Author Archive

Sonny Gray Is Now the Reds’ Problem to Solve

In 2016, the Reds’ rotation ranked last in the majors in WAR. The next year, they improved, sliding all the way up to 29th. This past season, they wound up in 26th, and over the combined three-year sample, we find the Reds in 30th place out of 30 teams, nearly a full six WAR behind the next-worst White Sox. It hasn’t been for lack of talent; it’s been for lack of execution, for lack of development. The Reds, at some point, decided they weren’t going to take it anymore. Earlier in this offseason, the rotation added Alex Wood. Earlier in this offseason, the rotation added Tanner Roark. And now we have a holiday three-team exchange, bringing just another starting arm to Cincinnati.

Reds

Yankees

  • GET:
  • LOSE:
    • Sonny Gray
    • Reiver Sanmartin

Mariners

  • GET:
    • Shed Long
  • LOSE:
    • Josh Stowers

Wood is going into his contract season. The same is true of Roark. The same is also true of outfield acquisition Yasiel Puig. The same is true of Matt Kemp. The same was true of Gray, but as a part of this trade, Gray and the Reds have agreed on a three-year extension, beginning in 2020 and worth $30.5 million. There’s a $12-million club option for 2023, and there are various salary escalators involved. The Reds are paying a high price here, but at least they’re doing it for a long-term player. And from the Yankees’ perspective, they knew it was going to get here eventually. Playing in New York, Gray just couldn’t succeed. Now it’s the Reds’ turn to work with the same puzzle pieces.

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 1/18/19

9:04

Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:04

Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:05

Mookie Butts: Why are the Yankees trying to win so much?  It feels like a personal attack.

9:05

Jeff Sullivan: It should feel like a personal attack

9:05

Jeff Sullivan: Do you remember what happened in 2018

9:06

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think the Yankees liked that very much

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Yankees Reassemble Nightmarish Towering Bullpen of Doom

While the baseball world has waited for the Yankees to become involved in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, they re-signed CC Sabathia. They traded for James Paxton. They re-signed J.A. Happ. They signed Troy Tulowitzki. They re-signed Zach Britton. They signed DJ LeMahieu. And now, on Thursday, they’ve signed Brooklyn native Adam Ottavino. You can say that Machado would still be a fit — indeed, Machado would still be a fit — but you can’t accuse the club of inaction. Brian Cashman and his staff have been busy.

Ottavino is signing for three years, with a $27-million guarantee. While so far we’ve seen just two contracts of three or more years given to position players, this is the fourth of the offseason for a reliever, with Ottavino joining Britton, Joe Kelly, and Jeurys Familia. At 33 years old, Ottavino counts as the elder statesman of the group. Teams now tend to be disinclined to give such multi-year guarantees to players entering their mid-30s. But the thing about Ottavino is that he’s great.

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Contract Crowdsourcing Again: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

There’s a report out today about Manny Machado:

Manny Machado remains unsigned, but the Chicago White Sox have made at least one pitch to the superstar shortstop.

Multiple sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney that the White Sox have a seven-year, $175 million offer on the table for Machado.

I do think there’s something important to understand here. Machado hasn’t yet signed anywhere. The idea that he would sign for $175 million seems almost preposterous, but then again, he hasn’t signed for $175 million. If the reported terms are true, they do seem too small, but that’s how a negotiation is conducted. The player side asks for X, which is ultimately too high. The team side proposes Y, which is ultimately too low. If an agreement is reached, it’s for Z. We’re going to learn the most information when Machado actually has a new employer. Then, and only then, will we have a fuller understanding of what his market looked like. Said understanding still won’t be complete.

So Machado is still out there, available. Bryce Harper is also still out there, also available. Machado’s age is 26 and six months. Harper’s age is 26 and three months. There was thought that, through free agency, they might be able to reach some record contracts. Those contracts might still be out there in front of them. Increasingly, however, it feels like they might not be. Which is why this little post is going up.

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Exactly Three Things About Avisail Garcia

A number of years ago, when I had reason to watch the Tigers, I got to see a bit of a young Avisail Garcia. From a young age, Garcia was referred to as “Mini Miggy,” that being a reference to regular Miggy, Miguel Cabrera. Garcia is from the same country as Cabrera, and he played for the same team as Cabrera, and he had a build and swing somewhat reminiscent of Cabrera. You probably know how it’s worked out to this point. Garcia was Mini Miggy in the same way so many small Dominican righties have been Mini Pedros. Cabrera will eventually end up in the Hall of Fame. Garcia was non-tendered by a bad baseball team at the age of 27.

But today is January 15, and these are trying days to be a baseball writer. The start of the season still feels ages away, and there’s only so much one can write about Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. And so, here we are. Garcia is finalizing a contract with the Rays, a one-year contract worth at least $3.5 million and at most $6 million. Garcia doesn’t seem ticketed for a starting role — he’ll probably bounce around, getting opportunities to hit against lefties. The better he does, the more he’ll play, but he’s joining a team with too many talented players for there to be a long leash. Just because Garcia will start the season in Tampa Bay doesn’t mean that’s where he’ll end it.

The Rays have wanted a right-handed hitter. I assume they wanted a better right-handed hitter. But this is the right-handed hitter I’ve been given a reason to write about right now. So if you’ll join me, I have three things I’d like to share with you. Three fun facts, if you will, three ways in which Garcia is unusual.

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DJ LeMahieu Is Going to Look Familiar

Late last week, free-agent infielder DJ LeMahieu signed for two years and $24 million. LeMahieu is going into his age-30 season, and not that long ago, I wrote about his offensive upside. Given where we are in the information era — and the player-development era — I find LeMahieu intriguing, and so I’m a fan of the terms. I think he can be a lot more valuable than this, although to his agent’s credit, he’s also a member of baseball’s veteran middle class, so it’s good to lock down a multi-year contract at all.

The one thing that’s somewhat surprising is that LeMahieu didn’t sign with, say, the Brewers. He signed with the Yankees. The Yankees already had a player at LeMahieu’s primary position, just as the Mets already had a player (two of them, in fact) at Jed Lowrie’s primary position. So, just like with Lowrie, LeMahieu is expected to move around the diamond. It makes it all the more difficult to fit Manny Machado with the Yankees. It also makes you wonder at least a little bit about Miguel Andujar’s future as the Yankees’ third baseman. In LeMahieu, the Yankees signed a talented player, but it raises new questions. It also re-raises old ones.

For the next few minutes, though, let’s forget all of that. Let’s forget about how the Yankees’ infield all works together. Let’s forget about Machado, and Andujar, and Troy Tulowitzki. Let’s just talk about DJ LeMahieu’s hitting. Does he remind you of anyone?

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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 1/11/19

9:04

Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:04

Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:04

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : I keep hearing that the NL central is the best division in baseball. I didn’t believe it, but I added up the projected WAR OF every division, and I’ll be danged but sure nuff, it really was the best. But what really blew my mind was the tiny separation in projected WAR between the #1 team and the #5 team in that division–11.5 WAR, barely half of the next best division. Has there ever before been a divisional projection that tight in the FG era?

9:06

Jeff Sullivan: Let me say this: it’s too early to perform this kind of analysis, because the offseason still has a long way to go, and our projections right now are just Steamer instead of Steamer and ZiPS

9:06

Jeff Sullivan: And I think what people probably mean is that the NL Central might have five at least decently competitive teams. In the NL East, there should be four competitive teams and the Marlins

9:07

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know what more the Reds are going to do. I don’t know if the Pirates are going to do anything. But it’ll be fun. The whole NL should be fun — a lot crazier than this year’s upcoming AL

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The Biggest Injury Wild Card for 2019

I’ll grant that trying to answer this is unavoidably subjective. The Nationals just signed Brian Dozier, and a bone bruise might’ve clipped four wins from his WAR. The Braves are crossing their fingers for a healthy season from Josh Donaldson. Corey Seager is returning to the Dodgers after missing almost the whole year. The Cubs are looking for Yu Darvish to rebound. The Angels are looking for Zack Cozart to rebound. Dustin Pedroia should be coming back. Michael Pineda should be coming back. Buster Posey should be coming back. And so on and so forth. Baseball players get hurt. They try to put those injuries behind them. They try to get back to being what they were.

But as I think about this — certain recoveries are more predictable than others. Certain recovering players have bigger error bars than others. In a sense, the purpose behind this post is simply to remind you of the existence of Jimmy Nelson. But I think he really is the biggest injury wild card for the season ahead. The Brewers will play in a division with at least three and possibly five competitive teams. As of this moment, the Brewers are projected to have a below-average starting rotation. Jimmy Nelson might be a zero, as he was in 2018. Or he might be an ace, as he was in 2017. I don’t know which it’s going to be. The Brewers don’t, either.

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Yasmani Grandal Is Better Than This

Free agent Yasmani Grandal reached a one-year agreement with the Brewers, worth $18.25 million. Grandal’s contract — while surprising — is not proof that baseball is broken. Not in an offseason where Lance Lynn got $30 million. Not in an offseason where Zach Britton got $39 million. Not in an offseason where Andrew McCutchen got $50 million. Nathan Eovaldi got $68 million. Patrick Corbin got $140 million. And even in Grandal’s specific case, it’s been reported he turned down an offer of $60 million or so from the Mets. Now, there’s reason to believe that didn’t happen exactly as so. It feels more than a little far-fetched. But the conversations, at least, were productive, before the Mets opted for Wilson Ramos instead. Grandal had a chance to do better than this.

But still, Yasmani Grandal signed a one-year contract barely worth more than the qualifying offer he declined. He signed a one-year contract with a competitive team, but a competitive team that happens to play in baseball’s smallest market. This could ultimately work out just fine — with a big season ahead, Grandal would re-enter free agency, and maybe next winter he’d find a larger guarantee. There’s nothing wrong with bringing home $18.25 million in the meantime. It’s just surprising there wasn’t greater demand. The Brewers lucked out; a good player just fell into their lap. It probably shouldn’t have happened.

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Willians Astudillo and Shooting for History

Some of you might not realize that, if you hover over the search bar up there, you’ll see which player pages have recently been the most popular. Let’s give it a spin, shall we?

Willians Astudillo. Between Astudillo and Vlad, I don’t know which has been more popular, but I strongly suspect it’s the former, and it’s definitely the former among major-league players. People have been losing their minds over Astudillo of late. Now, I did write about him last week. Playing winter ball down in Venezuela, Astudillo has performed like a deserving MVP candidate. But also, there’s a clip that’s been making the rounds. Willians Astudillo hit a home run.

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