2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 310
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I'm far from white but I agree with KLJ, I think Bourjous will prosper when he's traded.
I don't agree with the Angels knowing what they're doing 100% TBH. I said it last year and I still say it this year. From the handling of Napoli to Trout to Conger to giving Vernon 500 AB's to these massive contracts to trading for a broken starter to not ponying up for a rotation. Wouldn't shock me to see them get 3rd place again.
The Vernon Wells move was terrible, and that was their way of justifying it. Tony Reagins made that foolish move.
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I agree. I've always liked Lannan. Very solid middle to back end rotation guy.
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Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
There's even more to this deal than d'Arnaud: Noah Snydergaard, regarded as the Jays' best pitching prospect by some teams, would be the cherry on top of this trade for the Mets, if it goes through.
"I can't believe [Anthopoulos is] thinking about doing this," said one AL official Saturday, before the Jays and Mets finished the structure of the deal.
"He's out of his mind," said another.
Prospects have never had more value in the sport than they do now, and d'Arnaud is viewed as a difference-maker, a catcher who hits and has a lot of skills behind the plate, and is projected as someone who will play in the big leagues for more than a decade. Through the Blue Jays' 35-year history -- including the glory years fostered by Pat Gillick -- players like d'Arnaud have been the heart and soul of the franchise.
But times have changed for the Jays, who will soon reach the 20th anniversary of their last appearance in the postseason. At a time when the New York Yankees are passing on top free agents as part of an austerity plan and the Boston Red Sox are reconstructing, Toronto is looking to win now, to perhaps show its fan base that it's capable of winning again.
Baseball history is filled with examples of disastrous teams that loaded up and built up expectations only to flounder (hello, 2012 Miami Marlins). But there are a couple of examples in recent history of teams that got a payoff from a push to make the playoffs.
The Milwaukee Brewers could be the best comparable for the Jays. In the middle of 2008, they were 26 years removed from their last postseason appearance. But owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin went all-in and traded for CC Sabathia, who carried Milwaukee into the postseason, and though the Brewers didn't last long in the playoffs, the fans have stuck around.
2006: 2.336 million
2007: 2.869 million
2008: 3.068 million
2009: 3.037 million
2010: 2.777 million
2011: 3.071 million
2012: 2.831 million
Only Attanasio and his accountants know for sure how much it meant to the Brewers financially for the team to make the postseason for the first time. He is cutting the team's payroll from about $100 million to $80 million. But there is hope in Milwaukee now where there was none before; if the Brewers are in the race in 2013, the fans have been conditioned to believe that the team will try to win it, and has a shot to win it.
Hope is what the Kansas City Royals are trying to rebuild, with their deal for James Shields, and what the Pittsburgh Pirates may have squandered with their late-season collapse. Hope is what the Blue Jays need now. There is a generation of fans who have no memory of just how dominant this franchise was in the early '90s, after the opening of SkyDome. Gillick had built championship teams to grace that ballpark, and the Blue Jays drew 4 million fans in each of three consecutive seasons. Four million.
But Gillick left, and the perception in the industry is that the teams in Canada took the greatest hits from the 1994-95 players' strike; the '94 Montreal Expos might have been the sport's best team that year, and they never were able to derive the full benefit of that extraordinary collection of talent.
It has been 14 years since the Blue Jays drew 2.4 million fans. Maybe that figure will climb in 2013, because if Toronto is able to finish the Dickey deal, the Blue Jays may well be the early winter favorite to win the AL East, with a deep rotation. Old friend Peter Gammons and I had fun trying to guess how John Gibbons might arrange his rotation, given all the different looks his staff would present, with right-handers and left-handers and hard throwers and soft throwers and a knuckleballer. My guess (and without question, you can go a lot of different ways with this):
1. R.A. Dickey, the Cy Young winner
2. Brandon Morrow, the hardest thrower on the staff
3. Mark Buehrle, the softest thrower
4. Josh Johnson
5. Ricky Romero
Their everyday lineup should be pretty good, too:
SS Jose Reyes Switch-hitter
LF Melky Cabrera S
RF Jose Bautista R
1B-DH Edwin Encarnacion R
DH-1B Adam Lind L
3B Brett Lawrie R
CF Colby Rasmus L
C J.P. Arencibia R
2B Emilio Bonifacio or Maicer Izturis S
Toronto has fielded some really good teams in the past decade, but at times when the Yankees and Red Sox were flexing their big-money muscles. Now, with the playoff format and the club restructured, they can present more hope to their fans than they have since Joe Carter sprinted happily around the bases at the end of the 1993 World Series.
The value-for-value ledgers say that the Dickey deal doesn't make sense for Toronto. Baseball history shows that all-in bets usually don't pay off. If the Blue Jays' business plan fails, it's possible that the Blue Jays would regress into a Marlins-like sell-off over the next couple of years. (Maybe not all at once.)
But the Blue Jays are going for it, in a way they haven't in so long. Other officials might not agree with it, but they certainly recognize the will to win.
The Jays are in all the way, writes Ken Fidlin.
• Dickey doesn't have a no-trade clause, but he has the power to effectively kill this deal by not agreeing to an extension beyond his $5 million deal for 2013. In the eyes of one longtime agent -- who is not involved in these talks -- a fair-market extension for Dickey, in light of the Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez signings, is something in the range of $40 million to $45 million for three more years. Dickey doesn't have complete leverage in these talks because he's not a free agent, but he does have a lot of leverage. And we don't yet know whether he's OK with playing in Toronto, which some players privately don't want because of the travel complications.
The return in this trade could be extraordinary for the Mets, in the eyes of rival evaluators; here's more on d'Arnaud from Jorge Arangure. This could be Sandy Alderson's Gary Carter move, writes Bill Madden.
There is more and more being written and said about Dickey not being a model teammate -- stuff that wasn't written or said during recent summers, by the way. If it can be said that Dickey has embraced the spotlight, well, you can throw him in with this long line of Cy Young-caliber pitchers who went about their business similarly: Justin Verlander, Pedro Martinez, Roy Oswalt, Jake Peavy, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, David Cone, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer.
Some guys would prefer to do their work in a vacuum -- Roy Halladay, for example -- and some guys enjoy the media interaction. With starting pitchers, what really matters is their work every fifth day, and the simple facts are that over the past three years, the Mets are 53-39 on the days that Dickey pitched, and 177-217 on the days he didn't pitch. So the notion that the Mets should be motivated to get rid of him because of how his personality plays in the clubhouse is a little silly. The Mets are botching this, writes Tyler Kepner. I agree with Tyler, in the big picture; it's incredible that a New York market team can't comfortably squeeze a Cy Young winner on a below-market deal on its payroll.
But that is not the reality in which the Mets' front office operates; rather, they have to run this team as though it's got a Milwaukee Brewers-size payroll. Within those limits, trading Dickey now for top prospects is the right thing to do. To add d'Arnaud and Snydergaard to a young core that already includes Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler gives the Mets even more hope for 2015 and beyond. Next season, however, could get really, really ugly, considering how Dickey almost single-handedly propped up the Mets last season; they might have been a 65-win team without him.
The Red Sox agreed to terms with Stephen Drew, who is getting $9.5 million, along with $500,000 in possible performance bonuses. So the Boston lineup could look like this, if the Red Sox finish the negotiations with Mike Napoli:
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF Shane Victorino
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
LF Jonny Gomes/Ryan Kalish/Daniel Nava
3B Will Middlebrooks
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia/David Ross
SS Stephen Drew
Oakland had interest in Drew but wasn't willing to pay exorbitant dollars (in the Athletics' eyes) to keep him; Drew had played OK for them, but rival scouts felt his range had suffered in the year after his horrific ankle injury. Oakland could follow up in its pursuit of Jed Lowrie, or Hiroyuki Nakajima (a free agent from Japan), or perhaps Jhonny Peralta, if the Tigers prefer to go with Danny Worth.
• Josh Hamilton said the other day that the Rangers didn't make him feel wanted.
It was just time for him to move on. The difficulties of the relationship between the team and the player had worn on the trust the two sides had for each other. To repeat: Hamilton's departure leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the Texas lineup, a spot they may really struggle to fill this winter, and they're probably not going to be able to replicate the offense he provided. But in the long run, they're better off not investing in a player who frustrated them enormously, and Hamilton is better off going to a place where he can have a fresh start (for a lot more money).
Evan Grant takes a stab at what he thinks the Rangers' lineup might look like (and it's a very, very different looking Texas lineup without Hamilton).
If the Rangers can't meet Arizona's asking price for Justin Upton, you wonder if they can work something out for Jason Kubel, who would be a one-year upgrade in power for Texas. Some executives with other teams have asked privately whether Texas overvalues its prospects; either way, the Rangers have had a lot of success.
• Steve Dilbeck wonders: Is Arte Moreno obsessed with the Dodgers?
There's no getting around this: Hamilton was an impulse buy for the Angels, as Albert Pujols was. As Hamilton said, there really hadn't been any contact with the Angels before the winter meetings, and the negotiations never got serious until the last 24 hours before the deal. That means that Hamilton could've easily worked out something in the first five weeks of the offseason without the Angels ever getting involved.
The deal was another sign of the Angels' drive to win.
The perception of the Angels, among some evaluators, is that they have an awesome offense and an extremely flawed pitching staff that lacks depth. Jered Weaver has been one of the best pitchers in the majors and one of the sport's great gym rats, but for the first time in his career, he has shown some wear and tear recently. According to FanGraphs, his average fastball velocity:
The Angels need more structure around Weaver.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The NL Central teams have kept a low profile this winter.
2. The Chicago White Sox's ticket policy will change.
3. The Minnesota Twins, piecing together their pitching, are signing Mike Pelfrey.
4. Dana Eveland signed to play overseas.
5. Robinson Cano could learn something from Carmelo Anthony in his contract talks, writes Joel Sherman.
6. The Phillies are nearly finished with their winter's work, writes Ryan Lawrence.
7. For now, young pitchers will likely fill out the Pirates' rotation, writes Bill Brink.
8. Brian Cashman says the Yankees have more work to do.
Josh Johnson could cash in big.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Now, because of a series of circumstances and events inside and outside of baseball, ranging from peaceful collective bargaining negotiation to an improving U.S. economy to the record-setting sale of the Dodgers, he is the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in baseball history.
Another set of dominoes might be falling into place for another pitcher to get an enormous contract a year from now -- Josh Johnson, recently traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Johnson, 28, is entering the final year of a four-year deal he signed with the Marlins and will be eligible for free agency in the fall. There are no ongoing contract talks with Toronto. "We really haven't had any conversations with the Blue Jays," said Johnson's agent, Matt Sosnick. "We've told them we're open to anything. But it seems to make sense for both of us to see how he pitches at the beginning of the year."
Yes, it does. There have been times in Johnson's career when he has been regarded as one of the most dominant right-handers in the sport, mixing 98 mph fastballs downhill before spinning sliders that veer sharply away from right-handed hitters. Johnson is 6-foot-7 and intimidating, and hitters speak of his best stuff with awe. He led the NL in ERA in 2010, at 2.30.
But Johnson has reached 200 innings only once in his career, which has been checkered with injuries. He has missed time repeatedly because of arm trouble, and, last year, his average fastball velocity sank to a career low of 92.8 mph.
Perception could change quickly, as Greinke has demonstrated. Summer of 2013 will provide opportunity for Johnson: He will be pitching in what is regarded as one of the toughest divisions in the majors, and, if he has a bounce-back season and throws well, all the circumstances might line up for him the way they did for Greinke:
1. Johnson may well be the best free agent in an otherwise lackluster market, as Greinke was. Some of the other starting pitchers who could be headed to free agency in the fall: A.J. Burnett, Bruce Chen, Scott Feldman, Gavin Floyd, Matt Garza, Jason Hammel, Dan Haren, Tim Lincecum, Ricky Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Edinson Volquez, Barry Zito. (MLBTradeRumors has a complete list here).
2. The sport will still be early in the massive spending cycle that started this fall. Next year, the teams expect to receive the first big checks from some of the recent television contracts.
3. There will be big-market or big-money teams in position to spend -- most notably, the Chicago Cubs, who just missed out on Anibal Sanchez, and the Texas Rangers, who have had the worst winter of all of the contenders. Johnson is from Oklahoma, and pitching in Texas -- for Nolan Ryan -- likely would be attractive to him.
So there will be a lot riding on 2013 for Johnson, who is at a crossroads in his career. If arm issues hit him again, and limit his starts and his innings, that will greatly affect his market value in the fall; Johnson and Sosnick's best play might be to go for a one-year deal to re-establish value.
But if he stays healthy, restores his fastball to its previous greatness and has a big year, a season that matches his work in 2010, he will be in an exceptional position of leverage.
Hot Stove 2013
Nine other players who will have a whole lot riding on 2013, with free agency on the horizon:
2. Robinson Cano A big season could net him a $200 million contract in the fall as he hits free agency. Any regression will cost him tens of millions because he'll be 31 next October.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury He's a lot like Johnson: There is enormous respect for his talent -- and great concern about his injury history. If Ellsbury stays on the field and has a big year, he probably will eclipse the dollars that Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and even Josh Hamilton got.
4. Carlos Ruiz The Phillies' catcher will miss the start of the season as he serves a drug suspension, then will have to rebuild his standing as one of the game's best at his position.
5. Brian McCann He'll be coming back from shoulder surgery -- sometime in May, in all likelihood -- and should have about 120 games to make his case before hitting the market.
6. Matt Garza The Cubs were poised to deal him before he got hurt before the trade deadline, and he didn't pitch after July 21. He is similar to Anibal Sanchez in a lot of ways and could get paid like him if he makes 30-plus starts next season.
7. Joel Hanrahan He is likely to be traded before the 2013 season, rival executives believe, and, with a strong season, he could position himself for a deal in the range of $25-35 million because of his experience as a closer.
8. Carlos Gomez Brewers GM Doug Melvin notes that speed guys sometime take a little longer to develop, and Gomez made progress last year, posting his best season. But he has to show even more; in particular, he needs to improve his on-base percentage, which was a career-high .305 last year.
9. David Murphy Steady and unspectacular in his production, he has long been viewed as more of a complementary piece. But Murphy had more playing time in 2012 than in any other season in his career, and he performed well, hitting .304 with a .380 on-base percentage. (He was better at home, but still good on the road. Texas doesn't have a lot of left-handed hitting, so Murphy probably is going to play a lot in 2013 and, if he has another strong season, could earn a really good three-year deal in the fall.
10. James Loney He has taken all of his mulligans, as he joins the Rays. This is probably his last shot to establish that he's a reliable run producer, and probably his last shot at setting himself up for a major payday.
Hot Stove 2012
All along, the Blue Jays have been the best possible fit for a deal for R.A. Dickey, because of the breadth of their core of prospects -- especially in their catching -- and because of their own need for someone who can pitch at the front end of their rotation. Assuming the Jays finish the Dickey deal -- and it's close, as Andy Martino writes -- their starters could line up like this:
AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill
R.A. Dickey may be on the move.
2. Mark Buehrle
4. Ricky Romero
5. Brandon Morrow
If they finish this deal, I think they would be the on-paper, midwinter front-runners to win the AL East.
• At a time when the Angels are likely to deal Kendrys Morales, Peter Bourjos or Mark Trumbo, I can't imagine a better fit for Morales than the Tampa Bay Rays. He is a solid on-base percentage guy, a power guy who hits from both sides of the plate, and the Rays have room for a hitter like him -- and have the prospects required to make this kind of deal.
The Angels' market for Morales will be relatively limited, too, by the perception that he is best-suited for a DH role, and presumably, the Angels would like to move him out of their division.
• The Rangers missed on R.A. Dickey, as well. Their failure to sign Josh Hamilton shouldn't affect their appeal to other players, writes Tim Cowlishaw. Finally, the Rangers are in the mix for Raul Ibanez, writes George King.
• The Tigers signed Anibal Sanchez, which solidifies their rotation and makes it all but certain that they will trade Rick Porcello; Tony Paul runs through the possibilities. The move demonstrates, again, how much Mike Ilitch wants to win a championship, writes Lynn Henning. The signing makes Detroit the favorite to win the AL Central, as Drew Sharp writes.
The Tigers are surrounded by small-market and midmarket teams in the AL Central, and they'll have a payroll in the range of $156 million.
They'll get a closer, presumably. A deal for Hanrahan makes so much sense -- because he's available and because he would cost significantly less than Rafael Soriano.
• Hamilton requires special care, writes Mike DiGiovanna. He is the newest star in a galaxy of stars, writes Jeff Fletcher..
It feels like 1958 all over again with the power that has shifted to the West this year.
By the way: There are a lot of indications that this deal was done over the heads of the folks in the Angels' baseball operations department, with Arte Moreno taking the same approach George Steinbrenner often did as owner of the Yankees.
• Former Rays pitcher Matt Bush is expected to take a plea deal in his case, a DUI hit-and-run that seriously injured a motorcyclist in his 70s.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The signing of Ty Wigginton isn't enough, writes Bernie Miklasz.
2. The Royals signed Xavier Nady.
3. Chris Antonetti gave an extensive interview.
4. The Cubs missed on Sanchez but showed they are willing to spend.
5. It's time for the Nationals to get a MASN deal done, writes Thomas Boswell. MLB is looking to separate the Nationals and Orioles, writes James Wagner.
6. Hank Aaron was voted as the fifth-best player in the majors.
7. The Phillies signed Mike Adams to a deal.
8. The Pirates' brass caught some flak from fans. GM Neal Huntington talked about clubhouse chemistry when he spoke with fans.
9. Kevin Youkilis was introduced. The Yankees were hit with a luxury tax bill.
10. The Orioles, who have had a very quiet offseason, talked about Dickey.
11. The Mariners need a big bat, writes Geoff Baker.
12. Tom Hoffarth thinks the Dodgers should just stop.
13. The Padres are making little noise this offseason, writes Jay Paris.
Winners, losers of Josh Hamilton's deal.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Winners: The 2013 Angels
Only three teams scored more runs than the Angels last season, and now they add a hitter who is, intermittently, the best offensive player in the sport. Their lineup could be nothing short of awesome:
CF Mike Trout
3B Alberto Callaspo
1B Albert Pujols
RF Mark Trumbo
DH Kendrys Morales
2B Howie Kendrick
C Chris Iannetta
SS Erick Aybar
It's a fun exercise to think about how you'd like to line up Pujols and Hamilton. You could hit Hamilton in the No. 2 spot, with the left-handed hitter batting between Trout and Pujols, but Hamilton's tendency to swing at the first pitch -- something he does more than any hitter in the majors -- wouldn't really give Trout a chance to run when he reaches first base. No matter where you hit Hamilton, in fact, his approach will not change; he will always be hyperaggressive. That's why I'd hit him fourth, behind Pujols, because Hamilton wouldn't really derive any benefit from hitting in front of Pujols, whereas Pujols might see better pitches with Hamilton hitting behind him, rather than Trumbo or Morales. (Please, no comments about how lineup protection is a total myth; almost all pitchers and catchers will tell you that for a small handful of pitches in each game, they will adjust their selection according to the game situation, including who is in the on-deck circle. And unless pitchers and catchers are debriefed after each game and you know exactly when this occurred, there's no way to quantify the impact. To deny that pitchers and catchers make choices according to the game situation -- the ball-strike count, the score, the spot in the lineup -- is like insisting the Earth is flat.)
The Angels have power, speed, balance, the whole thing. It's a great lineup -- and it'll be needed, because their starting pitching could be a major problem.
From ESPN Stats & Information: Over the past three seasons, only two outfielders (minimum 80 percent of games played in OF) have had more Wins Above Replacement than Hamilton: Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen. However, from Elias: Hamilton's .260 lifetime batting average in Anaheim is his second-lowest at any stadium where he has at least 75 at-bats. He has hit .224 at Safeco Field in Seattle.
Based on video study, the shift to a new ballpark may not hinder Hamilton's production. The Angels are already pitching Hamilton to ticket buyers, writes Bill Shaikin. There is possible high reward in this risky deal, writes Bill Plaschke. The Angels have imposed a power outage on the Rangers, writes Mark Whicker.
Losers: The 2016-17 Angels
By then, Hamilton and Pujols will be well into their mid-30s and could be overtaken by age, and the credit-card bill will come due: The Angels will be paying $50-plus million a year to two older guys. The Yankees, dealing with Alex Rodriguez's disastrous contract now -- he's owed $114 million over the next five years -- can bear witness to how tough that can be, even when you have a big budget.
And that's not even taking into consideration the possibility that Hamilton isn't wholly taken down by injuries, or loses in his fight for sobriety. There were a number of teams who wouldn't even think about going to a fourth or fifth year in an offer to Hamilton because of the risk involved, and there is a very real chance that the Angels will look back on this deal as folly. This was an impulse buy by Angels owner Arte Moreno, who did the same thing last year with Pujols: At a time when the Dodgers have been dominating the Southern California baseball news day after day, Moreno jumped into the Hamilton bidding late, over the past 12 days or so. It feels good today, but it may really hurt the franchise within a few years.
This signing is the Angels' riskiest move, writes Jeff Miller.
Losers: The 2013 Rangers
For all of the frustration that Hamilton caused with his haphazard approach at the plate and his seeming lack of focus, and for all of the day-to-day angst he caused for the front office and coaching staff, this should not be forgotten: He was also their best hitter. He batted third in their lineup and last season he hit 43 homers and drove in 128 runs. The Rangers wouldn't have played in the World Series in 2010 or 2011 without Hamilton.
Kirby Lee/US Presswire
Ron Washington's lineup card didn't get any easier to fill out. Mike Scioscia gained flexibility.
And now he's gone, leaving an enormous hole in the middle of their lineup. Not only do the Rangers lack power in their batting order, but they also lack left-handed hitting. As of this morning, this is what the skeleton of the Texas lineup looks like, with which side of the plate each guy approaches from:
1B Ian Kinsler R
SS Elvis Andrus R
3B Adrian Beltre R
RF Nelson Cruz R
LF David Murphy L
CF Craig Gentry R
C Geovany Soto R
2B Jurickson Profar S
The best free-agent hitters who could fit the Rangers are Nick Swisher, Adam LaRoche and Michael Bourn, all of whom would cost Texas a draft pick. The best trade options would be Justin Upton, Alfonso Soriano and Dexter Fowler -- although Arizona might insist on Elvis Andrus in any deal for Upton. If the Rangers wanted to get creative, they could call the Indians about Asdrubal Cabrera with the idea of turning him into a younger version of Michael Young, a super utility player who would move around the infield. But the price in prospects is probably too high for the Rangers.
Texas probably took the prudent course in each of the negotiations for what appeared to be the top four players on its winter wish list: 1. Zack Greinke. 2. Upton. 3. James Shields. 4. Hamilton. Plus Torii Hunter, Russell Martin and Koji Uehara.
But in taking a conservative route, the Rangers have wound up with exactly zero players from that group, and no matter what happens the rest of the winter, they probably will go into next season as a diminished product, compared to what they were in the middle of last summer. Simply put: Hamilton was their best offensive player, and now he's gone.
The Rangers have time to regroup, writes Tim Cowlishaw. The Rangers must wonder why they keep missing.
Winners: The Rangers in 2014, and beyond
They felt very strongly about limiting the scope of their offer to Hamilton, because they know all the background, all the drama and all the risk better than anyone. They refused to give Hamilton a contract beyond their comfort level, and GM Jon Daniels is going to take some lumps for that in some corners today, as Hamilton departs and the holes in the 2013 Rangers loom. He should pick up the phone and call John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' GM, who was in a similar spot last year when Pujols departed. Within the industry, Mozeliak's decision to let Pujols walk away is highly regarded as one of the toughest and gutsiest calls, and the Cardinals are clearly better for it, with a young and more flexible organization.
It is noted time after time that the massive, long-term deals almost never pay off. So the Rangers said no, and there will be a day when they're rewarded for that decision.
But not today, or next year, in all likelihood.
The Rangers never did want Hamilton back, writes Mac Engel. The Rangers were accommodating, writes Gil LeBreton.
Winner and loser: Josh Hamilton
Friends say he was really angered by the Rangers' intransigent stance in these negotiations, and they weren't surprised he moved on without giving Texas an opportunity to match any offer. He gets paid in a big way, $125 million guaranteed, without any of the make-good vesting options that some executives had speculated about in recent months. Hamilton is not a shy person, but he also does not necessarily desire to be The Big Man on Campus, either, and so after the initial burst of coverage that he'll draw in spring training and at the start of the season, he can settle in among the other stars on the Angels' roster, from Trout to Pujols to Jered Weaver to his old friend C.J. Wilson.
But Hamilton is also leaving a comfort zone in which he was protected by people who knew him -- folks who fostered him and learned to cope with his maddening inconsistencies and absences, and helped him through his daily struggles. He may never have that type of support system again, and the contract that he has signed with the Angels will make him a target. Remember, the Angels play in the land of TMZ, where video of wayward celebrities lands in the cyberworld within seconds.
Loser: Mike Scioscia
Oh, sure, it'll be great to write out the names on his lineup card and try to figure out whether to bat Hamilton or Pujols third or fourth. But Scioscia's standing with his bosses took a big hit in 2012, including a disagreement over the firing of his good friend Mickey Hatcher, and now he'll go into next season facing expectations that might be unreasonable. Sure, the Angels' offense should be really fun to watch, but their rotation behind Weaver involves a lot of putty and glue. If Hamilton thrives and they win, Moreno will get the credit; if they lose, Scioscia will be blamed.
Loser, or winner: The Angels' team doctors
Hamilton has had a lot of injuries and his medical reports are far from pristine, folks in baseball say -- to the point where some teams were concerned about a breakdown. Presumably, the Angels know about all that and Hamilton will get the OK on his physical before he officially signs.
Winner: Michael Bourn
Seattle wanted Hamilton, but it seems as if Hamilton didn't want them. And now, as the cash-flush Mariners look to add someone who can improve their lineup, Bourn is the No. 1 guy on the board. It's possible that Seattle could represent Bourn's last, best chance to get paid more than B.J. Upton. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, Bourn probably should've been the guy who got the $75.25 million deal that Upton got from the Braves.
Winners: Swisher and LaRoche
Their respective runs through free agency have gone slowly, probably dragged down by the fact that they are attached to draft-pick compensation. It's not clear if the Rangers will make a move on either, but this will at least give them a chance to jump-start their talks with the possibility of Texas getting involved.
Adam Kilgore has more on what this could mean for LaRoche.
Losers: The Mariners
Nobody seems to want their money. The team hasn't made the playoffs in a long time, their attendance has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2001, they travel greater distances than any other team and their ballpark has been tough on veteran hitters. They're moving in the fences for the 2013 season, but that prospect wasn't enough to lure Hamilton.
Steve Kelley writes that the Mariners should've done what was required to get Hamilton. I respectfully disagree. They would've had to completely separate themselves by miles in order to get Hamilton's attention -- maybe seven years, $175 million. That would've been crazy for the Mariners to do.
Loser: Torii Hunter
He wanted to go back to the Angels and was willing to take a lot less money to do it. When he spoke to the Angels about a possible qualifying offer of $13.3 million for 2013 -- which would have netted the Angels a draft pick -- Hunter made it clear that he would take it; that's how much he wanted to stay. Instead, the Angels didn't make a qualifying offer, informing Hunter that they didn't have the money available.
So in the aftermath of the whopper deal paid out to Hamilton, Hunter sent out some tweets.
Loser: The Houston Astros
At a fragile juncture in their rebuilding, they shift into what is arguably the toughest division in the majors for the 2013 season. It's not going to be an easy summer. Talk about bad timing.
The Astros can win without going out on a $125 million limb, writes Chip Bailey.
Loser: Gentlemanly, transparent negotiations
Daniels expressed disappointment that the Rangers were never given the last chance to respond to other offers that Hamilton got, as he was told.
Well, all's fair; hang with 'em. Pitchers are allowed to throw breaking pitches in fastball counts, hitters are allowed to cheat on fastballs, and agents and general managers are not required to inform each other of their intentions. The Rangers weren't keeping Hamilton abreast of their efforts to replace him with Greinke and Upton. Texas' negotiation approach with Hamilton was to sit back and wait -- a slow play that exacerbated the doubts of other teams about the risks that signing Hamilton presented. And in that vacuum, Hamilton's agents made a deal the player wanted.
The ramifications of this deal go way beyond Southern California, writes Joel Sherman.
• Depending on what you read Thursday evening, Anibal Sanchez was either close to signing with the Cubs or had an agreement or had actually signed. But actually, the Cubs are not optimistic this will turn out well, writes Paul Sullivan. Other general managers had predicted Sanchez would go back to the Tigers, which is a strong possibility.
In a related situation: The Tigers have made it known to other teams for weeks that they will listen on offers for Rick Porcello. You wonder if there could be a fit between the Pirates and Tigers on a Porcello-for-Joel Hanrahan thing.
• Before Ichiro focused on finishing a deal with the Yankees, he turned down a two-year, $14 million offer from the Phillies. Philadelphia's options continue to dwindle, writes Matt Gelb.
• The Angels had gotten a lot of interest on Peter Bourjos in the first weeks of the offseason, and presumably, they'll follow up on those conversations now that Bourjos doesn't appear to have a spot available in their lineup. The Angels have been telling teams that they are keeping Mark Trumbo.
• The Red Sox signed the 35-year-old Ryan Dempster to a two-year, $26.5 million deal, which makes R.A. Dickey's request for a two-year, $26 million deal appear even more reasonable. "I don't understand why [the Mets] are hesitating," said a rival general manager. "If you give him that deal, that only increases his trade value." Dickey is owed $5 million for 2013, and with a two-year, $26 million extension, he'd be owed $31 million over the next three seasons -- an incredible bargain, relative to the prices being paid out these days. Over the past three seasons, Dickey has thrown 616 2/3 innings, with a 2.95 ERA.
The Mets are sitting quietly, writes Andrew Keh.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Rays traded for an infielder.
2. Meet Tampa Bay's latest reclamation project. It worked for Joaquin Benoit and Fernando Rodney.
3. The Braves signed an infielder.
4. The Tigers hired a former Tiger.
5. Adam Wainwright's value is being established.
6. Walt Jocketty is open to another move. They finished the Jack Hannahan move.
7. The Indians have more moves to make.
8. By the way: The Diamondbacks actually had talked to other teams about trading Trevor Bauer even before the trade deadline. The Indians' trade gets high marks, writes Bud Shaw.
9. The Brewers missed out on Ryan Dempster. From Tom Haudricourt's story:
After learning of Dempster's two-year, $26.5 million deal with Boston, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said he had no plans to target another starting pitcher on the free-agent market.
"We thought (Dempster) was a good fit with us," said Melvin, who indicated he has not received reciprocal interest from other free-agent pitchers. "We liked his character; we thought he could still pitch; he knows the division (from pitching for the Cubs). And he had interest in us, so we thought we had a chance.
"This may be one of those years when we don't do too much (on the market). We're still looking at relievers, but we might see if we get a surprise in spring training. We said we didn't anticipate going heavily into the free-agent market anyway."
Melvin said his inclination at this point was to give younger pitchers such as Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Mark Rogers their chance to make the rotation rather than overpay for a free agent.
"We have talented, young pitchers," he said. "It might be time to give these guys a chance. We need to find out what they can do."
10. With Dempster in the fold for the Red Sox, I think we can safely define their offseason strategy. They have invested in almost a half-dozen second-tier and third-tier veterans, overpaying above market value but not paying top-tier prices, and all the while they have left their top prospects untouched. It's very possible this won't work out, because every single free agent they have agreed to terms with is on the downside of their respective careers, from David Ross to Shane Victorino to Mike Napoli to Dempster. But they also have kept all of their best young players.
By the way: Napoli has dealt with a tear in his hip in the past, even playing with the injury, so it's possible -- but not confirmed -- that this is the hurdle that is holding up finalization of his deal with the Red Sox.
In John Tomase's opinion, these signings are Band-Aids for the Red Sox.
11. The Orioles announced the signing of Nate McLouth.
12. The Yankees reached an agreement with catcher Bobby Wilson, who will compete for a spot with Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli in spring training. And they will soon complete the Ichiro deal.
13. Jason Grilli talked about his return to the Pirates. The Pirates are expected by other teams to trade Joel Hanrahan.
14. Brandon McCarthy uses humor to cope.
15. The Giants signed Andres Torres.
The AL Central's strong offseason.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
- Its division champion, the Detroit Tigers, won just 88 games.
- It was the only five-team division with three teams with losing records.
- The second-place Chicago White Sox won 85 games despite its lowest attendance since 2004.
- The Minnesota Twins won 66 games -- actually an improvement on 63 in 2011.
- The Cleveland Indians have not had a winning record in five years.
- The Kansas City Royals last won the division in 1985.
The AL Central was the weakest division in baseball last season, and it has been for some time. The Royals haven’t had sustained success since the days of **** Howser, George Brett and Bret Saberhagen. The Indians fired manager Manny Acta and long for the days of Mike Hargrove, Kenny Lofton and Carlos Baerga, while the Twins can’t seem to shake the injury bug.
When the best days of three of its teams are in the rearview mirror, there’s a problem.
Though it might be the weakest division in baseball, it's had arguably the strongest offseason. Each team has made significant progress toward heading back to respectability and, in the Tigers' case, perhaps back to the World Series.
Here is a quick look at how the AL Central teams have already improved this offseason:
Kansas City Royals
Key moves: Traded for RHPs James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana; signed RHP Jeremy Guthrie (3 years, $25 million), LHP George Sherrill and RHP Dan Wheeler
After nine straight losing seasons, the Royals have had enough.
They knew they had to do something drastic to compete for the division title or a wild-card berth. The cost did not matter -- in dollars or prospects. With GM Dayton Moore’s contract expiring after the 2014 season, he and his administration needed to make sure that all the hard work of their player development and scouting departments over the past half-decade would finally see the fruits of their labor. The only way to accomplish this was to go out and overhaul the starting rotation.
Last year, Moore watched as the Washington Nationals traded for Gio Gonzalez and the Cincinnati Reds traded for Mat Latos. This year, there would be no limitations for Kansas City.
After trading for Santana and signing Guthrie, the Royals had committed $38 million, including Santana’s $13 million option, to two underachieving pitchers and the rotation quite frankly didn’t look much better than it was before they signed them. As back-of-the-rotation pitchers, they were slightly better than Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen.
Thus, Moore bit the bullet and traded top prospects Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays for Shields and Davis. The rotation should be able to pitch deeper into games and allow the Royals to win with their bullpen, which is one of the best in the league.
The Royals’ core position players have World Series-contending talent offensively and Gold Glove-caliber talent defensively. After committing more than $66 million to Shields, Davis, Santana and Guthrie, they better be contenders for a wild-card berth, if not more.
Key moves: Signed manager Terry Francona; signed 1B Mark Reynolds; acquired CF Drew Stubbs, RHPs Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw
The Indians' main goal this offseason was to improve their starting rotation with a long-term answer. For most of the offseason, they felt the only way to accomplish this would have been to trade two-time All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who is arguably their best player, and Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers was interested.
When Towers told the Indians he had shifted gears and eyed a younger shortstop like the Reds’ Didi Gregorius, it led to a deal that sent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati and brought Bauer to Cleveland. The Reds had attempted to acquire Choo last season, and Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti revisited that interest to get the deal with Arizona done and add the power-hitting Stubbs to boot.
The Indians improve their power with Reynolds, who had 26 doubles, 23 home runs and 69 RBIs last season, but it was his above-average defense at first base that caught the eye of Indians scouts. However, Reynolds and Stubbs combined for 325 strikeouts last season. Francona must monitor that closely.
Now the Indians infield of Reynolds, Jason Kipnis, Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall is set. Most importantly, they’ve added a potential future No. 1 starter in Bauer, who they control for six years, by trading an outfielder that was six months away from leaving for free agency. Call it a heist or Antonetti’s best trade of his career -- either way it’s clear the Indians are heading in the right direction.
Key moves: Signed RHP Kevin Correia (2 years, $10 million); traded for RHPs Alex Meyer, Trevor May and Vance Worley
As general manager of the Reds, I used to say, “If you don’t have pitching, you don’t win.”
Twins general manager Terry Ryan recently told me, “If you don’t have pitching, you don’t play.”
His phrase is actually much closer to reality than mine.
It was clear Ryan’s club did not play last season, as it lacked starting pitching at the major league level and minor league depth. Ryan came out of the gates this offseason wheeling and dealing, trading outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere and signing Correia.
For Span, the Twins acquired Meyer, a 6-foot-9 former first-round pick out of Kentucky who always had put-away stuff but not the command and control to match. This past year, the command and control started to come, and most in the industry think he will end up as a top-of-the-rotation starter. For the Twins, it was the first big move toward being competitive again.
For Revere, Ryan bolstered the major league roster with Worley, who gives them a solid No. 4 starter. In the 23-year-old May, the Twins added another legitimate top pitching prospect to the minor league system along with Meyer. May profiles as a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter in time.
Ryan acquired four starting pitchers in less than a month, and suddenly the Twins are on their way back to rebuilding a rotation and a competitive team. They aim not to just play this season, but to win.
Key moves: Signed OF Torii Hunter (2 years, $26 million); re-signed RHP Anibal Sanchez (5 years, $80 million); promoted RHP Bruce Rondon to closer
With designated hitter Victor Martinez returning from a knee injury, the Tigers had an offensive boost already waiting for them before the offseason started. But the Tigers quickly deepened their lineup and improved their outfield defense with Hunter.
Hunter is still a Gold Glove-caliber right fielder who hit .313/.365/.451 with 16 home runs and 92 RBIs last season. He should be able to duplicate that hitting in the No. 2 hole for the Tigers. Hunter was instrumental in the development of the Angels’ Mike Trout, and the Tigers can expect that type of leadership for youngsters Austin Jackson and Avisail Garcia next season. He brings vocal and positive energy to the Tigers’ clubhouse.
Rookie Bruce Rondon and his overpowering 102 mph fastball will take over the closer role from Jose Valverde, which should improve Detroit's ninth-inning save efficiency. Despite his inexperience and youth (22 years old), most scouts think he’ll be a rookie of the year candidate.
Some viewed the Tigers as an underachieving bunch, but that did not sway Tigers owner Mike Ilitch’s commitment to winning a World Series. Like he did last year with Prince Fielder, Ilitch swooped in at the last minute to re-sign Sanchez, which preserved one of the strongest pitching staffs in the league.
Chicago White Sox
Key moves: Hired Rick Hahn as GM; signed IF Jeff Keppinger (3 years, $12 million); re-signed RHP Jake Peavy (2 years, $29 million/player option)
Promoting Hahn to general manager after the season was a well-deserved move. His first move was to re-sign Peavy to keep the starting rotation intact. Hahn’s reasoning for the quick signing was simple:
"We like how we match up against anybody one through five," he said.
Indeed, the Sox’s starting rotation of Chris Sale, Peavy, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Jose Quintana can compete with some of the best in the AL, when healthy.
After losing Kevin Youkilis to free agency, the White Sox replaced him with the super utility player Keppinger, who they hope can play good enough defensively at third to be their everyday answer to replace Youkilis. A.J. Pierzynski also is a free agent, and Hahn has said he is prepared to let Tyler Flowers take over the position.
Ryan Dempster a 'small coup' for Sox.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Dempster's success in Chicago the past few years was largely the result of his stuff, not just of facing some very weak competition, and he should be able to maintain most of his production after moving to the AL East. Dempster still has two above-average off-speed pitches in a mid-80s slider that he throws for strikes (and throws quite often) and a low-80s splitter that functions like a hard changeup with some late tumble to keep hitters from elevating it. He does need to keep his fastball out of the middle of the plate, especially moving to the AL East, and I worry somewhat about any pitcher who has relied as heavily on a slider as he has.
He carries the same risk as any experienced starter in his 30s, and I'm sure some anxious Red Sox fans are flashing back to Matt Clement, another former Cubs starter who was broken the day he walked in the door and whose three-year deal with the Red Sox was a total loss. But this market really pointed to a three-year deal for someone like Dempster, so getting him for two years is good value and limits the downside risk for the club.
Youkilis a good fit for Yankees
The Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million deal in an obvious fit for both sides, maybe more so for the Bombers since there was no other palatable third-base option available. Youkilis came up as a third baseman but spent most of his earlier career at first, shifting back to third on a regular basis in 2011 and playing roughly average defense there over the past two seasons.
Even if he's five runs below average with his glove for New York, he's better than any other alternatives available to the Yankees, and provides some modest on-base skills and right-handed pop to make himself an average player overall. He gets to play in a decent hitters' park for a year to try to hit the market again next winter, and New York gets some production out of third base while giving A-Rod a full year to try to get rid of this hip issue for good.
The only significant negative for the Yanks is that Youkilis isn't as durable as he once was, playing 122 games or fewer in three straight years, but the market wasn't coughing up any better 150-game options.
Three hidden aces.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Through years of excellent performances, he has changed a lot of minds and has proved that his package of skills can get big league hitters out on a regular basis. Today we'll look at three pitchers who have similar skills and might be able to follow Shields' lead by developing into an unexpected ace.
Jonathon Niese, LHP, New York Mets
In addition to throwing with his left hand, Niese shares are a lot of similarities with a young James Shields. His average fastball velocity is around 90 mph, and to balance it out he leans heavily on his cut fastball while also working in his curve and change. And, like Shields early in his career, Niese has a problem with allowing home runs, which may be the only thing keeping from being a front-line starting pitcher. From 2010 to 2012, 11.7 percent of the fly balls hit off Niese have left the yard; of the 24 NL starters who have thrown 500 or more innings over the last three years, only Bronson Arroyo has a higher HR/FB rate, and he pitches in a much more hitter-friendly ballpark.
In K/BB ratio, Niese actually grades out ahead of guys like Anibal Sanchez and Johnny Cueto, but his propensity for giving up the long ball has kept his results from matching their numbers. If he can get his home run rate down -- and HR/FB rate is far less predictive than things like walk rate or strikeout rate -- then Niese could be in for a breakout season sooner rather than later.
Mike Minor, LHP, Atlanta Braves
Unlike Shields, Minor has been on scouts' radar for a while; he was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2009 draft and Keith Law rated him as the No. 61 prospect in baseball before the 2011 season. Minor, however, was highly thought of for his polish and proximity to the majors, not so much his upside as a front-line starter. After a miserable start to the 2012 season, Minor showed some flashes of developing into that kind of pitcher in the second half.
In the first three months of 2012, Minor issued 33 walks against 72 strikeouts, a mediocre total for an extreme fly ball pitcher who also gave up 18 home runs. The total led to a 6.19 ERA and questions over whether Minor was capable of being anything more than a back-end starter. But in the second half of the year, Minor started working in his slider more often, and perhaps more important, he started working on the outer half of the strike zone with more frequency.
The shift in results was drastic: He allowed just eight home runs and posted a 73/18 K/BB ratio in the final three months of the season, and his ERA dropped to 2.21 over that stretch. His overall season numbers don't look very good, but if Minor can continue to work the outer half of the plate and keep the ball in the yard, he has a chance to turn into a very good starting pitcher.
Tommy Milone, LHP, Oakland Athletics
Like Shields, Milone was a bit of an afterthought as a prospect, not selected until the 10th round of the 2008 draft, then being overlooked even as he dominated hitters in the minor leagues. When he was included in the Gio Gonzalez trade last winter, he was considered something of a throw-in; the other three prospects in the deal were labeled as the real return for Oakland.
Meanwhile, Milone quietly took his 88 mph fastball to the majors and turned in an excellent rookie season, baffling hitters with an array of changeups and racking up nearly four strikeouts for every walk he issued in 2012. He has the least impressive fastball of any pitcher on this list, but he also has the best changeup, which is the pitch that has helped Shields turn into a legitimate front-line starter.
Milone has one other thing working in his favor: his home ballpark. A large part of Shields' success in Tampa came from pitching in a home run depressing park; he allowed just 0.74 HR/9 at home compared to 1.28 HR/9 on the road. Milone was even more extreme in his home/road splits last year, giving up just 0.55 HR/9 in Oakland compared to an astonishing 1.77 HR/9 when he left the friendly confines. Those numbers will move closer together as the samples get larger, but playing in a big ballpark is going to be a significant benefit to Milone, and he may be able to ride the stadium's effects to better numbers than were ever imagined for a guy with his stuff.
Trading Myers will likely pan out.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Since top prospects are such valuable commodities, teams are reluctant to trade them without receiving huge hauls in return, so we rarely see such prospects change organizations before they've had a chance to sink or swim in the majors. That's why it was so strange to see two top prospects -- Wil Myers and Trevor Bauer, each of whom is arguably one of the top 10 prospects in baseball -- on the move this week.
When a prized top prospect is made available via trade, it's natural for potential partners to wonder, "What's the catch?" Teams have more information on their own players than other organizations do: free agents who re-sign with the same team go on to age better than those who are allowed to leave and sign with a new team, which suggests that front offices are particularly adept at projecting the players they know.
That information advantage goes double for prospects, whom opposing teams haven't seen as much compared to players already in the Show. So how often do traded top prospects pan out? And should fans of the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks be freaking out that their teams just traded away future stars? The data suggests that those fan bases need not worry too much.
In the 15-year span from 1990 to 2004, 114 distinct prospects were deemed by Baseball America to be among the 10 best in any particular season (there were 36 players who cracked the top 10 multiple times). BA's rankings might not have been a perfect proxy for how prospects were perceived within the industry, but for those years, they're the best we can do. Just 15 of those 114 prospects -- roughly 13 percent -- were traded before they began a season in which they weren't rookie eligible, as Myers and Bauer were this week. (Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips were traded before they first appeared in the top 10, in the same 2002 deal.)
Traded top prospects
These are the top-10 prospects who were were traded before they began a season in which they weren't rookie eligible. When teams trade elite prospects, they usually know what they are doing.
Year Ranked Name Control WARP
2004 3 Delmon Young 1.2
2002 5 Carlos Pena 10.6
2001 1 Josh Hamilton 23.2
2001 4 Jon Rauch 6.6
1999 5 Brad Penny 10.1
1999 8 Pablo Ozuna* -0.3
1998 2 Paul Konerko 4.2
1998 9 Carl Pavano* 7.2
1996 7 Karim Garcia -1
1995 2 Ruben Rivera 6.3
1994 10 Jose Silva 3.2
1992 9 Frankie Rodriguez 3.7
1992 10 Pedro Martinez 22.8
1991 5 Roger Salkeld 1.2
1990 5 Sandy Alomar Jr.* 6.8
x x Avg. w/Hamilton 7.1
Avg. w/o Hamilton 5.9
*Traded during the same offseason that they received their top-10 ranking
According to research by R.J. Anderson, prior to swap on Sunday that sent Myers to Tampa, only one top-10 prospect since 1990 (Brad Penny) was been traded before making his big league debut for the team he was with at the time of the ranking.
What matters most to a team with a top prospect is how much that prospect produces in his first six years of major league service, before he hits free agency. By comparing the pre-free-agency production of past top prospects who were traded early to those who stayed put, we can see whether teams that trade for top prospects get stuck with major league lemons.
For research purposes, we defined the initial season of service time as the first in which a position-player prospect appeared in 100 games or a pitching prospect appeared in 30 or started 20, and the final season of service time as the one five years after the first. (It's a rough estimate, but it should be a pretty close approximation for most players.)
Any WARP accrued in that time counted as WARP produced while under team control, and by cutting the sample off at 2004, we ensured that the book was closed on the first six years of service time for all the prospects involved. The totals ranged from Alex Rodriguez's 42.9 WARP to Karim Garcia's minus-1.0 (not to mention the six top-10 prospects -- roughly one in 20 -- who never made it to the majors).
The average under-team-control value of all top-10 prospects who weren't traded early was 12.2 WARP. Divide that by six, and you get just over two wins per season: roughly the rate produced by an average major league player. Consider the alternative -- paying several million dollars per win from free agents -- and you'll see what sort of surplus value relatively low-paid prospects provide.
Counting Josh Hamilton, the traded top-10 prospects went on to be worth 7.1 WARP. But Hamilton, who was traded at age 26 following his rookie season for Cincinnati and was out of baseball the three seasons before that, is such an unusual case that his example probably isn't instructive. Remove him from the sample, and the average falls to 5.9 -- less than half the production of the top prospects who weren't traded. With the notable exception of Pedro Martinez, whom the Dodgers dealt to the Expos in the fall of 1993 for Delino DeShields in one of the most notorious trades of all time, not a single quickly traded top prospect produced as much WARP as the average top prospect who stayed with the same team. (Since 2004, Hanley Ramirez has bolstered the traded-top-10 group, but Joel Guzman, Andy Marte, Andrew Miller, and Colby Rasmus have dragged it down.)
It's risky to draw a conclusion from such a small sample of players. But in this case, there's no larger sample to look at, and the results offer some evidence that trading for young top-10 prospects has been a losing proposition in the past. Maybe the Royals and Diamondbacks didn't get enough back for the top prospects they traded. But maybe Myers' and Bauer's former teams knew something the Rays and Indians didn't.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
PM ETMike Pelfrey | Mets Recommend0Comments1EmailMike Pelfrey has reportedly signed with the Minnesota Twins for one year, with the deal worth a potential $5.5 million dollars after incentives.
Pelfrey is coming off of a May Tommy John surgery and managed only three starts last season for the New York Mets. He will have to pass a physical before the deal becomes official. He joins a rotation that has also added Vance Worley and Kevin Correia in the off-season and may still be in the market for some more major league pitching at a discount price like perhaps Kyle Lohse and Shaun Marcum.
- AJ Mass
Source: Twins sign Mike Pelfrey
" Despite typically facing a one-year recovery time from the ligament-replacement surgery, Pelfrey, 28, recently expressed confidence he would be ready for a normal workload during spring training. He already has been facing batters at his former college program, Wichita State University."Tags:Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum, Kevin Correia, Vance Worley, Mike Pelfrey, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets
What if Dickey extension talks stall?
AM ETR.A. Dickey | Mets Recommend0Comments8EmailUPDATE: According to The Toronto Star, R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to the contract extension that marked the only big remaining hurdle to the trade with the New York Mets from becoming a reality. Expect the deal to become official shortly after Dickey passes a team physical later today.
- AJ Mass
After weeks of rumors, the New York Mets apparently have found a new home for R.A. Dickey, assuming the Cy Young Award winner agrees to an extension with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The reported trade would send Dickey along with catcher Josh Thole and a minor prospect to the Jays, while catcher John Buck, top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, a young, hard-throwing right-hander, would be going to the Mets.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post has a breakdown of the deal and why it's good for both sides.
But as of Monday morning, the deal remain in limbo until Dickey agrees to a contract extension with Toronto. If talks do not go well, Andy Martino of the Daily News hints there is no chance the righthander will remain a Met. "We're past that point," one Mets insider told Martino on Sunday.
In Monday's blog, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney says there is more to the deal than just d'Arnaud:
- Doug Mittler
Big deal for Alderson
"There's even more to this deal than d'Arnaud: Noah Snydergaard, regarded as the Jays' best pitching prospect by some teams, would be the cherry on top of this deal for the Mets, if it goes through. "I can't believe [Alex Anthopoulos is] thinking about doing this," said one AL official Saturday, before the Jays and Mets finished the structure of the deal. "He's out of his mind," said another."
Tags:John Buck, Toronto Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Darwin Cubillan, Josh Thole
Yankees waiting on Bourn?
AM ETMichael Bourn | Braves Recommend0Comments14EmailIt's one week until Christmas, and Michael Bourn remains the odd man out in the free agent outfield sweepstakes. Agent Scott Boras is often at his best when the market appears to be eroding, and he faces another challenge with Bourn, who was believed to be in line for a deal in the five-year, $75 million range at the start of the offseason.
With Josh Hamilton officially headed to the Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers remain a viable option, given that there is some extra cash available and the need for a lefty bat in a predominantly right-handed lineup.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Sunday that some baseball people believe the Yankees are quietly interested and "will pounce if the price comes down." The Yankees could use a leadoff hitter, but have been reluctant to pull the trigger on a major deal.
Another option exists in Seattle, where MLB.com's Greg Johns reported at the winter meetings that the Mariners were very interested. The Mariners were linked previously to Hamilton, and could shift more of their attention to Bourn.
Maybe Boras gets Bourn a one-year deal somewhere, as he did with Stephen Drew, and put him back into free agency next winter.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Michael Bourn, Cincinnati Reds, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees
Hairston's future in New York
AM ETScott Hairston | Mets Recommend0Comments0EmailEarlier this month, free agent outfielder Scott Hairston told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that a return to the New York Mets was "probable,"
Two weeks have passed and nothing has transpired, especially since Hairston remains adamant about getting a two-year deal. The Bronx has been floated as a possible destination, but George King of the New York Post reported Sunday that a two-year deal would not come from the Yankees.
Hairston is viewed as an excellent role player and pinch-hitter, but is looking for a larger role.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Scott Hairston, New York Mets, New York Yankees
Jackson could be next
AM ETEdwin Jackson | Nationals Recommend0Comments0EmailWith the top two free agent starters off the board in Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez, fellow right-hander Edwin Jackson could see his market develop quickly.
It also helps that Ryan Dempster, a similarly-valued arm, was signed to a two-year deal Thursday by the Boston Red Sox, potentially setting the market for Jackson at two or three years and $12-14 million per season.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com tweeted Thursday night that the San Diego Padres are "strongly pursuing" Jackson, and the veteran also could be a fit for the Orioles, Mariners, Indians and Angels.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com tweeted late last week that the San Diego Padres are "strongly pursuing" Jackson, and the veteran also could be a fit for the Orioles, Mariners, Indians and Angels.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe also reports the Padres have "great interest" in Jackson, especially since Andrew Cashner may miss the start of the season with a thumb injury suffered in a hunting accident.
The Blue Jays have been mentioned have possible suitors, but are likely out of the picture if they complete a deal for R.A. Dickey.
Jackson would appear to be a possible fit for the Brewers, who were in on Dempster, but GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the club has no plans to chase another starting pitcher.
The Cubs, who reportedly offered Sanchez nearly $80 million but didn't land him, could have interest in Jackson as a fallback plan, while the Rangers might also see Jackson as a backup option after losing out on Greinke, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Doug Mittler and Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Edwin Jackson
Boston an option for LaRoche?
AM ETAdam LaRoche | Nationals Recommend0Comments6EmailAdam LaRoche has been public in his desire to remain with the Washington Nationals. The Nats want him back. So what's the hold up?
Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com asked that very question last week, and noted that LaRoche still has his eyes on a three-year contract, which the Nationals are unwilling to give him. The Nats have put a two-year offer on the table and have yet to budge. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post reiterated Friday that the Nationals have not upped their two-year offer, and don't appear willing to do so, even on a vesting option.
If the stalemate continues and the Red Sox can't finalize their deal for Mike Napoli, they could give LaRoche the three-year, $39 million contract, says Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
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.
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.
The Baltimore Orioles are considered to be among the Nats' top competition for LaRoche, but may settle for Chris Davis at first base. Other options include the Rangers and Mariners.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Adam LaRoche, Boston Red Sox
A's still need a shortstop
AM ETOakland Athletics Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Oakland Athletics were in interested in keeping Stephen Drew, who played well for them after coming over in an August trade with Arizona, but were unable to give the lucrative deal that agent Scott Boras was after.
Drew reportedly is headed to Boston, and the A's are still looking for a shortstop. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney suggests the A's could pursue trades for Houston's Jed Lowrie or Detroit's Jhonny Peralta or sign Japanese free agent Hiroyuki Nakajima.
As of now, the A's top in-house candidate at shortstop might be Adam Rosales, who has 29 starts at the position. MLB.com's Jane Lee says the A's are considering plenty of options.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Stephen Drew, Oakland Athletics
Rising price for Wainwright
AM ETAdam Wainwright | Cardinals Recommend0Comments0EmailAmong those who should be taking close notes on Zack Greinke's six-year, $147 million contract with the Dodgers is Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright, who hits the free agent market after next season.
Wainwright put his injury-plagued past behind him with a 14-13 record and a 3.94 ERA in 2012, coming within two frames of his fourth 200-inning season. MLB.com's Jenufer Langosch predicts Wainwright could command an average annual salary of at least $20 million, but it is highly unlikely the Cardinals would offer anything close to the six years the Dodgers gave Greinke.
Wainwright's agent, Steve Hammond, told Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch over the weekend that he expects to discuss an extension with the Cardinals during spring training.
As we saw this fall by their decision to pass on Kyle Lohse, the Cardinals will not overpay, even after a career year. While Wainwright, who owns a 3.15 career ERA, wants to stay, Langosch says the pitcher is unlikely to give a substantial hometown discount.
- Doug Mittler
Swisher a fit in Texas?
AM ETNick Swisher | Yankees Recommend0Comments0EmailWe mentioned last week that the market finally was rounding into shape for free agent first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher.
The Red Sox, Yankees, Giants and Indians all expressed interest, reported Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.
With Josh Hamilton taking his talents to Anaheim, the Texas Rangers may join that list of suitors for Swisher, says Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com.
While Swisher, of course, will not equal Hamilton's offensive production, he could give the Rangers a switch hitter in what is a right handed-heavy lineup. Swisher could be used at first base along with Mitch Moreland or could play the outfield if Ian Kinsler is moved to first base.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Nick Swisher, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees
Drew a one-year rental in Boston
AM ETStephen Drew | Athletics Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Boston Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with shortstop Stephen Drew, a move that will give Jose Iglesias more minor league seasoning, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark tweeted Sunday night that the Red Sox had some interest in Drew as a one-year stopgap until Iglesias and top prospect Xander Bogaerts develop.
The Athletics and Cardinals were among the teams previously linked to Drew, who made $7.5 million in 2012. The deal gives the 29-year-old Drew a chance to restore his value following a severe ankle injury in 2011 that forced him to miss the first half of the 2012 season.
Unable to land a lucrative multi-year deal to his liking, agent Scott Boras followed the same philosophy he followed last season with Ryan Madson - get his client a one-year deal and then wait 12 months to re-enter the free agent market.
The deal also makes complete sense for the Red Sox, who avoid adding a multi-year contract to the payroll.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Stephen Drew, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox
Angels ask about Porcello
AM ETRick Porcello | Tigers Recommend0Comments19EmailIt's no secret the Detroit Tigers bullpen is one of the club's weaker aspects. After some very shaky late-inning performances in the postseason, the team realizes the importance of shoring up the relief corps, and a way to do just that may have presented itself this week.
Having re-signed right-hander Anibal Sanchez, Detroit is expected to trade righty Rick Porcello, reports Lynn Henning via Twitter.
Porcello, Henning suggests, is thought to be the underdog for the No. 5 spot in the Tigers' rotation behind lefty Drew Smyly, but he would interest several clubs, including the Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies.
One logical suitor for Porcello could be the Los Angeles Angels, who have an abundance of outfielders following the signing of Josh Hamilton. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says the Angels have been in contact with the Angels with the Tigers about Porcello, suggesting the Tigers might consider swapping the pitcher for Peter Bourjos.
The Tigers could seek a bullpen arm as part of the return package for Porcello, such as this one, as suggested by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney: "The Tigers have made it known to other teams for weeks that they will listen on offers for Rick Porcello. You wonder if there could be a fit between the Pirates and Tigers on a Porcello-for-Hanrahan thing.
Part of the reason the Tigers might look to deal for a closer is because the club continues to hold firm in its stance against signing free agent Rafael Soriano to a big-money deal, which would seem to be only more true after spending $80 million on Sanchez.
Jim Bowden of ESPN Insider and SiriusXM Radio tweets that the Padres and Pirates are among those interested in Porcello.
Bowden also suggests that a rookie might be the answer to the Tigers' bulpen problems:
- Doug Mittler and Jason Catania
Tigers new closer?
"Rookie Bruce Rondon and his overpowering 102 mph fastball will take over the closer role from Jose Valverde, which should improve Detroit's ninth-inning save efficiency. Despite his inexperience and youth (22 years old), most scouts think he'll be a rookie of the year candidate."
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What do you guys think of the Blue Jays trading catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud for Dickey? I didn't know until reading Proshares' post (thanks Proshares) that d'Arnaud was was part of the deal...I don't like it....
Kinda mad the Blue Jays are wheeling & dealing while the O's are kinda sitting...
As good as he is, that Vegas/PCL factor is always a concern with Blue Jay hitting prospects. But he's probably the best catching prospect out there, he had to be a part of the deal with how cheap RA is this year and how cheap the extension was going to be.
Angelos is a fool, opened the checkbook for Nate but has been sleeping on all the bargains so far this year. Still a lot of time left though.
Top ten teams heading into 2013.
Top ten teams heading into 2013.
d’Arnaud Gives Mets Player to Build Around.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The California native was also the top prospect in Toronto’s system when I released the Jays Top 15 Prospects list about a month ago. He has the potential to develop a plus bat (for a catcher) with average power. Defensively, he should be at least average and has a solid chance of becoming above average behind the dish. In other words, he should be a big upgrade over incumbent Josh Thole, who is coming off of a tough year and was reportedly flipped to Toronto in the deal. I did note, though, that when I’ve seen d’Arnaud play he’s looked like a “low energy” guy, or perhaps reserved is a better word. Despite that, all reports suggest he’s a good leader.
d’Arnaud immediately becomes the best hitting prospect in New York’s system and will challenge Zack Wheeler for the best overall prospect when I start breaking down the Mets’ Top 15 Prospects list early in the new year. With the trade of Thole, the catching prospect could open 2013 in the majors as the club’s starting backstop, although it probably wouldn’t hurt for him to receive a few extra months of seasoning back in triple-A, considering the missed time in 2012.
Although Jays fans will no doubt be saddened by the lose of the d’Arnaud, the organization is dealing from a position of strength and still has two catchers remaining on the Top 15 list in A.J. Jimenez (8th overall) and Santiago Nessy (10th). Jimenez is a defensive whiz with a fringe-average bat (for a catcher) who underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow but should be ready to play in April or May. He could be assigned to either double-A (a return engagement) or triple-A at that time. Nessy is a young, big-dollar-signee with big-time power out of the Dominican Republic and will play in full-season ball for the first time in 2013. He’s a ways away from helping out the big league club but also flashes solid defense.
In an effort to strengthen the depth in the bullpen, Toronto traded utility player and third-string catcher Yan Gomes to Cleveland earlier in the off-season for Esmil Rogers so the catching depth in the upper levels of the system takes a bit of a hit and would be somewhat worrisome should an injury occur to either J.P. Arencibia or Thole . The club claimed on waivers two catchers with big league experience this off-season in Bobby Wilson and Eli Whiteside but both were subsequently claimed when Toronto attempted to slip them back through waivers to free up some space on the 40-man roster.
The trade of d’Arnaud did not shock me. When I spoke to a club official about him earlier in the off-season, I got the feeling he was viewed as expendable… for the right price. Toronto’s starting catcher of the present and foreseeable future, Arencibia, is not a great offensive player but he shows above-average power (when bat meets ball). I’ve been told that the organization values him for his clubhouse presence, dedication to his craft and rapport with the pitching staff.
This deal has a very good shot at being good for both organizations as it positions Toronto very well to make a run at the American League East title or one of the wild card slots. It allows the Mets to continue building for the future and gives the organization an offensive player to go with some of its impressive young arms.
Like I said before, you always have to take the numbers a kid puts up in Vegas/PCL with a grain of salt. It'll make htters seem more advanced than they really are sometimes. The Mets minor league team is moving to the PCL I believe, you'll see what I mean soon.
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I'm SO ready for the season to start already. Looks at calendar for when the Phillies play the Angels and to my disappointment they don't play them once this year. damn
Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !
IG : PIZZO23
Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself !
IG : PIZZO23