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Roster Roundup: Early Offseason Edition

If there is one month when even the most diehard baseball fans tend to check out and focus their attention elsewhere, it’s probably November. It’s not that things don’t happen — eight managerial vacancies have been filled, a few of the top free agents have signed, and 118 minor leaguers have been added to their parent club’s 40-man rosters — but the offseason rarely picks up much steam until the Winter Meetings begin. So it’s understandable if you might need to get caught up on all of the recent comings and goings around the league.

I have compiled that list for you here, along with links to the applicable RosterResource depth charts and payroll pages, and analysis from FanGraphs writers for each of the more notable moves.

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks | Depth Chart | Payroll
Free Agent Signings

Lost Off Waivers

Added to 40-Man Roster

Read the rest of this entry »


RosterResource Free Agency Roundup: NL West

This is the last of a six-part series — the AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, and NL Central pieces have been published — in which I’m highlighting each team’s most notable free agents and how it could fill the resulting void on the roster. A player’s rank on our recently released Top 50 Free Agents list, along with Kiley McDaniel’s contract estimates from that exercise, are listed where relevant. In some cases, the team already has a capable replacement ready to step in. In others, it’s clear the team will either attempt to re-sign their player or look to the trade or free agent markets for help. The remaining cases are somewhere in between, with in-house candidates who might be the answer, but aren’t such obvious everyday players to keep the team from shopping around for better options.

Here’s a look at the National League West.

Arizona Diamondbacks | Depth Chart | Payroll

Wilmer Flores, INF

Flores could still fit on the Diamondbacks’ roster in 2020, but in what capacity depends on how the team plans on using Ketel Marte, who made 89 starts in center field and 45 starts at second base last season.

If Marte moves to the outfield full-time, Flores would have more value to the team as a semi-regular at second base while filling in occasionally at either corner infield spot. There are several other middle infield options, however, including Domingo Leyba, Josh Rojas, Ildemaro Vargas, and Andy Young, which could be why the team declined Flores’ $6 million club option despite his career-high 120 wRC+ in 285 plate appearances. Read the rest of this entry »


RosterResource Free Agency Roundup: NL Central

This is the fifth of a six-part series — the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East pieces have been published — in which I’m highlighting each team’s most notable free agents and how it could fill the resulting void on the roster. A player’s rank on our recently released Top 50 Free Agents list, along with Kiley McDaniel’s contract estimates from that exercise, are listed where relevant. In some cases, the team already has a capable replacement ready to step in. In others, it’s clear the team will either attempt to re-sign their player or look to the trade or free agent markets for help. The remaining cases are somewhere in between, with in-house candidates who might be the answer, but aren’t such obvious everyday players to keep the team from shopping around for better options.

Here’s a look at the National League Central.

Chicago Cubs | Depth Chart | Payroll

Nicholas Castellanos, OF
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 11
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 4 years, $56M

Castellanos had been an above-average hitter for a few seasons, although his fielding has left much to be desired. But for the two months following a trade from the Tigers to the Cubs, he was the kind of hitter — 154 wRC+, 16 home runs in 225 plate appearances — whose bat could more than make up for his defensive inadequacies.

Since the Cubs were the team to witness the 27-year-old at his best, especially at Wrigley Field where he slashed .384/.412/.750 in 119 plate appearances, they would have to at least be open to bringing him back. But with the current state of the roster, that does not appear likely unless they trade Kyle Schwarber. Read the rest of this entry »


RosterResource Free Agency Roundup: NL East

In part four of a six-part series — the AL East, AL Central, and AL West pieces have been published — I’ll be highlighting each team’s most notable free agents and how it could fill the resulting void on the roster. A player’s rank on our recently released Top 50 Free Agents list, along with Kiley McDaniel’s contract estimates from that exercise, are listed where relevant. In some cases, the team already has a capable replacement ready to step in. In others, it’s clear the team will either attempt to re-sign their player or look to the trade or free agent markets for help. The remaining cases are somewhere in between, with in-house candidates who might be the answer, but aren’t such obvious everyday players to keep the team from shopping around for better options.

Here’s a look at the National League East.

Atlanta Braves | Depth Chart | Payroll

Josh Donaldson, 3B
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 4
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 3 years, $71M

The Braves didn’t waste much time identifying Donaldson as their preferred third baseman for 2019 and inked him to a one-year, $23 million deal last November. A year later, Austin Riley is ready to step in at the hot corner while Donaldson, who will turn 34 next month, is expected to land a multi-year deal in the range of $20-$25 million per season.

As great a fit as he is in Atlanta, Donaldson will likely get better offers elsewhere with the Braves expected to prioritize starting pitching and catching. That doesn’t rule out a return, especially if the team can fill their biggest needs without breaking the bank. Read the rest of this entry »


RosterResource Free Agency Roundup: AL West

In the third of a six-part series — you can see the AL East here and the AL Central here — I’ll be highlighting each team’s most notable free agents and how it could fill the resulting void on the roster. A player’s rank on our recently released Top 50 Free Agents list, along with Kiley McDaniel’s contract estimates from that exercise, are listed where relevant. In some cases, the team already has a capable replacement ready to step in. In others, it’s clear the team will either attempt to re-sign their player or look to the trade or free agent markets for help. The remaining cases are somewhere in between, with in-house candidates who might be the answer, but aren’t such obvious everyday players to keep the team from shopping around for better options.

Here’s a look at the American League West.

Houston Astros | Depth Chart | Payroll

Gerrit Cole, SP
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 1
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 7 years, $242M

Wade Miley, SP
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 32
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 1 year, $9M

It would be impossible to replace Cole, who might just be the best pitcher on the planet right now. With a projected payroll that is currently above $200 million for next season, the Astros do not appear to be in a strong position to re-sign the 29-year-old. But that doesn’t put them in desperation mode, by any means.

The return of Lance McCullers Jr., who missed all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery, will help to offset the potential loss of Cole and give the Astros a formidable trio to lead their rotation along with Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. Pitching depth is also strong with Jose Urquidy in line for a rotation spot and several others capable of helping out in 2020. But considering that Verlander and Greinke will be 37 and 36, respectively, on Opening Day, and McCullers hasn’t pitched in a game since last October, they aren’t expected to stand pat this offseason. Read the rest of this entry »


RosterResource Free Agency Roundup: AL Central

In the second of a six-part series — you can see the AL East here — I’ll be highlighting each team’s most notable free agents and how it could fill the resulting void on the roster. A player’s rank on our recently released Top 50 Free Agents list, along with Kiley McDaniel’s contract estimates from that exercise, are listed where relevant. In some cases, the team already has a capable replacement ready to step in. In others, it’s clear the team will either attempt to re-sign their player or look to the trade or free agent markets for help. The remaining cases are somewhere in between, with in-house candidates who might be the answer, but aren’t such obvious everyday players to keep the team from shopping around for better options.

Here’s a look at the American League Central.

Chicago White Sox | Depth Chart | Payroll

Jose Abreu, 1B/DH
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 44
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 1 year, $11M

Andrew Vaughn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft and the White Sox’s first baseman of the future, isn’t likely to need much time down on the farm. But it’s rare that any prospect, even one as advanced at the plate as the 21-year-old Vaughn, doesn’t spend at least one full season in the minors. Therefore, the White Sox will require a stopgap at first base in 2020 and have already taken a necessary step to keeping Abreu around for at least one more season.

The 32-year-old was tendered a qualifying offer, which will hurt his value if he wants to test the free agent waters. He could just settle for the one-year, $17.8 million contract or work out a long-term deal that would ensure he’s around to mentor the next wave of prospects, which could include Vaughn, second baseman Nick Madrigal, and outfielders Luis Robert and Luis Alexander Basabe, all who could arrive during the next two seasons. Read the rest of this entry »


RosterResource Free Agency Roundup: AL East

In the first of a six-part series — one piece for each division — I’ll be highlighting each team’s most notable free agents and how it could fill the resulting void on the roster. A player’s rank on our recently released Top 50 Free Agents list, along with Kiley McDaniel’s contract estimates from that exercise, are listed where relevant. In some cases, the team already has a capable replacement ready to step in. In others, it’s clear the team will either attempt to re-sign their player or look to the trade or free agent markets for help. The remaining cases are somewhere in between, with in-house candidates who might be the answer, but aren’t such obvious everyday players to keep the team from shopping around for better options.

Here’s a look at the American League East.

Baltimore Orioles | Depth Chart | Payroll

Mark Trumbo, DH/1B

Trumbo’s expected departure is only notable because it marks the end of a disastrous three-year run that resulted in an 87 wRC+ and 40 homers in 248 games at a total cost of $37.5 million. In his debut season with Orioles in 2016, he had a 125 wRC+ with 47 homers, which led to the contract extension. The particular role Trumbo was supposed to fill, primarily as a designated hitter who could occasionally fill in at first base and the corner outfield spots, now belongs to 25-year-old Renato Nuñez, who will make slightly above the minimum salary next season, is under contract through 2025, and had a 99 wRC+ with 31 homers in his first full big league season.

Total WAR: -0.3

Boston Red Sox | Depth Chart | Payroll

Rick Porcello, SP
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 31
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 2 years, $18M

Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi combined to make 59 starts in 2019 and there’s not much reason to believe that any of them are likely to give the Red Sox anywhere near 30 starts or 180 innings in 2020. That’s why the potential loss of Porcello, who has made at least 31 starts in eight of his 11 seasons and has never had less than 27, could be a major blow to a team with limited starting pitching depth behind Eduardo Rodriguez and the aforementioned trio.

Badly in need of an innings-eater, it’s possible that the best fit for the Red Sox rotation in 2020 is Porcello, even if he’s nowhere near the pitcher he was when he won the AL Cy Young award in 2016. But even if they cut his 2019 salary of $21.25 million by more than half — Kiley predicted a two-year, $18 million contract for Porcello in our Top 50 Free Agents — Boston is attempting to shed payroll and might be looking for much cheaper options.

Brock Holt, INF/OF
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 33
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 2 years, $15M

After a 1-for-16 start to the season followed by a six-week stint on the Injured List, Holt returned to slash .313/.380/.424 in his final 276 plate appearances while making starts at six different positions. The 31-year-old should be rewarded by a team that can offer him more playing time, which could open the door for Tzu-Wei Lin or one of a handful of prospects, including Chad De La Guerra and C.J. Chatham, to become the team’s next super-utilityman.

Mitch Moreland, 1B

Coming off one of his most productive season at the plate, the 34-year-old Moreland’s price tag could still be less than the two-year, $13 million deal that just expired. Still, the Red Sox have bigger voids to fill than at first base. Some combination of Michael Chavis and possibly an inexpensive veteran — think Yonder Alonso or Logan Morrison — could do the job, with prospect Bobby Dalbec, who slashed .239/.356/.460 with 27 homers between Triple-A and Double-A in 2019, a possibility to help out later in the season.

Andrew Cashner, SP/RP

Since an impressive performance as a relief pitcher with the Padres way back in 2012, Cashner worked almost exclusively as a starter over the next six-and-a-half years. He was very good at times, but was also very bad at others, leading at least some people — well, mostly me — to wonder whether it was time to move him back to the bullpen. That time finally came after he posted an 8.01 ERA and 6.81 FIP in six starts after being acquired from the Orioles in July. Excluding his final appearance of the season, which was disastrous, Cashner had a 2.38 ERA and 3.52 FIP out of the ‘pen with four holds and a save while limiting opponents to a .160 batting average over 22 and two-thirds innings.

It’s unclear what kind of market Cashner would have as a reliever, or if there are still teams interested in him as a starting pitcher, but a return to Boston as a setup man to Brandon Workman could be a nice fit for the 33-year-old.

Total WAR: 3.7

New York Yankees | Depth Chart | Payroll

Didi Gregorius, SS
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 10
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 3 years, $48M

With Gregorius out of the picture, Gleyber Torres could move to shortstop, DJ LeMahieu could get most of his starts at second base, and the corner infield spots should be covered by some combination of Miguel Andujar, Greg Bird, Mike Ford, Gio Urshela, and Luke Voit. It really could be as simple as that.

That doesn’t mean the 29-year-old Gregorius, who was 20th in AL MVP voting in 2017 and 2018, is on his way out. The Yankees don’t have many holes to fill. If they prioritize keeping Gregorius, there’s a good chance he’ll stay put. But the fact that they didn’t give him a qualifying offer, making him much more valuable on the open market, probably means that they’re ready to move on and will focus their offseason efforts elsewhere, possibly in the starting pitching market.

Brett Gardner, OF
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 21
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 1 year, $13M

When Gardner re-signed with the Yankees for the 2019 season, it appeared that his days as a starting outfielder were behind him. Coming off one of his least productive seasons, he was set to fill a part-time role behind Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton. A year later, things have changed substantially.

The 36-year-old Gardner just had what was one of his best offensive seasons as a major leaguer. He could still be very valuable to the Yankees, who will be without Hicks for at least half of the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. If they fail to re-sign Gardner without making a competitive offer, it’s a sign that they believe Mike Tauchman’s breakout season (128 wRC+, 13 HR in 296 plate appearances) wasn’t a fluke and that he’s ready to be penciled in as their Opening Day center fielder.

Edwin Encarnación, DH/1B
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 25
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 1 year, $11M

After a season in which nearly every position player in the Bronx missed time due to an injury, the Yankees might be better off rotating their lineup regulars in and out of the designated hitter spot to keep them well-rested and healthy. Or they could use it early in the season to ease Andujar back into action as he returns from rotator cuff surgery. In either case, Encarnación’s time with the Yankees is likely over even if he still has a lot left in the tank as he enters his age-37 season.

Dellin Betances, RP
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 22
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 1 year, $12M

Betances didn’t make his 2019 debut until September 15, striking out both batters he faced before he was shut down for with a partially torn Achilles’ tendon. The Yankees’ bullpen was still very good without him. Zack Britton and Adam Ottavino both posted sub-2.00 ERAs and Tommy Kahnle bounced back from a disappointing 2018.

The 31-year-old, who had over 15.0 K/9 in three consecutive seasons prior to 2019, could pursue both a multi-year deal and an opportunity to be another team’s closer. But if other teams aren’t willing to offer either of those because of health concerns, he could opt to stay with the Yankees and rebuild his value on a one-year deal in hopes of a big payday next winter. If the Yankees are unwilling to spend much more on their bullpen — Aroldis Chapman, Britton, and Ottavino will make a combined $38 million in 2020 — they could move one of their young starting pitchers to relief. Jonathan Loaisiga or Deivi Garcia would be options.

Cameron Maybin, OF

Like Gardner and Tauchman, the 2019 Yankees brought out the best in the 32-year-old Maybin. After having to settle for a minor league contract last offseason, he’s all but certain to land a major league deal this time around after slashing .285/364/.494 with 11 homers in 269 plate appearances on team that won 103 games.

Total WAR: 7.0

Tampa Bay Rays | Depth Chart | Payroll

Eric Sogard, INF/OF
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 39
Kiley McDaniel contract projection: 1 year, $6M

Acquired in July to help pick up the slack with several key players banged up, Sogard had injury troubles of his own late in the season and was shut down in mid-September. He did return for the post-season, making one start and homering against Gerrit Cole. With a deep Rays team expected to return to full health, the 33-year-old Sogard probably won’t be back. Finding a major league deal shouldn’t be a problem, though, after he finished the season with a .290/.353/.457 slash line in 442 plate appearances while making starts at five different positions.

Avisaíl García, OF
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 30
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 1 year, $10M

With three starting outfielders who don’t figure to sit much in 2020 and Guillermo Heredia in line to be the defensive replacement off the bench, García will likely look elsewhere to cash in on a strong bounce-back season. At age 28, he’s one of the youngest free agents on the market.

Travis d’Arnaud, C/1B
FanGraphs Top 50 Free Agent Ranking: 27
Kiley McDaniel’s contract projection: 2 years, $14M

d’Arnaud was acquired from the Dodgers to help fill the void shortly after Mike Zunino went on the Injured List with a strained quad in early May. By the end of August, he was the primary catcher on a Rays team that was headed for a 96-win season and a playoff appearance. He also made 16 starts at first base because the Rays didn’t want his bat out of the lineup when he wasn’t catching. After Zunino’s offensive production dipped drastically for the second consecutive year, the Rays could bring back the 30-year-old d’Arnaud to pair with him once again. Or they could make room to re-sign him by non-tendering Zunino, who is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility.

Total WAR: 4.1

Toronto Blue Jays | Depth Chart | Payroll

Clay Buchholz/Clayton Richard, SP

To fill their rotation needs in 2019, the Blue Jays took a chance on a pair of oft-injured right-handers, Buchholz and Matt Shoemaker, as well as veteran lefty Richard, who made 59 starts over the previous two seasons. While Shoemaker pitched brilliantly out of the gate, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in his fifth start while the other two battled injuries throughout the season and combined for only 22 mostly mediocre starts.

In the same boat a year later, looking for veteran starting pitchers that can help bridge the gap to the team’s young pitching prospects, Toronto moved quickly to acquire Chase Anderson in a trade with the Brewers and will likely add at least one more starter who is a safer bet than any of last year’s additions.

Total WAR: -0.1


RosterResource Offseason Depth Charts and Payroll Pages Are Here

After 11 offseasons of organizing and updating the depth charts at Roster Resource (formerly known as MLBDepthCharts), this will be my first at FanGraphs. In case you’re not familiar with how I cover the offseason, here’s a rundown of how the depth charts and payroll pages work.

These features are now in offseason mode, meaning that all free agents have been removed from their 2019 teams and a projected Opening Day 26-man roster is displayed. As roster moves occur and news is reported, these projections will be updated almost immediately and announced on my Twitter account.

If you find yourself scratching your head about a particular projection — the World Champion Nationals, for example, begin with Jake Noll and Wilmer Difo as their starting first and second baseman, respectively — it’s very likely because you’ve discovered a team need. If you disagree with a projection, we might just have differing opinions. It’s also possible that I’m overlooking something and would greatly appreciate hearing your opinion on the matter. Twitter is the easiest way to make a suggestion or report an error.

It’s important to note that these are Opening Day roster projections. Once we incorporate 2020 stats projections in the depth charts, you will notice that certain players listed in the Minor League section are expected to play an integral role for the upcoming season.

Since offseason moves do not become official right away, I use my best judgement to decide when a free agent signing or trade will be reflected on the site. There have been a few occasions over the years when I have had to “undo” a reported move (i.e. Dexter Fowler agreed to a contract with the Orioles on February 23, 2016 before re-signing with Cubs on February 25, 2016 ). For the most part, a roster move will be reflected on a depth chart once enough credible reporters have confirmed it to consider it a done deal.

Options remaining, major league service time, and Rule 5 eligibility have all been updated through the 2019 season. These are unofficial and based on my own count. Certain players can be granted a fourth option, which is usually not widely reported.

If a player has “R5” in the “Options or R5 status” column, they are eligible for next month’s Rule 5 draft. Players not on the 40-man roster who show that they have options remaining because of previous major league experience are also eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Teams have until November 20 to add players to their 40-man roster, which would protect those players who are eligible from the Rule 5 draft.

Below the 26-man roster projection is the “Minor Leaguers You Should Know” section, sorted by primary position. The purpose of this section is to identify players who are moving up the ladder toward the major leagues. Once I determine that a player is no longer making progress, I remove them from the list. Here is an overview of the criteria I use to determine whether a players is notable enough to be included.

Players are automatically included if they meet any of the following criteria:

  • On the 40-man roster
  • Non-Roster Invitee (not on 40-man roster; invited to major league camp during 2020 Spring Training)
  • Invited to the 2019 Arizona Fall League (while AFL participants are not always top prospects, players chosen by their organization are typically in the upper minors and expected to reach the majors within a year or two).
  • Top 30 prospect in the organization, per the most recent rankings from FanGraphs
  • Drafted in the first 10 rounds of 2019 Amateur Draft

Players are also included if they’ve met some combination of the following criteria:

  • Productive 2019 season:
    • Typically a .700+ OPS or better for position players; could be slightly lower for catchers, second basemen, shortstops and center fielders if speed, on-base ability, and/or defense are strong attributes.
    • Typically a sub-4.00 ERA with average BB/9 rate (4.0 and under) and above-average K/9 rate (8.0 and over), with the caveat that relievers in the low minors must do significantly better to be recognized.
  • If a player did not meet the criteria based on statistical production, other factors such as ceiling, position, age, and level are taken into account.

Payroll pages are explained in depth here. During the offseason, the salary breakdown for a new contract is spread evenly as an “estimated salary” until official numbers are reported. Estimated salaries are displayed in italics. Projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors, are displayed in italics with a light green background.

We’ll be adding 2020 projections to the depth charts in the near future. Feel free to let us know what other information you’d like see while viewing the depth charts in the comments below.


How They Were Acquired: The New York Yankees’ ALDS Roster

In a season during which all but a handful of Yankees missed time due to injury, it’s amazing that they’ll enter the playoffs with almost all of their best players on the active roster. On paper, they look great. How that translates on the field is another story. They lost nine of their last 17 games, but there’s no question that their starting pitchers can be very good, the bullpen is very deep, and their lineup is filled with guys who can thump. That combination can be quite effective in outlasting a playoff opponent.

Here’s how every member of the Yankees’ 2019 ALDS roster was originally acquired. The team’s full RosterResource Depth Chart and Payroll pages are also available as a resource.

Homegrown (6)

Total WAR: 12.2 Read the rest of this entry »


How They Were Acquired: The Minnesota Twins’ ALDS Roster

The 2019 Twins fell one win shy of their franchise record (102), set back in 1965 by a team that included future Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, as well as Tony Oliva, Mudcat Grant, and Jim Kaat. That season ended with a Game 7 World Series loss to the Dodgers — Cy Young winner and World Series MVP Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hit shutout — and it wasn’t until 22 years later that the Twins finally won their first championship since moving to Minnesota.

Reaching the World Series again will require a roster with limited postseason experience that isn’t quite at full health — it’s easier to name the position players who weren’t injured over the past month or two — to get past the Yankees, who have one of the best lineups in baseball, and either the Rays or Astros, who each have three starting pitchers capable of shutting down any opponent.

Here’s how every member of the Twins’ 2019 ALDS roster was originally acquired. The team’s full RosterResource Depth Chart and Payroll pages are also available as a resource.

Homegrown (13)

Total WAR: 30.0 Read the rest of this entry »