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

Braves Acquire Shane Carle

Jan 17, 2018 | No Comments

The Braves announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Shane Carle from the Pirates in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Pittsburgh had designated the 26-year-old Carle for assignment over the weekend in order to clear space on the roster for the players acquired from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade. Carle made his Major League debut with the Rockies in 2017, tossing four innings and surrendering three runs on six hits and no walks with four strikeouts. It’s not a lengthy sample, to be sure, but Carle’s fastball averaged a healthy 93.6 mph in that short time. The 2013 10th-round pick (by the Pirates) spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A in Colorado, where he struggled to a 5.37 ERA in a hitter-friendly setting.

Free Agent Profile: Greg Holland

Jan 17, 2018 | No Comments

After missing all of the 2016 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, right-hander Greg Holland enjoyed somewhat of a bounceback 2017 while closing for the Rockies. After a 41-save campaign, he turned down both a player option and a qualifying offer in search of a more lucrative, multi-year pact. Pros/Strengths During Holland’s heyday with the Royals from 2012-2014, Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman were the only qualifying relievers with a better FIP than Holland’s 1.83. He also carried the majors’ 5th-highest strikeout rate (13.02 K/9) and ranked 2nd among relievers in Win Probability Added (8.38). 

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

Exploring The Trade Value Of Christian Yelich

Jan 14, 2018 | No Comments

The name of Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich is one that has popped up frequently in both trade rumors and trade speculation so far this offseason. The topic has certainly been covered at length (four links) here at MLBTR, and the frequency of Yelich mentions has continued to rise with each major trade Miami has made this winter. Save for maybe the Yankees, there isn’t a team in MLB who wouldn’t benefit from adding Yelich to their lineup and outfield. Therefore, the search for an ideal trade partner for the Marlins seems quite simple: any team with a farm system strong enough to pry him out of their grasp. And yet, things are not nearly that simple in reality. Yelich is one of the top performers in baseball. Across the past four seasons combined, he ranks within MLB’s top 30 in batting average, on-base percentage and fWAR, and is within the top 50 in wOBA and wRC+.

White Sox Sign Miguel Gonzalez

Jan 11, 2018 | No Comments

11:16am: The deal is now official; the team also announced the terms. Outfielder Jacob May was designated for assignment to open a roster spot, the club announced. The 25-year-old made his MLB debut last year, but struggled badly in a short sample. He has not fared much better at the plate in the upper minors; in 2017, he carried a .248/.307/.325 batting line in 467 Triple-A plate appearances. 10:49am: The White Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent righty Miguel Gonzalez, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). He’ll receive a $4.75MM salary, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link). Gonzalez, 33, spent the bulk of the past two seasons in Chicago, though he was dealt away to the Rangers in late August. Now, he’ll return to help bolster a rotation that features several young hurlers as well as veteran James Shields. For a rebuilding White Sox organization, adding Gonzalez fits with earlier moves

Yu Darvish Choosing Among Six Teams

Jan 11, 2018 | No Comments

Yu Darvish is widely considered to be the top starting pitcher available in free agency, and while his market — like the market of nearly every other top free agent this winter — has been slow to progress, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Darvish has whittled the decision down to a handful of teams: the Rangers, Cubs, Astros, Twins and Yankees. Darvish himself has hardly been shy about stirring the pot on social media this winter, though, and he created an additional layer of intrigue tonight when he responded to the report by tweeting: “I know one more team is in.” The Dodgers may very well be the sixth team to which Darvish alluded, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweeted tonight that Los Angeles “remains in the mix” to bring Darvish back to L.A. In his column, Wilson once again cautions that the Rangers aren’t a prime suitor for Darvish. The right-hander, according to Wilson, would prefer to return to Arlington were all things equal, but the Rangers aren’t expected to pursue top-tier free agents, as has reportedly been the case for the entire winter.

Avoiding Arbitration: Andrew Heaney, Ryan Rua

Jan 9, 2018 | No Comments

We’ll use this post to track some of the day’s arbitration agreements. As always, you can reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections and 2018 MLB arbitration tracker as needed. Lefty Andrew Heaney is in agreement on a $800K deal with the Angels, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 26-year-old lands right at MLBTR’s projection for his Super Two salary. Heaney has scarcely pitched in the majors over the past two seasons owing to Tommy John surgery. But he did make it back late last year and will hope for a healthy and productive 2018 season after an opportunity to build up over the offseason. The Halos need Heaney to regain the trajectory he was on when he arrived in the organization. In his first 18 starts in L.A., Heaney managed 105 2/3 innings of 3.49 ERA ball with 6.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. The Rangers have avoided arbitration with oufielder Ryan Rua, per a club announcement

Poll: Which Of These Players Is Most Likely To Be Traded?

Jan 7, 2018 | No Comments

We’ve reached January, and the free agent market is still lagging in a big way. The top free agents on the market haven’t showed a willingness to lower their asking prices, and with spring training less than two months out, teams may feel a need to complete their offseason shopping lists sooner than later. In some cases, this may cause teams to make stronger pushes for some candidates on the trade market. There have certainly been some large scale trades so far this offseason. High-end players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Evan Longoria, Ian Kinsler and Stephen Piscotty have changed hands already, and there are still plenty of practical matches left between MLB teams. We’ve detailed many of these in the 2017-2018 installment of our “Looking For A Match” series; the players featured in those articles are listed below, with our noted potential fits listed in parentheses. Billy Hamilton, Reds CF (Giants, Dodgers, Royals): Hamilton’s talents as a burner on the basepaths and an elite defender in center field are well-known throughout MLB circles, but in truth, that’s about where his usefulness ends. His .299 OBP was the 11th-lowest among qualified hitters in 2017; that number is about consistent with his career mark.

Cafardo’s Latest: Yelich, Rangers, Jays, Cain, BoSox, JDM, Castellanos

Jan 7, 2018 | No Comments

The Blue Jays and Rangers “appear” to be among teams with interest in Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Yelich has landed on several clubs’ radars this offseason, owing to his impressive track record, long-term affordability and age (26), but he may end up sticking with the Marlins. Miami understandably wants an enormous return for Yelich, presumably in the form of prospects, so it’s worth noting that Toronto is ninth and Texas 21st in Baseball America’s most recent farm system rankings (subscription required and recommended). More from Cafardo on Toronto and a couple other clubs: The Blue Jays are also interested in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, though they’d move him to right field, per Cafardo. While Cain does have some experience in right, he has spent the vast majority of his career in center and thrived there. Toronto has an excellent center fielder in Kevin Pillar, who’d form two-thirds of a great defensive outfield with Cain, but whether the latter would be willing to give up his typical position is unclear. Unlike Pillar and Cain, free agent outfielder J.D