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.