With the offseason underway and multiple blockbuster trades already in the books, let’s dive into another edition of the MLBTR Mailbag…
I was wondering what the return for Freddie Freeman would look like. Since I am a Pirates fan, and am asking within that context, then what would the Pirates need to offer to get a deal done? — Kellen H.
No fewer than a dozen questions asking about the Pirates and Freeman this week. Sorry to disappoint Pirates fans, but I don’t see a realistic way that it gets done. Freeman is owed $118.5MM over the next six seasons, which is just about double the largest contract in Pirates franchise history. Add that to the likely prospect price — one would imagine names like Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Reese McGuire, Jameson Taillon, etc. coming up in talks — and it’s just not realistic, barring a huge shift in the Pittsburgh payroll.
With the Angels trading their top two minor league prospects to Atlanta for Simmons, are they in a position to acquire any offense via trade (i.e. Trevor Plouffe, Brett Gardner, Todd Frazier)? Or are the Angels relegated to Free Agent spending? Did they spend Sean Newcomb and Chris Ellis wisely or could they have gotten more for the pair (i.e. Jay Bruce, Yasiel Puig)? — Marcus R.
I liked the Simmons deal for the Angels quite a bit and wholeheartedly disagree with the suggestion that Jay Bruce would’ve been “more” to get for Newcomb/Ellis.
The Angels probably don’t have a ton of pieces to move for Frazier — the Reds are looking for controllable, MLB-ready players and the Angels are thin in such types of impact talent, especially on the position-player side of things. Plouffe could potentially be had for a pair of power bullpen arms, though, and Gardner could be attainable as well, though the Angels probably don’t want to surrender any more starting pitching, and I’d imagine that’s the ask for him.
How do you think the Mets are going to replace the power in their lineup from the departure of Cespedes and Murphy. Is Ian Desmond an option for them? — Jonathan V.
They don’t really need to replace Murphy’s power. His postseason performance was never sustainable, and he’s never had that much pop. Murphy is consistently about 5-10 percent above the league average in terms of park-adjusted offense, which is valuable but not irreplaceable. The Mets were already contending without Cespedes, so I don’t think they suddenly need to scramble to find a 35-homer bat or anything, either.
The Mets will have full seasons of Syndergaard, Matz and Conforto next season, and that alone should make up for much of the value lost when Cespedes signs elsewhere. The team had a down performance from Dillon Gee for the early portion of the season and lackluster numbers from guys like John Mayberry, Darrell Ceciliani and Kirk Nieuwenhuis before Cespedes and Conforto came onto the scene. Full years of their young players will replace a large portion of the value brought to the table by Cespedes.
All that said, I can see them making a play for Desmond, but he’s not going to bring Cespedes-style power to the picture for them or anything.
With the probable 2016 returns of Jose Fernandez and Henderson Alvarez, I believe the Marlins will be in a good spot to at least contend for a NL Wild Card Spot, given both Fernandez and Alvarez are healthy. They also would need one other quality starter in the rotation. Is it probable that the Marlins will seriously pursue some of the quality starters on the market such as Scott Kazmir, Wei-Yin Chen, Jordan Zimmerman or Yovani Gallardo? — Jamil V.
That’s a more bullish view than I have on the current iteration of the Marlins, but nonetheless I do think they’ll be in the market for a mid-rotation starter. I picked them to sign J.A. Happ in our free agent prediction contest. Happ had a huge breakout with the Pirates, and the Marlins hired special assistant Jim Benedict — who played an integral role in advance scouting and working with the pitchers in Pittsburgh — away from the Bucs this winter. The Marlins can reportedly spend around $12MM annually on a pitcher this winter, and I think Happ will come in a bit south of that AAV anyhow.
If not him, then yeah, I can see Gallardo being in play. Chen and certainly Zimmermann will command annual values out the Marlins’ comfort zone, and Kazmir could fit that description as well. Miami could reasonably make plays for either Ian Kennedy or Mike Pelfrey from a financial standpoint, but they may not be keen on dealing with Scott Boras (who represents those two and Chen as well) after the recent anger expressed toward Boras by president David Samson.
What do you think its going to take for the Rangers to get a solid catcher this year? — Mike C.
I think they already have one in Robinson Chirinos. He doesn’t hit for much average, but a .232/.325/.438 batting line out of a catcher is pretty strong. Chirinos’ production was slightly above that of a league-average hitter and worlds better than a league-average catcher. The league-average batting line for a catcher in 2015 was .238/.302/.376, so Chirinos got on base at an above-average clip and showed considerably more power than most backstops. He’s also caught 31 percent of base-stealers in his career and improved his pitch-framing skills in 2015. He could improve defensively, but you could do a lot worse than Chirinos as the primary catcher.
In light of the Craig Kimbrel trade, what kind of return can Cincinnati expect on Aroldis Chapman? With just one year of control, compared to three for Kimbrel, will the Reds receive significantly less than the Red Sox gave the Padres? — Tim S.
Yeah, the return on Chapman is going to be less than what the Padres received for Kimbrel. Even if the contracts were closer to even, it’d be really hard for me to imagine a team paying more than Boston did for Kimbrel — that was quite a bit to give up, even for a reliever that dominant. The Reds want MLB-ready players, and looking at their roster, outfielders seem like a potential area of focus (especially if Jay Bruce is traded this winter). For me, you’re looking at one MLB-ready position player and maybe another lower-level piece or two, with the secondary portion of the return dependent upon the quality of the headliner.