Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 11/7/2019

Craig Edwards: Let’s get thing rolling.

Chaim: If I can only pick one, should I trade everyone I can not named Martinez and Betts, or trade Martinez and Betts?

Craig Edwards: I wrote about Martinez coming back and how that affects the Sox.

Craig Edwards: If you are talking about trading Betts and Martinez, you are carving off $50 million in payroll, getting nothing of note for Martinez, maybe a couple good, but not great prospects for Betts.

Craig Edwards: If you are trading everyone else, you are moving Devers and Bogaerts. On the field, that’s probably a similar loss this year and much worse in the future, but you would get 6-8 prospects including a couple in the top 30. If you are doing that, you could sign Gregorious, Moustakas and then bring back Betts for $300 million and try not to make any other big expenditures for a while. The latter is more reasonable to build a sustainable winner, but it ends up more expensive. It boggles my mind, the Red Sox aren’t just going to take the payroll hit and try to win the World Series again. They still might do that, too.

Mark: Pirates owner says they have no money. Red Sox want to get under the tax. Cards say they are maxed out. Cubs might cut payroll. Yankees are concerned about the tax. Indians can’t spend. Has owning a mlb team ever been a bigger scam than it is today?

Craig Edwards: I think people pay more attention to it, but the old days of collusion and the reserve clause were probably more of a “scam”. Perhaps not as profitable in a pure dollars sense. Much of the current problems are the result of a CBA that owners have taken advantage of. The owners have always taken every advantage when given, but the players historically have done a good job fighting for their piece of the pie which has meant winning and profits have been closely tied. That hasn’t been true the last few years and it is a huge problem.

ShakCentral: Been in I.T. for a few years, sports fan my whole life, and have recently become obsessed with baseball data. Looking to get into analytics. Is there a better way than just diving into R and SQL so I can start to do things myself? It’s an ocean and I’m not sure where to dive in

Craig Edwards: Once you have an understanding of what you are trying to find and understand what might be important and what might safely be ignored, try asking yourself specific questions and finding those answers. Keep asking questions about topics that interest you and try to find the answer. Also look at who might have the same questions and see what they figured out.

Miles: What does the Cubs “taking a step back” look like? What does a reasonable package for Kris Bryant look like (assuming he has 2 more years of control)? And how believable is all of this given they’re entering the first year of a new TV Network?

Craig Edwards: Keeping things in perspective a little, the Cubs had an 87-win team on paper entering 2019 when they were at 96 entering 2016-2018. They already took a step back and it resulted in an 84-win team, albeit an expensive one due to big free agent contracts combined with raises for their younger players. Right now, they are an 87-win team so it is more staying back than taking a step back. That said, if they trade anyone, they aren’t likely to get an improvement for 2020, even Schwarber.

Craig Edwards: All of this comes with a caveat that they could make some of these smaller moves with lesser players or trade Schwarber for something and then sign another player to be better than they are now. It would be a lot of movement as though they are changing a lot but wouldn’t be any different than just signing a mid-tier free agent.

Craig Edwards: As for the tv network, they clearly want to wait to make sure they have coverage so they can lock in the number of subscribers and all the profits that come with it. They’ll be making more money either way, but getting coverage for the network everywhere is when the massive windfall comes into play.

pumpsie: JA Happ for Wade Davis? Rockies get a starter; Davis’ option wouldn’t vest. Trying to find a way for the Rockies to take advantage of Arenado’s prime years.

Craig Edwards: I don’t see the Yankees doing that given what they already have in the pen. And even if the Yankees sign more pitching, they still probably need Happ.

C@$hman: Who would want JA Happ enough to take $10M of his salary?  Yanks need to clear some money for cole

Craig Edwards: Happ is 37 coming off a bad season. He’s insurance for the Yankees, but I don’t see a lot of teams wanting to take him on absent a very low cost.

Joe: What % of total revenue do the players get these days? Do you see that number getting even higher?

Craig Edwards: That depends on what you consider total revenue? Are profits from owning the tv station a team broadcasts on part of revenue. What about the land around the stadium? What about revenue from and MLB Network? Profits from MLBAM. Even without any of those, the published numbers in 2017 said it was 50/50. Payroll hasn’t gone up since then while revenues have continued to go up. So it is a good deal less than 50/50 by anyone’s accounting and way less than that depending on what you consider to be revenue.

Rod: What would a Braves package for Kris Bryant look like?

Craig Edwards: Kind of hard to trade for a player in the middle of a grievance that could drastically change his salary or even make him a free agent a year early. In this year’s trade value, he was 25th. It would be a bit lower now that 20% of his remaining team control has gone by, but he’d still be pretty valuable.

Sanford: Do you think the Nats end up signing at least one of Rendon/Strasburg?

Craig Edwards: I’d be kind of surprised if they didn’t bring at least one of them back. They have a ton of payroll room to the point where they could give them both $30 million per year and still have a little left over to fill some other holes.

noname: If the Cubs are truly going to try and pull the “sustainable” team trick, would you call the Gleyber trade a mistake?

Craig Edwards: There are a lot of reasons you could call that trade a mistake, and one why you wouldn’t. They won a World Series and decimated their farm system. You can’t just rebuild it overnight without gutting the MLB team, and even then, it takes some time. They ate the cake. You can buy more cake, but it takes time to make another one from scratch. Their bill for 2016 is coming due and they don’t want to pay it. I’m out of metaphors for now.

Andy: Do you think some stars (Trout, Arenado, Acuna, etc.) locking themselves into longer term deals before reaching the open market last year will have any impact on the returns for the next couple of free agent classes, or will we continue to see more of the same?

Craig Edwards: The stars getting paid really hasn’t changed too much. That’s probably why, at least for Trout and Arenado, the teams were happy to pay despite the large guarantees. Cole, Strasburg, and Rendon were always going to get paid and Betts then Bryant, Lindor, etc. won’t have problems in free agency. It’s the middle-tier of free agents that have taken the hit and that’s probably not going to change anytime soon absent a big change to the CBA or 2-4 more teams.

ben: Beltran was supposedly chosen in part because he’s good with the media, but he’s already said “When you’re a manager, literally, your GM has to be your best friend” (which is absurd) and suggested that Edwin Diaz’s struggles were mental (moving to a large market). Seems like this has a chance to be a disaster…

Craig Edwards: Mike Matheny was great at his first press conference. I wouldn’t worry too much about it now. The best friend stuff is a bit overblown because it is very important for the GM and the manager to be on the same page. I’d be more worried about in-game decisions and managing a clubhouse. We just don’t know how he’s going to do there. Dealing with the media is pretty low priority for me, though if that’s one of the reasons he was hired, that’s a mistake by the Mets.

Mariner’s Fan: If you are dipoto and you are looking for a veteran pitcher to eat innings is it worth signing someone like Pineda with the hopes he rebounds and can offer trade value at the deadline?

Craig Edwards: Absolutely. Two of the best free agent signings over the past two seasons were deals just like that with Mike Minor and Lance Lynn in Texas and now they are getting ready to start contending if they have a big offseason.

Guest: To me, it looks like the Yankees should wait until the deadline to acquire any meaningful pitching upgrade. Allows them to assess their chips (Frazier, Andujar) and more teams to fall out and be willing to deal pitchers.

Craig Edwards: The most meaningful upgrades are available right now. If Frazier and Andujar increase their value as trade chips, then they are probably good enough to contribute to a winner. Why give up good players who can help you win if you don’t have to?

stever20: If the Nats get Stras back but not Rendon- who do you think the Nats go out and get for 3b?  Do they bite the QO bullet and take Donaldson, or look at a cheaper alternative in Moustakas?

Craig Edwards: I’m sure they’d look at both, but probably wouldn’t let the comp pick affect them too much considering they will get a pick for Rendon.

Wheeler: Good backup option for Yankees if Cole wants west coast?

AverageJoe: If the Sox do indeed move Betts, could something like Betts + Price for Myers + Urias make sense for the Padres and Sox? Price and Myers line up well in terms of remaining years and while Price provides more value/$ than Meyers that trade off helps make up for Urias having grater excess value than Betts.

Craig Edwards: If Cole wants west coast, then pay him more. Strasburg would be a good backup option.

Craig Edwards: As for that trade, it might make some sense, but would be a ton of payroll for the Padres without getting the starter they really need.

Craig Edwards: Have to wrap things up right now. Here’s my piece on the Cubs today:…

Craig Edwards: Thanks for all the questions.

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Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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I have a question regarding the tax level. Who sets the threshold? If it is the owners, doesn’t that seem self serving? They agree to set the limit which in turn provides their own alibi not to exceed that amount I guess to the other owners. I get they probably need something so Big Market Teams don’t trounce the smaller ones on a regular basis. Does the MLBPA have any input on the tax dollar amount which I think is close to,$230M?