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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 300

post #8971 of 72836
Phillies offered Angel Pagan 4 Yrs/40Mill sick.gif
post #8972 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Yanks might be working a trade for Carlos Santana. Sorry, Kev.
post #8973 of 72836
post #8974 of 72836
Got tickets to the WBC in SF. pimp.gif

Hoping to get some for the rounds in AZ also.
post #8975 of 72836
I'm going to the WBC, too. Can't wait.
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 #8976 of 72836
I had a great time in LA in 09. I really hope the US makes an attempt to win this damn thing. mean.gif at no Ichiro and Darvish tho.
post #8977 of 72836
Originally Posted by bbllplaya23 View Post

Got tickets to the WBC in SF. pimp.gif

Hoping to get some for the rounds in AZ also.
I'll probably head out to Arizona to watch Mexico. I'll just wait and buy tix at game time to make sure I get the right game
post #8978 of 72836
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Phillies offered Angel Pagan 4 Yrs/40Mill sick.gif

Word is SF offered 4 yr too? but no word on how much

post #8979 of 72836
Sounding like Morse is gonna be out in DC
post #8980 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Direction of Mets defined by Dickey.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
NASHVILLE -- There will be a lot of baseball talk at the Opryland Hotel here over the next few days, but some officials are already predicting that because of the enormity of the place, a lot of the communication between teams will continue to be through text messages, phone calls and e-mails. "It takes 20 minutes to get where you need to get to, if you don't get lost -- and you will get lost," said one assistant GM.

The sprawl presents something of a hardship even for a generation of executives who expect instant wireless response. But the teams will find a way to make decisions, to sign players, and for some clubs, it'll be about a commitment to direction.

The Nationals are in win-now mode, and rightly so, which is why they pushed aggressively for Gio Gonzalez last year, and why they are talking with the Tampa Bay Rays about pitching. At a time in the sport when a lot of teams cling to their prospects, GM Mike Rizzo has demonstrated a willingness to trade prospects and young players for veterans who make the Nats better now, which is the right mindset if you want someone like a James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson or, yes, a David Price.

The Dodgers are committed to winning, and aren't quite so worried about the cost. The Padres, a really dangerous team right now, have quietly rebuilt their farm system and are prepared to invest in players who will take them to the next level, which is why they have been trolling around for a big-fish starting pitcher.

Those teams we know. But for others, the direction isn't yet determined. And over the next three days, we should learn more about the commitment to direction for two teams:

1. The Mets: Look, in a perfect world, a team that resides in the biggest market should be one of the big spenders. Working out an extension with a Cy Young Award winning pitcher, R.A. Dickey, should theoretically be a no-brainer, in the same way that the Yankees didn't flinch from giving pricey one-year deals to Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

But the Mets aren't conducting business that way, and there's no telling when or if they'll ever get back to being one of the biggest spenders; Fred and Jeff Wilpon have made it clear they are keeping the team.

They signed David Wright to an eight-year deal, to finish his career as the face of the franchise. Rival officials believe the Wright signing gives the Mets the political cover needed to be more draconian in dealing with Dickey, and if they aren't willing to be the team to sign Dickey -- then they need to trade him.

He's got market value, and teams like the Rangers are interested. At a time when the Nationals look like a powerhouse and the Braves are solid and the Phillies have the best trio of starting pitchers, the Mets aren't going to contend.

They have talked about a two-year extension with Dickey, but they aren't close to signing him, and perhaps the Mets will get a good prospect or two in return for a pitcher that led his league in innings last season, with 233 2/3. The Mets love Matt Harvey and think he has the makeup to be a frontline type starter, and maybe in 2014 or 2015, Harvey and Zack Wheeler and others can be the core of a pitching staff that will make the Mets' relevant again.

By the way: There have been only a handful of instances in which a pitcher was traded in the offseason following a season for which he won the Cy Young. Three include David Cone (swapped by Kansas City), Pedro Martinez (1997, by the Montreal Expos) and Roger Clemens (traded by the Blue Jays on the eve of spring training in 1999).

[+] Enlarge

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Shin-Soo Choo is a player the Indians want a lot for.

2. The Indians: Their starting pitching was horrific last year, with a rotation ERA of 5.25 -- 28th in the majors. Rival officials say Cleveland doesn't have much quality starting pitching developing in the minor leagues, either, and as the Rays and Athletics have shown, small-market teams must have good and cheap young pitching to contend.

What the Indians do have is tradable assets. A lot, actually. There are a number of teams interested in Asdrubal Cabrera, and Shin-Soo Choo has some value, a year away from free agency (although perhaps not as much as Cleveland would like, given that he almost certainly would not sign an extension with his next team if he's dealt). There is interest in Justin Masterson -- again, maybe not as much as the Indians would like, given Masterson's pedigree -- but his 2012 season hurt his market value. Chris Perez probably has some value, and by the time the Indians rebuild their pitching staff, Vinnie Pestano may be too expensive for Cleveland's taste, so dealing him now, when his value is at its highest, could make sense.

If the Indians go-all in on their rebuilding, it's possible they can extract pitching from a team like the Mariners or the Diamondbacks. They're not going to win the pitching they have; they need to get it, which is why they've asked for a ton in return for Cabrera, in the eyes of rival evaluators.

It's a commitment to a direction, started in a place in which it's very possible to get lost.


• Mets GM Sandy Alderson had a friendly chat with Dickey here Sunday.

• The Indians are close to selling a network that should increase their rights' fees, writes Paul Hoynes.

• The Rays have finished a deal with James Loney, who is sort of a classic Tampa Bay target: They'll get a player who is hoping to rebuild his value on the cheap. Loney is a good defender, but hasn't yet hit for the kind of power that would make him expensive.

The Rays could be one of the teams talking with the Nationals about Danny Espinosa, and James Shields would be a perfect fit for the Nationals.

• Within 12 hours after Nate Schierholtz was not tendered a contract Friday -- which was a surprise to some teams that weren't contacted by the Phillies about working out a possible deal for the outfielder -- nine teams had checked in to inquire about signing him. He's going to have options; the Yankees are one of the interested teams.

• The Yankees are concerned that Alex Rodriguez's right hip is damaged, writes George King. Eric Chavez filled in capably last year, and he wants to play again next year, so he could be a good fit again.

• Josh Hamilton may be ripe for the plucking, for the Red Sox or the Phillies or some other team.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Braves will be looking for a left fielder here, writes David O'Brien, and they have about $10 million left in payroll flexibility.

2. The Nationals are adjusting to different goals, writes Adam Kilgore.

3. The Phillies are continuing their pursuit of a center fielder, writes Bob Brookover.

4. Luring free agents is no easy task for the Pirates.

5. The Astros are in a wait-and-see mode.

6. The Rangers have reached an agreement with Geovany Soto, who gives the team some protection in case Mike Napoli signs elsewhere.

7. Brian Cashman is preaching patience.

8. Kyle Lohse is playing the waiting game, as Zack Greinke's situation plays out.

9. The Royals are looking for another starting pitcher, as Bob Dutton writes, and clearly the Rays have the best available starters, in quality and depth.

10. The Red Sox are waiting on Mike Napoli, writes Scott Lauber.

11. Jhonny Peralta is the Tigers' primary trade bait, writes Lynn Henning.

12. The Orioles' payroll will rise, but not in a flashy way, writes Peter Schmuck.

13. Bob Elliott wonders if the Jays will make another move. Here's a winter meetings preview from Richard Griffin.

14. Gavin Floyd isn't worried about the trade speculation.

15. White Sox GM Rick Hahn is taking a cool approach to these meetings.

16. The Brewers aren't expecting to do much at these meetings, writes Tom Haudricourt.

17. The Mariners have talked to the Pirates about a possible deal for Garrett Jones, writes Geoff Baker.

18. The Giants and Athletics have needs, but aren't needy, writes John Shea.

19. The Dodgers aren't expected to pursue Brian Wilson.

Dings and dents

• Troy Tulowitzki is almost fully recovered from a groin injury.

Potential trades at winter meetings.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Over the past decade, the winter meetings have been dominated by free-agent signings rather than by trades. Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton could command nine-figure deals, so it's possible they will dominate the stage here.

But some general managers say there is more groundwork for possible trades in place than they can remember in most years in the recent past, with a number of clubs looking to solve puzzles by swapping players. Here are some teams seeking potential trade partners:

Cleveland Indians: At the GM meetings last month, they set the bar very high in the asking price for Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and others, focusing on young pitching in return. "Time will tell on whether they've lowered [the asking prices]," said a rival GM. There is a lot of interest from other teams.

The Indians have been working the phones, writes Paul Hoynes.

Kansas City Royals: They are willing to move star prospect Wil Myers for the right starting pitcher. Could that be Jon Lester? Jeremy Hellickson? GM Dayton Moore tells Bob Dutton that the winter goes in stages.

Minnesota Twins: GM Terry Ryan is working hard to improve the organization's pitching, and when he swapped Denard Span for a highly touted pitching prospect the other day, he seemed to signal that he'd swap some marginal success in the major leagues in 2013 for a chance at a better future.

That brings us to Josh Willingham, an established hitter who will draw interest from other clubs. Ryan won't rule out trading Willingham, Justin Morneau or Joe Mauer, writes Joe Christensen.

From Christensen's piece:

•Last week, reports surfaced that the Twins had rebuffed Boston's attempts to trade for Mauer, who is still owed $138 million over the next six years. But without getting into specifics, Ryan insisted every option is on the table.

"I've said this a couple times: We don't have any untouchables," Ryan said. "That's as plain an answer as I can give you. If somebody has some interest in one of our guys, we'll listen. It's easy to say, 'Oh well, somebody ought to have interest in Willingham and Morneau and Mauer.' OK, no kidding. We've got interest in all kinds of players in the industry, but unfortunately it's going to take quite a bit to get them."

To repeat: Trading Mauer would be extremely difficult, because he's a Minnesotan with a full no-trade clause; he's making a ton of money, and interested teams might want the Twins to either offset his salary with some cash or lower their player demands; and because he's the face of the franchise. Minnesota would need huge return in any deal for him.

Chicago Cubs: Now that they've signed closer Kyuji Fujikawa, they can continue to shop Carlos Marmol, who is owed $9.8 million for 2013, the last year of his multiyear deal. Alfonso Soriano is a player they have been trying to move for months -- and they're willing to pay off the majority of the $36 million he is owed over the next two seasons. However, Soriano has a full no-trade clause and he has made it apparent that he will wield it unless he gets to a desired destination; he rejected a chance to go to the San Francisco Giants last year.

So where could he go? He told me last season that there are few places to which he would accept a trade.

Detroit Tigers: They could be looking for a shortstop, George Sipple writes.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Some rival officials remain convinced that eventually, GM Kevin Towers will trade Justin Upton, whose contract -- $38.5 million owed over the next three years -- might make him more attractive during a winter in which B.J. Upton got $75 million and Michael Bourn could be looking for $100 million. But Arizona wants a frontline shortstop in any Upton trade.

Tampa Bay Rays: They need help at a number of spots -- outfield, first base, catcher -- and they have a surplus of pitching. Among the most established starting pitchers, the most likely to go right now could be Hellickson, who is not signed to a long-term, team-friendly deal. James Shields will pitch for $9 million in 2013 and has a club option for $12 million in 2014. I wrote here yesterday that because of financial constraints, David Price will eventually get traded, whether it's here, or next summer, or next winter (and to be clear, there is no indication of any current talks for a deal now).

The Rays are likely to trade pitching for hitting, writes Marc Topkin.

Cincinnati Reds: They're looking for a leadoff hitter and could target Dexter Fowler. Within this John Fay piece, Walt Jocketty laughed off the possibility that he might pursue Bourn.

San Diego Padres: They've got a lot of organizational depth from which to deal, and are looking for rotation help -- and some cash, apparently, given their massive one-year offer to Hiroki Kuroda. On paper, they'd match up well with the Rays.

New York Mets: The signing of David Wright gives the Mets some political cover in their contract talks with R.A. Dickey, who wants a two-year extension at market price for 2014-2015; there seems to be a sizable gap between what the Mets want to pay Dickey and what he is looking for.

If the Mets decide to trade Dickey, on paper, there could be a match between the Jays and the Mets, given the Mets' need for a catcher and Toronto's catching surplus.

Los Angeles Angels: They're looking for pitching, and preparing for the possibility that Greinke will sign elsewhere. Jerry Dipoto is ready to make his pitch, writes Jeff Fletcher.

Pittsburgh Pirates: They've let other teams know that closer Joel Hanrahan is available, and they are looking for starting pitching.

Los Angeles Dodgers: They've got some extra starting pitching to deal.

Seattle Mariners: Jack Zduriencik demonstrated last winter that he's willing to trade some of his young pitching, in his swap of Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero, and he's got more pitching to deal if he chooses. The Mariners' challenge now (and forever, perhaps) is to get more offense. Zduriencik is looking for power, writes Geoff Baker.

• The Phillies continue to push on Angel Pagan, and if they get him, the Giants could look to Shane Victorino as an alternative; Victorino is looking for $9-10 million annually.

• The Marlins won't be trading Giancarlo Stanton, writes Juan Rodriguez.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Rays traded a pitcher.

2. The Astros will be frugal this year, but may open their wallets later. This makes sense, because until Houston was willing to overpay this winter, nobody of significance would sign with the Astros anyway, knowing how long it will be for them to become respectable in the AL West.

3. The Rangers are going to focus on Greinke and Hamilton at the winter meetings. If I were in Jon Daniels' shoes, I'd go all-out for Greinke, and if successful, would trade some surplus pitching for offense.

A Rangers rotation with Greinke:
Yu Darvish
Matt Harrison
Alexi Ogando
Derek Holland

Plus, they'll have Colby Lewis on layaway. That's pretty good.

4. Adam LaRoche and the Nationals are still talking, Adam Kilgore writes, and the stalemate is over years. LaRoche wants three years in his next deal, and Washington is willing to give two. The fact that LaRoche has draft-pick compensation tied to him -- if a team other than Washington signs him, it'll have to give up a top pick -- is a drag on his free agency.

5. Mike Rizzo explained his non-tenders.

6. The Cardinals will be operating outside of the winter meetings spotlight, writes Derrick Goold.

7. The Brewers traded for a reliever.

8. The Blue Jays are still looking for starting pitching, writes Bob Elliott. On paper, their best trade partner might be the Rays, who will not hesitate to trade within the division if they find the right deal.

9. Ruben Amaro has a lot of work to do.

10. Brian Cashman says he's not worried about the Ichiro Suzuki talks. The Yankees' focus is on catcher and left field.

11. The Red Sox aren't getting into any more long-term relationships.

12. The Rockies have a pitching plan in place.

Dings and dents

1. An Orioles pitcher is going to undergo back surgery.

Why a David Price trade looks inevitable.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
David Price is in the discussion for the best pitcher on the planet, at the very least. I think that if you were to poll players and managers and coaches, Justin Verlander would be the No. 1 pick, but Price probably would fall somewhere in the No. 2 to 4 range, mixed in with Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez.

Verlander is not available in a trade, and the Dodgers aren't going to deal Kershaw, and Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik jokes that he should put a message on his answering machine informing interested parties that he isn't trading Hernandez.

But Price is available right now, for the right offer, and some rival executives are convinced he's going to be traded by the Rays sometime in the next 13 months because the salary math is just about impossible for Tampa Bay. The Rays know it, and just about everybody else knows it, too.

If the industrywide forecasts are right and Price is dealt, it will be one of the most significant deals in Major League Baseball history. Not often do you see healthy 27-year-old left-handed Cy Young Award-winning pitchers get traded.

Price was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, but, unlike Evan Longoria, James Shields and Matt Moore, he didn't sign a team-friendly deal early in his career. He made his first significant dollars in his signing bonus and made $4.35 million last season. He's not close to working out a long-term deal, and, even if he wanted to stay with the Rays, it would be virtually impossible for them to afford him, as it was with Carl Crawford. Price is arbitration-eligible, and his salary might approach $10 million for 2013.

After the 2009 season, Cole Hamels was in a similar position to the one Price is in now, and his salaries for 2010, 2011 and 2012 were $6.65 million, $9.5 million and $15 million. Price is going to get a lot more than that in all likelihood. The Rays had a payroll of $63 million last season and have never gone higher than the $72 million range. They could make it work to keep Price through the next three seasons, but he would absorb an extraordinarily high percentage of their payroll -- and, at the back end of it, they wouldn't recoup anything close to his value when he walked away as a free agent.

So, in the Rays' never-ending fight to manage their payroll, they'll listen to offers for Price, and they are in position to demand an incredible package of prospects.

The Royals put Zack Greinke in the trade market when he was still two years from free agency, and Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin walked down to the suite of Royals GM Dayton Moore at the winter meetings and offered shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain -- for starters. The deal wound up being much bigger than that, with Melvin working under this presumption: It was going to cost a lot. He wanted Greinke to headline his rotation, and he knew it was going to hurt to make the deal.

Price doesn't have the historical baggage Greinke did at that time, and he seems to be blossoming right now -- and the sooner some team trades for him, the more likely it would be for that team to be able to sign Price to a long-term deal. The closer he gets to free agency, the more likely it would be that he would go out on the open market. The sooner a team trades for him, the more of its pennant races he can affect.

Yes, it would cost a lot to deal for Price, but he is a difference-making pitcher.

If the Rangers ever got involved in Price trade talks, they would have to include Jurickson Profar, presumably; the Red Sox would have to deal rising shortstop Xander Bogaerts and others. The Dodgers, who are early in the process of rebuilding their farm system, probably don't have the kind of prospects needed to trade for Price. The Orioles would have to include Dylan Bundy, in all likelihood.

Somebody will step up, at some point. Price is almost certain to be dealt, and it's only a matter of when -- whether it be this winter, this coming summer or next winter.

As part of their budget management, the Rays decided to keep Ryan Roberts but let Ben Francisco go.


• This year's Hall of Fame class is filled with candidates whose statistics make them worthy for consideration, from Barry Bonds to Jack Morris. But, as I wrote Sunday, the whole PED question looms over Bonds, Roger Clemens and others, and if a poll by The Associated Press applies to the entire voting body of writers -- and I think it does -- no Hall passes are expected for Bonds, Clemens or Sammy Sosa.

That means that, in all likelihood, the candidacies of Clemens, Bonds, Sosa and others players hurt by suspected or proven links to PEDs will carry over to next year's ballot because of the split in the voting among the writers -- and the players who merit serious consideration will be stacked up even deeper, like planes on a runway.

Remember: You can vote for only 10 candidates per year.

This eventually is going to be a serious problem, especially for candidates who don't have overwhelming statistical résumés and are regarded as fringy by some voters, including players such as Jack Morris, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling.

I'll show you what I mean.

I haven't formally sat down and voted this year, but, on my ballot, I probably will fill all 10 spots on my ballot and vote for Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Jack Morris, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. To me, those are the best candidates, based on their career production. No Murphy, no Alan Trammell, no Schilling. Not because they're not worthy but because there isn't room on my ballot.

Now, I'm in the clear minority of voters who are casting ballots for the perceived steroid users -- but there's a pretty sizable minority, of anywhere from 20 to 45 percent -- who will vote along the lines I am.

The 45 to 60 percent of the voters who have made it clear they won't vote for any perceived users will submit very different ballots, maybe with Raines, Morris, etc. But the lack of consensus on how to deal with the steroid candidates means that, year after year, it will get increasingly difficult for players to get the 75 percent needed to gain induction.

Next year, these other candidates get thrown into the mix: Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, Jeff Kent and Jim Edmonds. Then, in December 2014, the ballots will include Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz.

I'll continue to vote for Bonds, Clemens et al. when they're on the ballot because I think they were the best players up for election, and I suspect a number of other writers will, too. But, as the perceived steroid players get backed up and returned to the ballot year after year, the needed room for other worthy candidates will disappear.

You can argue with my stance, or with that of the writers who will vote against the perceived steroid guys. But it's inarguable that there is a looming challenge to the mechanics of the Hall of Fame voting.

• Teams have already shown interest in Scott Kazmir, and that probably will be heightened by his strong outing Friday night.

• The Mets increased their offer to R.A. Dickey, but it's unclear whether it's close enough to what Dickey seeks in a two-year deal. The Mets were stunned by Andy Pettitte's one-year, $12 million deal, coming off a year in which he made 12 starts -- and, in a strange way, Pettitte is a comparable for Dickey because of his age. If Pettitte is getting $12 million now, what is Dickey's market value after a season in which he won the Cy Young Award?

• The Pirates have made it clear they're willing to talk about Joel Hanrahan in any potential deal, and the Dodgers are interested, with starting pitching to offer (Chris Capuano).

• Robert Andino was a free agent for about 10 minutes.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Braves traded Tommy Hanson for Jordan Walden, and let Jair Jurrjens go, as David O'Brien writes. Most of the evaluators I spoke with about this deal thought Atlanta got the better end of it because of the potential upside with Walden. If the Braves can somehow get his delivery to be more consistent and improve his command, they will have an unbelievable collection of power arms in the last three innings, with Craig Kimbrel closing (96.8 mph average fastball, according to FanGraphs) and Jonny Venters (93.7), Eric O'Flaherty (90.9) and Walden (96.3) setting up. As written within the O'Brien piece, Randall Delgado will compete with Julio Teheran for the final spot in the rotation.

A lot of evaluators don't think Hanson will get better -- because of his problematic mechanics and the health of his arm -- but they liked the Angels' acquisition of him for the back end of their rotation because they need about three to four starters.

2. The Astros got a pitcher with Texas roots, as Brian Smith writes.

3. The Rangers made it official and did not offer a contract to Geovany Soto. Texas and the Yankees are in the same boat with their catching.

4. The working relationship between Brian Wilson and the Giants has been severed. Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro are at the top of their to-do list.

5. The Athletics acquired a reliever.

6. The Cubs cut some guys.

7. The White Sox cut a pitcher who threw a perfect game this past spring, as Mark Gonzalez writes.

8. The Brewers did not tender a contract to Manny Parra.

9. The Twins outrighted one of their pitchers.

10. The Indians cut Jack Hannahan and others.

11. The Tigers cut Daniel Schlereth.

12. The Royals signed Chris Getz.

13. The Nationals have a whole lot of options now, writes Thomas Boswell.

14. Washington cut some guys.

15. The Russell Martin deal was officially announced.

16. The Phillies cut Nate Schierholtz. He could make a lot of sense for the Yankees as a low-risk, high-reward investment -- a left-handed hitter who plays good defense and might fit their park, and if he figures it out, he seems capable of doing more than he has done so far.

17. The Red Sox cut some guys, as Peter Abraham writes.

18. The Mariano Rivera deal was finalized, as Jorge Arangure writes. The Yankees will still be a force to be reckoned with, says Brian Cashman.

19. Cashman says he's not worried about Derek Jeter.

20. The Mets re-signed David Wright, and their business model is hardly one to emulate, as Tyler Kepner writes.

21. The Orioles did not tender a contract to Mark Reynolds. He wouldn't be a bad fit for the Rays.

22. The Red Sox hired an assistant hitting coach.

23. The Dodgers are still talking about their TV contract.

24. The Mariners are really hard to read as the winter meetings begin. I've been told by a number of agents: It's clear that Seattle has money to spend ... but the Mariners are not a desired destination right now for the better free agents. So they'll probably have to overpay to get the veterans they can sign. I still wonder whether, at the end of the process, the Mariners are going to be the team that pays Josh Hamilton or Michael Bourn.

Trade candidates for all 30 teams.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Not every team will make a trade at this week’s winter meetings in Nashville, but every team could. With that in mind, let’s take a look at one player (or more) who could be on the trade block this week from each of the 30 teams.

American League

Baltimore Orioles
Player: Brian Matusz, LHP
Reason: There are several teams that believe what Matusz did in relief for the Orioles down the stretch he can also do in the starting rotation if given another opportunity. The Orioles want a corner guy/DH, and they might have to use Matusz to fill that hole.
Possible trade partners: Mets, Padres, Indians, Cubs

Boston Red Sox
Player: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Reason: The Red Sox are loaded at catcher with Ryan Lavarnway and David Ross behind Salty. If the Red Sox sign Mike Napoli for first base, then it is likely they’ll move Saltalamacchia for pitching help and give Lavarnway and Ross the opportunity to share the bulk of the duties, with Napoli as a fallback. The Red Sox listened at the July deadline and now could be ready to deal Saltalamacchia for the right pitcher.
Possible trade partners: Rangers, Indians, Mets, White Sox, Yankees

Chicago White Sox
Player: Gordon Beckham, 2B
Reason: Beckham has never lived up to expectations and a change of scenery might be helpful to both parties at this point. Of course, the White Sox couldn’t trade him unless they were either getting a second baseman back or were able to acquire an upgrade in another trade.
Possible trade partners: Giants (if they don’t re-sign Marco Scutaro), Royals, Rays

Cleveland Indians
Player: Shin-Soo Choo, RF
Reason: He is entering his walk year and with Scott Boras as his agent he’s sure to test the free-agent market rather than commit to a long-term deal with the Indians. In addition, with the Indians' tight budget constraints, it’s unlikely they would commit the type of years and dollars it would take to retain Choo.
Possible trade partners: Mariners, Red Sox, Phillies, Orioles, Giants, Rangers, Reds, Braves

Detroit Tigers
Player: Brennan Boesch, RF
Reason: The signing of Torii Hunter coupled with Boesch’s inconsistency means his days in the Motor City are numbered. Rick Porcello is another Tiger who could be on the block, but only if the Tigers re-sign Anibal Sanchez, which would make Porcello expendable.
Possible trade partners: Mariners, Indians, Cubs, Astros

Houston Astros
Player: Brett Wallace, 1B
Reason: The Astros have top prospect Jonathan Singleton almost ready to take over at first, and Wallace has never put together his offensive potential, which he might actually reach when he's traded to what will be the fifth team of his career.
Possible trade partners: Indians, Rays, Mariners, Orioles

Kansas City Royals
Player: Luke Hochevar, RHP
Reason: The Royals have been waiting for Hochevar’s feel for pitching to improve, but it never has. They tendered him a contract, which means they are prepared to keep him, but they will shop him with hopes that someone will take a chance on the former No. 1 overall pick.
Possible trade partners: Padres, Pirates, Astros, Indians

Los Angeles Angels
Player: Vernon Wells, OF
REASON: The Angels are prepared to go with an outfield of Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos for 2013 and would like to cut ties with Wells, who is owed $21 million in each of the next two seasons. The Angels realize they’ll have to pay almost his entire contract in any deal.
Possible trade partners: Anyone willing to make a bad contract swap

Minnesota Twins
Player: Justin Morneau, 1B
Reason: The Twins have said that they’re not going to trade Morneau. However, they also know they’re not going to sign him to another multiyear deal and they might be able to get a decent prospect if they move him now, due to the shortage of good first basemen on the free-agent market. They also will probably have to pay part of the $14 million he is owed in 2013, the final year of his contract.
Possible trade partners: Rays, Orioles, Rangers, Mariners

New York Yankees
Player: Brett Gardner, OF
Reason: The Phillies, Braves and Reds are looking for an outfielder who can lead off, and now that Denard Span is off the board and Michael Bourn’s asking price is beyond reasonable, most of those clubs are focusing on free-agent outfielders Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino. Whoever loses out might be willing to make a significant offer for Gardner. The Yankees want to keep their payroll below the $189 million luxury-tax threshold over the next two years, and to accomplish that they have to improve via trade rather than free agency.
Possible trade partners: Phillies, Braves, Reds

Oakland Athletics
Player: Coco Crisp, CF
Reason: The A’s trade with the Diamondbacks that netted center fielder Chris Young has made Crisp available in trade. With the amount of clubs in need of center field and top-of-the-lineup-type hitters, I won’t be surprised if he’s moved.
Possible trade partners: Braves, Reds, Phillies, Giants

Seattle Mariners
Player: Justin Smoak, 1B
Reason: The Mariners have been aggressive in the free-agent market, and are hot after Napoli, who would play first for them. If they upgrade over Smoak at that spot, expect them to turn around and move Smoak to a team in need of an inexpensive first baseman.
Possible trade partners: Rays, Indians, Orioles, Nationals, Blue Jays

Tampa Bay Rays
Player: Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
Reason: The Rays are in desperate need of offense, and without having the resources to buy a bat on the free-agent market or prospects ready to contribute, they have no choice but to accomplish this by trade. Expect Hellickson, David Price, Matt Moore or James Shields to be dealt for an inexpensive impact bat.
Possible trade partners: Royals, Indians, Nationals

Texas Rangers
Player: Mitch Moreland, 1B
Reason: The Rangers would like more production from first base than they’ve been getting from Moreland. If they don’t re-sign Josh Hamilton, they’re expected to pursue both Adam LaRoche and Nick Swisher. If they sign LaRoche then Moreland is sure to be packaged in another deal.
Possible trade partners: Indians, Rays, Twins

Toronto Blue Jays
Player: J.P. Arencibia, C
Reason: The Blue Jays' top prospect is catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who could be ready for the majors this season. They also reacquired John Buck from the Marlins in the blockbuster last month, which makes Arencibia trade bait. The Rangers would love to get Arencibia and might be willing to trade from their depth of pitching to get a deal done.
Possible trade partners: Rangers, White Sox, Mets

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks
Player: Trevor Bauer, RHP
Reason: There are some uniformed personnel in Arizona who don’t believe that Bauer will ever have the command and control in the zone to live up to his potential, while others are frustrated by his stubborn nature. If the D-backs have an opportunity to trade him for a long-term solution at shortstop or third base, they’re sure to listen.
Possible trade partners: Indians, Rangers, Nationals

Atlanta Braves
Player: Julio Teheran, RHP
Reason: The Braves continue to love Teheran’s repertoire and potential, but there are several Braves evaluators who don’t believe he’ll ever live up to the hype. If they can find a replacement for Chipper Jones at third, or a left fielder, they’ll listen.
Possible trade partners: Royals, Rangers, Indians, White Sox, Cubs

Chicago Cubs
Player: Alfonso Soriano, LF
Reason: The Cubs will have to eat most of the $36 million left on his contract, which expires after the 2014 season, but if they can get a solid prospect, they’ll have to deal him and adhere to their blueprint of rebuilding.
Possible trade partners: Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles

Cincinnati Reds
Player: Mike Leake, RHP
Reason: The Reds are planning to move Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation to join Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo, which makes Leake available. Although the Reds would like to keep Leake as insurance against injury, they won’t let that stand in the way if they get a chance to improve left field or the bullpen.
Possible trade partners: Padres, Astros, Rockies, Indians

Colorado Rockies
Player: Dexter Fowler, CF
Reason: Fowler had a breakout season in 2012 and is presently the Rockies' most valuable trade piece. It will take a significant package to get Fowler as the Rockies are not desperate to move him. However, if they can get significant pitching prospects back they would pull the trigger.
Possible trade partners: Phillies, Giants, Reds, Braves

Los Angeles Dodgers
Player: Dee Gordon, SS
Reason: The Dodgers aren’t looking to move Gordon because they like the speed, defense and depth he gives them in the infield behind Mark Ellis, Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz. However, several Dodgers evaluators aren’t convinced he’s going to hit enough to be a top-of-the-order table-setter, and if they can get an inexpensive starter in return, they will move him.
Possible trade partners: Pirates, Diamondbacks, Padres, Cardinals

Miami Marlins
Player: Logan Morrison, 1B/LF
Reason: The Marlins have moved just about every player who has given them headaches over the past couple of years -- except for Morrison, who’s probably next. Morrison is a solid hitter with 15-20 home run power and has the ability to play first and left.
Possible trade partners: Mets, Astros, Orioles, Rays, Indians

Milwaukee Brewers
Player: Corey Hart, 1B/OF
Reason: The Brewers need to upgrade their starting rotation, and the lack of good corner outfielders available via free agency could make Hart available. Once Nick Swisher and Cody Ross sign, the Brewers could offer Hart to any suitors who missed out.
Possible trade partners: Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox

New York Mets
Player: R.A. Dickey, RHP
Reason: The Mets continue to work toward signing the NL Cy Young Award winner to a multiyear contract, but they’ve been working even harder to try and find out what his trade value is. Once Zack Greinke, Kyle Lohse and Anibal Sanchez sign, the contending teams that missed out will be considering a deal for Dickey. A top prospect or two good prospects would certainly help the Mets in their rebuilding program, just like when GM Sandy Alderson traded Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler at the trade deadline in July 2011.
Possible trade partners: Angels, Dodgers, Royals, Red Sox, Orioles

Philadelphia Phillies
Player: Vance Worley, RHP
Reason: The Phillies are looking for a stopgap at third base, a long-term solution in center and an eighth-inning reliever. Their preference is to solve their holes via free agency. However, if they have to go the trade route they realize they’ll probably have to move either Worley, Tyler Cloyd or Kyle Kendrick.
Possible trade partners: Padres, Rangers, Indians, Twins

Pittsburgh Pirates
Player: Joel Hanrahan, RHP
Reason: Hanrahan has developed into one of the game’s best closers and his future salaries will quickly follow suit, so the Pirates have been dangling him to clubs in need of ninth-inning help. The Pirates would love to be able to package him for a shortstop or younger/inexpensive pitching.
Possible trade partners: Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Angels, Rangers, Phillies, Giants

San Diego Padres
Player: Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B
Reason: The Padres are convinced that Gyorko will be able to hit and play an adequate second base. However, he’s better at third, and they have Chase Headley there. With the shortage of third basemen in baseball, the Padres realize that they have to listen to offers for Gyorko, especially if they can improve their starting rotation.
Possible trade partners: Phillies, Diamondbacks, Braves, Indians, Yankees

San Francisco Giants
Player: Hector Sanchez, C
Reason: The Giants don’t want to trade Sanchez because they love the fact he allows them to put Posey at first base once or twice a week because of the confidence they have in Sanchez behind the plate and with the bat. However, with so many teams looking for inexpensive catching, they might be given an offer they can’t refuse.
Possible trade partners: Yankees, Rangers, Cubs

St. Louis Cardinals
Player: Jake Westbrook, RHP
Reason: Westbrook remains a solid back-of-the-rotation innings eater and the Cardinals have young pitchers Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller ready to replace him in their rotation. They also will probably have to eat part of his contract ($8.75 million for 2013 with a mutual option for 2014) to move him.
Possible trade partners: Giants (extra starter), Padres

Washington Nationals
Player: Michael Morse, LF
Reason: The Nationals' trade for Denard Span means that Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth will be the team's corner outfielders and Morse will either be moved to first base or traded. The Nats' first choice is to re-sign Adam LaRoche to play first and trade Morse because LaRoche is a better defender at first and more importantly his left-handed bat gives their lineup some balance
Possible trade partners:Rays, Reds, Orioles, Braves, Giants, Mariners, Indians

5 bold predictions for winter meetings.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Despite my being a veteran of countless winter meetings, baseball's annual gathering still manages to surprise me. Whether it's a blockbuster trade or an out-of-the-blue free-agent signing, the winter meetings always provide a handful of happenings.

However, experience does offer me a little insight into what could happen. Last year, we saw the Los Angeles Angels reel in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, and the Miami Marlins signed Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Heath Bell. And, well, we know how that turned out. So here are my five bold predictions for the winter meetings:

1. The New York Mets will trade R.A. Dickey

With the Mets extending third baseman David Wright for eight years for about $138 million, I expect them to then turn around and trade right-hander R.A. Dickey to the Kansas City Royals or the Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels for two good prospects. Wright is the face of their franchise, their version of Chipper Jones or Derek Jeter, and it was essential they get him locked up. With the Tampa Bay Rays’ extension of Evan Longoria this past month and the Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman sewn up, as well, this was a relatively simple negotiation for general manager Sandy Alderson. In regards to Dickey, it’s more about selling high on an overachieving pitcher and being realistic on when the Mets will be ready to contend. Although the public thinks it could be sooner, realistically, the Mets won’t be contending until at least 2015.

2. The Cleveland Indians will make more trades than any other team

The Indians are waiting for the top free agents to sign. Once that happens, teams that lose out will be calling them to make deals. The Indians have the highest-quality tradable players currently on the market. Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo is one of the most underrated right fielders in baseball. He’s a complete player and is about to enter his free-agent walk year. He is represented by Scott Boras, which means it’s unlikely he’ll sign a contract extension before testing the open market. Therefore, once Josh Hamilton, Cody Ross and Nick Swisher have inked deals, the clubs that missed out will attempt to trade for Choo.

Several teams are pursuing shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics. If anyone of those teams puts together the right package of young starting pitching, it might be able to pry him loose. Closer Chris Perez is well respected throughout the game as a straight shooter who speaks his mind without filter, which is fine unless you’re always bashing the ownership, the front office and the fans. His trade value is at an all-time high, and now is the best time to get the best return. With starting pitching always at a premium, the Tribe also will listen to offers for Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. The bottom line is the Indians will be an interesting team to watch in Nashville.

3. The Miami Marlins will sign a free agent and give him a full-no trade clause

The Marlins’ trades of Buehrle, Reyes and Bell this offseason have left agents with such a bad taste in their mouths that many of them are saying they won’t even talk to the Marlins on behalf of their clients. Interestingly, a year ago, the Marlins all but had Albert Pujols signed, but their refusal to include a no-trade clause allowed him to make the right choice and sign with the Angels. If he had signed with the Marlins, he probably would be with the Toronto Blue Jays today. The Marlins are under scrutiny from the commissioner’s office and the players' association to spend rather than pocketing what look to be significant revenue-sharing gains the next few years. The Marlins need to step up and surprise baseball by adding a significant free agent and will have no choice this time but to change their policy and give a full no-trade clause so players they sign won’t have to worry about being dealt in a year.

4. The Royals will finally trade for an elite starter, and fans will rebel

Royals general manager Dayton Moore is in a Catch-22 situation. Royals fans have been begging for the team to trade for a top-of-the-rotation starter instead of their continued plan of back-of-the-rotation innings eaters such as Jeremy Guthrie, Bruce Chen, Ervin Santana and Luke Hochevar. But it will cost Moore one of the young, talented position players he has. Moore definitely feels the pressure and is doing everything possible to make such a trade this coming week in Nashville. Even though I think the best move would be to sign a free agent such as Kyle Lohse or Anibal Sanchez and keep his position players intact, I predict that the Royals are going to trade Wil Myers, Alex Gordon or Eric Hosmer to get their top-of-rotation young starter. If and when they do this, Royals fans will show their disapproval. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

5. The Texas Rangers will re-sign Josh Hamilton to a four-year contract

Some believe Hamilton and Rangers definitely will part ways, but I'm making the bold prediction that he'll stay. Despite all the reports that the Rangers won't go more than three years on a deal for Hamilton, I fully expect them to give him a fourth year with a club option for a fifth at an average annual value of approximately $23 million. There has been interest in Hamilton from several teams, including the Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners, and Baltimore Orioles.

His family lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and plans to stay there regardless. Having been to two World Series in the past three years, Hamilton and the Rangers have unfinished business of bringing a world championship to Rangers fans, and both parties know the best way to accomplish that is for them to try again together rather than apart.

Hanson unlikely to help Angels.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I understand the Los Angeles Angels are looking for affordable help for the back of their rotation, and I don't think trading a hard-throwing reliever for it is a bad idea, but I'm very pessimistic about the pitcher they acquired, Tommy Hanson, while I think the reliever they dealt, Jordan Walden, still has the potential to become a 2-plus WAR reliever for the Atlanta Braves.

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Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
It's hard to expect much from Hanson at this point.The Angels didn't give up a ton for Hanson, but Hanson is so diminished at this point by shoulder and back problems that I'm not sure I'd want any part of him at his projected $4 million salary in arbitration. Hanson's a mess, and even when healthy in 2012 was barely above replacement level. He got worse as the season went on, and his fastball hasn't been the same since the shoulder problems began in earnest in 2011.

He doesn't have a great delivery, one that relies more on his arm than his legs to generate velocity, with late arm acceleration and minimal hip rotation, and he's fairly unathletic as well.

His command and control are both in decline as well, and unless the Angels plan to do something radical, such as giving him extra time off between starts or perhaps start his 2013 season later to try to build up strength in his shoulder and ensure that his back is 100 percent, I'm not optimistic that he'll be able to help their rotation.

In exchange for a player they had to at least be considering a potential non-tender, Atlanta gets back a project reliever in Walden. He throws in the upper 90s with heavy sink, but has below-average command and often has to elevate the ball just to throw strikes, meaning he doesn't generate the ground balls you'd expect from the scouting report.

His slider is sharp but is just a pitch to keep hitters off the fastball, meaning it won't be effective unless he can improve his ability to locate his primary pitch.

But Walden isn't eligible for arbitration yet, with one more year of club control than Hanson has remaining, so Atlanta saves some cash for 2013 and also has more time to try to fix what ails Walden, mostly command, which is more likely than the Angels fixing Hanson's health issues. I'd much rather have four years of Walden than three of Hanson, and that's even more true when we consider the greater expense for Hanson, because arbitration values starters more highly than non-closer relievers.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Padres, Marquis close to deal
AM ETJason Marquis | Padres Recommend0Comments0EmailThe San Diego Padres are closing in on a one-year contract to bring back free-agent starter Jason Marquis, says's Jayson Stark.

The 34-year-old Marquis was a combined 8-11 with a 5.22 ERA last season for the Twins and Padres. Stark adds that the Padres are looking to add one more starter, either via trade or free agency, after signing Marquis.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Jason Marquis, San Diego Padres
Rangers eyeing Dickey
AM ETR.A. Dickey | Mets Recommend0Comments6EmailJust because he won the 2012 National League Cy Young Award doesn't mean R.A. Dickey isn't a candidate to be traded.

As T.R. Sullivan reports, the Texas Rangers may be interested in talking to the Mets about Dickey at the winter meetings this week.

Upon arriving at the winter meetings, Mets GM Sandy Alderson suggested nothing was off the table, adding the club will continue to talk with the pitcher?s agent about a contract extension.

The veteran right-hander, who has revitalized his career as an elite pitcher by transforming himself into a knuckleballer, is under contract for one more season at $5 million. The two sides have been discussing a possible two-year deal, but Dickey reportedly has been disappointed at the slow pace of the talks. The pace of the talks could pick up now that the Mets reportedly have reached an extension with third baseman David Wright.

Jim Bowden of The GM's Office speculates that we could see a surprise on the Dickey front at the winter meetings, and Buster Olney says a deal for Dickey makes sense:

- Doug Mittler and Jason Catania

Jim Bowden
Prediction: Dickey will be traded

"With the Mets extending third baseman David Wright for eight years for about $138 million, I expect them to then turn around and trade right-hander R.A. Dickey to the Kansas City Royals or the Los Angeles Dodgers or Angels for two good prospects. ...In regards to Dickey, it's more about selling high on an overachieving pitcher and being realistic on when the Mets will be ready to contend. Although the public thinks it could be sooner, realistically, the Mets won't be contending until at least 2015."

Buster Olney
Dickey's value

"Dickey's got market value, and teams like the Rangers are interested. At a time when the Nationals look like a powerhouse and the Braves are solid and the Phillies have the best trio of starting pitchers, the Mets aren't going to contend. They have talked about a two-year extension with Dickey, but they aren't close to signing him, and perhaps the Mets will get a good prospect or two in return for a pitcher that led his league in innings last season, with 233 2/3. The Mets love Matt Harvey and think he has the makeup to be a frontline type starter, and maybe in 2014 or 2015, Harvey and Zack Wheeler and others can be the core of a pitching staff that will make the Mets' relevant again."
Tags:New York Mets, R.A. Dickey, Texas Rangers
Orioles eye Myers as a starter
AM ETBrett Myers | White Sox Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Baltimore Orioles are interested in free agent righthander Brett Myers as a starting pitcher, reports Jon Morosi.

The 32-year-old Myers has jockeyed between the bullpen and rotation throughout his career -- he has 97 wins and 40 saves over 11 seasons. But he is looking to return to starting after spending 2012 in the bullpen for the Astros and White Sox.

The Minnesota Twins are among the teams looking at Myers, Joe Christensen of the Star Tribine reported last week.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Brett Myers, Baltimore Orioles
Nats, Rays discuss Shields?
AM ETTampa Bay Rays Recommend0Comments0EmailIt's no secret that the Tampa Bay Rays arrive at the winter meetings with a surplus of pitching. Whether they deal a top-shelf starter such as James Shields remains to be seen.'s Jim Bowden says the Washington Nationals are among the teams talking to the Rays about pitching, noting that the names of outfielder Michael Morse and infielder Danny Espinosa have been mentioned.'s Jayson Stark, however, cites a source close to the talks who says a Morse/Espinosa deal to the Rays "is not very likely," despite a logical fit.'s Bill Ladson says the Nationals could make a run at Shields, who has a contract worth $10.2 million for 2013, but could be a free agent if his option is not picked up for '14.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:James Shields, Washington Nationals, Tampa Bay Rays
The favorite for Greinke
AM ETZack Greinke | Angels Recommend0Comments18EmailZack Greinke is the top free agent among pitchers this offseason -- and arguably the top free agent overall, as he landed at No. 1 on Keith Law's Top 50 Free Agent Rankings last month. A handful of clubs are expected to make a serious run at the former Cy Young winner, who may warrant the richest contract ever given to a right-handed pitcher.

Greinke's agent, Casey Close, tells Jon Heyman he will know in 24-48 hours whether a deal can get done at the Nashville meetings.

What Greinke brings to the table
Greinke is a true impact starter that has tallied 200 or more innings four of the last five seasons, including his Cy Young year in 2009. As Law writes, Greinke is effective with four pitches and commands them well, racking up nearly a strikeout per inning while limiting the bases on balls.

He's just 29 years old with no signs of slowing down anytime soon and has performed well in pennant races, the postseason and a big-market environment, suggesting perhaps any previous concerns over his mental health are overblown. He's athletic and an above-average fielder who has also learned to hold runners well.

The belief is that Greinke may command a deal somewhere north of the six years and $127.5 million the San Francisco Giants gave Matt Cain in April -- with a possibility that Greinke could approach the $150 million range.

Clubs speak of total dollars being their reservation on contracts, not the average annual salary, but considering who is reportedly interested in his services, it's difficult to believe Greinke would have to settle for anything less than the six years and around $20 million per season, ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden predicted.

Potential suitors for Greinke
Los Angeles DodgersLos Angeles AngelsTexas RangersBaltimore Orio*****ston Red SoxWho's Interested?
As shown at right, many of the big-money clubs are expected to make a serious run at Greinke, with the Angels and Rangers perhaps being the two clubs mentioned most. The Halos have made Greinke their top priority, though recent reports suggest they do not like the idea of making Greinke among the top paid right-handed pitchers in the history of the game.

The Dodgers are also getting into the mix, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports. Given their endlessly-deep pockets, some see them as the favorites, according to's Jon Heyman.

The Red Sox, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald, could spend $70 million or more on their 2013 payroll and still remain under the luxury tax, and with questions in their rotation there may be a chance they get serious about the best starting pitcher available.

The Orioles could be a dark horse here, as they have a hole at the top of their rotation and could find the funds to entice Greinke.

Outside the Box
If there was ever a big-time free agent that might buck trends and expectations, Greinke might be the one. He has a history in Kansas City, and the Royals' ownership has said publicly they are willing to spend to fill their sore need for starting pitching help. Whether or not that means $100 million or more, though, is unclear.

The Milwaukee Brewers traded Greinke in July, but they do still need rotation help of their own. If they are serious about contention in 2013, they could make a competitive offer, though it's doubtful either they or the Royals would win a bidding war.

Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory sees a chance Greinke may be undervalued:

- Jason A. Churchill

Dan Szymborski
Why Greinke could be a bargain

"Nobody's going to send a pink slip to a pitcher with 41 wins and a 3.83 ERA over three years, but on the surface, those aren't typically the stats of a pitcher you break the bank for. Greinke's 3.83 ERA, when compared to league average, comes to an ERA+ of only 106, a number more typically seen from a weak No. 2 starter rather than an ace. Advanced statistics, however, tell a different story. Of the 116 pitchers with 500 innings over the past five years, Greinke's FIP -- which is scaled to ERA and focuses on strikeouts, walks and other things a pitcher can control -- ranks sixth in baseball (3.05), a figure more in line with someone you could consider an ace. Signing Greinke would be a coup for a team such as the Baltimore Orioles or Los Angeles Angels, two teams in tough divisions that have gaping holes in their rotations. Fortune favors the bold, and giving Hamels-type money to Greinke would be bold. Money comes and goes, but flags fly forever."
Tags:Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Zack Greinke
Braves search for a left fielder
AM ETAtlanta Braves Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Atlanta Braves landed the center fielder they wanted in last week's deal with free agent B.J. Upton. Next on the wish list is a left fielder, but finding the right fit financially may not be easy.

David O'Brien of the Atlanta JC reports the Braves have about $10 million to spend on a left fielder and a couple of bench spots, which might price them out of available free agents such as Angel Pagan, Shane Victorino and Cody Ross. Other possibilities include Ryan Ludwick, who is coming off a strong season for the Cincinnati Reds, and even Ichiro Suzuki, who is growing impatient while awaiting an offer from the New York Yankees.

The Braves are expected to move Martin Prado from left field to third base to replace the retiring Chipper Jones.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Ryan Ludwick, Shane Victorino, Angel Pagan, Atlanta Braves
Peralta as trade bait
AM ETJhonny Peralta | Tigers Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Detroit Tigers arrived at the winter meetings in Nashville with shortstop Jhonny Peralta as their primary bargaining chip, writes Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.

Improving the infield defense is a priority in Detroit, where the defensively-challenged Migiuel Cabrera is at third and Peralta, whose range is far from the best in the majors, is at short.

Peralta, who plays third and short, was an All-Star in 2011 and still has trade value. Henning suggests a possible fit in Baltimore, where the Orioles might be willing to move shortstop J.J. Hardy in order to make room at the position for Manny Machado.

The Tigers also could use Peralta as trade bait for a reliever, assuming they are not 100 percent sold on the idea of using the untested Bruce Rondon as their closer.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers
Rays, Loney close to deal
AM ETJames Loney | Red Sox Recommend0Comments1EmailThe Tampa Bay Rays appear to be close to a deal with free-agent first baseman James Loney, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.'s Jim Bowden says the deal, which effectively replaces the ineffective Carlos Pena at first base, is for one year.

The Red Sox had no plans to re-sign the 28-year-old Loney after acquiring him in the August mega-deal with the Dodgers. Loney, who hit .249 with six homers and 41 RBI between the two teams last season, was considered one of the best free agent first basemen available behind Adam LaRoche.

Bowden adds the Nationals are among the teams talking to the Rays about their surplus of starting pitching. The names of outfielder Michael Morse and infielder Danny Espinosa have been mentioned.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays
Will Marmol be traded?
AM ETCarlos Marmol | Cubs Recommend0Comments0EmailAccording to multiple reports, the Chicago Cubs have agreed to terms with top Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa on a two-year, $9.5 million deal that could make Carlos Marmol expendable.

Fujikawa, who owns a low to mid-90s fastball, a splitter and a slider, went 3-3 with a 1.24 ERA and 41 saves last season for the Hanshin Tigers of NPB.

The prevailing thought says Marmol's days in Chicago may be numbered, but any deal will involve the Cubs absorbing some of the $9.8 million left on his contract. GM Jed Hoyer hinted to the Sun-Times that Marmol's Windy City tenure may not be over, but the Cubs will undoubtedly explore the opportunity this week in Nashville.

Marmol came within a questionable medical report of being traded to the Angels for starter Dan Haren last month. The Rangers and Tigers might be among the interested team if Marmol is acquired at a substantial discount.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs
Rangers bring back Soto
AM ETGeovany Soto | Rangers Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Texas Rangers are among the teams competing for the services of Mike Napoli. Should Napoli decide to bolt the Lone Star State, the Rangers purchased some insurance late Sunday night by agreeing to a one-year deal with catcher Geovany Soto, pending a physical, reports Richard Durrett of

The Rangers last week non-tendered the 29-year-old Soto, who batted a disappointing .196 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 47 games for the Rangers after being acquired him at the trade deadline in July.

The Red Sox and Mariners also have been mention as suitors for Napoli, so a return to Arlington was no guarantee. Napoli and his agent, Brian Grieper, met with the Rangers on Wednesday.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Geovany Soto, Texas Rangers
LaRoche's preference
AM ETAdam LaRoche | Nationals Recommend0Comments3EmailNegotiations between the Washington Nationals and free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche have been moving at a methodical pace, but Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reported Sunday night there is a "growing sense that something will get done."

LaRoche rejected the $13.3 million qualifying offer from the Nats last month, which made sense given the circumstances; namely, that the first base market is thin, and LaRoche is coming off a career year with 33 home runs. But that doesn't mean he doesn't want to come back to D.C. In fact, as Adam Berry of reports, LaRoche wants to remain a National.

If the Nats are unable to sign LaRoche, they most likely would insert Michael Morse at first base, especially now that their outfield is set with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the corners and the recently-obtained Denard Span in center.

- Doug Mittler

Keith Law
LaRoche a solid short-term value

"LaRoche was healthy in 2012 and showed off his raw power along with his elite defense at first base, which earned him (he said, half-mockingly) his first Gold Glove. He's also 33 and an old-man's skills hitter, with patience and power but lots of strikeouts and just one season in his career when he topped a .280 average. He's a well below-average runner and a dead fastball hitter, so any loss of bat speed could be catastrophic. For now, he's a solid player good for three wins above replacement, but long-term projections are going to slope down fairly steeply. I'd love to have him for one year, would be content with two years and would jump into the Potomac River before giving him four."
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Thread Starter 
Six Prospects to Target in Winter Meeting Trades.
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The MLB Winter Meetings are upon us and one things is certain: General managers will spend a great deal of time discussing potential trades. Below are six names that won’t be the centrepiece of any deals as B/C grade prospects but they still have value to big league organizations. They don’t belong in the same sentence as other top prospects that could be had in the right deal – like Royals outfielder Wil Myers or Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Bauer – but they could end up being useful future big league contributors.

The Dec. 9, 2011 trade between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics is a perfect example of the value that “add-on” trade pieces can have. The key players in the trade were pitchers Trevor Cahill (going to Arizona) and Jarrod Parker (going to Oakland). However, Craig Breslow also went to Arizona and had a solid year in the bullpen before being dealt away in another trade to Boston, and Ryan Cook – the third best prospect that went to Oakland – ended up pitching in the all-star game and had 37 shutdowns.

Bobby Coyle, LF, Los Angeles Dodgers

The majority of impressive prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers system are pitchers but I stumbled across an interesting hitting prospect while scouting one of those young hurlers. Coyle, 23, was a high school teammate of former first round draft picks Mike Moustakas (Kansas City) and Matt Dominguez (Miami, now Houston) at a California high school notorious for producing professional baseball players – including former Red Sox great Dwight Evans.

Coyle took a different route than his high-profile teammates and spent three years in college, playing for both the University of Arizona and Fresno State before turning pro as a 10th round draft pick in 2010. He’s produced solid pro numbes and reached double-A in his second full pro season in 2012. The big knock on Coyle is his limited defensive value as a left fielder with average defensive skills. His power, which is best described as gap power, is a tad shy in terms of what most teams would look for from an everyday corner outfielder.

The left-handed hitter is aggressive at the plate and walked just 14 times in 69 games during an injury-interrupted 2012 season. However, he has a knack for making solid contact and he struck out just 27 times. Coyle has a sturdy frame and long legs and flashes opposite-field power. He generates much of his pop with quick hips and strong forearms/wrists, and doesn’t use his legs much in his swing.

I saw him hit a home run over the left field fence against Cubs pitching prospect Dae-Eun Rhee; Coyle utilized a shortened swing on an 0-2 pitch to muscle the ball out. In the same game, he took a bases-loaded 0-2 pitch over the wall in right field but the right fielder leaned over the wall to bring it back for an out.

He doesn’t have to take a big swing to tap into his raw power and he actually looks better when he’s facing a deficit in the count because he shortens his stroke. Coyle doesn’t make an ideal fourth outfielder because he cannot play center field but he could carve out a big league career as a platoon left fielder or pinch hitter. He’ll likely open 2013 back in double-A but he could be ready for a cup of coffee in the majors by the end of the year or at some point in 2014.

Greg Garcia, IF, St. Louis Cardinals

Garcia, who was a teammate of fellow Cardinals prospect Kolten Wong at the University of Hawaii, is a left-handed hitter with the ability to play both second base and shortstop. His arm is strong enough for third base so he should be able to handle the position on a part-time basis. The same can be said for shortstop at the big league level, thanks to modest range. The 23-year-old hits for a solid average and he also walked 80 times in 124 games at the double-A level.

I was impressed with Garcia’s offensive approach when I watched him play. The ball jumped off his bat more than I expected given his offensive numbers; he hit a lot of line drives that end up in opponents’ gloves. With that said, I would like to see him use the whole field more.

Garcia will likely open 2013 in triple-A and is nearly ready for the major leagues. His versatility and left-handed bat should make him an attractive utility player. He could even play a year or two as a regular second baseman.

Sam Mende, 3B, Colorado Rockies

Colorado’s system features some impressive infield talent with the likes of Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado but there is another intriguing young player on the left side of the infield. Mende spent the entire season playing in the South Atlantic League (A-ball) where he posted a 120 wRC+. At 22, the third baseman was not exactly young for the league and his aggressive nature at the plate (29 walks in 112 games) takes a bite out of his potential at the plate but he’s interesting nonetheless.

On the plus side, he showed nice gap power with 53 extra base hits and even stole 23 bases in 31 attempts thanks to average speed and above-average instincts. I was quite taken with his short, level swing and saw him hit a home run off of Boston Red Sox Top 15 prospect Henry Owens on a fringe fastball up and over the heart of the plate. Where Mende really shines, though, is the field. I watched him make at least three impressive plays at third base, including a strong throw on the run while fielding a bunt. He also showed good range to his left by making a sliding stop on a ground ball – with a runner cutting in front of him – and then got up and made a strong, accurate throw to nab the base runner.

Mende really needs to jump start his development in 2013 with a quick trip through high-A ball on his way to spending much of the year in the more age-appropriate double-A. A more patient approach is certainly needed to succeed at higher levels. It’s not a sexy projection but I could see Mende developing into a slightly better version of former Houston Astro Chris Johnson. A shortstop in college, I could see him returning to that position on a part-time basis while also providing plus defense at third base and possibly dabbling on the right side of the field at second base as a big league utility player.

Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP, Chicago Cubs

If you look solely at Rhee’s professional statistics you’d probably think me mad for including him on this report. But after watching him pitch on a number of occasions, he continues to fascinate me as a prospect that should be much more successful than he’s been – and I can’t help but think that there’s a pitching coach out there that could help unlock his potential. Rhee, 23, is tall and lanky. He shows good balance over the rubber and has a high 3/4 arm slot with smooth mechanics. He also works quickly – perhaps too quickly at times.

The downfall for the pitcher, though, is his lack of command. When I watched him pitch he was struggling to command both his fastball and his curveball, which was slow and loopy. He had good movement on his fastball, which can touch 93 mph, and it was cutting down and in on right-handed hitters. His best pitch was a tumbling splitter that helps him induce an above-average number of ground balls. He lacks swing-and-miss stuff and gets into a lot of trouble when he elevates the ball due to inconsistent mechanics.

While watching him, I was confused by the pitch sequences being used. He utilized the below-average curveball a lot and I hope it was by design in an effort to help him improve the pitch. In a perfect world, Rhee would have established – and pitched off of – his fastball. I would also like to see him use his splitter more, but it’s difficult when he’s not getting into a favorable count to use it. I’m definitely conflicted on Rhee. I can’t help but think that there is a ton of potential locked inside him but the results have been disappointing, pretty much for his entire career – including his trip to the Arizona Fall League after the 2012 season.

Marcus Walden, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

If you’ve been reading my writing for while you probably know that I like pitchers with high ground-ball tendencies. And Walden is one of those pitchers. The right-hander has consistently produced above-average ground-ball rates throughout his pro career – both before and after 2009 Tommy John surgery. His lack of height – he’s listed at 6’0” – could turn some scouts off but he goes a good job of keeping on top of his pitches and creating a downward plane.

Walden’s fastball velocity has bounced back from the injury and he can touch the mid-90s with his heater. I’ve been told his sinker, to no surprise, is the best in the Jays system and he could by the rare pitcher that could dominate out of the bullpen with one pitch; it’s almost impossible to lift the pitch into the air when he’s commanding it. Walden’s other offering is a slider that has average potential but lacks the depth necessary to develop into a plus pitch. It simply acts as a way to upset hitters’ timings. The California native will never post high strikeout rates, despite his solid velocity, because he’s geared to put balls in play on the ground and let his infielders do the grunt work.

Mainly a starter in the minors, Walden was a closer in the junior college ranks prior to being selected in the ninth round of the 2007 amateur draft and his lack of secondary stuff will certainly keep him from starting (successfully) in the upper levels of pro ball. But his stuff is a perfect fit for a seventh- or eighth-inning reliever. He won’t be a closer as long as he lacks an out pitch. Walden, 24, will be available in the Rule 5 draft but he has yet to pitch above A-ball and double-A will be a stiff test for him in 2013 so he’s not an ideal selection. With that said, he’s worth a flyer as a prospect used to round out a trade with Toronto because he still has all three of his minor league options remaining, which will buy him time further develop his slider and sharpen the command on his sinker.

Boone Whiting, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

Whiting, 23, has performed a number of roles in the minors but his future gig in the big leagues should come out of the bullpen. His fastball is fringe average in the 87-91 mph range and he backs it up with a slider and changeup.

When I watched him pitch I was actually more impressed with the changeup than the breaking ball, which goes against what I had heard about him. His changeup was thrown with the same arm action that he used on his fastball and the pitch had arm side fade down and away from left-handed hitters. Whiting’s command was OK and he was mostly around the strike zone but he struggled to command the fastball at times. He got into trouble when the fastball was up over the plate.

With improved command, Whiting could be a solid arm out of a big league rotation with the ability to provide multiple innings. He made just nine regular season appearances (six starts) due to injury but came back and made seven starts in the Arizona Fall League with 33 strikeouts – but 30 hits allowed – in 25.1 innings of work. After making two starts at the double-A level in 2012, he should return to that level in 2013. He could be ready for the majors in 2014.


Right-handed pitcher Graham Stoneburner (NYY Yankees), shortstop Odubel Herrera (Texas), and outfielder Kenny Wilson (Toronto) are three other players that should be target by teams in trade talks but I looked at the three of them as potential Rule 5 picks in the upcoming draft at the conclusion of the 2012 MLB Winter Meetings on Dec. 6. Click on their names to read more in-depth information, including first-hand analysis, on them.

Angels Replace Risky Dan Haren with Risky Tommy Hanson.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Some time ago, the Angels attempted to trade Dan Haren to the Cubs in exchange for Carlos Marmol. The Angels had concerns about Haren, and wanted to turn him into something useful. The Cubs had concerns about Marmol, and wanted to turn him into something useful. On paper, the deal looked lopsided in the Cubs’ favor, and so one had to consider that maybe the Angels knew something scary about Haren’s medicals. Sure enough, the deal fell through, and now Haren is a free agent looking for a short-term contract. No one’s going to be ballsy enough to give him a long-term contract.

Friday, the Angels completed sort of the opposite of that Haren/Marmol trade. Instead of the Angels dealing a troubled starter to get a troubled reliever, they’ve dealt the somewhat troubled Jordan Walden to the Braves in exchange for the troubled Tommy Hanson. Unlike with Haren, we don’t have to speculate that something might be up with Hanson, physically — we know that his shoulder has been groaning. The Angels, without question, know that they’re taking a chance, here. They determined, at the cost of Jordan Walden, the chance is worth taking.

One of the worst-kept secrets in baseball is that the Angels have been desperate for starters. It’s been a poorly-kept secret because it wasn’t really intended to be a secret. They dealt away Ervin Santana, they let Dan Haren become a free agent, and they lost Zack Greinke to free agency. From the beginning, word was the Angels badly wanted to get Greinke re-signed, but more recently there’s been talk that the Dodgers are the front-runners, with the Nationals another possibility. Until Greinke makes a decision, we can’t say much of anything, but Greinke re-signing has been far from a guarantee, and the Angels were left with four starters on their depth chart. Two of those starters are Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards. The Angels would like to contend, and in order to contend, the Angels needed to address their starting pitching.

The question, then, is exactly how much better Tommy Hanson makes them. He makes them at least a little better, because he’s a fifth starting pitcher on the roster. Previously there was no one in that slot. But there’s a reason the Braves didn’t have Hanson in their projected rotation, and there’s a reason the Braves gave him up for a reliever, even though he’s under team control another three years. The Tommy Hanson that exists now is similar in many ways to the Tommy Hanson that used to exist before, but when it comes to pitching, there are alarming differences.

Before 2009, Hanson was Baseball America’s fourth-best prospect in the league. Even now, the righty’s only 26, and he just started 31 games for a contending team. The prospect status and initial success gave Hanson lingering name value, but he’s been of dwindling actual value. He’s battled through shoulder discomfort that correlates to an expected velocity drop:

2009: 92.3 mph average fastball
2010: 92.7
2011: 91.2
2012: 89.7

Hanson hasn’t been treated surgically. We can’t definitively tie the softening fastball to the softening shoulder. But it makes a lot of sense, and it doesn’t bode super well going forward. One should note that Hanson’s always drawn some criticism for his mechanics, and I might as well include a .gif:

Some people who think they know about these things don’t like Hanson’s throwing motion, and he does seem to begin slowly before exploding later on. It stands to reason there’s probably something deceptive about his forearm action, but maybe this has been doing Hanson harm. Maybe something else. Hanson hasn’t had surgery yet, but he’s gotten worse, and we don’t know if he’s done getting worse.

What’s important, of course, isn’t Hanson’s average fastball velocity. That’s relevant only insofar as it suggests other things, and what we care about are Hanson’s results when he’s pitching. Interestingly, his contact rate hasn’t really been getting worse. His strikeouts in 2012 were basically the same as they were in 2009 and 2010, when he threw harder. Batted balls are the same, albeit lately there have been more dingers. Hanson’s strike rate is down, though, implying worse command. He might be making more mistakes, and he might have less of a margin of error for those mistakes. He just posted a below-average ERA, a below-average FIP, and a below-average xFIP. His xFIP was actually tied with Ervin Santana’s. That Hanson used to be a tippy-top prospect doesn’t matter anymore. We know a lot more about him than we used to.

Pitchers lose velocity as they age. Bill Petti and Jeff Zimmerman have examined this at length. Hanson’s velocity probably isn’t coming back, and there could be something more sinister than simple aging going on. By performance, most recently Tommy Hanson was mediocre. By various indicators, he could be approaching a fairly significant DL stint. As is, he looks like a capable back-of-the-rotation starter, and he could bounce back to some degree, but he’s going to a more difficult league and the indicators are worrisome. The Angels will hope that there’s meaning in Hanson’s final six 2012 starts, over which he generated 35 strikeouts against just ten walks.

Going the other way is Jordan Walden, and at least for the Angels, Walden won’t feel like much of a loss at all. After beginning the 2012 season as the Angels’ closer, Walden was quickly demoted, and after a midseason DL trip, Walden wound up relegated to low-leverage, infrequent relief. It seems meaningful that the Angels both wanted to improve their bullpen this offseason, and were extremely willing to send Jordan Walden somewhere else. Walden must not have been a favorite of theirs.

Yet the numbers are fine. Walden was, statistically, the same pitcher in 2012 as he was in 2011, and in 2011 he was an All-Star closer. He still threw hard, he still missed bats, and he still issued a few too many walks. Walden has his blemishes, but as always, it’s the overall results that matter most, and he’s been a better-than-average reliever. With a weird and unique throwing motion of his own:

It’s worth noting that Walden’s own average fastball velocity has dropped more than two ticks since breaking in in 2010. It’s still up there, though, and the results speak for themselves. Walden will clearly be behind Craig Kimbrel and Jonny Venters on the Braves’ bullpen depth chart, but he fits in the sixth and seventh innings, and he can help to shorten games. As Hanson is going to a more challenging league, Walden’s going to an easier one, so he could be of real value, even as a middle reliever. And for whatever it’s worth, he’s under contract another four years.

As a simple rule of thumb, it’s oftentimes a good move to deal a reliever for a starter. As another simple rule of thumb, one shouldn’t stick to simple rule of thumbs, because everything should be treated on a case-by-case basis. The Angels pretty clearly weren’t big on Walden, so they added a talented starting pitcher effectively for free. The Braves pretty clearly weren’t big on Hanson, so they added a talented relief pitcher effectively for free, freeing up payroll space to go after another outfielder. The Angels had their reasons for being down on Walden and the Braves had their reasons for being down on Hanson, and the Braves’ reasons strike me as being more compelling. Hanson’s been throwing slower, he’s been getting worse, and I don’t know why we should believe those trends are going to stop. Hanson’s top-prospect days are well behind him.

It’s not a bad trade for the Angels, who just needed a starter. It’s not a bad trade for the Braves, who had no use for Hanson. Middle relievers can be only so valuable. But these days, the same could be said of Tommy Hanson, and after adding one starter, you better believe the Angels are still going to be looking for another, better one.

The Mets Are Not That Far Away.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
This morning, the Mets re-signed David Wright to a seven year, $122 million contract extension that seems to be a good price for the team, and right about what we expected he would get if the two sides wanted to reach an agreement. Wright is probably going to be worth the contract on his own; the real argument has been about whether or not the Mets should be the one giving it to him.

I touched on this briefly last week in my article about the perils of losing on purpose, but I don’t think the Mets are the kind of team that need to be tearing down the talent in place and going for a youth movement. While the Mets have had four straight losing seasons, I just don’t see a lot of evidence that the team can’t win in the near future. When I look at this team and what they have in place, I just don’t see a roster that is really all that far away from being a viable contender.

To start, they haven’t exactly been awful as of late. They’ve won 230 games over the last three years, finishing in the 74-79 win range each year. Last year, they were outscored by 59 runs. The year before, they were outscored by 24 runs. The year before that, they outscored their opponents by four runs. This is just not a team that has been miserably bad. They’ve wasted a lot of money, certainly, but they’ve been a slightly below average team, not a doormat.

Even last year, they were just a little worse than average, and that was true pretty much across the board. Their non-pitchers posted a wRC+ of 98, ranking #16th in baseball in park adjusted offense. Their 107 ERA- shows that the run prevention was a little worse than average, but the pitching was actually okay (104 FIP-), and they were just let down by a poor defensive unit. Upgrading a team’s defense is one of the cheaper and easier things to do in a given winter. For the Mets, it simply starts by not using Lucas Duda in the outfield anymore.

Simply reallocating the playing time that went to Duda and Jason Bay to one competent Major League outfielder could be a +3 or +4 win swing. That’s not asking for the Mets to find a star – that’s just replacing a black hole with a guy who can run around the outfield and not embarrass himself at the plate too badly. That’s finding next year’s Gregor Blanco. This doesn’t require a huge investment or some long term prospect development. It just requires finding a slightly below average player who wants a shot at playing everyday.

That’s one of the encouraging things about this Mets roster. The problem isn’t a lack of a championship core, but instead, the lack of reasonably acceptable role players and roster filler. Most teams don’t have two guys as good as David Wright and R.A. Dickey, even with their expected regression in 2013. Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, and Johan Santana make for a pretty nifty #2-#4 in the rotation, and if Dillon Gee is healthy, he showed enough to be a pretty interesting #5 guy as well. Toss in the potential addition of Zack Wheeler, and the Mets have the makings of a well above average rotation.

With three average-ish infielders around Wright, it’s not like the position players are a total disaster either. The Mets have a pretty substantial holes at catcher and in the outfield, but again, upgrading on holes is a lot easier than trying to add wins over decent-but-unspectacular performers. Just getting a couple of extra league average performers in the outfield would go a long way towards making the Mets respectable once again.

In looking at their overall roster, the Mets are probably still a 75 to 80 win team in terms of true talent level, but they’re a 75 to 80 win team with some obvious places to make improvements. With a couple of solid outfielders and a warm body at catcher, they’re an 80 to 85 win team. Maybe grabbing all three of those guys this winter is impractical, especially while they work to improve their bullpen at the same time. But, over the next 12 months, do we really think that the Mets can’t grab a couple of decent role players?

David Wright is going to be 30, not 40, next year. R.A Dickey is a knuckleballer, so his age is about as irrelevant as any pitcher in the game. These guys are not on the precipice of losing all of their value. They can regress and still be good enough to be the two best players on a winning team. The Mets just need to flank them with fewer embarrassments. And, thankfully, those are the easiest upgrades to make.

Trade Duda to an AL team with a real outfielder to spare. Grab a couple of interesting guys who have been productive in limited roles and could use a full time job to show what they can do. Snag a couple of low cost relievers with some upside. There are five or six fairly easy wins to be added here, simply in replacing the dregs around the roster. And the Mets are five or six wins away from being on the fringes of the playoff race. Add in the huge swings in outcomes that can’t really be predicted based on things like hitting with runners in scoring position or winning one run games, and the idea that the Mets are years away from even dreaming about a 90 win season just doesn’t add up.

They’re not the best team in the NL East, certainly. They’re probably not going to make the playoffs in 2013. But, given the wide variance around both player and team performance and the pieces they have in place after re-signing Wright, this team could easily be a player in 2014. And, by re-signing Wright, they’ve given themselves a chance to pull an Orioles/A’s upset and move the timetable forward if things break right.

So, I say good for the Mets on not giving up on their short term future. They just aren’t anywhere close to being bad enough to justify punting the next few years while they wait for the farm system to develop new stars to build around. They already have stars to build around. They can win with the ones they have now.

post #8982 of 72836
Thread Starter 
I don't know if any of you guys are actually interested in jobs but Fangraphs posts some listings that they come across, thought I'd share.

Job Posting: Royals Systems Architect.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Systems Architect, Baseball Analytics – Kansas City Royals (Kansas City, MO)

Reports to Director, Baseball Analytics

The Kansas City Royals Baseball Club is seeking a highly motivated data architect and systems developer to deliver analytics solutions to both baseball and business operations. While primarily working with baseball operations, this individual will also support projects for broader business operations. The ideal applicant will be able to manage multiple concurrent projects that expand the overall Royals’ information architecture and analytics capabilities.


•Develop interfaces, data imports, and/or other ETL processes for identified data sources
•Apply database design and warehousing best practices to enterprise environment
•Support gathering and implementing data definitions and relationships, analytics requirements and reporting needs from the organization
•Develop organizational collaboration and information delivery tools
•Manage data lifecycle based on retention and storage requirements
•Ensure jobs and processes execute successfully, and ensure accuracy of data
•Understand data and be able to explain data structures and relationships to other members of baseball and business operations
•Ensure that systems and solutions are in line with organizational objectives
•Interface with analysts and staff on creation of optimal data structure for analytical purposes
•Other related duties as assigned

•4 year degree or equivalent experience is required. Specialized training or certifications are a plus
•Ability to work evening, weekend, and holiday hours during the baseball season is a must
•Excellent interpersonal and communications skills and ability to interact and work with staff at all levels
•Ability to recognize and maintain confidentiality of work materials and issues as appropriate
•Experience with the following tools, platforms and business data:
o SQL server 2005 or newer – required (SQL server 2008 preferred)
o SSIS ETL development – required
o Ruby on Rails, AJAX, HTML5 or equivalent technologies – required
o Development of portable platforms (PC, mobile) – required
o Statistical performance data – preferred
o Business intelligence experience is a plus
o Baseball knowledge and exposure to baseball statistics is a plus


Note: When you apply for this job online, you will be required to answer the following questions:

1. Do you have experience with SQL server 2005 or newer?
2. Do you have experience with SSIS ETL development
3. Do you have experience with Ruby on Rails, AJAX, HTML5 or equivalent technologies?
4. Do you have experience developing portable platforms?
5. Do you have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience in the field?
6. Are you able to work evenings, weekends, and holiday hours during the baseball season?

Apply for this position

Job Posting: Orioles Baseball Analytics Intern.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Baltimore Orioles are looking to hire a Baseball Analytics intern to work in our Baseball Operations Department. This individual will report to the Assistant Director of Scouting & Player Development and the Coordinator of Baseball Analytics.

The intern will primarily focus on compiling, maintaining and analyzing data to assist the department in its development of various statistical models for use in player evaluation, both in the amateur, pro, and international arenas, in addition to performing other baseball-related research projects.

Candidates must be able to communicate effectively with a diverse team of sports professionals and possess exceptional organizational and computer skills. Experience with Microsoft SQL Server and proficiency in statistical analysis software packages (such as R, SPSS, or Stats) are required. Candidates with a degree (undergrad or graduate) or extensive background in Mathematics, Statistics, Engineering, Econometrics, or Economics are preferred. A familiarity with current baseball research and analytics, especially the Pitch F/X system, is also preferred.

This one-year internship runs from January through the end of November, though the end date is flexible, and requires relocation to Baltimore, MD. Candidates must also be prepared to work long hours/weekends. Consideration will also be given to exceptional candidates who are only available for the summer. A monthly stipend is provided. If you are passionate about baseball, possess the necessary skills to succeed, and are driven to work in Major League Baseball, we would like to hear from you. Please forward your resume and cover letter to

post #8983 of 72836
Thread Starter 
- A-Rod will be out 3-6 months, he needs another hip surgery and will probably have it this week.
- Sox and Napoli close on a 3 year deal, should be finished today.
post #8984 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Mike Napoli deal carries some risk.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Mike Napoli's market value was probably a lot higher a year ago, when he was coming off a career year, but he still managed to land a reported three-year, $39 million offer from the Red Sox, a healthy total that almost mandates the Sox give him some time behind the plate to give them a chance for a positive return on investment.

Napoli's current value is largely based on a 2011 stat line that stands out in almost every way from the rest of his career, other than the fact he didn't play a full season even in that breakout campaign. He's a classic "old player's skills" player, patient with power, striking out a lot and contributing little on defense. Even in years when he doesn't hit for average, which is likely to happen more often than not, he can still help Boston offensively by getting on base and hitting for power, a skill he might retain longer than other players of his ilk because he's not just a dead-pull power guy. That said, he's 31, an age when bat speed can start to disappear quickly, and he's been about as durable as a Dixie cup, making this an extremely high-risk signing for the Red Sox even at just three years.

This deal makes more sense if the Red Sox plan to platoon Napoli with Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate. In that situation, Saltalamacchia would face right-handers with Napoli playing first or DH, then Saltalamacchia would sit against left-handers, who've limited him to a .196/.239/.351 line over the past two years. Napoli's a mediocre defender at best, but giving him 40-50 starts behind the plate to boost the team's lineup will have a net positive effect on the team, while it also reduces the chances of Napoli wearing down or getting hurt by giving him 100-odd games at first base or as the DH. Letting Napoli play first or DH full-time is, in effect, a bet that his 2011 performance in roughly two-thirds of a full season wasn't a huge outlier, too risky a bet for a three-year deal at this dollar value.

The Red Sox' signing of David Ross earlier this offseason only complicates the team's playing time crunch behind the plate, making it more likely that at least one of Salty or Ryan Lavarnway is dealt, if not both. The guess is it leaves Lavarnway, the Red Sox farmhand, out in the cold, unless it leads to a trade of Saltalamacchia. Lavarnway isn't good enough defensively to catch in the majors but has a bat that would certainly play there if he was -- or if some team was willing to cover its eyes when he's wearing a catcher's mitt.

The only other team that had significant public interest in Napoli was Texas, which chose not to extend him a qualifying offer and won't receive a draft pick even though his contract with Boston shows (in hindsight) that he would have been foolish to accept such an offer from the Rangers. Unless the Rangers are willing to bench Michael Young, they're probably in the market for only one bat, with Josh Hamilton the most likely and attractive target, and recently re-signed Geovany Soto in line to get most of the starts behind the plate.
post #8985 of 72836
Pagan stays in SF for 4 yrs.

John Heyman just reported it.
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
post #8986 of 72836
Soria, 2 yr deal w/ the rangers.
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
post #8987 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Joakim Soria a value for Rangers.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Rangers found success in 2012 when they gave Joe Nathan, in his second year back from Tommy John surgery, a two-year contract that saw him add about two wins of value over replacement in its first year, with 65 innings of a 2.80 ERA. They're taking a slightly higher risk by signing Joakim Soria to a reported two-year deal that includes his first year back after surgery, but the dollars are lower and Soria was actually a little better than Nathan before their respective operations, making this a good deal for Texas that could turn out to be outstanding.

Soria was remarkably consistent in the five years between his surprise selection in the 2006 Rule 5 draft (the last under the old CBA) and his injury in 2012, pitching 60-69 innings in four of those seasons, never walking more than 18 men or fewer than 15 unintentionally. Soria has distinguished himself from some other relievers because he's always pitched a lot like a starter, establishing his fastball early and mixing in various other pitches. In 2011, he showed four offspeed pitches, but still got most of his swings and misses on a four-seamer and his cutter, all while throwing a ton of strikes.

The Rangers have enough bullpen parts to avoid overworking Soria in his first year back from what was his second career Tommy John surgery, and if Tanner Scheppers can improve his fastball command and stay healthy he'd give them even more flexibility to give Soria extra rest. Soria can handle setup duty for Nathan this year and, if his recovery is successful, take over the ninth inning in 2014.

This has to be a disappointing coda for Royals fans who got to enjoy watching Soria for five years, but never saw the club try to convert him to the rotation or cash him in for more valuable long-term assets than a 60-inning-a-year reliever. The Royals are looking everywhere for starting pitching help, and it's hard to avoid thinking about what opportunity they lost to add even one potential starter prospect had they moved Soria two or three years ago. And while the Dodgers' money supply appears to be infinite, it's really looking like they overpaid badly for Brandon League when they jumped to sign him before free agency got underway.
post #8988 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Trade targets where cost is king.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
NASHVILLE -- Knowing that the surge of television money has reached the major leagues, executives aren't surprised that a lot of big contracts are being doled out this winter. But for baseball officials, hearing the specifics of each of the signings must be like walking into a Lamborghini showroom: They know it's going to pricey, and yet the numbers, in black and white, still take their breath away.

B.J. Upton, considered to be an above-average player, but nothing close to an elite player … $75 million. Angel Pagan, who is 31 years old and has about 1½ good years in his career, gets $40 million.

No wonder baseball executives say that there is a high volume of trade talks, much of it centered around players who have become more attractive because of their modest contracts. Some names to watch:

R.A. Dickey: The Mets have been taking offers from teams all over the place and asking for high return. He's the reigning Cy Young Award winner, he led his league in innings last year, and he'll make less than Scott Baker in 2013, given his $5 million salary. Dickey wants a two-year extension for 2014 and 2015, at big money, and he deserves an extension -- but that doesn't necessarily mean the team that acquires him has to give it to him.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson seems to be taking the same approach that he did in the Carlos Beltran talks 17 months ago. He's making the rounds, setting the asking price -- and as time goes on, he'll be in position to gradually go down the ladder in his demands with a series of teams (the Royals, Blue Jays and Rangers among them) until somebody says yes.

Alderson acknowledged the trade talks. The Mets are listening to offers.

Jason Kubel and Justin Upton: Kubel hit 30 homers with 90 RBIs last season, and he's owed $7.5 million for next year; Upton is owed $38 million over the next three years. Arizona GM Kevin Towers is said to be among the most aggressive here in his trade talks. "You've got Kevin Towers with [trade] assets to deal, a lot of other teams under the same roof, and the chance for late-night trade talks -- that's a good combination for a deal," said a rival GM.

The Diamondbacks have their eyes on pitching, including Brandon McCarthy, writes Nick Piecoro. From his story:

A few minutes before beginning a session with reporters, Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers got a phone call, causing a ringtone from the theme of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" to sound through a hallway at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

But Towers, who always has embraced his nickname of "The Gunslinger," didn't fire any bullets on Monday, the first day of baseball's annual winter meetings.

Instead, things felt eerily quiet for the Diamondbacks. They've made no secret about their wish list, but they've also made clear that they're comfortable with their club as currently constructed.

Towers said he met with four or five teams on Sunday night and another eight or nine on Monday. He's searching for the right match. He just hasn't found it yet.

Yunel Escobar: Yes, he has a reputation for being a real pain, and yes, he had that ugly incident with the eye-black patches at the end of the season. But he also has what might be the worst contract from a player's perspective in the entire sport, and the best from a team perspective. Think about this deal:

• He will make $5 million in 2013.
• The team holds a $5 million option for 2014.
• The team holds a $5 million option for 2015.

Escobar has shown he can be a pretty productive shortstop, which means that if he plays well in this current deal, he will be underpaid. And here's the beauty of this contract, from a team perspective: If Escobar plays poorly, or he doesn't mix well with other players, then they just get rid of him. At little cost. In fact, the greatest risk to a team acquiring Escobar is that he decides he'd be better off forcing his way out of this contract with his play or behavior.

Escobar is one option for the Athletics, writes Susan Slusser.

Josh Willingham and Ben Revere: Minnesota is desperately trying to make over its organizational pitching, and both Willingham and Revere would seemingly have a lot of value. Willingham is set to make $7 million for each of the next two seasons, coming off a season in which he hit 35 homers and drove in 110 runs, with a .366 on-base percentage. Revere, 24, is a cheap, young outfielder coming off a season in which he hit .294 and ranked among the major league leaders in some defensive metrics.


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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Josh Hamilton being embraced by the Rangers is no certainty. He could land elsewhere, and soon.
• Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke have created logjams in some parts of the Winter Meetings market; the agents for a lot of pitchers are waiting to see what happens with Greinke, and the agents for some outfielders and corner infielders are hoping Hamilton makes his decision soon.

The Dodgers don't have an offer out to Greinke ... yet.

Hamilton is here to drum up business.

From Gil LeBreton's piece:

On the eve of these baseball Winter Meetings, as chance would have it, Hamilton and his wife Katie boarded the same flight to Nashville as Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.


Business is business, though, and Daniels downplayed what he called a "coincidence."

He didn't ask, but Daniels said he assumed that Hamilton was headed to the winter meetings "probably to meet with some other teams."

Ballplayers, it should be noted, do not routinely attend the meetings. General managers and managers do. Wide-eyed recent college grads, seeking an entry level job in the minor leagues, do.

But an unsigned free agent? Not very often.

Daniels believes that Hamilton was affected by the booing he heard.

• There will be a time soon for the Yankees when the best possible outcome to Alex Rodriguez's physical issues is that he's forced into retirement by his hip problems. They would get a measure of insurance relief -- if their policy on him is similar to that of some other teams, they would recoup about two-thirds of his salary if he were inactive -- that they could apply to their payroll.

But that's not the case now, and the Yankees' budget won't change in the aftermath of the Rodriguez injury, GM Brian Cashman says, which leaves him little financial room to now fill a third gaping hole, along with those at catcher and right field.

The Yankees have been clear about a willingness to talk about possible Curtis Granderson deals, and perhaps that focus could be ramped forward. If they can move Granderson's $15 million salary before the last year of his current deal, it would provide them flexibility to do other things.

The Yankees aren't in a position to do big moves now, but if they had a little more room to breath under their payroll restrictions, they could do a series of smaller deals, such as signing Ichiro or Nate Schierholtz or Scott Hairston.

Joel Sherman, who broke the story about A-Rod needing surgery Monday morning, runs through some of the Yankees' options.

The Yankees have no choice but to believe that he is going to recover, because of the amount of money involved.

Cashman said he has no idea if Rodriguez's hip problems are related to steroid use.

Derek Jeter says the Yankees can still be great.

• The Indians are looking for high return on Asdrubal Cabrera, writes Paul Hoynes. From his story:

The Indians need a lot after losing 94 games last season. It's the main reason they're listening to offers on four of their best players: Cabrera, closer Chris Perez, right-hander Justin Masterson and right fielder Shin-Soo Choo.

"We'd consider anything if it's the right deal," said GM Chris Antonetti. "It all depends on what we get back."

Cabrera, 27, is signed through 2014 for a combined $16.5 million. He has a limited no-trade clause which prevents him from being dealt to the Yankees, Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Washington and the Mets. No-trade clauses can be negotiated away, but it does make things a little more difficult.

One has to wonder if the Yankees, who will open next season without third baseman Alex Rodriguez because of impending hip surgery, came calling for Cabrera if he waived the clause? Cabrera could play third or Derek Jeter, coming off a broken ankle, could move to third and Cabrera could take over at shortstop.

Yep, he'd be a great fit for the Yankees. But the Indians and Yankees haven't had a lot of luck making trades in recent years, and in the eyes of some rival evaluators, the Yankees don't have a lot of attractive prospects at the top of their farm system.

• Jason Bay may pick his next employer sooner rather than later, among the series of overtures that he has heard. A reunion with Terry Francona in Cleveland makes sense, but we'll see.

• Even before the offseason, the Indians were looking at Shane Victorino as a possibility, and they are one of the teams being aggressive in talks with him.

• The Red Sox finished their signing of Mike Napoli. They now have four catchers in the mix, writes Scott Lauber.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Mariners lost out on Mike Napoli, as Geoff Baker writes, and they're discussing Billy Butler.

2. The Dodgers are unsure if they can sign a couple of players from the Far East.

3. The Padres re-signed Jason Marquis.

4. Dexter Fowler has become a coveted chip here, writes Troy Renck.

5. The Tigers are thinking about young outfielders, writes Lynn Henning.

6. Ned Yost believes Luke Hochevar can turn the corner for the Royals.

7. Joakim Soria signed with the Rangers.

8. The Indians aren't closing the door on Grady Sizemore, yet.

9. Within this John Fay piece, there is word that the Reds are optimistic they can re-sign Ryan Ludwick.

10. Free agents like the Cubs, says Theo Epstein. They certainly like their money.

11. A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis appear likely to move, writes Mark Gonzales.

12. The Brewers aren't going to start offering three-year deals to pitchers.

13. The agent for Ricky Nolasco says his client wants out.

14. The Braves are willing to trade some of their young pitching, writes David O'Brien.

15. The Astros are laying the groundwork on a to-do list. There is a lot of interest in Jed Lowrie, but Houston is intent on keeping him … partly because the Astros really need to keep somebody, for fan identification.

16. Jerry Dipoto is targeting pitching here.

17. The Nationals are looking for a fifth starter, writes Adam Kilgore.

18. There was a certain amount of frustration in the Phillies' camp Monday. They didn't want to overpay on B.J. Upton, and they lost out. They wanted Angel Pagan, but didn't separate themselves in the bidding for him. And they need outfield help, desperately.

19. The Phillies could pursue Josh Hamilton, writes Matt Gelb.

20. Sean Burnett is not a fit financially for the Nationals, says Mike Rizzo.

21. There are lots of Orioles rumors.

Michael Bourn is this year's Jayson Werth.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When I made my predictions for how much each of the top free agents would get this winter, I had Michael Bourn getting the third-biggest deal of anyone, behind Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke.

Not only is Bourn coming off the best season of his career, but his agent is Scott Boras, who always knows how to get the most for his clients. That’s a recipe for a monster deal.

However, things are quiet on the Bourn front this week, and there isn’t an obvious destination for him. For that reason, I think he could end up with a team that no one expects, much like Jayson Werth, one of Boras’ high-profile clients from a couple of years ago.

Allow me to explain.

Given the availability of B.J. Upton (who already signed with the Atlanta Braves), Angel Pagan (who has agreed to terms with the Giants), Shane Victorino and Hamilton, there is no shortage of good center fielders on the free-agent market this winter. This means demand isn’t what it might be in other years. (Not to mention Dexter Fowler and Drew Stubbs, who are being shopped on the trade market.)

With Pagan and Upton off the board, two fewer teams will be vying for Bourn. The Philadelphia Phillies might be interested, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Boras aren’t on great terms because of the ill-fated Ryan Madson deal that fell apart at the last minute a year ago. That could make negotiations difficult.

When faced with this situation in the past, Boras has been able to find a deal for his player from a source you wouldn’t expect. In 2010, there was no obvious fit for Werth, but Boras shocked the baseball world by getting him a seven-year, $126 million deal from the Washington Nationals, a team that was a bottom-feeder at the time.

Flash back a few more years, and you might remember that Ivan Rodriguez (a Boras guy) signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Detroit Tigers when they were coming off of a 119-loss season. People said the Tigers were nuts, but Pudge led them to the World Series two years later.

When the money isn’t there from one of the “obvious” teams, Boras will go find it. So where will he find it for Bourn? I have some theories.

For starters, the Chicago Cubs: They’re rebuilding, but they have a very low payroll and plenty of money to spend. Boras could try to convince the Cubs that Bourn would give them some excitement at the top of their lineup, along with Starlin Castro, and keep fans interested while they rebuild.

The Seattle Mariners might be a destination for Bourn. They could have as much as $30 million to spend, and they're looking to make a big signing (or two) this winter.

Another possibility: the Miami Marlins. I know this sounds crazy, but I could see Boras making this pitch to Jeffrey Loria: “You need some good PR, the players' union is going to be on your back about not spending money, and you can replace Jose Reyes in the leadoff spot for less money.”

Remember, no one saw Pudge signing with Detroit back in 2004, and no one saw Werth to the Nats. Bourn is a man without an obvious destination right now, and don’t be shocked to see Boras deliver him to someone you wouldn’t expect -- like the Cubs.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Rockies seek relief help
AM ETColorado Rockies Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Colorado Rockies have long been after starting pitcher upgrades and while that continues, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the club also would like to add a late-inning relief option.

Rafael Betancourt will return in 2013 and Rex Brothers may be the heir apparent to the closer's role but the Rockies do lack an experienced arm to help in the seventh and eighth innings. They could acquire a closer and use Betancourt in the setup role, too.

The free agent market is drying up a bit, though Rafael Soriano and Kyle Farnsworth remain available, but a trade could be the best route. The Pirates could shop Joel Hanrahan, if they aren't already, and the Cubs may be willing to move Carlos Marmol. Brian Wilson, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, is a free agent after being non-tendered by the Giants and could be a fit for any club looking for depth.

- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Colorado Rockies, Carlos Marmol, Brian Wilson, Joel Hanrahan
O's like Morse
AM ETMichael Morse | Nationals Recommend0Comments0EmailIf the Washington Nationals are able to sign free agent Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse is likely trade bait. If Morse hits the block, the Baltimore Orioles are among those interested in acquiring the right-handed hitter, reports Jon Morosi of

The Orioles like the flexibility Morse brings to the table, Morosi continues, and the cost in salary is less than what Mark Reynolds would have earned had the Orioles exercised their option or tendered Reynolds an offer and gone through the arbitration process with him.

Morse, in theory, can play the outfield, third base and first base and serve as the designated hitter. In reality, Morse probably shouldn't play too much outfield.

Other clubs that could see Morse as a good value include the Tampa Bay Rays, who just signed left-handed batting first baseman James Loney, and the Texas Rangers.

If the Nats cannot get LaRoche signed, however, Morse is likely staying and taking over at first in D.C., leaving LaRoche to the highest bidder, potentially including Baltimore.

- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles
Fowler a valuable trade chip
AM ETDexter Fowler | Rockies Recommend0Comments0EmailAs free agent outfielders continue to come off the board, the Colorado Rockies have an increasingly valuable bargaining chip in Dexter Fowler, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

The Giants' Angel Pagan (four years, $40 million) and the Braves' B.J. Upton (five years, $75 million) already have signed, and the price of Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino won't be cheap, That could prompt the Rockies to seriously consider offers from desperate teams for Fowler, who is coming off a breakout season (.300/.389/.474).

Possible targets include the Phillies, Reds and Braves, all of whom are seeking a leadoff hitter.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds, Dexter Fowler, Atlanta Braves
Odds of a Dickey deal
AM ETR.A. Dickey | Mets Recommend0Comments10EmailMets general manager Sandy Alderson was a popular guy on the first day of the winter meetings as he spent the day pondering trade options for Cy Young Award R.A. Dickey.

An official from one of Dickey's suitors tells Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that it was his sense the Mets were inclined to deal the pitcher. "It has to be a difference maker," Alderson said Monday.

According to Adam Rubin and Joe McDonald, the Mets met with eight teams about Dickey. The list includes the Red Sox, with New York reportedly looking for outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Xander Boegarts, a price Boston may consider too steep.'s Ken Gurnick reports the Dodgers have talked to the Mets about Dickey, but the Dodgers would a fallback if they fail to land free agent Zack Greinke.

T.R. Sullivan reported earlier on Monday that the , the Texas Rangers are interested in Dickey. The Kansas City Royals are also very much interested in the knuckleballer, according to's Jayson Stark, who tweets that the Mets are now getting "serious" about trading Dickey -- perhaps as soon as this week at the winter meetings.

Buster Olney has more on Dickey in Tuesday's blog:

- Doug Mittler

Buster Olney
Odds of a Dickey deal

"The Mets have been taking offers from teams all over the place and asking for high return. He's the reigning Cy Young Award winner, he led his league in innings last year, and he'll make less than Scott Baker in 2013, given his $5 million salary. Dickey wants a two-year extension for 2014 and 2015, at big money, and he deserves an extension -- but that doesn't necessarily mean the team that acquires him has to give it to him. Mets GM Sandy Alderson seems to be taking the same approach that he did in the Carlos Beltran talks 17 months ago. He's making the rounds, setting the asking price -- and as time goes on, he'll be in position to gradually go down the ladder in his demands with a series of teams (the Royals, Blue Jays and Rangers among them) until somebody says yes."
Tags:New York Mets, R.A. Dickey, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals
Marlins eye Reynolds
AM ETMark Reynolds | Orioles Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Miami Marlins are among the teams looking at Mark Reynolds, who was non-tendered by the Orioles last week, tweets Jon Heyman of

The Fish appear to be looking to add another power bat to provide lineup protection for Giancarlo Stanton. Reynolds, who hit 23 homers with a respectable .335 OBP, is likely looking for a raise from the $7.5 million he made in 2012.

Another possible fit could be the Indians, who ranked 13th in the AL in runs last season.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Mark Reynolds, Miami Marlins
MIL won't go 3 years on Dempster
AM ETRyan Dempster | Rangers Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Milwaukee Brewers have been linked to free agent Ryan Dempster, but reaching a deal may be difficult because GM Doug Melvin is not inclined to offer any pitcher a three-year deal, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel.

Dempster's agent, Craig Landis, said he wouldn't consider offers of less than three years at this time, which could make things difficult. Both sides, of course, could alter their stance as the negotiations unfold. It remains to be seen if the market for the 35-year-old Dempster softened following a mediocre late-season stint with Texas (5.09 ERA in 12 games).

The D-backs and Twins also have been linked to Dempster.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Ryan Dempster, Minnesota Twins, Milwaukee Brewers
DC return for Burnett unlikely
AM ETSean Burnett | Nationals Recommend0Comments0EmailFree agent reliever Sean Burnett may be pricing himself out of a return to the nations capital.

James Wagner of the Washington Post says Nats GM Mike Rizzo wants to re-sign Burnett, who posted a 2.38 ERA over 56 2/3 innings, but the club may be reluctant to hand out a deal in the three-year, $18 million range that the Giants gave to a similar southpaw reliever, Jeremy Affeldt, last month.

The Angels, Cardinals and Brewers are among the other teams interested in the 30-year-old Burnett, who made $2.3 million last year. Perhaps planning for Burnett's departure, the Nats signed southpaw Zach Duke, who could be used as a long reliever.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals, Sean Burnett
Plenty of interest in McCarthy
AM ETBrandon McCarthy | Athletics Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs, Royals, Diamondbacks and Twins are among the clubs expressing interest in free agent righthander Brandon McCarthy, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Slusser says two other teams -- the Angels and Rangers -- could soon join that group, while the Athletics remain in contact.

McCarthy, Oakland's Opening Day starter, was 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA this year. His season was cut short after he was hit in the head with a line drive and underwent emergency brain surgery. Slusser says the righthander might be open to a one-year deal in order to prove he is healthy.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Brandon McCarthy
Fish close to Escobar deal
AM ETYunel Escobar | Marlins Recommend0Comments0EmailYunel Escobar may be the next player on his way out of South Beach, even before he plays a game for the Miami Marlins.

Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports the Marlins were in "late-stage trade talks" regarding Escobar, acquired in the 12-player blockbuster with the Blue Jays last month.

Escobar's destination could be Oakland. Susan Slusser of the Chronicle reports the A's are exploring a possible trade for the infielder.

Escobar made $5 million last season and is arbitration eligible, which explains why he is on the block.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Oakland Athletics, Miami Marlins, Yunel Escobar
Hairston staying in Queens?
AM ETScott Hairston | Mets Recommend0Comments0EmailFree agent outfielder Scott Hairston told Adam Rubin of on Monday that a return to the New York Mets was "probable," and club officials seemed optimistic a deal would get done.

Hairston is viewed as an excellent role player and pinch-hitter, but is believed to be looking for a larger role. That is plausible in Queens now that the Mets have parted ways with Jason Bay. The Yankees and Tigers are among the other teams linked to Hairston.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Scott Hairston, New York Mets
Phils' interest in Hamilton
AM ETJosh Hamilton | Rangers Recommend0Comments0EmailCould the Philadelphia Phillies emerge as a serious suitor for Josh Hamilton?

The Phillies would seem to have the resources to make a deal happen, even if they were reluctant to hand out another mega contract given that big deals to Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard remain on the books. But Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer says GM Ruben Amaro could be more inclined to make a big splash as free agent outfielder targets such as B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan come off the board.

"An idea that was ridiculous a month ago is less so while other options sign elsewhere," Gelb writes.

While the chatter regarding the Phillies and Hamilton may be increasing in Nashville,'s Jayson Stark remains "wary" of Philadelphia's interest.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Josh Hamilton, Philadelphia Phillies
Teheran, Delgado available?
AM ETAtlanta Braves Recommend0Comments4EmailThe Atlanta Braves landed the center fielder they wanted in free agent B.J. Upton. Next on the wish list is a left fielder, and the club might be willing to deal prospects Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado to make it happen.

"But if we're going to trade one of those guys it's going to be a significant deal," GM Frank Wren told David O'Brien of the Atlanta JC. "And I don't know if that's going to happen or not."

The Braves reportedly have about $10 million to spend on a left fielder and a couple of bench spots, which might price them out of available free agents such as Shane Victorino. As for the trade route, O'Brien says the Braves have inquired about Arizona's Justin Upton, Colorado's Dexter Fowler, Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo and Kansas City's Alex Gordon, among others.

At this stage, Delgado and Teheran are penciled in as candidates for the Braves%u2019 fifth-starter job, so Atlanta does have available pitching to deal even after trading Tommy Hanson.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves
Cubs shopping Marmol
AM ETCarlos Marmol | Cubs Recommend0Comments0EmailAccording to several reports, the Chicago Cubs have agreed to terms with top Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa on a two-year, $9.5 million deal that could make Carlos Marmol expendable.

Fujikawa, who owns a low to mid-90s fastball, a splitter and a slider, went 3-3 with a 1.24 ERA and 41 saves last season for the Hanshin Tigers of NPB.

The prevailing thought says Marmol's days in Chicago may be numbered, but any deal will involve the Cubs absorbing some of the $9.8 million left on his contract. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times tweets the Cubs have told Marmol he's a trade candidate but they won't just give him away.

Marmol came within a questionable medical report of being traded to the Angels for starter Dan Haren last month. The Rangers and Tigers might be among the interested team if Marmol is acquired at a substantial discount.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Chicago Cubs, Carlos Marmol
Yankees open to Granderson deal
AM ETCurtis Granderson | Yankees Recommend0Comments1EmailThe New York Yankees are open to the idea of dealing outfielder Curtis Granderson, tweets ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.

Granderson will be a free agent after making $15 million in 2013 and is coming off a disappointing year in which his numbers fell to .232/.319/.492. One possibility could be the Phillies, who were in the market for B.J. Upton before he signed with Atlanta.

Granderson could be trade bait for infield help now that Alex Rodriguez will miss at least the first few months of the 2013 season with a hip injury.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees
Competition for Scutaro
AM ETMarco Scutaro | Giants Recommend0Comments0EmailThe San Francisco Giants settled their center field situation earlier Monday by retaining Angel Pagan at the hefty cost of $40 million over four years. The Giants' primary focus now shifts to re-signing second baseman Marco Scutaro, the NLCS MVP who many believed would sign before Pagan.

Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea,com says the task of bringing back Scutaro may be more difficult since the Yankees might have entered the picture due to a hip injury that will sideline third baseman Alex Rodriguez until at least June.

Giants VP Bobby Evans Evans said he wouldn't rule out Scutaro getting a three-year offer on the open market. The 37-year-old Scutaro had a three-year, $17 million deal expire after this season.

- Doug Mittler
Tags:San Francisco Giants, Marco Scutaro
Red Sox, Indians in on Victorino
AM ETShane Victorino | Dodgers Recommend0Comments0EmailA mediocre second half hasn't diminished the interested in free agent center fielder Shane Victorino.

Jon Heyman of tweets that Victorino has several three years offer and at least one for four years. The Giants would appear to be out of the running due to the signing of Angel Pagan, but other possibilities include the Red Sox, Reds and Indians.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald says Victorino would be a better defensive fit for the Red Sox than Nick Swisher.

Victorino put up .245/.316/.667 numbers for the Dodgers after being acquired in a deadline deal with Philadelphia. The .245 BA is 30 points below his career average.

Victorino, who made $9.5 million, may be more willing to act now that the market has been set by deals for Pagan (four years, $40 million) and B.J. Upton (five years, $75 million from Atlanta).
post #8989 of 72836
Thread Starter 
- Nationals signed Haren to a 1 year/$13mm deal pending a physical.
- Dodgers fans now think they'll be getting Robinson Cano in '14.
post #8990 of 72836
Haren to the Nats! Big pick up, I'd rather spend this money on Haren and hope he stays healthy than throw it to Edwin Jackson.
post #8991 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Nationals Take the Dan Haren Shot.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
When the Angels allowed Dan Haren to walk away for nothing, the immediate speculation was that he’d look to stay on the West Coast. There seemed to be a natural fit with the Padres, and though there were lingering questions regarding Haren’s health, it was clear he was going to get a shot somewhere, and it was clear he was going to be in some sort of demand. Haren seems to have found a home now, on Tuesday, and it isn’t on the West Coast at all — it’s on the opposite of the West Coast, as Haren has an agreement with the Nationals for a year and $13 million.

The immediate implications are twofold. One, the Nationals have an agreement with Dan Haren! Two, with Haren, the Nationals would be removed from the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, almost certainly. Greinke had been linked most often to the Dodgers, Angels, Nationals, and Rangers, and Haren would round out the Nationals’ starting rotation, eliminating the need. Not that the Nationals were considered a favorite for Greinke’s services, but one less suitor is one less suitor, even though the Dodgers are all the suitors a free agent needs.

With Haren, the Nationals’ rotation would look something like:

•Stephen Strasburg
•Gio Gonzalez
•Jordan Zimmermann
•Ross Detwiler
•Dan Haren
Fine pitchers, all of them. When healthy, which is always the conditional. And when it comes to health, naturally, Haren is the biggest question mark. There’s a reason we can’t yet just say that Dan Haren belongs to the Washington Nationals — Haren still has to pass a physical, and people wonder.

Haren dealt with a back injury in 2012, and speculation is that a trade between the Angels and Cubs fell through when Chicago didn’t like Haren’s medicals. Buster Olney tweeted not long ago that league executives are concerned about Haren’s hip. Just as the Phillies didn’t actually end up with Wilton Lopez, the Nationals might not actually end up with Dan Haren, if something looks awry. And even if Haren passes his physical, to sign Dan Haren is to take a chance. Most recently, he wasn’t his normal self, and he’s now 32 years old.

But every contract ever is about balancing risk and reward, and here’s the thing about Haren: Haren’s 2012 performance wouldn’t be worth a one-year, $13-million contract. Haren’s performance in each of the seven seasons prior, though, would be worth the contract, and then some. Haren was one of the league’s most consistent, durable starting pitchers until he wasn’t, but he’s not that far removed from being a top-of-the-line starter, and he doesn’t even have to make a complete recovery to be worth the salary the Nationals are willing to commit.

Haren has downplayed his health issues, as one does when one is selling himself. The good news is that he pitched very well down the stretch. Over Haren’s final nine starts of 2012, spanning more than 50 innings, he issued just five walks with 43 strikeouts. The worse news is that this is what his fastball did, after averaging 90+ miles per hour before:

Month Fastball
April 88.8
May 88.7
June 88.8
July 88.3
August 88.2
Sep/Oct 88.0

There are indications that Haren recovered, and there are indications that he didn’t. There’s reason to believe Haren would further recover over the offseason, and there’s reason to believe he’s on a somewhat irreversible decline. Haren wouldn’t be the first good starting pitcher to no longer be what he used to be. That happens at some point to every single starting pitcher that exists.

So Dan Haren’s days of being Dan Haren might well be finished. But at $13 million, the Nationals aren’t paying Dan Haren to be his old self. They’re paying him to be only slightly better than he was in 2012, and that seems like a good gamble. A one-year contract minimizes risk, and if Haren actually does make a near-full recovery, he’ll look like one of the winter’s top acquisitions. If he’s simply fine, he’ll be worth the money and he’ll help the Nationals toward the playoffs. There are teams who wouldn’t have taken a chance on Haren, and he probably makes every team nervous, but Dan Haren on one year isn’t more risky than Zack Greinke on seven, or Anibal Sanchez on six, or Kyle Lohse on four. Dan Haren on one year and the cost of a qualifying offer seems like a smart risk, and the Nationals stand to reap the potential rewards.

Rangers Sign Joakim Soria.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Not exactly the biggest news of the winter meeting, but the Rangers agreed to sign Joakim Soria to a two year contract today, and Danny Knobler suggested that it would be in the $8-$9 million range, and Alden Gonzalez adds that Texas got a team option for a third year in the deal as well. This is a bit of an unorthodox move, as Soria had Tommy John surgery in April, and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2013 season. In general, guys coming off surgery have to settle for one year deals, then get bigger contracts once they’ve proven they’re healthy. Ryan Madson, for instance, just signed a one year deal with the Angels, and his timeframe is pretty similar to Soria’s.

However, just because it’s unusual doesn’t make it a bad idea. Often times, these one year deals turn out to be good value buys for the signing team, as the injury issues serve to drive the player’s leverage — and consequently, his price — significantly below what similar healthy players are signing for. Under the previous free agent compensation system, a team could extract one year of value from a good reliever, then collect draft pick compensation after they walked in free agency the next year. Now, though, the qualifying offer drastically reduces the chances of compensation for a relief pitcher, which drives down the team’s incentives to churn the bullpen each winter.

So, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if two year, low AAV deals become a bit more common, as teams try to get a low cost healthy season as the benefit to paying for the cost of rehab. Even if Soria only throws 20-30 innings in 2013, having him potentially available for the postseason and then having him locked in for $4 or $5 million in 2014 could make this a pretty nice bet for Texas, and the overall guarantee is low enough that it won’t be a killer even if Soria never does return to previous form.

And, of course, with a 38-year-old Joe Nathan lined up to closer in 2013, injury or performance issues are always possible, and this gives the Rangers a secondary option for the second half of the season if Nathan needs to be replaced. Given the high cost of closers at the trade deadline, making this kind of deal now to prevent yourself from having to pay those exorbitant rates later could end up saving the team value in the long run, especially if Soria returns to form and can provide value as the team’s closer in 2014 and 2015.

The Zack Greinke Alternative.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
There’s not a whole lot of question right now regarding just who is the top free-agent starting pitcher available. When in doubt, follow the Dodgers. It was thought that re-signing Zack Greinke would be the Angels’ main offseason priority. They’re still interested, but they might be priced out. The Dodgers are in there and flashing their wallets. The Rangers might be just as interested. The Nationals are involved to some kind of extent. Greinke is the available free-agent ace, and everybody else is, at best, second-tier.

For the teams looking for quality starting pitching that miss out on Greinke, there are alternatives, who could be signed or traded for. Ryan Dempster is a free agent, and a good deal older than Greinke. Kyle Lohse is a free agent and he’s going to cash in to some degree. Among trade candidates, R.A. Dickey could be tremendously valuable, James Shields could be similarly valuable, and Jeremy Hellickson might or might not be extremely valuable, depending on your interpretation of his statistics. But there’s another quality free agent, the same age as Greinke, who could be of nearly as much value for a considerably lesser cost.

The way people are talking about Greinke, he could surpass the CC Sabathia contract. The way people are talking about Greinke, the Dodgers might end up paying whatever it’ll take. Contrast that with this, from Jon Heyman:

#tigers a few weeks ago offered anibal sanchez $48M, 4 yrs. Agent told them that offer would insult anibal. Seeks 90M/6

Without question, Anibal Sanchez is in demand, and his reported asking price is way up there. But he’s not going to get the Zack Greinke contract, meaning this could be an opportunity for a team looking for a quality starter to land a relative value.

As young as Greinke is, Sanchez is four months younger. Sanchez has the more extensive injury history, and that involves a labrum operation, but that was all years ago, and over the past three seasons, Greinke and Sanchez have faced the same number of batters. When it comes to durability, it’s true that Sanchez has more question marks, but he’s used the last three years to prove himself. One does not take for granted that Sanchez will end up on the disabled list.

A raw 2010-2012 comparison:

Pitcher ERA- FIP- xFIP-
Greinke 96 79 78
Sanchez 93 85 92

Greinke’s wound up with better peripherals, but it’s also no secret that Greinke hasn’t always pitched up to his peripherals. The last three seasons, just by simple run prevention, Greinke and Sanchez have basically been equals. That’s not a concluding point on its own, but it’s information to consider.

Here’s some more information to consider, also 2010-2012:

Pitcher K% BB% Strike% Contact% Zone%
Greinke 23% 6% 63% 79% 47%
Sanchez 21% 7% 65% 78% 52%

Continuing, Greinke is showing signs of gradual velocity loss. His fastball is down a tick from a few years ago, which is not unexpected, given how pitchers tend to age. Sanchez, though, has gained a little velocity, perhaps picking up strength as he gets further from his shoulder operation. Sanchez throws his fastball nearly as hard as Greinke does, now, and that isn’t the only evidence that Sanchez has been picking up steam and/or simply improving.

Anibal Sanchez strike rate:

2006-2009: 61 percent
2010: 64 percent
2011: 65 percent
2012: 66 percent

As Sanchez’s strikes have climbed, his walks, accordingly, have dropped, as they do. We don’t know if this is a sign of improved command or just improved control, but it’s a promising trend. So often, by the time they reach free agency, players have already peaked. With Sanchez, we don’t know that for sure. One at least shouldn’t be worried about immediate decline.

And there’s another factor, one I can’t help but discuss since I’m hopelessly in love with the research. I never pass up an opportunity to talk about catcher pitch-framing, and one guy the research highlights is Jonathan Lucroy. He hasn’t achieved the Internet fame of Jose Molina, but he’s achieved similar results. Lucroy’s spent a lot of time catching Zack Greinke of late. Since 2010, as a Brewer, Greinke walked six percent of batters, and struck out 26 percent of batters. Since 2010, as a Royal and Angel, Greinke walked six percent of batters, and struck out 20 percent of batters. There’s the American League/National League difference, of course, and there’s the possibility this is meaningless noise, but if Lucroy is an exceptional pitch-framer, it makes sense that Greinke might have benefited. And Greinke would have to be evaluated independent of his catchers, to whatever extent that would be possible.

Sanchez hasn’t spent much time throwing to allegedly awesome pitch-framers. Both Greinke and Sanchez threw a few months in the AL last season, and Sanchez was just as good. That oversimplifies things and throws out too much other worthwhile information, but again, it’s information to consider.

Zack Greinke is considered the cream of the free-agent crop, and he deserves to be. All things being equal, you’d rather have him than Sanchez, and everyone else. But all things aren’t equal, and Greinke will cost a good deal more than Sanchez will. Perhaps by too much. I won’t go so far as to say that Anibal Sanchez looks like a potential bargain, but the difference between him and Greinke might not be as large as the difference between the contracts they’re going to sign.

Angel Pagan, Not Aubrey Huff.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Angel Pagan just signed with the San Francisco Giants. $40 million for four years might seem like a slight overpay in terms of years, but this is obviously a team trying to win now, and they did just make a little extra coin that they can spend in order to stay competitive.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Similar justifications were probably made when Aubrey Huff helped power the Giants to their first World Series title and was subsequently signed to an ill-fated deal. This is Angel Pagan, though. Not Aubrey Huff.

In the year before the year the Giants won their first title, Huff was worse than replacement. He then put up six wins on the way to a title, and was rewarded with a contract. In the year before the year the Giants won their second title, Pagan was just a smidge above replacement. He then put up five wins on the way to a title, and was rewarded with a contract.

The similarities end there.

Pagan turns 32 next season, Huff was 34 in 2011. Pagan plays a premium up-the-middle defensive position basically to a scratch level, Huff finished his career worse than scratch with the glove at first base. Most importantly, there were key indicators that suggested that Huff’s 2010 was out of line with his career work, and those indicators are mostly absent when it comes to Pagan. Here are some of Pagan’s key numbers for last season, compared to his career:

AVG OBP SLG BB% K% Speed wRC+ UZR/150
2012 0.288 0.338 0.440 7.3% 14.7% 7.8 113 -0.1
Career 0.277 0.333 0.424 7.6% 14.9% 7.4 104 -0.8

Pretty close, right? Huff, in 2010, showed a walk rate that hit double digits for the first time in his career, at age 33. His speed score was above average for the only time in his career. And though the decline may not have been obvious through all the oscillation, if you looked at his career as a whole and ignored the seasons, he was obviously on his way down.

Pagan is going to decline through his contract. He’s 31 now, it happens. And it’s not like there aren’t any numbers that were slightly outside of his norm last season — his isolated slugging percentage in 2012 was higher than it had been in a full season. He’s got faults, too. His routes in center field leave him short of scratch defensively in center field, and sometimes he makes mistakes on the basepaths. He’s still a valuable defender — 2011 looks like the outlier when it comes to defensive metrics — and he still adds value while running the bases.

The contract is so reasonable that he’d have to fall off in Huff-ian fashion not to make it a good one. $40 million over four years is paying him like he’s basically a two and a half win player (assuming $5.5 million per win and inflation). As long as he hits a few doubles, steals some bases, and plays scratch-ish defense in center field, Pagan should be able to manage that easily. This is all assuming his knees look better at the end of this contract than Huff’s did. Those two years make all the difference in that respect.

What Is R.A. Dickey’s Trade Value?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Mets have been talking to R.A. Dickey about a contract extension for months, and since he’s still unsigned, there are clearly some issues that aren’t so easy to resolve between the two sides. So, they’re weighing all of their options, and the primary option for a team with a player who is a year from free agency is to trade him. Given that Zack Greinke is the lone free agent hurler who is viewed as a clear impact starter, the Mets could theoretically take advantage of a seller’s market, and shopping Dickey as a fall-back plan for the teams who don’t get Greinke might end up bringing back real talent.

Word from Jayson Stark today is that the Mets have “gotten serious” about trading Dickey and he could potentially be moved during the meetings here in Nashville. That would probably require Greinke to sign here as well, as maximizing Dickey’s return would likely involve pulling a Greinke runner-up into the bidding. Assuming Greinke does choose between a large paycheck in LA or a large paycheck in Texas, what could the Mets reasonably ask for in return for one year of a 38-year-old knuckleball specialist?

In one sense, the value seems to be limited by the fact that he’s only under contract for one more year. However, it’s one ridiculously cheap year, and he is clearly willing to sign an extension at a price that he believes is fair, so this isn’t necessarily a rental. Instead, Dickey should be viewed more like Adrian Gonzalez, who was also traded in the final year of a bargain contract, and then re-signed with the Red Sox rather than hitting free agency the following year. In order to acquire Gonzalez, the Red Sox gave up their #1 and #3 prospects, plus another toolsy first round pick who was thought to have some upside. We shouldn’t just immediately assume that Dickey’s contract status is going to keep someone from making a significant offer.

Of course, Gonzalez was headed into his age-29 season, while Dickey just turned 38 at the end of the season. There is a significant difference in expected future value, as even if Dickey agrees to a two year extension after getting traded, a team is only looking at three years of team control, with one of those coming in Dickey’s age-40 season. Knuckleballer aging curves look nothing like normal pitcher aging curves, but there’s still going to be more hesitation about what Dickey can offer in the future than there was with Gonzalez. Additionally, the changes to the free agent compensation system reduce the original team’s leverage, as they are now looking at one supplemental round draft pick rather than two picks, one of which could have been a mid-first rounder. So, the Mets can’t ask for a Gonzalez-style package in exchange for Dickey.

But, extra years of team control goes both ways. While the Red Sox were obviously expecting significant value from Gonzalez for the first few years of that contract, the odds of him earning his paychecks at the back end weren’t very good. While years 1-4 were probably surplus value for Boston, years 5-7 were probably a net negative, and were included because Gonzalez had enough leverage to demand a seven year deal to avoid free agency. So, three years of team control for Dickey might not be so different in terms of overall value as seven years of Gonzalez, especially once you factor in the drastically different AAVs that are being discussed.

Gonzalez’s seven year deal paid him $154 million, while the rumored price for Dickey is somewhere in the range of $20-$30 million for two years. Even if we give him $30 million, the difference in the extensions is five years and $125 million – how much extra value do we really think Gonzalez is adding at that kind of price?

Especially when their recent performances aren’t actually all that different. From 2008 to 2010, Gonzalez produced +14.7 WAR for the Padres. From 2010 to 2012, Dickey has produced +14.8 RA9-WAR, which is a better measure of a knucklerballer’s value because of their ability to limit hits on balls in play. Even if you want to split the difference between his RA9-WAR and FIP-WAR, Dickey’s still coming in at +12 for the last three years. It’s hard to argue that Dickey has performed at a level demonstrably lower than what Gonzalez had performed at prior to the trade with Boston.

Dickey’s older, but is part of a group of players who age exceptionally well. He’s a pitcher, but he’s also going to come with a smaller, shorter commitment. The Mets don’t have as much leverage due to free agent compensation, but might have more leverage due to the scarcity of elite pitching available this winter. For every argument about Gonzalez having significantly more trade value, there’s a decent counter-argument for favoring Dickey. I don’t think New York can ask for the same kind of package, but that deal is probably a better benchmark than many of the other rent-a-star maneuvers of the past.

So, what does that translate into? If Greinke goes to one of the LA clubs, then maybe you’re asking Texas for Mike Olt and Leonys Martin. If he goes to Texas, then maybe you’re asking the Dodgers for Zach Lee and Joc Pederson. If the Mets are willing to move Dickey, this is the kind of price they should be asking. Even with just one year left on his deal, the expected cost of an extension and the history of knucklers suggest that he’s not just a one year player. And, for multiple years of an impact pitcher, the Mets should be able to land a significant package. Maybe it isn’t on par with what San Diego got for Adrian Gonzalez, but it should be in the ballpark. Dickey’s worth that kind of return.

Soto and the Rangers.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Way back in Ye Olden Days of 2008, Geovany Soto was the Cubs’ Rookie of the Year catcher. He hit for average, power, drew walks, and played acceptable defense behind the plate. He was just 25 years old. The best seemed to be to come.

Four years later, Soto got non-tendered by the Rangers, then reportedly turned around and signed a one-year, $3 million contract with them. For a contending team like Texas with a sizable payroll budget and in need of a catcher, the issue is not so much about the money. Rather, given the dearth of other catching options either internally (especially with Mike Napoli reportedly signing with Boston) or externally, the issue is whether Soto is good enough to be a regular starter for the Rangers in 2013.

Soto’s path not been a total disaster since 2008, when he hit .285/.364/.504 (120 wRC+) in 563 plate appearances. His 2010 was better on a rate basis (.280/.393/.497, 137 wRC+), although he only received 387 plate appearances and dealt with injuries. From year to year, his power and his average on balls in play have fluctuated, and in 2011 and 2012 his walk rate also dropped. Soto’s 95 wRC+ in 2011 was disappointing given his prior performances, but it was still easily good enough for him to be a starting catcher. However, things really fell apart in 2012, and he got even worse after being traded to the Rangers. The 62 wRC+ he put up overall this past season is barely good enough for a part-time catcher.

However, what matters for the Rangers is not what Soto has done, but what they expect him do to — his true talent. Over the last three years, Soto has actually been about a league-average hitter, which is good for a catcher. Of course, we should also weight the averages toward more recent performances, regress to the mean, and so forth. Soto is a below-average hitter. It is hard to believe that he is as bad as he looked in 2012, but his true talent with respect to drawing walks and hitting for power can be pretty safely said to have gone downhill. His true talent with respect to BABIP, another big factor in his terrible 2012 performance, is likely better than .222. This is not to say that Soto’s true-talent BABIP is .300 or something liek that, but it is feasibly closer to, say, something around .280. It is not unreasonable to think that Soto could come close to his 2011 numbers. Five or ten runs below overall league average over a full season is still acceptable for a catcher.

It would be a mistake to focus on Soto’s troubled bat at the expense of the rest of his game. Like most catchers, he is poor on the bases (despite doing pretty well in 2012), and probably will costs his team a couple runs there relative to league average. What is more interesting is Soto’s work behind the plate. In terms of throwing out base stealers Soto has been below average, while being a bit above average when it comes to blocking pitches. However, when it comes to pitch framing, the balance might shift in Soto’s favor. He is no Jose Molina or Russell Martin, but as Mike Fast’s well-known study of pitch-framing from 2007-2011 shows, and Matthew Carruth privately confirmed with me from his own calculations that include Soto’s 2012 season, Soto has regularly been above-average when it comes to framing pitches. Matthew has Soto at about four or five runs above average each of the last few years.

Overall, Soto is likely a below average hitter and base runner, but also offers average or above-average defensive skills once his pitch-framing is taken into account. He also plays a premium position. Being a catcher, his playing time is going to be limited, and Soto has only played more than 120 games once since 2009. He also had knee surgery in 2012, and while some might use that as a partial explanation of his struggles in 2012, it is hard to spin an injury, particularly a knee injury for a catcher, as some sort of positive harbinger.

Still, even at only 100 games over a season, something close to two wins above replacement does not seem like an unreasonable projection for Soto for 2013. That is hardly out of line with past performances if one looks beyond just 2012. Soto is hardly a team-carrying star, and it would probably be a good idea for the Rangers to make sure his backup is someone they can trust for at least 40 or 50 games a season. That would not be not an unusual arrangement, however, and Soto is good enough to provide value as the primary starter.

Although I said at the outset that the focus should not be on the money for this deal, it is worth mentioning in closing. If the Rangers do want to spend a bit more for a caddie for (or even an upgrade over) Soto, it is not as if his contract is so big that it prevents them from doing so. More importantly, although Mike Napoli clearly would have been preferable straight-up to Soto (even if Napoli probably cannot play catcher full-time that often any more), he was also quite a bit more expensive. By going with a one-year, inexpensive stopgap like Soto, the Rangers are leaving themselves budget space for making other potential moves that could help them over more in the short- and long-term, such as signing Zack Greinke or re-signing Josh Hamilton. In that larger context, this low-risk deal for Soto makes a lot of sense, as well.

A-Rod To Have Hip Surgery.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In October, Alex Rodriguez was terrible when he did play, and he didn’t play all that much because of said terribleness. As Jeff noted during the ALCS, Rodriguez looked noticeably diminished after he came off the disabled list, especially against right-handers, and the contact issues suggested that he very well might not be 100% healthy.

Well, no more need to speculate – Joel Sherman reported this morning that A-Rod had surgery on his left hip and will be sidelined for 3-6 months. The end of that timeline would put him on track to return to the field in June, and given the lingering nature of hip problems, it’s probably not in the Yankees best interests to assume that he’s going to be back to 100% any time in the near future. In reality, Rodriguez is now a 37-year-old who has had surgery on both hips, and his body seems to be entering the stage where he’s unlikely to be able to be a full-time player going forward.

That leaves Brian Cashman with a role player who is due $114 million over the next five years. The only winner in this might be Ryan Howard, who is no longer the owner of the worst contract in baseball.

Now, the question for the Yankees is what they do at third base in 2013. Eric Chavez isn’t exactly the pinnacle of health, so while the left/right tandem worked pretty well last year, the Yankees probably need a healthier fill-in. Or, more realistically, they probably need a full-time third baseman to replace Rodriguez, who is a good bet to spend more time at DH than in the field for the rest of his career.

Unfortunately for New York, the third base market is less than stellar, and the best options available this winter are players with health questions – Kevin Youkilis, Jeff Keppinger, and the aforementioned Chavez. So, a full-time third baseman might need to come from the trade market, and as the Arizona Diamondbacks will tell you, there aren’t exactly a lot of good third base options available there either.

Just take a look at the Major League leaderboard at third base last year – it’s a collection of good players who aren’t going anywhere or guys who are various degrees of bad and/or broken. You can basically count on the top 10 third baseman on that list — Wright, Headley, Cabrera, Beltre, A. Ramirez, Zimmerman, Freese, Seager, Moustakas, and H. Ramirez — staying with their current teams for 2013 at minimum, and the pickings get pretty slim once you get past that group.

In looking for guys who might be useful and potentially available, I’d suggest Ryan Roberts or Sean Rodriguez, (TB), Jamey Carroll (MIN), and Chris Nelson (COL). Please, hold your excitement.

The league just lacks interesting young third baseman who haven’t already become franchise players. The guys who have established themselves have been good to give up, and there just isn’t a middle tier of useful talent to pluck from. The guys who are available are on the market because they’re A-Rod’s equal either in terms of age or physical durability.

This is what it’s come to the for the Yankees. Even if they were still acting like The Yankees (TM), there wouldn’t be anyone worth throwing huge amounts of cash at. New York now has a massive hole at third base and no real obvious solutions to the problem, so while Rodriguez might be a shell of his former self, this is still a bit of a blow to the team. At least a healthy-ish A-Rod represented an average (even if dramatically overpaid) third baseman, and the team could focus their off-season work on filling out the roster. Without A-Rod to begin the year and a big question mark beyond that, they now have to find a third baseman in a market where they really aren’t many to pick from.

Red Sox Replace James Loney with Mike Napoli.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Early on during the winter meetings, we’ve seen the Rays agree to terms with James Loney, and the Padres agree to terms with Jason Marquis. Now we’ve seen the Red Sox agree to terms with an actual good player, signing Mike Napoli for three years and $39 million. In theory, this’ll cause more dominoes to fall. In reality, more dominoes will fall regardless.

From this we can learn a little something about reported rumors and reported demands. Napoli was said on several occasions to be holding out for a four-year contract. He didn’t get it. Napoli was said on some occasions to be insistent on catching. With the Red Sox, he’ll predominantly be a first baseman. Either Napoli isn’t getting exactly what he wanted, or what he wanted wasn’t accurately conveyed.

Napoli plugs what was a fairly gaping organizational hole. For a long time the Red Sox had Adrian Gonzalez, and when you have Adrian Gonzalez, it’s less of a priority to accumulate depth at first base. Then the Red Sox wound up with one fewer Adrian Gonzalez and one additional James Loney. Prior to Napoli’s signing, the top first baseman on Boston’s organizational depth chart was Jerry Sands. Behind Sands would’ve been Mauro Gomez. Napoli will probably catch every so often, but Boston has enough catchers, and now Boston has one first baseman.

In a way, this felt inevitable. Napoli visited with the Red Sox, Mariners, and Rangers. The Red Sox had the money and the need. The Mariners had both, but would’ve presumably needed to out-bid the Red Sox. The Rangers didn’t think enough of Napoli to extend to him a $13.3 million qualifying offer, which certainly looks like a worse decision now. Even if Napoli badly wanted four years, he wasn’t going to get it, and the Red Sox gave him a satisfactory average annual value. This looked like the right fit, and now this is the actual fit.

One thing this does is make Jarrod Saltalamacchia even more available in trade talks. The Red Sox now have Napoli, Saltalamacchia, David Ross, and Ryan Lavarnway, which makes for entirely too much depth at the catcher position. Saltalamacchia’s the most expendable, and he’s the most likely to end up somewhere else.

A second thing this does is install Mike Napoli at first base for a while. Napoli is said to be coming off a down season at the plate, but incidentally:

Mike Napoli, 2012: 114 wRC+
Adrian Gonzalez, 2012: 115 wRC+

Napoli’s 2012 was poor relative to his 2011, but Napoli’s 2011 was uncharacteristically amazing, and it’s that season that stands out as the anomaly. The strikeout rate didn’t make sense. Napoli’s going to walk, Napoli’s going to go deep, and Napoli’s going to whiff. As he has been, he will presumably continue to be.

Napoli, clearly, is a non-elite bat. He doesn’t make a positive contribution running the bases, and he’s not about to win a Gold Glove at first base. He’s made valuable by his power, and the best way to describe his contract with the Red Sox is “fair”. The Red Sox aren’t getting him at a bargain, and the Red Sox also aren’t getting Napoli as a potential albatross, which was never going to happen given the limited number of suitors. Three years and $39 million seems like the right price for a good hitter on the wrong side of 30. It was probably crucial for the Red Sox to get this done now so that they can turn their attention to other parts of the roster in need.

Something that’s been noted is that Napoli has hit the crap out of the ball in Fenway Park, to the tune of a 1.107 career OPS. That’s undeniably true, over a sample of 73 plate appearances. Over a sample of 70 plate appearances, Napoli has generated a .657 OPS in US Cellular. You can see where this is going. Napoli is by no means a bad fit for Fenway, but he isn’t an unusually good fit, and he’s coming from Texas, which is just as righty-friendly. As it happens, Napoli has seven career homers in Boston — one to left, two to left-center, one to center, two to right-center, and one to right. He’ll hit his home runs, and he’ll spread them around.

At 31, Mike Napoli probably isn’t getting better. He’s never before exceeded 510 plate appearances, and his value is tied up almost entirely in his bat. He has those classic old-player skills that hint at a possible coming decline phase. The Red Sox didn’t just land the bargain of the winter. What they did land is a first baseman who isn’t Jerry Sands or James Loney. The Red Sox got better in an affordable way, and now the rest of the offseason is that much more clear.

Swallowing Alfonso Soriano’s Contract.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The hurdles remain, but the enthusiasm is there: The Cubs will be listening to offers on Alfonso Soriano at these winter meetings. The veteran will have to approve any trade, and has blocked moves to the San Francisco Giants in the past because of the cold weather and the West Coast location, so that’s no small obstacle. There’s also the matter of the $36 million left on his contract — Chicago will certainly have to swallow some of that in order to get a palatable return in a trade. How much they swallow will mostly depend on the receiving team’s opinion of Soriano’s defense.

Soriano’s bat enjoyed a resurgence last season, too, but it wasn’t of the same magnitude as his defensive improvement. Outside of 2009, he’s actually been fairly steady with the Cubs. Discounting that season, where his offense was 17% worse than the league average, he’s been 14% better than league average, with a high of 22% and a low of 1%. Last year, that number was 16%. He’s rarely managed a passable walk rate, his strikeout rate is getting worse, his speed on the basepaths has dwindled, but his power remains. His isolated slugging percentage last year (.237) hit his career number on the head (.232), and given his last three years, it’s reasonable to once again pencil him in for a .200+ ISO.

That power alone, along with good health (Soriano has crossed the 500 PA threshhold every season with the Cubs) and scratch defense, should get the player to within a few runs of average production. Given his age (37 years old), the aging curve might be steep. A two-win season in 2013 is reasonable given all these caveats, but asking for much more than a win in 2014 might not be.

If you’re comfortable penciling Soriano in for three wins over the next two seasons, then you’d basically want the Cubs to swallow significantly more than half of the remaining contract. More than $20 million if they want a decent prospect. Paying $16 million for two years might make Soriano a slightly-more expensive alternative to Ryan Ludwick.

Soriano just finished a four-win season! Do we really need to be so pessimistic about his next two seasons?

Maybe. Last year was the first time in four years that Soriano offered positive value on defense. He managed what turned out to be almost a full-win swing between 2011 and 2012. Look at any of his defensive metrics, and even if there’s some disagreement about his full value, there’s agreement that he improved his range last season. At his age, any skepticism about a one-year change in a defensive stat is healthy skepticism. But there are some mitigating factors in this particular situation.

One is almost incomprehensible. From Bradley Woodrum’s Hardball Times Annual case study on Soriano comes the revelation that the player had never been coached on outfield defense before this year. Woodrum found the surprising quote:

“Soriano admitted that this year was the first time he’s ever gotten instruction on how to play the outfield. First base coach Dave McKay routinely coaches all the outfielders on how to play defense. … Soriano said that the only “coaching” he got at that time and prior to this season was shagging fly balls during batting practice.” — Sahadev Sharma, ESPN Chicago

Makes you wonder about some teams. If there was a player that needed outfield coaching, ever, it was Soriano making the contentious move off of second base all those years ago.

That might not be the entire picture though. There’s some evidence that positioning played a part in Soriano’s new range numbers. From BIS, we learn that Soriano was a combined -35 Plus/Minus for deep balls in 2011. He moved that number to +1 in 2012. He went from +3 to -3 on shallow balls and -1 to -4 on medium balls, so he did make some trade offs. But obviously it was worth it overall.

Soriano also experienced an uptick on the basepaths. His speed score was back up to 3.4 from a career floor of 2.4 in 2011. BIS had him moving from -19 to -5 in Baserunning Gain, and our own baserunning stats support a modest improvement. Then again, it’s hard to depend on a player of his age retaining a late-career improvement in a part of the game so dependent on athleticism.

Let’s give him a positive defensive number and a chance at three wins in 2013. That would give him at least four wins over the life of the contract, and require the Cubs to swallow between ten to fifteen of the millions of dollars remaining on his contract. That would make Soriano a cheaper alternative to Torii Hunter, who just signed a two-year, $26 million contract.

His arm is still an asset, or scratch. Even with declining wheels, he’s not yet molasses on the basepaths. His plate discipline was never an asset. His bat has legs and he knows how to use em. Acquiring him now will have none of the sexiness of the mega-deal that brought him to Chicago, but it may still bring outfield help to a team like the Braves or Rays — warm, East Coast teams in need of some thump — and somewhere between ten and twenty million dollars of salary relief to the Cubs.

Rays Scrape The Barrel, Come Up With James Loney.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Two seasons ago Casey Kotchman, a career .259/.326/.392 (91 wRC+) hitter in over 2,300 plate appearances coming into the year, posted a stellar .306/.378/.422 (127 wRC+) line in 563 plate appearances for the Rays. This past season Jeff Keppinger, a career .281/.332/.388 (92 wRC+) hitter in nearly 2,300 plate appearances coming into the year, posted a stellar .325/.367/.439 (128 wRC+) line in 418 plate appearances for the Rays. Tampa bay is now going to try to work their magic on James Loney.

Loney, 28, has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Rays according to Tim Brown and Jon Heyman. He’s been a league average hitter throughout his career (.282/.339/.419, 103 wRC+ in nearly 3,500 plate appearances) but has slipped below that level in recent years, hitting just .296/.322/.386 (94 wRC+) in just short of 1,700 plate appearances since the start of 2010. This year he put up a .249/.293/.336 (70 wRC+) line in 465 plate appearances for the Dodgers and Red Sox, career-worsts across the board.

Can Loney’s offense spike like Kotchman’s and Keppinger’s? Sure, it’s possible. Those two are ground ball hitters who enjoyed abnormally high BABIPs while with the Rays, possibly due to the turf at Tropicana Field and holes opening on the infield as they ran the bases aggressively. Loney’s career ground ball rate is just 43.2% (45.8% in 2012), so he’s a different type of hitter. He does put the ball in play though (career 12.2 K% and 11.0 K% last year) and good things usually happen when you do that. If nothing else, he’ll help chip away at the team’s astronomical 21.7% strikeout rate from this year.

It’s been more than a full year since Loney has hit a homer in his home ballpark — last one came on Sept. 17th of 2011 — and his troubles against left-handed pitchers have become so extreme (107 wRC+ vs. RHP and 52 wRC+ vs. LHP since 2010) that the Rays will surely pair him with a right-handed hitting platoon partner. Loney’s first base defense is rated very well by DRS and UZR, so at the very least he’ll contribute in the field. He’s not much of a base-runner either, so his game boils down to being a league average bat against righties and being a vacuum over at first base.

The Rays paid Carlos Pena more than $7 million to hit .197/.330/.354 (98 wRC+) and provide 0.9 WAR in 660 plate appearances last year. Loney will make less than a third of that and should be able to provide similar production assuming the Rays use him properly, which Joe Maddon’s history suggests they will. Tampa can’t afford to drop multiple years at big bucks on a first base masher like Adam LaRoche, so signing a stop gap like Loney for relative pittance is their best course of action at first. It’s low-risk, maybe medium-reward if things break right.

post #8992 of 72836
Originally Posted by madj55 View Post

Sounding like Morse is gonna be out in DC

Might be taking a 45 minute drive up 95 to another city.... nerd.gif
post #8993 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Edwin Jackson is so damn underrated, I feel like if he doesn't get his money this year people just don't like him laugh.gif
post #8994 of 72836
yanks talkin youkilis ( however u spell it )

dont know how i feel about this .......
Yanks Knicks Jets
Yanks Knicks Jets
post #8995 of 72836
- Dodgers fans now think they'll be getting Robinson Cano in '14.




Give the team some money, the fans let it get to their heads.

post #8996 of 72836
Pro, how many "Yankee Stadium homeruns" did Nick Swisher hit last year. How would his stats look like at AT&T park?
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 #8997 of 72836
Thread Starter 
Some but not as much as say Granderson did. I've said it before, I think he's awesome anywhere he goes. Swish isn't the best example but Yankee Stadium kills doubles because if it's over the OF'ers head, it's usually a HR. I think you'd probably see his HR's go down to maybe 17-22 but he'll crack out 40 doubles. His on base skills will be immense in that lineup batting #2.

Dan Haren an upside buy for Nats.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The Nationals' reported agreement with Dan Haren for one year and $13 million, a deal still pending a physical, is probably an all-or-nothing gamble: Either he'll be healthy enough to pitch like the pre-2012 version of himself and this deal will be a huge steal for the Nats, or the same hip problem that destroyed his market this offseason will flare up and give the Nats little or no return on their investment. It's reminiscent of the A's deal with Ben Sheets in 2010, where they gave him $10 million on a one-year deal to see whether he could stay healthy; Sheets couldn't, and the A's got just 119 innings of replacement-level pitching from him. Haren could offer more.

[+] Enlarge

Jim Cowsert/US Presswire
When healthy, Dan Haren would make a deep Nats rotation even better.

If he's healthy -- and the hip issue, unlike the back pain that affected his 2012 season, seems to be something Haren has had before but never had it affect his performance -- he'd give the Nationals a devastating rotation, potentially giving them a 200-inning starter who adds value by avoiding walks and missing bats thanks to good command and an above-average splitter. The back issues in 2012 affected his release point both on his fastball and the split, so he was leaving the ball up more often and wasn't locating around the edges of the zone as consistently as he had in the past. There's a large gap between a healthy Haren and the 2012 version, but the hip problem that scared teams off this winter wasn't the cause of his decline this past season; some teams might have been concerned about the combination of factors, but they're not directly connected, and it's possible one issue could recur while the other is irrelevant.

The Nationals do have the luxury of great starting pitching around Haren, so losing him for any length of time won't kill their playoff chances; he's their 2013 version of Edwin Jackson, who added bulk innings behind the team's three aces in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. They're building the kind of rotation that, paired with an above-average offense, could make the team capable of winning 100 games while simultaneously built for October.

This deal should help fix a per-year salary range for Jackson, Kyle Lohse, and Anibal Sanchez, all of whom were right around Haren on my free-agent rankings but would be in line for three- or four-year deals because they don't carry Haren's health questions. It also removes a potential bidder on each of those arms, which might accelerate the market further because no pitcher wants to end up in Jackson's situation from last winter, where being the last starting pitcher standing turned out to be a disadvantage.

Free agents with bust potential.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The busiest part of baseball's shopping season is now in full swing in Nashville, Tenn. If you've ever subjected yourself to the indignities of navigating a crowded mall or big-box store this time of year, you've probably experienced that dreaded disease that holiday shoppers are prone to contracting, buyer's remorse.

Baseball's front offices are no different, but with contracts for desired free agents in the tens of millions -- and much more for the luxury models -- and not much in the way of a warranty or return policy, signings that don't work out can be very costly mistakes. So, which players are the most likely to inspire their new teams to wish for a do-over?

Ryan Dempster, RHP

A year ago at this time, Dempster was considered a costly problem, coming off a 10-14, 4.80 ERA season, and nobody was lining up to take him off Chicago's hands. After going 12-8, 3.38 this year, suitors are bidding for his services. The big problem with this change is that the differences between 2011 and 2012 Dempster are nowhere as near as large as the basic stats would tell you.

By one useful measure of peripheral statistics, Dempster was actually pretty much the same pitcher in recent years, with xFIPs over the past five years of 3.77, 3.70, 3.74, 3.76 and 3.69. That's not performance to be unhappy with, but it's not at the level that justifies getting into a bidding war with half of baseball. Dempster's not young, either, and while pitchers age better than hitters outside of the increased injury concern, he's going to be 36 a month into his new contract.

Nick Swisher, RF

In a free-agent market not exactly overflowing with power hitters, Swisher has a lot to offer as a less expensive model than Josh Hamilton. While he's unlikely to get the Jayson Werth-type contract north of $100 million that his camp is rumored to be angling for, Swisher's unlikely to be a bargain for his next organization. His value is reliant on what Bill James used to call "old players' skills" -- drawing walks and hitting for power -- and he's not bringing that much in the way of defense.

The ZiPS projection system has Swisher at .253/.349/.434 in a neutral park next year with a 2.7 WAR, and while that's a solid player with value, it's a bit dicier if that production comes with a large price tag. He also just turned 32 and the top end of his comparable players is littered with guys who didn't age well, such as Tim Salmon, Brad Hawpe, Tony Clark, Milton Bradley and Ken Henderson.

Adam LaRoche, 1B

After the 2011 season, it would seem odd to think that LaRoche would be overpaid in his next contract, but after a comeback season that earned LaRoche a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove and a sixth-place finish in the MVP voting, that's now a risk. As with Swisher, LaRoche is one of the few real sluggers available. Add in the hardware he won in arguably the best season of his career and that's a formula for too much money heading his way.

As solid as his 2012 was, it was the first year in his career in which he amassed more than 2.0 WAR (per Baseball Reference). It's always a danger evaluating (or paying) a player based on his best season. That's even more risky when the player having his best season is a 33-year-old who had two very forgettable seasons (0.6 WAR combined) right before his big one.

A.J. Pierzynski

After spending most of the past decade putting up essentially the same offensive year every year, Pierzynski threw in a bit of variety and had arguably the best season of his career in 2012. With Mike Napoli and Russell Martin signed, Pierzynski is easily the best catcher available in free agency. This should be good news for Pierzynski's bank account, but could be bad news for his new team. With a more normal Pierzynski season likely in the cards at age 36, even a relatively small contract could go awry, leading his next team to be committed to an aging, mediocre catcher for multiple seasons.

Delmon Young, LF/DH

Nobody's going to give star money to Young this winter, but anything above a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training is a massive overpay. Young's been a starter for six years, but has rarely hit like a corner outfielder should, and his inability to field fly balls resembles a high-concept visual art exhibit.

Despite this, his respectable batting average, occasionally decent RBI totals and the memory of when he was a top prospect may still net him a starting job. Young's been solid in the playoffs, hitting .264/.322/.538 with some big homers, but few major league free agents this offseason will do more to keep your team from reaching the playoffs.
post #8998 of 72836
Thread Starter 
- Jason Bay close to signing with the M's.
- Indians close with Victorino.
post #8999 of 72836
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

Edwin Jackson is so damn underrated, I feel like if he doesn't get his money this year people just don't like him laugh.gif

Instagram: @beardekevin    old NT username VIL8R (since 09)    Lakers   Dodgers   Arsenal   LA Kings   UCLA


Instagram: @beardekevin    old NT username VIL8R (since 09)    Lakers   Dodgers   Arsenal   LA Kings   UCLA

post #9000 of 72836
Originally Posted by Proshares View Post

- Jason Bay close to signing with the M's.
- Indians close with Victorino.

Boston is reported to being close with Victorino.

Sizemore out for the '13 season.
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
Hip Hop is dead. There is no "savior".
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