Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Breakout Candidates- Chris Stratton

To give credit where it's due, ogc wrote up a very nice piece about Chris Stratton with much more detail about spin rates and how they translate into pitching success on his blog linked to the left.  If you haven't seen it already, go check it out.  That piece convinced me that Stratton is more than just in the mix for a Giants starting rotation spot in 2018.  He may be a legitimate breakout candidate with potential for significant fantasy value.

As you all know, Stratton is the much maligned first round pick, #20 overall, for the Giants in the 2012 draft.  His pro career got off to a rough start when he was hit on the head by a batted ball during batting practice in Salem-Keizer and suffered a concussion which reportedly took him a long time to recover from.  Since then, his minor league career has run hot and cold, but mostly cold.  I wrote him off as a prospect as recently as early 2017 after he got shelled in 3.1 IP in April and was sent down to Sacramento where he had a couple more rough appearances.  Then, he started to pitch better.  There were still rough games here and there but he was more than solid in most of his starts.  The Giants brought him back in July.  In his first start against the Tigers, he allowed 5 ER in the first 3 innings. Again, it looked like another quick turnaround back to Sacramento likely to never return.  Then, he settled down and shut out the Tigers for the next 3.2 IP and threw some really impressive looking pitches in the process.  From then on, Stratton put up an ERA of 2.59 over 48.2 IP including a couple of 10 K games.  His final start of the season was 7 innings of shutout ball over the Padres.

So, what happened here?  Is is sustainable?  We may never know and we'll find out the answers to those two questions, but one thing that has gotten some national attention is Stratton's spin rates which ogc details in his most recent blogpost.  The curveball is elite with the second highest spin rate in MLB.  The FB and Slider also come with strong spin rates making for an effective repertoire.  The one pitch that seems to lag in effectiveness is the changeup which may explain why Stratton continues to struggle against LH batters.

There is still risk here, with his not-so-distant past of ups and downs, but also clearly some intriguing upside.  The Giants willingness to trade Matt Moore without an apparent replacement plan on the trade or FA markets sends a strong signal of the Giants confidence in Stratton and virtually guarantees a rotation spot is his to lose.  When I look through the SP depth charts for all 30 teams, I see a whole lot of mediocrity and downright weakness out there.  A late round flyer on Stratton might pay big dividends for your fantasy team.

DrB's Preliminary 2018 Giants Top 50 Prospects List

I've been holding off on the Top 50 this year because it seems likely there is at least 1 more big trade coming down the pike.  It's getting late in the offseason and the Great Hot Stove Freeze Out grinds on.  I'l try to get this thing off the ground here and still kick the can down the road by posting my PRELIMINARY 2018 Giants Top Prospects list.  Please feel free to make constructive suggestions.  Remember this is PRELIMINARY and subject to change so you can influence the final product with your comments.

1.  Heliot Ramos, OF
2.  Tyler Beede RHP
3.  Steven Duggar, OF
4.  Bryan Reynolds, OF
5.  Chris Shaw, OF/1B
6.  Aramis Garcia, C
7.  Andrew Suarez, LHP
8.  Sandro Fabian, OF
9.  Jacob Gonzalez, 3B
10. Shaun Anderson, RHP
11. Gregory Santos, RHP
12.  Alexander Canario, OF
13.  Garrett Williams, LHP
14.  Ryan Howard, SS
15.  Ricardo Genoves, C
16. Julian Fernandez, RHP
17.  DJ Snelton, LHP
18.  Reyes Maronta, RHP
19.  Sam Wolff, RHP
20.  Heath Quinn, OF
22.  Jonah Arenado, 3B/1B
22.  Raffi Vizcaino, RHP
23. Melvin Adon, RHP
24.  Patrick Ruotolo, RHP
25.  Jalen Miller, 2B
26.  Kelvin Beltre, 2B
27.  Seth Corry, LHP
28.  Logan Webb, RHP
29.  Jason Bahr, RHP
30.  Stetson Woods, RHP
31.  Carlos Diaz, LHP
32.  Orlando Garcia, 2B
33.  Malique Ziegler, OF
34.  Rob Calabrese, C
35  Shane Matheny, 3B
36.  Logan Baldwin, OF
37.  Bryce Johnson, OF
38.  Camilo Doval, RHP
39.  John Gavin LHP
40.  Jose Marte, RHP
41.  Diego Rincones, OF
42.  Ismael Munguia, OF
43.  Aaron Bond, OF
44.  Jeffrey Parra, C
45.  Manuel Geraldo, IF
46.  Conner Menez, LHP
47.  Jake Greenwalt, RHP
48.  Franklin Van Gurp, RHP
49.  Garrett Cave, RHP
50. Brandon Van Horn, SS

Honorable Mention:  Jacob Heyward OF, Dylan Rheault RHP, Wil LaMarche RHP, Rodolfo Martinez RHP, Michael Cederoth RHP, Dillon Dobson 1B, Dylan Davis OF, Matt Winn C, Eduardo Rivera RHP, Ronnie Jebavy OF, Gio Brusa OF

Who am I forgetting?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Second Base Bargains

Second base is another position that had a big resurgence last year.  With so many highly productive established players, it is hard to identify any major sleepers or breakout candidates.  The big 3 here are Jose Altuve,who is one of the top players for any position, Jose Ramirez and Brian Dozier.  That still leaves some pretty darn good players for later rounds of your fantasy draft or for a lower price in your auction after the high cost players fly off the shelves.

Jonathan Schoop quietly hit .293 with 32 HR's last year for the Orioles and still seems to be on the upswing of his career trajectory.  Daniel Murphy has been an absolute beast for the last 2 seasons and is in a nice situation in Washington.  He's a good bet to hit well over .300 with 20+ HR's and tons of opportunity to score and drive in runs.  I am also willing to overpay for Dee Gordon to tap into his SB's, as he can make you competitive in that category almost by himself.

Javier Baez and Ian Happ look like potential breakout candidates for the Cubs, but need some clarity in how much playing time they will get.  Depth may be a good thing in real life, but real life depth is not the fantasy manager's friend.  A trade of either Albert Almora or Addison Russell would be a great sign for both Baez and Happ's fantasy stock.

Unfortunately, 2'nd basemen who give you solid BA but not much power or speed like Joe Panik and DJ Lemahieu just aren't going to cut it in most fantasy leagues unless there is a dramatic drop in league-wide power.  I would also be wary of Whit Merrifield after taking a look at his minor league numbers prior to his MLB breakout last year which came out of nowhere.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Rockies To Sign Wade Davis

The ice surrounding the Hot Stove melted just a bit today as Wade Davis reportedly agreed to terms with the Colorado Rockies on a 3 year/$52 M contract.  The deal includes a vesting player option for a 4'th season at $15 M that kicks in with 30 games finished in 2020.  If it does not vest, the option is mutual with a $1 M buyout.  One would think the buyout would be in play if the option does not vest.  The $17.33 AAV of this deal is a record for relief pitchers.  Davis had a QO from the Cubs, so the Rockies also lose their 3'rd highest pick(2'nd rounder) in the 2018 draft.  The Cubs receive an additional draft pick at the end of Competitive Balance Round B.

Davis gives the Rockies, who obviously think they have a window of opportunity here, an elite closer, but comes with some risk.  If you look closely at his Fangraphs stat page, Davis average FB velocity has declined just a tad over the past 2 seasons while his BB/9 has been trending up.  That could be a harbinger of trouble for a pitcher entering his age 32 season.

While this signing my represent a breakthrough in the stalled offseason, we should note that the reliever market has been brisk all along and Davis continues the trend of surprisingly large contracts for relievers while other positions continue to languish.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Luis Gohara

Luis Gohara is a 21 yo LHP prospect for the Braves who broke out last year to become possibly the top pitching prospect in baseball.  He blew through 3 minor league levels and made his MLB debut on Sept 6 running up impressive strikeout numbers and raves from scouts about his stuff.  His combined minor league line was 7-4, 2.62, 123.2 IP, 44 BB, 147 K.  He made 5 MLB Starts in September producing a 4.91 ERA but a rough first MLB game inflated is by over 1 full run.  In his remaining 4 Starts he pitched to a 3.59 ERA.  His overall K/9 of 9.51 and BB/9 of 2.45 were excellent.

Gohara is a portly 6'3" listed at 210 lbs, but he is obviously at least 25 lbs heavier than that.  His weight and conditioning have been issues for him in the lower minors but he slimmed down and gained strength over the past 2 years and his results improved accordingly.  His FB sits a 94 and has touched triple digits with strong command to both sides of the plate.  He has a hard slurvy breaking ball that hitters seem to have trouble picking up that breaks to the back foot of RH batters.  His changeup is reportedly MLB average.

Gohara should be in the Braves rotation early in 2018 if not out of spring training and is rosterable as a SP in most fantasy leagues.  His Steamer projection for 2018 is 8-8, 3.72, 130 IP, 9.81 K/9, 3.97 BB/9.  I believe the high BB/9 on the projection comes from control issues earlier in his minor league career.   I believe a projection in the low 3's would still be conservative.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hot Stove Update: The Baseball Market Has Congealed

Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan, had a way with words.  "Irrational Exuberance" in the stock market is one of my favorite phrases of all time and I borrow it liberally.  I also have vivid recollections of him talking of "congealed" markets in testimony to Congress after the 2008 real estate market crash.  That phrase comes to mind when pondering the current offseason and the state of the baseball free agent and trade markets.  Here we are, 4 days from 2018.  If we exclude Masahirio Tanaka, who was never really a free agent after declining the opt-out clause in his contract,  MLBTR's top 9 free agents are still out there unsigned. Same goes for 30 of the top 50. If you add in the 14 honorable mentions, it's 40 out of the top 64.  Generally by January 1, the vast majority of free agents have signed.  Trades are generally all done within 1 week after the Winter Meetings.  With so many free agents and potential trades still out there and the Stanton/Ohtani circuses out of town, activity should have picked up.  Instead, it's gone the other way.  We have not seen a significant signing or trade since the Giants acquired Evan Longoria, which was now 8 days ago.  The baseball markets have congealed!  So what's going on here?

1.  This free agent class is deeply flawed, creating a mismatch in valuation between players and teams.  JD Martinez hit 90 HR's over the last 2 years, but is a poor fielder which is likely to only get worse.  Teams willing to give him a 6 or 7 year contract may be limited to the AL, and the Yankees filled their need in the Stanton trade.  Add in his asking price and you are down to Boston as a possible destination, and Boston seems to be well aware of his relative lack of other options.  Yu Darvish has those two horrible WS starts fresh in GM's minds and is a TJ survivor.  Jake Arrieta appears to be possibly on the downside of his career.  Lorenzo Cain is 34 years old.  Eric Hosmer has poor fielding metrics and is BABIP dependent for WAR points.  Most teams already have a first baseman who is likely to be as good or better for a lot less money.  The list goes on. Almost every free agent has issues that make teams think they can do better for a smaller investment.

2.  The 2018-19 Free agent cycle is shaping up to be much stronger and teams my be harboring their money to make a run at that class.  Teams that might consider shelling out for JD Martinez may also think they have a shot at Bryce Harper and why block that opportunity by signing Martinez now?

3.  The longer the market stays inactive, the more likely that prices will start coming down, possibly dramatically. MLBTR ran an article yesterday speculating about "pillow contracts", 1 year deals which would allow the player to test the market again next year.  Nobody wants to be the first buyer in a crashing market.

4.  Groupthink has become a significant issue among MLB GM's.  At least 26 teams have GM's who are "analytically oriented" which means they likely all have very similar valuation schemes.  With everybody valuing the same type of player, trades become more difficult and the fact the free agents are free tells you someone already decided they were not worth their asking price.

5.  We may be getting close to a virtual salary cap in MLB.  Penalties for exceeding the CBT threshold have become severe enough that teams who ignored it in the past are now scrambling to get under it and avoid the penalties.  The Dodgers are exhibit A here, but the Yankees and Giants are not far behind.  Teams may also now be more careful about looking ahead and making sure longterm contracts don't box them into a CBT corner in the future.

These factors may well be combining to create the type of harmonic convergence that causes a market crash.  Again, nobody wants to be the first buyer in a crashing market.  The baseball market has congealed.  This could get ugly for the players.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Tristan Pompey

Tristan Pompey is an college OF prospect for Kentucky by way of Canada.  He is the brother of Toronto Blue Jays OF Dalton Pompey. Tristan is athletic, lanky 6'4", 195 lbs, B-S, T-R.  He has both the speed and arm to play either CF or RF.  He had a breakout year at the plate in 2017:  .361/464/.541, 18 2B, 10 HR, 9 SB, 46 BB, 56 K, 320 PA.  His follow up stint in the Cape Cod league was not as spectacular as he struggled to a .230 BA in 87 AB.

Pompey has oodles of physical projectabilty and is someone you could dream on.  The big question for me is whether the bat is for real.  Tall, lanky guys tend to have trouble controlling the strike zone and to me Pompey looks just a bit awkward at the plate.  My comp is Dexter Fowler who took awhile to develop but eventually turned into a pretty good ballplayer worthy of a first round draft pick, but maybe not #2 overall?  The ceiling is intriguing, though.


DrB's Updated 2018 Draft Board:

1.  Seth Beer, OF/1B, College(Clemson).
2.  Jarred Kelenic, OF, HS.
3.  Nander De Sedas, SS, HS.
4.  Kumar Rocker, RHP, HS.
5.  Ethan Hankins, RHP, HS.
6.  Brady Singer, RHP, College(Clemson).
7.  Logan Gilbert, RHP, College(Stetson).

8.  Matthew Liberatore, LHP, HS.
9.  Travis Swaggerty, OF, College(Univ. of South Alabama).
10.  Tristan Pompey, OF, College(Kentucky).
11. Nolan Gorman, 3B, HS.
12. Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, College(Wichita St).
13. Casey Mize, RHP, College(Auburn).
14.  Nick Madrigal, 2B, College(Oregon St.).
15.  Shane McClanahan, LHP, College(Univ. of South Florida).
16.  Jackson Kowar, RHP, College(Florida).
17.  Ryan Rolison, LHP, College(Mississippi).
18.  Griffin Conine, OF, College(Duke).
19.  Brice Turang, SS, HS.
20.  Jeremy Eierman, SS, College(Missouri St.).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Fantasy Focus: First Base Bargains

The first base position, which had been thinning out in recent years, saw an explosion of power last season.  13 players with 1B eligibility hit at least 30 HR's last year and 29 hit as least 20.  The problem with 1B in most fantasy formats is many teams will roster at least 2 and sometimes 3 or even 4 first basemen by putting them on IF and UT positions.  If you are in a 10 team league and wait on 1B until the end of the draft thinking you are sure to snag at least one of those 13 guys with 30 dingers, you might find yourself looking at Brandon Belt and his 18 as the best that's left(not that Belt is useless, especially in OBP leagues).

The problem for the fantasy baseball manager is how to tell which of those 30 dinger guys are likely to do it again and which ones were aberrations of the juiced ball or new launch angles or whatever caused the spike in power.  Will Joey Gallo build on his 41 HR season and is it worth his Mendoza Line BA?  Was Yonder Alonso's breakout sustainable.  Did pitches finally discover the holes in Cody Bellinger's swing by the time the postseason came around?

One first baseman who was sneaky good last year and who I think has a good chance to not only sustain it but build on it, is Josh Bell of the Pirates.  I've followed Bell ever since I saw some prospect video of him before the Pirates made him their second round selection in the 2011 draft.  A switch-hitter with a power stroke from both sides of the plate, Bell did not exactly shoot through the Pirates minor league system which led him to fall off a lot of people's radars.  While he maintained high BA's and excellent K and BB ratios coming up, the power lagged.  Last year was finally his first full major league season at age 24 and we finally started to see the power come:  .255/.334/.466, 26 2B, 6 3B, 26 HR, 10.6 BB%, 18.9 K%, 620 PA.  His BABIP, K and BB rates all look solid and his L-R split is negligable. Now at age 25, he appears to be in the midst of a steep upward career trajectory just as he enters his peak age years.  The one area of concern is a strong groundball tendency(51% GB rate), which may limit his opportunity to hit more dingers.  He'll have to learn to elevate more balls.  While he will likely never completely reverse his GB/FB ratio, it likely won't go any lower and even a modest increase in FB rate will likely bring a substantial increase in his HR's.

I would not let Josh Bell stand in the way of paying top dollar for a Paul Goldschmidt or Joey Votto, He's a guy you might want to nab mid-draft for a UT of IF spot before you draft, say, your catcher.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Tyler Mahle

I found Tyler Mahle while researching the post on Nick Senzel.  Mahle is a 23 yo, 6'3", 210 lb RHP in the Reds organization who reached the major leagues near the end of last season and had some success before being shut down midway through September.  Here are his lines from 3 levels last year:

AA:  7-3, 1.59, 85 IP, 17 BB, 87 K, GO/AO= 0.74.
AAA:  3-4, 2.73, 59.1 IP, 13 BB, 51 K, GO/AO= 0.95.
MLB:  1-2, 2.70, 20 IP, 11 BB, 14 K, GO/AO= 1.10.

The AA line comes with an 88 pitch perfect game.  He had a 4.96 ERA in AA in 2016 after a midseason promotion, so he did show he could make the adjustment.

Mahle's calling card, which you can see from the lines, is FB command.  He usually works in the low 90's but can hit 96 when he needs to reach back.  He has 2 breaking balls and a changeup that grade out as average.  A minor red flag is his K/BB in the majors so he will need to make another adjustment to sustain his success.  A bigger one is he is a flyball pitcher who thrived in the minors by sustaining a low HR/FB.  Whether he can sustain that in the majors, especially pitching half his games in a bandbox ballpark is a huge question.

Cheap pitching became very hard to find in fantasy baseball last year.  Mahle could be a SP who sustains a low WHIP and can give you some W's and K's, which is a nice combo if you are running SP's in and out on a daily basis.  The Reds rotation is a bit crowded but none of them are all that good, so Mahle has a decent shot at a MLB rotation spot to start the season.  If not, he'll hone his game a bit more in AAA with a high probability of a callup within the first 2 months.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holiday!

Hope everyone is healthy and happy.

I might post something later today.  Got my Giants Top 50 Prospects sketched out, but feel like there is at least one more big trade coming so trying to wait until we know who is going and who is staying.  In the meantime, I'll keep posting draft and fantasy stuff for those who are interested.

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Nick Senzel

The Cincinnati Reds made Nick Senzel the #2 overall draft pick in 2016.  He us a B-R, T-R, 3B , 6'1", 205 lbs.  After 10 games in Rookie ball, he got an aggressive promotion to A ball where he hit .329.  Here are his lines for 2017:

A+:  .305/.371/.476, 26 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 9 SB, 8.5 BB%, 19.9 K%, 272 PA.
AA:  .340/.413/.560, 14 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 5 SB, 11.1 BB%, 18.3 K%, 235 PA.

Notice the power spike after his promotion to AA along with improved K and BB percentages.  Senzel will most likely start the 208 season in AAA, but if he keeps hitting like he did in AA, he'll force the issue by midseason.  Eugenio Suarez is the Red incumbent 3B and he's a pretty good player.  Senzel is the Reds 3B of the future, though, and Suarez will fetch a nice return in a trade which will likely take place before the 2018 trade deadline.

3B is a very stacked position right now and Senzel initially won't be one of the top 12-15 3B in MLB, but he might still be rosterable in fantasy leagues as a UT or IF player where he will help with BA and OBP, but the power seems to be coming too.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Jeremy Eierman

Jeremy Eierman is a college SS from Missouri St U who generated some buzz with 23 dingers last season.  He's B-R, T-R and goes 6'1", 205 lbs. and does not look like a typical shortstop.  A big chunk of that weight is packed into massively muscled thighs and glutes.  He does seem to be able to scoot around the infield though and has also played 2B and 3B.  He's got enough arm to play on the left side of the IF with throws recorded up to 89 MPH coming out of HS.  At the plate, he has a spread stance and generates power by torquing his body.  Here are his college stat lines:

2016:  .296/.336/.504, 13 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 12 BB, 67 K, 230 AB.
2017:  .313/.431/.675, 15 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 41 BB, 61 K, 243 AB.

Eierman does not look like a SS to me and will likely end up at 2B or 3B.  I would probably put him in the 3'rd tier of draft prospects with more late first or second round talent.


DrB's Updated 2018 Draft Board:

1.  Seth Beer, OF/1B, College(Clemson).
2.  Jarred Kelenic, OF, HS.
3.  Nander De Sedas, SS, HS.
4.  Kumar Rocker, RHP, HS.
5.  Ethan Hankins, RHP, HS.
6.  Brady Singer, RHP, College(Florida).
7.  Logan Gilbert, RHP, College(Stetson).
8.  Matthew Liberatore, LHP, HS.
9.  Travis Swaggerty, OF, College(Univ. of South Alabama).
10.  Nolan Gorman, 3B, HS.
11. Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, College(Wichita St.).
12.  Casey Mize, RHP, College(Auburn).
13.  Nick Madrigal, 2B, College(Oregon St).
14. Shane McClanahan, LHP, College(Univ of South Florida).
15. Jackson Kowar, RHP, College(Florida).
16. Ryan Rolison, LHP, College(Mississippi).
17. Griffin Conine, OF, College(Duke).
18.  Brice Turang, SS, HS.
19.  Jeremy Eierman, SS, College(Missouri St.).

Friday, December 22, 2017

Fantasy Focus: Catcher Bargains

Ask and ye shall receive!  We'll kick off a requested series on fantasy baseball bargains or undervalued players with the catching position.  After a couple of seasons in the doldrums, the catching position has suddenly become a lot more interesting with multiple players vying for undervalued or bargain status, which is good because with attention spread around, it's more likely they will stay undervalued.  See, the problem with undervalued fantasy baseball players is that as soon as someone writes an article identifying a player as undervalued, there's suddenly a bunch of readers who jump on the bandwagon and the player is in danger of becoming overvalued!

When I look for undervalued or bargain players for my fantasy team, I am not looking for some hidden mystery or some impossible to predict breakout.  I look for players who have excelled in part time roles who, through a change in situation are likely to see a big jump in playing time or a more friendly environment for their skillset which will significantly increase their value if they just keep doing what they have been doing.  I've had some success with that approach although it's still a tough business.

2018 fantasy baseball drafts will still see familiar names getting drafted early.  Gary Sanchez, Buster Posey, Wilson Contreras, Yadier Molina and Salvador Perez will still be taken fairly early in snake drafts for for a significant price in auction drafts as they should.  You may be able to get close to equal value at those catching studs if you bide your time and wait until the end of the draft as several catchers who played well in part time roles last year stand to see their playing time increase in 2018.

Chris Iannetta had a near career year in 2017 in a platoon role with the D'Backs:  .254/.354/.511, 17 HR, 316 PA.  Iannetta now moves back to Coors Field which should be just as hitter-friendly or even more and he looks to be the primary catcher there.  The caution wth Iannetta is he has had a very see-saw career and that pattern could continue.

Robinson Chirinos was a backup catcher for the Rangers last year but gradually took playing time away from Jonathan Lucroy until the Rangers traded Lucroy to the Rockies.  Chirinos line was similar to Iannetta's at .255/.360/.506, 17 HR, 309 PA.  Chirinos should be the undisputed starting catcher for the Rangers in 2018 which could bump his PA's above 500.

Wilson Ramos is a guy who just can't seem to stay healthy, but is a terrific hitter when he is.  He missed the first half of the season in 2017 recovering from yet another knee surgery.  He came back in the second half to hit 11 dingers in just 224 PA.  If he can stay healthy, he should be the Rays starting C for 2018.

 I picked up Welington Castillo late last season and he was a plus for my fantasy team down the stretch.  He was a part time catcher for the Orioles but got more PT late due to injuries to the O's other catchers.  His final line was .282/.323/.490, 20 HR, 365 PA.  Castillo just signed a large FA contract with the White Sox who did not give him all that money to be their back up catcher.  The think I love about Castillo is last year was not a breakout for him.  He's averaged 28 HR's/600 PA's over his last 3 seasons.  He probably won't reach 600 PA's in 2018, but has a great chance at 500+.  White Sox crib is a hitter friendly park so he could easily hit 25 HR's with a solid BA.

Beware of players who may lose playing time or find themselves in platoon situations.  Evan Gattis is a guy fantasy managers have loved because he has catcher eligibility but gets a ton of AB's in non-catching roles.  The problem for him is he will likely struggle for playing time with the Astros in 2018 just like he did in 2017.  I'd also stay away from the Dodgers situation as Austin Barnes continues to erode Yasmani Grandal's playing time.  There has been speculation that Grandal could be traded. If so, Barnes would be a nice grab, especially in OBP leagues.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Two Minor League Deals

The Giants signed two minor league deals with players who would have made headlines had they acquired them a few years ago.  Josh Rutledge was once a 3'rd round draft pick in 2010 for the Rockies and had a nice MLB debut in 2012 in which he OPS'd .775  but it's been all downhill from there.  He's bounced between Boston and Pawtucket the last 3 seasons and has a career BA of .258.  He's mainly played 2B in the majors but has also played 3B and SS.

Alen Hanson was once a BA top 100 prospect with the Pirates organization and some analysts thought he was the Bucs SS of the future.  Like Rutledge, he never found traction in the majors.  Last season he was picked off waivers by the White Sox who did not tender him a contract this offseason. He is a speedster who stole as many as 36 bases in AAA in 2016.  He's played 3 IF positions and all 3 OF positions in his career.  Hanson was recently profiled in a Fangraphs piece on Post Hype Prospects.  He's still just 25 years old even though it seems like he has been around forever.

There really is not much indication that either Rutledge or Hanson can be more than serviceable reserves.  Personally, I think Kelby is a better player right now.  On the other hand, they were both once highly ranked prospects who still have time to break out.  If the Giants want to find the next Chris Taylor or Justin Turner, they are going to have to give a few guys like this a chance.


The D'Backs signed 34 yo Japanese RP Yoshihisa Hirano to a 2 year/$6 M contract.  Don't know much about him but he's had good numbers as a closer in Japan.  With the price of relievers in this market, the D'Backs may have found themselves a bargain.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Heating Up

The Giants Evan Longoria trade hogged all the headlines yesterday, but there were other significant developments in the Hot Stove League.

The Cleveland Indians found their replacement for Carlos Santana in 1B Yonder Alonso who they signed for 2 years/$16 M.  Alonso had a breakout year in 2017. He does not have to sustain that to earn his keep for the next 2. years, but he'll have to do better than the 2 prior seasons before 2017.


The Brewers added a rotation piece in Jhoulys Chacin for 2 yrs/$15 M.  Chacin has an effective FB/Changeup combo but walks and hits too many batters.  He will shore up the back end of a rotation and eat innings.


Zach Britton suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon during workouts.  He will likely miss the first half of the 2018 season and is likely now untradeable for the Orioles.


Most free agent markets start with the top players and work down to the scrubs who have to settle for minor league deals.  While we haven't seen the minor league deals yet, this market seems to be filling in from the bottom up as most of the top 10 FA's are still unsigned as we approach Christmas and New Year's.  We may see some guys taking a lot less money than was predicted here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants Trade for Evan Longoria

The Giants today acquired 3B Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays for OF Denard Span, IF Christian Arroyo, RHP Stephen Woods and LHP Matt Krook.  The Rays are also reported to be sending somewhere between $10 M and $15 M to the Giants to help cover the cost of the remaining $87 M on his contract.

Longoria gives the Giants a major upgrade of a position that provided negative WAR last year and was looking mighty rough for the upcoming year, unless you had an irrational exuberance about Pablo Sandoval's ability to mount a comeback.  Was he their best option for an immediate upgrade on the position?  Only option?  We will never know.  As I have said before, it's easy to draw up trades on a blog and extremely hard to make them happen in real life when the opposing GM is every bit as savvy as you, maybe more.  We know that Todd Frazier is an approximately equal talent who is projected to get about half of Longoria's money in a free agent deal, but we don't know what is asking price is or if he was even willing to consider signing with the Giants.  For all we know, they may have kicked that tire and been rebuffed.

Denard Span was essentially a sunk cost for the Giants.  He was clearly not an option for CF next season and despite talk of him moving to LF, he's never really played LF and who knows if he would be better there than CF?  They needed to move his contract and getting the Rays to take him back was a savvy move by Bobby Evans.  Between Span's contract and the money coming back from the Rays, Longoria is reportedly CBT neutral for the Giants for 2018.  They may not care about 2019 and 20120 because if they can stay under it this year, the penalties reset to a lower amount for the next two seasons.  The big goal was to stay under this year.

I still like Christian Arroyo as a prospect but the Giants could not count on him for 2018 due to his inexperience and concerns about his fractured hand.  With the acquisition of Longoria, there was really no place for the Giants to put Arroyo in the forseeable future, therefore he became their most expendable significant prospect, a guy who was going to have to be traded at some point anyway.

Stephen Woods has a live arm, but pitched in low A ball at age 22 in 2017.  He had a nice K rate but it came with a BB/9 of over 5.  He profiles as a future reliever at best.

I think we all know about Matt Krook, who has a high ceiling but severe control issues which improved in Hi A ball in San Jose, but his BB/9 was still over 6!  He is still a longterm project who will pitch his age 23 season in 2018.

In summary:  1.  The Giants are a better team tonight than they were last night with the acquisition of Evan Longoria.  2.  His contract is a longterm risk, but the Giants have never let a bad contract stand in the way of improving the team and it's not my money!  3.  Longoria made Arroyo expendable.  Span is addition by subtraction.  The two pitchers are lottery tickets.  I have no complaints about the players the Giants gave up in the deal.  4. Overall, I'm not doing cartwheels over the trade but I'm not bummed out about it either.

The Giants are widely reported to have at least one more major deal in the works and that this trade helped them set it up.  Whether that is signing Jay Bruce or making another trade, it will be interesting to watch.  Longoria by himself does not make the Giants a contender, but if they can add a corner OF with some HR pop and put Duggar in CF, they may be able to contend for a playoff spot.

One more thought:  I have to give Evans kudos for paring down $18 M worth of bad contracts in the Moore and Span trades.  If he can find a way to either move Pence's contract or make him useful in 2018, now that would be impressive!

Hot Stove Update: Giants Re-Sign Nick Hundley

The Giants signed Nick Hundley to a 1 year/$2.5 M contract.  Hundley was one of the few bright spots in last year's debacle.  Re-signing him may have been the single most important offseason task for the Giants.  He was good enough last year to make Bruce Bochy comfortable with moving Buster over to 1B more often keeping his legs fresh as the season wore on.  You could say it was Hundley who enabled Buster to avoid a mid-late season slump and finish with the second best BA of his career.  He was popular in the clubhouse and won the Willie Mac Award.  More importantly, the Giants had zero, zero in-house options to replace him.  The only clearly better catcher on the market was Alex Avila who is looking for at least a platoon gig.  Giants had to get Hundley back in a Giants uniform and they got it done without committing to more than a 1 year contract.  Good job, Bobby!


Follow up from yesterday's post:  I'm OK with Todd Frazier, Eduardo Nunez, Yangervis Solarte, Chase Headley or Sandoval/Arroyo for 3B.  Just say no to Moustakas and Longoria.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Armchair GM: Should the Giants Trade for Evan Longoria?

Evan Longoria is the latest player the Giants are rumored to have inquired about.  You all know who he is.  Some of you dreamed about the Giants drafting him way back in 2006 when the Rays took him #4 overall and the Giants got stuck with some guy named Tim Lincecum.  He's been more or less the face of the Rays franchise ever since.  The Rays seem to be entering another rebuilding cycle so the thought is Longoria might be available in trade.  Here are some quick facts about Evan Longoria:

1.  He's entering his age 32 season, which is not impossibly old for a guy with 5 more years on his contract, but it's not young either.

2.  He has $86 M left on said 5 year contract.

3.  He is coming off the worst offensive season of his career:  .261/.313/.424, 21 HR, 6 SB.  He's hit less than 25 HR's in 3 of his last 4 seasons.

4.  He is durable.  His 677 PA's last year were his lowest since 2012.

The Giants probably don't care about the back end of the contract, although they should.  But even the front end is problematic as it would put them right back up against the CBT threshold which they just got breathing room on with the Matt Moore trade.  The Giants would need the Rays to take back a bad contract or 2.  The Rays don't seem that desperate to trade Longoria and would almost certainly demand additional prospects if they have to take back a contract.

In short, a trade for Evan Longoria is unlikely to happen and it should not from the Giants perspective.

So, what are the Giants options for 3B for 2018?  Let's start with internal options:

Pablo Sandoval is coming off a terrible couple of seasons.  The Giants have him for league minimum salary with Boston paying the balance of his huge contract.  Ha ha!  Most of us still have that 0 for 50 or whatever it was from last August etched in our brains and don't really care if someone is paying the Giants to play him.  Just no thank you.  On the other hand, Pabs did have a small bounceback in September with a .233 BA and 4 dingers including the walkoff bomb in game 162 that cost the Giants the #1 overall draft pick in 2018.  If Pabs can keep himself in shape and play like he did in September, he might be within hailing distance of Evan Longoria's value and a nice bridge to Christian Arroyo.

Last year at this time, Christian Arroyo was the Giants 3B of the future.  He might still be, but his name keeps coming up in trade rumors.  The problem is he kind of did a faceplant in his first taste of MLB, then broke his hand after being sent back down to Sacramento.  He was supposed to get some of those AB's back in the Arizona Fall League, but hurt his hand again and had to have a metal plate inserted to stabilize the fracture.  In the best case scenario, he needs at least 2 months to make sure the hand is fully healed and get some AB's under his belt in AAA.  Personally, I think the Giants should be thinking short term for 3B and give Arroyo his chance when he is ready.  Pablo Sandoval might be a perfectly good short term option.

If Arroyo is not the guy for the future, the Giants have another kid, Ryan Howard, who won't be ready in 2018, but might be by 2019 who could be an option down the road.


What are some other possible external options for the Giants 3B situation?

The free agent market pretty much begins and ends with Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier.  Moustakas is young, but is looking for a huge long term contract plus he's tied to a Qualifying Offer which would cost the Giants a 2'nd and 5'th round draft pick plus $1 M in international bonus pool money.  No thanks!  Frazier hits lots of dingers and is projected by MLBTR to get a 3 year/$33 M FA contract.  That would take a bite out of the Giants OF options but would be far preferable to taking on Evan Longoria's contract.

Other FA options include a second round of Eduardo Nunez, who is looking better all the time.  Does Jose Reyes have anything left?  If you are looking to buy a pig in a poke, Trevor Plouffe is still out there and can probably be signed to a minor league deal with a ST invite.

The Giants are rumored to have inquired about Maikel Franco of the Phillies.  Not a lot of details available.  Franco hit 24 HR's last year in a hitter friendly environment but was otherwise terrible as he seems to be uppercutting everything and hitting a lot of pop-ups.  Maybe the Giants hitting coaches could straighten out the swing and maybe the Phillies would not demand Heliot Ramos in return, but this seems like a bit of a long shot with not a lot less risk than Pablo Sandoval.

Martin Prado is coming off a down season in Atlanta after 2 stellar ones.  He is owed $28.5 M over the next 2 seasons.  The Braves might be willing to take back a bad contract but Hunter Pence might be too much for the Braves and Denard Span not enough for the Giants.  Plus there is the question of whether the 34 yo Prado is now on the downward side of his career.

Chase Headley just got dumped on the Padres. He is owed 1 year/$13 M.  Yangervis Solarte is the guy I really want from the Padres, but they might not be eager to trade him.  The Padres may well be looking to flip Headley and may be willing to take back a smaller bad contract to whittle it down a bit more.  Span for Headley would give the Giants a short term bridge at 3B for a net of $4 M for 1 season.  I'm not sure Headley is any better than Pablo Sandoval, but he would at least give the Giants another short term option and leave some $$ to address the OF.

Any other ideas out there?

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Red Sox Move On From Hos; Giants Quiet

There was a lot of open speculation after the Stanton trade to the Yankees that Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox braintrust would overreact and make at least 1 and may 2 ill-advised signings to try to keep up.  At least one of those possible signings did not happen today and apparently won't, which Red Sox fans should breath a big sigh of relief over.  The Red Sox re-signed 1B Mitch Moreland to a 2 year/$13 M contract with an additional $1 M in incentives.  That's about 10 times less in total cost than Eric Hosmer's MLBTR projected FA contract and if you are going by AAV, about 3 times less.  Here are their respective stat lines for 2017:

Eric Hosmer:  .318/.385/.498, 31 2B, 25 HR, 9.8 BB%, 15.5 K%, BABIP= .351, ISO= .179, Def= -12.3, 671 PA.

Mitch Moreland:  .246/.326/.443, 34 2B, 22 HR, 9.9 BB%, 20.8 K%, BABIP= .278, ISO= .197, Def= -7.0, 576 PA.

Yes, Hosmer has that shiny BABIP fueled BA, but Moreland had a higher ISO and is a better defender at 1B.  Is Hosmer a better player?  Probably.  Is he 3 times better or 10 times better?  You see how the Red Sox voted.

Hosmer's bargaining power just took a huge hit as there are not that many teams in the market for a 1B let alone an expensive one.  The Padres might be his only remaining option.  Will the Red Sox not go full throttle after JD Martinez?  Stay tuned.


RHP Yovani Gallardo returns to his original team signing a MLB contract with the BrewCrew.  Terms of the deal are not yet known, but it is not believed to be for a large amount.  This is the type of under-the-radar move that could pay big dividends for the Brewers and is the type of signing the Giants should be considering for a veteran to compete with the kids for one of the last 2 rotation slots now that Matt Moore is no longer in the picture.  Gallardo has been terrible for the past 2 seasons, but his velocity took a major surge to 92.2 average MPH, which is his highest since 2011.  It isn't that hard to imagine a tweak or two could have him close to his peak form when he was a quality SP.


Christian Yelich and JT Realmuto are understandably not at all happy with Marlins management or the direction(or lack thereof) of the organization.  Yelich has requested a meeting with management and Realmuto has requested a trade.  Realmuto's request was met by a rather surly response from management that he would be traded when management is ready to trade him and not before.  My gosh!  What a Mess in Miami!


The Yankees re-signed CC Sabathia, ending speculation about a return to the Bay Area, specifically Oakland for CC.


The latest player the Giants are rumored to be inquiring about is Rays 3B Evan Longoria.  Longoria is another players who is owed a large amount of money in the future who has probably passed the peak years of his career.  Giants are rumored to be asking the Rays to take a contract or two in return. The Rays reportedly are not thrilled with that idea.  My sense is the Rays do not feel under pressure to trade Longoria and are in the driver's seat on this one.  Giants need to move on.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Scouting the 20189 Draft: Travis Swaggerty

It seems like every year there is slightly undersized but toolsy college OF who jumps into the top rounds of the draft.  Ian Happ, Andrew Benintendi, and last year, Adam Haseley.  You know the type I am talking about.  This year's version is a guy named Travis Swaggerty who attends University of South Alabama.  Swaggerty is 5'10", 180 lbs, B-L, T-L.  He was even smaller coming out of HS, but despite his small size, most colleges recruited him as a LHP.  He wanted to hit and play OF and was stubborn about it.  The only school who would take him as an OF was Univ. of South Alabama.  The coach could see the projection and thought he could turn into a 5-tool OF which is exactly what he has done.  While the hit tool has blossomed, he is fast enough to cover CF and has the arm to play RF.

He sat on the bench for his first college game but led off the second game of the 2016 college season which a loud double off the CF fence and has never looked back.  Here are his stat lines for his freshman and sophomore campaigns:

2016:  .303/.431/.422, 12 2B, 4 HR, 20 SB, 42 BB, 49 K, 218 AB.
2017:  .356/.484/.571, 12 2B, 11 HR, 19 SB, 49 BB, 45 K, 219 AB.

Swaggerty might have the highest floor in the entire draft.  The factors keeping him out of the top 5 of most current draft boards would be lack of elite physicality, although he is obviously a tremendous athlete, and lack of elite college competition.  #2 might be a bit rich for a guy with Swaggerty's profile. On the other hand, if your #2 was the next Happ or Benintendi, I don't think you'd have much to complain about.


DrB's Updated 2018 Draft Board:

1.  Seth Beer, OF/1B, College(Virginia).
2.  Jarred Kelenic, OF, HS.
3.  Nander De Sedas, SS, HS.
4.  Kumar Rocker, RHP, HS.
5.  Ethan Hankins, RHP, HS.
6.  Brady Singer, RHP, College(Florida).
7.  Logan Gilbert, RHP, College(Stetson).

8.  Matthew Liberatore, LHP, HS.
9.  Travis Swaggerty, OF, College(Univ of South Alabama).
10.  Nolan Gorman, 3B, HS.
11.  Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, College(Wichita St).
12.  Casey Mize, RHP, College(Auburn).
13.  Nick Madrigal, 2B, College(Oregon St.).
14.  Shane McClanahan, LHP, College(Univ. of South Florida).
15.  Jackson Kowar, RHP, College(Florida).
16.  Ryan Rolison, LHP, College(Mississippi).
17.  Griffin Conine, OF, College(Duke).
18.  Brice Turang, SS, HS.

Fantasy Focus: Breakout Candidates- Yoan Moncada

Uber prospect, Yoan Moncada, go off to to a very slow start to his MLB career after his callup last July which may cause fantasy baseball players to sleep on him for 2018.  His overall line last year was .231/.338/.412, 8 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 3 SB, 12.6 BB%, 32 K%, 231 PA.  The K rates scare a lot of people but in Moncada's case, they are likely a byproduct of his plate discipline as evidenced by the high walk rate.  If you look at his splits, it breaks down to a .105 BA in July, .238 in Augusta and .276 in September with 5 of his 8 HR's.  He'll be more valuable in OBP leagues than standard 5X5 leagues, but he's poised for a huge breakout no matter what now that he's gotten his feet wet in the major leagues.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Armchair GM: Should the Giants Sign Jay Bruce?

In the wake of the Giants trade/dump of Matt Moore to the Rangers, speculation abounds that their next move will be to sign OF Jay Bruce.  Is this a good idea?  Let's break it down.

Jay Bruce is a former #12 overall draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2015.  He has had his ups and downs as a player but has been a reasonably reliable source of power hitting 277 HR's in 10 MLB seasons or 29 per 600 PA's.  Bruce has been a 3-true outcomes type player with the dingers, fairly high walk rates, fairly high K rates and fairly low BA's.  Defensively, he's been below average in ballparks with easier RF's to cover than AT&T Park.  MLBTR predicts his contract will be for 3 years/$39 M.  So, what are the pros and cons of the Giants signing Jay Bruce?


1.  He hits dingers.  The Giants desperately need power in their lineup, especially HR power, and Bruce gives them that.

2.  He is not intimidated by AT&T Park.  Bruce has hit better in AT&T Park than most parks he has played in:  .293/.357/.526, 6 2B, 7 HR, 130 PA for his career.  So he might not come with the standard downgrade in park factors.

3.  His contract, while not negligible if you believe MLBTR, won't break the bank or cripple the Giants payroll into the 2020's.


1. Bruce's BA has been barely over the Mendoza Line as recently as 2015 and he has had just one season with an fWAR above 1.0 in the last 4.  The risk of regression to well below 2.0 is high.

2.  The Giants don't just need to upgrade power. They also need to upgrade OF defense and RF in AT&T Park is way more challenging than most.  They really need a RF with CF speed to cover the Triples Alley.  Bruce is a below average defender in RF even in more fielding friendly parks.  He could move to LF but would he agree to that and how well would he play it?  He has essentially never played LF.

3.  The Giants have just given themselves a bit of breathing room on the CBT threshold.  Bruce's contract would bump them right back up against it with all of the risk described in #1 and #2 above.

Summary:  While I think there is a reasonable chance Bruce would give the Giants close to 30 dingers even playing half his games in AT&T Park, he comes with too much risk and would be a defensive liability in RF.  I believe there are better ways for the Giants to allocate the small amount of payroll space they got from the Matt Moore deal.  They should not sign Jay Bruce.

Hot Stove Update: Dodgers and Braves Swap Toxic Assets

I can't say I saw this one coming, but I probably should have.  The Dodgers re-acquired OF Matt Kemp from the Braves for 1B Adrian Gonzalez, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Brandon McCarthy, IF Charlie Culberson and $4.5 M in cash.  So, this is what we've come to.  None of the players involved in this trade really mean anything.  Both Kemp and Gonzalez are expected to be released on Monday. The entire purpose of the trade to for the Braves to use their CBT cushion to take on money the Dodgers owe this year for Kemp's money that is spread out over 2 years which gets the Dodgers under the CBT threshold.  The Braves do say they have uses for McCarthy and Culberson, but really this is about shuffling contracts.  It reminds me of 2008 when banks were trying to sell of toxic assets.

Maybe Bobby Evans can use this trade as a template for unloading Denard Span and Hunter Pence's toxic contracts?

Fantasy Focus: Impact Rookies- Franklin Barreto

Franklin Barreto was the centerpiece of the return the A's got in the infamous Josh Donaldson trade.  Barreto was very young and in the low minors at the time.  He's worked his way up the ladder with solid performances at each level and spent most of last season in AAA with a cup of coffee that did not go so well.  2018 will be Barreto's age 22 season.  He B-R, T-R, is 5'10", 190 lbs and plays both SS and 2B.  His best tool coming up was running, but as he has filled out his frame, his speed has slipped and his power has developed.  Here are his batting lines from the last 2 seasons:

2016 AA:  .281/.340/.413, 25 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 30 SB, 7.1 BB%, 17.8 K%, 507 PA.
2017 AAA:  .290/.339/.456, 19 2B, 7 3B, 15 HR, 15 SB, 5.3 BB%, 27.6 K%, 510 PA.
2017 MLB:  .197/.250/.352, 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 2 SB, 6.6 BB%, 43.4 K%, 76 PA.

I would compare Barreto to Christian Arroyo of the Giants.  Similar build.  A bit of a tweener profile in terms of future position.  Does a lot of things well, but no one thing great.  Barreto's time has come and the A's will likely throw him out there and see if he sinks or swims.  Whether you want to roster him on your fantasy team depends on how deep your league is.  He's probably more of a follow type in most formats, but he has potential for a breakout.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Give Up on Matt Moore

Late Friday, word came out that the Giants had worked out a trade for Matt Moore with the Texas Rangers with the Rangers taking on all of Moore's $9 M salary for 2018 and the Giants chipping in $750 K worth of international bonus cap space which is the dollar value of Moore's buyout for 2019 option.  In return, the Giants get 2 very low level prospects who are lottery tickets at best.

Sam Wolff is a 26 yo RHP who throws hard and put up interesting numbers at AA/AAA levels last year, but will miss at least half of the 2018 season with a flexor tendon strain.  After that, he would have to be added to the 40 man roster next year to protect him from the Rule 5 draft(he was Rule 5 eligible this season and was not selected).

Israel Cruz is a 20 yo RHP who has pitched for 4 seasons on the Rangers organization, all in the DSL and rookie ball.  He finally got his K/9 above 9 last season but that came with an ERA of over 6.

Moore came to the Giants at the trade deadline in 2016 with 3B Matt Duffy and SS prospect Lucius Fox going to the Rays.  Moore pitched well for the Giants down the stretch including a memorable final start against the Dodgers and appeared to have game 5 of the NLDS won against the Cubs before a bullpen meltdown dashed the Giants hopes for another WS run.  High hopes for Moore in 2017 came to naught when he had a severe regression while losing nearly 1.5 MPH off his FB, couldn't seem to command his curveball and dropped nearly 1 K/9 of his K rate.  He pitched so badly and without any signs of turning it around, there was speculation the Giants might not pick up his option for 2018 despite the team-friendly terms of $9 M.  Bobby Evans announced shortly after the end of the season that the Giants would pick up the option.  I don't recall him saying the Giants would not trade him.  Trade him they did with the only difference from not picking up the option being the option money came out of the bonus pool and the Giants get the two lottery ticket prospects.

Rumor has it that the Giants will put the savings from Moore's contract toward signing OF Jay Bruce.  There are also rumor swirling about another possible salary dump deal involving Hunter Pence.  The Giants said they would re-allocate Moore's salary to other positions which means they plan to fill 2 of their 5 SP slots with some combination of Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, Tyler Beede, Joan Gregorio and Andrew Suarez.  They could also wait out the SP FA market and bring in a SP or 2 to spring training on minor league deals.


Somewhat surprisingly, the Phillies signed 1B Carlos Santana to a 3 year/$60 M contract with a 4'th year option for $17.8 M.  Santana will almost certainly play 1B for the Phillies, pushing Rhys Hoskins to LF and either Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams to the bench.  Altherr has had trouble staying healthy, but I really like his upside.   Make the call, Bobby!


The Padre acquired IF Freddy Galvis from the Phillies for RHP prospect Enyel De Los Santos who put up decent numbers for AA Frisco in the Texas League.  Galvis will almost certainly start at SS for the Padres and makes Yangervis Solarte even more tradable.  Make that call too, Bobby!


The Angels continued to remake their infield signing Zack Cozart to a 3 yr/$38 M contract.  Cozart will almost certainly play 3B for the Angels with Andrelton Simmons staying at SS and Ian Kinsler taking over at 2B.  Cozart is coming off a career year at the plate, but put up those numbers playing half his game in Great American Ballpark, a major hitter's haven.  The Angels should have one of the best defensive IF's in MLB.


The run on relievers continued unabated with Fernando Rodney going to the Twins and Hector Rondon going to the Astros.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Scouting the 2018 Draft: Jackson Kowar

Jackson Kowar is a RHP for the Florida Gators.  Some analysts think he is a better draft prospect than teammate Brady Singer.  Kowar one of the Gator triumvirate of SP's in 2017 and performed well, though not as dominating as Alex Faedo or Singer.  His pitching line for 2017:  12-1, 4.08, 108 IP, 44 BB, 84 K.  Kowar has close to perfect size for a piteher at 6'5", 200 lbs.  He may be just a tad on the thin side, but has room to fill out and gain strength. He has a low 3/4 delivery with a similar release point as Singer, but with smoother arm action and less effort.  He features a mid-90's FB but his secondary stuff lags behind, which may explain his lack of dominance.

Kowar is in interesting arm with definite upside, but will need to see a substantial increase in K's and decrease in BB's to be considered in the top tier of draft prospects.


DrB's updated 2018 Draft Board:

1.  Seth Beer, OF/1B, College(Clemson).
2.  Jarred Kelenic, OF, HS.
3.  Nander De Sedas, SS, HS.
4.  Kumar Rocker, RHP, HS.
5.  Ethan Hankins, RHP, HS.
6.  Brady Singer, RHP, College(Florida).
7.  Logan Gilbert, RHP, College(Stetson).
8.  Matthew Liberatore, LHP, HS.
9.  Nolan Gorman, 3B, HS.
10. Greyson Jenista, OF/1B, College(Wichita St.).
11.  Casey Mize, RHP, College(Auburn).
12.  Nick Madrigal, 2B, College(Oregon St).
13.  Shane McClanahan, LHP, College(Univ. of South Florida).
14.  Jackson Kowar, RHP, College(Florida).
15.  Ryan Rolison, LHP, College(Mississippi).
16.  Griffin Conine, OF, College(Duke).
17.  Brice Turang, SS, HS.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Bolster Farm System in Minor League Phase of Rule 5 Draft

Historically, the Giants have been more active in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft than the major league phase.  Remember Eugenio Velez?  They acquired him in the minor league phase.  Unlike the MLB phase, the players selected in the minor league phase do not have to stay on any particular roster during the season.  They can be places anywhere in the system without being offered back to the original team.  Of course, after 1 season they have to be added to the 40 man roster or exposed to the Rule 5 draft again.

In addition to Julian Fernandez, the RHP acquired in the major league phase, the Giants selected 2 players in the minor league phase yesterday:  RHP Eduardo Rivera and 3B Wander Franco.

Eduardo Rivera, RHP.  6'5", 190 lbs.  Rivera is a hard throwing RHP with perfect pitcher size who has kicked around the lower levels of the Yankees system for years.  He was the Closer for the Staten Island Yankees last year in the NY-Penn league, which is short season A ball.  He put up good numbers:  3-2, 1.90, 23.2 IP, 12.55 K/9, 4.94 BB/9, 6 Saves.  The BB/9 is worrisome but the stuff is there.  FB 95-97 MPH with a putaway curveball.   I would think he will likely be assigned to San Jose where the Giants will try to cut down on those walks.  Again, he will need to be added to the 40 man roster next year to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft again.

Wander Franco, 3B, B-R, T-R.  6'2", 190 lbs.  Not to be confused with 2018 international prospect of the same name or another Wander Franco in the Astros organization.  This Franco has been in the KC Royals organization.  He is a light-hitting 3B, with some projectability in his frame.  Last year's line(A+):  .279/.319/.376, 19 2B, 8 3B, 4 HR, 5 SB, 4.8 BB%, 17.8 K%.  Same rules apply as Eduardo Rivera.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Giants Make A Pick in Rule 5 Draft

The Giants selected RHP Julian Fernandez in today's Rule 5 Draft.  Fernandez had been in the Rockies organization and his a hard thrower, rumored to hit 102 on the radar gun.  Only problem is he  has not pitched about low A ball and the Giants have to keep him on the 25 man roster if they want to keep him.  He did put up good numbers with Asheville in the SAL.  Asheville is probably the most hitter-friendly park in the SAL.  1-2, 3.25, 58 IP, 8.84 K/9, 2.79 BB/9, 3 Saves.

Fernandez has had severe control issues which is why he is Rule 5 eligible while having never pitched above A ball, but those have improved steadily year-to-year and his BB/9 was actually quite good in 2017.  It is doubtful he will stick on the Giants 25 man roster for all of 2018, but perhaps if the Giants can't use him at the MLB level but want to keep him in the organization, they can work out a trade with the Rockies?


In other Rule 5 News, Albert Suarez, who the Giants dropped from their 40 man roster to make room for a Rule 5 pick was taken by the D'Backs.

Hot Stove Update: Winter Meetings Day 3- Giants Quiet

the Hot Stove heated up on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings, but it was another quiet day for the Giants.  The Marlins continued their firesale sending OF Marcel Ozuna to the Cardinals for a package of prospects, RHP Sandy Alcantara, OF Magneuris Sierra, RHP Zac Gallen and LHP Daniel Castano.  All 4 are solid prospects with excellent chance of helping the Marlins rebuild.  The Cardinals already had a glut of OF's at the MLB level and none of them were going the other way in the trade, so expect more trades by the Cardinals down the road.  Ozuna represents a clear upgrade on every Cardinals OF except possibly Tommy Pham.


Later in the day, the Cardinals were rumored to be close to a deal with the A's for Stephen Piscotty in return for a couple of A's prospects.


The Angels acquired 2B Ian Kinsler from the Tigers for 2 prospects.  Kinsler is owed $11 M for 2018 after which he will be a free agent.


The run on relief pitchers continued with Anthony Swarzak to the Mets, Juan Nicasio to the Mariners and Joe Smith to the Astros.  Brandon Kintzler agreed to re-sign with the Nationals.


Manny Machado is reportedly on the trading block.  The Giants reportedly made an offer which included Christian Arroyo.  The White Sox are reportedly the most aggressive suitor for Machado and the Giants don't have the prospects to compete with the stash the White Sox have built up through their own firesale trades.


The Giants pursuit of OF Billy Hamilton has reportedly stalled due to a disagreement with the Reds over what prospects would be going the other way.  I would read that as the Reds asking for Heliot Ramos and the Giants refusing to include him.


A reminder from Jason Martinez of MLBTR that really not much has happened so far this offseason beyond the signings of a whole bunch of relief pitchers.  He is confident the Giants will plug their holes in CF and 3B with good players.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Scouting the Rule 5 Draft

We'll get right to the point:  The Giants absolutely should select a player with the #2 overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow.  Even if they don't think they have a need for a player of that pedigree, ther is really no risk as the net cost if they end up sending the player back to their original team is a measly $25 K.  A player selected that high in the Rule 5 draft also is likely to have some trade value.  So, with that background, let's take a look at some specific players the Giants might pick.  The hardest tool to project in a rule 5 draftee is the hit tool.  If the only thing you are looking for is a bat, it might be best to look elsewhere.  What you can find in the Rule 5 Draft is pitching, especially relief pitching, and defense.  The Giants just happen to be in the market for a defensive CF and for help in the bullpen.  There you go!

RHP Burch Smith-  ranked by many as the #1 player in the Rule 5 Draft, Smith is a hard throwing RHP with 36 innings of MLB experience in 2013 for the Padres.  He missed all of 2015 and 2016 with Tommy John surgery.  he pitched at 3 levels in the Rays organization last year, putting up a 2.43 ERA in 37 IP at AA and a 1.65 ERA in 15.1 IP in AAA.  He could be in the mix for a 5'th starter/swingman role at the MLB Level.

CF Ian Miller- B-L, T-R.  Miller was left off the Mariners 40 man roster.  He is a plus defender in CF and can really fly.  He hit .326 with 30 SB in AA ball last year but fell off to .256 with 13 SB in AAA, albeit a small sample size.  Miller could contend for a starting or platoon role in CF for the Giants.

CF Victor Reyes- B-S, T-R.  Very similar player to Miller but from the D'Backs organization.  Plus defender in CF.  Hit .292 with 18 SB last year at AA and then had a very solid Arizona Fall League.

LHP Nestor Cortes- Soft tossing lefty out of the Yankees organization.  Has always been solid in the minors but caught fire last year.  Doesn't have great velocity(sits 88-89 MPH) but may have enough secondary stuff, particularly a changeup, to be effective as a 5'th starter/swingman.  He's a flyball pitcher, which is not a great profile for a soft tosser, but he seems to be able to miss bats with his assortment of pitches.

I am sure there are others that deserve consideration, but those 4 caught my eye.

Hot Stove Update: Winter Meetings Day 2- Still Waiting for the Giants to Make A Move

Day 2 of the Winter Meetings felt like a continued hangover from the Stanton/Ohtani misadventures. Henry Schulman reported that Denard Span was one of the players who would have gone to the Marlins for Stanton to help keep the Giants within hailing distance of the CBT threshold.  Bobby Evans said that several teams are interested enough in Giants prospects to ask about taking bad contracts as payment.  He named Chris Stratton as one such prospect.  Evans indicated he was not inclined to accept a trade like that at this time, but he apparently was ready to in the proposed Stanton trade. Baggs reports that Heliot Ramos is asked about in virtually every trade proposal.  The Giants are also rumored to have made a strong offer for CF Billy Hamilton but a deal does not appear to be close.


The Giants may have avoided paying a $20 M posting fee for a broken pitcher as it was revealed that Shohei Ohtani has a partial UCL tear and received platelet-rich plasma injections in October.  I wonder if that came out during the the meetings with the 7 "finalist" teams?


The run on relief pitchers continued as Bryan Shaw signed with a the Rockies for 3 years/$27 M.  Tommy Hunter Signed with the Phillies for 2 yrs/$18 M.  37 yo RHP Pat Neshek gets 2 years/$16.25 M from the Phillies. Wow!  And just this morning, it was announced that Jake McGee will re-sign with the Rockies.  Terms are unknown at this time.


The trend of buying young talent by taking on bad contracts continued as the Padres took Chase Headley and his $13 M off the Yankees hands and also got RHP Bryan Mitchell in the deal.  Jabari Blash goes to the Yankees as a near non-factor.


2 pitchers who will likely sit out most or all of 2017 post-TJ surgery were signed to 2 years contracts with an eye toward 2018.  Michael Pineda signed with the Twins for 2 yrs/$10 M with $2 M in 2017 and $8 M in 2018 with $3 M in incentives, presumably for 2018.  The Cubs signed LHP Drew Smyly to a similar deal.


The market seems to be quite soft for the higher priced free agents, as it should be.  What moves do you think the Giants will make today?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Cardinals and Cubs Sign Relievers

While everyone was recovering from the Stanton/Ohtani fallout, the Cardinals and Cubs signed a couple of relievers who were surprisingly expensive.  The Cardinals signed RHP Luke Gregerson, the slider specialist who has seemingly been around forever, but is just 33 years old, to a 2 year/$11 M contract with an option for a 3'rd year at $5 M.  Gregerson is coming off a 4+ ERA with at the Astros, but did put up a nice K/BB.  Like many pitchers in 2017, he got hurt by the long ball.  At this point, he has to be considered a fungible commodity and that apparently costs about $5 M per year in this economy.

The Cubs then signed RHP Brandon Morrow to a 2 year/$21 M contract with a 3'rd year option. Morrow was dominant for the Dodgers last year but only pitched 43 IP which is the most he's pitched since 2013.  That is a whole lot of money to pay a reliever with an extensive injury history.  The potential to. have a shutdown closer is there, but the injury history makes this contract frighteningly risky.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Winter Meetings Day 1

The idea that the free agent and trading floodgates would open as soon as the Stanton/Otani situations were resolved did not happen on Day 1 of the Winter Meetings.  In fact, everybody sort of stood around almost like they were in shock.

For those of you who like to read tea leaves, there was some indication of where the Giants may be headed and it's in the opposite direction that most prognosticators are projecting.  First, reporter Jon Heyman tweeted that the money the Giants were willing to pay Stanton does not translate to other players.  They are going back into "payroll conscious mode" per Heyman.  Then, Brian Sabean was asked about whether the Giants would pursue players who had rejected Qualifying Offers.  His reply, "I would vote no."  He then went on to wax enthusiastic about the Giants getting to draft #2 in each round and how they are planning to "make hay" with those picks.  Ha!  Is this the same guy who once upon a time punted a first round draft pick to save money to sign Michael Tucker?  Good to see you've changed your tune, Sabes!  Alex Pavlovic then reported that Bobby Evans is of the same mind on QO's and draft picks.  Henry Schulman then reported that the Giants are "listening to offers" for their #2 overall Rule 5 draft pick.  Yeah, Giants need to use that pick even if they don't have use for the player themselves.  More and more teams are willing to trade for Rule 5 picks and they don't want to pass on that value.

Armchair GM: Going Cheap at the Winter Meetings

As the Winter Meetings begin, the chatter on websites and the MLB channel is all about the Giants going after JD Martinez, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain.  The problem is all 3 of those players are going to require salary commitments within shouting distance of Giancarlo Stanton, each!  That approach might return the Giants to postseason contention but would also likely have them bumping up against the CBT threshold for the next 3-4 seasons.   Early in the offseason, the Giants brass said they would like to stay under the CBT threshold if at all possible.  If that is the case, they have about $10 M to spend this offseason without dumping salary.  Believe it or not, there are ways they can address their needs for about $10 M in additional expenditures.  The Giants needs are improved defense in CF, 3B, power, backup catcher, bullpen help.  Here's how they get it done:

1.  Re-sign Nick Hundley 2 years/$5 M.

2.  Trade Tyler Beede for Brett Phillips.  Brewers need pitching.  Giants need a CF.  Approximately equal value as prospects.  Phillips would be league minimum salary $550 K.

3.  Trade Mac Williamson, #2 overall Rule 5 draft pick and $1 M of international bonus money to the Padres for 3B Yangervis Solarte.  Solarte has 2 years left on his contract for a total of $7.5 M which means his AAV for CBT purposes is $3.75 M.  Hate to give up Mac, but he's out of options and deep in Bochy's doghouse so the best thing to do is trade him for something.  I think he will hit 30 HR's in a season someday, but likely not with the Giants.  Padres love them some Rule 5 draft picks and they love international bonus pool money.  Trade would have to be worked out ahead of the Rule 5 draft with the Giants picking a specific player for the Padres.

So, the Giants have filled 3 needs with a total of $7.25 M.  That leaves them with $2.75 M to sign a reliever and/or trade for a corner OF.

Other potential trade targets include:

CF Jackie Bradley Jr.(Arbitration eligible, est. $5.9 M).

CF Jake Marisnek(Arb. eligible, est. $2.0 M).

Corner OF Clint Frazier(minimum).

CF Keon Broxton(minimum)

3B Hernan Perez(Arb eligible, est. $2.2 M).  Can play 3B and all other positions except catcher.

3B Derek Dietrich(Arb eligible, est $3.2 M).

CF Leury Garcia(Arb eligible, est $1.2 M)

OF Domingo Santana(Minimum). Doubt Giants have prospects to get him.

What is your plan for the Giants at the Winter Meetings?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Stanton to the Yankees

1 day after rejecting a trade to the Giants, Giancarlo Stanton waived his no-trade clause to accept a trade to the Yankees which almost feels like a cliche.  It's ARod 2.0 almost to a T.  The Marlins, who were at the mercy of that no-trader were almost certainly forced to accept a lesser return than they would have received from either the Cardinals or the Giants, although there are very few tears being shed for the Marlins after all this.  Stanton now joins Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez as the latest incarnation of the "Bronx Bombers" or "Murderer's Row". What's a bit unusual for the Yankees is they are all RH batters.  The Yankees, who fell 1 game short of going to the World Series in 2017, are now the favorites to do that in 2018 and possibly beyond.

The Marlins "haul" in this trade is Starlin Castro who is owed $22 M over the next 2 seasons and 2 prospects from the lower minors who might be described as lottery tickets.  Jose Guzman seems to be the more promising.  He's a RHP with nice size and a high-90's FB who looks like he's most likely on the reliever track.  SS Jose Devers is defense-first with some projectability at the plate.  But basically, this was a massive salary dump for the Marlins.  It stinks for their fans and for all of baseball, except for Yankee fans, but maybe the Marlins new ownership legitimately feels it needs to clean up Jeffrey Loria's mess before they and start to build a winner in Miami?  That process does not appear to be particularly accelerated by either this deal or the recent trade of Dee Gordon as the Marlins are not getting top notch prospects back in either deal.

This trade appears to make a mockery of all of the efforts in recent CBA's to limit spending by big-market teams.  Bonus pools, CBT's, harsh penalties for circumventing the rules all punish prospects, but have done little or nothing to stop the big spenders from spending.  In baseball, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  This deal may make ownership more determined to push for a hard salary cap in the next round of CBA bargaining which could lead to a work stoppage, which would be very bad for everybody.  A hard cap might make the league more competitive, but would probably serve more to suppress the salaries of low-mid level players than to suppress superstar salaries.  The players might want to counter with a proposal for a payroll floor if MLB wants them to accept a hard cap.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Down on the Farm: Don't Sell the Young Guns!

One of the better kept secrets in the Giants organization is how they have quietly built a young cohort of prospects in the lower minors who are poised to progress through the farm system, more or less together and potentially be a welcome source or talent for the 2020's.  Of course, most analysts know about Heliot Ramos, the Giants first round draft pick in 2017 and got off to a tremendous start to his pro career.  The Marlins reportedly thought highly enough of him that they insisted on his inclusion in the now defunct Giancarlo Stanton trade.  Less well known is an impressive cast of prospects who played the 2017 season as teenagers.  What also may be overlooked is the Giants are poised to made at least 2 significant additions to this core in 2018 in the draft where they have the 2'nd overall pick and the international market where they will be out from under the Lucius Fox penalty on July 2 and have north of $4 M in their bonus pool.  They are reportedly in on a high level international prospect for the upcoming signing period.  Combine Heliot Ramos, the #2 overall draft pick and the high level international prospect and suddenly they have a potential 3-headed monster of elite prospects in the farm system.  With that for a background, let's run down the Giants key prospects who played the 2017 season as teenagers:

-Heliot Ramos, OF:  DOB 9/7/1999.  One really great thing about Ramos is he is almost a full year younger than most 2017 HS draft prospects.  He got a full rookie ball season under his belt at age 17 and can now play his first full pro season, likely in Augusta, at age 18.

-Sandro Fabian, OF:  DOB 3/6/1998.  Fabian played the full 2017 season as a 19 yo in Augusta.  While he struggled at times, he managed to keep his head above water and went on a late season tear.  He appears ready to play his age 20 season in San Jose which is only 2 steps away from the major leagues.

-Ricardo Genoves, C:  DOB  5/14/1999.  Genoves was the other major signing in the Lucius Fox international cycle.  The Giants are bringing him along slowly but he is drawing the attention of some scouts for his tools as a catching prospect.

-Jacob Gonzalez, 3B:  DOB 6/26/1998.  While JGone is more than a year older than Heliot Ramos, he showed an advanced approach at the plate in rookie ball and should do well as a 19 yo in Augusta.

-Seth Corry, LHP:  DOB 11/3/1998.  Corry had his ups and downs in rookie ball with severe control issues at times but dominance when he was able to throw strikes.  Again, almost a year older than Ramos, but the Giants have had some success ironing out control issues giving hope that Corry can thrive in Augusta at age 19.

-Ismael Munguia, OF:  DOB 10/19/1998.  Munguia is a scrappy, undersized DSL graduate who played in the States at age 18.

-Diego Rincones, OF:  DOB 6/14/1999.  Another DSL graduate.  Just 3 months older than Ramos.  Put up impressive numbers in Arizona.

-Alex Canario, OF:  DOB 5/7/2000.  Canario impressed with both his athleticism and performance in the DSL at age 17.  He is poised to come to the States in 2018.  BA included him in their 2018 Giants top 30 which is rare for a DSL player.

-Ghordy Santos, SS:  DOB 9/2/1999.  Santos got a #300 K bonus in the 2016 international cycle.  He got off to a painfully slow start in his pro debut at age 17, but caught fire in August.  Not clear if Giants will keep him in the DSL another season or bring him to the States in 2018, but I am cautiously optimistic about his long term success.

-Gregory Santos, RHP: DOB 8/8/1999.  A hard throwing young RHP acquired in the Nunez trade to Boston.  Already has 2 pro seasons under his belt and won't turn 19 yo until late August of 2018.  Could he go directly from the DSL to Augusta?

While the Giants immediate future is fair to partly cloudy, their prospects for the 2020's are bright and about to get a lot brighter.  Rather than trading from their teenage talent pool, the Giants need to be adding to it in the 2018 draft and international signing cycle.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Black Friday

The Giants hopes of dramatically altering the balance of power in the NL West took a severe downward turn today as first Shohei Ohtani decided to sign with the Angels, and as Vin Scully would say, "go figure!"  Then, late in the day, the Giants threw in the towel on the Giancarlo Stanton trade and announced that he refused to waive his no-trade clause to clear the way for the trade Larry Baer and Giants management wanted so badly.

Ohtani wants to both pitch and hit. The easier route to that goal is to play for a team that uses the DH, which effectively narrowed his reasonable choices to the Mariners, Angels and Rangers.  Ohtani said he "felt a strong connection with the Angels."  I don't know how to even begin commenting on THAT!  Apparently Arte Moreno can be a pretty sweet guy when he wants to be as he's pulled off more than a few of these dark horse deals.  At any rate, it will be fascinating to see how Ohtani develops as a major leaguer.  Wish him the best since he won't be doing it for the Dodgers or Padres.

It's a bit tough to figure out what's going on with Stanton.  Does he want to be baseball's version of Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors and only consider teams that already have overwhelming talent?  Is he so ticked off at the Marlins, he's hell-bent on frustrating them any way he can?  "So, you think tanking the team around me is going to force me out?  OK, you can just go ahead and tank the team for 10 years.  See how THAT makes it profitable!"  I mean, I wouldn't blame him a bit if he did that.  Does he really think the Giants are in such terrible shape they won't be winners again in the next 10 years, even with him on the roster?  Is he intimidated by AT&T Park?  Whatever the reason, the Giants have to now cross their fingers that if he gets traded, it won't be to the Dodgers.

So, now the Giants have to wake up from their little reverie into fantasyland and get to work on a real offseason plan.  I hope they don't rebound into an expensive and bad relationship with a lesser player than Giancarlo Stanton.  I'm A-OK with adding a complementary player or two, working on getting kids like Arroyo, Duggar and Tyler Beede up to speed.  And by all means, hold onto Heliot Ramos!  Sometimes the best trades are the ones that are not made.  Stanton would have brought a ton of risk with his promise of transformation.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Marlins Trade.....Dee Gordon; Tyler Chatwood Won't Be A Giant

The Hot Stove started percolating today with a major trade and a mid-range FA signing.

The Marlins officially started their tear down by trading 2B Dee Gordon and his contract to the Seattle Mariners for 3 relatively unexciting prospects while sending $1 M in international bonus pool money back along with Gordon to the Mariners.  Gordon bounced back last year from a rough 2016 in which he missed 50 games with a PED suspension and performed poorly after returning. His 2017 stat line:  .308/.341/.375, 9 3B, 2 HR, 60 SB, fWAR= 3.3.  He has posted 12.4 fWAR over the past 4 seasons in spite of the down year in the midst of that.  The Mariners already have Robinson Cano at 2B and plan to use Gordon as their CF.  The Mariners obviously believe the key to signing Shohei Ohtani is being able to offer him the largest signing bonus.  They have almost frantically acquired additional pool money with each of their trades and are now in position to offer him the largest signing bonus.

This is a sad day for the Marlins.  The current ownership group may have a long range plan to build a competitive team at some point in the future, but it could take a good long time because their farm system is one of the worst in baseball and they seem to be much more intent on shedding payroll than in acquiring top prospects in their trades.  Meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.  Even Jeffrey Loria wasn't THIS bad!  Hard to believe MLB allowed these clowns to buy the Marlins when they obviously believe they can't afford to field a competitive MLB team.  It's not even like Gordon is all that expensive being owed $38 M over the next 3 seasons with a team option for $14 M in 2021.

One other possible angle to this could be the Marlins might have just sent a very loud message to Giancarlo Stanton reinforcing their threat to strip the team around him if he sticks to his no-trade clause and vetoes all trades.  At any rate, the Mariners are the beneficiaries of the unfolding disaster in Miami.


The Cubs signed one of my favorite free agents from this year's class, Tyler Chatwood.  Chatwood's overall numbers don't look so hot until you take a look at his splits and see he had a sub-4.00 ERA away from Coors Field.  He has always been particularly effective against the Giants and I was hoping the Giants would stay true to form and go after a player who has dominated them.  There are risks that come with Chatwood.  He's a pitcher, after all, and he has a history of Tommy John surgery.    Maybe the splits are a sample size aberration.  He does still throw his FB in the mid-90's with one of the highest spin rates in the major league.  The signing price was 3 yr/$38 M with some incentives.  That's a bit more than he was projected to get as a FA, but in the ballpark.  This could end up being a great deal for the Cubs and Chatwood is a breakout candidate for 2018.  Of course, he would have been an even bigger breakout candidate if he was going to pitch half his games in San Francisco, but too late now.

Fantasy Focus: Breakout Bonanza- Matt Olson

Players who "break out" or see a big jump in production are the holy grail of fantasy baseball.  Players like that can make your fantasy season.  On the other hand, if you invest too heavily in breakout potential, you can end up breaking your season when they fail to produce the hoped for return.  We'll start a series on breakout candidates with Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland A's.  He's a big guy at 6'5", 230 lbs., B-L, T-R.  He is a former 1S round draft pick from 2012 who has worked his way up through the A's farm system.  He was called up in late May 2017 and struggled in his first month, then caught fire.  His overall line for the season was .259/.352/.651, 24 HR, 10.2 BB%, 27.8 K%, .238 BABIP in 216 PA.  In the second half, Olson hit .286 with 20 HR in 158 PA.

If you look back at his minor league record, the numbers are not dissimilar.  Some would say he has already broken out, but his 2017 HR's project to 70 over 600 PA while his 47 dingers combined between AAA and MLB likely offer a reasonable projection of what he might do in 2018.  The A's traded Ryan Healy at least in part to give Olson a clear shot at full time play.  He does have a fairly extreme L-R split and his numbers my suffer if he has more exposure against LHP's.

Just for comparison, let's look at Cody Bellinger's stat line for 2017:  .269/.352/.581, 39 HR, 11.7 BB%, 26.6 K%, .299 BABIP, 548 PA.  Bellinger will likely get drafted much higher than Matt Olson for what is likely to be very similar production.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Waiting for Shohei and Stanton

While the Giants and their fans waited patiently for Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani to make up their minds about playing in San Francisco, a few other teams moved forward with lesser transactions:

The Angels pounced on former uber prospect, Kevin Maitan, SS, with a $2.2 M bonus.  Maitan was once considered the top international prospect and was signed by the Braves to a large bonus, but struggled last year to a .241 BA in the Appalachian League and appeared to be noticeably, ahem, less athletic in the process.  Apparently the Angels are willing to bet a large portion of their 2018-2019 international bonus pool that this is a temporary.

The Angels also signed former Braves prospect, Livan Soto, SS, to an $850 K bonus.

The Phillies signed former Braves prospect, Abraham Gutierrez, C, to a $550 K bonus.

The Royals signed former Braves prospect, Yefri Del Rosario, RHP, to a $650 K bonus.

The Royals also signed RHP Willy Peralta to a major league contract for $1.5 M for 1 season with a $3 M option and $25 K buyout for 2019.  The deal contains an additional $1.25 M in incentives for each season.  Peralta has struggled for the past 2 seasons with the Brewers but his FB was still averaging 96 MPH last season, so there is some hope for a turnaround.

The Tigers signed CF Leonys Martin for $1.7 M with $1.1 M in incentives.  Martin is a plus defensive CF but challenged at the plate.

The Cardinals signed RHP Miles Mikolas to a 2 year/$15.5 M contract.  Mikolas posted a 5.32 ERA in MLB from 2012-2014, then went to Japan and produced a 2.18 ERA over 424.1 IP the past 3 seasons.

The Rangers signed LHP Mike Minor, a former first round draft pick to a multiyear contract the terms  of which were not known by MLBTR at reporting time.  Minor struggled early in his MLB career but found traction last year as a reliever.  The Rangers reportedly want to try him as a SP again.


Craig Mish of Sirius XM radio is reporting that the Giants proposed deal with the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton does include Heliot Ramos and Christian Arroyo.  Henry Schulman hears that Arroyo is not part of the deal.  Sounds like the Giants are willing to empty out their farm system for Stanton as well as take on most of his contract.  Hate to say it, but that's about right.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hot Stove Update: Suspended Animation

I am not sure I have ever seen a situation quite like either of these, let alone two at one time.  What is going on here?

The Marlins have reportedly agreed to two trades for the same player:  Giancarlo Stanton to the Cardinals and to the Giants.  Since Stanton has a full no-trade clause, he can choose which trade he wants to be part of or not.  He can turn down both of them if he wants to.  If he does, it either means he is holding out for a deal with the Dodgers or he is calling the Marlins bluff about trading the rest of the team out from under him, or maybe he just likes playing in Miami enough that he doesn't care if he is the only good player on the team.  Or he may think he can outlast the rebuild?  He has a 10 year contract which is enough time for the Marlins to rebuild their farm system and put a team of good young players around him long before the end of his contract?  More likely he will choose between the Giants and the Cardinals.

Both the Giants and Cardinals are first class organizations who have demonstrated they are willing to spend money to field good teams year in and year out.  The Giants probably have the advantage in location while the Cardinals appear to have a stronger position to field a competitive roster around him, at least in the short term.  How long will we have to wait for Stanton to decide?


Japanese 2-way star and free agent Shohei Ohtani has narrowed his choices to 7 teams, all but two of which are on the west coast.  The A's are out, the rest of the west coast teams including the Giants are in.  The Cubs and Rangers also made the final list which means the Yankees and Red Sox did not.  The Giants and Mariners seem to be the two teams that have made the strongest pitches to Ohtani.  Is the city of San Francisco's historic connection to Japan and it's culture a plus here?  Will having a bench coach who speaks Japanese be a deciding factor?  Does Dave Roberts speak Japanese too?


So, the Giants would seem to have at least a 50% chance of landing at least one of Stanton and Ohtani maybe more as they seem to have close to a 50% chance to get Stanton and seem to have better than 1 in 7 odds of signing Ohtani.  Adding one would be a big boost to their fortunes.  Adding both in one offseason would be transformative.  Unfortunately, the Giants have finished second in these types of signing competitions enough in the last 10 years that I still refuse to get my hopes up too high here.  For some reason a memory keeps gnawing at me of the 1972 NFL football season when the Niners and Raiders were both in their respective championship games. There was a 75% chance that one of them would be in the Super Bowl.   Both teams actually led their games late only to lose to a flurry of Roger Staubach TD passes and the immortal Immaculate Reception.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Hot Stove Update: There Is Life Out There

As we stand around the Hot Stove waiting for Giancarlo and Shohei, a few moves took place that could be significant down the line:

The Oakland A's signed Yusmeiro Petit to a 2 yr/$10 M contract with a club option for a 3'rd season at $5.5 M.  Petit is coming off a terrific season with the Angels in which he posted a 2.76 ERA in 91.1 IP with a K/9 of 9.95 and a BB/9 of just 1.77.  Petit made just 1 Start.  The rest of the innings call came in 59 appearances out of the bullpen.  There is an interesting article on Fangraphs showing that the two relievers acquired by the A's so far this offseason, Petit and Emilio Pagan, have a unique combination of K-BB/9 AND Batters Faced/Appearance.  Only Chad Green of the Yankees had higher numbers in both categories last year. It looks like the A's have bought into the idea of 5 inning starters and multi-inning relievers being a winning combination.  Oh, and congrats to Petit who deserves the payday.


The Angels made a trade for RP Jim Johnson of the Braves.  Johnson has had his ups and downs as a closer/reliever.  He struggled last year to a 5+ ERA and lost his Closer role with the Braves.  His contract calls for him to be paid $5 M next season which the Angels pick up in full.  The Braves also send $1.2 M in International Bonus Pool money to the Angels which the Angels will use to pursue Shohei Ohtani or some of the international free agents from the Braves fiasco.  This deal is an inneresting way to get bonus pool money and demonstrates just how desperate teams are to acquire it to dangle in front of Ohtani despite zero evidence that money will be a factor in his decision regarding who to sign with.


The White Sox made a significant free agent signing, bringing in Welington Castillo to be their primary catcher.  Castillo had a solid season with the Orioles last year hitting .282 with 20 HR's.  He was particularly strong in the second half hitting over .300 with 12 of his dingers.  He was the catcher for my fantasy team down the stretch and was a plus for my team.  Castillo has a reputation as being a poor pitch framer, but other aspects of his defensive game are solid including a 49% rate for throwing out base stealers.  As a primary catcher in a hitter-friendly ballpark, Castillo should be a solid fantasy option at catcher.  He has averaged 26.5 HR's/600 PA's over his last 3 seasons.  He had turned down a mutual option for 1 year/$7 M with the Orioles and now gets 2 years/$15 M with an $8 M club option for 2020 with a $50 K buyout.


The Blue Jays acquired IF Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals for minor leaguer JB Woodman.  Diaz made a big splash in his MLB debut in 2016 but struggled in 2017, got demoted to the minors and was replaced by Paul Dejong at SS or the Cards.  Woodman was a 2'nd round draft pick in 2016 who struggled at class A level in 2017.


There were several inneresting non-tenders yesterday at the deadline for teams to offer contracts to arbitration eligible players including Matt Adams, Jace Peterson and Danny Santana of the Braves and Hector Rondon of the Cubs.  The Giants tendered contracts to all of their remaining arbitration-eligible guys.  Tim Federowicz had previously been released.  The Giants did not tender a contract to Albert Suarez even though he is not arbitration eligible.  That move opened up 1 spot on the 40 man roster.  The Giants have the 2'nd selection in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.  Could it be they are planning to take someone with it?