The 2017-18 Offseason: Trend or Anomaly?

Jan 18, 2018 | No Comments

In his latest column, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports takes a lengthy, thought-provoking look at what has been a downright glacial free-agent market unlike any seen in MLB history. To date, no free agent has agreed to a contract guaranteeing more than three guaranteed seasons, and the vast majority of top-tier free agents remain unsigned with roughly a month to go until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. If this sounds familiar, perhaps that’s because Passan tackled the general issue months back, when a slow-down was already apparent. Of course, the plot has thickened in many ways since, even as some free agents have signed in the interim. We took our own look at his arguments at the time, and will do so again here. So, is there evidence of collusion? Is the luxury tax line effectively creating a salary cap of sorts? Are factors unique to the 2017-18 market really an explanation

Mets Rumors: Gonzalez, Infield, Nimmo, Harrison

Jan 17, 2018 | No Comments

Veteran Adrian Gonzalez will have the inside track to be named the Mets’ primary first baseman in 2018, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 35-year-old first baseman (36 in May) reportedly agreed to a deal with the Mets over the weekend, though that agreement is still pending a physical. That shouldn’t be considered a formality, given the back issues that Gonzalez has had in recent years. The Mets still view young Dominic Smith as a piece of the future, per Puma, but the organization is not convinced that he’s ready for the big leagues just yet. While Gonzalez comes with virtually no risk — the Mets will only pay him the league minimum, with Atlanta on the hook for the remainder of his $22.35MM salary — he’s coming off a woeful season in which be batted just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and multiple DL stints due to persistent back injuries. A few more notes on the Mets… Puma also tweets that the Mets, even after adding Jay Bruce on a three-year, $39MM contract, are focused on infield additions. New York could conceivably upgrade at either third base or second base (with Asdrubal Cabrera playing the other spot), though the team’s preference is to add a second baseman, according to Puma. He also notes that a free-agent signing is likelier than trade

Giants Still Pursuing Center Fielders, Will Play McCutchen In Right Field

Jan 16, 2018 | No Comments

If there were any questions as to where Andrew McCutchen would play with his new team in 2018, the Giants decisively answered them in a conference call with reporters today (link via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle). Manager Bruce Bochy flatly told the media that McCutchen will be his right fielder in 2018, with Hunter Pence shifting across the outfield and playing left field for the first time in his MLB career (excluding a brief appearance there during the 2011 All-Star Game). That, of course, leaves the Giants with a noted gap in center field, but GM Bobby Evans said today that he’s still exploring both the trade and free-agent market for center fielders. San Francisco will be hard-pressed to sign a notable free agent to play there, though, if the team is to stick to its goal of remaining beneath the luxury tax threshold of $197MM. Per Cot’s Contracts, the Giants are currently $4.8MM shy of that barrier, even when including the cash the team picked up from the Pirates and Rays as part of the McCutchen and Evan Longoria acquisitions. Notably, Schulman adds that ownership has not mandated that the Giants stay under the luxury threshold, so it remains conceivable that the team could simply change course if it feels that to be the best path back to contention an increasingly competitive NL West division. Obviously, there’s no real way to fit the free-agent market’s top center fielder, Lorenzo Cain, onto the Giants’ books without further trades to subtract payroll. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter) that the Giants’ non-Cain wishlist is topped by Jarrod Dyson. He’s followed by Jon Jay and Cameron Maybin, in that order, according to Crasnick. While no deal is close, Crasnick adds that the Giants have reached out to Dyson’s camp to express interest, but the fleet-footed free agent, who is still talking with multiple teams.

Central Notes: Pirates, Harrison, Castellanos, Cubs

Jan 16, 2018 | No Comments

In an Insider post, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney provides some worthwhile perspective on the Pirates’ recent moves, arguing that the organization would be perceived much differently had its 2013-15 postseason appearances gone differently. Some may scoff at the idea that this excuses anything: had the team been better, perhaps, it might’ve achieved playoff glory; that it did not does not bear directly on present decisions. That’s true enough, but it’s also valid to note that a few moments in a few games drastically altered the bigger picture of Pittsburgh baseball, which in turn has impacted the way many will now view the trades of key veterans Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole. Olney’s juxtaposition of the Bucs with the Royals — whose own postseason successes followed lesser regular-season accomplishments than those of the Pirates, and turned on some magical moments — seems largely apt. Of course, that doesn’t really reduce the sting for the fans. (It’s also fair to note that, for better or worse, Kansas City mostly kept its best veterans around through the ends of their contracts.) It’s an interesting piece worth a read for subscribers

The Inner Monologue of @DimTillard Giveaway Nights

Jan 16, 2018 | No Comments

It’s 8:13am on Tuesday January 16th, 2018.   My name is Tim Dillard.  Some of my personal achievements include, and are probably limited to… possessing more than twenty-seven free tee-shirts, owning six Star Wars coffee mugs, highjacking Tim Kurkjian’s microphone, beating Super Mario Bros. in under nine minutes, and was once given beard-care advice from Canada’s The Bachelor.  I’ve also been a pitcher in professional baseball for the last fifteen seasons.  With a HUGE majority of that experience being spent in the Minor Leagues.  However, this one time in the Big Leagues, I did make fun of Trevor Hoffman’s cutoff sleeves… he laughed.

Looking For A Match In A Starlin Castro Trade

Jan 15, 2018 | No Comments

Middle infielder Starlin Castro has collected four All-Star appearances, 1,280 hits and a rich contract since he made his major league debut in 2010. It’s fair to say Castro has lived pretty well during his big league tenure, then, though team success has been difficult to come by for the 27-year-old. Castro spent the first six years of his career with the Cubs, who only went to the playoffs once during that span. That season, 2015, proved to be Castro’s last in Chicago, which traded him to the Yankees during the ensuing winter. Less than a year later, Wrigleyville celebrated its first World Series title in 108 years. The Yankees didn’t qualify for the playoffs in Castro’s first year in the Bronx, but they bounced back to play deep into October last season and take the eventual champion Astros to seven games in the ALCS. That looked like the beginning of what could be a long run of success for the talent-packed Yankees, but it was also the end of Castro’s run with them

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Yelich, Yu, Cole, Bucs, Moustakas, Cards

Jan 15, 2018 | No Comments

This week in baseball blogs… Fish Stripes explores a potential Marlins-Braves trade involving Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. Everything Bluebirds ponders whether the Blue Jays should give up a haul for Yelich. Chin Music Baseball ranks Yu Darvish’s top five potential landing spots. Pirates Breakdown wonders how effective the Bucs’ rotation will be without Gerrit Cole. STL Hat Trick argues that the Cardinals should steer clear of Mike Moustakas. The Point of Pittsburgh has developed an algorithm to incorporate minor league stats for hitters and pitchers onto the 20-80 scouting scale. Good Fundies and Mets Daddy respond to the team’s reunion with Jay Bruce

Arbitration Updates: 1/13/18

Jan 13, 2018 | No Comments

Here are the arbitration numbers we’ve learned thus far today — all of them coming via the Twitter feed of Jon Heyman of Fan Rag unless otherwise noted: The Giants’ previously known deals with two righty relievers now have dollar values attached. Sam Dyson is slated to earn $4.425MM, while the team will pay righty Cory Gearrin $1.675MM. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected a $4.6MM award for Dyson and a $1.6MM salary for Gearrin. Diamondbacks infielder Chris Owings settled out at $3.4MM, just a shade over the $3.3MM the team will pay outfielder David Peralta. Swartz had both Owings and Peralta at $3.8MM. Right-hander Nick Vincent will take down a $2.75MM payday from the Mariners, coming in just north of his $2.7MM projection. Astros righty Lance McCullers Jr. is set to receive $2.45MM (a bit shy of his projected $2.6MM) in his first season of arb eligibility, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets