- Cotillo also tweets that righty Gonzalez Germen is signing a minors pact with the White Sox after spending the past year in Japan. Germen, 30, posted a 2.68 ERA with 9.8 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9 in 47 innings of relief in his lone season in Japan, where he pitched for the Orix Buffaloes. In parts of four MLB seasons between the Rockies, Mets and Cubs, he’s worked to a 4.63 ERA with 129 strikeouts against 81 walks over the life of 144 innings.
Here are the arbitration numbers we’ve learned thus far today — all of them coming via the Twitter feed of Jon Heyman of Fan Rag unless otherwise noted:
- The Giants’ previously known deals with two righty relievers now have dollar values attached. Sam Dyson is slated to earn $4.425MM, while the team will pay righty Cory Gearrin $1.675MM. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected a $4.6MM award for Dyson and a $1.6MM salary for Gearrin.
- Diamondbacks infielder Chris Owings settled out at $3.4MM, just a shade over the $3.3MM the team will pay outfielder David Peralta. Swartz had both Owings and Peralta at $3.8MM.
- Right-hander Nick Vincent will take down a $2.75MM payday from the Mariners, coming in just north of his $2.7MM projection.
- Astros righty Lance McCullers Jr. is set to receive $2.45MM (a bit shy of his projected $2.6MM) in his first season of arb eligibility, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.
- Infielder Hernan Perez receives $1.975MM from the Brewers, falling short of a $2.2MM projection.
- The Athletics agreed yesterday with righty Liam Hendriks at $1.9MM, matching his projection, and catcher Josh Phegley for $905K. Swartz had Phegley at $1.1MM.
- White Sox third baseman Yolmer Sanchez has filed at $2.35MM while the team countered at $2.1MM – the same as his projection.
We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)
Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)
- Mookie Betts, Red Sox: expected to go to hearing, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe; Betts filed at $10.5MM, Boston countered at $7.5MM (per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, via Twitter)
- George Springer, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Springer filed at $10.5MM, Houston countered at $8.5MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Ken Giles, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Giles filed at $4.6MM, Houston countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Collin McHugh, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); McHugh filed at $5.0MM, Houston countered at $4.55MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jonathan Schoop, Orioles: Schoop filed at $9MM, Baltimore countered at $7.5MM (per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, via Twitter)
- Kevin Gausman, Orioles: Gausman filed at $6.225MM, Baltimore countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays: Stroman filed at $6.9MM, Toronto countered at $6.5MM (per Nightengale, via Twitter)
- Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays: Osuna filed at $5.8MM, Toronto countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jose Iglesias, Tigers: Iglesias filed at $6.8MM, Detroit countered at $5.6MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Avisail Garcia, White Sox: Garcia filed at $6.7MM, Chicago countered at $5.85MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Trevor Bauer, Indians: Bauer filed at $6.525MM, Cleveland countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jake Odorizzi, Rays: Odorizzi filed at $6.3MM, Tampa Bay countered at $6.05MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Adeiny Hechavarria, Rays: Hechavarria filed at $5.9MM, Tampa Bay countered at $5.35MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Scooter Gennett, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Gennett filed at $5.7MM, Cincinnati countered at $5.1MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Eugenio Suarez, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Suarez filed at $4.2MM, Cincinnati countered at $3.75MM (per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, via Twitter)
- Shelby Miller, Diamondbacks: Miller filed at $4.9MM, Arizona countered $4.7MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kyle Gibson, Twins: Gibson filed at $4.55MM, Minnesota countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- J.T. Realmuto, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Realmuto filed at $3.5MM, Miami countered at 2.9MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Dan Straily, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Straily filed at $3.55MM, Miami countered at $3.37MM (per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, via Twitter)
- Justin Bour, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Bour filed at $3.4MM, Miami countered at $3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Brandon Maurer, Royals: have hit stalemate, per Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (via Twitter); Maurer filed at $3.5MM, Kansas City countered at $2.95MM (per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, via Twitter)
- Felipe Rivero, Pirates: Rivero filed at $2.9MM, Pittsburgh countered at $2.4MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kendall Graveman, Athletics: Graveman filed at $2.6MM, Oakland countered at $2.36MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Justin Grimm, Cubs: Grimm filed at $2.475MM, Chicago countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Mike Foltynewicz, Braves: Foltynewicz filed at $2.3MM, Atlanta countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Zack Wheeler, Mets: Wheeler filed at $1.9MM, New York countered at $1.5MM (per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, via Twitter)
- Other tendered players who have not yet reportedly agreed to terms: Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox; Brad Hand, Padres
The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)
Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salarie
American League West
- The Astros and Evan Gattis agreed to a $6.7MM deal for 2018, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). A free agent next season, Gattis lands within $100K of his $6.6MM projection. The club also has deals (for values unknown) with starters Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Brad Peacock, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
- The Rangers agreed to a $1.05MM deal with infielder Jurickson Profar, tweets Murray. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, meanwhile, tweets that lefty Jake Diekman landed a $2.7125MM deal and righty Keone Kela will earn $1.2MM. Profar had been projected at $1.1MM and is controllable another three seasons. Diekman, a free agent next winter, was projected at $2.8MM. And Kela, still controlled for three more years, matched his $1.2MM projection on the dot.
- The Athletics and closer Blake Treinen agreed to a $2.15MM deal for next year, tweets Murray. The A’s can control Treinen for another three years. He was projected at $2.3MM. Shortstop Marcus Semien has settled for $3.125MM, Heyman tweets; his $3.2MM projection was nearly spot-on. Oakland has announced that it has avoided arbitration with Liam Hendriks and Josh Phegley as well, but their salaries have yet to be reported.
- The Angels have a one-year, $7.3MM agreement in place with right-hander Garrett Richards, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Richards, a free agent next offseason, tops his $7MM projection by a margin of $300K. The Halos have also avoided arb with first baseman C.J. Cron ($2.3MM) and left-hander Tyler Skaggs ($1.875MM), tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Cron’s total falls a ways shy of his $2.8MM projection, while Skaggs comes in just $25K south of his $1.9MM projection. Both are controllable through the 2020 season. Lastly, Murray tweets that Matt Shoemaker agreed to a $4.125MM deal. He’s controlled through 2020 and projected at $4.4MM. Fletcher also tweets that the club has agreed with righty J.C. Ramirez ($1.9MM salary vs. $2.6MM projection) and lefty Jose Alvarez ($1.05MM salary vs. $1.1MM projection). Finally, righty Cam Bedrosian has agreed at $1.1MM, Flecher tweets, which represents a payday close to his projection of $1.2MM.
- Left-hander James Paxton will earn $4.9MM with the Mariners in 2018, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Murray tweets that the Mariners and David Phelps agreed to a $5.55MM deal. Paxton, controlled through 2020, projected to earn $5.6MM, while Phelps was pegged at $5.8MM. He’s a free agent next winter. Righty Erasmo Ramirez took a $4.2MM deal, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. That’s half a million shy of what the model suggested. Fellow right-hander Nick Vincent also has an agreement, but the terms aren’t yet known.
American League Central
- New lefty Luis Avilan has agreed to a $2.45MM deal with the White Sox, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. The recent trade acquisition came with a projected $2.3MM price tag. Fellow southpaw Carlos Rodon will receive $2.3MM, a bit of a bump over the $2MM he projected to receive. Also, utilityman Leury Garcia gets $1.175MM, which is just $25K short of his projected value.
- The Royals and righty Nate Karns agreed to a $1.375MM deal for 2018, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports (on Twitter). That lands within $25K of his $1.4MM projection for the coming season. Kansas City controls Karns through 2020. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that Kelvin Herrera will earn $7.9375MM in 2018, landing a bit shy of his $8.3MM projection. Herrera is a free agent next winter.
- The Indians have a $5MM agreement with righty Danny Salazar, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. He had projected to earn just $200K more, this falls right in line with expectations. Cleveland also agreed with Lonnie Chisenhall on a $5.5875MM deal, tweets Nightengale. The third baseman-turned-outfielder, who was projected to earn $5.8MM, will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
- Trevor May has a $650K agreement with the Twins for the 2018 season, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. May, who missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery (and did some writing for MLBTR during his rehab process), had been projected at $600K. The Twins also agreed to a $1MM deal with infielder Ehire Adrianza, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, righty Ryan Pressly has agreed to a $1.6MM deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Both deals are identical matches with their projections. Adrianza has three years of team control remaining, while Pressly has two. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that outfielder Robbie Grossman settled at $2MM, leaving him $400K shy of his projection. Grossman is controlled for another three seasons.
- Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos will earn $6.05MM, per Heyman (via Twitter). He had projected at a much heftier $7.6MM in his second-to-last season of arb eligibility. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links) that the Tigers and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson settled at $1.925MM, while fellow righty Shane Greene will earn $1.95MM. Wilson was projected to earn $2.1MM, while Greene was at $1.7MM. Wilson is controlled through 2019, while Greene is under control through 2020.
American League East
- The Yankees have knocked out some of their biggest arb cases, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Shortstop Didi Gregorius receives $8.25MM and righty Sonny Gray checks in at $6.5MM. The former had projected to earn $9.0MM while the algorithm was just $100K high on the latter.Backstop Austin Romine will earn $1.1MM, Heyman also tweets, which is also $100K below the projection. Righty Adam Warren and the Yankees have a $3.315MM deal, per Murray (Twitter link). This is Warren’s final season of eligibility before hitting the open market next winter. He’d been projected at $3.1MM. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Dellin Betances has agreed to a $5.1MM deal, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s just $100K more than Betances had sought last year, when he took his case to a hearing that he ultimately lost. But it’s quite a bit more than the $4.4MM he projected to receive after a subpar season in which he played at a $3MM salary.
- The Red Sox have agreed to pay $8.5MM to southpaw Drew Pomeranz, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s short of the $9.1MM that had been projected after Pomeranz turned in a productive 2017 season. Boston and Jackie Bradley Jr. settled at $6.1MM, tweets Murray. That’s a bit north of the $5.9MM at which he’d been projected for the upcoming season. Bradley Jr., a Super Two player, has another three seasons of club control remaining. Nightengale tweets that righty Joe Kelly ($3.6MM projection) agreed to a $3.825MM deal. He’ll be a free agent next winter. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($2.375MM salary vs. $2.7MM projection) and righty Brandon Workman ($835K salary vs. $900K projection) are two other Sox hurlers that have agreed to terms, Speier reports (Twitter links). On the position player side, catcher Sandy Leon falls a bit under his projection $1.95MM (via Speier, on Twitter) while utilityman Brock Holt just beats expectations at $2.225MM (per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, on Twitter). The team also agreed with shortstop Xander Bogaerts for $7.05MM, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets, which comes in a bit shy of his $7.6MM projection. Boston also announced agreement with backstop Christian Vazquez, who’ll earn $1.425MM, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne (via Twitter). That’s just under the projection of $1.5MM.
- The Blue Jays and righty Aaron Sanchez agreed to a $2.7MM deal for 2018, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). That crushes his $1.9MM projection, which was likely suppressed due Sanchez’s lack of innings (just 36) in 2017. He’s under Jays control through 2020. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, meanwhile, tweets that second baseman Devon Travis will make $1.45MM next year, falling a bit shy of his $1.7MM forecast. Other Toronto players agreeing to terms include Kevin Pillar ($3.25MM vs. $4.0MM projection) and Dominic Leone ($1.085MM vs. $1.2MM projection), MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets.
- The Rays and closer Alex Colome settled at $5.3M, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). He’d been projected at $5.5MM and is controllable for three more years. They also settled at $5.95MM with outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4MM projection) and $4.5MM with infielder Brad Miller ($4.4MM projection), per Murray (all Twitter links). Steven Souza, according to Murray will earn $3.55MM, placing him right in line with his $3.6MM projection. Dickerson and Miller are controlled through 2019. Souza is controlled through 2020.
The White Sox avoided arbitration with slugging first baseman Jose Abreu today, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $13MM (as first tweeted by FanRag’s Robert Murray). Obviously, Abreu’s contract lands well shy of the hefty $17.9MM projection generated by the arbitration projection model of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, as well as the $17MM figure that Swartz referenced in a more in-depth breakdown of Abreu’s arbitration case.
Abreu has been a thorn in the side of MLBTR’s projection model for two years now, as the unique nature of his contract does not appear to be properly contextualized by the algorithm driving our model. Abreu originally agreed to a six-year, $68MM contract with the White Sox four years ago, but that deal allowed him the right to opt into arbitration once he was eligible. Abreu exercised that right last offseason, and we explored some of the intricacies of that decision at the time. Notably, the CBA offered little clarity in terms of how Abreu’s annualized signing bonus should be treated within the confines of the arbitration system.
Speculatively speaking, that could once again be the case in 2018, as it’s surprising that Abreu would receive a raise just north of $2MM after a season in which he posted a terrific .304/.354/.552 batting line, 33 homers and 102 RBIs over the life of 675 plate appearances. It should be noted that even with a relatively modest raise, Abreu is coming out ahead of the figures he’d have earned had remained on his guaranteed salaries rather than opting for arbitration. Abreu would’ve earned $10.5MM in 2017, $11.5MM in 2018 and $12MM in 2019, so he clearly made the proper decision when opting into arbitration, even if the system treats him as an atypical case.
Whatever the reason, the $13MM salary represents one of the more substantial misses our projection model has ever forecast. As for the Sox, they’ll once again enjoy the presence of one of the American League’s top hitters in the middle of their order as well as a respected and highly valued presence in their clubhouse. Abreu’s name has been oft-mentioned in trade rumors, though the ChiSox are reportedly loath to move him. He’s controlled for another two seasons.
The White Sox have officially agreed to a one-year deal with free agent righty Miguel Gonzalez, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter). He’ll receive a $4.75MM salary, the team announced (and as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweeted). Outfielder Jacob May was designated for assignment to open a roster spot.
Gonzalez, 33, spent the bulk of the past two seasons in Chicago, though he was dealt away to the Rangers in late August. Now, he’ll return to help bolster a rotation that features several young hurlers as well as veteran James Shields.
For a rebuilding White Sox organization, adding Gonzalez fits with earlier moves. The club struck a contract with catcher Welington Castillo and dealt for veteran relievers Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan.
In sum, the moves have added about $28MM in commitments, most of it for the coming season, a manageable amount as the South Siders endeavor to supplement — and reduce the burden on — a budding young core. The White Sox roster still includes other veterans such as Shields, Jose Abreu, and Avisail Garcia. While Abreu and Garcia have arisen in trade talks, to this point indications are that they’ll likely stay put.
[RELATED: Updated White Sox Depth Chart]
Nobody will mistake the addition of Gonzalez as a signing designed to push for contention, but he has proven still capable of giving innings. In 2017, he threw 156 total frames over 27 starts, working to a 4.62 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. Gonzalez carried career lows in average fastball velocity (91.2 mph) and swinging-strike rate (6.7%), though those figures aren’t wildly out of line with his established norms.
Beyond Gonzalez and Shields, the White Sox rotation will likely be made up of far less established pitchers. Youngsters Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Carson Fulmer all have top prospect pedigrees, but have yet to turn in full MLB seasons. Dylan Covey — who was actually once a first-round selection, going unsigned at that time — is also an option, though he struggled badly in his MLB debut in 2017. Carlos Rodon will be expected to hold down a spot once he’s at full health. The White Sox likely hope that top pitching prospect Michael Kopech will force his way into the picture at some point, though that’s no sure thing at present. All told, it’s not difficult to see why the organization felt it needed another reliable rotation piece.
As for the 25-year-old May, he made his MLB debut last year but struggled badly in a short sample. He has not fared much better at the plate in the upper minors; in 2017, he carried a .248/.307/.325 batting line in 467 Triple-A plate appearances.
Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available, for those interested.
Before Marcell Ozuna reports for his first Spring Training as a Cardinal, he will have to start the potentially uncomfortable process of salary arbitration with them. Ozuna has quite a resume to boast, which is part of what made him so attractive to the Cardinals in the first place. He hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs last year, giving him few comparables among second-time arbitration-eligible players.
My model projects a substantial raise for him of $7.4MM — all the way to a $10.9MM salary. This may be high, given the lack of exact historical comparables and the potential for an arbitration process to discount some of the home runs hit in a very high league home run environment (2017 set a record). That said, it still suggests that Ozuna is going to get a large raise anyway.
Jose Abreu had a comparable season, and his projection is accordingly similar. He hit .304 with 33 homers and 102 RBIs, making the primary difference in their cases the lower RBI total for Abreu. The White Sox slugger is projected for a $7.1MM raise instead of Ozuna’s $7.4MM, but he starts from a higher base salary and is therefore projected to land at $17.9MM.
No other players in the past five years have entered arbitration with the elusive .300/30/100 slash line. However, several players did so in the prior five years, including Jacoby Ellsbury in 2012 (.321/32/105), Josh Hamilton in 2011 (.359/32/100), Matt Holliday in 2008 (.340/36/137) and Miguel Cabrera in 2008 (.320/34/119). Those players got raises between $5.65MM (Ellsbury) and $3.9MM (Cabrera), although both Hamilton and Holliday got raises above $5MM, thus making Cabrera the exception.
It seems quite likely that Ellsbury, with 39 stolen bases to Ozuna’s one stolen base, would have a better case. However, the fact that Ellsbury’s case is six years old could put them closer together and could even put Ozuna and Abreu ahead. One thing that is important to note is that only Ellsbury got a one-year deal. The other raises mentioned above are part of multi-year deals, which are usually not very applicable in arbitration cases (although they could be in this scenario with few comparables).
If we look for a player more recent, we might consider Manny Machado last year at .294/37/96. He got a $6.5MM raise and clearly looks like a relevant player. The home run environment difference in just one year is pretty limited as well.
The record raise for a second-time eligible hitter belongs to Chris Davis, who got a $7.05MM raise after his .286/53/138 campaign in 2014. That would probably compare favorably to Ozuna’s numbers because of the home run difference, but the four years’ lag could render that number stale and push Ozuna and Abreu above him after all, as the model predicts. However, I think it may serve as a ceiling, leaving Ozuna and Abreu south of theor projections and slightly south of Davis.
Charlie Blackmon hit .324/29/104 last season, but did so in Coors Field, so he might be seen as less impressive than Ozuna and Abreu. His $3.8MM raise is probably a floor, and perhaps not that close of one.
I think it may be more likely that Ozuna and Abreu both get raises somewhere around $6MM. The triad of players with .300/30/100 slash lines and raises over $5MM back in 2008-12 are probably floors, whereas Davis’ raise seems like a ceiling. If that proves true, Ozuna might end up around $10MM instead of closer to $11MM, and Abreu might end up closer to $17MM than $18MM.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The White Sox have acquired infielder Jose Rondon from the Padres, per a club announcement. Cash considerations are headed to San Diego in return.
Rondon was designated recently by the Pads. Now, he’ll head to another rebuilding organization where he could challenge Tyler Saladino for a spot on the team as a utility piece or perhaps head to Triple-A for further development. Of course, it’s also possible the Sox will ultimately seek to sneak him through waivers.
While the Padres have not been settled at short for some time, the team has quite a few young players filtering up at the position and elected to acquire Freddy Galvis to hold things down for the coming season. That left Rondon — who was originally acquired in the Huston Street trade — without much of an opportunity and ultimately without a roster spot.
The 23-year-old reached the majors briefly in 2016 but has mostly played of late in the upper minors. Last year, he spent most of his time at Double-A and turned in a solid overall .293/.347/.442 output with seven home runs in 347 total minor-league plate appearances. With a high-average bat and good defensive profile, it’s certainly conceivable that Rondon could turn into a useful MLB asset, though he has yet to develop much in the way of power and hasn’t drawn many walks in the upper minors.
We’ve reached January, and the free agent market is still lagging in a big way. The top free agents available seemingly haven’t showed a willingness to lower their asking prices, and with spring training less than two months out, teams may feel a need to complete their offseason shopping lists sooner than later. In some cases, this may cause teams to make stronger pushes for some candidates on the trade market.
There have certainly been some large scale trades so far this offseason. High-end players such as Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Evan Longoria, Ian Kinsler and Stephen Piscotty have changed hands already, and there are still plenty of practical matches left between MLB teams. We’ve detailed many of these in the 2017-2018 installment of our “Looking For A Match” series; the players featured in those articles are listed below, with our noted potential fits listed in parentheses.
- Billy Hamilton, Reds CF (Giants, Dodgers, Royals): Hamilton’s talents as a burner on the basepaths and an elite defender in center field are well-known throughout MLB circles, but in truth, that’s about where his usefulness ends. His .299 OBP was the 11th-lowest among qualified hitters in 2017; that number is about consistent with his career mark. The Giants seem to have shown a strong interest in Hamilton, but Reds owner Bob Castellini’s recently-reported hesitancy to part with the speedster could gum up trade negotiations. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Billy Hamilton Trade]
- Brad Hand, Padres LHRP (Astros, Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins, Braves): Though our evaluation of Hand’s trade market also included the Rays and Rockies, those teams seem like less likely suitors at this point in the offseason; the former decreased their likelihood of contention by shipping Longoria to San Francisco, while the latter has signed three expensive relief pitchers to pad their bullpen. Hand is one of the elite relief pitchers in all of baseball, and he’s certainly one of the best (if not the undisputed best) bullpen options on the trade market. Of course, the caveat is that it would also require a significant prospect haul to convince San Diego to move him. The lefty has two years of team control remaining, and MLBTR projects him to cost just $3.8MM in 2018. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Brad Hand Trade]
- Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B (Astros, Indians, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies): Though the Cuba native has been a mainstay in the White Sox’ lineup since his MLB debut in 2014, his club is unlikely to contend for a pennant before he reaches free agency after the 2019 season. MLBTR’s arbitration projections have him pegged for a $17.9MM salary in 2018, but his expected offensive output makes him well worth that price tag. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Jose Abreu Trade]
- Avisail Garcia, White Sox OF (Blue Jays, Indians, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rangers): Like Abreu, Garcia is a South Sider with two years of team control remaining. However, he comes with a lot more risk; Garcia had played below replacement level over the course of his career prior to a breakout this past season. Still, there are many teams who would benefit from adding a lefty-masher to their outfield corps, and his projected 2018 salary is a reasonable $6.7MM. [LINK: Looking For A Match In An Avisail Garcia Trade]
- Raisel Iglesias, Reds RHRP (Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals, Brewers, Twins, Astros): With three full seasons of team control remaining, Iglesias could prove a valuable long-term asset to either a rebuilding club or a current contender. He’s managed to strike out 10.43 batters per nine innings over the course of his career as a reliever while posting a sterling 2.29 ERA. The Twins have reportedly shown interest in Iglesias this winter, though that was nearly two months ago; there haven’t been any new developments in that story since then. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A Raisel Iglesias Trade]
- J.T. Realmuto, Marlins C (Nationals, Rockies, Diamondbacks): Unlike the other players on this list, Realmuto has gone so far as to request a trade from his current team. While that alone certainly isn’t enough to facilitate a trade, some have taken the stance that Miami ought to trade their catcher (along with fellow Marlin Christian Yelich) at his peak value. Realmuto has accrued more than 7 WAR over the past two seasons alone, but the Marlins don’t feel compelled to trade him unless they’re overwhelmed by an offer. [LINK: Looking For A Match In A J.T. Realmuto Trade]
- Manny Machado, Orioles 3B (Cardinals, Yankees, Angels, Rockies, Nationals): Rumors surrounding Baltimore’s prized infielder have cooled off a bit recently, but the Orioles could still be prompted to move him for the right offer. They’re reportedly seeking two talented starting pitchers who are controllable for the long term, however, which seems like a sky-high asking price for a player with just one year of team control remaining. Of course, the O’s probably wouldn’t restrict a return to just rotation options. Machado is projected to earn a $17.3MM salary in his final season before hitting the free agent market. [LINK: Trading Manny Machado]
We’ll open this subject up to reader opinions at this point. Which of the trade candidates we’ve profiled do you think is most likely to be traded before the 2018 season begins? (Link for app users)
Meanwhile, Kansas City will pick up righty Trevor Oaks and infielder Erick Mejia in the deal. The White Sox will end up with veteran relievers Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan, the former from the Royals and the latter from the Dodgers. Kansas City is sending $1MM to the White Sox, the Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd tweets. Chicago will also receive $2MM from the Dodgers, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter).
The involvement of the White Sox is geared mostly toward securing some veteran relief pieces at reasonable prices. Avilan projects to earn $2.3MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility, but most of that will be covered by the Dodgers. (Of course, that characterization depends upon perspective; L.A. essentially passed through Soria’s contract in the deal, so part of the money could be considered as allocated to his 2018 guarantee.)
[RELATED: Updated White Sox Depth Chart]
Having dealt and acquired a whole host of relievers in 2017, the White Sox will now secure two experienced hurlers to bolster an unproven unit and perhaps also provide the organization with some new trade chips. The right-handed Soria rang up 10.3 K/9 and allowed only a single home run in his 56 innings in 2017, ending the year with a 3.70 ERA. He could now be the favorite to step into the White Sox’ closer role. As for Avilan, a 28-year-old southpaw, he managed a 2.93 ERA in his 46 frames while carrying 10.2 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, and a 53.8% groundball rate.
Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reported (Twitter links) that Alexander was going to the Dodgers and Soria to the White Sox. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (in a tweet) had other components of the deal.