ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick conducted his annual Hot Stove survey, polling a number of front-office executives and scouts about some of the top names available both in free agency and on the trade market. Crasnick asked respondents to weigh in on David Price vs. Zack Greinke; Jason Heyward vs. Justin Upton; Chris Davis vs. Yoenis Cespedes; which of Colby Rasmus or Daniel Murphy would be able to sustain some of his postseason success; which of Jeff Samardzija or Ian Desmond is a better rebound candidate; which of Javier Baez or Starlin Castro is more likely to be traded; and which of Alex Gordon, Ben Zobrist or Johnny Cueto is likeliest to return to the Royals. Crasnick has full voting and plenty of quotes from execs/scouts for those who wish to read the piece in its entirety, but here are some particularly interesting highlights…
- More respondents felt comfortable giving a nine-figure deal to Greinke than to Price, though the expectation is still that Price’s deal will top Greinke’s due to age. Crasnick quotes a pair of scouts that rave about Greinke’s delivery and how he can age well due to his intelligence and lack of reliance on pure velocity. One NL scout likened Greinke to Greg Maddux.
- Heyward won the voting over Upton when asked which would perform better over the life of his next contract, though there was a reasonably even split, and many scouts quoted by Crasnick are concerned with Heyward’s reliance on defensive value and what one described to be a high-maintenance swing.
- Murphy won the voting over Rasmus in their question, and one American League special assistant offered an interesting take to Crasnick: “If I was a team and I had a market for Murphy, I’d want him playing third base. I don’t like him at second. The ball finds him, like it did in the World Series. He got exposed there.” Murphy does have experience at third base, and we’ve mentioned him as a possible option for teams in need of help at the hot corner here at MLBTR, as the free-agent market presents little beyond Murphy and David Freese.
- More respondents felt that Castro is likelier to be traded than Baez, even though as one scout put it, Baez would “fetch more of a haul.” An AL GM offered an interesting take on Castro’s contract, however, telling Crasnick: “Castro showed enough at two positions this year that his contract will seem like a fair deal once the free-agent class this year gets paid.” Castro, who is owed about $38MM over the next four seasons, certainly isn’t cheap and isn’t without his risks. He was a replacement-level player in 2013 and played that way for much of the 2015 season before his bat came to life late in the season following a switch to second base. Of course, Castro also sported an unsustainable .388 BABIP in September and October, which somewhat inflated his production.
- Cespedes and Samardzija narrowly won the voting on their respective question, while Gordon was far and away the most popular answer in the Royals realm.