Friday, December 14, 2018

Early Thoughts on Recent MLB Transactions

Seeing Red: The Cardinals land Paul Goldschmidt in a huge deal.
I really wish I had more time to do posts such as this one, posting about my thoughts on trades and making predictions for upcoming seasons. I have done great with predictions before, I stuck to my 2016 pick of the Chicago Cubs to the point in which I was rooting for them by season's end. I had a really good feeling when the Milwaukee Brewers added pieces in Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, and Jhouyls Chacin, but never posted my thoughts.

This year, I plan to be more on top of it.

So please bare with me as I try to do my best analysis on the recent MLB activity. MLB Baseball are currently having their MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas (which is always exciting), but don't expect anything to happen with the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado signings.

The St. Louis Cardinals made a huge off-season splash by acquiring Paul Goldschmidt from the Arizona Cardinals, in exchange for starting pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, IF Andy Young & a competitive balance round B pick.

It's going to be hard to imagine not seeing Goldschmidt suiting up for the D-Backs each day, he is easily the most accomplished homegrown position player the franchise has ever had. I think both teams did really well with this trade, I don't think the Diamondbacks would have found a better trade for a player who will be a free agent after the 2019 MLB Season.

Maybe the Cardinals find a way to extend his contract early on in the season, but I think even if they don't, they still have a good shot at resigning him. A lot of players love playing for St. Louis, their fan base is easily one of the most faithful fan bases, while the franchise is deep in tradition and history. I don't think this trade cost them too much, I think it was worth the risk, considering that they need to compete with the Chicago Cubs and now the Milwaukee Brewers.

For the Diamondbacks, this won't be the last big guy being traded from their franchise. Expect to see Zack Greinke traded no later than the All-Star Break, but I would not be shocked to see him traded before the season even starts.

Greinke takes up about a third of Arizona's payroll. It does not make sense to keep him around when you are reshuffling the deck, plus Greinke can still bring in a huge haul of prospects. Maybe the team can trade Greinke, get another up-and-coming starting piece like Weaver -- Plug that new starter with Weaver, to go along with Taijuan Walker & Robbie Ray... That will give the team a competitive upside rotation, while they rebuild their starting lineup and look for other pieces.

Cleveland trading Kluber? Atlanta would be a very nice fit.
The Cleveland Indians recently have traded catcher Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals, while they have made it known to other MLB teams that their ace Corey Kluber and pitchers such as Trevor Bauer, coming off what appears to (finally) be a break-out year.

At first thought, I was thinking why in the world would you trade Corey Kluber? Then I realized that they play in a weak division, and that a team's goal is to win the World Series, they can trade Kluber to get these pieces for the long run, the long con to win the World Series, while still putting themselves in position to win the weak division & have a yearly shot at postseason magic. They are locked up with Carlos Carrasco, while they would have Mike Clevinger & could still keep Bauer to give them a strong top three,

The Seattle Mariners have made the most noise this off-season, but not sure what to think of all the moves as a whole, if it's good music or just more noise? So I will try to break down their individual moves, piece by piece, to give you a better idea where I may stand with their moves. The Mariners have made many moves in the past, but that has not transformed to any success which is evident with their absence from the MLB postseason, which they have not been part of since 2001... Yes, it's been 17 years-and-counting people, can you believe it?

The Mariners traded catcher Mike Zunino, along with outfielder Guillermo Heredia and minor-league pitcher Michael Plassmeyer to the Tampa Bay Rays, in exchange for outfielder Mallex Smith and minor league prospect outfielder Jake Fraley.

Zunino's bat returned to earth in 2018, hovering around his career OPS of .682 (with .669 OPS in 2018). I was never a fan of Zunino, and feel that the Mariners are getting a much-better player dynamically in Mallex Smith. Smith batted .296 with 27 doubles & leading the league with 10 triples. Mallex also had a .367 on-base percentage, while stealing 40 bases, while posting a .773 OPS in his first real-full season (141 games).

The Mariners traded often-injured James Paxton, who is coming off career-high in innings pitched (160.1) & Games Started (28) -- which his previous high marks were 136 innings and 24 starts... which are all nothing to brag about. Paxton was traded to the New York Yankees in exchange for three prospects, Erik Swanson, Dom Thompson-Williams and the highlighted prospect of the package pitcher Justus Sheffield. I really like this move by the Mariners, they get rid of payroll, while trading a player that seems to be off-the-field more than he's on-the-field.

I like the addition of catcher Omar Narvaez, who has a career on-base percentage of .366, while he is coming off a season in which he batted .275 with 9 HR & 14 doubles (.794 OPS) in 97 games. The Mariners needed a catcher to fill the void of Zunino, and there was no plans to keep reliever Alex Colome (who Narvaez was dealt for). I do like this move by the White Sox as well, who needed plenty of help in the bullpen.

So with the top three trades, I would say Mariners won out on, but I'm not sure what they were thinking in trading away shortstop Jean Segura. Segura has got to be one of the most underrated players in all of Major League Baseball, while it is also amazing that he has now been traded three times inside a 3 calendar years.

Segura was traded with veteran southpaw reliever James Pazos & garbage stats reliever Juan Nicasio, in exchange for Carlos Santana (.229, 24 HR & 86 RBI) and J.P. Crawford, who was a top prospect with the Phillies, but has not been able to put it all together yet, as he has a career .214 batting average & .692 OPS in 72 games (over two seasons). Crawford should get a shot at playing everyday, which may help his stats.

I'm not sure if this move ever needed to be made, the only thing I can think of is that the M's must see something in Crawford that they really like, while maybe hoping that Carlos Santana has a better year (more punch in the lineup) -- giving them lightning-in-a-bottle. Also if Santana does not work out, he could be a trade chip that could be dealt off to a 2019 contender for some more prospects... but trading Segura? I don't like it.

So a quick recap... Out of the 4 Mariners deals, I like 3 of them, except for the last one.

The Philadelphia Phillies are making interesting, good moves. Of course, there was Jean Segura (mentioned above in trade with Seattle). They just signed OF Andrew McCutchen to a 3-year deal worth $50 million, while they acquired  reliever Jose Alvarez from the Angels in exchange for reliever Luis Garcia. Most critics are nit-picking the McCutchen contract, but I like it, yes it's a little high, but you bring in a much-needed leader in a clubhouse of a young, up-and-coming team... plus he can still produce. I like the small deal addition of Alvarez, he has been pretty good the last two years for the Angels, and it didn't cost them. Rhys Hoskins is returning back to his natural first base position (over left field), which will help him feel more comfortable, concentrating more on the plate, which we should see better numbers.

All of these combined things above, along with an aggressive Philadelphia front office, may all be setting up a landing spot for Bryce Harper... We'll have to see, I am hoping he lands there, I think its a perfect fit. Plus Harper's numbers in Citizens Bank Park, can you imagine that?!

The Minnesota Twins signed 2B Jonathan Schoop to a one-year deal worth $7.5 million. I love this deal for both the ballclub and for Schoop. The Twins get him without breaking the bank, while Schoop can reestablish himself and one of the best young second basemen in the game, having a big year, so he can go get a bigger deal come next winter. The Twins also signed Ronald Torreyes, a jack-of-all-trades player (playing multiple positions), which he will find quality playing time, and could duplicate his 2017 outing. The Yankees had no room for Torreyes with the emergence of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres.

The defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox resigned Nathan Eovaldi. I think it was important to bring him back, but not sure about the money that was shelled out. $17 million-a-year for a middle rotation starter is not unheard of (it's around the going-rate), but for a pitcher who has had injury concerns, this one could blow up in Boston's face. Eovaldi does have a better overall track record than the Yankees' new acquisition of Paxton, Eovaldi's career high in innings pitched for a season eclipses Paxton by almost 30 innings.... but he has only pitched a total of 235 innings over the last 3 years (missing all of 2017). Boston's upper management believes Eovaldi can repeat his 2018 2nd-half (plus postseason), while most skeptics would like to point out that Eovaldi had a 4.26 ERA with Tampa Bay (before the trade), which reflects his 4.16 career ERA. Another question that has come up, will he be used in the rotation, or be used as a starter-reliever hybrid much in the same way he was used at times late in the season. One thing is for sure, his arm will be watched closely.

The Washington Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a 6-year deal worth $140 million (while most of the money is backloaded). My first impression right off the bat was Really?! I just didn't expect it to be such a lengthy contract, while the money is also a tad high... I was expecting a 3 to 4-year deal worth around $20 million-a-year. Corbin has stayed healthy for a good three years now, while averaging 195 innings & 32 starts over the last two seasons. Corbin easily had his best season of his career last season, going 11-7 with a 3.15 ERA, 247 strikeouts & 1.050 WHIP in 200 innings. With his 2017 season in the books, you can see why a Nationals fan is excited about Corbin joining Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. I do want to point out that his 1.050 WHIP is quite a leap from his pre-2017 career 1.348 WHIP, a repeat of that 2017 WHIP would be excellent for Nats fans, but I would expect it to be more around 1.200 at least.

I will say this, I don't think the Nationals' Corbin deal was a bad signing, it was definitely a good one, better see him land in Washington than say division rival Philadelphia or the World Series contending Yankees. The big-market L.A. Angels were also talking to Corbin prior to the signing.

Washington will have a tough top 3 in Scherzer, Strasburg & Corbin.
There is early reports (not 100% confirmed by the Tampa Bay Rays) that Charlie Morton agreed to a 2-year deal worth $30 million. I was really happy to see a small-market team like the Rays landing what I feel is a huge deal. The Rays payroll entering this off-season hovered around $32 million. The team also plans to land a middle-of-the-batting order bat, to help the team get to the next level. The team made an incredible leap by winning 90 games last season.

I was a little surprised that the Houston Astros wasn't able to sign him back to the team, considering the price.

Morton joins a rotation that's headed by 2017 A.L. Cy Young winner Blake Snell, who went 21-5, with a 1.89 ERA, 221 strikeouts & 219 ERA+ in 180.2 innings. The Rays' 3rd slot of the rotation appears to be Tyler Glasnow's to lose... Glasnow looked comfortable in a Rays' uniform as he sported a 1.096 WHIP as he cut down his walk rate (3.1 per 9 innings compared to Pirates' 5.5 rate). For now, the Rays plan to use their 'Opener Strategy' in the last two rotation slots. The team also have plenty of youth coming up in Brent Honeywell, Jose De Leon & Yonny Chirinos that could plug those spots down the road.

Those are my thoughts on the latest subjects for now, we'll see where the other pieces land which should be an exciting off-season.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the wrap-up. I don't keep up very well with this stuff like i used to, so I need a recap and your analysis is interesting.


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