Cubs free agent Jake Arrieta figures to offer more “feast-or-famine probability” than any other free agent on the market, Daniel Kramer of MLB.com posits. Arrieta has exhibited a number of troubling trends since his dominant Cy Young campaign back in 2015. Kramer points out that the right-hander’s rate of hard contact allowed was once among the the lowest in baseball, but has since fallen to the middle of the pack. Arrieta has also lost 3 MPH on his fastball from 2015 to 2017; pitchers in their thirties typically don’t regain that velocity. Kramer digs even deeper, looking at Arrieta’s “topped ball” rate (balls hit directly into the ground), noting that his rate in this category has also dropped. These factors in tandem create a confusing and concerning picture when looking at the value Arrieta could provide over the next couple of years. It’s not all bad; Kramer also notes that the former Cy Young winner hasn’t lost his ability to put batters away on two-strike pitches, and he’s still got an excellent pitch repertoire to go along with a delivery that provides deception. Teams exploring a deal with Arrieta will face an interesting dilemma in trying to project his future performance.
Other items from around MLB…
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has released his top five free agent bargains, as well as his top five free agent landmines. Royals free agent Eric Hosmer tops the list of players Cameron would avoid at the prices they’re likely to command. He points out that Hosmer’s 2017 was partially driven by his .351 BABIP, which the first baseman is unlikely to repeat, and questions his defensive abilities as well. Interestingly, Cameron points out that Hosmer’s 120 wRC+ over the past three seasons is just two points ahead of Carlos Santana’s mark across that same span, and yet Hosmer is expected to more than double Santana’s earnings in free agency this winter. None of this is to say that Hosmer isn’t a great asset, but many in the industry think he’ll be paid like a potential franchise superstar, and his track record doesn’t necessarily provide a strong case for that level of commitment. Greg Holland, Lance Lynn, Eduardo Nunez and Andrew Cashner round out Cameron’s top five free agent landmines, while Carlos Santana, Lorenzo Cain, Tommy Hunter, Jarrod Dyson and Doug Fister comprise Cameron’s top five bargains. The pieces are full of great analysis and will give readers another interesting set of storylines to track this offseason.
- Mike Puma of the New York Post wonders whether the Mets would be best served to bring back second baseman Neil Walker, whom the club traded to the Brewers this past August. Though he spent a significant amount of time on the DL for the second straight season, his 2017 home run total (14) homers and OBP (.409) would be a welcome asset to a Mets club with a number of issues to tackle before opening day 2018. Puma also notes that the Mets are exploring some trade options at second base as well. Interestingly, he lists Jason Kipnis as a name he believes to be available, along with more obvious trade candidates in Ian Kinsler and Dee Gordon.