Thanks to everyone who wrote in with mailbag questions this week. If yours wasn’t answered, you can ask again in this week’s two remaining MLBTR chats — this evening with Jason Martinez (6pm CST) or tomorrow with Jeff Todd (2pm CST).
On to the Q&A:
What kind of contract is Justin Turner looking at in free agency? Do you think the Dodgers will pay to keep him? — John T.
Turner’s production alone looks like the type that could result in a five-year deal for most free agents, but he’s never played more than 126 games in a season (he figures to do so this year) and will be 32 on Opening Day next year — both of which will work against him in free agency. Jeff discussed all of that in detail in a recent assessment of Turner’s likely free agent standing.
Despite the drawbacks, there’s enough appeal with Turner that four years aren’t just on the table but are a likely outcome. Chase Headley parlayed a rebound second-half with the Yankees in 2014 into a four-year, $52MM pact in free agency that winter, and a much older Ben Zobrist secured a four-year, $56MM contract with the Cubs this past offseason. I’d imagine both of those marks will be targets that Turner’s camp looks to surpass, and my expectation is that they’ll do just that. I’m stopping short of a fifth year for now, but with a big finish and/or postseason performance, it’s not unthinkable.
I’m wondering if and when the Marlins will get some pitching help? Time is running out and if they want to make a run of this, they need to get pitching. — Lou
Any pitching the Marlins get in August isn’t going to be the type that fuels a miraculous turnaround in the rotation, but it’s also not entirely clear that they need one. David Phelps has gone from out-of-the-blue dominant setup man to out-of-the-blue dominant starter in his first four outings in the rotation, and the Marlins could yet get Wei-Yin Chen and/or Adam Conley back before season’s end. I doubt they’d be able to acquire a starter that would pitch in their playoff rotation at this point, but picking up someone like Jorge De La Rosa to supplant Jose Urena for the time being would make some sense. Plus, while the team says that Jose Fernandez’s innings won’t be an issue going forward, it wouldn’t hurt to be able to give him added rest if it’s possible to do so without jeopardizing the club’s post-season chances.
I’m just curious, where do you think the Milwaukee Brewers are in their rebuild? When the Astros and Cubs started their rebuilds, they basically started with weak farm systems and many overpriced veterans. It took the Cubs 5 years to finish their rebuild and the Astros 6 years. The Brewers rebuild started only last year, and they already have the top rated farm system in baseball (it was 25th beginning of the 2015 season) and many near MLB ready prospects. Will this be a short rebuild? — Hunter M.
They seem to be getting to a nice position, as you said, but there are at least a pair of rotation spots that need to be filled/improved upon (Wily Peralta, Matt Garza), and nothing has yet been proven at the MLB level by the players that the organization hopes will handle catcher, center field and shortstop. Meanwhile, Jonathan Villar will be hard-pressed to repeat his 2016 success (.400 BABIP, 25.8 percent strikeout rate). Some from the group of Andrew Susac, Lewis Brinson, Brett Phillips, Orlando Arcia, Josh Hader, Luis Ortiz, Phil Bickford and others will pan out, of course, but there figure to be some misses within the upper ranks of their well-stocked farm system, as is the case with any club. The Brewers also face the unenviable task of trying to leapfrog not only the division-leading Cubs but also the perennially excellent Cardinals and talent-laden Pirates.
Bottom line: Milwaukee is in good shape, and GM David Stearns and his predecessor Doug Melvin both deserve credit for the young talent they’ve accumulated, but they’re still a long shot to contend in 2017 from my vantage point.
If the Diamondbacks fire La Russa and Stewart, how has this disarray affect their ability to pursue quality front office personnel. If I was a GM candidate, I would not touch this job with a ten foot pole. — Doug B.
That’s a significant “if” at this point, as we still don’t know anything definitive about the fate of Arizona’s baseball ops staff. That said, most aspiring general managers in the game would surely leap at the opportunity to head up a team and attempt to build around Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Jake Lamb and Zack Greinke. The D-backs just signed a $1.5 billion television contract in 2015, and they’re pursuing a new stadium as well. Setting aside that there are only 30 positions in the game for those who aim to head up a baseball operations department, there’s plenty of appeal to the D-backs gig.
Is Eric Thames a top 50 free agent if he is made available? The way KBO hitters have fared lately doesn’t seem to do him many favors. — Jake
For those that aren’t aware of Thames’ success overseas, the former Blue Jays/Mariners/Orioles outfielder has batted .355/.458/.737 with 120 homers in 367 games playing for Korea’s NC Dinos over the past three seasons. Thames’ ability to translate anything resembling that level of production to the majors will be met with extreme skepticism, of course, but if he hits the market this winter he’ll absolutely have a spot on our Top 50 free agent list. We determine that list based on earning power, so anyone with a chance at earning a two- or three-year deal with decent annual salary typically makes the cut. Thames’ market will be quite difficult to predict, but he’ll only turn 30 this winter, so he’s coming off some eye-popping production while still in the midst of his prime years.
As to the performance of players moving here from the KBO, there have obviously been some ups and downs, as you’d expect from any group of hitters, but the overall record is pretty good. While Byung Ho Park has struggled to adapt, he has at least shown that his power can play in the majors. And both Jung Ho Kang (.243/.326/.481) and Hyun Soo Kim (.317/.397/.432) have been quite productive this year.