And Now, a Mess of Minor MLB Moves

This week may be Prospects Week here at FanGraphs, but for MLB, this has been Minor Signings Week. The long offseason dance is just about over, and everyone’s now at risk of going to homecoming alone. So rather than a long spiel that sees me reference a historical battle or obscure 18th-century literature, let’s get straight to the moves.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona signed Asdrúbal Cabrera to a one-year, $1.75 million deal over the weekend. At 35, his days of teams pretending he can play shortstop are probably in the past for good, but he’ll get some time at second and third base. Just how much time likely depends on how Arizona eventually decides to answer the center field question; if Ketel Marte does, in fact, end up mostly playing in the outfield, Cabrera’s likely the largest beneficiary. I can’t say Cabrera’s arrival is a particularly positive development for Josh Rojas, who was probably the player whose role is most usurped by his arrival.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Asdrúbal Cabrera
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .276 .350 .534 442 65 122 30 6 24 89 51 77 2 126 2.7
80% .271 .340 .496 446 63 121 29 4 21 81 47 84 2 114 2.1
70% .264 .332 .472 447 61 118 28 4 19 79 46 88 2 107 1.6
60% .263 .330 .462 448 60 118 27 4 18 76 45 91 1 104 1.4
50% .260 .324 .444 450 59 117 26 3 17 74 43 93 1 98 1.0
40% .257 .320 .441 451 58 116 26 3 17 72 42 96 1 96 0.9
30% .254 .316 .429 452 58 115 25 3 16 71 41 100 1 92 0.7
20% .252 .312 .417 453 57 114 24 3 15 70 40 106 1 88 0.4
10% .249 .308 .403 454 56 113 22 3 14 67 39 112 1 84 0.2

Baltimore Orioles

I wish I could be more optimistic, as a Baltimore native, about Matt Harvey going to Charm City on a non-roster deal, but we’re now going on six years since he was last an effective pitcher. But then again, if Daniel Bard can resurface after so long, maybe there’s still hope? The Orioles don’t have a lot to lose, and with the minor leagues being a thing in 2021, it’s less of an issue if he gets some innings over someone like Zac Lowther or Michael Baumann.

ZiPS Projection – Matt Harvey
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 4 7 6.08 21 18 87.3 101 59 21 29 66 73 -0.4

Boston Red Sox

It was a quiet addition, but the Red Sox signed Hirokazu Sawamura to a two-year deal worth $3 million with a mutual option for a third season. All told, he can max out at just under $8 million, and the guarantee is enough that I think he’s on the roster in April. His fastball can make it to the upper-90s, and he has a solid splitter, so this isn’t a case of Boston taking a chance on a performer with fringe stuff. The Red Sox may have a shockingly decent bullpen in 2021, though I’m not bullish on the team as a whole.

ZiPS Projection – Hirokazu Sawamura
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 4 3 4.27 42 0 46.3 43 22 5 24 51 108 0.3
2022 4 3 4.14 38 0 41.3 38 19 5 22 46 112 0.3

Chicago White Sox

Mike Wright returns from the KBO on a minor-league deal, but unlike a lot of pitchers coming back home to the States, he didn’t perform particularly well in Korea. Still, 2020 was good for him since he was actually playing competitive baseball rather than waiting to see if the minors were going to be a thing, but I don’t see him as having a path to making the team, short of a lot of spring injuries. Connor Sadzeck, also a non-roster invitee, strikes me as having a better shot; if he can still hit 97 mph with his fastball, he simply has more tantalizing upside as a flier than Wright does.

ZiPS Projection – Mike Wright
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 3 4 5.31 33 11 84.7 94 50 17 30 72 84 0.1

 

ZiPS Projection – Connor Sadzeck
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 3 3 4.60 43 1 45.0 41 23 6 29 50 97 0.1

Cincinnati Reds

Cam Bedrosian not getting a guaranteed deal kind of surprises me, and he has interesting upside for Reds. His missing time with an adductor strain — which, with my limited medical knowledge, means he either injured his groin or is a scallop — isn’t a likely factor here. He’s still in his 20s, and his small-sample-size 2020 doesn’t wipe out the fact that he had a FIP under four in three of the preceding four years. The tricky thing is Cincinnati’s option situation. Jeff Hoffman, Sal Romano, and José De León are all out of options, so a trade may have to happen for Lil’ Bedrock to make the pen. I do think he spends 2020 in the majors, whether here or somewhere else.

ZiPS Projection – Cam Bedrosian
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 3 2 4.10 53 3 52.7 48 24 8 21 56 113 0.5

Cleveland

Blake Parker’s minor-league deal will pay him $2.5 million if he makes the team. It’s too bad that he’s not left-handed — Cleveland’s very thin there — but I think he likely has an advantage in a job fight with pitchers like Cam Hill or Phil Maton, who have options remaining. I’d prefer Maton fairly easily if it comes down to that, and working against Parker is the fact that Cleveland has become increasingly resistant to the concept of paying money to baseball players.

Billy Hamilton also got an invitation to camp, and I think his status as likely the best defensive centerfield among Cleveland’s options gives him a chance to establish a niche role on the roster. Also in his favor is the fact that MLB is still using the weird extra-inning runner rule in 2021, giving Hamilton an additional tactical use. If he gets more than 150 plate appearances, something’s gone wrong in Cleveland.

ZiPS Projection – Blake Parker
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 3 3 4.11 51 1 50.3 43 23 8 19 61 110 0.5

 

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Billy Hamilton
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .234 .297 .343 367 58 86 14 7 4 21 34 81 42 70 0.7
80% .230 .290 .331 369 57 85 13 6 4 20 32 86 36 65 0.5
70% .230 .287 .314 370 56 85 12 5 3 20 31 89 34 60 0.2
60% .226 .282 .310 371 56 84 12 5 3 19 30 92 33 58 0.1
50% .226 .282 .310 371 56 84 12 5 3 19 30 93 32 58 0.1
40% .226 .280 .301 372 55 84 11 4 3 19 29 96 31 55 -0.1
30% .223 .277 .298 372 55 83 11 4 3 19 29 99 29 54 -0.2
20% .222 .272 .289 374 55 83 11 4 2 18 27 103 28 50 -0.4
10% .221 .270 .280 375 54 83 10 3 2 18 26 109 25 47 -0.5

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies signed C.J. Cron to a minor league contract, and I have to say: I absolutely love this deal. Yes, I double-checked that this was the Rockies before making that statement. Ryan McMahon is quite obviously going to be at third base, and Cron has shown serious power potential at times in the past. ZiPS and THE BAT are on the same side of this projection squabble versus Steamer, with the former systems seeing him as essentially a league-average first baseman. Coors Field might make Cron look like a star while having a 1.5-WAR season, at which time I see the Rockies signing him to a very confusing extension. What’s good news for fantasy players is probably bad news for Greg Bird, who is much less exciting.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – C.J. Cron
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .290 .364 .603 421 66 122 26 2 34 96 40 95 2 135 2.9
80% .286 .358 .577 423 64 121 25 1 32 91 38 102 2 127 2.5
70% .280 .349 .560 425 63 119 24 1 31 89 36 105 1 121 2.1
60% .277 .345 .549 426 62 118 24 1 30 87 35 107 1 118 1.9
50% .275 .343 .540 426 62 117 24 1 29 86 35 111 1 115 1.8
40% .272 .339 .527 427 60 116 23 1 28 84 34 113 1 111 1.5
30% .271 .337 .519 428 59 116 23 1 27 82 33 116 1 109 1.4
20% .268 .333 .501 429 59 115 22 0 26 80 32 120 1 104 1.1
10% .265 .326 .480 431 57 114 21 0 24 77 30 128 1 97 0.8

Detroit Tigers

I have had a near-fetish for putting Nomar Mazara on my preseason breakout list, but at this point, I think I’m over it. As impressive as he can look when he crushes a pitch, he just doesn’t do it often enough. He’s been in the majors since 2016 and is still a month away from his 26th birthday, but he’s shown little meaningful improvement at any aspect of the game. In some respects, like his plate discipline, he’s actually backslid somewhat. If there’s any sunny part of his profile, it’s that he could still theoretically join the launch angle revolution; it’s better late than never, and it’s odd for a player whose main lure is power potential seemingly to focus on driving the ball into the ground. If Eric Hosmer can reform, so can (possibly) Mazara.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Nomar Mazara
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .267 .328 .484 479 61 128 30 4 22 77 39 106 3 114 1.7
80% .264 .323 .466 481 60 127 29 4 20 72 37 113 3 108 1.4
70% .261 .319 .448 482 59 126 28 4 18 70 36 118 2 103 1.0
60% .259 .315 .443 483 58 125 27 4 18 69 35 123 2 100 0.9
50% .258 .313 .426 484 58 125 26 2 17 67 34 126 2 96 0.7
40% .256 .309 .414 485 57 124 25 2 16 66 33 130 1 92 0.4
30% .255 .307 .414 486 56 124 25 2 16 65 32 134 1 91 0.3
20% .253 .304 .402 487 55 123 24 2 15 63 31 139 1 87 0.0
10% .249 .296 .390 490 55 122 23 2 14 62 28 149 1 82 -0.3

Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Davidson will be in camp for the Dodgers, but it’s hard to see him making the team as either a hitter or a pitcher. He had moments of brief effectiveness for the White Sox, but Edwin Ríos, who I’d much prefer to have on my team, is already not looking to get much playing time as things are currently. The same goes with Sheldon Neuse, so if Davidson stays in the organization, it’s most likely at Triple-A. I don’t think his ability to pitch is likely to be highly valued by the Dodgers; if he continues with that, he probably needs to prove it against minor-league hitting.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Matt Davidson
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .243 .313 .486 387 48 94 22 0 24 83 35 106 1 110 1.1
80% .236 .302 .456 390 46 92 20 0 22 77 32 114 1 99 0.6
70% .233 .297 .445 391 45 91 20 0 21 75 31 118 1 95 0.3
60% .230 .295 .435 391 44 90 20 0 20 74 31 121 1 92 0.2
50% .227 .290 .429 392 44 89 19 0 20 72 30 123 1 89 0.0
40% .227 .290 .421 392 43 89 19 0 19 71 30 126 1 88 -0.1
30% .224 .285 .417 393 43 88 19 0 19 70 29 128 1 85 -0.2
20% .223 .283 .406 394 42 88 18 0 18 68 28 132 1 82 -0.4
10% .222 .278 .389 396 41 88 18 0 16 64 26 141 0 77 -0.7

Miami Marlins

The Marlins acquired Dylan Floro from the Dodgers for pitchers Alex Vesia and Kyle Hurt, in a move that strikes me as a real noodle-scratcher from Miami’s perspective. Yes, Floro was a perfectly serviceable reliever for the Dodgers the last few years, but you can say pretty much the same for Cam Bedrosian or Tommy Hunter, both players who signed simply for tickets to spring training. The Dodgers rarely used Floro in anything resembling a high-leverage situation and didn’t enter a single game in 2020 at a point where the game’s leverage index was even 1.5. While Vesia was only the Marlins’ 21st-ranked prospect on our list for the team last year, even that’s likely too much to give up for a decent mop-up reliever. I’m not necessarily against Miami trading some of their organizational depth, but it’s hard to be too excited for moves that don’t really address the team’s more pressing concerns.

ZiPS Projection – Dylan Floro
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 4 3 3.77 53 0 57.3 57 24 5 17 45 114 0.5

 

ZiPS Projection – Alex Vesia
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 4 3 4.31 31 0 48.0 43 23 7 22 52 101 0.2

Milwaukee Brewers

You know things haven’t gone well when you’re the son of an All-Star and the Blue Jays sour on you. Travis Shaw was absolutely dreadful in 2019, and while somewhat better last year, it still paled in comparison to the 7.4 WAR he amassed during his 2017–18 peak. He turns 31 early in the season, but his best performances are still recent enough that a minor-league deal is extraordinarily low-risk. I know we have Shaw splitting time with Luis Urías on our depth charts, but I remain skeptical. It’s understandable to wonder about Milwaukee’s commitment to Urías given their flirtations with Justin Turner, but Daniel Robertson strikes me as a fairly difficult obstacle to making the team thanks to his ability to play shortstop. Shaw does have upside remaining, even if 2019 and ’20 suggest against that.

Brad Boxberger also will play for the Brewers this spring, and while his emoji game is strong (as the first player in major league history to have one as his name back on Player’s Weekend a few years ago), his control game is not. I personally think Milwaukee has better options here, though Boxberger will resurface elsewhere in all likelihood.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Travis Shaw
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .247 .350 .511 413 63 102 22 0 29 70 64 112 6 124 3.3
80% .243 .344 .480 415 59 101 20 0 26 64 62 120 4 115 2.7
70% .235 .333 .460 417 57 98 19 0 25 61 60 124 4 107 2.3
60% .230 .327 .447 418 56 96 19 0 24 60 59 128 4 102 2.0
50% .229 .325 .439 419 56 96 19 0 23 58 58 131 3 100 1.9
40% .226 .321 .426 420 54 95 18 0 22 56 57 135 3 95 1.7
30% .223 .317 .416 421 54 94 18 0 21 55 56 141 3 92 1.4
20% .220 .313 .403 422 53 93 17 0 20 53 55 147 3 87 1.2
10% .219 .308 .387 424 51 93 17 0 18 50 53 155 1 83 0.8

 

ZiPS Projection – Brad Boxberger
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 3 4 5.26 46 0 39.3 35 23 8 27 49 86 -0.2

New York Mets

It would be fair to give a mulligan to Brad Brach for a poor 2020 showing given his summer fight with COVID-19. That being said, the Mets are contenders, and even for the downside risk of Brach, whose control has always been on the spotty side, $2 million was too much for him to make the roster, so he was cut despite the salary guarantee. He’ll latch onto another team and get some time this spring, but he’s unlikely to make a major league team if his velocity hasn’t returned.

Tommy Hunter is one of the players who could take Brach’s role with the Mets, and like with Bedrosian, I’m surprised that he didn’t score a major league contract. Hunter doesn’t touch 96 mph anymore, but he’s never finished a season with a FIP above four since being converted to relief by the Orioles in days of yore. You can also add Mike Montgomery to the spring training invitations, and I think he actually has a decent shot at making the roster; if a pitcher is injured, I’d much rather look at Montgomery than move Seth Lugo out of the pen. It hasn’t been that long since he was an effective pitcher for the Cubs.

ZiPS Projection – Tommy Hunter
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 3 2 3.50 47 0 46.3 43 18 5 10 42 121 0.6

 

ZiPS Projection – Mike Montgomery
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 5 4 4.23 30 13 87.3 84 41 12 32 75 100 0.9

New York Yankees

Yankee Stadium would be a good home for Jay Bruce’s left-handed power, but his chances at making the team are hampered by his lack of ability to play center field. At 34, I think expecting a repeat of his .254/.324/.508 season in 2017 with the Mets is a stretch, but without any real defensive value, that’s kind of what he would have to do to contribute. I also don’t think his presence, at this stage of his career, has an effect on whether Brett Gardner returns to the Yankees; Bruce just isn’t that valuable at this point.

Robinson Chirinos also got an invitation to camp, but it’s an uphill climb with the Yankees sticking with Gary Sánchez for the moment and Kyle Higashioka likely having an ironclad grip on the No. 2 spot.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Jay Bruce
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .250 .314 .560 336 47 84 20 3 26 79 31 80 1 128 2.0
80% .242 .300 .519 339 45 82 19 3 23 73 28 84 1 115 1.4
70% .239 .297 .499 339 43 81 18 2 22 70 28 87 1 109 1.2
60% .235 .292 .485 340 42 80 18 2 21 68 27 89 1 104 1.0
50% .232 .289 .471 340 42 79 17 2 20 67 27 91 1 100 0.8
40% .232 .286 .469 341 41 79 17 2 20 65 26 93 1 99 0.7
30% .229 .284 .457 341 40 78 17 2 19 64 26 95 1 95 0.6
20% .225 .278 .442 342 40 77 16 2 18 62 25 99 1 90 0.3
10% .221 .270 .424 344 38 76 15 2 17 59 23 107 1 83 0.0

 

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Robinson Chirinos
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .223 .326 .433 291 37 65 17 1 14 55 37 81 0 102 1.6
80% .218 .317 .403 293 35 64 16 1 12 50 35 86 0 93 1.2
70% .214 .308 .376 295 34 63 15 0 11 49 33 90 0 84 0.9
60% .209 .302 .361 296 33 62 15 0 10 47 32 93 0 78 0.7
50% .205 .296 .354 297 33 61 14 0 10 45 31 96 0 75 0.5
40% .205 .296 .343 297 32 61 14 0 9 44 31 99 0 72 0.5
30% .201 .290 .336 298 32 60 13 0 9 43 30 102 0 69 0.3
20% .201 .287 .324 299 31 60 13 0 8 41 29 106 0 65 0.2
10% .197 .282 .307 300 31 59 12 0 7 38 28 115 0 59 -0.1

Philadelphia Phillies

Jeff Mathis‘ non-roster invitation will earn him $1.8 million if he goes north with the Phillies. He’s coming off a multi-year deal with the Rangers, but his defense was generally middling in Texas, a problem for a player who gets literally all his value from defense. Mathis had an interesting career path, going from a prospect mainly valued for his offensive ability to a glove specialist. I would be surprised if he beat out Andrew Knapp for the privilege of backing up J.T. Realmuto, so I think he’s in camp mainly to work with pitchers and audition for a job elsewhere.

Travis Jankowski also gets a ticket to camp, but he’d likely have to beat out Roman Quinn or Adam Haseley to play for the Phillies in April, and while I’m rather bearish on both, I don’t think he’s a threat to do that.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Jeff Mathis
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .190 .246 .386 210 19 40 7 2 10 26 16 77 4 63 -0.2
80% .184 .232 .344 212 17 39 6 2 8 23 14 81 3 50 -0.5
70% .179 .228 .325 212 17 38 6 2 7 22 14 82 2 44 -0.7
60% .175 .224 .311 212 16 37 6 1 7 21 14 84 2 40 -0.8
50% .174 .219 .296 213 16 37 6 1 6 21 13 85 2 35 -1.0
40% .169 .215 .291 213 16 36 6 1 6 20 13 87 2 32 -1.1
30% .168 .211 .285 214 15 36 5 1 6 19 12 88 2 30 -1.1
20% .164 .206 .266 214 15 35 5 1 5 19 12 91 1 24 -1.3
10% .163 .202 .265 215 14 35 5 1 5 17 11 94 1 22 -1.4

 

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Travis Jankowski
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .229 .317 .314 271 36 62 10 2 3 15 33 60 24 68 0.1
80% .228 .314 .298 272 36 62 9 2 2 15 32 63 21 64 -0.1
70% .227 .310 .286 273 35 62 8 1 2 14 31 67 20 60 -0.2
60% .223 .304 .281 274 35 61 8 1 2 14 30 69 19 57 -0.3
50% .223 .304 .281 274 35 61 8 1 2 14 30 71 18 57 -0.3
40% .222 .301 .280 275 35 61 8 1 2 14 29 73 17 56 -0.4
30% .222 .301 .269 275 34 61 8 1 1 14 29 75 16 53 -0.5
20% .217 .294 .261 276 34 60 7 1 1 14 28 78 15 49 -0.7
10% .216 .288 .259 278 34 60 7 1 1 14 26 84 14 47 -0.7

San Francisco Giants

Nick Tropeano signed a minor-league contract with heavy incentives if he makes the roster. Aaron Sanchez also signing probably limits Tropeano’s path to making the team as a starter, but there may be an early-season opportunity for him to be the final man out of the bullpen, as neither John Brebbia nor Tyler Beede will be ready at the start of the season.

ZiPS Projection – Nick Tropeano
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 4 4 4.65 17 11 69.7 70 36 12 28 69 90 0.5

St. Louis Cardinals

Matt Szczur is heading to camp for St. Louis, but as much as I appreciate someone with more confusing Zs in their last name than me, I think he’s likely filling out the spring roster. He did hit .322/.390/.577 for Triple-A Reno in 2019, but pretty much everyone hit like that in the Pacific Coast League during that season’s offensive explosion. Lane Thomas provides more versatility to the Cards and Austin Dean more offensive upside, so I suspect Szczur is heading to the minors in March.

ZiPS Projection Percentiles – Matt Szczur
Percentile BA OBP SLG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OPS+ WAR
90% .241 .327 .408 174 25 42 10 2 5 21 22 34 2 96 0.6
80% .234 .317 .389 175 25 41 10 1 5 20 21 36 1 89 0.4
70% .234 .317 .371 175 24 41 10 1 4 20 21 37 1 85 0.3
60% .233 .312 .369 176 24 41 10 1 4 19 20 38 1 82 0.3
50% .233 .312 .364 176 24 41 9 1 4 19 20 40 1 81 0.2
40% .232 .307 .362 177 24 41 9 1 4 19 19 41 1 79 0.2
30% .232 .307 .362 177 24 41 9 1 4 19 19 42 1 79 0.2
20% .232 .307 .345 177 24 41 9 1 3 18 19 44 1 75 0.1
10% .229 .296 .335 179 24 41 8 1 3 18 17 48 1 70 0.0

Washington Nationals

T.J. McFarland signed a minor-league contract, and I expect that he has an uphill battle to make the Nats. The bullpen is not particularly deep, but a soft-tosser who doesn’t have a killer out pitch or a real ability to cause weak contact isn’t a particularly compelling back-of-pen option. Most likely, he’ll be at Triple-A Rochester as a possible injury reinforcement.

ZiPS Projection – T.J. McFarland
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2021 1 1 4.61 48 0 54.7 62 28 7 18 33 98 0.1





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Jim
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Jim

Dan, you have been really working hard lately. Great stuff!