Much of free agency is in the books, but there are lots of players left as teams look to round out their rosters — and it seems that more international free agents are added to the mix everyday. In this week’s mailbag, we’ll take a look at some questions on the offseason transactions that still remain to be made:
Having seen your update on the MLBTR website regarding the Gurriel brothers out of Cuba, I wonder what teams fit the bill to pursue their talents over the calendar year. I’m a Phillies fan and wonder if Lourdes would be a good fit for them, despite having Maikel Franco at 3B and Crawford rising to the SS position. Would he fit in their left field plans? — Rob O.
Any club with a need in the infield and some money to spend makes sense when looking at Lourdes Gurriel, from my vantage point. The Phillies definitely fit that bill. As you pointed out, Franco and J.P. Crawford are believed to be the long-term answers at third base and shortstop, but it’d make sense for Philadelphia to at least have interest in adding Lourdes Gurriel as a second base option. Scott Kingery was one of their top picks in this most recent draft and may profile as a second base option down the line, but adding depth and talent at the position doesn’t hurt, and either could potentially be moved to left field in the future, if necessary. Alternatively, if Franco ultimately needs to play first base, that could open a spot at third base.
I do agree that Lourdes makes more sense than his older brother, Yulieski, for the Phillies. Yulieski will be 32 in June, so he’s on the older end of the spectrum for a rebuilding club like Philadelphia. Lourdes won’t be 23 until October, although I think that he’ll probably wait to sign until that point, as well, because turning 23 will make him exempt from international bonus pools.
Since their pick is protected and his market is seemingly coming down, why shouldn’t the Reds consider Yovani Gallardo? He could help the young pitchers and could possibly bring a good return at trade deadline. — Jeff L.
I can see the concept working out in the Reds’ favor, but I wouldn’t advocate them taking that gamble. Cincinnati would have to part with the No. 35 overall selection (the first pick in Comp Balance Round A) in order to sign Gallardo. There’s a scenario that’s not too difficult to envision where he signs for one year, pitches to a mid-3.00s ERA for three to four months and gets flipped for a prospect that carries more value than whomever the Reds would select at No. 35. Certainly, having traded both Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier, Cincinnati would be able to afford the deal.
However, there’s also a scenario where Gallardo’s recent decline continues. If his strikeout and walk rates keep going the wrong direction, or Gallardo gets hurt, the rebuilding Reds could end up sacrificing a valuable draft asset for an extra win or two in what could be a last-place season. That risk is probably too great in the mind of the front office. If anything, rolling the dice on someone like Chad Billingsley, Justin Masterson or any other formerly useful starter that has seen his career slowed by injuries makes more sense for Cincinnati.
Ultimately, it’s tough to see the Reds making any type of notable commitment. The Reds, after all, just lost out on re-signing Bronson Arroyo because their minor league offer didn’t beat the Nationals’ minor league offer: a $2MM base and $6MM worth of incentives. No matter how far Gallardo’s market has fallen, it hasn’t and won’t drop near that level, and even other once-established veterans seeking minor league deals could look for similar upside to the contract Arroyo landed in D.C.
Are the White Sox still making acquisitions this offseason? If so, who are they targeting? If not, how do you forecast Avisail Garcia and Adam LaRoche for 2016? Are Sox waiting for trade deadline to see if they are in contention to make a further move? — Matt B.
Since the New Year, they’ve been connected to Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig, among others. There’s no real indication that the White Sox are done seeking a final upgrade after adding Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie in trades this offseason. Fowler is still the easiest fit, in my mind. He could make the Sox at least two wins better in 2016, and having traded Trayce Thompson, they could stand to add his athleticism to their outfield. Failing that, the Sox do seem like a good landing spot for Austin Jackson, even if he’s not the left-handed bat they’re reportedly seeking. Jackson would be a massive defensive upgrade over either Melky Cabrera or Garcia, and he wouldn’t require draft pick forfeiture. A one-year deal in Chicago would probably have some appeal to Jackson as well, considering the fact that U.S. Cellular Field is a hitter-friendly environment.
What is the best course of action for the Orioles pitching depth? — David D.
With the (presumably) limited financial resources the Orioles have remaining, I actually think their money is better spent on an outfield upgrade. Gallardo is probably the best free agent starter available on the market, but he’s not as much of an upgrade over the internal options in the fifth spot of the Baltimore rotation as Fowler or Jackson would be over Nolan Reimold, Ryan Flaherty and whatever other options the O’s are looking at in right field. Gallardo’s swinging strike rate was the seventh-lowest in the Majors among qualified starters last season, and he’s more of an innings-eating fourth starter than a difference-maker for a lacking rotation. I’d focus on adding the most value possible with the remaining dollars, then add depth options on minor league deals for pitchers with some upside. Mat Latos, Mike Minor, Tim Lincecum and Justin Masterson all come with upside, although each has obvious health concerns, and the Orioles carry a reputation for having a difficult physical to pass.
Are the A’s really done after just replacing Davis with Alonso and beefing up the bullpen? — Issac G.
You’re forgetting about the reacquisition of Jed Lowrie and the one-year signings of Henderson Alvarez and Rich Hill. Still, there’s enough rotation depth there — Sonny Gray, Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, Chris Bassitt, Jarrod Parker, Aaron Brooks, Felix Doubront, Hill and Alvarez (plus top prospect Sean Manaea) — that I can see them dealing from their rotation depth in order to add some further outfield depth in their outfield/DH mix.
What’s up with Pedro Alvarez? No AL team would like a 1B/DH? — Luke L.
Any ML team desperate enough for 25-35 HR to sign Alvarez to a 1 year contract and give him a third baseman’s glove? — Frank K.
Alvarez made 24 throwing errors in 873 innings innings at third base the last year he played there (2014). No team is going to give him regular at-bats there, and I doubt you’d find any that consider him much more than an emergency option at the hot corner. Alvarez is the perfect example of teams not valuing home runs and RBIs in the same way they did 10-15 years ago. There seem to be plenty of fans that disagree with the notion that Alvarez’s defensive shortcomings outweigh his power, but the market certainly doesn’t seem to agree. The Pirates didn’t find any takers for Alvarez and his $8.1MM projected salary, and agent Scott Boras has yet to generate huge interest in his client, it would seem.
Alvarez is hurt by the fact that many American League teams have set combinations at first base/DH. At this point, Alvarez might be the type of player who waits for an injury to pop up in Spring Training and sign a one-year deal with a club that loses a first baseman or designated hitter, because looking around the American League, most clubs are pretty set at those positions.