Author Archive

Detroit Pulls a Shortstop Out of Its Hat

There’s something satisfying about the perfect trip to the grocery store. If you’re anything like me, you know what I’m talking about: you have a list of a ton of things you can’t wait to eat, you cross each of them off as you throw them in your cart, and by the time you reach the cash register, you can almost taste the delicious meals you’ll be eating the rest of the week.

Why bring this up now? Because that’s how I imagine Al Avila feels after signing Javier Báez, with the Tigers inking the ex-Cubs shortstop to a six-year, $140 million deal last night, as Jon Morosi first reported. Front-line starter. Shortstop. Catcher. The Tigers came into this offseason looking to place star veterans around their burgeoning youth movement, and with Báez in tow, they’ve now landed a top hitter to go with a top pitcher, just like they planned.

Báez played second base after his trade to New York last season, but he’s a natural fit at shortstop. He’s a plus defender with a knack for making spectacular plays, but even without those flourishes, he’d be an asset in the field, with a huge arm and solid range and instincts. Of the marquee shortstops in this class, Báez and Carlos Correa are first and second, and no one else is in the same stratosphere.
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Toronto Catches Gausmania!

The clever introductions to early free-agent signings have all been used up. It’s November 30, and more than a third of the top 25 players on the market have already signed. That’s an unprecedented pace, one that ran me out of headlines sooner than expected. So, uh: Kevin Gausman is going to the Blue Jays, and that’s really neat! The deal is for five years and over $100 million:

I was wildly low on my prediction for Gausman’s contract when I previewed the top 50 free agents earlier this month. Why, then, would you want to read what I think of this deal? I’ll give you two reasons. First, you love reading about baseball; you’re browsing FanGraphs on November 30, like we covered up above. Second, I think that the solid market for Gausman says something about both him as a pitcher and the market as a whole, and who doesn’t like big sweeping pronouncements mixed with micro re-assessments? It’s a party for everyone. Read the rest of this entry »


Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 11/29/21

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Buxton, Twins Combine on Fascinating Extension

For years, 2022 has loomed large in the Minnesota Twins’ long-term planning. Their two franchise cornerstones, Byron Buxton and José Berríos, were both due to hit free agency after the 2022 season, which meant the team constructed many of its long-term plans with that year as a pivot point. Even when they traded Berríos for prospects at the 2021 deadline, next year still looked like a potential last hurrah with the current core before turning the team over to new blood.

Forget that idea. On Sunday, the Twins and Buxton agreed to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension that will keep him in Minnesota through the 2028 season; it also includes a full no-trade clause. The gem of Minnesota’s last rebuild will now be the face of the franchise throughout the peak of his career.

2021 was a microcosm of Buxton’s career to date. He was electric when he played, batting .306/.358/.647 with 19 home runs in only 254 plate appearances. He clubbed 19 doubles, stole nine bases (against just a single time getting caught), and channeled his aggression on pitches in the zone without flailing wildly. In the field, he was as good as ever, which is pretty darn good. Buxton is perennially one of the best center fielders in baseball, and this year was no exception. Every defensive metric agreed he was one of the best per-game defenders in the majors. Combine that with his offense, and he was worth 4.2 WAR in only 61 games. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Shopping Lists: NL and AL West

Last week, the FanGraphs staff and I previewed the top 50 free agents on this winter’s market. It takes two to tango, though (pending the development of my experimental one-person tango), which means the teams looking for players matter just as much. Over the course of this week, I’ll preview the needs of each team in baseball. Today, it’s time to preview the NL and AL Central. You can find the 10 teams in the East here and the Central here.

As much as possible, I’ve tried to be realistic. Yes, the Orioles could sign Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Freddie Freeman, Starling Marte, Max Scherzer, and Marcus Stroman in pursuit of a playoff berth next year. They not going to sign even one of those players, though, and I’ve focused on what a team should do given real-world budgets. You won’t see the Rays listed as a landing spot for free agents in the market for $100 million contracts, or anything of that sort. As much as possible, this list is what teams might actually do. Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Shopping Lists: AL and NL Central

Last week, the FanGraphs staff and I previewed the top 50 free agents on this winter’s market. It takes two to tango, though (pending the development of my experimental one-person tango), which means the teams looking for players matter just as much. Over the course of this week, I’ll preview the needs of each team in baseball. Today, it’s time to preview the NL and AL Central. You can find the 10 teams in the East here.

As much as possible, I’ve tried to be realistic. Yes, the Orioles could sign Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Freddie Freeman, Starling Marte, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Marcus Stroman in pursuit of a playoff berth next year. They not going to sign even one of those players, though, and I’ve focused on what a team should do given real-world budgets. You won’t see the Rays listed as a landing spot for free agents in the market for $100 million contracts, or anything of that sort. As much as possible, this list is what teams might actually do. Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry »


Eduardo Rodriguez Opts for the Tigers

The Tigers have been going through a prolonged down period. The last season they finished above .500 was 2016, and the intervening years have been brutal — 2021 was the first year where they won even 40% of their games since that ’16 season. This year’s team was full of interesting players, and Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson should be ready soon, but the Tigers still needed a talent infusion if they wanted to compete next year.

Enter Eduardo Rodriguez, a perfect fit for the Tigers. Rodriguez signed a five-year, $77 million deal to join Detroit. He’s the first big signing of the offseason, and the symbolism of the Tigers opening the free agency market as they open their window of contention is fun to think about, even if it’s mainly just a fun fact. The Tigers are coming! Let’s talk about three things in order: what Rodriguez brings to the table, why Detroit wanted a starter, and the particulars of his contract.

First things first: Rodriguez isn’t your average 4.74 ERA starter. He was quite poor in the run prevention department this year, but under the hood, his statistics looked far more enticing. He set a career high in strikeout rate and a career low in walk rate, welcome improvements for a pitcher who was already above average. He made 31 starts, showing no rust after missing all of the 2020 season due to a heart condition. He missed as many bats as ever, surrendered fewer barrels than the average pitcher, and generally looked like a star. Read the rest of this entry »


Offseason Shopping Lists: AL and NL East

Last week, the FanGraphs staff and I previewed the top 50 free agents on this winter’s market. It takes two to tango, though (pending the development of my experimental one-person tango), which means the teams looking for players matter just as much. Over the course of this week, I’ll preview the needs of each team in baseball, starting with the NL and AL East and continuing westward throughout the week.

As much as possible, I’ve tried to be realistic. Yes, the Orioles could sign Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien, Freddie Freeman, Starling Marte, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Marcus Stroman in pursuit of a playoff berth next year. They not going to sign even one of those players, though, and I’ve focused on what a team should do given real-world budgets. You won’t see the Rays listed as a landing spot for free agents in the market for $100 million contracts, or anything of that sort. As much as possible, this list is what teams might actually do. Let’s get to it. Read the rest of this entry »


Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 11/15/21

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Postseason Managerial Report Card: Brian Snitker

Every series needs a finale, and the postseason managerial (and front office) report card series is no exception. Unlike nearly every movie franchise in history (Lord of the Rings, you’re excused), the last chapter here is the best. Brian Snitker did a tremendous job managing the Braves through this postseason. He started with a tenuous starting pitching unit, lost Charlie Morton, and managed his way through it anyway.

As always, these rankings are a reflection of the tactical decisions a manager made during the playoffs. I’m not considering roster moves or off-field decisions around keeping players ready to contribute — Kevin Cash and the Rays are the best example of this, but the Giants deserve mention here as well. This is just on-field moves — pinch hitting and lineup choices, pitching decisions, and the like. Read the rest of this entry »