The acquisitions of Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith should improve the Red Sox in high-leverage situations, helping them win one-run games, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. Three of the four teams that had the best results in high-leverage situations last season were nine or more games above .500 in one-run games. The Red Sox already had two good late-inning relievers in Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, and there was perhaps some danger of there just not being enough high-leverage opportunities for Uehara, Tazawa, Kimbrel and Smith. But with Uehara vulnerable to aging and Tazawa vulnerable to injury, Kimbrel and Smith should provide the Red Sox with needed reinforcements. Here are more quick notes from around the league.
- This offseason has been notable for the large contracts pitchers like Zack Greinke and David Price have received. Meanwhile, wages for relievers have remained flat, MacPherson writes. Greinke and Price’s deals are now the highest and second-highest ever in average annual value among contracts for pitchers, while the largest deal for relievers this offseason has been Darren O’Day’s four-year, $31MM deal. Admittedly, this offseason’s market hasn’t been heavy on top-flight closers, and new contracts for Ryan Madson (three years, $22MM) and Tony Sipp (three years, $18MM) do perhaps suggest some wage growth for talented middle relievers. Overall, though, as MacPherson points out, the market for elite relievers does not appear to have grown much in the many years since Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Cordero and B.J. Ryan signed long-term contracts in the $46MM-$50MM range.
- The Pirates took a slight gamble with their signing of C/DH John Jaso, in that they signed him to play first base, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes. The Pirates themselves have seen the downside of gambling that a player can make an easy transition to first base — Pedro Alvarez’s defense there in 2015 was disastrous. As Sullivan points out, though, catchers from Buster Posey to Carlos Santana to Joe Mauer to Jason Phillips have generally done well in transitioning to first base. (I’d add Pickin’ Machine Scott Hatteberg to the mix as well.) Offensively, Sullivan writes, Jaso needs to be platooned, but he can be very effective against righties.
I’d like to see a rotation late in the game with Smith and taz to keep him fresh so he doesn’t wear out and the FB dip to 91-2 like it has late in the season after wearing out. Taz’s arm will break they don’t take care. Gone already are his explosive 95-7 fb he could reach back for and has to stay 93-4 now most of the time, with it seems *maybe* a 95 early in the season before they wear him out..
Still like to see him approached with a 2-3y deal if it could be had with decent terms now that they should be able to keep his workload around 50 games. Same with Koji as long as he would be willing to take a pay cut on a 1y deal to stay.
Everyone needs to stop over reacting on the jaso signing. Its only a matter of time before Josh Bell plays, Morse is on bench, and Jaso is sent down or released.
Closers were overvalued before the sabermetrics boom, which is why their salaries have stagnated. Guys like Mariano and B,J were making $10 million a year when the top starters were not making much more than $15 million a year, it was positively cuckoo.
Mike Napoli (1 E per 129 innings in his ML career, 6 DRS per season), Carlo Santana (1 E / 197, -3 DRS/yr, also plays a mean guitar and has multiple gold records), Victor Martinez (1 E / 152, -1 DRS/yr), and Stephen Vogt (1 E / 132, -4 DRS/yr) all transitioned from C to 1B at the ML level. These seem to be reasonable estimates of what the Pirates might expect from Jaso.
In comparison, Alvarez averaged 1 E per 41 innings and posted -17 DRS/yr. It seems like the risk the Pirates are taking by moving Jaso to 1B is minimal
Mike Napoli should be on list of successful transitions from catcher to 1B