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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 296

post #8851 of 73011
I'd rather have Upton than Upton.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #8852 of 73011
Thread Starter 
I'm kinda surprised they offered him that much.

Thanks Raw pimp.gif
post #8853 of 73011
Where the eff is MY thank you? SMH. (just kidding haha)
post #8854 of 73011
Thread Starter 
laugh.gif my bad man, I saw y'all arguing about Pagan and I missed the end. Thanks man, I definitely appreciate it!
post #8855 of 73011
Haha its all good dude. I was just giving you a hard time. laugh.gif
post #8856 of 73011
One source told me Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes, Buck and Bonifacio are all going to #BlueJays. I am working to confirm this. @MLBONFOX



I would quit being a Marlins fan.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #8857 of 73011
At least Send us Stanton laugh.gif
post #8858 of 73011
Thread Starter 
The Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays are on the verge of a blockbuster trade that would send shortstop Jose Reyes and pitcher Josh Johnson to Toronto, according to sources.

Also going to Toronto would be pitcher Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio.

"Just about any (Marlins) player making money is going to Toronto," a source told ESPN.

The Blue Jays are sending shortstop Yunel Escobar, two top prospects -- outfielder Jake Marisnick and shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria -- and possibly more to the Marlins.

NVM missed some names going to Toronto there laugh.gif
Edited by Proshares - 11/13/12 at 4:13pm
post #8859 of 73011
Man, ****. The Marlins blow it all up AGAIN and have 2 world series titles in the last 15 years, and my team can't do **** for 105 years. laugh.gif Son of a......

Oh, we did sign a 31 year old coming off Tommy John today, so there's that.

Theo has signed about 27 right handed pitchers the last 6 months. Dude is obsessed with em. laugh.gif
post #8860 of 73011
Thank God the Dodgers depleted their farm system in the trades during the year. They could have actually gotten good players from Miami instead of s*** players from Boston.
post #8861 of 73011
Originally Posted by dland24 View Post

Thank God the Dodgers depleted their farm system in the trades during the year. They could have actually gotten good players from Miami instead of s*** players from Boston.

post #8862 of 73011
WTF Marlins!?!? So disappointed in my team right now. Now it makes sense why Puljos didn't want to sign with the Marlins last off season mean.gif
post #8863 of 73011
Originally Posted by dland24 View Post

Thank God the Dodgers depleted their farm system in the trades during the year. They could have actually gotten good players from Miami instead of s*** players from Boston.
not sure if srs, marlins sucked with those players
Anyways I though Buck was Manager of he Year "and its not even close" smokin.gif
Originally Posted by abovelegit1 View Post

LOL what? Buck will deserve it because he's managed a team with a below average offense and pitching staff to playoff contention into September. As it stands, the race for this award shouldn't be close.
Markakis smokin.gif
Hardy sick.gifmean.gif
post #8864 of 73011
I feel terrible for Marlins fans. You guys don't deserve to have your team gutted and used as a revenue source by the owner, especially with how much the taxpayer is footing for the new stadium.
A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

A T H L E T I C S | U C L A | L A K E R S | R A I D E R S

post #8865 of 73011
Torii Hunter signs with the Tigers. 2-year at $26 million.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #8866 of 73011
Originally Posted by ShaunHillFTW49 View Post

Originally Posted by dland24 View Post

Thank God the Dodgers depleted their farm system in the trades during the year. They could have actually gotten good players from Miami instead of s*** players from Boston.
not sure if srs, marlins sucked with those players

That doesnt mean they arent good players.
post #8867 of 73011

Torii Hunter to the Tigers? Who wants to pitch to that 2-5


Hunter/Miggy/Prince/Victor Martinez

post #8868 of 73011
Originally Posted by RaWEx5 View Post

Torii Hunter signs with the Tigers. 2-year at $26 million.


we are no joke next season especially with V-mart back sick.gifsick.gifsick.gifsick.gifsick.gif
Lookin to get a discover card? Contact me and sign up under me and $100 FREE when you get approved. GET 10-15% cashback on NDC FNL FTL, etc etc
Lookin to get a discover card? Contact me and sign up under me and $100 FREE when you get approved. GET 10-15% cashback on NDC FNL FTL, etc etc
post #8869 of 73011
Originally Posted by Zyzz View Post

we are no joke next season especially with V-mart back sick.gifsick.gifsick.gifsick.gifsick.gif



post #8870 of 73011
Originally Posted by JDelancey View Post

Torii Hunter to the Tigers? Who wants to pitch to that 2-5

Hunter/Miggy/Prince/Victor Martinez

Yup, they will crush the Royals, Indians and Twins with reckless abandonment.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #8871 of 73011
Thread Starter 
Jays reached out to Bobby Cox.
post #8872 of 73011
Thread Starter 
laugh.gif good old Detroit. Because what they needed was a 'power' hitting OF'er.

Miami deal embarrassing for team, MLB.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
An oral history of the Miami Marlins. In (mostly) their own words:

"If our ballpark could speak, its first words would be, 'Hola, Miami.'" -- Owner Jeffrey Loria, Nov. 11, 2011, at the unveiling of the Marlins' new uniforms.

"I just want you to know that if you decide not to make a decision tonight, that will be the death knell for baseball in Miami. We are out of time." -- Then MLB president Bob DuPuy to Miami commission members, Feb. 21, 2008, before they decided on whether to approve funding for a new ballpark.

"This is the final piece of the puzzle." -- Loria, Feb. 21, 2008, after the funding for the park is approved. He also thanked a long list of city and county officials for "saving baseball in Miami."

"The last thing we want to do is saddle ourselves with many, many long-term contracts that will get in the way potentially of our competitiveness. Having said that, having a higher payroll certainly enables you more flexibility on either long-term deals or just higher short-term deals." -- Marlins club president David Samson, March 24, 2009.

"Both home and road jerseys will be emblazoned with the name Miami, to symbolize this historic move and embrace our city. We're proud of who we are, and where our home is, and we want to remind the whole world every time we take the field." -- Loria, Nov. 11, 2011.

"It's a perfect situation in Miami. We have a lot of talent there and the new stadium, the weather, close to Dominican, a lot of Spanish people there, so I think I'm going to like it and enjoy it as much as I can." -- Jose Reyes, Dec. 7, 2011, after signing with the Marlins.

"With the team we are putting together, we expect there to be very few empty seats at this ballpark ever. We have always told ourselves build it small and sell it out, and that's what we're going to do." -- Samson, Dec. 7, 2011.

"The answer to that question is, stay tuned." -- Loria, Dec. 7, 2011, in response to a question about whether the Marlins would make more moves.

"We used Miami as an excuse to do things that other cities couldn't get away with. Everywhere you look, it's things that if they were anywhere else, people would say, 'You can't do that.' In Miami, people say, 'Oh, that's Miami.' You have to take advantage where you are." -- Samson, April 2, 2012, about the inspiration for the design of the ballpark.

"It would have been hypocrisy on my part to celebrate. I wish them the best, and I hope this will bring a championship to Miami, but I still believe it was a bad deal for the city." -- Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, April 4, 2012. He had declined to attend a ceremony celebrating the opening of the new ballpark.

"People can call it whatever they want. I would not use the term 'white flag.' I would not use 'fire sale.' These moves were not payroll motivated. They were player motivated. It's a reaction to the underperformance of the team. Our long-term plan is to win, to be highly competitive. We still have a lot of talent on the field. We have pieces here to win. Our plan is to win. I'm sure it's going to be couched in a lot of different ways, but we weren't winning as is, so let's make adjustments." -- Marlins GM Larry Beinfest, July 25, 2011, after the Marlins traded Hanley Ramirez and others.

"We showed this year how successful baseball in Florida is, given the crowds we got and the poor performance of the team. You put a winning team in Marlins Park and it'll be even better and louder than it was this year.'' -- Samson, Oct. 1, 2012.

"Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple" -- Giancarlo Stanton on Twitter, Nov. 13, 2012, after news of the Marlins' massive sell-off breaks.

You really don't want to think that this was a con. You really don't want to think it would have been more appropriate for Jeffrey Loria to have executed all of this from the back of the wagon, holding up bottles of liquid marked "MIRACLE TONIC."
Marlins Traded Since July

The Marlins' 2013 Opening Day roster will look much different than the 2012 version. When the blockbuster with Toronto is complete, Miami will have traded 12 major leaguers since July.
POS Player Traded to
3B Hanley Ramirez Dodgers
RP Randy Choate Dodgers
RP Edward Mujica Cardinals
1B Gaby Sanchez Pirates
SP Anibal Sanchez Tigers
2B Omar Infante Tigers
RP Heath Bell Diamondbacks
SS Jose Reyes Blue Jays<<
SP Josh Johnson Blue Jays<<
SP Mark Buehrle Blue Jays<<
C John Buck Blue Jays<<
CF Emilio Bonifacio Blue Jays<<
>>Trade according to sources

-- ESPN Stats & Information

You really don't want to think that Loria spent all this time swearing about the benefits of a new ballpark as part of a larger scheme. Build it and we will spend, he said. You don't want to think of Loria as a shyster, drinking the tonic in front of all the good townspeople of Miami and declaring himself healed of all financial woes and talking about how he could build a championship-caliber baseball team.

But all along, those were the worst fears of rival baseball executives, and it's hard to view what has happened in south Florida over the past five years as anything other than a complete sham.

There are calls, in the aftermath of the Marlins' massive sell-off, for Major League Baseball to step in and force Loria to sell the team. But with benefit of 20-20 hindsight, is it now possible to suggest that was the Marlins' plan all along?

You don't want to think that Loria -- with the backing of Major League Baseball -- strong-armed a city into building him a ballpark, intending only to dramatically increase the value of a franchise rather than to create something lasting. You don't want to think the exit strategy was in place all along, to sell a mirage of hope, then slash the payroll and make millions off the backs of taxpayers.

But this is where we are Wednesday morning: The Marlins will have the lowest payroll in the majors in 2013, and they have no salary obligations beyond next season.

If MLB really wanted to punish Loria, it wouldn't allow him to sell the team. With the help of the union, it would force him to increase his payroll to a respectable level and then to sit in the middle of the destruction he has rendered to the south Florida market, rather than to allow him to sell the team and cash in. But given how this has all played out, it's hard to imagine any conclusion other than this: Loria will pack up his wagon soon, his cash stowed away, and get out of town while the gettin's good.

The joke is on Miami, writes David Neal. Jeffrey Loria betrayed the fans, writes Dave Hyde. This is another insult to Marlins fans, writes Dave George. From George's column:

It makes it impossible to like this team, much less love it.

It makes Miami and Miami-Dade politicians look like fools for throwing precious recession-era millions at a company that has just exported its top-quality products to Canada and is perfectly happy offering up seconds to the locals.

This virtually ensures that the Rays will have to move, writes Keith Olbermann.

Marlins players reacted to the deal, Manny Navarro writes.

Interestingly, executives around the sport looking at this trade think that as a pure baseball trade -- in terms of the value in salary obligation and talent changing hands -- this was a good deal for the Marlins. Reyes' deal is heavily back loaded and he's injury prone, and there may not be as much return over the next five seasons as Toronto expects. Mark Buehrle's deal is back loaded, too, and Josh Johnson is coming off the worst season of his career, amid concerns about his diminished fastball velocity. The Marlins are getting some decent prospects in return.

But not a single person I spoke to in the industry Tuesday night thought this deal was anything other than an embarrassment for the Marlins, and for the sport. When the Red Sox unloaded the contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett three months ago, the expectation was -- and continues to be -- that this was the first stage in Boston's effort to rebuild. On the other hand, only a fool would think the Marlins will ever approach a $100 million payroll under Jeffrey Loria again.

Mark Simon has a breakdown of what the Marlins gave up.

Toronto's new look

• Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told a friend recently that he was working on a significant deal, a pie-in-the-sky type of thing, adding that he didn't think it would happen.

But it did happen, and now the Blue Jays are relevant again in the AL East. The Yankees are indicating that their priority is to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, rather than make some big, splashy move. The Red Sox are talking about Mike Napoli, but their reconstruction seems like a multiyear project. The Orioles are looking for a corner outfielder or a first baseman, but also need to figure out a way to improve their starting pitching. And the Rays are always going to have to be almost perfect to win, because they have to make hard financial choices that other teams in the division don't have to make.

So Toronto's blockbuster may well stand as the biggest deal in the division this offseason, and the Blue Jays needed major change, after their rotation finished 25th in ERA last season. They had to upgrade the rotation and seem to have done that, with the acquisition of Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, and the next Toronto manager could have a lot of fun writing out the everyday lineup, which has a chance to be extraordinary next season:

SS Reyes
2B Maicer Izturis
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
CF Colby Rasmus
3B Brett Lawrie
1B Adam Lind
C J.P. Arencibia/John Buck
LF Anthony Gose

Major questions remain, including those mentioned above about Reyes and Johnson. But with this deal, the Jays climbed out of irrelevancy.

Anthopoulos hauled in a whole lot, writes Ken Fidlin. The Jays' ownership got it right this time, writes Steve Buffery. Anthopoulos has reason to boast, writes Jeff Blair.

The monster deal raises hopes and expectations for the Blue Jays, writes Bruce Arthur.

Around the league

• Jeremy Bonderman was born in Washington and still lives in his home state, and he's now drawing interest from the Seattle Mariners, at a time when he has an offer in hand from the Detroit Tigers.

• Other teams have asked the Houston Astros about infielder Jed Lowrie, but Houston likes Lowrie, and unless the Astros are overwhelmed, they're likely to keep him.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Rays cut some ticket prices.

2. Even a Rangers teammate isn't sure whether keeping Josh Hamilton with a big deal is a good idea.

3. A Brewers outfielder is going to sit out the WBC.

4. Wrote here Tuesday how the Phillies are interested in Josh Hamilton. Jim Salisbury addresses the question.

5. Torii Hunter was in Detroit.

6. The Cardinals released Kyle McClellan.

7. The Reds should listen to offers for Zack Cozart, writes John Erardi.

8. The Indians shouldn't hesitate to deal Shin-Soo Choo.

9. The Twins' rotation plan is complicated by the departure of Scott Baker, writes Joe Christensen.

10. Baker is coming back from Tommy John surgery.

11. Dante Bichette was hired as the Colorado Rockies' new hitting coach. Jason Giambi felt the timing wasn't right, writes Troy Renck.

12. The San Francisco Giants like their chances of re-signing Marco Scutaro, writes Henry Schulman.

13. The Dodgers added some coaches.

Free agents trending upward.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Free agency is all about timing, as Zack Greinke can attest. There were multiple teams that passed on him in trade talks just 23 months ago, concerned about whether he would be worth the expense and whether he would fit in their respective markets. Now, after a couple of good but unspectacular seasons, he's entering the kind of bidding war that agents can only dream of: The incumbent employer (the Los Angeles Angels) against a division rival (the Texas Rangers) and a market rival (the Los Angeles Dodgers), in an offseason when there's very little pitching available.

Like Greinke, the players below are all trending upward as the market takes shape this winter.

J.P. Howell, LHP


The 29-year-old lefty had surgery in May of 2010 and gradually worked his way back in 2012, as he regained fastball velocity and command. According to FanGraphs, Howell's fastball velocity was in the 84-85 mph range in the first four of his 55 outings last season, and in his last appearance, he had his best fastball of the year, at 88 mph, after a steady and slow climb through the year.

After a slow start, Howell didn't allow a run in 20 innings in July and August, before having four rough innings in September. The Rays had a deep bullpen in 2012 and Howell didn't serve in the high-leverage role that he did in 2008 or 2009, and he was used more as a matchup guy against lefties last year, rather than in the all-encompassing role he had before.

It'll be left to the interested parties to determine if Howell can get back to being the force he was for the Rays before his surgery, but the timing of his second-half surge in velocity and performance couldn't have been better.

Jonathan Broxton, RHP


After Broxton lost his closer's job with the Dodgers, there were doubts within the industry whether he could handle the high-pressure role again. But everything played out perfectly for Broxton's free-agency chances last season. Joakim Soria got hurt and Broxton climbed back into the closer's job in K.C., picking up 23 saves in 27 chances with the Royals before he was traded to the Reds. And after joining Cincinnati, he walked just three batters in his last 22⅓ innings, with 20 strikeouts.

Broxton is just 28 years old and he throws really hard, with his average velocity just a tick below 95 mph. There has been substantial interest in him during this offseason, and it appears that he could get one of the biggest deals in the relief market.

Cody Ross, OF


He signed a one-year, $3 million deal to play for the Red Sox last winter and had a really nice season, hitting 22 homers among 57 extra-base hits in just 130 games for Boston. Evaluators have noted the major split between his home and road performances -- .921 OPS in Fenway Park, .684 on the road -- but his power intrigues teams like the Phillies. And at a time when some clubs are suffering from the sticker shock of the high-end free agents, he is a nice moderately-priced alternative. The Red Sox were not comfortable with his asking price of about $25 million over three years, but it's apparent that he's going to get more than the $3 million he got last winter.

Jeremy Guthrie, RHP


His work for the Kansas City Royals, after he was traded by the Colorado Rockies, saved his free agency. In Guthrie's last 11 starts he posted a 2.17 ERA, which recast his 2012 work. Guthrie is not going to get as much as Kyle Lohse, but as the winter dance plays out, a team badly in need of starting pitching is going to move aggressively. His solid history with Baltimore pitching in the AL East helps -- and you wonder if this might make him more attractive to Toronto.

Joe Saunders, LHP


His ERA for the Diamondbacks was 4.22 and in his initial start with Baltimore, he allowed seven runs in 5⅓ innings. But after that, Saunders fared very well, all in high-pressure games as the Orioles made their push into the playoffs, and beyond. In his last eight starts for Baltimore -- including postseason starts in Texas and New York -- he had a 2.49 ERA, with just 11 walks in 50⅔ innings, a really nice audition for the offseason.

Ryan Ludwick, LF


He has bounced around a lot in his career, getting traded four times, and after he hit .232 with two homers in 38 games for the Pirates in 2011, he settled for a one-year, $2 million deal with the Reds for 2012.

But after a slow start in April, Ludwick went off, mashing 20 homers in the span of three months in the middle of the season. The first question every prospective employer is going to ask is whether Ludwick's numbers were built mostly in the cozy home ballpark in Cincinnati, and the answer is no.

Ludwick posted an .896 OPS with 16 homers in Cincy in 2012, and had an .856 mark and 10 homers on the road.

He declined a club option of $4 million for 2013, which makes sense, because he'll get more than that this winter.

Jason Grilli, RHP


He was drafted in 1997 and just turned 36 this past Sunday. But Grilli had one of the best under-the-radar seasons in baseball for the Pirates in 2012, striking out 90 in 58⅔ innings, with 22 walks; lefties had 50 strikeouts in 101 at-bats against him.

According to Baseball Reference, Grilli has made less than $3.5 million in major league salary in his career, and he has set himself up to get more than that when he signs this winter.

Jeff Keppinger, Utility


Look, nobody's going to go crazy to sign him. But he demonstrated that he is really good at what he does -- hitting left-handers and putting the ball in play.

He had a .402 on-base percentage against southpaws, 25th best in the majors for all hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, with a .521 slugging percentage. And among hitters with at least 400 plate appearances, Keppinger had the second fewest strikeouts, with just 31.

But more importantly for Keppinger, he played well when the Rays began relying heavily on him in the second half.

Top 8 in batting average after the All-Star break in 2012
1. Buster Posey .385
2. Torii Hunter .350
3. Marco Scutaro .339
4. Miguel Cabrera .337
5. Billy Butler .336
6. Ryan Braun .333
7. Jeff Keppinger .332
8. Aramis Ramirez .331

Those numbers should translate into solid offers for him.

Sean Burnett, LHP


The Giants should soon announce the signing of Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year deal worth about $18 million, which is great news for Burnett. Last season, Burnett walked just 12 batters in 56⅔ innings, with 57 strikeouts. And remember, Burnett just turned 30 years old. The Nationals used him primarily to match up against lefties, but his numbers against right-handed hitters in his career show he is usable -- a .398 slugging percentage.

With Affeldt off the board, Burnett's going to get a nice deal.

Around the league

• The Red Sox have been doing a whole lot of background work on Mike Napoli, and if they sign him he would be perfect for their ballpark, as Ross was. (In 72 career plate appearances at Fenway, Napoli has 7 homers and a 1.107 OPS.)

Napoli could split his time between catching (say, 90 games), first base (40-50 games) and DH, against some left-handed pitchers. He likes to catch, and wants to catch, but evaluators say he tends to wear down if he plays the position regularly, mitigating the offensive advantage of having him at catcher.

• The Rangers, preparing for the possibility that Napoli will sign elsewhere, have been doing a lot of work on their catching situation, exploring other options, including Russell Martin.

Rival executives don't expect Texas to tender a contract to Geovany Soto, who hit .196 in 47 games after being traded to the Rangers in midseason.

• Wrote here last week about how Torii Hunter would be a great fit for the Tigers, and indeed his decision seems to be coming down to a choice between Texas and Detroit. Hunter is much less concerned with making money in this deal than with picking the right fit, and besides the fact the Tigers have a good clubhouse and a highly respected manager, Hunter's son will be attending Notre Dame on a football scholarship -- South Bend, Ind., is a mere 3½ hour drive from Detroit.

Hunter has a home in Dallas, so he could essentially play at home if he picked the Rangers.

• The Phillies are among the teams talking with Cody Ross, and while Philadelphia would be OK paying Josh Hamilton a high annual salary, the Phillies -- like a lot of other teams -- are concerned about the length of the contract.

• The Mariners are prepared to go after a big-name free agent, but the folks in baseball operations understand how high the stakes are, after recent misses with Chone Figgins, etc. "They know they can't be wrong on the next one," said one official.

• Michael Pineda was at Yankee Stadium again Monday, throwing on flat ground as part of his shoulder rehabilitation program. Pineda had gotten the OK earlier in the day from the doctor who did his surgery last spring.

• Oakland had talks with Jonny Gomes on a two-year deal before the A's made the Chris Young trade, but those fell apart. Now the Orioles are having conversations about Gomes.

• Buck Showalter and Bob Melvin are probably the No. 1 and No. 2 candidates in the AL Manager of the Year voting that will be announced Tuesday night. The manager of the year award, Showalter said over the phone Monday, is more of an organizational award -- and he really had a great time with the 2012 Orioles.

"I had a blast this year," he said. "I never had more fun in baseball. We just have a lot of people who have a lot in common. It's like Jim Thome said to me after he came over: 'What a locker room. Even the young guys get it.' It was a group that said, 'This has a chance to be a lot of fun,' and they did their work. There were so many things I didn't have to manage.

"What we talked about all year was grinding through the nine innings, and that's what they did. It was a team that really stayed in the moment."

Bob Melvin was outdone by no one in baseball, writes Monte Poole.

• Showalter is greatly encouraged by the work that Brian Roberts is doing so far this offseason. The second baseman played in just 17 games in 2012, but late in the year, after injury ended his playing time, Showalter talked to Roberts about staying with the team, about staying connected, and so the veteran traveled with the team. Since early October, Roberts has been in Florida, training and rehabbing almost every day as he prepares for 2013. Last Saturday morning, he called Showalter to ask about having someone open the Orioles' facility in Sarasota, so he could get his daily work in.

• New Jersey's own Mike Trout won the AL Rookie of the Year, Jeff Bradley writes; and Bryce Harper won the NL Rookie of the Year, James Wagner writes.

Harper raised and cleared the bar, writes Thomas Boswell. His heartbeat was escalating as he waited for the announcement, writes Amanda Comak.

Todd Frazier finished third.

Trout will be a candidate for another award this week, Mike DiGiovanna writes.
Moves, deals and decisions

1. The new math for Rafael Soriano does not look good, writes Joel Sherman.

2. A key member of the Pirates' scouting department left the organization.

3. Chris Antonetti talks with Paul Hoynes about the risk of rebuilding.

4. The Dodgers continue to spend a whole lot of money -- including upgrades with their scouting department, as well.

5. With David Ross gone, the Braves have another item on their to-do list, writes David O'Brien.

A surplus of catching for the Red Sox.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Catching jobs are open all over the place, so much so that it feels like one giant game of musical chairs. The New York Yankees need a catcher, so do the Texas Rangers, and the Tampa Bay Rays are always looking.

Boston's signing of David Ross theoretically creates a surplus of catching for the Red Sox, and theoretically, general manager Ben Cherington could weigh offers for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is climbing the salary arbitration scale.

But a lot of what Boston does with its catching depends on what the Red Sox are saying in their internal evaluations of Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway, and whether they really see either as a frontline catcher in 2014 and 2015.

Saltalamacchia is 27 years old and is coming off a season in which he posted a .288 on-base percentage -- precisely matching his OBP from 2011; in 2012, he hit 25 homers among 41 extra-base hits. Working with a pitching staff that has been notoriously poor at holding runners, he allowed 80 stolen bases in 98 attempts. As Saltalamacchia climbs the salary arbitration scale, he is due for significant raises in the next two seasons, over the $2.5 million he made last year.

Ross, who turns 36 next spring, hasn't been a frontline catcher in five years, never playing in more than 62 games since 2007; he served as a right-handed complement to Brian McCann in Atlanta.

And while the 25-year-old Lavarnway has intriguing power -- he hit 32 homers in the minors in 2011 -- some rival evaluators have some serious questions about whether he can be a catcher in the major leagues, just as some have never viewed Jesus Montero as someone who could play the position. "I've never seen a catcher with actions that slow," said one evaluator of Lavarnway. "Ever."

Said another: "He is a very slow-moving guy. He throws OK, but everything has to be perfect for him to throw runners out. He's a good backup, because of his bat."

From a longtime evaluator:

"The Red Sox don't think they have the right everyday guy on their roster. Salty is too inconsistent behind the plate and struggles hitting left-handed pitching. Lavarnway has to hit a lot to be the everyday guy to make up for his below-average defense, which is a big question because of how his offensive season went in 2012. [David] Ross is a good sign for them, but he is a guy you can't overexpose.

"Lavarnway is limited behind the plate due to athleticism, but is a very hard worker and has improved. But [for him to be your] everyday catcher, he is going to have to hit a ton. Part of his offensive downturn this year might have happened because he caught more than ever and got tired as the season went on. He swung the bat well the first half of the Triple-A season and then it was starting to head south before he was called up to the major leagues.

"Defensively he is a little slow-moving and struggles with better stuff. His arm at times can be average, but his throws have some tail to them and the footwork to the release is slow.

"Realistically I see Lavarnway as a part-time player who can catch some, maybe DH some against left-handed pitching, and with some work, maybe play some first base -- but that won't be pretty. His bat will dictate his career; he is a better hitter than seen in 2012."

The Red Sox believe Lavarnway can be an everyday catcher -- for what it's worth, he was picked as the best defensive catcher in the International League -- and one official noted that Lavarnway has willed himself to get better and has improved consistently. Late development is not unusual for catchers.

The respected A.J. Ellis of the Los Angeles Dodgers didn't play in his first game in the big leagues until he was 27, and wasn't a regular until he was 29. Mike Redmond, recently hired as manager of the Marlins, didn't reach the big leagues until he was 27, and he was asked about being a coach; Redmond decided to keep playing, and wound up playing 13 seasons in the big leagues.

Ross hits well against lefties, but he is respected for his attention to detail as a catcher, and fits the classic profile of a No. 2 catcher, with defense as the priority. The guess here is that Boston will go with Saltalamacchia and Ross, while continuing Lavarnway's development in the minors. "We'll see what the offseason brings," said one evaluator.

Other thoughts

• The Atlanta Braves will now go after a backup catcher, writes David O'Brien, and keep in mind that McCann -- who had shoulder surgery after the season -- probably won't be ready to play until sometime in May. The Braves need someone who is capable of catching regularly early in the season.

• Not surprisingly, the Cleveland Indians have targeted starting pitching as they prepare to consider offers for Asdrubal Cabrera, who is signed through 2014. Cabrera is regarded by some evaluators as an average or slightly below-average shortstop defensively, but is an elite offensive player at his position, ranking fourth last season in OPS among shortstops. His numbers faded in the second half of last season, but some evaluators believe he simply lost focus as the Indians crumbled.

• The Rays may have the best package of prospects to offer the Arizona Diamondbacks for Justin Upton, writes Marc Topkin.

• The Diamondbacks have thought that Tampa Bay is the second-best possible fit for a trade of talent, behind Texas -- although the Rangers are balking at giving up Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar, shortstops that Arizona covets -- and Upton would give Rays a badly needed presence in the middle of their lineup.

But he could hurt the Rays, in another regard: He is about to get really expensive, relative to what Tampa Bay has typically paid its talent. Upton will make $38.5 million over the next three seasons -- $9.75 million next year, $14.25 million in 2014 and $14.5 million in 2015. The Rays can make that work, but it would mean taking on a player who would absorb something in the range of 20 percent of their payroll.

• I wrote here yesterday about how baseball's general managers were much more forceful in their support of additional instant replay in the recently concluded meetings. What some executives hope is that there is less handwringing over finding the perfect system, with perfectly defined parameters, and that the focus be on correcting the worst major mistakes when possible. The general sentiment, said one official, was to create a system that can reverse egregious calls, and not micromanage every call.

• Oakland can comfortably wait to see if Stephen Drew winds up coming back to them for a deal. The Athletics will get another shortstop in place, but no matter who they get now, it won't be someone so good (barring an Cabrera trade) that they couldn't adjust if Drew decides to return to Oakland.

Drew hit .223 with a .657 OPS in 79 regular-season games in 2012; he turns 30 next March.

• Steve Kelley writes that Seattle Mariners fans deserve a bat like Josh Hamilton's. All it takes to alter a player's market is one aggressive, desperate team -- and it's clear that the pressure on the Mariners to make a big move is mounting.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Toronto Blue Jays have recalibrated the limits of their multiyear deals.

2. Jeff Luhnow's work at the GM meetings has set the stage for the rest of the offseason, writes Brian Smith.

3. The Minnesota Twins signed a pitcher.

4. Bill Madden thinks the Colorado Rockies are crazy for giving new manager Walt Weiss a one-year contract. Mark Kiszla thinks Weiss needs to change the team's defeatist mindset.

I think he just needs better pitching.

5. R.A. Dickey wants to go back to the New York Mets.

6. The Philadelphia Phillies need their key guys to be healthy, writes Matt Gelb. Michael Cuddyer could be an option.

7. The Detroit Tigers need to take a more measured approach this offseason.

8. A new Brewer is glad to be with them.

9. The Dodgers spent a lot of money on a lefty.

10. Don't expect the Baltimore Orioles to make a run at Ian Kinsler, writes Eduardo Encina.

Progress being made on instant replay.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When baseball's general managers have discussed instant replay at past GM meetings, they have taken their cue from commissioner Bud Selig. Knowing that the most powerful person in management has generally been resistant to the idea, they haven't pushed the issue, with some of them believing there was no sense in talking about it unless Selig wanted it.

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Bud SeligPatrick McDermott/Getty ImagesBud Selig has been resistant to the idea of instant replay in the past.

But the conversation among the GMs was very different this year, some in the room said, with the club executives forcefully stating that they believe baseball should embrace more replay.

And the perception of some in the room is that MLB officials are far more receptive to it than they've ever been. "It's the first time I believed that real change is coming," one official said. "There was a lot of passion in the room to get it right."

Selig has stated in the past that more replay will be used -- in limited situations. But there is clearly an appetite among club executives for more extensive use of replay.

The reasons for this have long been discussed among the GMs: Because of improved TV technology -- super slo-mo, more angles, etc. -- everybody watching knows quickly whether a call was missed. Some executives want umpires to have access to replay, when needed, to ensure the proper call is made. "It's really not fair to the umpires, at this point," one executive said.

During the recently concluded postseason, there were multiple situations when replay showed that calls were missed. In the Yankees-Tigers series, for example, second-base umpire Jeff Nelson -- who is regarded as one of the better umpires in the sport -- called Omar Infante safe on a tag play in a close game. Replay quickly showed that Infante had been tagged well before he touched the base. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Nelson this during a subsequent argument and was ejected.

MLB executive Joe Torre was asked, again, about instant replay after that game. "We are looking into it," Torre said. "We have technology set up in this ballpark [Yankee Stadium] and over at Citi Field the last month of the season and are looking at the results of that, but that wouldn't have included the play tonight.

"We have to make sure we don't have any knee-jerk reaction to something that's, you know, already we settle this tag play at second base, and all of a sudden we find, you know, something else comes up and something else comes up, and the game goes on and on forever and forever."

This week, sources say, the consensus in the room during the general managers' discussion seemed to be that the games will be improved by replay.


•Trevor Bauer worked this week to mend fences, writes Nick Piecoro. From Nick's story:

At a team-organized golf tournament Friday morning in Chandler[, Ariz.], Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said Bauer has reached out to teammates and the front office.

"What we have heard from him lately is very encouraging," Hall told reporters, including "He realizes he has made mistakes and he wants to embrace his teammates and hopes that they forgive him. Just really positive signs and we see a lot of maturity from everything he went through."

Said Towers: "I think he wants his experience when he comes to spring training to be a positive one. It shows a lot from him that he's reaching out to players and wants to learn what you need to do to be a professional and be in a big-league clubhouse."

Still, two high-ranking executives with other teams said this week that they expect the Diamondbacks to trade him.

Bauer, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, posted a 2.42 ERA with 157 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings in the minors. He had a 6.06 ERA in the majors.

•Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro tends to move very quickly, as he did last fall with the rapid-fire signing of a closer. He worked hard to re-sign Ryan Madson, and, when those conversations stalled, he immediately signed Jonathan Papelbon.

Not surprisingly, then, rival executives and agents say Amaro is being very aggressive in pursuit of a center fielder. Michael Bourn is generally regarded as the best of the free-agent lot, and Amaro knows him well from Bourn's past history with the Phillies. But Bourn is represented by agent Scott Boras, who tends to operate deliberately, preferring to let the market percolate. If the Phillies aren't able to work out a deal with Bourn, their Plan B may well be B.J. Upton, who now has a strong link to Philadelphia.

Steve Henderson, the hitting coach recently hired by the Phillies, used to be Upton's hitting coach with the Tampa Bay Rays, and the two had a good relationship. The Phillies have been doing a lot of background work on Upton, among others, asking questions about Upton's personality and whether he would be a fit in that market.

The Phillies also have had talks about Angel Pagan, an outfielder the Giants would very much like to re-sign.

The Phillies are trying to get younger, and more right-handed, and Upton just turned 28 in August. As expected, Upton declined the Rays' qualifying offer.

•There was probably some relief in the Yankees' organization after Rafael Soriano officially rejected the team's $13.3 million qualifying offer. With the Angels looking at lower-cost options and trade possibilities to fill out the back end of their bullpen, it's not clear where Soriano can get a strong multiyear deal for the annual average value the Yankees had offered -- and New York's preference was for Soriano to turn down the offer and sign elsewhere so the Yankees can get a compensation draft pick.

It's almost certain now that the Yankees will get two draft picks, given that Nick Swisher is expected to sign elsewhere, and it's very possible New York will get three picks -- if Hiroki Kuroda leaves, as well.

Jerry Dipoto all but ruled out spending big dollars on a reliever in speaking with Mike DiGiovanna.

•Davey Johnson won't manage past 2013. From Adam Kilgore's story:

[GM Mike] Rizzo has said he wants Johnson's successor to come from within the organization. Bench coach Randy Knorr appears to be the leading candidate, with first base coach Trent Jewett, Class AAA Syracuse Manager Tony Beasley and Class AA Harrisburg Manager Matt LeCroy also possibilities.

•Mariano Rivera doesn't have knee pain, writes Mark Feinsand.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Rival officials believe it's the Dodgers who won this bidding. One official referred to the Dodgers, in conversation, as "The Los Angeles Yankees." Meaning that they tend to spend a lot of money.

2. Braves GM Frank Wren says the meetings were productive.

3. Josh Hamilton is still in the mix for the Rangers, writes Jeff Wilson. The Rangers are likely to meet with Hamilton's agent next week, writes Evan Grant.

4. The Blue Jays signed a pitcher.

5. Jamie Samuelsen believes Melky Cabrera could be a good fit for the Tigers. Another name that could make sense: Torii Hunter. He'd give the Tigers a nice complementary presence in their lineup, batting fifth or sixth, and he's a strong defensive outfielder -- and he'd be a nice addition to their clubhouse, on a relatively short-term deal.

6. The Royals signed some former Braves.

7. The Cardinals have quality chips to play if they pursue an Asdrubal Cabrera deal, writes Jeff Gordon. I can't imagine the Indians trading Cabrera to the Cardinals without the inclusion of Shelby Miller or Carlos Martinez in the deal. If Cleveland trades Cabrera, it will want young starting pitching in return.

The great thing about Cabrera is that he can play anywhere in the infield, like a Carlos Guillen, and, as he ages, this becomes an incredibly valuable asset.

8. The Pirates signed some minor leaguers.

9. The Mets are talking up R.A. Dickey. Dickey may well win the NL Cy Young this week, but it's hard to imagine he would have the kind of trade value the Mets would want (and need) to make a deal, given his age. There would be a greater chance of return of value if they signed him, it would seem.

10. The Orioles re-signed Lew Ford.

11. For the Red Sox, this might not be the time for a blockbuster trade, writes Brian MacPherson. They have little urge to splurge, writes John Tomase.

12. Tom Runnells will be back as the Rockies' bench coach.

13. The Yankees hired widely respected Gil Patterson.

14. The Angels hired Tim Bogar and Mike Hampton.

15. Everth Cabrera played really well down the stretch and could be the Padres' leadoff hitter.

16. The Dodgers are interested in a long-term deal with Clayton Kershaw.

17. At some point, the Mariners need to get the job done and add players, writes Geoff Baker.

18. The Cubs want to sign Jeff Samardzija to a long-term deal.

19. Doug Melvin says he hasn't talked about a new Corey Hart deal.

Arizona at a crossroads with Upton.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Some rival executives are convinced that the Diamondbacks want to trade Justin Upton, despite the assertions to the contrary from Arizona general manager Kevin Towers.

They believe that when managing partner Ken Kendrick said recently that he expected Upton would open 2013 with the team, he was just attempting to tamp down the perception that Arizona was in a rush to make a deal, and hold up the D-Backs' trade leverage for as long as possible.

No matter what Arizona's true intention right now, Towers and Kendrick have to know that a trade of Upton has a chance of paying off, and also blowing up in a big way, like the Cubs' 1964 trade of a young outfielder named Lou Brock.

The Diamondbacks are at a crossroads with Upton.

"There's no doubt he has the talent to be a big star," said a rival GM. "You're talking about a guy who can go on and win MVP Awards, and he's what, 24, 25 years old?"

Upton turned 25 in August, and this is what his résumé already includes: 108 career homers, an OPS+ of 117, two All-Star appearances, and a fourth-place finish for NL MVP in 2011.

But it's apparent the Diamondbacks have concerns about Upton, voiced by Kendrick in June in a radio interview. Kendrick said, "He's certainly not the Justin Upton that he has been in the past and that we would expect of him. He's 24 years old, and it's time for him to be a consistent performer and right now this year he's not been that."

Upton played 150 games last season and finished with 17 homers, 67 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .430, which ranked 80th among 141 qualified hitters.

Scouts were taken aback by how Upton tended to take a lot of called strikes, and how poor at-bats early in a game seemed to fester for him in subsequent at-bats; the frustration over a disputed called strike sometimes carried over, some of them thought.

A lot of the data about Upton's at-bats -- the percentage of times he swings at pitches out of the strike zone, his strikeouts, his walks -- have generally been consistent. There has been one major change: The percentage of four-seam fastballs thrown to Upton has changed significantly during his time in the big leagues, according to FanGraphs. Check out the rate, year by year, as a percentage of pitches thrown:

2007: 57.9
2008: 54.7
2009: 50.0
2010: 38.7
2011: 33.5
2012: 30.9

Is his slide last season somehow related to that? The Diamondbacks presumably have a strong collective opinion about that, in going through their internal evaluations.

Uptin is owed $38.5 million over the next three seasons, under the terms of a long-term deal that he signed just 2½ years ago. If he has another subpar season in 2013 like last year, his trade value -- still very high -- would plummet dramatically. There is risk in keeping him.

There is risk in trading him, as well, if he goes elsewhere and blossoms. And unless the Rangers completely change their stance and decide to trade Jurickson Profar -- which seems very unlikely -- there probably isn't a perfect Upton deal for the Diamondbacks to make. Their preference is to get an elite young shortstop or third baseman, but there aren't a lot of those available. They could get pitching from the Rays, whether it be Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields. They could follow up on the discussions they had with the Cubs near the July 31 trade deadline about Starlin Castro. They could focus on young prospects in a Red Sox deal. They could revisit the talks they had with Seattle last winter, when the Mariners had the best offer on the table for Upton. They could talk to the Tigers about young third baseman Nick Castellanos, and others.

For the readers: If you were running the Diamondbacks, and sitting in Kevin Towers's seat, what would you do?

Nick Piecoro tries to make some sense of the Upton trade rumors.

The Rangers have options with Jurickson Profar, writes Jeff Wilson.


• Yasmani Grandal was an important piece in the trade that San Diego made with Cincinnati last winter, when they swapped Mat Latos for a group of Reds' prospects. Grandal was a first-round pick in 2010 and had an excellent run in the minors before being called up and mashing two homers in his first start. All along, he has looked like a player a franchise could build around.

The problem for the Padres now -- the problem for all teams who have players suddenly revealed as PED users -- is that they really don't know what they have, which is part of the reason why there was such anger in the organization after Grandal was suspended. How much of his success on the field was built on PEDs?

Is a he player with marginal major league talent who was lifted into a higher tier by drug use?

If Grandal, who now faces a 100-game suspension with his next violation, stops taking performance-enhancing drugs, can he be the same player he was?

There's no way for the Padres to know the answers to any of these questions, as they plan their future.

• Sandy Alderson joked about his team, writes Andrew Keh. From the story:

One reporter asked Alderson for his assessment of the Mets' outfield, which presently resembles a wasteland, without a single everyday player.

"What outfield?" Alderson replied, spurring a burst of laughter from those gathered around him.

That quickly led to another quip. "We're going to bring those fences in another 150 feet," he said, playing off the fact that a season ago he shortened the dimensions of spacious Citi Field in a bid to help the team's power hitters.

Two jokes are a lot for a general manager speaking on the record, but Alderson was just getting started.

Asked from where the team's new outfielders would be acquired, he grinned. The reporters waited. "A cardboard box?" he said, finally.

It should be noted: Club executives often crack jokes like this -- but those comments almost always are made off the record.

• B.J. Upton is set to decline his qualifying offer. The same is true with Michael Bourn.

• A lot of the teams who have expressed early interest in Nick Swisher -- the Rangers, among others -- like him because of the positional flexibility he brings, as someone who can play first base as well as the outfield.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Red Sox are hoping that Jose Iglesias can be their shortstop. A lot of evaluators don't think he'll hit enough to hold down an everyday job in the big leagues; we'll see. Boston is going after free agents, writes Michael Silverman.

2. The Marlins hired Tino Martinez as their hitting coach.

3. Davey Johnson and the Nationals are close to a deal, writes Adam Kilgore.

4. The Phillies' best route may be through a trade, writes David Murphy. Freddy Galvis might be the Phillies' third baseman.

5. The Pirates hired Bill Livesey.

6. Craig Shipley, who had a lot of success scouting internationally for the Red Sox, has taken a job as assistant to the GM for the Diamondbacks. He'll do some scouting domestically and overseas, as well as doing other things for the baseball operations department.

7. An R.A. Dickey trade is a possibility.

8. Robinson Cano is not going to give the Yankees a hometown discount.

9. The Jays signed Maicer Izturis to a three-year deal.

10. The Jays are looking at Anibal Sanchez and other high-end starters.

11. The Royals, managing their 40-man roster, dealt a couple of pitchers.

12. John Erardi thinks the Reds need a leadoff hitter.

13. It's only a matter of time before Shin-Soo Choo moves on, writes Paul Hoynes.

14. The Twins must improve their defense, writes Joe Christensen.

15. Walt Weiss is comfortable with a one-year deal. A couple of Rockies' players like Weiss's intensity. Jason Giambi is mulling an offer to be the Rockies' hitting coach.

16. The Angels are looking at a reliever in Japan, writes Mike DiGiovanna.

17. The Dodgers are looking for more pitching.

Blue Jays make big gains at low cost.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

The Blue Jays-Marlins trade, pending physicals, is a five-for-seven swap that sees the Jays getting Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck in exchange for prospects Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani and big leaguers Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria. It's a huge deal in numbers and in its potential to impact the standings of two divisions in 2013, with the Jays poised to be the most relevant they've been in 20 years while the Marlins live down to the reputation the franchise acquired in 1997-98 and has deserved ever since.

The Blue Jays get a lot of impact talent in this deal, making them contenders (at least for the moment) in 2013 without substantially damaging their chances to contend in future years. Johnson is an ace when healthy, which he seldom is; he finished the year looking strong, back to 93-97 with a plus curveball and above-average slider again, and if he looks like that all year he could be worth 5 wins above replacement to a Jays team that hasn't had that guy since it traded Roy Halladay.
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Jose ReyesAP Photo/Matt SlocumJose Reyes is a major upgrade for the Jays.

Johnson tops the rotation ahead of Brandon Morrow, behind whom the Jays will slot Buehrle, a reliable innings-eater who reached 200 innings for the 12th straight season, but whose below-average fastball isn't an ideal fit for Toronto's homer-friendly home park. Even if he dips to just below league-average, the Jays desperately need the innings he'll provide, given the elbow plague that infected their rotation in 2012. If Johnson is healthy and Ricky Romero gets back to his old form, this will be one of the league's best rotations in 2013, although the probability of both of those things happening in one calendar year is not that high.

Reyes becomes the Jays' everyday shortstop, the best one they've had since Tony Fernandez left after the 1999 season. His 2011 walk year was built on a batting average he wasn't likely to see again, but the remainder of his skill set -- average defense at short, above-average running, good plate coverage, modest pop -- remains intact, and at shortstop that's going to be worth 4 to 6 wins over replacement, and a quick upgrade of about 3 over what the Jays got out of shortstop this past season.

They'll also get value from having Bonifacio as a supersub, a plus runner who can play six spots on the diamond, five of them well enough to handle on a part-time basis. Buck is a $6 million backup catcher, adding to Toronto's pile of catching while the Marlins get to dump a contract that was dumb the day that they gave it to him and looks just as bad now. He might be headed on to a third team, or could make it easier for the Jays to deal J.P. Arencibia and make room for catcher-of-the-future Travis d'Arnaud.

The lone negative for Jays fans is that the team has acquired a substantial amount of money owed, with Buehrle and Reyes both under contract beyond this year and possibly limiting the team's ability to make further moves this offseason or next. Buehrle is the biggest risk of the three major names coming back to fail to produce up to the level of his salary, although he happens to give the club the healthy/durable starter it desperately needed and might have had to overpay to get in free agency.

I'd offer my condolences to the Marlins' fans if only I could find them. Of all the players Miami got in return, only two stand out as guys the Blue Jays might someday miss, outfielder Marisnick and left-hander Nicolino.

Marisnick was the highest-rated Jays prospect coming into the 2012 season and had a solid first half in high Class A before struggling with his approach after a midseason promotion to Double-A. The tools are still there -- above-average runner, above-average arm, plenty of range for center, more raw power than in-game -- but that approach is becoming a greater concern as he gets older and it doesn't improve, especially when he's beatable both on breaking stuff and on hard stuff up or in. I also worry about the power not playing in games because he has virtually no load, so he doesn't get extended well enough before making contact, although that's something that could be tweaked. He's a strong prospect, but not as exciting as he looked 10 months ago.
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Yunel EscobarTom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesEscobar's antics have now gotten him run out of Atlanta and Toronto.

Nicolino's stat line is a little misleading, as he's not a power pitcher but a finesse left-hander with an average fastball that touches 93 mph and a plus changeup. He can flat-out pitch, with poise and approach that belie his age, and an easy, repeatable delivery. He may not miss as many bats as he moves up the ladder and doesn't offer any projection, but lefties with feel and a good change can pitch toward the middle of a rotation for a long time.

Henderson Alvarez had a plus fastball and plus changeup when he was coming up in the Jays' system, but the fastball has backed off a little and he has been unable to keep his changeup down in the zone, while he has never developed an average breaking ball, all of which has dropped his outlook from potential No. 2 starter to probable reliever. The Marlins can and should give Alvarez another year or so in the rotation to see if any of those issues resolves with experience or a new coaching staff, but as it stands now he doesn't miss enough bats to be a major league starter.

Anthony DeSclafani is definitely a reliever, where he'll touch 95 but needs to get more consistent tilt on his slider; he's a strike-thrower who did get to refine his off-speed stuff somewhat this year as a starter in low-A.

Jeff Mathis has a career .256 OBP in more than1,500 plate appearances and is probably best not discussed any further.

Yunel Escobar is probably better known for his bad makeup than he is for his on-field skills and has now run himself out of two cities; he doesn't walk or hit for power and his only offensive production in Toronto came at home in the first half of 2011, but he makes enough contact and adds value with his glove to make him a 2-win player.

Adeiny Hechavarria is a 70 defender at shortstop (on the 20-80 scouting scale) both in glove and arm, and is never going to hit -- but replacement level at short right now is low enough that he could be a 2-win player, although one of these two guys has to move off short. Both were born in Cuba and may, in theory, appeal to Cuban-American Marlins fans who aren't thoroughly disgusted by the way the team's owners are running the franchise back into the subterranean hole out of which they originally crawled.

Those limicolous owners are the greatest joke of all in this deal, rooking Florida taxpayers for a publicly funded stadium, only to make one half-hearted attempt to fill it with a contending team, then surrendering after the season to return to their old business model, playing a skeleton-crew lineup while pocketing all of their revenue-sharing money. This isn't a bad baseball deal for Miami; it's not a baseball deal at all -- it's a boondoggle, perpetrated by owners who have pulled one stunt like this after another, with the implicit approval of the commissioner's office. It's time for baseball to rid itself of Jeff Loria and David Samson by any means possible. Miami, the state of Florida, and the sport in general will be better off without them.

Harper the right choice for NL ROY.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The rookie of the year awards were announced Monday, with Mike Trout (not surprisingly) winning in the American League and Bryce Harper winning in the National League.

I voted in the NL, so let's start there. It was the first time I had the opportunity to vote for the rookie of the year since joining the Baseball Writers' Association of America a few years ago, and it's an award I enjoy discussing more than the others because it connects to the part of my job that revolves around scouting and evaluating prospects. This year's NL crop was a deep one but had just one true breakout prospect, so he was at the top of the ballot I filed the day after the season ended.

1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
2. Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers

Filling out this ballot turned out to be easier than I had expected it to be when September began, thanks to a .330/.400/.643 (BA/OBP/SLG) month from Harper that saw him pull away from Aoki and Todd Frazier and edge ahead of Miley for the top spot on my ballot. Harper ended the season at 4.9 wins above replacement (FanGraphs' version), with roughly four wins coming from his bat and about two-thirds of a win coming from the defensive value of his arm alone, enough to put him in a virtual tie with Miley at 4.8 WAR (FanGraphs) for tops among NL rookies.

I put Harper over Miley, even with my reluctance to rely too much on the precision of advanced defensive metrics, for a variety of reasons that come down to the essence of the award itself. The purpose of this award has to be to highlight a rising star in the game, and to help further the image and the marketing of the sport by pointing out to all fans, "Hey, watch this guy, because he's going to be great for a long time." Harper performed at an extremely high level this year, posting one of the best seasons by a teenager in baseball history, and has the greatest potential of any NL rookie in this class to end up an MVP-caliber player. Those factors elevated him over Miley, who had a solid season he might repeat many times but who is five years Harper's senior and who isn't likely to become a Cy Young contender at his peak.

Whether you rely on FanGraphs or Baseball-Reference for WAR figures, Harper's total ranks as the best by any teenage position player ever. The next four, per Baseball-Reference, are Mel Ott, Edgar Renteria, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ty Cobb -- two Hall of Famers and one future member in the set. The only teenagers to post higher slugging percentages in a season (minimum 300 plate appearances) than Harper's .477 were Ott and Tony Conigliaro. The only teenagers to post higher OBPs were Ott, Renteria, Cobb, Conigliaro, Mickey Mantle and former Washington Senator Buddy Lewis, who might be better known today had he not spent his time from age 25 to 27 flying for the U.S. Air Force in World War II. Harper is in some pretty elite company already, and he just turned 20 a few weeks ago. Had Miley blown him away in straight performance, I would have reversed the names, but they were roughly equal on the field, and the context gives a large edge to Harper.

The last spot came down to Aoki and Frazier, with Aoki winning almost by default when Dusty Baker made Frazier a part-time player, a role in which Frazier struggled although the two issues might not be connected. Aoki played more and contributed more value on defense, something that will always be an issue for Frazier, whose best position is probably left field but whose OBP will be a problem at one of the diamond's highest-offense spots. Neither player was that young in 2012, nor does either player project to be a star. I easily could have put Frazier in Aoki's spot, choosing to give it to the slightly more well-rounded player who also garnered more playing time. Mike Fiers was the only other name in the mix and would have been fifth if the ballot had more spots, although the more the league saw him, the worse he pitched.

No other player merited serious consideration for the top three spots. Anthony Rizzo could have made this interesting had he spent all season in the majors, but in 87 games, he couldn't come close to Aoki's or Frazier's production, let alone Harper's. Wilin Rosario's 28 homers from behind the plate might get him some attention, but he is a brutal receiver and did nearly all his offensive damage at Coors Field. Lance Lynn shows up on some leaderboards as a rookie but lost his eligibility in 2011 due to the number of days he spent on the 25-man roster.

American League

The AL rookie of the year ballot is pretty anticlimactic. Trout was the most valuable player in the AL this season, and there wasn't another rookie, position player or pitcher, who came close. I've got Yu Darvish in the second spot; he finished fourth among all AL pitchers in FanGraphs' WAR and fifth in strikeouts despite making just 29 starts. He also made significant adjustments over the course of the summer, throwing more strikes and relying more heavily on his cutter, giving me greater optimism as he heads into his second MLB season. I've got Jarrod Parker third over teammate Yoenis Cespedes. Parker was more valuable overall, in large part because he played closer to a full season, while Cespedes was a below-average defender in center, negating some of the value of his power output.

My Cy Young ballot.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Cy Young Awards this year haven't received the attention of the MVP or Rookie of the Year races, but there's a good chance for repeat winners in both leagues, with a sentimental favorite in the National League and a dominant season from a former No. 1 overall pick in the American League. I expect Justin Verlander and R.A. Dickey to win the awards, and I've listed the top five candidates in each league in my view -- that is, how I would have voted on each award if I had either ballot.

Just to make sure everyone's clear, I did not vote on either Cy Young Award this year. I did vote for the NL Rookie of the Year award and discussed that ballot Monday. These ballots are just hypotheticals.

American League

1. Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
3. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
4. Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
5. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

The debate about the AL MVP award is somewhat amusing because it so thoroughly dismisses, and perhaps disparages, the strong follow-up performance by reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Verlander, who probably would have matched his 2011 WAR (FanGraphs' version) this year had he made one more regular-season start. His peripherals were all just a rounding error away from where they were a year before -- strikeout rate (25 percent versus 25.8 percent in 2011), walk rate (6.1 percent versus 5.9 percent, removing intentional walks) and home run rate (whether you look at HR/9 or HR per fly ball), with only his BABIP (batting average allowed on balls in play) varying significantly but still showing up below league-average. Verlander has posted a BABIP below league-average in six of his seven full seasons in the majors, three times coming in just a few points below the league mark and three times coming in 20 points or more below it, even though the Tigers' defense over that period was average to slightly below. He is incredible and was easily the league's most valuable pitcher by both WAR metrics.

The best argument against Verlander is one I haven't heard -- the soft schedule the Tigers faced in the league's weakest division. Minnesota, Cleveland and Kansas City all finished in the bottom five in the league this year in runs scored, driven largely by a lack of power. That's not enough to close even half of the value gap between Verlander and the rest of the candidates, but it is worth acknowledging that even advanced metrics may slightly overstate Verlander's production in 2012.

King Felix gets the nod over Price for the second spot largely because of his workload. He threw 21 more innings than Price and faced 103 more batters, which mitigates the advantage Felix got from his home park. The two pitchers were quite close in their rate stats, and both faced strong competition this year.

Darvish and Sale both finished with around 190 innings, which would, if either won the award, be a new low for a starting pitcher who won the Cy in a 162-game season. Darvish made up for some of that lost production with the league's second-best strikeout rate, while Sale wasn't far behind and had an above-average walk rate to go with it. I'll admit to a small sentimental leaning for Jake Peavy, given how remarkable his comeback is and how much fun he is to watch when he's on, but Sale and Darvish were both significantly better this season. CC Sabathia also just misses out due to the time he spent on the disabled list.

Fernando Rodney may show up on some ballots for his incredible performance -- I mean, really incredible, since in 2011 he walked more guys than he punched out -- in a one-inning relief role for Tampa Bay, but 74 innings just isn't enough to get you into a rational discussion of value that involves starting pitchers working 190 innings or more.

National League

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
2. R.A. Dickey, New York Mets
3. Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
4. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
5. Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

I expected to have Dickey on top of my ballot even through the end of the season, and the two pitchers on top are extremely close, with nearly identical peripherals and just six innings of work separating them. Dickey confounds the advanced metrics on which I tend to rely when evaluating past performance, since knuckleballers are the one class of pitcher that defies the theory that pitchers have little control over the results of balls put into play. That said, if we adjust Kershaw's results to reflect a league-average BABIP and leave Dickey's line alone (since his BABIP this year was entirely consistent with the figures he posted in 2010 and 2011), the two are neck-and-neck -- and Kershaw faced a tougher schedule than Dickey did. (It's also worth noting that Kershaw's .262 BABIP this year, while a career low, isn't that far from his worst full-season BABIP of .275.) I'd like to see Dickey win, since he has never won before and as a writer who uses sabermetrics I am obligated to root for all knuckleballers, but I would have had him just behind Kershaw had I filed a ballot for NL Cy.

My colleague and longtime friend Christina Kahrl argued in a piece last week that Cueto belonged in the top three for NL Cy, but I can't quite get him there. Cueto and Gonzalez were about as close to each other as Kershaw and Dickey were, but Cueto's slate of opponents had a soft underbelly that Gonzalez's didn't. Cueto faced the Cubs four times, the Pirates four times and the Astros twice, the three teams with the lowest aggregate OBPs in the National League, accounting for nearly a third of his innings this year. He did his job against those clubs, with a 1.80 ERA in those 10 outings, but the task set before him by the schedule-makers was easier than what the other candidates had to face. Cueto's advantage over Gonzalez in innings and the tougher home park is balanced by Gio's higher strikeout rate, lower home run rate and harder schedule.

Lee ranked third in the NL in FanGraphs' WAR, just 1/10 of a win ahead of Cueto and Wade Miley, and seventh in Baseball Reference's WAR, behind the four names I listed above him, Jordan Zimmermann and Kris Medlen, who probably would have finished in the top three had he thrown another 60 innings. I doubt Lee will get much support due to his 6-9 record, giving him the fewest wins among NL qualifiers, but he was clearly among the top six or seven starters in the league this year.

Toronto now a good AL East bet.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Toronto Blue Jays played the role of the forgotten team in the AL East in 2012. Three of the AL East teams were in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season while a fourth team, the Boston Red Sox, had a noted collapse. Toronto finished in that muddling middle, never good enough for people to follow the number in the games-behind column, but never bad enough to become a punch line as Boston did.

But that's all about to change, as the Jays have reportedly pulled off a blockbuster with the Miami Marlins, acquiring Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio without giving up anyone who made a significant impact in 2012, and are now projected as a good bet to win the AL East in 2013.

Let's start with the premise that Toronto was much better than the 73-win team it was in 2012. The Jays got an amazing year out of Edwin Encarnacion, but outside of Encarnacion, the team wasn't the beneficiary of much in the way of good luck.

Whether it was Jose Bautista suffering an injury-plagued season or every other significant player underperforming expectations to some degree, from minor disappointment (Brett Lawrie) to disaster of galactic proportions (Ricky Romero), fortune frowned fairly regularly on the Jays. Now, not all of those players will improve in 2013, but as a group, they should improve enough simply from regression toward the mean to add a half-dozen games to the Jays' total, which brings them to 79 wins without factoring in any of the trade acquisitions.

I asked ZiPS to project Toronto's new acquisitions and the computer likes this trade as much as I do. Jose Reyes projects at .293/.343/.450 and 4.5 WAR in Toronto, which combined with a 2.4 WAR projection for Maicer Izturis over a full season as a starting second baseman, represents a four-win improvement over the projections for Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, who are reportedly headed to Miami in the trade.

Toronto's rotation looked weak at the start of the season and after a flurry of Tommy John surgeries -- hopefully the Jays got a group discount -- was a smoking wreckage by the end. Buehrle and Johnson project to add six wins above replacement, and considering they replace innings likely to be thrown by replacement-level (and possibly worse) pitchers, that's likely six net wins, not gross. If Romero's recent elbow surgery fixes him to the point where he can be just half the pitcher he was in 2011, a front four of Johnson, Buehrle, Romero and Brandon Morrow looks downright good.

Bonifacio and Buck don't provide the same big gains that the other three players in the trade bring, but Buck -- with a more typical season -- is worth a few runs more than J.P. Arencibia, and Bonifacio can fake enough positions to provide excellent value as a role player. The Jays still could use a second-tier left fielder to round up the lineup, but GM Alex Anthopoulos has plenty of time left to make an addition there.

So we're looking at a Jays team that projects to win about 90 games, and while Toronto's division rivals in Tampa Bay, Baltimore and New York all won 90 or more regular-season games in 2012, none of the three was an unstoppable juggernaut and all have real concerns heading into 2013.

The Yankees are a rapidly aging team, have holes in the outfield, at designated hitter and in the rotation, and with team management no longer willing to burn through cash faster than a trust-fund baby going on a four-day bender, they're going to be hard-pressed to fill all of those holes without also blowing past the luxury-tax threshold. And don't forget that Robinson Cano is a free agent in a year and probably the hardest hitter in the lineup to replace.

Tampa Bay and Baltimore have their own problems as well. The Rays have a low payroll, but it remains unlikely that the payroll will get much of a boost this offseason and they need a couple of hitters. GM Andrew Friedman is one of the best in baseball at retooling a team on the fly, but that always leaves the risk of ending up like Lucille Ball in that famous "I Love Lucy" clip of the comedienne working at a conveyor belt. And whether you attribute Baltimore's 93-win season to luck, mojo or some combination of Orioles Magic and pit beef, it's hard to deny that Cinderella teams have a strong tendency in baseball to be disappointing the following season.

Add up what the Jays have and what they gained today and you're looking at a team with a mean expectation for wins somewhere in the high 80s or low 90s. The Jays wove straw into gold today and this time, it wasn't just a fairy tale. AL East, you have been warned.

Assessing the deep CF market.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
For baseball's general managers, the toughest part of the baseball season is only a few weeks away. Convening in Nashville, Tenn., from Dec. 3-6, baseball executives will gather to take part in the biggest shopping days of the year at baseball's winter meetings.

The free-agent market is now 35 years of age, and today's free-agent market generally features fewer of baseball's elite than it did 20 years ago as teams are more willing and eager to lock up their best talent before those players hit the market. After all, not only do players have less leverage before hitting free agency, but why risk someone giving Matt Cain or Cole Hamels crazier money than you intend to?

Different free-agent markets are strong and weak in different things and this year, if you're looking to sign an upgrade at second base, you have very few options. If you're looking for a big-name shortstop, you'd have better luck waiting for divine intervention. But if you crave a center fielder, this may be your lucky year.

According to Keith Law's free-agent rankings, the top three hitters available in free agency, and four of the top 10, have generally played center field in recent years. Quality center fielders don't grow on trees, so there's no shortage of possible destinations for this group. And if you don't have $50 million or $100 million in your bank account to sign your very own center fielder -- I checked this morning and I appear to be a smidgen short of the required funds -- speculation is the next best thing. For each of the top free-agent center fielders, I've made my guess for which destinations would be the best fit. I've also tried to focus on at least remotely plausible scenarios, so no Houston Astros-sign-everybody-in-the-world scenarios. Since it's no fun having a bunch of complex algorithms and not using them, I've also included the 2013 ZiPS projection for each player in the park of his proposed 2013 employer.

Josh Hamilton to the Detroit Tigers

Hamilton is the best hitter you can get this offseason without having to surrender a gaggle of your top prospects, but his possible destinations are limited. It will be shocking if he gets the seven-year, $175 million contract he is reportedly seeking, but he's still not going to come cheaply and the majority of the teams in baseball are unlikely to have enough bankroll to bring Hamilton to town. He doesn't come without concerns, as he's not likely to be a viable center fielder much longer, turns 32 in May, and has worse plate discipline than me near buffalo wings on Super Bowl Sunday. However, what he has is game-changing power, and that's why he'll make big bucks this winter.

Hamilton's ideal home is with a team that has deep pockets and the roster to be a serious threat right now, and is less concerned about the last few years of a Hamilton contract. The Tigers fit that bill. Detroit needs a serious upgrade on Brennan Boesch, was just in a World Series in which the team's disappearing offense was its downfall, and has an owner in Mike Ilitch who has made no secret that he wants to be around to see his team win the World Series and is willing to spend the money required. While Hamilton would be a better fit in Comerica Park if he were a right-handed hitter, the Tigers can't simply call the factory and ask for the right-handed model number.

ZiPS projection in Detroit: .282/.341/.503 with 28 home runs and 4.5 WAR

B.J. Upton to the Cincinnati Reds

While the team certainly isn't happy that Drew Stubbs is no longer able to hack his way to an OPS high enough to make him a viable center fielder, this is a better time than most to need an upgrade. The best fit for the Reds in the free-agent market is a center fielder who is good enough offensively to be a legitimate hitter in left when top prospect Billy Hamilton is ready to take over, has the power to really take advantage of Great American Ballpark's homer-greedy characteristics, is preferably right-handed to balance out the lefty-ness of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and will come cheaper than Josh Hamilton. Upton fulfills all of these requirements and is a solid enough glove in center (and young enough) that he would retain serious defensive value in left after a future move. Upton survived in Tropicana Field, but the Trop is one of the toughest hitters' parks in baseball and with Upton's biggest offensive plus being his home run tally, Cincinnati would be a cozy home and he's a better option for the Reds than Michael Bourn. Just avoid that Cincinnati chili.

ZiPS projection in Cincy: .258/.327/.491 with a 30/30 season and 4.3 WAR

Michael Bourn to the Philadelphia Phillies

There has been speculation that a big-name free agent this offseason may be off Philadelphia's radar thanks to the team's hefty salary commitments. This would be a mistake by the Phillies. As currently designed, the team has a shrinking -- and very expensive -- window in which to return to the playoffs. Like someone going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, Philly's in a poor position to change course midway.

The Phils have been using Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot for years, but his combination of low OBP and power is better suited for a lower spot in the order where he can drive in runs. Nobody will confuse Bourn with vintage Rickey Henderson, but he has had a solid on-base percentage the past four years (.348 in that span) and is a far better option in center for Philadelphia than anyone it has on hand right now. Ryan Howard may be drastically overpaid, but the one thing he definitely still retains is the ability to occasionally crush an errant pitch, and Bourn on the bases will make those Howard homers more lucrative.

ZiPS projection in Philly: .271/.337/.376, with 47 stolen bases and 3.9 WAR

Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants

The Giants did not make a qualifying offer to Angel Pagan, which I feel was a mistake. Pagan isn't the first guy you want to give $13 million, but you can generally overpay a player on a one-year contract as you don't have to face the worst thing about free-agent contracts -- those dreaded down years at the end of the deal. Bringing back Pagan is still an option for the Giants, and with an outfield that needs two starters, Pagan will probably be more cost-effective than the first three centerfielders on this list. With Pagan's bread-and-butter being doubles and triples rather than round-trippers, AT&T Park's large center field and power alleys, combined with the fact that there are some other big outfields in the NL West, mean that Pagan should retain a solid slugging percentage as a Giant.

ZiPS projection in S.F.: .270/.320/.403 with 32 doubles, 9 triples and 3.1 WAR

Shane Victorino to the Boston Red Sox

The Flyin' Hawaiian had one of his worst years in 2012, hitting .255/.321/.383 and dropping off everyone's list of top center fielders in baseball. With the depth available at the position this winter, Victorino risks being completely overlooked, which is short-sighted. While 2012 was a groaner, Victorino turns 32 next month, not 37 or 38, and is only a year removed from a 2011 season that was legitimately star-level. The Red Sox could use an extra bat in the outfield, and with the team at a crossroads, Victorino provides a viable Plan B if the Red Sox decide to trade Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason. Boston is in a good position to make some high-upside moves with players that give it some flexibility and there's enough room in the payroll -- thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers' willingness to throw money around indiscriminately -- that Victorino's contract won't prevent the Red Sox financially from making any other move that they desire.

ZiPS projection in Boston: .267/.330/.425, 10 triples, 27 stolen bases and 3.1 WAR

Grady Sizemore to the Houston Astros

Remember when it was Grady Sizemore, not Cliff Lee or Brandon Phillips, who was the biggest prize in the treasure chest of awesomeness Cleveland got from the Expos for Bartolo Colon? That was a long time ago, and Sizemore hasn't been healthy in years and didn't even step onto the field during the 2012 season. If there ever was a lottery ticket in baseball, Grady Sizemore is it, and no team needs a lottery ticket like the Houston Astros do. Jeff Luhnow has his work cut out for him in Houston, having inherited a team with very little viable talent, and having to follow up a 107-loss season with a move to a tougher division and needing to find an extra hitter every game.

So, given that Sizemore still wants to try to return in 2013, why not take a chance on a very talented player? If Sizemore succeeds, the Astros benefit from adding a much-needed player with talent, and if he doesn't, it's not as if it would make the Astros finish laster, a word that doesn't even exist.

ZiPS projection in Houston: .224/.291/.402 in 214 at-bats, but with a 3 percent chance of reaching his former level of play and a 10 percent chance of being in the top third of center fielders offensively.

Rumors. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Is eight enough for Victorino?
2:49PM ET
Shane Victorino | Dodgers


Free agent outfielder Shane Victorian recently hired John Boggs as his new representative, parting ways with the embattled ACES agency.

Boggs appears to be keeping busy. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets Wednesday Victorino is drawing "realistic" interest from eight teams, with 11 overall expressing some interest.

The Detroit Tigers, who agreed to a deal with Torii Hunter on Wednesday, figure to be out of the mix. Victorino, who turns 32 later this month, wants a deal of more than two years.Cincinnati Reds, who need a leadoff hitter, could be among those interested.

- Doug Mittler

Keith Law

Law's Top 50 Free Agents: No. 29 Shane Victorino

"He has an above-average arm and is still an asset on the bases despite the occasional boneheaded play -- it's almost surprising how good he is at reading pitchers' moves when you consider how poor his instincts look at times. He's a one-year-deal player at this point, but the lack of center-field options might encourage some team to give him two or three years to be a starter."


Shane Victorino, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds
Hunter lands in Detroit
2:34PM ET
Torii Hunter | Angels


UPDATE: According to various reports, Hunter has agreed on a two-year, $26 million deal with the Tigers.'s Jason Beck says Hunter not only fills a corner-outfield spot, it provides Detroit with the right-handed bat it lacked throughout the 2012 season in its struggles against left-handed pitching.


The latest stop in the Torii Hunter free agent tour was a trip to Detroit on Tuesday to meet with Tigers officials.'s Jerry Crasnick says Hunter left Motown with no deal and no formal offer, but Detroit is still viewed as the frontrunner.

John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press says Hunter would be a good short-term solution in Detroit, especially since GM Dave Donbrowski has not been talking up Quintin Berry or Avisail Garcia as everyday candidates for 2013.

Hunteer told MLB Network on Monday that he hope to sign a deal in the next two weeks.

Scott Miller of reported Monday night that 13 or 14 teams have checked in on Hunter, with the Tigers, Rangers and Braves being the most aggressive.

The Rangers are in contention since Hunter makes his move in Prosper, Texas.

- Doug Mittler

Keith Law

Law's Top 50 Free Agents, No. 18 Torii Hunter

"He's been losing bat speed for the past few years and compensated this season by being much more aggressive earlier in the count, even if the pitch in question wasn't one worth swinging at. His power is diminished, and he's not going to hit .390 on balls in play again, so what you're likely buying is a .330 OBP guy who plays a very good right field and has great makeup. That's a solid player -- an everyday guy -- but nothing more, with the downside risk of any position player in his late 30s."


Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Dodgers
Braves interested in Ross
1:26PM ET
Cody Ross | Red Sox


The Atlanta Braves, looking to add an outfield bat, are among the teams expressing interest in free agent Cody Ross, reports Jon Paul Morosi.

Morosi notes that Ross has a good relationship with Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez from their time with the Marlins. Ross would be a nice fit in left field assuming Martin Prado is moved to third base to replace the retiring Chipper Jones.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney says Ross is among the free agents whose stock is trending upward:

- Doug Mittler

Buster Olney

Home and road splits an issue

"Ross signed a one-year, $3 million deal to play for the Red Sox last winter and had a really nice season, hitting 22 homers among 57 extra-base hits in just 130 games for Boston. Evaluators have noted the major split between his home and road performances -- .921 OPS in Fenway Park, .684 on the road -- but his power intrigues teams like the Phillies. And at a time when some clubs are suffering from the sticker shock of the high-end free agents, he is a nice moderately-priced alternative. The Red Sox were not comfortable with his asking price of about $25 million over three years, but it's apparent that he's going to get more than the $3 million he got last winter."


Cody Ross, Atlanta Braves
What it might take to land Stanton
12:39PM ET
Giancarlo Stanton | Marlins


One notable Miami Marlin who avoided the club's latest salary purge is All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, if for no other reason that he made $480,000 in 2012 and will not be eligible for arbitration until 2014.'s Jim Bowden tweeted that one GM inquired on Stanton and was told he was not available. But what if that situation changes?

Richard Durrett of tackles that hypothetical question and discusses whether the Texas Rangers are a logical trade partner.

To get Stanton, any prospect has to be considered, which means Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt would be part of the equation. Durrett says Olt may not be a good enough prospect to headline the deal, but the inclusion of Projar changes things. Stanton would be a more than adequate outfield replacement in Arlington if Josh Hamilton leaves via free agency.

- Doug Mittler

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers
Rotation issues in Minnesota
10:46AM ET
Minnesota Twins


The Minnesota Twins had realistic hopes of holding on to Scott Baker before the righthander agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.

Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune says the negotiations hit a snag over the Twins' insistence on adding a 2014 option. Baker, coming off Tommy John surgery, hopes to re-establish his value and hit the free agent market again next fall.

The only starter penciled into next year's rotation is Scott Diamond, and Carl Pavano is another free agent who could leave this offseason. The Twins could look into Shaun Marcum, who no longer has the Blue Jays as an option due to Tuesday's blockbuster with the Marlins.

Aaron Gleeman suggests other free agent candidates to GM Terry Ryan, a list that includes Brandon McCarthy and Joe Blanton, among others. Marcum and McCarthy had health issues in 2012, which could make their price tag more reasonable.

- Doug Mittler

Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum, Scott Baker, Minnesota Twins
Nolasco the next to go?
10:17AM ET
Ricky Nolasco | Marlins


The Miami Marlins may not be done shedding salary.

Two executives tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that Ricky Nolasco will be "next to go" in the Marlins' quest to deal anyone with a notable paycheck.

Nolasco will earn $11.5 million in 2013, the final season of a three-year deal. The 29-year-old was a mediocre 12-13 with a 4.48 ERA in 2012, but has reached at least 185 innings four teams, making him attractive to a team looking for an innings-eater.

Maybe the New York Yankees put out a flier if they are unable to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda.

- Doug Mittler

Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins
One less option for Marcum
9:53AM ET
Shaun Marcum | Brewers


A report last week in the Toronto Sun had the Blue Jays inquiring about the market price for free agent righthander Shaun Marcum.

That was before the baseball world was turned upside down Tuesday by the blockbuster deal that will send frontline starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle north of the border.

It seems the 30-year-old Marcum, who went 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA for the Brewers in 2012 while missing two months with elbow tightness, can now cross the Jays off his list of potential employers. That could increase the likelihood that Marcum lands with the Cubs or Red Sox.

- Doug Mittler

Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Shaun Marcum
Jays contacted Bobby Cox
9:34AM ET
Bobby Cox | Braves


If the blockbuster deal between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays is pulled off, that open managerial job north of the border suddenly looks a lot more appealing. Could the Jays be looking for an experienced skipper to guide the ship?

After it became apparent that John Farrell would depart last month, a member of the team management reached out to 71-year-old Bobby Cox in an effort to gauge his interest in the job, reports Jon Paul Morosi.

Morosi insists the hiring of Cox, the long-time Braves skipper who managed the Blue Jays for four seasons the 1980s, would be a longshot. But it makes sense that Toronto wants a manager with experience, given the club is built to win now.

- Doug Mittler

Bobby Cox, Toronto Blue Jays
Scutaro expected back in SFO
9:19AM ET
Marco Scutaro | Giants


After re-signing reliever Jeremy Affeldt earlier this week, the San Francisco Giants are optimistic they can bring back free agent second baseman Marco Scutaro, reports Henry Schulman.

The 37-year-old Scutaro enhanced his market value with a big October for the World Series champions, but his salary demands are "not expected to break the bank." Scutaro, whose three-year, $17 million deal expired, is looking for a two-year deal.

- Doug Mittler

Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants
Hamilton not a fit in Philly
9:02AM ET
Josh Hamilton | Rangers


General managers with the available cash are pondering whether Josh Hamilton is worth the risk, given his personal issues and injury history.

One report says the Texas Rangers are willing to offer the 2010 American League MVP a contract of no more than three years.

Speculation has linked the Phillies to Hamilton in recent days, with our Buster Olney tweeting Monday the Phillies are OK with the high annual salary that Hamilton might command, but they have concerns about the length of the deal.

Jim Salisbury of says the Phillies have done their due diligence on Hamilton, but a deal is unlikely. The big reason is money ? the Phillies already have four players with average salaries of $20 million or more and will be unwilling to add a player who wants a total package over $100 million, especially of that player has some excess baggage.

- Doug Mittler

Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies
Could the Reds deal a shortstop?
8:28AM ET
Cincinnati Reds


The Cincinnati Reds are in the market for a leadoff hitter and possibly a closer if they decide to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation.

If the Reds decide to bypass the free agent route, one option could be to trade from their shortstop surplus. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty turned some heads last week when he told Jon Paul Morosi that he would consider trading Didi Gregorius or Zack Cozart if it fills a specific need.

The 23-year-old Gregorius, who made a September cameo in Cincinnati, may not be ready for prime time duty, which could put the Reds in a bind in 2013 if Cozart if traded away.

- Doug Mittler

Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds
Multiple tracks with Dickey
8:04AM ET
R.A. Dickey | Mets


R.A. Dickey will learn Wednesday night whether his charmed 20102 season will be capped with a National League Cy Young Award.

In the meantime, New York Mets management muct decide if Dickey?s future remains in Queens. GM Sandy Alderson has referred to Dickey as one of his "core players," but the Mets have to at least explore the idea of shopping the knuckleballer whose trade value will never be higher than it is right now. A trade should not be out of the question, says's Anthony DiComo.

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes Wednesday that the Mets have initiated multiple tracks on the Dickey decision. They are discussing an extension with Dickey, who can be a free agent after earning $5 million to pitch in 2013, and they also have initiated trade talks with interested teams.

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says the right track is to keep Dickey around:

- Doug Mittler

Dave Cameron

Dickey's value

"History suggests that Dickey should still be a highly effective pitcher in 2014 and probably even beyond that. The Mets should view Dickey as part of their long-term solution, not a short-term asset with an expiration date drawing ever closer. Knucklers age in whatever the opposite of dog years is, and 38 just isn't all that old for this kind of pitcher. Unless the Mets plan on punting the rest of the decade, they should be able to see a scenario where Dickey helps pitch them into the playoffs. It might not happen next season, but Dickey could easily be part of the next good Mets team. And that should be enough reason to keep him around."


New York Mets, R.A. Dickey
McClellan move gives flexibility
7:20AM ET
Kyle McClellan | Cardinals


The St. Louis Cardinals gave reliever Kyle McClellan, the longest-tenured member of the bullpen, his unconditional release Tuesday, allowing him to become a free agent a few weeks before other arbitration-eligible players who are not tendered.

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch says the move frees up a spot on the 40-man roster to use before next Tuesday's deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft.

The Cardinals could use the open spot on a minor-leaguer such as lefty Kevin Siegrist and righty Eric Fornataro.

- Doug Mittler

Kyle McClellan, St. Louis Cardinals
Stanton staying put?
7:04AM ET
Giancarlo Stanton | Marlins


One notable Miami Marlin who avoided the club's latest salary purge is All-Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, if for no other reason that he made $480,000 in 2012 and will not be eligible for arbitration until 2014.

Joel Sherman tweets that every outside executive he has spoken to does not believe Stanton will be traded, adding that Stanton was not on the list of available players at last week's GM meetings.

As could be expected, Stanton was not pleased with Tuesday's developments.

- Doug Mittler

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Jays skipper now a plum job?
6:50AM ET
Toronto Blue Jays


If the rumored blockbuster deal between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays is pulled off, that open managerial job north of the border suddenly looks a lot more appealing.

According to various reports, the teams are on the verge of a deal that would send shortstop Jose Reyes and pitcher Josh Johnson to Toronto. Also going to Toronto would be pitcher Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, a swap that suddenly makes the Jays serious contenders in the American League East.

The Blue Jays have been methodical in their search for a replacement for the departed John Farrell, and the possibility that this blockbuster was in the works may be why GM Alex Anthopoulos was taking his time.

Toronto previously reached out to rookie managerial candidates such as Tim Wallach and Matt Williams, but they could now be more inclined to pick someone with previous experience,'s Gregor Chisholm wrote Monday. That could give bench coach Don Wakamatsu, the former Mariners skipper, a shot at the promotion. Former A's and Brewers skipper Ken Macha also is believed to be interested.

- Doug Mittler

Toronto Blue Jays
Gomes, Orioles talking
6:50AM ET
Jonny Gomes | Athletics


After talks on a two-year deal to remain in Oakland fell apart, Jonny Gomes is having conversations with the Baltimore Orioles, says Buster Olney.

Gomes would satisfy the Orioles] need for an additional DH bat against lefthanded pitching, says Eduardo Encina. Chris Davis and Wilson Betemit were primarily used against right-handed pitching out of the DH role in 2012.

Gomes, who made a very reasonable $1 million last season, is a career .284/.382/.512 hitter against left-handed pitching.

- Doug Mittler
post #8873 of 73011
Thread Starter 
Torii Hunter Takes Age Defying Magic to Detroit.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Last year, the Tigers outfield was dreadful. Mostly thanks to the disastrous performance of Brennan Boesch, they flanked Austin Jackson with a rotating wheel of scrubs, and ended up using journeyman minor leaguer Quintin Berry as their regular left fielder in the postseason. Given how much they’ve already committed to winning in the short term, an upgrade in the outfield was absolutely necessary. Today, they made that upgrade by signing Torii Hunter to a two year, $26 million contract.

With Hunter, there are two competing viewpoints, both of which have their roots in factual basis.

1. Hunter has 12 consecutive seasons where he’s been worth at least +2.4 WAR, and in terms of overall value, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. His 130 wRC+ and +5.3 WAR in 2012 were both career highs. He hasn’t posted a wRC+ below 113 since 2005, and his three best individual offensive seasons have come in the last four years.

Even after moving out of center field, Hunter still remains an above average defensive outfielder. He can hit, he can field, he can run, and he’s regarded as a great teammate with all the intangibles a team wants in a teammate. His track record shows that he’s a durable and consistent above average player, and even while he’s gotten older, he’s also gotten better.

2. Looking strictly at the results masks a litany of red flags, suggesting that the results Hunter got in 2012 aren’t likely to be repeated again in the future. After finding success as a relatively patient hitter, Hunter shifted into aggressive-hacker mode last year, swinging at 34% of the pitches he was thrown out of the strike zone and seeing his contact rate drop down to just 74.5%, well below his recent marks during his years of offensive improvement. This change in approach led to a significant drop in walk rate and uptick in strikeout rate.

Meanwhile, his power continued to deteriorate, continuing a recent downwards trend in power that lines up with expectations from an aging veteran. His offensive performance was inflated by a .389 BABIP that is 82 points above his career average, and +1.5 of his +5.3 WAR was tied up in UZR and Baserunning numbers that look like anomalies compared to his recent track record. Hunter’s overall success in 2012 was mostly based on factors that aren’t as predictive as the core offensive metrics that seem to suggest his skills are atrophying, and if these trends continue, he might not be a good hitter for much longer.

These thoughts are essentially at odds with each other, but both are basically true. Hunter has been a consistently productive player whose results have gotten better with age, but his success last year does look like something of a house of cards. So, the question isn’t whether Hunter will regress in 2013 and 2014, but how much, and whether he’ll be able to sustain enough value to be worth $13 million per year even if he doesn’t match what he did in Anaheim.

Let’s start with his BABIP, which is the the clearest outlier on his 2012 statline. Obviously, a .389 mark isn’t sustainable, and there’s no question that any decent projection for next season is going to have that number coming way down. However, it’s worth noting that the BABIP spike is explainable to some degree by factors under Hunter’s control. His 52% GB% was the highest of his career, and his 5% infield fly rate was the lowest of his career. Ground balls go for base hits more often than fly balls, and infield flies are essentially automatic outs. This change in batted ball distribution would force us to expect a BABIP surge, especially the drastic change in pop-ups.

From 2002 to 2011, Hunter hit 189 infield flies for an average of 16 popups per 600 plate appearances. Last year, he had in 584 trips to the plate, he only had five infield flies, or about 1/3 as many as his career suggested. That’s 11 extra outs that he essentially took off the board by not hitting weak flies to the infield.

Additionally, Hunter had never bunted more than five times in a season, and his career high for bunt base hits in a season was three, back in 2007. Last year, he laid down 11 bunts, and he reached safely in seven of them – more base hits via the bunt than he had in the previous four years combined. While a batter isn’t completely in control of how many bunts they can lay down for base hits, there’s also a significant skill component there, and Hunter should get credit for taking advantage of what the defense gave him.

For further examination, here’s Hunter’s 2012 ball in play distribution put up next to what that would have been had he maintained his 2011 batted ball ratios.
2012 actual 394 205 100 89 5 6 11 7
2011 rates 394 180 131 83 18 10 4 2

Hunter basically turned 31 fly balls into 25 groundballs and six line drives. Of those 31 fly balls, 13 would have been infield flies had his 2011 distribution carried over, and of the 25 extra ground balls, five were bunt base hits. It’s no wonder his BABIP went through the roof. This isn’t a case where it was all just balls falling in between hapless defenders. Hunter hit differently, and part of the change in results was simply due to a change in batted ball profiles.

That change has a cost, of course, as more ground balls means fewer extra base hits, and this change is directly tied to his career low (as an everyday player, anyway) .139 ISO. His declining power is about quantity of opportunity, not how far the ball flies when he does put it in the air. His 16% HR/FB rate from 2012 is basically dead on his career average, and actually up slightly from 2011. Hunter hit fewer home runs because he hit fewer fly balls, but those fewer fly balls meant he got more singles. The data suggests this was more of a trade-off than a net loss.

Of course, even with more bunts and fewer popups, a .389 BABIP is still artificially inflated. Ben Revere is extremely fast, hit the ball on the ground 67% of the time, and only hit one infield fly all season, and his BABIP was .325. If you sort the leaderboards by groundball rate, you’ll see a bunch of guys with above average BABIPs, but besides Hunter, the top end is still in the .350 range, and normal is more .320 to .330.

Even if Hunter can repeat his batted ball distribution from 2012, he’s not going to get those same results. He’s not going to post a 130 wRC+ again. The Tigers shouldn’t have any illusions that they’re getting a guy capable of repeating his +5 win season. But, there’s enough left that a 100-110 wRC+ a reasonable expectation, and with his speed, defense, and durability, he should still project as an average or slightly above average player. In 2014, maybe he slides to being a bit below average, and all told, he produces +4 WAR over the next two years. At $26 million, that’s not any kind of bargain, but it’s also not a drastic overpay. It’s maybe a couple million higher than what you’d hope for, but it’s an overpay that has a chance to put wins on the board at a time when the Tigers badly need wins.

Overall, the FanGraphs crowd expected Hunter to sign for 2/20, which sounded about right. This is just a tick or two above that, though, and for a team in the sweet spot, it’s hard to quibble over a few million here or there for the right player. And, despite Hunter’s declining contact rate and power, he still looks like a good bet to be a useful player for the next two years, and for the Tigers, he’s the right player for what they needed. This won’t be the bargain of the winter, but it’s a decent enough move for Detroit to help fill a gaping hole on the roster.

The Marlins and the MLB Revenue Sharing System.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Last night, the Marlins traded every player on their active roster with a 2013 salary greater than $1.6 million, save for Ricky Nolasco, who’s owed $11.5 million next season. And Nolasco may be gone soon, too. The Marlins’ latest fire sale came less than a year after Miami signed free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell to great fanfare, as the team prepared to christen the new, publicly-financed Marlins Ballpark. Now, all those players are gone. Reyes and Buerhle were traded last night to the Blue Jays, along with starter Josh Johnson, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck. Bell was sent to the Diamondbacks in late October. When the Marlins open their second season in the new ballpark, fans will see Giancarlo Stanton in right field and a lot of unknown young players scattered around the diamond.

Tuesday’s trade was just the latest purge by Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria, after the latest spending binge, after the prior purge. Loria’s pattern is well-known and has landed him in hot water occasionally, although not nearly as frequently — or as hot — as his critics demand. One such critic is the players’ union. The Major League Baseball Players Association complained for years that the Marlins violated the league’s revenue-sharing plan by using the money received under the plan for everything but improving the product on the field, as is required. Between 2002 and 2010, the Marlins reportedly received close to $300 million in revenue sharing. With the threat of a formal grievance, the Players Association forced an agreement from the Marlins to use all revenue-sharing proceeds on player development and salaries for three seasons. The agreement was announced in January 2010 and now, three seasons later, has expired. Imagine that.

Even with their taxpayer-funded ballpark, the Marlins will almost certainly be on the receiving end of revenue sharing for the foreseeable future. The club doesn’t have the fan base, television contracts or corporate sponsors bigger-market teams enjoy. And after the sell-off to Toronto, the fan base is likely to shrink even more.

We don’t know how much the Marlins will receive in revenue sharing going forward, but we do how that figure will be determined. It’s all spelled out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement the players and owners signed off on last November. With the Marlins’ financial dealings on the hot seat — again — it’s as good a time as any to dive into complex details of MLB’s revenue-sharing plan.

First, a few definitions. Clubs start with gross revenue, which is all revenue generated by the team’s baseball operations (ticket sales, concessions, local television contracts, etc.), plus a 1/30th share of MLB-generated central revenue (national television contracts,, licensing and merchandise, the All-Star Game, etc.). Clubs then subtract ballpark expenses and the 1/30th share of central revenue. What’s left is “Net Local Revenue.” In an unusual twist, the CBA set the Marlins’ Net Local Revenue at $100 million for the 2012 revenue-sharing year. No other team was singled out in that fashion.

The revenue sharing plan has two building blocks: the base plan and the supplemental plan. Let’s start with the base plan. All 30 clubs contribute 34% of their Net Local Revenue to the base plan pool. The base plan pool is then distributed equally to the 30 clubs. Some teams, like the Yankees and Red Sox, contribute significantly more to the base plan pool than they receive, and are known as Revenue Sharing Payor Clubs. Others, like the Rays and the Pirates, receive more than they contribute, and are known as Revenue Sharing Payee Clubs.

The supplemental plan is trickier. The goal of the supplemental plan is to raise the overall percentage of revenue shared by the Payor Clubs from 34% (in the base plan) to 48%. But each Payor Club contributes a different amount to the supplemental plan, based on something called a Performance Factor. Here’s how it works.

The Net Local Revenue of each club is added together and then multiplied by .48 (for 48%). The result is the “Net Transfer Value” for the revenue-sharing year. We know the Net Transfer Value of the base plan is 34% of total Net Local Revenue. That means the Net Transfer Value of the supplemental plan is 14% of total Net Local Revenue. The question is how to generate the 14%. That’s where the Performance Factors come in.

This chart details the Performance Factor for each club in 2012 and 2013.
Club 2012 2013
New York Yankees 27.7% 27.1%
Boston Red Sox 18.7% 18.6%
Chicago Cubs 11.4% 13.0%
New York Mets 11.0% 10.1%
Philadelphia Phillies 7.5% 8.4%
Los Angeles Dodgers 8.1% 8.0%
San Francisco Giants 3.3% 4.7%
Texas Rangers 1.4% 3.3%
Los Angeles Angels 3.0% 3.2%
Chicago White Sox 3.0% 3.2%
Houston Astros 0.8% 0.7%
Minnesota Twins 1.3% 0.0%
Seattle Mariners 1.7% 0.0%
St. Louis Cardinals 1.0% 0.0%
Detroit Tigers -4.8% -2.6%
Atlanta Braves -1.9% -3.2%
Colorado Rockies -5.4% -4.1%
Washington Nationals -2.9% -4.1%
Baltimore Orioles -3.5% -4.3%
Miami Marlins -7.8% -5.6%
Arizona Diamondbacks -5.8% -5.9%
Cincinnati Reds -5.8% -6.1%
Milwaukee Brewers -7.4% -6.7%
Cleveland Indians -4.9% -7.0%
Oakland Athletics -7.6% -7.8%
San Diego Padres -8.2% -8.1%
Toronto Blue Jays -9.0% -8.3%
Tampa Bay Rays -7.5% -8.4%
Pittsburgh Pirates -9.3% -8.6%
Kansas City Royals -8.2% -9.1%

The clubs with positive Performance Factors contribute to the supplemental plan in an amount equal to the Net Transfer Value of the supplemental plan multiplied by the club’s Performance Factor. The clubs receiving funds get an amount equal to the Net Transfer Value of the supplemental plan multiplied by the club’s Performance Factor. So, for example, if the Net Transfer Value of the supplemental plan for 2012 was $50 million, the Yankees would contribute $13.85 million and the Marlins would receive $3.9 million.

This flowchart captures the base plan and supplemental plan I just described. The base plan is on the left.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Beginning with the 2013 revenue-sharing year, “big-market clubs” will forfeit a percentage of their net revenue-sharing proceeds; 25% will be forfeited in 2013, 50% forfeited in 2014, 75% forfeited in 2015, and 100% forfeited in 2016. The “big-market clubs” are the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Giants, Blue Jays, Phillies, Nationals, Braves, Rangers and Astros, plus the A’s, but only when (and if) they are in a new ballpark. Where do the forfeited funds go? Well, mostly back to the same clubs. Sort of.

The forfeited proceeds go to the Net Revenue-Sharing Payor Clubs (those teams that pay more to the base and supplemental plans than they receive) in proportion to how much each club contributed to the Net Transfer Value. This provision brings the Performance Factors back into play. Note that the Blue Jays, Braves, and Nationals have negative Performance Factors but are considered “big-market clubs.” Conversely, the Twins, Mariners and Cardinals have positive Performance Factors but are not considered “big-market clubs.” The end result? The Blue Jays, Braves, and Nationals must forfeit their revenue-sharing proceeds but, to the extent any is a Net Revenue-Sharing Payee Club, that team will not receive any forfeited proceeds. At the same time, the Twins, Mariners and Cardinals need not forfeit any revenue-sharing proceeds, but may, if they are Net Revenue-Sharing Payors, receive a percentage of forfeited funds.

There’s one more twist, and it involves the luxury tax (which I explained last Friday in this post).

A team that exceeds the luxury tax threshold for at least two consecutive years forfeits a percentage of the refund it would otherwise receive as a big-market club. A luxury tax offender for two years forfeits 25% of the refund; a three-year offender forfeits 50% of the refund; a four-year offender forfeits 75% of the refund; and a five-year offender forfeits the entire refund.

For now, the Yankees are the only five-year offender. Keep in mind, though, that the Yankees have a plan to get under the luxury tax threshold by the 2014 season. As I explained in my luxury tax post, the Yankees want to take advantage of the CBA provision that would re-set their luxury tax rate to 17.5% in the 2015 season if they kept their payroll under $189 million in 2014. Now it’s clear there’s an additional benefit to avoiding the luxury tax in 2014. By 2015, the Yankees would again receive the Net Revenue-Sharing Payor Club refund from the proceeds forfeited by the “big-market clubs.” And given that Yankees have the largest Performance Factor, that refund is likely to be significant — perhaps more so than the luxury tax savings.

Now that we know how revenue-sharing proceeds will be calculated and distributed, let’s return to where we started the discussion: how the teams receiving revenue-sharing funds are required to use them. The CBA is clear:

A principal objective of the Revenue Sharing Plan is to promote the growth of the Game and the industry on an individual Club and on an aggregate basis. Accordingly, each Club shall use its revenue sharing receipts . . . in an effort to improve its performance on the field.

The CBA specifically prohibits clubs from using revenue-sharing receipts to service debt obligations unrelated to baseball operations; make payments to individuals other than on-field personnel and those in player development; make payments to entities not involved in improving on-field performance; make distributions to team owners. The commissioner may impose a penalty on any team that violates this provision (although that has never happened, to our knowledge). And the players’ union may pursue a grievance against any club that violates this provision. Indeed, it was the threat of such a grievance that led the Marlins to agree to do exactly with the CBA requires back in January 2010. We can expect the union to keep a very close eye on the Marlins in the wake of the sell-off to the Blue Jays.

To summarize:

All clubs contribute 34% of Net Local Revenue to the base plan, which is then distributed back to the clubs in equal shares.

High-performing clubs contribute an additional percentage of Net Local Revenue to the supplemental plan. The percentage is determined by the club’s Performance Factor.

Low-performing clubs receive an additional percentage from Net Local Revenue from the supplemental plan. The percentage is also determined by the club’s Performance Factor.

Beginning in 2013, big-market teams will forfeit an increasing percentage of revenue-sharing proceeds. The forfeited funds will be shared among the high-performing teams, in proportion to their Performance Factors.

Any high-performing team that would other receive a refund forfeits an increasing percentage of that refund if it exceeds the luxury tax threshold for two consecutive years, or more.

The Marlins Are a Well-Run Company.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
It’s true, probably. If you remove emotion from the equation, the Marlins of the past two decades have been a successful corporation. Even under the newest ownership, they’ve satisfied all of the requirements you might put on a great franchise. Your appraisal of their work to date, and even their trade this week, includes emotion, but an honest eye towards the bottom line can put a different spin on all of it.

What could you ask of your team? A championship. Winning seasons. Profitability. Fulfilling ballpark experiences. Strong decision making. Clear eyes when it comes to competitiveness and a strong heart when it comes to making bold moves. The ability to sign big free agents when it makes sense, and the knowledge to know when it doesn’t make sense to do so. We’re getting vaguer by the statement, but so far so good for the Marlins.

This expansion team has won championships under two owners, including Jeffrey Loria. They won the series four years after they were created. They won it all six years later. The San Diego Padres were born a quarter-century before the Marlins and have never World Series. Ditto the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s unseemly to point to TEH RINGZ, but they are the ultimate goal of every franchise, and the Marlins have satisfied the requirement.

Teams are companies, and they should have an eye out for making money. There was general uproar when Deadspin revealed that the Marlins had been making money for years despite pleading poverty and taking in revenue sharing money, but anyone financially associated with the team should probably have been happy with leadership for working the system that way. Perhaps anger directed at leadership — tasked with making money — should be directed at the system instead.

Maybe they could have used more of their profits when it came to the stadium. Their involvement in the financing of Marlins Park was a baseball-low 30%. It certainly wasn’t as civic-friendly as the deal in San Francisco, which was privately financed. But again, isn’t anger at the front office misplaced? The decision to publicly finance a stadium was made by publicly-elected officials — to some extent, it reflected the will of the people. Did the taxpayers have a false decision between two groups that each would have bowed to the Marlins’ will? Sounds like a failing of the political system. Were the pols duped by Loria? They should have known that new stadiums don’t bring jobs. It certainly isn’t a bad business move to take advantage of a willing population, even if it is Gordan-Gecko-like.

The Marlins needed a new park. Their front office decided they couldn’t or wouldn’t build a new park with only private funding. The end result was still a new, mostly beautiful park for Marlins fans.

Evident so far is a clear-eyed, goal-oriented approach, optics be damned. The Marlins wanted rings, profits, and a new ballpark and didn’t care about how it looked. That sort of mindset filtered all the way through to the baseball decisions in a way that, well, in a way that was very saber-seeming.

One of the main tenets of the statistical approach to baseball is honesty. Numbers can help see past any mystical optimism into the stark reality of a team’s competitiveness. How much the Marlins actually depended on statistical forecasts in their decision-making is debatable, but one thing is clear: they knew when they had a shot at winning, and they knew when they didn’t.

There are plenty of ways to spin their approach more negatively. Pump and dump. Boom and bust. Fun, then fire sale.

But if your team is not going to be competitive, why keep high-priced assets around? The Astros traded away Ben Francisco, Steve Pearce, Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, J.A. Happ, Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez and Chris Johnson this season, there was no uproar. Houston wasn’t going to win, and so they sold their older, more expensive pieces for future pieces. Nobody blinked. Totally reasonable. The Marlins showed last year that they were more than a piece or two short of competing in a suddenly loaded National League East. So they sold their parts. Do the same thing a couple times, and you’re a villain, it seems. But why spend on mid-tier free agents just to go through the motions? It didn’t do Omar Minaya’s Mets any good to stay with the pack and cling to competitiveness with bad deals. Would you rather be a Mets fan? There’s a highly-leveraged team hemorrhaging money that hasn’t won a championship in over a quarter-century, and has muddled it’s way through middling seasons without bold rebuilding periods.

Public relations is a huge part of this picture, on the other hand. Each of these aspects of the Marlins’ past work has upset the public even as they achieved profits, rings, and wins for the franchise. Upsetting the public affects brand loyalty. Fans may identify the ‘bust’ parts of the cycle just as quickly as the team’s front office, and stay away until they sense a boom. Future free agents may be wary of signing with the team for fear of being shipped out the minute the team hits a rough patch. This bold, fearless approach to running the Marlins has not won friends, or the loyalty that travels with them. The downside is obvious.

Winning is the only reliable way to put butts in seats. Zeroes before the decimal get contracts signed. Rings can build a loyalty of their own. This approach may seem heartless and conniving — it may even BE heartless and conniving — but the results have been remarkable. This vehemence pointed towards the Marlins’ leadership has come before, and it was mostly ignored for a year during the exuberance of a new stadium and shiny new free agents. Excitement may come again under the right circumstances.

If excitement will come for a new ownership group — Dave Cameron seemed to suggest a sale is the best future for the Marlins’ ownership after these moves — then they did an even better job. Even if selling the team has some pitfalls — most notably a profit-sharing plan that would take much of the money out of the sale out of Loria’s pockets — the team’s long-term health outlook just got rosier.

Think about acquiring the Marlins now, with a man-child Giancarlo Stanton in the middle, flanked by a young roster. If the team can find a buyer for Ricky Nolasco, there won’t be a player on the team with more than a $5 million salary. The overall payroll will sit under $20 million without their highest-paid pitcher, and it will have a chance to go down in the future. The Marlins will have a history of making profits and will take in revenue sharing money. In a new stadium.

That seems like a well-run enterprise and an attractive corporation to acquire.

Trying to Vote for Dickey Over Kershaw.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Later tonight, the National League Cy Young Award winner will be announced. My own fake awards picks have already been made public, and I am sure everyone was thrilled to read them. The NL Cy Young gave me the most trouble. I ended up voting for the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, but I really wanted to cast my non-ballot for the Mets’ R.A. Dickey.

What’s not to like about R.A. Dickey? He names his bats after fictional swords (only the master smiths of Gondolin could forge a weapon that enables a pitcher to rake to the tune of a career 6 wRC+). He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro during the off-season to raise money to combat human trafficking. He is trying to help others by sharing about being abused as as child. He writes children’s books. He makes an awesome face while pitching. Best of all (strictly from a purely baseball perspective), he is a knuckleballer. Oh, yeah, he also had an awesome season in 2012.

However, when I tried to justify voting for Dickey over Kershaw, I just could not do it. It was not for lack of trying, though.

(I realize that one could make Cy Young cases for other pitchers such as Gio Gonzalez or Johnny Cueto, but I am sticking with the players I think are the two best choices for the sake of simplicity.)

It might seem easy enough to look at the Wins Above Replacement leaderboard for NL pitchers and see that Kershaw was valued at 5.5 wins and Dickey at 4.6 wins in 2012. However, even for those of us who believe that a DIPS-based value metric is, in general, the best alternative, it is not that simple. “In general” is a qualification — although I think that FIP is generally better than RA, it may not work as well in some particular cases. My view is that FIP (and other DIPS metrics like xFIP, tRA, SIERA, and so on) should not be seen as perfect in all cases, but as provisionally better in most cases.

That sort of thing is discussed at length in other places, so I want to focus on how it is relevant in this case. While there are many elements about DIPS metrics that are widely debated, even DIPS’ firmer advocates acknowledge that it does not really work for knuckleballers. Metrics like FIP include a built-in assumption that all pitchers basically have the same amount of control over balls in play. We know this is false, but generally, FIP is seen as doing better because that assumption seems be closer to the truth than the assumption than that the contribution of balls in play to ERA reflects.

Knuckleballers historically have a lower BABIP than the league average, so they are a clear exception. Knuckleballers are, to a certain extent, a population unto themselves. In short, it would be unfair to judge Dickey by something based on FIP. As one would expect Dickey’s FIP is an excellent 3.27, but his ERA is an even better 2.73. Adjusting for league average and park, those are 87 FIP- and 72 ERA-.

However, basing one’s Cy Young vote for Dickey on ERA will not quite do the trick. (Dickey and Kershaw both pitched around 230 innings, so we do not have to worry about that factor.) Kershaw not only had a better FIP (2.89, 78 FIP-), but a better ERA (2.53, 67 ERA-), too. So that locks it up for Kershaw, right?

Not necessarily. Keep in mind what was said above: FIP and other DIPS-based metrics may not be perfect or universally applicable, but they do the work in most cases. If we should not use them for knuckleballers like Dickey, that does not necessarily mean that we should not still use them for a non-knuckleball pitcher like Kershaw. In other words, maybe one can make Dickey’s case by using ERA for him, and FIP for Kershaw. That would seem to put Dickey (72 ERA-) just ahead of Kershaw (78 FIP-). That might be close enough to go either way, but does give the edge to Dickey.

Can we really justify rigging the comparison in that way? Maybe with some non-knuckleballers, but probably not with Clayton Kershaw. We need to be careful about using a single-season ERA as the go-to metric for most non-knuckeball pitchers, but Kershaw is not most pitchers. If he had managed to outperform his FIP (which has just been used as a stand-in for DIPs metrics in general, going through them all would have made this post too long) via his low BABIP just this season, maybe we could dismiss it on what Phil Birnbaum calls Bayesian grounds. I do not think we can. Let’s compare the two pitchers.

As one would expect from a knuckleballer, Dickey is a low-BABIP pitcher. From 2010 to 2012, his seasonal BABIPs are .276, .278, and .275, respectively. However check out Kershaw’s over the same seasons: .275, .269, .262. It goes back even further for Kershaw, in 2009, his BABIP-against was .269. For his career as a professional, Kershaw’s BABIP is .275 in 944 innings — the same BABIP as Dickey this season. So while there is still uncertainty and a margin of error with Kershaw’s “true” BABIP, there is a strong body of evidence that, despite not being a knuckleballer, Kershaw may be a low-BABIP pitcher whose contribution is not adequately captured by DIPS-metrics, either. So in this case, it would not really be fair to use FIP to evaluate Kershaw and ERA to evaluate Dickey.

While I suppose there are other ways one could try to justify make an objective choice for Dickey over Kershaw, I just do not see it working. I really tried. I even looked up the relative quality of the hitters they faced, and that favored Kershaw, too. I will not insult your intelligence by making something out of Dickey having six more pitcher wins (20) than Kershaw (14).

I will not be upset if R.A. Dickey wins the Cy Young this year. For reasons outlined at the beginning of this post, I actually would be very happy for him. But I think that Clayton Kershaw outpitched Dickey this year, and thus deserves the honor more. Shucks.
post #8874 of 73011
Originally Posted by RaWEx5 View Post

Yup, they will crush the Royals, Indians and Twins with reckless abandonment.

 Too bad they couldn't play one of those teams in the World Series, maybe they'd win a game.

post #8875 of 73011
DPRICE nthat.gif
post #8876 of 73011
Originally Posted by ShaunHillFTW49 View Post

not sure if srs, marlins sucked with those players
Anyways I though Buck was Manager of he Year "and its not even close" smokin.gif

Strongly believe Buck should have won the award, but whatever - he's already got two. Good for Melvin, and the A's org.

Glad Dickey got his. Can't agree with Price over Verlander, but he had a great season.
post #8877 of 73011
RA Dickey pimp.gif
post #8878 of 73011
Dickey made this entire season watchable, thank you pimp.gif
post #8879 of 73011
Congrats to RA. Made it easier to watch another bad year from the team. The ultimate fan favorite right now. Hopefully, he's still in Queens next season.
post #8880 of 73011
Thread Starter 
27 out of 32 first place votes though, that's nuts. Congrats to both of them for winning.
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