Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 1/9/2020 by Craig Edwards January 9, 2020 2:05 Craig Edwards: Let’s get things rolling. First, a few plugs for stuff I’ve written this week. On Tuesday, I wrote about the Cubs’ TV situation. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/cubs-sinclair-marquee-and-comcast-combine-… 2:05 Craig Edwards: Yesterday, I calculated the cost of a win in free agency. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-cost-of-a-win-in-free-agency-in-2020/ 2:06 Craig Edwards: Today, I looked at whether or not that cost was linear depending on the expected production of the player. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/is-the-cost-of-a-win-in-free-agency-still-… 2:06 Craig Edwards: Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have another one looking at the win curve and franchise value, but it isn’t quite done yet. 2:07 Craig Edwards: On to the questions. 2:07 Ozuna’s BFF: Bader Hudson and Gorman for Arenado. Would that work for both teams? 2:10 Craig Edwards: I have to think that would absolutely work for the Rockies. For the Cardinals, I’d think they would be going after Lindor if they were willing to give up that much. Arenado’s contract is basically a market level contract plus there’s the downside of the opt-out, which prevents the best-case scenario from happening. Hudson and Bader without Gorman would be a reasonable return for Arenado. Value-wise, signing Josh Donaldson for $100 million is probably better than trading for Arenado and you see very little expected dropoff in 2020. 2:11 Thank you for the chat!: Who runs the operations at the stadium (food, security, etc.)? Are those managed by the front office as team employees? Managed services? Probably a mix? 2:12 Craig Edwards: Teams often contract that out to someone else like any other bid for services. 2:12 Nate: A few weeks back, you wrote about the idea that Boston would need to include Benintendi to trade David Price. Do you think they would actually trade him? And wouldn’t it be unwise, as they don’t have a cheap, in house replacement for him? 2:13 Craig Edwards: I do think it would be unwise. Price doesn’t have much trade value right now because he’s not healthy. That means they either need to pay more money, include good players, or take on another bad contract. They’d be much better off just keeping everyone and seeing how the season goes rather than trying to put another $30 million in the profit column. 2:14 Mosephis: Has the record number of home runs hit last year across MLB created difficulties in accurately projecting runs allowed in the upcoming 2020 season? Do we believe it is an outlier or a trend? Thanks! 2:16 Craig Edwards: Yes. We don’t know how the ball is going to act next season so predicting homers is going to be hard. The good thing, if there is one, is that it should affect everyone with the balls being random enough that the more aerodynamic balls aren’t all being sent to half the stadiums or something. 2:16 Jolly Roger: whats the pirates staff like this year….do you see rebounds for Musgrove and Archer or more of the same? 2:17 Craig Edwards: I think both of those two guys should be better, at least Musgrove’s ERA should be better, his 3-win season was already pretty good. Whether that makes a difference for the Pirates this year is hard to say. 2:18 Nate : I think I remember you writing in the past that an Arenado trade wouldn’t be worth it. Is that still true? I’m having trouble making a decision in the face of unknown information and would like to rely on you for this. Thanks, from a cardinals fan. 2:19 Craig Edwards: If the Cardinals could make a trade similar to the Goldschmidt trade, where they are giving up extra parts that they don’t really need, then it makes sense. If you have to give up any prospects or good major leaguers, then less so. 2:19 pumpsie: According to the Roster Resource depth charts, the AL East is stacked with lefty starters compared to the other divisions, especially the NL Central. Would Toronto be a good landing spot for Ozuna, Castellanos or Puig? Would an all-RHH outfield fly? 2:20 Craig Edwards: I wouldn’t put too much stock in the lefty component of the opponents, but the Blue Jays could probably use an outfielder if one of those three fell into their laps, but if they aren’t serious about contending this year, and they probably won’t, then I suspect they’ll wait until next year to see where their outfield is. 2:21 Eric: Do you think people are generally too low on the Cubs this season? Some MLB network personalities projected them for 81 and to finish 4th in the central. Seems much lower than current projections. 2:23 Craig Edwards: I think the talk around the Cubs is very negative due to their unwillingness to get any better. The Cubs were an underachieving 84-win team last year with a bullpen that blew a lot of games. They are still a very talented team assuming they don’t trade away Kris Bryant. I think expectations in the 85-90 win range are reasonable. They could really use another starting pitcher and there were a lot of those available until about a month ago. 2:23 pumpsie: What would a reasonable payroll range be for the Cubs? $225 million? Something below the Yankees, obviously, but what would it take to satisfy Cubs fans? 2:26 Craig Edwards: I think it’s a mistake to make the comparison with other teams. The Yankees were running the equivalent of a $400 million payroll a decade ago. I think the Cubs, in their present spot on the win-curve should be spending whatever they need to to win 90+ games. It really doesn’t take much, maybe $25 million more on a good starting pitcher and they are there. That they are trying to go backwards makes little baseball sense. 2:27 Ponder This: Which of the out-of-nowhere 2019 RP studs do you see remaining so in 2020? I’m thinking of guys like Nick Anderson, Gallegos, etc. 2:27 Craig Edwards: I would never bet on any reliever maintaining an elite level coming off a career season for the first time. 2:28 Humbert Humbert: Who do you like better in 2020: Tai Walker or Drew Smyly? 2:28 Craig Edwards: I’d probably bet on Walker because it is a little more fun. 2:28 Alex: Which team is J.A. Happ pitching for come Opening Day? 2:29 Craig Edwards: With every passing week, it is looking more like the Yankees, though not actually ON opening day. 2:30 Humbert Humbert: Why did Dee Gordon fall off a cliff? He was a good 2B in Miami, wasn’t he? 2:31 Craig Edwards: He stopped getting infield hits and stole about half as many bases. Add in a changing offensive environment that he has no way to capitalize on and you go from three wins to zero pretty quickly. 2:33 andy: please say something mean about javy baez. thank you. 2:34 Craig Edwards: Javier Báez trails Kolten Won in career WAR despite being drafted the same year. 2:35 Alex: Do you expect the Red Sox punishment to be nearly as severe as the Astros given this is their 2nd offense in the last 3 seasons and Manfred had specifically warned them after the last instance? 2:35 Craig Edwards: I think the Astros one will be worse because of the way they were doing it, but there’s definitely an aspect to being warned that could make the Red Sox more severe than other teams doing the same thing. 2:36 Matt: If the Red Sox were theoretically going to package Price and Betts to the Dodgers for Verdugo, Keibert Ruiz, and Urias…who says no? 2:38 Craig Edwards: If they are a package deal then those three are way too much to give up. Adding Price doesn’t make the Dodgers give up more, it makes them give up less. Last season, the Cardinals gave up Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver, Andy Young and a draft pick for Paul Goldschmidt. Add Price and you take away Carson Kelly and the draft pick. Maybe one of those guys goes in a Price/Betts combo. 2:39 pumpsie: Saw a suggestion for robot umps to call inside-outside, but leave it to the umpires to just call high-low. Is that a good way to phase it in, or is it simply Y/N on robot umps for you? 2:40 Craig Edwards: I think I’ve made this suggestion in the past, where the ump is told if the ball crossed the plate and doesn’t need to worry as much about standing over one shoulder of the catcher as the pitch goes away from the ump. It would be a good start toward robot umps that wouldn’t be as disruptive, I think. 2:41 Steven: Now that Steamer has updated Josh Linblom’s projection, he is the best value signing of the offseason (by $/WAR). Are you as optimistic as Steamer? 2:42 Craig Edwards: I don’t think I’d just assume he’s going to get to 170 innings coming back over, but the projection is definitely more optimistic than the original one. I’m probably more in wait and see mode with him. 2:44 Matt: Copy that on the Red Sox-Dodgers trade analysis. If the Dodgers wanted to go get Mookie Betts and offered those three players, is that too much? 2:44 Craig Edwards: Maybe more like Ruiz and Verdugo and that would be a pretty favorable deal for the Red Sox. 2:45 pumpsie: Are the Yankees better/worse/same as last year? Hard to get better, I know, and not that they have to, but does the one big addition make up for a few small subtractions? 2:46 Craig Edwards: They might be better and finish with a worse record. They were plus-9 in BaseRuns. They could win 97 games with a 97-talent-level team if they get better health from a few position players and Cole comes through. 2:47 Master of Karate: They Cardinals should re-sign Ozuna. Why haven’t they? 2:49 Craig Edwards: They have a lot of outfield options and they don’t want to get tied into a long-term deal in case a few guys work out. It isn’t hard to see an outfield of Bader, O’Neill, and Carlson being really good. It also isn’t hard to see them be really bad. I think a return of Ozuna fits if the market isn’t there for him, but there are still a few teams that should be more interested in adding Ozuna and be willing to give him more money than the Cardinals. 2:49 Cespedes u Boar me: Realistic expectations for Yoenis this year? 2:49 Craig Edwards: If you want to be realistic, I think you have to expect not playing at all until he proves otherwise. 2:50 James: What are the odds that another team is found to have a sign-stealing operation on the same level as the Astros? Will this possibility inform any punishment so the precedent is not set too high if this is found to be more common than originally thought? 2:51 Craig Edwards: I think that’s part of the reason why the fine isn’t going to be really, really high. Front office suspensions and draft pick penalties can be repeated across the sport if necessary, but Manfred can’t just go around collecting $20 million from half the franchises and then give it to the rest of them. 2:51 Some Insider: What’s next for the yankees? It seems like they have some good trade chips and options (Frazier, Andujar, Happ, etc). 2:52 Craig Edwards: I’m not sure what kind of value most of the guys have in the offseason. Last season showed the value of depth for the Yankees and they might need it again. If Happ moves, it is basically his contract for nothing, most likely. The Yankees might just sit tight for a while. 2:53 Some Insider: Wouldn’t an NL team with a thin rotation VALUE J.A Happ? He was HR prone last year, but he gives innings and in a better ballpark can easily be an Avg Mlb starter and eat innings 2:54 Craig Edwards: He’s also 37 years old and might just be done, so I’m sure some teams would take a flyer on him, but they aren’t going to give anything up and they probably ask for some money. 2:54 Elmer: Does Trey Mancini get traded, and who would be interested? 2:56 Craig Edwards: It’s possible, but when you see Ozuna, Castellanos, and Puig all still available, it doesn’t seem super-likely. If a team had a lot of excess when it comes to prospects and had a self-imposed cap, that team would be a good fit, but there aren’t that many teams out there like that right now. 2:56 Some Insider: Seriously though, is the penalty for the Red Sox and Astros even going to matter? Suspending coaches means very little with the analytics these days, money means nothing.. While draft picks are valuable, any round after the 1st is really a crapshoot, so even taking away 3 top 5 picks or something, both teams got a WS title, do you think they care? 2:58 Craig Edwards: If you suspend the coaches and front office people responsible, that’s going to act as a deterrent for the future. If somebody thinks they are going to be out of baseball for a year or more, then they will think twice before carrying out an illegal scheme. Since Chris Correa went to prison, I think most people think twice about hacking other teams. Long suspensions aren’t as harsh, obviously, but they should work. 2:58 mike: I recall Terry Ryan once saying he couldn’t give MN’s money away to free agents…….so far, this new FO’s largest deal is 3/24 for Jason Castro. What’s the deal? 2:59 Craig Edwards: Maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough. We’ll see how this front office does with Donaldson after missing out on most of the good pitching. A team can always offer more money and players usually say yes. 3:00 P: Where did all of the talk on universal DH and pitch clocks go? 3:01 Craig Edwards: it’s on hold, probably until the next CBA. I think the owners would like the players to believe universal DH is a big get for the players, but the players haven’t acted like that so nothing is happening. 3:01 Dave C: The Mets make the playoffs if ____ happens. 3:01 Craig Edwards: Starting pitching stays healthy and the defense improves. 3:02 Craig Edwards: That’s going to do it for me today. Thanks for all the questions.