Ichiro Suzuki’s agent, John Boggs, tells Barry Bloom of MLB.com that he’s still holding out hope that the 44-year-old will land an offer from a big league club this offseason rather than return to Japan. Boggs had talks with both the Mariners and Padres, but neither of those now looks likely to come to fruition. He also notes that he’d spoken to the Mets before they signed Jay Bruce, as well as the Reds when they were more heavily exploring the market for Billy Hamilton. Boggs tells Bloom that there are still a half-dozen teams that continue to tell him to check back later in the winter once it’s clearer how the market will play out, but it remains unclear whether Ichiro will have a legitimate opportunity to return for an 18th Major League season.
- The Padres announced a slew of non-roster invitees, including right-hander Michael Mariot and catcher Raffy Lopez, each of whom has prior Major League experience. Mariot, 29, last saw time in the Majors back in 2016 when he tossed 21 2/3 innings for the Phillies. He’s struggled to a 5.98 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 5.1 BB/9 in 49 2/3 MLB innings to date, though he has a vastly superior 3.34 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 240 innings of Triple-A work. Lopez, meanwhile, picked up a career-high 63 plate appearances with the Blue Jays last season, hitting .222/.306/.463 in that brief time. The 30-year-old is a career .267/.342/.380 hitter in 877 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.
The Padres’ pursuit of Eric Hosmer has been one of the more surprising storylines of the 2017-18 offseason, and executive chairman Ron Fowler directly acknowledged his team’s pursuit of the longtime Royals star in an interview on the Mighty 1090 Morning Show in San Diego (link with full audio of the interview).
“We’ve had a lot of dialogue on it — [GM A.J. Preller, manager Andy Green and assistant GM Josh Stein] obviously lead the discussions as it relates to players,” said Fowler. “They talked to me probably six months or so ago when they looked at who the free agents would be for 2018. They like him. They like his makeup, they like his leadership in the clubhouse, and obviously they like him as an athlete. We met with him, and he’s a very impressive individual.”
The Padres are reported to have made a seven-year offer to Hosmer and agent Scott Boras, and while word of that offer came in earlier this month, Fowler didn’t suggest that there’ve been any changes to what has been proposed. Moreover, he implied that he’s not exactly comfortable stretching the deal much further. Asked about concerns of paying for too much of a player’s decline phase, Fowler indicated that Boras may have a hard time selling him on a lengthier deal.
“I think you’re taking my side of the discussions I’ve had with [Green, Preller and Stein],” Fowler replied. “They feel that this guy is so focused, he has all of the exercise stuff, all of the elements in place to take care of himself like few players have. He would be 28 in the first year, obviously 34 would be his last year if it’s seven, but I can’t really get into it more than that. But I think we were pretty creative in the way we put a contract proposal together. We like it. I don’t know if Mr. Boras likes it, but that’s probably another story.”
The pursuit of Hosmer is just one of the many elements of the Padres’ offseason that some feel have clashed with the team’s rebuilding direction. In addition to putting forth a (presumed) nine-figure offer to Hosmer, San Diego has also traded a fairly well-regarded pitching prospect (right-hander Enyel De Los Santos) for a one-year rental of Freddy Galvis and taken on the final year of Chase Headley’s contract as a means of landing Bryan Mitchell from the Yankees. Fowler confirmed that Headley trade was almost entirely about Mitchell and stressed that the team is still focused on the development of young talent.
“We still are looking for the young guys to get up here that we either picked through the draft or signed internationally,” he explained. “But A.J. looked at who the pitchers were out there, and some of the guys were getting three-year contracts … [H]e felt that Bryan Mitchell, the guy we got from the Yankees, was worth taking the last year of the contract for Chase. We’re happy that Chase will be here — we think he’ll be here — but it was really for Mitchell that we paid that money, it wasn’t for Chase.”
Fowler went on to add that the team’s preference was to add players that will remain under control for several seasons. While Galvis, of course, does not match that description — he’ll be a free agent next winter — Fowler revealed that he hopes the switch-hitting shortstop can be retained beyond 2018.
“I’m hoping Galvis will be here for more than a year, take some pressure off some of the young guys coming up,” he stated. “…We’re feeling very good about that trade and what he might be able to do for us over the next few years.”
Of course, Fernando Tatis Jr. is widely expected to be the Padres’ shortstop of the future, though the vaunted top prospect isn’t yet ready for the Majors after spending most of 2017 in A-ball. If the team were able to retain Galvis beyond the upcoming season, it wouldn’t necessarily indicate a change of plans as pertains to Tatis, however; Galvis could provide some reasonably priced insurance and could potentially see time at other positions. That could further a current “problem” the organization is facing, which Fowler described as having “too many people at second and third right now” before noting that the logjam would likely work itself out.
The Padres have already traded Yangervis Solarte to the Blue Jays, but they still have Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg and Headley as options that figure to be on the 25-man roster come Opening Day, while Allen Cordoba, Tatis and Luis Urias loom in the minors.
The interview with Fowler covers considerably more topics, ranging from the team’s recent hiring of former Fangraphs managing editor Dave Cameron, to the team’s uniforms and their failed pursuit of Shohei Ohtani. (Fowler reveals that Preller began the team’s presentation to Ohtani by speaking in Japanese for the first five minutes or so and expresses immense pride for the work his team put into that pursuit.) The San Diego chairman also weighs in on the stalled free agent market, suggesting a belief that the luxury tax and a number of players whose asking prices are simply “really beyond their value” have combined to grind free agency to a halt.
Suffice it to say, the 16-minute interview is packed with topics that’ll be of interest not only to Padres fans but to baseball and hot stove fans in general. It’s well worth a full listen.
In the latest dose of Marlins-related drama, agent Joe Longo of Paragon Sports International, who represents Christian Yelich, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that a trade of his client in the next month would be in the best interest of both team and player.
Longo states that he respects the Marlins’ long-term plan for a return to contention, but states that the “…plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career.” Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins has been “irretrievably broken” and has “soured,” according to Longo, who goes on to speak about the disappointment that Yelich has felt in watching the Marlins’ new ownership group gut the roster in trades that have sent Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna elsewhere.
“The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and [Yelich] needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win,” Longo tells Crasnick. The agent goes on to explain that Yelich signed his seven-year, $49.57MM contract extension with the Marlins in a “completely different climate” — that is, one where the organization looked to be making a clear push to win in the short term. Yelich’s deal (which Longo and Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed at length with MLBTR’s Zach Links back in 2015) was agreed upon in the same offseason that saw the Fish sign Stanton to a record-setting $325MM contract. New ownership, however, clearly has no intent of pushing for a division title in 2017 as payroll has been slashed by roughly $50MM.
Longo’s comments, of course, don’t ensure that a trade of Yelich will transpire before or during Spring Training. Such decisions are up to president of baseball operations Michael Hill and his staff, who needn’t feel pressure to move Yelich in the same manner as they did with regard to Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna. The Marlins’ payroll projection is inching closer to its reported target of roughly $90MM, and Yelich’s $7MM salary for the coming season isn’t especially burdensome. Moreover, the fact that Yelich can be controlled for another five years at a total of $58.25MM is a clear indicator that he’ll be an asset with considerable surplus value at virtually any point the Marlins decide to make him available.
Yelich is hardly the only player that is less than enthused about the notion of suiting up for a Miami club that looks destined for the NL East cellar. Catcher J.T. Realmuto’s agents have reportedly informed the Marlins that their client would prefer to be traded, and infielder Starlin Castro (acquired as a financial component in the trade that sent Stanton to the Yankees) is reportedly hoping to be dealt elsewhere before so much as playing a single game for the Marlins.
Per Crasnick, the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, D-backs and Phillies are “among” the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to gauge the asking price for Yelich in a trade, though there are assuredly more team that have expressed interest. Toronto GM Ross Atkins recently suggested that virtually every team in the league would have interest in a Yelich trade, and reports have suggested that more than 15 teams have at least kicked the tires on the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.
Yelich, just 26 years of age, is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter. He’s averaged 20 homers and a dozen steals over the past two seasons and has proven to be a capable center fielder or an elite defender in left field. Crasnick notes that Yelich himself may speak publicly in the coming days, and the column is stuffed with additional quotes from Longo. It’s well worth a full read-through, both for those that have been diligently tracking the Marlins’ offseason roller coaster and those who haven’t been monitoring the situation as closely.
MONDAY: Heyman has the full breakdown on Twitter. Hand will receive a $1.75MM signing bonus along with salaries of $3.5MM, $6.5MM, and $7MM in the three guaranteed years of the contract.
SUNDAY: The Padres have officially announced the deal.
SATURDAY, 7:15pm: Hand passed his physical, making the deal official, per Heyman. The club option is worth $10MM and comes with a $1MM buyout, Heyman adds (Twitter link).
9:54am: The Padres have agreed to terms on an extension with left-handed reliever Brad Hand, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It’s a three-year deal that also comes with a club option. Hand, who is represented by Matt Colleran, will be guaranteed $19.75MM, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. The deal is still pending a physical.
At the end of the day yesterday, we noted that Hand’s arbitration case was still unresolved, and obviously we now understand why arbitration filing figures had not been reported. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports notes in his own tweet that both sides had filed at $3.6MM, indicating that extension talks had almost certainly progressed to a point where both sides were quite confident that a deal would get done.
The pact, of course, means that the Padres will not need to worry about the arbitration process with their elite reliever again, as the deal is set to cover his final two arb years while giving the club at least one additional year of team control. The team option will allow the Padres up to four years of team control over the southpaw. As Rosenthal adds, that means he’ll be able to enter free agency prior to his age-32 season — though clearly this deal entailed a significant sacrifice of open-market earning upside in exchange for a life-changing guarantee.
Hand has long been considered a valuable candidate, and his new contract seemingly makes it less likely that he’ll be traded this offseason (though his trade value may have actually increased due to the added team control). A while back, MLBTR profiled his potential trade value, noting that he could warrant a return similar to that which the Yankees received from the Indians for Andrew Miller. Instead, the Padres have found a way to keep him in the fold a bit longer… perhaps even into their next window of contention.
The extension is another indication that a rebuilding Padres club could perhaps be gearing up for a return to contention. Earlier this winter, reports surfaced that the club had already made a seven-year contract offer to Eric Hosmer in the nine-figure range.
Contention window implications aside, keeping Hand in the fold for an extra season or two will help detract from the workload of a fairly young Padres rotation. Last season, their starters averaged 5 1/3 innings per start during the 2017 season, while Hand ranked 6th in the majors with 79 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. Many things could change over the course of the next two seasons, but retaining Hand amidst a bullpen full of question marks will have at least a small benefit to the pitching staff.
The Marlins selected Hand in the second round of the 2008 draft. He came up through their system as a starter, but never gained much traction. Through the end of the 2015 season, he owned a career 4.71 ERA across 288 2/3 innings split between Miami’s rotation and bullpen. His 5.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 were also indicative of a below-average pitcher.
After the Padres claimed him off waivers in early April of the following season, they employed him as a reliever full-time and watched him rise to elite status. Over the course of his career in San Diego, Hand has tossed 168 2/3 sterling innings to the tune of a 2.56 ERA with 11.49 K/9 against just 2.99 BB/9. His 6.14 WPA during that time ranks fourth among qualifying relievers in baseball. After the Padres traded Brandon Maurer to the Royals prior to the 2017 trade deadline, the team began to deploy Hand as its closer; he rewarded them by collecting 19 saves across the remaining 2+ months of the season (in addition to the two he’d earned already that year). If he can continue to perform at a similar level, the Padres stand to earn fantastic value from the added year(s) they’ll gain from Hand as a result of this extension.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Padres and Brad Hand’s representatives began extension talks about a week ago, the reliever told Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other reporters. Those discussions resulted in the three-year, $19.75MM agreement between the club and the southpaw that Hand described as “a life-changing thing.” From the Padres’ perspective, general manager AJ Preller said that his team is “trying to build a foundation of guys going forward that fit for us and we feel like are winning pieces.” It would seem like the extension more or less closes the door on the trade speculation that has circled Hand for the last couple of years, though Preller noted that “you always listen on any player at any time. You’ve got to be open to all different possibilities.”
- Preller also said that the Padres are looking for a veteran middle infielder that can provide depth for shortstop Freddy Galvis. San Diego was checked in on Alcides Escobar earlier this winter, and in my view he would appear to still be an option given the lack of known interest in Escobar’s services.
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 salaries.
Onto today’s landslide of deals…
National League West
- The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
- Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
- The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
- The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
- The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.
National League Central
- All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. Marcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
- The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
- The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
- Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).
National League East
- The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
- The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
- The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection. Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
- Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
- The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
The Padres and Marlins each made a huge acquisition this week, though not the kind we typically cover here on MLBTR. Yesterday, FanGraphs stalwart Dave Cameron announced he will be joining the Padres to help build out their Research and Development department. And this morning, former MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum announced he’s joining the Marlins analytics team. Cameron and Woodrum were among the best sabermetric analysts operating in the public sphere, and we’ll sorely miss reading their work.
I first encountered Dave’s work about ten years ago, on U.S.S. Mariner. More than anyone, Dave was able to do incredibly intelligent baseball analysis in an understandable, easy-to-read way. Dave is a pioneer in the field of sabermetrics, and I made a point to read just about everything he wrote. I don’t remember much about the early days of FanGraphs, except that it had more graphs. When Dave joined, his writing made FanGraphs a must-read as well. Of course, the site has brought in countless talented writers and analysts since then. I first reached out to Dave in 2009 in hopes of understanding WAR better. He’s been gracious with his time over the years when I’ve approached him with many questions and has been a longtime friend of MLBTR. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune spoke to Dave, who has had previous interest from MLB teams, about his decision to accept the Padres’ offer.
Back in 2015, Bradley Woodrum applied for a project we were launching on MLBTR: an attempt to create a model that predicts the chance of a pitcher having Tommy John surgery (updated last September). I knew Brad from his stellar work at FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. The Tommy John project was a daunting undertaking, and I was amazed by Brad’s analytical abilities, professionalism, and perseverance in getting the project to the finish line. It took the better part of a year, but Brad delivered what I considered to be the best possible TJS prediction model, given the limitations of public data. I’m proud to have hosted that work on MLBTR. Armed with the superior data of a Major League club, I expect Brad to do great things.
MLBTR wishes the best to Dave Cameron and Bradley Woodrum in their new careers!
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.
A quick look around the National League…
- The Brewers are arguably in position to spend big on a free agent starting pitcher this offseason, but it’s unlikely to happen “unless prices come down,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. General manager David Stearns claims he’s “comfortable” with the team’s current rotation options – including the newly signed duo of Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo. At the same time, he’s still working to improve the Brewers’ pitching and other areas of their roster. “I wouldn’t say we have anything that is imminent,” he told Haudricourt. “But that can always change with one phone call. We are involved on a number of fronts, some of them farther along than others. We’ll see where that takes us.”
- Outfield prospect Edward Olivares is someone San Diego had “been on for some time” before acquiring him in Saturday’s Yangervis Solarte trade with Toronto, Padres general manager A.J. Preller said (via Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune). Preller went on to reveal that the Padres may not be done trading infielders, even after shipping out Solarte. “We’re still having discussions on the different infielders, and we’ll see how things play out,” stated Preller, who admitted after acquiring third baseman Chase Headley last month that he could flip him. Other teams had also called about Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje at that point.
- The Mets and reliever Jenrry Mejia avoided arbitration this week, settling on a $1.729MM salary, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). However, Mejia isn’t in position to collect that money, as Heyman notes. Major League Baseball issued Mejia a lifetime ban in February 2016 after his third positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.