Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 11/15/22

2:01
Ben Clemens: Hey everybody, welcome to the chat

2:04
Ben Clemens: It’s a nice chill offseason Tuesday, so let’s answer a few questions about baseball, a few questions about whatever is on your mind, and generally take it easy

2:04
Guest: Which segment of the free agent market starts to move first in your opinion?

2:05
Ben Clemens: I think Verlander and deGrom will sign early on. They both seem like they’ll have a ton of suitors, so no question of their market moving slowly, and they also seem to me like people who would want to know where they’ll be next year

2:06
Silly Dan McGraw: should the Yankees consider using IKF behind the plate as Trevino’s back up?

2:06
Ben Clemens: No, to be honest

2:07
Ben Clemens: I think he was always miscast as a catcher; he was doing it to help the team out because he’s a team player, but he’s better suited as a utility infielder

2:08
Ben Clemens: I think they’ll use him in that role, which makes sense to me

2:08
brad penny for your thoughts: do you buy the reason from the STL front office that the internet was too mean to Jeff Albert to retain him?

2:09
Ben Clemens: No, but I am definitely curious to hear what the actual reason is if it ever comes out

2:09
William: You are the TB Rays..pick one: Josh Bell, Jose Abreu, Trey Mancini

2:09
Ben Clemens: Abreu for me

2:09
tortycraig: favorite butternut squash dish, if any?

2:10
Ben Clemens: I just made one I really like last night

2:10
Ben Clemens: Well, that’s a lie, Jenna (my wife) made it and I kinda helped

2:10
Ben Clemens: Roasted butternut squash, kale, toasted walnut, apple, and blue cheese salad

2:11
Ben Clemens: a nice fall salad is always a crowd pleaser

2:11
Ben Clemens: I think butternut squash goes particularly well with fall flavors, too

2:11
Eric: Is there any tiny justification for the Royals re-signing O’Hearn  and failing to protect some decent prospects from R5? It’s mystifying

2:11
Craig: DFA Brentz and sign O’Hearn to an MLB deal? Off to a great start in Kansas City!

2:12
Ben Clemens: I am not as snarky as Dan Szymborski, but I liked his idea: the Royals have a type, and that type is people whose contact information they already possess

2:13
Kim: Why wouldn’t Benny consider a pillow contract given how young he is?

2:13
Ben Clemens: I bet he will consider one, but the counter-argument is pretty easy

2:14
Ben Clemens: His estimated career earnings are ~22 million. Figure 50% tax rate effective and some spending, and maybe he has 8 million in the bank right now, perhaps a little less

2:16
Ben Clemens: That’s a solid start, but it’s not never again care about your finances money

2:16
Ben Clemens: Sign a pillow contract and get hurt, or just underperform, and you might never quite escape that orbit

2:17
Ben Clemens: I think that taking three years and locking in being lifetime wealthy is very tempting

2:17
Sexy Pete: I don’t buy that Steve Cohen would be outbid for degrom. Do you agree?

2:17
Ben Clemens: Yeah

2:17
Teddy: Thoughts on what you would do for 1B if you were the new Astros GM?

2:17
Ben Clemens: I’d say “Yes, Mister Crane, Yuli IS a spectacular player who you love very much, that’s really good information.”

2:18
Silly Dan McGraw: Who will be the best free agent value?

2:18
Ben Clemens: I’m going to stick with Taylor Rogers, with Tyler Anderson as a runner up

2:20
cody bellinger: are the dodgers gonna tender me a contract? or will i be tinkering with my swing a million different ways on another squad?

2:21
Ben Clemens: I think there’s basically no chance of Bellinger getting back into arbitration, but I’m not sure whether it will end with he and the Dodgers agreeing to a pay cut or a pure non-tender

2:21
Ben Clemens: Like, I don’t think anyone else is lining up to pay Bellinger 20 million either

2:22
Artie: Haven’t heard much about Brandon Belt. What do you think might be in store for him?

2:22
Ben Clemens: my best guess is that he’ll be back on the Giants, but I’m not exactly sure what deal he’ll get. He was looking old this past year, which is fair…. he’s old

2:22
Eric: To be fair on Brentz, he got TJ and is likely out for the year

2:22
Ben Clemens: It’s more the O’Hearn decision, I agree

2:23
2-D: A’s are playing some spring training games in Vegas. Does this move the needle at all in terms of them leaving Oakland?

2:24
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so. It’s just more of the same saber rattling

2:24
Ben Clemens: That said, it seems to me as a bay area resident that the team is very interested in moving to Vegas

2:24
Ben Clemens: so I’d still make the odds high. I just don’t thikn playing spring games in their AAA stadium moves the needle

2:25
Artie: what effect does the FTX collapse have on MLB?

2:26
Ben Clemens: Fewer jersey patches, and maybe (but probably not, c’mon it’s MLB) a little more due diligence before signing crypto deals

2:26
Ben Clemens: I think that they often have the “oh, money? I like money, you’re surely legit if you have it” approach

2:27
Ben Clemens: I’ll be honest — I kinda thought FTX was legit

2:27
Ben Clemens: But I did not do extended partnership research before linking my name to them professionally, so I’ll cut myself a little slack

2:28
Dan: Did Aaron Judge just have the best year of somebody who will never be considered the best player in baseball? How many more 9+ WAR season make people call him the best player in baseball?

2:28
Ben Clemens: I think that depends heavily on what you mean by “people”

2:28
Ben Clemens: I think there are plenty of people who currently consider him the best hitter in baseball

2:28
Ben Clemens: I mean, did you see his season?

2:28
Matt: Phillies signing one of the top SS….buying or selling?

2:29
Ben Clemens: Selling. I think they roll with Stott

2:30
Cardinal Red: Who is Yadi’s heir to catching in St. Louis? Contreras?

2:30
Ben Clemens: I still think it’ll end up being Sean Murphy or Danny Jansen

2:30
Ben Clemens: Granted, plenty of that is just how weird it would feel to see a lifelong Cub as a Cardinals

2:30
Ben Clemens: Cardinal*

2:31
AJ Preller: who are some value, relatively lower cost starters I can round out my rotation with?

2:31
Ben Clemens: Might I interest you in a ludicrously long ranking of free agents?

2:31
jabon hames: trade proposal. Graveman, L. Garcia, and a prospect for Winker & M. Gonzales. who says no?

2:33
Ben Clemens: I think I’d do this trade as the Mariners

2:33
Ben Clemens: I guess I’d maybe do it as the White Sox, too? Winker is a strange piece in that I think he’ll be good again but the error bars are huge

2:34
Dan: What is your mental number for how much someone is “lifetime wealthy”?

2:34
Ben Clemens: Eh, I don’t have an exact number, but I think it’s definitely in 8 figures

2:34
Ben Clemens: Not that you can’t live forever on 7 figures, just, I assume Benintendi is not into scrimping and saving

2:34
Ben Clemens: I feel like most highly paid athletes aren’t

2:35
Dan: How do teams approach free agent doesn’t perfectly fit a teams budget/plans is there a risk of insulting them with a low offer? Is it better to say nothing in case your plans or the market change and now you do want them.

2:35
Ben Clemens: I don’t actually know the answer to this, but I think that in general more communication is better

2:37
Ben Clemens: So you know, tell the truth: “Hey, I’m not sure if this will interest you, and it’s early in our offseason so we’re not sure where this will end up, but just wanted to open a dialog’

2:37
Ben Clemens: Being aboveboard pays off in the long run, because it’s a repeated game with agents for the most part

2:38
Ben Clemens: If an agent knows that you’re a straight shooter, they’ll probably be more willing to deal with you even if you tell them ‘hey this might not be the best deal you see’

2:38
John Thacker: When it comes to MLB making blunders involving promoting the game and taking too short-term a view of money, a sponsorship contract with FTX for uniform patches isn’t nearly as bad as making deals with RSNs to put your games on blacked-out expensive cable channels.

2:38
Ben Clemens: My personal favorite is the Nationals seats branded with TerraUSD

2:39
Ben Clemens: They took the cash upfront, so they’re still branded that way well past the implosion

2:39
Ben Clemens: delightful

2:39
Tacoby Bellsbury: Does Jeff Passan’s reporting that the Rafael Montero deal was directly negotiated by Jim Crane affect how you view your column about reliever valuations at all?

2:39
Ben Clemens: Most certainly

2:39
Ben Clemens: Meg and I discussed this yesterday as she edited the piece

2:40
Ben Clemens: There were some uncredited rumors to that effect, but as we did not see any firm reporting, we didn’t mention it

2:40
Ben Clemens: I was trying to be charitable but I did not love the Montero deal. I think that was clear in my writeup

2:41
Cool: Thinking about Joey Gallo free agency fits, and gotta say, there may not be a better fit than Tampa Bay. Most big market contenders may be worried about relying on him to be an everyday OF, but Tampa? They’d have more willingness to limit him to positions he can succeed in and are always looking for a good buy-low opportunity. Thoughts?

2:41
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think Tampa makes a ton of sense

2:42
Ben Clemens: I think that he’s in need of some value rebuilding

2:43
Ben Clemens: Tampa seems like a good place, and if there’s really something to the fact that he just never got comfortable in New York, well, it’s a lot easier to ignore fans when attendance is lower, and the Rays fans who do attend games seem very pro-team. I think that would be a good fit

2:43
Brooklyngail: Favorite crockpot recipe? Caveat: Not too spicy!

2:43
Ben Clemens: Hmmmmmmm

2:43
Ben Clemens: I don’t have a particular recipe for it but we make a lot of chili in the crockpot, and I think that chili is a perfect soup in terms of spice level. You just set it however you want it

2:43
Ben Clemens: I’m a beans in chili guy, sorry Dan

2:43
Wolfram-Arm McNulty: Should a comeback-seeking player, like Conforto or Duvall, actually prefer to join a rebuilding club, so his star shines brighter by contrast?

2:43
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think that would make sense

2:44
Ben Clemens: I mean, I can’t see into their heart, and winning a ring is a big draw for every player

2:44
Ben Clemens: But if their sole goal is dollar maximization, and they think the organization will do as good a job as anyone else at preparation/training type stuff, I think that going to a place where you’ll play every day and be a clear star is a good move

2:44
JJ: Would you ever host a fangraphs members board game night on boardgamearena or equivalent platform?

2:45
Ben Clemens: Oh interesting. That could be a fun thing to do, I need to see how it would work but I’ve played a number of BGA games over hte last few years

2:45
9761014: Re: Jed’s “intelligent spending: comments- there are reports out there that the Cubs are not going to go to 8 years on Correa, etc this year. I know teams typically don’t do this, but the Cubs supposedly have payroll room this season. So why not structure the contract to be loaded this year – and if you need an 8th year, put it at $10 million?

2:46
Ben Clemens: I think it just depends on what they’re trying to avoid with that eighth year. It’ll still count just as much for CBT purposes, so if the point of the ‘intelligent spending’ is cap-related, that wouldn’t help

2:46
Ben Clemens: If it’s just that the Ricketts don’t want to spend much money, well, they’re no dopes. You can’t tell them ‘Hey, I know we said spend intelligently, and I know our best deal was 7/210 for Correa, but what about 7/230, and then we get him for a bargain 8th year for $10 million?’

2:46
Ben Clemens: like, that’s just 8/240 with more steps

2:47
Anthony: Think it’s more likely Tigers add a C in FA, or make a trade with Toronto or someone else?

2:47
Ben Clemens: make a trade, I think

2:48
Ben Clemens: It’s a good year to be looking for catchers in trade, and I’m not overly enamored of the current free agent crop

2:48
Ben: Mariners signing one of the top SS….buying or selling?

2:48
Ben Clemens: Hmmm…. I think I’ll say buying them pursuing one

2:48
Ben Clemens: Seriously pursuing

2:49
Ben Clemens: I don’t know if they’ll land anyone, but it feels like there’s enough smoke that there’s probably a bit of fire

2:49
Carly: You mentioned Benny taking 3 years in your reply above.. are you updating your projections from the 4 years in the Top 50?

2:49
Ben Clemens: Oh no, just didn’t look over my estimates and picked a number that would last  long enough to make him rich for life

2:49
Ben Clemens: I mean… also, I’m not gonna update my projections at all. I think they’re fairly solid for what they are, but one thing they are absolutely not is reported and updated

2:50
Ben Clemens: I’ll leave that to the giant group of really good baseball reporters who actually hear what people are likely to get, and stick to my data-driven forecasting

2:50
Paul H.: Who says no: Xavier Edwards for Victor Robles. Rays get a Kiermaier  replacement, Nats get a piece for their next contending team.

2:50
Ben Clemens: I think the Rays say no to this one

2:50
Ben Clemens: Like, Reyes doesn’t seem better than Jose Siri to me

2:51
Ben Clemens: So like…. why?

2:51
Brooklyngail: Would AA really pivot from Swanson to Arcia? That just doesn’t sound like him.

2:51
Ben Clemens: I’d be shocked. I think they’re just going to re-sign Swanson

2:52
TCM Stan: Any idea why Jon Morosi seems to be the only national guy breaking anything so far this off-season?

2:52
Ben Clemens: None whatsoever

2:52
Guest: Do you have any sense for how easy it is for hitters to “train” or “prepare” themselves for particular pitchers over the offseason? Like, can a hitter just tell themselves to swing “over” a Cristian Javier fastball — and practice that a bunch to prepare for the next year?

2:52
Ben Clemens: My sense is that, like first base defense, it’s incredibly hard

2:52
Ben Clemens: But that it really does work, at least somewhat

2:53
Ben Clemens: If you buy a pitching machine that just throws rising four-seamers all day and then spend the offseason trying to hit them and swinging under them, you’re going to re-train your hand-eye coordination to picture that ball coming in higher

2:53
Adam: Reporting says the Cards are willing to spend an additional $20M or so this offseason. And that they’re shopping for a new starting C, an additional big bat, and arms for the pen. Is there a path for them to get all three of those pieces at that cost, or if something has to give, what do you think will?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Lol yeah, they aren’t getting all of that for $20m/year

2:54
Ben Clemens: Let’s be real: they’re gonna sign Matt Carpenter, drag Brett Cecil out of retirement, and trade for a catcher

2:54
Belli Flop: Wouldn’t that training make you a lot worse at hitting “generic” fourseamers and breaking stuff?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Yeah. That’s why hitting is so hard!

2:55
Ben Clemens: I do think that training on a lot of backspinning fastballs is a good move overall though

2:55
Ben Clemens: like, getting on top of high fastballs isn’t only useful against Javier

2:55
Ben Clemens: there are other pitchers that would help against

2:55
Kelly: Is Curtis Mead or Taj Bradley on the 2023 opening day roster?

2:55
Ben Clemens: I’ll say a qualified yes to Bradley, and a qualified no to Mead, b/c to me the Choi trade is clearing the way for a free agent signing rather than a promotion

2:56
Ben Clemens: It’s nice to have the backup plan of promoting Mead, though

2:56
Josh: Who do you see as the Astros long term center fielder?

2:57
Ben Clemens: I still lean Myers, but McCormick seems to have the favor of the coaching staff, and he’s better than I gave him credit for before the season

2:57
Ben Clemens: It’s really going to be a close one

2:57
Just Fowl: Is it time for Bloom to move Verdugo before he gets too expensive in ‘24? Maybe Padres or Texas?

2:57
Ben Clemens: I don’t think they’re going to find a robust market for a corner outfielder nearing free agency with limited defensive flexibility

2:58
Ben Clemens: Like, maybe they could get a token prospect for him

2:58
Ben Clemens: A guy who could figure into future major league plans

2:58
Ben Clemens: But the time to trade him was when the Dodgers traded him

2:58
Ben Clemens: which is why the Dodgers did it! They’re smart

2:59
Pat: So, what do you think of The Giants offering Joc a QO? Seemed like the Twitter-verse was outraged..but, should they have been? If they think he’s a good fit, easy to lock him up by killing his FA value, right?

3:00
Ben Clemens: It’s slightly more than I would have given him, so I think he’ll accept it, but I do think it makes some sense for the Giants. They do a good job of maximizing his talent, he seems to love it here and is a fan favorite, and they have money to spend but really need to add offensive talent

3:00
Ben Clemens: So keeping their best hitter from 2022 is a good first step

3:00
Brooklyngail: What would a Brewers-Braves trade look like with Adames in the mix? This assumes Swanson leaves, of course.

3:00
Ben Clemens: It just wouldn’t. Adames isn’t getting traded

3:01
Ben Clemens: The Brewers are always cost-conscious, but from what I’ve heard and also just based on my read of the situation, Adames is part of their long-term hitting core

3:01
Appa Yip Yip: Late to the squash talk but you can cut an acorn squash in half, make two biga** meatballs, stick the meatballs in the scooped out squash, and roast the whole thing in the oven. Little yogurt sauce on top.

3:01
Ben Clemens: Now that sounds delicious

3:01
Anthopolous’ burner: I’m going to have to get creative to find room to get a SS and make other upgrades. How am I going to do it?

3:02
Ben Clemens: Lets be real – you’re going to retain Swanson and then just go down the list of free agents for pitchers or outfielders born in Georgia

3:02
Appa Yip Yip: What do you expect it will take to acquire one of the available catchers in trade, either Murphy or one of the heads of Toronto’s chimaera. There are 4 good catchers available -2 in FA 2 in trade – and way more than 4 teams who need to upgrade. I’m having a hard time figuring out trade returns.

3:02
Ben Clemens: I think that either Murphy or Kirk would require a package of players headed by an electric prospect, think top half of hte top 100, plus other guys. I am less sure on Jansen, and I don’t actually think Kirk will be moved

3:03
Ben Clemens: What you said is true, but the counterpoint is that most teams “need” to upgrade at catcher and simply don’t

3:03
Ben Clemens: Some very good teams will head into next year with a big question mark at catcher and just live with it

3:05
Silly Dan McGraw: Do you think Josh Donaldson bounces back?

3:05
Ben Clemens: In a word: no

3:05
Josh: Do you think Leon has a chance to really be the guy in the future for the Astros?

3:05
Ben Clemens: A chance? Sure. I will say that 2022 wasn’t super encouraging in that regard, though

3:06
Ben Clemens: I thought he’d do better in Triple-A

3:06
2-D: Which player in the Rule 5 draft would you take based solely on their name? Blaze Alexander? Yohendrick Pinango? Warming Bernabel? Nerwilian Cedeno? Prelander Berroa? Milkar Perez?

3:06
Ben Clemens: Warming Bernabel

3:06
Ben Clemens: Always a big fan of that name

3:06
Gabriel: Do you think Tyler Anderson sustains his level of success wherever he goes? Always tough to tell if guys like that who got helped by a really smart FO can make it work in an entirely different context.

3:06
Ben Clemens: I do; I think that he was kind of sneakily good in 2021 already

3:07
Ben Clemens: And that really accelerated in 2022

3:07
Ben Clemens: I’m actually writing about him as we speak

3:07
Ben Clemens: Well, fine, I took a break for this chat — but it’s coming out tomorrow

3:07
Matty Arnie: 6/125 for Woodruff and 6/200 for Burnes, tempting enough for either to forego FA?

3:07
Ben Clemens: I think I’d take that if I were Burnes and turn it down if I were Woodruff. That said, I don’t think the Brewers will offer either

3:07
Ben Clemens: They seem to be in cost reduction mode still

3:08
Belli Flop: What the hell happened to the Tigers’ rebuild?  Too reliant on pitching or just an “it is what it is” situation?

3:08
Ben Clemens: Yeah, little bit of both

3:08
Ben Clemens: It’s not like their young exciting hitters have been great either

3:09
Ben Clemens: They had a pretty poor outcome across the board this year young player wise, the veterans they brought in didn’t make up for it, and I assume they’ll just hope to not hit those bad outcomes again next year

3:09
Matt (Oceanside): Let’s say the Dodgers non-tender Bellinger and the deal they supposedly have given Kershaw is about 20 mil. Luxury payroll is a wash with those two moves and would be around 180 million. So with 53 million to spend (because it seems like they want to stay under the tax threshold this year), what do they do? If Anderson accepts the qualifying offer and they resign JT at a reduced rate (like 10 mil), that’s 23 million left – doesn’t seem like enough to get offensive impact to replace or maintain Trea Turner. My prediction: They actually resign Trea, non-tender Belli, and either sign Kodai Senga, or role with Tyler Anderson if he takes the qual? What say you?

3:09
Ben Clemens: I think the Bellinger non-tender is likely, as is the Kershaw re-signing

3:10
Ben Clemens: I think they will keep both Turners and probably miss out on Anderson, I think he’s gonna turn down the QO

3:10
Ben Clemens: and yeah, either sign Senga (I have no clue here, but maybe!) or do another Dodgers-y dip into interesting starters who could rebuild their value

3:10
Your name: What realistic moves can the Phillies make in the offseason to strengthen the team?

3:10
Ben Clemens: Sign Taylor Rogers for the bullpen

3:12
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna go get started on lunch. Thanks everyone for keeping the chat queue overflowing even in the middle of November. I couldn’t remotely get to all the questions that were asked, which I did not expect. Let’s do this again in two weeks — Thanksgiving week is for going to Mexico, in my case at least

3:12
Ben Clemens: Have a great day, everyone





Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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Albymember
10 days ago

@Appa Yip Yip: Thanks for the recipe. Do you use any spice in the meatball?