In trying to predict Mauricio Dubon’s upcoming role with the 2020 Giants, MLB.com’s Maria Guardado draws a comparison between the 25-year-old Dubon and utilityman Chris Taylor of the Dodgers (link). Dubon, as Guaradado points out, already showed himself capable at second and short last year after being acquired from the Brewers in exchange for Drew Pomeranz, and the 25-year-old also has a few games of center field experience dating back to his time in the 2016 Arizona Fall League. While it may be a stretch to conclude that Dubon will be able to handle the outfield’s most challenging position based on a handful of years-old appearances, it isn’t completely outlandish to think that teams may consider some unconventional routes toward manning center in 2020. After all, the free agency class at that position is rather weak, with only Brett Gardner and Shogo Akiyama projecting as possible starting options. Meanwhile, several teams seeking contention, including the Phillies, Padres, and Cubs, have obvious openings in center; the Giants, for their part, are facing some uncertainty as to their approach to Kevin Pillar this offseason. In his first 30 games of MLB action, Dubon hit .274/.306/.434 with four homers and three steals in 2019.
More notes from around the NL on a calm Saturday night…
- Wednesday’s deadline to add players to 40-man roster’s in advance of next month’s Rule 5 Draft brought a flurry of activity, and we’ve already covered some of the more interesting veterans that were DFA’d to accommodate various roster moves. But what of the 112 players who found themselves on MLB organizational rosters for the first time? Many of them, as noted in a piece from MLB.com’s Jim Callis, are a good reminder of the labyrinthian routes s0me players have to take in order to achieve their dreams of donning big league uniforms. Callis’ list features a former prep standout who overcame addiction issues to achieve success in the minors (Phil Pfeifer of the Braves), a former Mexican League pitcher who, despite never pitching above High-A, intrigued this season with a 94-98 mph heater (Manuel Rodriguez of the Cubs), and a 2013 DR signing who may reach the bigs with a new org after previously spending a half-decade in Rookie ball (Christopher Sanchez, who arrived to the Phillies via trade from the Rays on Wednesday). They may not represent household names, but they may represent a few new names to root for.
- Kudos to Joel Sherman of The New York Post for authoring a thoroughly interesting piece that attempts to explain why Yasmani Grandal and Will Smith, in particular, represented the first major signings of the 2019-2020 offseason (link). It was Grandal and Smith’s relatively “distinct” profiles, in Sherman’s view, that prompted the White Sox and Braves, respectively, to lunge toward early signings; while teams may be able to convince themselves, for example, that Zack Wheeler makes for a decent alternative to Stephen Strasburg or Gerrit Cole, there were no such viable alternatives to Smith, a left-handed reliever capable of pitching to both sides of the plate, or Grandal, a switch-hitting catcher who excels at both sides of the game. While the next-best lefty reliever may be Drew Pomeranz, it’s not as if teams would feel entirely comfortable with that pitcher’s comparative lack of a relief track record; same goes for Travis d’Arnaud, a player who, despite his arguable position as the market’s second-best backstop, simply doesn’t offer Grandal’s history of sustained success (or health). As Sherman touches on, Smith’s well-rounded ability, in particular, could prove to be a boon for the Braves. With next year’s introduction of a three-batter minimum rule, it’s generally impossible, at this juncture, to predict how teams might be compromised in late-inning situations. While recent years have seen a LOOGY or two stashed on every staff, pitchers like Smith figure to become increasingly valuable under the new rules, where relievers will likely have to face at least one opposite-handed batter. In 65.1 innings in 2019, the Braves’ newest addition was death on same-handed batters (.166 wOBA) but more-than-useful against righties as well (.298 wOBA).