty specialist. If not, he’ll return to a Twins organization where he’s now behind Taylor Rogers, offseason signee Zach Duke and young Gabriel Moya on the depth chart for left-handed relievers.

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Nationals, Howie Kendrick Agree To Two-Year Deal

2018-01-15T20:14:00+00:00

2:14pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the two sides have reached an agreement, pending a physical (Twitter links). The contract contains an additional $2.25MM worth of incentives that can be unlocked based on plate appearances. 10:01am: The Nationals are nearing a deal with infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via…2:14pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the two sides have reached an agreement, pending a physical (Twitter links). The contract contains an additional $2.25MM worth of incentives that can be unlocked based on plate appearances. 10:01am: The Nationals are nearing a deal with infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The prospective contract would promise the Reynolds Sports Management client $7MM over two years. If the contract is finalized, Kendrick will return to the place that he thrived in a late-season stint in 2017. His role is not immediately clear, but odds are he’ll see time around the infield as well as the corner outfield. Most importantly, perhaps, adding Kendrick will help the Nats ease the burden on All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy as he returns from microfracture surgery. In the aggregate, bringing back Kendrick at this price tag seems to make quite a lot of sense for the Nats. He represents a quality reserve and insurance policy at every position but short and center (along with the battery, of course). Star third baseman Anthony Rendon has had his share of nicks over the years. Outfielder Adam Eaton is returning from ACL surgery, so Kendrick can help reduce his wear-and-tear as well. Kendrick’s righty bat is a natural platoon match with Eaton and fellow corner outfielder Bryce Harper, each of whom hits from the left side, so he can readily spell either over the course of the season. [RELATED: Updated Nationals Depth Chart] MLBTR had predicted that Kendrick would get a two-year pact, but at a loftier overall guarantee ($12MM). That reflected not only his long history of solidly above-average production, much of it as a regular at second base, but also a quality output in the 2017 campaign. While he was banged up at times, Kendrick produced on both sides of the mid-season swap that sent him to Washington from the Phillies, ending the year with an overall .315/.368/.475 batting line through 334 plate appearance. And Kendrick has a lengthy record of durability before that. Between 2010 and 2014, Kendrick functioned as the Angeles’ everyday second bagger. He thrived without standing out in any one area, averaging a .288/.332/.420 batting line with 11 homers and twelve steals per year while generally grading as a plus in the field. After moving to the Dodgers in 2015, though, Kendrick’s defensive grades at his accustomed position slipped. That spurred a move to the corner outfield, where he has been viewed as a roughly average performer, in a 2016 season that was Kendrick’s worst at the plate since he established himself as a big leaguer. While the 2017 campaign represented something of a return to form, then, expectations will remain in check. Kendrick is already 34 years of age, after all. With the various cracks that have formed in his game, it’s not surprising to see him sign into a situation where he won’t be expected to play every day. Entering the winter, the Nats justifiably felt most of the pieces were in place for a strong 2018 roster. Even while exploring larger moves — none of which has yet come to fruition — the team has steadily added role players over the course of the winter. Kendrick joins [...]



Latest On Giants’ Pursuit Of Outfielders

2018-01-15T20:13:00+00:00

The Giants and Pirates are engaged in “serious talks” regarding outfielder Andrew McCutchen, according to Robert Murray and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). At the same time, San Francisco is said to have “gotten more serious” in discussions with free agent Lorenzo Cain, in the words of Henry Schulman of the San Francisco…The Giants and Pirates are engaged in “serious talks” regarding outfielder Andrew McCutchen, according to Robert Murray and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). At the same time, San Francisco is said to have “gotten more serious” in discussions with free agent Lorenzo Cain, in the words of Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter), though he also cautions the sides aren’t close to an agreement. It has long seemed possible that the Giants could end up landing either of these two veteran players. Certainly, the connections aren’t new. That reports have emerged on both in near proximity could be interpreted in various ways. Regarding McCutchen, the Pirates and Giants have reportedly discussed him in the past, though obviously nothing has come together to this point. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area looked at the connection today as well, including the fact that the San Francisco front office has hoped the Gerrit Cole trade might free up chatter on McCutchen, who is owed $14.5MM in his final season of contract control. Per Pavlovic, the Bucs’ demands to this point have been too rich for the Giants. It’s possible to view the offseason developments to date from both organizations as a lead-up to a deal involving McCutchen. The Giants, who’d rather not part with draft picks as compensation for signing a qualifying-offer-bound free agent, have already traded for Evan Longoria, so there’s little question they are pushing to return to contention in 2018. And the Pirates’ recent trade of Cole clearly indicates the organization is willing to move on from highly-paid stars. McCutchen has long seemed a more obvious trade piece than was Cole. At the same time, it’s too soon to rule out Cain. Both players could certainly fit on the same roster; at present, only Hunter Pence — himself a question mark after a shaky 2017 season — is firmly in place in the outfield. (Our sister site, Roster Resource, currently places Steven Duggar and Jarrett Parker atop the Giants depth chart in center and left.) Of course, doing so would mean ponying up significant cash as well as prospect assets. Even if the Giants were able to secure a nice price for Cain, they’d almost surely end up flying past the luxury line and he’d unquestionably require draft compensation. Getting Cutch, too, will require only a one-year commitment but will mean parting with at least some young assets.[...]



Justin Morneau To Retire, Join Twins As Special Assistant

2018-01-15T19:59:00+00:00

JANUARY 15: Morneau will indeed retire, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. He’s expected to hold a press conference to announce the move on Wednesday. JANUARY 9: Long-time Twins star Justin Morneau is slated to join the team as a special assistant, according to Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network (via Twitter). It would appear that the…JANUARY 15: Morneau will indeed retire, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. He’s expected to hold a press conference to announce the move on Wednesday. JANUARY 9: Long-time Twins star Justin Morneau is slated to join the team as a special assistant, according to Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network (via Twitter). It would appear that the decision spells the end of his playing days, though there’s no clear word yet of that. Morneau, 36, told Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca in late October that he was not ready to retire officially, but also seemingly acknowledged his playing career was likely over. At the time, Morneau said he had hoped to play in 2017 but had not been willing to go down to Triple-A and wait for a phone call. It has never seemed likely that the opportunities would improve over time, particularly now that Morneau did not play in the just-completed season. Entering the 2017 campaign, Morneau was already expressing some uncertainty about his future, though he also sounded like someone who wanted to carry on. Now, though, indications clearly are he’s moving on to other challenges in the baseball world. If this is indeed the end of the line, Morneau will end his career as one of the best and most productive players ever to hail from his native Canada. In the aggregate, the first baseman turned in 22.6 fWAR and 27.3 rWAR over his 14 MLB campaigns. He also earned just shy of $100MM, due in large part to a six-year, $80MM extension he struck with Minnesota in 2008. Of course, it’s hard not to ask what might have been. Morneau won the American League MVP Award in 2006 and went to the All-Star Game in each of the ensuing four seasons. As of mid-2010, he carried a lifetime .286/.358/.511 batting line. And he was then in the midst of his best season, boasting a whopping .345/.437/.618 output with 18 home runs through 81 games. Things changed suddenly when Morneau took a knee to the head in a collision at second base. The concussion he suffered knocked him out for the rest of the season and limited him to just 69 games in the ensuing campaign. While he was eventually able to return to above-average work at the plate, and even turned in a very strong 2014 season with the Rockies (.319/.364/.496), Morneau never fully regained his standing on the field. Injuries limited Morneau in 2015 and delayed his start to the 2016 campaign, when he signed a one-year deal with the White Sox after offseason elbow surgery. He ultimately managed only a .261/.303/.429 output for Chicago — respectable work for his age-35 season after so many travails, but not enough to drive interest from other organizations after the end of the season. Morneau also appeared in the World Baseball Classic in 2017, representing his fourth appearance for home country and perhaps his last competitive action on the field. In addition to the organizations already noted, Morneau spent a brief stretch with the Pirates in 2013, following his mid-season trade from the Twins. Clearly, Morneau will forever be associated with the Minnesota franchise, though, after 11 good years there. He was part of a core group that featured mainstays such as Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Joe [...]



Minor MLB Transactions: 1/15/18

2018-01-15T19:08:00+00:00

We’ll cover the day’s minor moves in this post … The Blue Jays have brought back second baseman Jon Berti on a minors deal, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). A former 18th-round pick who’ll soon turn 28, Berti will remain with the only professional organization he has played for. He has…

We’ll cover the day’s minor moves in this post …

  • The Blue Jays have brought back second baseman Jon Berti on a minors deal, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). A former 18th-round pick who’ll soon turn 28, Berti will remain with the only professional organization he has played for. He has appeared mostly in the upper minors for the past several seasons but hasn’t yet earned a promotion to the majors. In 237 Triple-A plate appearances in 2017, the fleet-footed Berti carried a .205/.271/.321 slash line with three home runs and 23 steals.
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Padres Extend Brad Hand

2018-01-15T18:32:00+00:00

MONDAY: Heyman has the full breakdown on Twitter. Hand will receive a $1.75MM signing bonus along with salaries of $3.5MM, $6.5MM, and $7MM in the three guaranteed years of the contract. SUNDAY: The Padres have officially announced the deal. SATURDAY, 7:15pm: Hand passed his physical, making the deal official, per Heyman. The club option is…MONDAY: Heyman has the full breakdown on Twitter. Hand will receive a $1.75MM signing bonus along with salaries of $3.5MM, $6.5MM, and $7MM in the three guaranteed years of the contract. SUNDAY: The Padres have officially announced the deal. SATURDAY, 7:15pm: Hand passed his physical, making the deal official, per Heyman. The club option is worth $10MM and comes with a $1MM buyout, Heyman adds (Twitter link). 9:54am: The Padres have agreed to terms on an extension with left-handed reliever Brad Hand, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It’s a three-year deal that also comes with a club option. Hand, who is represented by Matt Colleran, will be guaranteed $19.75MM, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. The deal is still pending a physical. At the end of the day yesterday, we noted that Hand’s arbitration case was still unresolved, and obviously we now understand why arbitration filing figures had not been reported. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports notes in his own tweet that both sides had filed at $3.6MM, indicating that extension talks had almost certainly progressed to a point where both sides were quite confident that a deal would get done. The pact, of course, means that the Padres will not need to worry about the arbitration process with their elite reliever again, as the deal is set to cover his final two arb years while giving the club at least one additional year of team control. The team option will allow the Padres up to four years of team control over the southpaw. As Rosenthal adds, that means he’ll be able to enter free agency prior to his age-32 season — though clearly this deal entailed a significant sacrifice of open-market earning upside in exchange for a life-changing guarantee. Hand has long been considered a valuable candidate, and his new contract seemingly makes it less likely that he’ll be traded this offseason (though his trade value may have actually increased due to the added team control). A while back, MLBTR profiled his potential trade value, noting that he could warrant a return similar to that which the Yankees received from the Indians for Andrew Miller. Instead, the Padres have found a way to keep him in the fold a bit longer… perhaps even into their next window of contention. The extension is another indication that a rebuilding Padres club could perhaps be gearing up for a return to contention. Earlier this winter, reports surfaced that the club had already made a seven-year contract offer to Eric Hosmer in the nine-figure range.  Contention window implications aside, keeping Hand in the fold for an extra season or two will help detract from the workload of a fairly young Padres rotation. Last season, their starters averaged 5 1/3 innings per start during the 2017 season, while Hand ranked 6th in the majors with 79 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. Many things could change over the course of the next two seasons, but retaining Hand amidst a bullpen full of question marks will have at least a small benefit to the pitching staff. The Marlins selected Hand in the second round of the 2008 draft. He came up through their system as a starter, but never gained much traction. Through the e[...]



Extension Records: Pending Free Agents & Other Veterans

2018-01-15T18:07:00+00:00

We have already looked at the record-setting pre-arbitration and mid-arbitration extensions. Today, we’ll turn to those contracts that were struck with players who had already reached their final season of team control, as well as those that were agreed upon with veterans who had already moved past six years of MLB service (even if they…We have already looked at the record-setting pre-arbitration and mid-arbitration extensions. Today, we’ll turn to those contracts that were struck with players who had already reached their final season of team control, as well as those that were agreed upon with veterans who had already moved past six years of MLB service (even if they had multiple contract years remaining at the time of the deal). You can explore more contracts beyond those we’ve covered with MLBTR’s Extension Tracker. Biggest Contract, 5+ Service Class Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: 7 years, $215MM (plus opt-out) If you’ve read through the prior two posts in this series, the gulf between position-player and pitching contracts really stands out. But hurlers close the gap with vigor once they drawn near to (or reach) the open market. Kershaw’s deal is the largest, understandably, but hardly the only example of a quality starter getting something in the realm of open-market money when entering or in the midst of their final season of team control. Stephen Strasburg ($175MM), Rick Porcello ($82.5MM), and Danny Duffy ($65MM) have all inked such deals in recent years, with Cole Hamels ($144MM) and Homer Bailey ($105MM) scoring notable prior contracts. Biggest Contract, 5+ Service Class Position Player Matt Kemp, Dodgers: 8 years, $160MM Interestingly, it has been quite some time since we’ve seen a 5+ service-class position player land a monster contract. Brett Gardner’s $52MM deal in early 2014 was the most notable since Andre Ethier ($85MM) and Miguel Montero ($60MM) in 2012. For really significant slugger contracts, you have to go back another year, when Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez ($154MM) got big bucks to forego the possibility of yet greater riches in free agency. At the time of his deal, Kemp was a 27-year-old who had just turned in an MVP-caliber campaign. This contract provides a notable marker for some high-quality players currently nearing free agency, should they agree to engage in talks. Biggest Contract, 6+ Veteran Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 8 years, $248MM (plus two options) In some regards, it’s not worthy considering veterans with over six years of service separately from 5+ players that are still in arbitration. Many (but not all) of the former group are, like the latter, just one season away from free agency. That said, there are some general differences — in particular, all highly-paid 6+ players have already sold at least one would-be free agent season — so we’ll break them out. Age is increasingly a factor at this point, though some 6+ players that agreed to earlier-career extensions have still wrangled new deals at young ages. For instance, Joe Mauer’s $184MM contract was signed before his age-27 season. The number of years on the odometer did not dissuade Detroit from re-upping Cabrera two seasons before his existing contract was set to run out. Questionable at the time, that decision is looking all the more troublesome after Cabrera stumbled in 2017. Other major contracts from this bucket include David Wright (link), Ryan Zimmerman (link), and Dustin Pedroia (link). Biggest Contract, 6+ Veteran [...]



RCL Update: Bring It In 2018

2018-01-15T18:02:00+00:00

Welcome Razzball Commenter Leagues friends to the preseason edition of the RCL update.  I can't wait to get leagues kicked off in 2018.  Football just doesn't satiate me the way fantasy baseball does and we have lots of excitement around the RCLs this year, as you'll see in a moment.  I’m not sure if this makes me sound like a total old fart or not, but in 2017 I discovered there’s a lot of great content on YouTube.  Pre 2017 I would only jump on YouTube to figure out how to do something on my vehicle, my lawnmower, my generator or some other small motor around my house that needed fixing.  One of my favorite finds of 2017 was/is the VlogBrothers YouTube channel, specifically the videos posted by John Green.  I’m a big fan of his books and discovered the channel while searching out a pre-order of his latest work.  A recent post of his was about a concept presented to him by his therapist.  The idea was to write a letter to yourself at the New Year stating what you will be leaving behind in the previous year and what you will be bringing to the coming year.  That inspired me to do something similar with this first RCL post.  There are some big changes coming to the RCLs this year and Razzball is looking for your input.  So, click below and see what we’re leaving in 2017 and what we’re bringing to 2018.  Make sure to cast a vote as we’ll be catering the RCLs to your wants and needs.  How cool is that?  Very!Welcome Razzball Commenter Leagues friends to the preseason edition of the RCL update.  I can't wait to get leagues kicked off in 2018.  Football just doesn't satiate me the way fantasy baseball does and we have lots of excitement around the RCLs this year, as you'll see in a moment.  I’m not sure if this makes me sound like a total old fart or not, but in 2017 I discovered there’s a lot of great content on YouTube.  Pre 2017 I would only jump on YouTube to figure out how to do something on my vehicle, my lawnmower, my generator or some other small motor around my house that needed fixing.  One of my favorite finds of 2017 was/is the VlogBrothers YouTube channel, specifically the videos posted by John Green.  I’m a big fan of his books and discovered the channel while searching out a pre-order of his latest work.  A recent post of his was about a concept presented to him by his therapist.  The idea was to write a letter to yourself at the New Year stating what you will be leaving behind in the previous year and what you will be bringing to the coming year.  That inspired me to do something similar with this first RCL post.  There are some big changes coming to the RCLs this year and Razzball is looking for your input.  So, click below and see what we’re leaving in 2017 and what we’re bringing to 2018.  Make sure to cast a vote as we’ll be catering the RCLs to your wants and needs.  How cool is that?  Very![...]



A Minor Review of 2017: Boston Red Sox

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

Things are bleak after graduating so much talent but Tanner Houck is interesting and Chad De La Guerra could be a solid role player.The Red Sox system has fallen on hard times but the good news is that the big league club is littered with young, impact talent. The pitching depth is pretty sparse. The Graduate: Andrew Benintendi, OF: After watching mutants like Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger perform as rookies in 2017, it would be easy to consider Benintendi’s season pretty modest. However, he was a 20-20 (HR-SB) threat and got on base at a regular clip thanks to a walk rate of more than 10%. His struggles against southpaws pulled down his overall numbers but he needs to continue to face them to round out his game. I’d also like him to show a little more sting in his bat as he might be more of a 12-15 homer guy without the juiced ball. The Stud: Michael Chavis, 3B: As mentioned above, the system is thin and it lacks true impact players. Chavis had a breakout 2017 season and hit 31 home runs but it remains to be seen just how good of a hitter he really is. He needs to improve his approach at the plate and show better pitch selection and patience. Chavis, 22, has a very strong arm, which gives him a shot to stick at third base, but the presence of Rafael Devers could push the double-A infielder to the outfield (not that there’s an opening there, either). From an offensive profile, he might be the next Adam Duvall. The Draft Pick: Tanner Houck, RHP: The Blue Jays tried to nab Houck out of high school but he was considered all but unsignable. After three years in college, the big right-hander received some early first round consideration but he ultimately slid to the Sox at the 24th slot. There are concerns that his overall package is not polished enough to stick as a starter but I don’t share those concerns. His heater has a chance to work in the upper 90s and should produce a good number of ground-ball outs. Because it’s so good, he only needs the slider and changeup to be average. If they improve from there, he moves from a potential No. 3 guy to a No. 1 or 2. The Riser: Mike Shawaryn, RHP: This 2016 fifth round draft pick has moved quickly through the system and could open 2018 in double-A. He has three slightly-above-average offerings and above-average control, which could allow him to develop into an innings-eating No. 3 or 4 starter. Shawaryn is not flashy but he’s the type of arm that champion teams need to help chew up innings. The Sleeper: Lorenzo Cedrola, OF: Cedrola catches my eye as a player that can really, really hit but he may never be strong enough to be more than a fourth or fifth outfielder. He has enough speed to be a nuisance on the bases and a strong fielder in center. His slight frame makes projecting increased strength difficult and he could end up being similar to Carlos Tocci (who was recently nabbed in the Rule 5 draft). If Cedrola can get stronger and can learn to take more free passes to utilize his speed, he becomes an intriguing future bench option for Boston. Another Sleeper: Chad De La Guerra, IF: I’m tacking on De La Guerra because I wanted to write a few words about him. He reminds me of Darwin Barney (without the plus glove) — a guy with some offensive potential that’s not quite good enough to be an everyday guy… although he could probably handle it as an injury fill-in for a few months. He has good line-drive pop geared for the gaps and should produce a solid [...]



Reality as a Fantasy Lesson

2018-01-15T15:15:00+00:00

The Gerrit Cole trade perfectly demonstrates a common fantasy mistake.One of the most basic concepts in any economic system is supply and demand. Even if the nitty gritty details are a bit fuzzy, the general idea is simple – a given widget’s value depends upon how many similar widgets exist and how many people want that widget. If there are more people than widgets – it’s expensive. If there are more widgets than people, it’s cheap. You get it. Now that I’ve insulted your intelligence by crudely explaining supply and demand, let’s get to today’s real topic. Occasionally, a fantasy owner will decide they want to sell a specific player in a specific time period. In my observance, this usually leads to a suboptimal return. It’s always best to sell when there is peak demand for your asset. If you have to push the deal uphill, chances are you’re coming out on the wrong side of it. Reality has supplied us with a fantastic example. Reality as Fantasy Lesson The other day, the Pirates dealt Gerrit Cole in a seemingly questionable trade. As I wrote on twitter, the total valuation –  Joe Musgrove, Colin Moran, Michael Feliz, and Jason Martin – smells fine. But I wonder if those are the best specific fits for the Pirates. Could the Pirates have gotten something a little more top heavy out of the Yankees? Perhaps Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Domingo German? That’s roughly the same quantity of value, but it’s arrayed in a much more favorable configuration for the Pirates. It’s safe to assume the Yankees didn’t offer anything like this to the Pirates. In fact, given what the Pirates accepted, I suspect the Astros were the only actively engaged team. Other teams were certainly keeping tabs on Cole’s availability, but the marketplace is flush. Nobody has an incentive to put forward their best offer when they have a half dozen free agent alternatives along with plenty of trade candidates. The Pirates, I believe, were right to trade Cole as soon as possible – before offseason conditioning had a chance to turn into a spring training injury. With just two years left until free agency, a twinge in Cole’s elbow could have zeroed out his value to Pittsburgh. I totally get why they accepted the first “good enough” offer. The stakes are very high in the real world. For us fantasy players, we can afford to take a chance since we know the downside is small. If Cole blew up on the Pirates, it would have cost them $10s of millions of dollars. For us, it might cost $10s of dollars. And he’s not definitely going to be injured – that’s “just” a 40 to 50 percent chance per season. A lot of those potential injuries are relatively tame. If the Pirates made a mistake, it had to do with timing. Presently, the supply of high quality pitchers is such that everybody who wants one is pretty sure they’ll get one. Maybe they’d prefer Yu Darvish or Cole to Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, but there appear to be enough seats for everybody in this round of musical chairs. The Astros were able to benefit from a first mover advantage. Now the market for everybody else is just a little bit tighter. Had the Pirates waited for Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Cobb, and Lynn to sign, they might have found demand to be more robust. At this rate, we might not have a resolution on those pitchers until March. But as long as [...]



The Pittsburgh Pirates trade Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros

2018-01-15T15:00:00+00:00

The Pirates finally pulled off the trade, but they should have held on to Cole for a better return. “I believe that it is very unlikely that we will see a trade this lopsided again anytime soon. Front offices are too smart nowadays. They understand player value.“ That was written at the end of my trade retrospective of the Wil Myers trade. That take didn’t even last a week! While the Gerrit Cole trade does not rise to that level, it is certainly an uneven exchange of talent. After a false alarm about a week ago, the Pirates traded Cole to the Houston Astros in return for Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, and Jason Martin. A Houston rotation that ranked in the top five in runs allowed and DRA just got better and now has a ridiculous level of depth. The Pirates were not even able to get a player that is likely to land on a top-100 prospect list when the updated rankings are released. The PIrates chose Cole with the number one overall pick in 2011. As a high velocity pitcher with good secondary stuff, he was seen as having ‘ace’ upside. He debuted in June 2013 and missed time due to injury in 2014, so he did not pitch a full season until 2015. Although he was not an ace that season, he was very good. He had a 3.07 RA9, 24.3 K%, and 5.3 BB%, all of which are career bests. The 2016 season saw Cole struggle with injuries, and he made only 21 starts. He was by no means bad, but his run average shot up to a 4.42 RA9 and his strikeout rate dropped below 20 percent. What is especially disappointing is that Cole made 33 start last season and barely amassed more value than he did in his injury plagued 2016 season. His strikeout rate rose back up to his career rate, but he lost all ability to keep the ball in the park. Going into the 2017 season, Cole had a career 1.5 HR%, but that number more than doubled in 2017 to 3.7 percent. His homer to fly ball ratio was also over double his career rate. Even the lively ball does not explain that trend. With the quality and depth of the Astros’ rotation, Cole’s impact will be minimal if he is no better than he was in 2017. The team might be a win or two better. That in addition to the depth they are getting is a great return for the lower level prospects that they are parting with. I can’t imagine that Cole will be anywhere close to that homer prone in 2018, but it appears that it depressed his trade value considerably. Cole is a mid-rotation starter with top of the rotation upside and two years left on his rookie contract. He is making only $6.75 million in 2018 and will probably barely crack $10 million in 2019. At this level of compensation, a trade should have included at least one blue chip prospect. The Pirates could not even get a player that projects to me more than an everyday regular. That potential everyday player is Colin Moran. Of the prospects included in this trade, Moran ranked the highest at Baseball Prospectus, though still only at ninth in the system. No other player included in this trade was ranked. Moran raked in Triple A, hitting .301/.369/.532, but he repeated the level and he played in the Pacific Coast League, which is a hitter’s paradise. Both his bat and his glove will make playing third base a challenge. If he has to move to first base, he is really going to be in trouble, as it’s doubtful he has the bad to justify being at first. With the Pirates having a need at third base an[...]



MLBTR Poll: Grading The Gerrit Cole Swap

2018-01-15T14:25:00+00:00

Gerrit Cole is a highly visible player — a former first overall pick who landed fourth in the National League Cy Young vote in 2015 — so it’s natural there will be strong opinions about the return he drew in the recent swap between the Pirates and Astros. We have already seen a variety of…Gerrit Cole is a highly visible player — a former first overall pick who landed fourth in the National League Cy Young vote in 2015 — so it’s natural there will be strong opinions about the return he drew in the recent swap between the Pirates and Astros. We have already seen a variety of industry opinions pour in (see here, here, here, and here), but I thought it’d be worth taking the temperature of the MLBTR readership. There’s little reason to full describe the elements of the agreement. (MLBTR’s Conny Byrne discussed all relevant elements in detail in his post on the Cole trade.) But here’s a brief account for purposes of facilitating today’s poll: Astros receive: 2 years of control over SP Gerrit Cole ($6.75MM for 2018; arbitration for 2019) — following aforementioned 2015 season, Cole was limited by injury in 2016 and pitched to a 4.26 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in a healthy 2017 season Pirates receive: 4 years of control over RP Michael Feliz — carries 5.13 ERA (allowing 1.5 HR/9) through 121 MLB innings, but has averaged 12.8 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 5 years of control over SP/RP Joe Musgrove — former first-round pick has been tagged for a .288/.339/.506 slash and 5.37 ERA over 25 MLB starts, but worked to a 1.26 ERA with 39:6 K/BB ratio in 35 2/3 innings last year after moving to the bullpen 6 years of control over 3B Colin Moran — former sixth overall draft pick slashed .308/.373/.543 with 18 home runs in 338 plate appearances at Triple-A last year, but has yet to receive significant time in the majors 6 years of control over OF Jason Martin — 22-year-old reached Double-A for first time in 2017, slashing .273/.319/.483 with 11 home runs in 320 plate appearances Since there are two teams involved with their own set of needs, we’ll ask for grades from each organization’s perspective. For Pittsburgh, clearly, the move was designed to add multiple assets that can deliver value over a longer time frame. If even one of these players really succeeds, it could end up standing as a win. Also of note: the Bucs are said to have passed up a chance at gaining one higher-grade prospect (Clint Frazier of the Yankees) in order to add several contributors. (Poll link for app users.) Take Our PollOn the Houston side, it’s all the more clear. The team resisted parting with its own blue-chip prospects, but gave a variety of useful pieces up to acquire just two seasons of Cole. If one views him as even a quality and durable mid-rotation starter, and does not think the assets parted with will come back to haunt the ’Stros, then this could be seen as a bargain. On the other hand, there are some questions surrounding Cole and it is not difficult to imagine one or more of the more controllable assets sent to Pittsburgh delivering greater value than will Cole’s final two arb years. (Poll link for app users.) Take Our Poll[...]



2018 Preseason Rankings: Top 15 Second Basemen: Is Yoan Moncada A Top 10 Option & More

2018-01-15T11:00:00+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Remember the days when second base was viewed more as a “weaker” position, as there were few productive options available.  That’s hardly the case now, with impressive potential up and down the rankings (including someone like Jason Kipnis, who was a Topby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Remember the days when second base was viewed more as a “weaker” position, as there were few productive options available.  That’s hardly the case now, with impressive potential up and down the rankings (including someone like Jason Kipnis, who was a Top 10 option as recently as last year but fell short of the rankings).  Who are the players to target?  Who are the ones with the highest upside?  Let’s take a look: 1. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros 2. Jose Ramirez – Cleveland Indians 3. Brian Dozier – Minnesota Twins 4. Daniel Murphy – Washington Nationals 5. Dee Gordon – Seattle Mariners 6. Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles 7. Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals 8. Robinson Cano – Seattle Mariners 9. Ian Kinsler – Los Angeles Angels 10. Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers 11. Jonathan Villar – Milwaukee Brewers 12. Yoan Moncada – Chicago White Sox 13. D.J. LeMahieu – Colorado Rockies 14. Chris Taylor – Los Angeles Dodgers 15. Ozzie Albies – Atlanta Braves Thoughts: The hype is going to continue to be there for Yoan Moncada, and no one is going to argue that he doesn’t bring an intriguing mix of power and speed. The problem is that he continues to struggle making consistent contact.  In 231 PA in ’17 he posted a 32.0% strikeout rate, as he struggled against breaking balls (19.27% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (27.01%).  He does draw walks, and his value will be significantly higher in OBP formats (something we’ll discuss in detail), but his overall potential would be much higher if he can cut down the strikeouts. Rougned Odor isn’t likely going to produce a great average, as he hasn’t displayed a good approach at the plate (12.9% SwStr%, 38.3% O-Swing%). That led to strikeouts (24.9%) and a lack of line drives (16.3%), but a .224 BABIP?  He should improve upon that while bringing power and speed (30/15), and even a .250 AVG would be more than enough. Would it be a surprise to see Ozzie Albies emerge as one of the better options in ’18? He hit .286 with 6 HR and 8 SB over 244 PA as a 20-year old and he could quickly mature into a 15/25 type player.  For an in-depth look at why we believe in his breakout potential, click here. There’s a lot to like about Whit Merrifield, and with him likely staying atop the Royals (despite a lack of walks) he should continue producing. Of course the team is clearly in a rebuilding mode, and barring a surprising return of its core free agents the lineup around him doesn’t seem likely to produce many runs scored.  Just know the risk. Jonathan Villar was a bitter disappointment in ’17, but he appears primed to get another opportunity to start and potentially claim the leadoff spot for a solid Brewers’ lineup. With speed harder to find, he remains an intriguing option with significant upside (though there is also obvious risk). ** P[...]



Top 10 for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

2018-01-15T08:01:00+00:00

  I sure wish Grey would do his 2018 fantasy baseball rankings.  Wait, I am Grey and this is those rankings!  AHHHHH!!!  I need to sit down.  Wait, I am sitting!!!  I can’t handle all of this!!!  I’m going to put on a pair of pants and go dance in the street.  Meh, let’s be honest, pants are a chore.  So, this is the greatest day ever!  Now, only 400,000 words more until I finish my top 500 and I’ll be done.  Worst day ever!  Damn, that excitement was fleeting.  Well, not for you because you don’t have to write all the rankings.  You lucky son of a gun!  I wish I were you… *wavy lines*  Hey, why am I balding and have lost all definition in my buttocks?  *wavy lines*  Hmm, I’m gonna stay me.  Now before we get into the top 10 for 2018 fantasy baseball (though I imagine every single one of you has skipped this intro paragraph), I’m gonna lay down some exposition.  Here’s where you follow us on Twitter.  Here’s where you follow us on Facebook.  Here’s our fantasy baseball player rater.  Here’s our fantasy baseball team name generator.  Here is all of our 2018 fantasy baseball rankings.  Here’s the position eligibility chart for 2018 fantasy baseball.  And here is a picture of my son.  What a punim!  You may not get all of those links in such a handy, easy-to-use format ever again this year, so make proper note.  (Unless you just go to the top menu on this page that says “Rankings” and click it, but semantics, my over-the-internet friend, semantics.)  Also, as you might've noticed upfront, this year we're dipping our big toe into video.  Yes, we only have one big toe, it is not plural.  The preseason videos will be more rankings flotsam that washed up into my brain. They're also animated to reach that target 7-12 demographic.  That's not 7 to 12-year-olds, that's the 7 to 12 adult males that enjoy animation.  If the preseason videos are met with enthusiasm, we'll continue into the season. Now my expositional half insists I breakdown some generalizations about these 2018 fantasy baseball rankings.  The 2018 fantasy baseball rankings will be an ever-evolving mass like the blob.  This fantasy baseball top 10 for 2018 list is as of right now and could potentially change with a big injury or Mike Trout quitting baseball because he’s bored with being the best and wants to play competitive Mahjong.  (I’m not sure yet where Trout would rank in my Mahjong Top 10.)  So while it is the 2018 fantasy baseball gospel, take it with a tablet of salt.  Tomorrow we will cover the rest of the top twenty for 2018 fantasy baseball, then we will go around the horn with a top 20 (more like 50) list for every position.  Then for pitchers and outfielders, I’ll turn the dial to 100 (more like 140).  Listed with each player are my 2018 projections.  Did I consult with anyone else who does projections?  It would be ignorant not to, but, in the end, these are my projections.  Players need 5 games started at a position to get included in the positiona[...]



Quick Hits: Yanks, Pirates, C. Frazier, BoSox, JBJ, Kinsler

2018-01-15T05:55:00+00:00

The Yankees were reportedly willing to part with outfield prospect Clint Frazier in a trade for then-Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole earlier this offseason, but no deal come together between the teams. Although Pittsburgh ended up trading Cole to Houston on Saturday for a four-player package, the Pirates valued Frazier over everyone they got back from…The Yankees were reportedly willing to part with outfield prospect Clint Frazier in a trade for then-Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole earlier this offseason, but no deal come together between the teams. Although Pittsburgh ended up trading Cole to Houston on Saturday for a four-player package, the Pirates valued Frazier over everyone they got back from the Astros, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic. However, the Pirates liked the package they got from the Astros better than the offers the Yankees made, including a final pitch from the Bombers that consisted of three prospects, per Bowden (Twitter link). More from around the game… While Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has been popular in trade rumors this offseason, they’re not going to deal him, Peter Gammons of The Athletic writes (subscription required/highly recommended). Boston’s front office regards Bradley as one of the team’s most important players, as it places great value on his “elite” defense and leadership, Gammons details. When the Angels agreed to acquire Ian Kinsler from the Tigers in December, the second baseman had the Halos on his 10-team no-trade list. Kinsler explained to Katie Strang of The Athletic (subscription required/highly recommended) that it was “because of tax reasons.” He also pointed out that taxes led him to put the other California teams and both New York clubs on his no-trade list. Kinsler still waived his NTC for the Angels, though, thanks in part to the presence of good friend and teammate Justin Upton (whom he played with in Detroit). Kinsler revealed that the Halos were the only one of the 10 clubs for which he’d have waived his limited no-trade rights. His interview with Strang is worth checking out in full, as it includes Kinsler’s thoughts on prospects, new teammates Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, and the Tigers, among other subjects. There are “ongoing” talks regarding pace of play between MLB and the MLBPA, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Commissioner Rob Manfred sent the players a formal proposal to consider, Rosenthal adds. The two sides met on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. While Olney regards their dialogue as a positive sign, he notes that MLB has the ability to impose whichever rules it wants, thus giving it all the leverage in negotiations. So, even if talks aren’t constructive, Olney at least expects the league to implement a 20-second pitch clock and limit mound meetings in 2018. [...]



Brewers Sign Ji-Man Choi To Minor League Deal

2018-01-15T04:55:00+00:00

The Brewers have signed first baseman/outfielder Ji-Man Choi to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, his agency announced (via Naver Sports; h/t: Sung Min Kim of River Ave Blues, on Twitter). Choi’s deal comes with an $850K salary if he makes the Brewers’ roster and a chance to earn $650K more…

The Brewers have signed first baseman/outfielder Ji-Man Choi to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, his agency announced (via Naver Sports; h/t: Sung Min Kim of River Ave Blues, on Twitter). Choi’s deal comes with an $850K salary if he makes the Brewers’ roster and a chance to earn $650K more in incentives.

To this point, the 26-year-old Choi hasn’t done much in the majors, having batted .181/.279/.386 in 147 plate appearances. While Choi struggled across 129 PAs as an Angel in 2016, he was terrific over a much smaller sample with the Yankees last year, when he slashed .267/.333/.733 in 18 trips to the plate. The lefty-swinger spent the majority of the season with the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate and hit a robust .288/.373/.538 in 338 PAs.

On the heels of Choi’s strong showing in 2017, the Yankees were among a slew of clubs that offered him a contract. He’ll instead head to Milwaukee to vie for a big league role, though a path to immediate playing time at his positions isn’t evident. The Brewers have Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar at first base, Choi’s primary spot, and they’re loaded with outfielders.

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NL Notes: Giants, L. Cain, Pirates, Musgrove, Cards, Ozuna

2018-01-15T03:35:00+00:00

The Giants aren’t dead set against signing a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer, general manager Bobby Evans said this week (via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Ideally, Evans would rather not sign a player attached to draft pick compensation, though he “all but said” that the Giants are “talking…The Giants aren’t dead set against signing a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer, general manager Bobby Evans said this week (via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Ideally, Evans would rather not sign a player attached to draft pick compensation, though he “all but said” that the Giants are “talking to” center fielder and QO recipient Lorenzo Cain, Schulman reports. In adding Cain, who’s likely to ink one of this winter’s biggest contracts, the Giants would lose two 2018 draft picks (their second- and fifth-highest selections) and $1MM of international bonus pool space. More from the National League… The four-player return the Pirates got from the Astros for right-hander Gerrit Cole is “brutal,” one evaluator told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The evaluator believes that righties Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz have value as relievers, but he regards third baseman Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin as “throw-in types.” Meanwhile, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke to an evaluator who sees Musgrove as a potential No. 4 starter. (Twitter link.) However, the evaluator wonders if the 25-year-old is better suited to come out of the bullpen – something he did with great success in 2017. Musgrove, for his part, expects to start in Pittsburgh. Speaking with Mark Berman of Fox 26 about Saturday’s trade, Musgrove said: “Over the past 12 hours I’ve become more clear-minded about what’s happening here. I think it’s a good move for me. It’s a chance to go to an organization and get back in the rotation and try to help them build something special. Anytime I’m traded for a guy like Gerrit Cole, they’ve got big plans for me, and I plan on filling those big shoes” (Twitter links here). Cardinals president John Mozeliak informed the Associated Press and other media this weekend that they’re continuing to “explore” ways to improve, though he’s confident in their current roster. Mozeliak is “hesitant” to surrender prospects for players who are low on team control, the AP writes. The Cards did make that type of trade last month, though, acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna’s two years of control from Miami in exchange for four prospects. Ozuna discussed his reaction to the deal this weekend, telling Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com and other reporters: “The first thing I heard [was] they were going to trade me to the Oakland A’s. I said, ’God, please, leave me over here.’ Then I heard they traded me to the Cardinals, and I said, ’OK, thanks.'” [...]



Looking For A Match In A Starlin Castro Trade

2018-01-15T01:48:00+00:00

Middle infielder Starlin Castro has collected four All-Star appearances, 1,280 hits and a rich contract since he made his major league debut in 2010. It’s fair to say Castro has lived pretty well during his big league tenure, then, though team success has been difficult to come by for the 27-year-old. Castro spent the first…Middle infielder Starlin Castro has collected four All-Star appearances, 1,280 hits and a rich contract since he made his major league debut in 2010. It’s fair to say Castro has lived pretty well during his big league tenure, then, though team success has been difficult to come by for the 27-year-old. Castro spent the first six years of his career with the Cubs, who only went to the playoffs once during that span. That season, 2015, proved to be Castro’s last in Chicago, which traded him to the Yankees during the ensuing winter. Less than a year later, Wrigleyville celebrated its first World Series title in 108 years. The Yankees didn’t qualify for the playoffs in Castro’s first year in the Bronx, but they bounced back to play deep into October last season and take the eventual champion Astros to seven games in the ALCS. That looked like the beginning of what could be a long run of success for the talent-packed Yankees, but it was also the end of Castro’s run with them. Not only did the Yankees trade Castro after the season, dealing him and two prospects to the Marlins for 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, but they sent him to a team that hasn’t won in years and won’t in the near future. The Stanton trade was primarily a payroll-cutting move by Miami, which later shipped fellow star outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals. Now in the early stages of an extensive rebuild, the Marlins’ already lengthy playoff drought (14 years) is likely to drag on for at least a few more seasons. Castro, having had his fill of losing, would reportedly like to leave the Marlins before ever taking the field as a member of the franchise. With a guaranteed $22MM left on his contract through 2019, his only hope of escaping the Marlins in the near term is via trade. It’s unclear whether the Marlins are interested in dealing him, but it stands to reason they’re open to it, given that slashing costs seems to be the main motivation of neophyte owners Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter right now. The trouble is that obvious fits for Castro, a longtime shortstop who lined up exclusively at second base as a Yankee, are hard to find. His All-Star nods notwithstanding, Castro has been more of an average player than a high-impact one in the majors, having slashed .282/.320/.413 (97 wRC+, 98 OPS+) and totaled 14.2 fWAR/13.5 rWAR across 4,847 plate appearances. His contract offers little to no surplus value, then, and there simply isn’t much league-wide demand right now at either short or second (where similarly valuable players in Eduardo Nunez and Neil Walker are still free agents). Signs seem to point to Castro opening 2018 with the Marlins, but we’ll run it down team by team and try to find an ideal club for him, beginning with last year’s playoff qualifiers: Read more Astros – Five words: Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Cubs – Wit[...]



Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Yelich, Yu, Cole, Bucs, Moustakas, Cards

2018-01-15T00:22:00+00:00

This week in baseball blogs… Fish Stripes explores a potential Marlins-Braves trade involving Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. Everything Bluebirds ponders whether the Blue Jays should give up a haul for Yelich. Chin Music Baseball ranks Yu Darvish’s top five potential landing spots. Pirates Breakdown wonders how effective the Bucs’ rotation will be without Gerrit…This week in baseball blogs… Fish Stripes explores a potential Marlins-Braves trade involving Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. Everything Bluebirds ponders whether the Blue Jays should give up a haul for Yelich. Chin Music Baseball ranks Yu Darvish’s top five potential landing spots. Pirates Breakdown wonders how effective the Bucs’ rotation will be without Gerrit Cole. STL Hat Trick argues that the Cardinals should steer clear of Mike Moustakas. The Point of Pittsburgh has developed an algorithm to incorporate minor league stats for hitters and pitchers onto the 20-80 scouting scale. Good Fundies and Mets Daddy respond to the team’s reunion with Jay Bruce. Camden Depot looks at a potential contract extension for Jonathan Schoop. FSH Baseball has high hopes for new Mariners center fielder Dee Gordon. The Runner Sports (links: 1, 2, 3) opines that the Yankees shouldn’t sign Darvish, reacts to the Twins’ hiring of Justin Morneau as a special assistant, and profiles Astros prospect J.J. Matijevic. Medium sees Jonathan Lucroy as a worthwhile target for the Blue Jays. The Giants Cove is impressed with the Padres’ hiring of longtime FanGraphs guru Dave Cameron. Bronx To Bushville explains why the Brewers’ quiet offseason could pay off later. The Sports Tank isn’t thrilled with the offseason the Red Sox are having. East Village Times highlights the best and worst of the A.J. Preller era in San Diego. The Loop Sports would like to see the Cubs give Mike Montgomery a real chance to start. Blue Jays Beat takes an in-depth look at the newest member of the team, Yangervis Solarte. District On Deck names five Scott Boras clients to watch for the Nationals. Off The Bench regards A’s first baseman Matt Olson as the game’s least predictable player. Call to the Pen focuses on the Phillies’ pitching plans. Pinstriped Prospects recaps the Yankees’ offseason to this point and writes about some potential moves they could still make. 216Stitches believes MLB teams could hurt themselves by slow playing the market. Believeland Ball finds the perfect everyday lineup for the Cleveland Indians in 2018. Rox Pile hopes Rockies first base prospect Ryan McMahon bursts on the scene in Cody Bellinger-esque fashion. Jays From the Couch remains bullish on Devon Travis. The K Zone chats with Brewers pitching prospect Corbin Burnes. Real McCoy Minor News profiles Indians prospects Logan Ice and Triston McKenzie. Notes from the Sally previews the 2018 Delmarva Shorebirds, the Orioles’ South Atlantic League affiliates. Clubhouse Corner’s Bernie Pleskoff offers his Arizona Spring Training Guide. BP Toronto encourages Blue Jays fans to embrace the uncertainty of the offseason. DiNardo’s Dugout answers listeners’ questions via Facebook L[...]



The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 516 – Houston, We Have a Gerrit.

2018-01-14T23:05:01+00:00

Paul and Jason break down the Gerrit Cole trades, cover some other recent signings (including Addison Reed), and dive in on Dylan Bundy's outlook.

1/14/17

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 18, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER18!

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Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play

Strategy Section: SP Deep Dive

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

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

Approximately 39 minutes of joyous analysis.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 516 – Houston, We Have a Gerrit.

2018-01-14T23:05:00+00:00

Paul and Jason break down the Gerrit Cole trades, cover some other recent signings (including Addison Reed), and dive in on Dylan Bundy's outlook.

1/14/17

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 18, the best baseball strategy game ever made – available NOW on PC, Mac, and Linux platforms! Go to ootpdevelopments.com to order now and save 10% with the code SLEEPER18!

Follow us on Twitter

Notable Transactions/Rumors/Articles/Game Play

Strategy Section: SP Deep Dive

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

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

Approximately 39 minutes of joyous analysis.

(image)



Poll: Which Team Will Sign Yu Darvish?

2018-01-14T22:14:00+00:00

Two-plus months into what has been an abnormal MLB offseason, right-hander Yu Darvish remains one of several high-profile players without a contract. In general, the open market hasn’t been kind to rotation pieces this winter, as righty Tyler Chatwood’s fairly modest deal with the Cubs (three years, $38MM) ranks as the largest guarantee given to…Two-plus months into what has been an abnormal MLB offseason, right-hander Yu Darvish remains one of several high-profile players without a contract. In general, the open market hasn’t been kind to rotation pieces this winter, as righty Tyler Chatwood’s fairly modest deal with the Cubs (three years, $38MM) ranks as the largest guarantee given to a starter thus far. He signed that pact Dec. 7, and it seemed unthinkable then that every one of the elite free agent starters – Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn – would still be available over a month later. And yet, all are without teams on Jan. 14. Darvish is likely the best of the bunch, someone MLBTR predicted would land a six-year, $160MM contract entering the offseason, and has drawn the most headlines of the group this winter. Earlier this week, the 31-year-old top-of-the-rotation arm was reportedly deciding among six teams – the Rangers and Dodgers (his two previous employers) as well as the Yankees, Twins, Cubs and Astros. Houston is probably out of the race after acquiring righty Gerrit Cole from the Pirates on Saturday, thus giving the reigning World Series champions yet another quality starter in a rotation packed with them. The Yankees and Twins were also among teams with interest in Cole this offseason, though the former isn’t necessarily in dire need of help in their rotation. With Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery comprising the Yankees’ starting quintet, general manager Brian Cashman likely doesn’t feel an urgency to splurge on anyone via free agency or trade. The Yankees don’t seem to be in position to reel in Darvish anyway, of course, as their goal of staying under the $197MM competitive balance tax threshold in 2018 looks like a major roadblock in this situation. Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link) estimates that the Yankees have already committed around $167MM to 15 players, which makes a Darvish signing a long shot even if he inks a deal for significantly less than our roughly $27MM-per-year forecast. In an ideal world for the Yankees, they’d be able to dump a sizable portion of reserve outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s $68.4MM on someone to create spending room, but that’s a tall order. Unlike the Yankees, both the Twins and Rangers clearly need to bolster their rotations prior to the upcoming season. Minnesota managed its first playoff berth since 2010 last year, but it did so with little in the way of answers beyond Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios in its starting staff. And now, with no money on the books past the 2019 season, the small-market Twins are in position to make a splash. Their front office also happens to include GM Thad Levine, who w[...]



Quick Hits: Nationals, Atkins, Donaldson, Giants

2018-01-14T20:21:00+00:00

The competitive balance tax has been a significant offseason storyline, most notably in regards to big-market teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants are all looking to stay under the threshold this winter in order to reset their tax costs and further position them for bigger spending next offseason and beyond.  While much has been…The competitive balance tax has been a significant offseason storyline, most notably in regards to big-market teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants are all looking to stay under the threshold this winter in order to reset their tax costs and further position them for bigger spending next offseason and beyond.  While much has been made about the value of avoiding the tax, MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman notes that the actual financial cost is pretty minimal for teams (like the Nationals) who barely exceed the threshold.  For instance, the Nats’ current $199.2MM payroll puts them $2.2MM over the tax line, putting D.C. in line for a 30% tax on the overage since this would be the club’s second straight year over the threshold.  Since only the overage is taxed, however, the Nationals would only be paying an extra $660K.  Zuckerman figures that a contending team like Washington shouldn’t have any issue in paying a bit extra tax money in order to acquire a pricey trade addition during the season, especially if that player ends up helping the Nats finally enjoy some postseason success. Some more from around the baseball world… Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins declined to say whether or not the team discussed a long-term deal with Josh Donaldson before the two sides settled on Donaldson’s 2018 contract, Atkins told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and other reporters.  Both the third baseman and the team have been quiet about what extension talks (if any) have taken place, which has only led to trade speculation as Donaldson enters the last year of his deal.  Toronto aims to contend this season, however, so it doesn’t seem like a Donaldson trade would happen until the July deadline, if at all.  The two sides already collaborated on one tricky negotiation — the $23MM Donaldson will earn in 2018, a single-year record for an arbitration-eligible player.  Davidi’s piece also contains quotes from Atkins on the Blue Jays’ other arbitration cases, plus Davidi’s estimation that the team has roughly $20MM left in payroll space to spend on further upgrades. In his latest Insider-only piece, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines that the Giants’ desire to avoid giving up draft picks to sign qualifying offer-rejecting free agents may be short-sighted.  San Francisco’s veteran-heavy roster is built to win now, and signing the likes of a Lorenzo Cain would do wonders for the troubled Giants outfield, adding more immediate help than the theoretical value of the second-round pick the club would have be surrendering in order to sign Cain. Also from Olney, he hears from front office executives that teams aren’t willing to overpay for the nebulous[...]



Pirates Designate Shane Carle, Engelb Vielma

2018-01-14T18:10:00+00:00

The Pirates have designated right-hander Shane Carle and shortstop Engelb Vielma for assignment, as per a team announcement.  The moves will create roster space for the newly-acquired players from yesterday’s Gerrit Cole trade. This is the second time in less than a month that Carle has been sent to DFA limbo, as the righty was…

The Pirates have designated right-hander Shane Carle and shortstop Engelb Vielma for assignment, as per a team announcement.  The moves will create roster space for the newly-acquired players from yesterday’s Gerrit Cole trade.

This is the second time in less than a month that Carle has been sent to DFA limbo, as the righty was previously designated by the Rockies in late December before being claimed by Pittsburgh.  Carle has a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, and 2.27 K/BB rate over 527 1/3 career innings in the minors, which includes 179 1/3 frames pitching in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.  The 26-year-old made his MLB debut last season, tossing four innings over three appearances for Colorado.

It has already been a whirlwind of transactional activity for Vielma for the last five months, as the infielder has gone from the Twins to the Giants to the Phillies and then to the Pirates on a series of waiver claims.  Vielma has only a .256/.316/.302 slash line over 2171 minor league plate appearances (all in Minnesota’s farm system), as he has been more known for his slick glove.  Vielma has spent the bulk of his career as a shortstop, though he has also seen significant time at second and third base.

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NL Central Notes: Colome, Cards, Holland, Pirates, Cutch, Maddon

2018-01-14T18:04:00+00:00

Some rumblings from around the NL Central… The Cardinals were linked to Rays closer Alex Colome in trade rumors earlier this winter, though two sources tell Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the team’s interest in Colome was “overstated.”  Chris Archer seems to be the Cards’ top target in regards to trade talks…Some rumblings from around the NL Central… The Cardinals were linked to Rays closer Alex Colome in trade rumors earlier this winter, though two sources tell Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the team’s interest in Colome was “overstated.”  Chris Archer seems to be the Cards’ top target in regards to trade talks with the Rays. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Goold and other reporters that he is still “kicking tires” on some other bullpen options but he is overall comfortable going into the season with Luke Gregerson as the top closer option.  This could be some gamesmanship on Mozeliak’s part given that St. Louis has been exploring several relief options both before and after they signed Gregerson, though Gregerson collected 31 saves as recently as 2015 when he pitched for Houston.  In terms of other available relievers, the Cardinals have “at most, tempered” interest in Greg Holland.  Beyond the veteran Gregerson, the Cards also have several young arms in the pen and in the upper minors that could eventually factor into the ninth-inning mix.  Goold notes that hard-throwing righty prospect Jordan Hicks has drawn trade interest from other teams. Now that Gerrit Cole has been traded, teams who have talked deals with the Pirates believe that the Bucs could now be more open to moving Andrew McCutchen, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick writes (Twitter links).  Pittsburgh has had “ongoing dialogue” about McCutchen with multiple teams, including the Giants.  One potential side effect of increased trade talks involving McCutchen (and the Marlins’ Christian Yelich) is that it could extend the lack of activity on the free agent outfielder front. If the Pirates did deal McCutchen, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter links) isn’t sure how much the Bucs could get back, based on the relatively lacking returns other teams have recently gotten in trades for players in their final year before free agency.  Olney opines that the Pirates could get more young talent back in a trade by offering to cover some of the $14.75MM owed to McCutchen in 2018. It doesn’t appear as though Joe Maddon and the Cubs have any talks about an extension, though the manager said during this weekend’s Cubs Convention (as reported by The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney) that he doesn’t “ever try to strike up those kind of conversations….I believe if we take care of our own business properly, that’s the kind of stuff that takes care of itself. I’ve always relied on that thought. So I’m not concerned about that. I am a Cub rig[...]



NL West Notes: Hand, Padres, Longoria, Goldschmidt

2018-01-14T16:51:00+00:00

Here’s the latest from around the NL West… The Padres and Brad Hand’s representatives began extension talks about a week ago, the reliever told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other reporters.  Those discussions resulted in the three-year, $19.75MM agreement between the club and the southpaw that Hand described as “a life-changing thing.” …Here’s the latest from around the NL West… The Padres and Brad Hand’s representatives began extension talks about a week ago, the reliever told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other reporters.  Those discussions resulted in the three-year, $19.75MM agreement between the club and the southpaw that Hand described as “a life-changing thing.”  From the Padres’ perspective, general manager AJ Preller said that his team is “trying to build a foundation of guys going forward that fit for us and we feel like are winning pieces.”  It would seem like the extension more or less closes the door on the trade speculation that has circled Hand for the last couple of years, though Preller noted that “you always listen on any player at any time.  You’ve got to be open to all different possibilities.” Preller also said that the Padres are looking for a veteran middle infielder that can provide depth for shortstop Freddy Galvis.  San Diego was checked in on Alcides Escobar earlier this winter, and in my view he would appear to still be an option given the lack of known interest in Escobar’s services. Evan Longoria shared some interesting details about his trade to the Giants in an appearance on the MLB Network on Friday (as detailed by MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer).  Though Longoria didn’t have any leverage in the form of no-trade protection or 10-and-5 rights, he said he “kind of gave them [the Rays] a short list of teams that I thought would be a good fit for me,” specifically teams that “were going to be committed to winning, year-in and year-out.”  It isn’t known how much, if at all, Longoria’s list factored into Tampa’s decision-making, though the Giants were one of the teams included.  The Cardinals, another club linked to Longoria in trade rumors, were also on the third baseman’s list.  Longoria said he felt a trade was coming after a talk with Rays GM Erik Neander two weeks before the Giants deal was completed. There hasn’t been as much talk about an eventual extension for Paul Goldschmidt as in past offseasons amongst Diamondbacks executives, which makes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic wonder if the team is “subtly preparing for the possibility of life without Goldschmidt.  Not that they’re expecting to move on; just that they might have to.”  Goldschmidt is slated to earn $11MM in 2018 and the D’Backs hold a $14.5MM club option for 2019 that seems like a lock to be exercised.  While [...]



More Reaction & Fallout To The Gerrit Cole Trade

2018-01-14T15:26:00+00:00

The Astros and Pirates swung a major trade yesterday, with the World Series champions acquiring Gerrit Cole in exchange for a package of four players (Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, Jason Martin).  We’ve already published one batch of reactions to the deal, and now here are some additional details about the trade talks and…The Astros and Pirates swung a major trade yesterday, with the World Series champions acquiring Gerrit Cole in exchange for a package of four players (Joe Musgrove, Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, Jason Martin).  We’ve already published one batch of reactions to the deal, and now here are some additional details about the trade talks and further analysis about what this deal means for Houston, Pittsburgh, and other clubs… The Astros were able to land Cole without giving up any of their top prospects, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Houston wasn’t willing to offer Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker, Derek Fisher, or Yordan Alvarez.  Musgrove and Moran were seen as the top two pieces of the trade by the Pirates, and they pulled the trigger on the deal since Pittsburgh felt no other team was offering two top prospects of better quality in exchange for Cole.  Musgrove, Feliz, and Moran give the Bucs 15 years of controllable talent, which was also a factor in their decision. Also from Crasnick, the Yankees were willing to include one of Clint Frazier or Chance Adams in a potential Cole trade, but not both.  New York was also intent on holding onto its top minor leaguers, as Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Justus Sheffield, and Estevan Florial were considered off-limits in trade talks. The Yankees’ unwillingness to move its best prospects could be due to a belief that Yu Darvish could be signed for a “reasonable” price, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes.  This could be a contract in the range of five years and $80MM-90MM, which would represent a stunning discount from the six-year, $160MM deal MLBTR predicted for Darvish at the start of the offseason.  Even with the unprecedentedly slow nature of this winter’s free agent market, it’s hard to believe Darvish would settle for such a relatively small deal, especially with at least five other teams known to be vying for his services.  Harper also notes that even a five-year/$80MM pact would put the Yankees over the luxury tax limit, unless they were to move another big contract to create payroll space. The Pirates’ return was “more one of quantity than of impact,” ESPN.com’s Keith Law writes, though Cole may only be “a soft upgrade” for the Astros rotation if he replicates his 2017 numbers.  Law feels that Cole’s 2016-17 performance curtailed some of his trade value, and while Houston is obviously hoping that Cole returns to his 2015 form, the trade also could’ve been a way of keeping him away from a chief AL rival like the Yankees. [...]



MLBTR Originals

2018-01-14T14:46:00+00:00

Here is the MLBTR writing staff’s original content from the past week… Friday was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange figures on contracts for 2018, and thus there was a distinct arbitration-centric focus to this week’s MLBTR Originals.  Contributor Matt Swartz outlined some of the more high-profile and intriguing arb cases in…Here is the MLBTR writing staff’s original content from the past week… Friday was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange figures on contracts for 2018, and thus there was a distinct arbitration-centric focus to this week’s MLBTR Originals.  Contributor Matt Swartz outlined some of the more high-profile and intriguing arb cases in his Arbitration Breakdown series, looking at Josh Donaldson (link), Kris Bryant (link), George Springer (link), Charlie Blackmon (link), Jacob deGrom (link), Jose Abreu and Marcell Ozuna (link). Aside from the Padres’ deal with Brad Hand, this year’s arbitration class has thus far been short on any major extensions.  Jeff Todd looks at the biggest multi-year contracts signed by players while they were still eligible for arbitration. Could Christian Yelich have so much trade value that the Marlins may find it impossible to trade the outfielder for a fair return?  This Catch-22 is explored by Kyle Downing in his latest look at Yelich’s trade market. The Pirates’ remaining trade chips are profiled by Connor Byrne in the latest “Taking Inventory” entry.  Since Connor’s piece was published a week ago, the Bucs finally moved one of their biggest names, trading Gerrit Cole to the Astros. Tim Dillard is back with his first Inner Monologue of the offseason, as the veteran Brewers right-hander discusses his day-to-day winter routine, Eggos, baseball card facts, society’s lack of flying cars, and many more topics. [...]



Just Another Number: Why Adrian Beltre’s Age Is Not A Reason To Avoid Him

2018-01-14T11:00:00+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) A player who will turn 39-years old early in the 2018 campaign is often not a hot commodity on draft day.  That said an asset and is an asset and we don’t want to overlook anyone who could provideby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) A player who will turn 39-years old early in the 2018 campaign is often not a hot commodity on draft day.  That said an asset and is an asset and we don’t want to overlook anyone who could provide value.  Enter Adrian Beltre, who remained productive in 2017 when on the field (injury limited him to 94 games): 340 At Bats .312 Batting Average (106 Hits) 17 Home Runs 71 RBI 47 Runs 1 Stolen Bases .383 On Base Percentage .532 Slugging Percentage .321 Batting Average on Balls in Play Outside of his age, what is there not to like about the numbers?  Maybe Beltre will start to break down physically, though prior to last season there had never been an indication of that.  In fact 2017 was the first time since 2011 that he had failed to appear in at least 140 games and the first time since his rookie year of 1998 that he didn’t appear in at least 110.  With health not a significant question, what about the production? Beltre is a career .287 hitter, though he’s now hit .296 or better in seven of the past eight years (never below .287 and six years of .300 or better).  It’s clear he can hit, and while you may want to point towards a 19.7% line drive rate his .321 BABIP wasn’t unreasonable and he continues to make consistent contact (7.9% SwStr%, 13.4% strikeout rate).  Maybe he falls short of .300, but he’s a near lock to hit .290 (and likely better). The next question is going to be regarding his power, having looked like he had lost it a few years back (37 HR between 2014 and 2015).  However, he’s now shown that he hasn’t in back-to-back seasons (HR/FB): 2016 – 14.6% 2017 – 15.6% We also would love to point towards the home ballpark as the reason for his power, but that hasn’t been the case.  Over the past two seasons he’s hit 49 home runs, with more coming on the road (28) than at home (21). He’s surrounded by a solid lineup, including Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo.  That should provide ample opportunity to drive in runs, and he should be able to score enough as well.  In other words Beltre profiles as a solid, four category producer who others may be ignoring based solely on his age. If you are looking for a long-term solution you are going to be looking at other options.  For 2018, though, there’s little reason not to believe that Beltre will be a productive option once again.  Let others make the mistake of discounting him due to his age and capitalize on the price drop. Source – Fangraphs   ** PRE-ORDER SALE ** Pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide[...]



2018 Kansas City Royals Minor League Preview

2018-01-14T08:05:00+00:00

Recently someone told me "The Royals ain't got no prospects", I encouraged this person to look deeper because the Royals got prospects. The problem just so happens to be, they only have about six good ones. Then again, that's what happens when you do nothing but draft lefthanded starters that can't find the plate, and dudes named Bubba and Hunter. For a team that knew they could lose multiple players to free agency, the Royals did very little to turn that into controllable assets. What you're left with is the list below. Best described as a handful of bright spots, some solid depth arms, and a couple of fringy bats destined for quad-A labels. The one truly fantasy relevant angle to this whole post is the opportunity that exists at the major level, at least as of writing this. Even if Eric Hosmer is re-signed, or other cheap vets are brought in, there's simply not enough depth for the Royals to not employ a few hitters from this list. One note, I'm not writing about Kyle Zimmer. Okay, I'll probably still write about Kyle Zimmer. You know why? Because everyone needs to know about the prospects the Royals got. Everyone! Readers go out into the world and share this like made up political memes or President Trump tweets or tweets about Doanld Trump tweets. So share. Because we need to know the good word about an awful system. It's the Kansas City Royals top prospects for 2018.Recently someone told me "The Royals ain't got no prospects", I encouraged this person to look deeper because the Royals got prospects. The problem just so happens to be, they only have about six good ones. Then again, that's what happens when you do nothing but draft lefthanded starters that can't find the plate, and dudes named Bubba and Hunter. For a team that knew they could lose multiple players to free agency, the Royals did very little to turn that into controllable assets. What you're left with is the list below. Best described as a handful of bright spots, some solid depth arms, and a couple of fringy bats destined for quad-A labels. The one truly fantasy relevant angle to this whole post is the opportunity that exists at the major level, at least as of writing this. Even if Eric Hosmer is re-signed, or other cheap vets are brought in, there's simply not enough depth for the Royals to not employ a few hitters from this list. One note, I'm not writing about Kyle Zimmer. Okay, I'll probably still write about Kyle Zimmer. You know why? Because everyone needs to know about the prospects the Royals got. Everyone! Readers go out into the world and share this like made up political memes or President Trump tweets or tweets about Doanld Trump tweets. So share. Because we need to know the good word about an awful system. It's the Kansas City Royals top prospects for 2018.[...]



Exploring The Trade Value Of Christian Yelich

2018-01-14T06:11:00+00:00

The name of Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich is one that has popped up frequently in both trade rumors and trade speculation so far this offseason. The topic has certainly been covered at length (four links) here at MLBTR, and the frequency of Yelich mentions has continued to rise with each major trade Miami has made this winter. Save…The name of Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich is one that has popped up frequently in both trade rumors and trade speculation so far this offseason. The topic has certainly been covered at length (four links) here at MLBTR, and the frequency of Yelich mentions has continued to rise with each major trade Miami has made this winter. Save for maybe the Yankees, there isn’t a team in MLB who wouldn’t benefit from adding Yelich to their lineup and outfield. Therefore, the search for an ideal trade partner for the Marlins seems quite simple: any team with a farm system strong enough to pry him out of their grasp. And yet, things are not nearly that simple in reality. Yelich is one of the top performers in baseball. Across the past four seasons combined, he ranks within MLB’s top 30 in batting average, on-base percentage and fWAR, and is within the top 50 in wOBA and wRC+. He’s a serviceable option in center field, as well, though DRS (-6 for 2017) and UZR/150 (-0.7 for 2017) don’t quite agree on his defensive value there. Regardless, Yelich ought to be considered a fantastic offensive talent at a premium defensive position. That makes his trade candidacy incredibly complicated when we factor in the team-friendly nature of his contract, which has four years and just $43.25MM remaining along with a $15MM option for 2023 ($1.25MM buyout). Needless to say, Yelich would provide immense value to any club with the means to acquire him. After producing 15.9 fWAR over the past four seasons combined, he’s likely to be viewed as one of the most reliable outfielders in existence. The problem (which I’m sure you’ve inferred by now) is that the cost to trade for him would be absolutely enormous. The best comp in my eyes for a potential Yelich deal is last offseason’s Adam Eaton trade. Eaton had produced 13.1 fWAR over the course of three full seasons with the White Sox while posting very similar batting averages and on-base percentages to those of Yelich. At the time, his contract had three years and just under $20MM remaining, plus two club options that could bring the total value of the deal to $38.4MM across five seasons. In order to swing a deal, the Nationals sent a deluge of minor-league talent to the White Sox. The headliner of the package was righty Lucas Giolito, who at the time was a consensus top-five prospect in baseball. Supplementing the return were fellow right-handed pitchers[...]



Mets To Sign Adrian Gonzalez

2018-01-14T03:40:00+00:00

The Mets have agreed to sign first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pending a physical. Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reported the news via Twitter. Nightengale reported earlier tonight that discussions between the two sides were serious, with Jon Heyman of FanRag confirming shortly thereafter. As we noted earlier in the evening, Gonzalez was recently traded from the Dodgers to the Braves…The Mets have agreed to sign first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pending a physical. Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reported the news via Twitter. Nightengale reported earlier tonight that discussions between the two sides were serious, with Jon Heyman of FanRag confirming shortly thereafter. As we noted earlier in the evening, Gonzalez was recently traded from the Dodgers to the Braves in a deal heavily driven by luxury tax considerations. By sending the 35-year-old first baseman to Atlanta (along with Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson) in exchange for former Dodger Matt Kemp, Los Angeles will be able to stay under the tax cap for 2018. The Braves granted him his release the following Monday, leaving Gonzalez free to sign with any team willing to pay him the MLB minimum salary. Atlanta, of course, is still on the hook for just under $17MM of his guaranteed 2018 salary. Presumably, Gonzalez will compete with 22-year-old Dominic Smith for the Mets’ first base job in spring training. GM Sandy Alderson has gone on record saying that the Mets wouldn’t make any moves that eliminate Smith as a possibility at first base, but the presence of a five-time All Star with a chance to bounce back to above-average offensive production leaves the Mets some room to give their first baseman of the future some more seasoning at the Triple-A level. That’s now a much more viable contingency plan if Smith struggles to produce offensively the way he did last season. Indeed, as Heyman notes, there are questions about whether Smith is ready for the majors and in good enough shape to reach his potential. The deal clearly carries very little risk for the Mets, as they’re only obligated to pay Gonzalez the $545K MLB minimum salary in 2018. And yet the upside of this signing should not be taken lightly. As recently as 2015, the former number one overall pick slashed .275/.350/.480 with 28 homers, good for a 129 wRC+ and 3.0 fWAR. His performance has declined in recent seasons, possibly due to age and absolutely due to injuries, but if he can stay healthy, there’s a chance Gonzalez could bounce back from a -1.1 fWAR 2017 campaign and reward the Mets for bringing him into the fold. As we already noted today, he also carries a lifetime 138 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, making him a potentially great asset even in a part-time role. The Florida Marlins selected Go[...]



East Notes: Machado, Yankees, Mets

2018-01-14T03:10:00+00:00

While Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required/highly recommended) doesn’t necessarily expect the Orioles to trade Manny Machado prior to the season, he reports that the Diamondbacks are still pushing to acquire the infielder. D-backs second baseman Brandon Drury continues to be one of the players involved in Machado trade discussions, as Rosenthal first reported…While Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required/highly recommended) doesn’t necessarily expect the Orioles to trade Manny Machado prior to the season, he reports that the Diamondbacks are still pushing to acquire the infielder. D-backs second baseman Brandon Drury continues to be one of the players involved in Machado trade discussions, as Rosenthal first reported last month, and left-handed pitching prospect Anthony Banda has also been part of the teams’ talks. Machado would play shortstop in Arizona, potentially pushing Ketel Marte to second base and Chris Owings to a super-utility/outfield role, Rosenthal adds. A few other items stemming from baseball organizations on the East coast… Though the Yankees were in on Cole at one point, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the two sides never actually came close to a deal. The Pirates wanted at least one of Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier, which may have (in my perspective) provided a reasonable framework to get a deal done. However, the hangup was over the other players involved in the package for Cole; the inability to agree on supplemental players proved an obstacle in getting a deal done. The latest on the Mets’ infield comes from Rosenthal, who writes that they’re more interested in acquiring a second base than a third baseman. However, it doesn’t seem they’ve made any headway with the Pirates regarding Josh Harrison, Rosenthal suggests, while free agent Eduardo Nunez may be too pricey at the moment. A reunion with free agent and ex-Met Neil Walker is possible, but there’s competition from the Brewers and other teams, per Rosenthal. Interestingly, even after signing Jay Bruce this week, the Mets are considering bringing back free agent first baseman Lucas Duda, Rosenthal relays. Elsewhere on the Mets front, suspended reliever Jenrry Mejia is expected to apply for reinstatement “in the near future,” Matt Ehalt of The Record writes. Major League Baseball hit Mejia with a lifetime ban for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2016, but he’s allowed to appeal after two years. That two-year window will expire in February, which will enable Mejia to vie for reinstatement and get a hearing with commissioner Rob Manfred within 30 days of submitting his application, per Ehalt. If Manfred doesn’t rule in Mejia’s favor, he’d have the ability to appeal to an arbitration panel, Eh[...]



Mets In “Serious Discussions” To Sign Adrian Gonzalez

2018-01-14T02:22:00+00:00

8:54pm: There’s “a good chance this may happen,” according to a recent tweet by Heyman. 7:51pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that the Mets are in “serious discussions” to sign first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was recently released following a trade from the Dodgers to the Braves. Jon Heyman of FanRag has since confirmed the rumor. Gonzalez…8:54pm: There’s “a good chance this may happen,” according to a recent tweet by Heyman. 7:51pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that the Mets are in “serious discussions” to sign first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was recently released following a trade from the Dodgers to the Braves. Jon Heyman of FanRag has since confirmed the rumor. Gonzalez was shipped to Atlanta in December along with infielder Charlie Culberson and pitchers Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy in a trade that brought Matt Kemp back to Los Angeles, though a candid explanation of the trade would focus more on the salaries of the contracts exchanged than the plans for the players themselves. The true motivator of the trade was luxury tax implications for the Dodgers; the team is now highly likely to remain under that threshold in 2018 and thus reset their escalating penalties. Gonzalez had a full no-trade clause with LA, but waived it on the condition that Atlanta agree to release him (it should also be noted that the Dodgers informed him he’d receive limited at-bats with the club). While there hasn’t been much chatter about Gonzalez since his release, he’s certainly a reasonable candidate to bounce back. His 2017 campaign was largely characterized by injuries and an unimpressive .242/.287/.355 batting line. But prior to that, he’d slugged at least .435 for ten consecutive MLB seasons. In fact, he owns an impressive .488 slugging and .361 wOBA across his 14-year major league career. It makes perfect sense that a team could want to take a chance on him for the league minimum of $545K. There’s at least a chance that the 35-year-old Gonzalez is no longer viable as a full-time player, but even if that’s the case, he could still prove incredibly useful in a part-time role. A quick look at his career platoon splits reveals a 138 lifetime wRC+ against right-handed pitching to go with a .297/.371./.519 slash line. Shielding him against left-handed pitchers could help him stay fresh and limit his injury risk as well. That would make him a perfect fit for a Mets team who have been reportedly looking for a part-time first baseman as a contingency plan in case Dominic Smith is deemed unready to take over the position on a full-time basis. GM Sandy Alderson has made sure to note that the team is high on Smith, and that he [...]



Reactions To The Gerrit Cole Trade

2018-01-14T02:16:00+00:00

The baseball world is still reeling from the big news earlier today regarding the Astros’ acquisition of Gerrit Cole from the Pirates. Here are a few of the early takes… What better place to start the Cole reactions than with that of Cole himself? The right-hander seems to be incredibly excited to join his new…The baseball world is still reeling from the big news earlier today regarding the Astros’ acquisition of Gerrit Cole from the Pirates. Here are a few of the early takes… What better place to start the Cole reactions than with that of Cole himself? The right-hander seems to be incredibly excited to join his new organization. “I’m ecstatic. I got the phone call not too long ago and I was shocked. I couldn’t have been more happy. I’m familiar with a few people on the organization and the team,” Cole said to reporters (hat tip to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart). Cole also used the words “flat-out elated” to describe the “unbelievable opportunity” (via Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). In addition to his giddiness over his trade to the Astros, Cole also spoke highly of the Pirates organization and expressed a fondness for his years with the team. Cole isn’t the only player expressing excitement about the trade, however. Many of his new teammates have reacted strongly on social media as well. New rotation mate Justin Verlander wrote a tweet with the hashtag #backtoback, while Alex Bregman simply tweeted a gif of himself screaming. Grant Brisbee of sbnation.com notes that although the Astros are young and unburdened by large contracts, the team may have acquired Cole in part because they need to consider their window. Brisbee argues that “there isn’t a team in baseball that knows with metaphysical certitude how they’ll look in three years,” so it was beneficial for Houston to act now in order to create a superteam for 2018. While the notion that Cole’s presence makes the Astros a superteam is debatable, he notes that he may just be one of the best pitchers in baseball if last year’s spike in homers allowed turns out to be a fluke. Pirates GM Neal Huntington describes the trade as “the balance of immediate and moderate and longer-term.” (hat tip to Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). “We felt this was the right move to get these players that are major-league ready with 15 years contribution combined,” Huntington adds. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow offers a timeline of events in reference to his team’s talks with the Pirates about Cole, via Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. Apparently, the two teams were in discussions about the righty as early as las[...]



Rick Perry Convinced Astros To Invest In Cole

2018-01-14T00:23:00+00:00

Yo, this winter trading season has been a Bomb Cyclone, but not as in the winter storm, or a flurry of moves, but rather the Bomb Cyclone, the Coney Island roller coaster that kills one of four riders. "This doesn't seem that rickety." Three minutes later, "Is the wooden plank I'm sitting on supposed to be falling to the ground from 75 feet in the air?"  Seriously, is this the worst offseason for player signings and/or trades?  Players aren't even signing in dribs and drabs, they're not signing at all.  My rankings start on Monday, and I have dozens of players that read something like, "Still a free agent, so this could change."  By the way, a urologist should put on his business card, "Specializes in drips and drabs."  As for Gerrit Cole being traded to the Astros, this sorta sums him up: Astros fans: Gerrit Cole is so much better than his numbers. Pirates fans: So glad we're no longer the ones justifying how Gerrit Cole is better than his numbers. — Razzball (@Razzball) January 10, 2018 I might go back in on Cole if he can turn his career around from his 4.26 ERA last year, but I'm waiting for him to flip a U-ey before I hunker down in his bunker.  I've been burned way too many times by, "Cole's looking great in his start...Damn, if it wasn't for that 3-run homer he allowed in the sixth, that would've been a solid start."  Yeah, I'm done with that.  Since I wasn't going near Cole anyway, I'm actually more disappointed by this move because it bumps Brad Peacock from the rotation.  Peacock's bloomage looked to be peaking.  All of Peacock's numbers were more attractive to me than Cole.  Alas, it doesn't matter.  Peacock is out of the rotation until there's an injury.  Though, this does help solidify Trevor Williams' place in the Pirates' rotation.  Here's my Trevor Williams sleeper.  Me likey!  For 2018, I'll give Gerrit Cole the projections of 13-10/3.78/1.23/181 in 195 IP.  Anyway, here's what else I saw this offseason for 2018 fantasy baseball:Yo, this winter trading season has been a Bomb Cyclone, but not as in the winter storm, or a flurry of moves, but rather the Bomb Cyclone, the Coney Island roller coaster that kills one of four riders. "This doesn't seem that rickety." Three minutes later, "Is the wooden plank I'm sitting on supposed to be falling to the ground from 75 feet in the air?"  Seriously, is this the worst offseason for player signings and/or trades?  Players aren't even signing in dribs and drabs, they're not signing at all.  My rankings start on Monday, and I have dozens of players that read something like, "Still a free agent, so this could change."  By the way, a urologist should put on his [...]



Astros Acquire Gerrit Cole

2018-01-14T00:05:00+00:00

The Astros have acquired right-hander Gerrit Cole from the Pirates for righties Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin, according to announcements from both teams. Houston and Pittsburgh nearly reached an agreement on a Cole trade earlier this week, but reports of a done deal proved premature. The two…The Astros have acquired right-hander Gerrit Cole from the Pirates for righties Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz, third baseman Colin Moran and outfielder Jason Martin, according to announcements from both teams. Houston and Pittsburgh nearly reached an agreement on a Cole trade earlier this week, but reports of a done deal proved premature. The two sides continued to negotiate, however, and have now come together on one of the most noteworthy trades of the offseason. Cole is the second potential front-end starter the Astros have acquired since last August, when they landed longtime Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who ultimately helped pitch them to their first-ever World Series title a couple months later. With Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh among their starters on hand, the Astros didn’t exactly have a desperate need for Cole heading into next season. But adding Cole should nonetheless increase their chances to finish atop the major league mountain again in 2018, and with two years of team control remaining, he figures to help their cause through 2019. Neither Keuchel nor Morton is under contract past 2018, which helps explains why the Astros have been in on Cole and other high-end starters this offseason. The Astros’ addition of Cole should affect top free agents like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, both of whom have been on their radar this winter, as it seems to remove a potential suitor for them. Cole, who settled on a $6.75MM salary for his penultimate year of arbitration control on Friday, is coming off a somewhat disappointing season. Although the 27-year-old racked up 203 innings and continued to serve as one of the majors’ hardest-throwing starters, a bloated home run-to-fly ball rate (15.9 percent, well above his career figure of 10.0) helped lead to a personal-worst 4.26 ERA/4.08 FIP. Given his down 2017, the Pirates weren’t in position to sell high on Cole. However, as a Scott Boras client nearing free agency, the low-payroll club knew its chances to extend him weren’t good. Consequently, the Bucs shopped Cole around the league – including to the Yankees, Twins and Cubs – before sending him to the Astros. Cole had been with the Pirates since they selected him first overall in the 2011 draft, and he looked like an ace with them at times after debuting in 2013. All t[...]