Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 12/16/15 by Dave Cameron December 16, 2015 12:00 Dave Cameron: Alright, let’s get this chat fired up. 12:01 Dave Cameron: For those who haven’t seen it, Jeff Passan just noted on Twitter than the Dodgers and White Sox are nearing a trade that would send CHW’s top pitching prospect Frankie Montas to LA. It could be lots of things, but Yasiel Puig seems to be the most obvious thing that LAD would want to move for young talent that would interest CHW. 12:01 Dave Cameron: So we can speculate about that, or talk about other off-season stuff. 12:01 JL: Where does Cespedes land? Tigers? Nationals? Rangers? Somewhere completely random? 12:02 Dave Cameron: Tigers, in an Ilitch-engineered deal in January, probably makes the most sense. If they’re really going for it, they’re a player or two short, and he’d help them a lot. No point pushing in halfway. 12:02 Ringtone Composer: Over the past 4 weeks, have the Braves made themselves much better in the long run? 12:03 Dave Cameron: Much better might be an overstatement, but the Miller deal was a big win. You can’t fix your franchise with one trade, though, and there’s a lot more work to do. 12:03 Craig in Chicago: So, EVERY writer is in the tank for the darling Cubs? They spend more at 2b to get 34 yr old with little speed and an inferior dWAR. They spend >$30M on a 37 yr old SP that projects the same as Hammel and Hendricks. Then they spend > $180 on a light hitting RF, with intentions on moving him to CF? Am I taking crazy pills? Why not spend on Price and do none of the others? Who bats lead off, now? Won’t their defense be putrid, with Schwarber, Soler, Bryant, and Zobrist? 12:05 Dave Cameron: Yes, it must be that we’re in the tank. An elite career defender is clearly a bad fielder now because he had one bad defensive season while playing through a knee injury. John Lackey is bad because he projects as good as other good pitchers. Jason Heyward’s career 118 wRC+ makes him a light-hitter but Yoenis Cespedes and his 121 wRC+ is an offensive monster. Bryant is bad at defense because he’s big, ignoring the fact that he was actually quite good at 3B last year. Facts will not interfere with my reality!!!! 12:05 TJ: Hi Dave, What is a better option for the Cubs in CF , trade for someone like Inciate , Marisnick or Ozuna , sign a FA such as Span , Jackson or Fowler , or keep Heyward in CF for this year until Almora is ready next year ? 12:07 Dave Cameron: Depends on how worried they are about their rotation. If they want to get another top-end guy to protect against Arrieta potentially breaking down, trading Soler and Baez for a guy like Carrasco, then signing Span, is probably their best course of action. But that would kick a solid pitcher out of the rotation and leave the team thin in the OF, so I might be more tempted to trade for a young CF and figure out the pitching staff in July. 12:07 xx: Does either side do Jorge Soler for Odubel Herrera? 12:08 Dave Cameron: Phillies would definitely do that. 12:08 Dave Cameron: Cubs would not./ 12:08 Bryce: What are the odds the Dodgers end up as the third-place team in the NL West? 12:09 Dave Cameron: It could happen, but I think they’ll enter the year as easy favorites according to the projections. They still look like the best team in the division even after SF/ARI have spent their money, and LAD hasn’t done anything yet. 12:09 Dave Cameron: For what its worth, Passan just said Puig not in the LAD/CHW deal. 12:10 Brett W: I think a key part of public sentiment being understated in the player option debate is the possibility that the player opts out, signs with the new team, and then suffers a performance crater. Without a player option, the first team is paying for that performance loss. This is not THE factor but it is a factor. 12:11 Dave Cameron: This is simply wrong. In any scenario where the player opts out, its because he has positive value. Any player with positive value can be dumped at almost any time, assuming a team didn’t give him a full no-trade clause. Even if a team doesn’t want to go through the trouble of negotiating a trade, they can just put him on waivers and let a claiming team have him, getting essentially the same outcome as if he’d opted out. 12:11 Dave Cameron: The idea that the player option creates a scenario for the team to get out of the end of a contract where that option did not exist otherwise is incorrect. It simply shifts the decision from the team to the player. 12:13 Dave Cameron: Now, you can argue that the team gets some benefit from having the player make the decision — it probably isn’t easy to just let a productive player on an under-market deal go if you have a choice — and there’s a potential draft pick compensation that could be realized that wouldn’t exist in the waiver scenario, but these small benefits are swamped by the risk of a team talking themselves into an even larger second extension, ala Sabathia, A-Rod, etc… 12:13 Dave Cameron: So the LA/CIN deal is now a three way. Todd Frazier is in the deal. 12:14 Dave Cameron: Frazier to CHW it appears 12:15 _David_: If hypothetically Greinke were to tell a reporter before the season started “‘@&$% this front office” -and go into detail about why the trade sucked, what would be the team do? Are there image clauses in contracts? Would they try to trade him in July even if they are good? 12:16 Dave Cameron: You can fine a player for conduct detrimental to the team. Depending on what he said, he could even be suspended. 12:16 Nelson: Did you change your mind in regards to some opt-outs being win-win? After you convinced me otherwise last week? 12:16 Dave Cameron: No, opt-outs are always player friendly. Contracts including opt-outs can be win-win if the team gets a big enough discount on the salary in order to justify including one, though. 12:17 Dave Cameron: Jose Peraza and two other prospects going to the Reds. 12:17 Dave Cameron: White Sox getting Frazier, Reds getting prospects, Dodgers getting…? 12:18 Jason: Todd Frazier to the White Sox. That’s… interesting. Weird team. 12:18 Dave Cameron: They’re clearly trying to win while they have Chris Sale’s prime. The division isn’t great. I still don’t love their execution but the plan is reasonable. 12:19 Dave Cameron: Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal#Dodgers getting Montas, Micah Johnson and Trayce Thompson, per @JonHeymanCBS. 12:20 Dave Cameron: Okay, so it looks like the Dodgers swapped one trio of prospects for another trio, helping CHW trade for CIN because maybe those two couldn’t quite match-up on guys they liked. 12:20 Dave Cameron: trade with CIN, I should say. 12:21 Joe: Who would get the biggest contract if they were FA right now? Machado, Arrenado, or Donaldson? 12:21 Dave Cameron: Machado 12:21 Luke: What do the Pirates need to do to keep pace in the NL Central? 12:21 Dave Cameron: They need another starting pitcher or two, and they need Polanco to turn into a star. 12:22 _David_: What do you think of Sam Miller’s (EW podcast) assertion that teams so rarely get surplus value on the back end of pitching contracts that the upside the team loses if the pitcher is good enough to opt out is really low and thus opt outs are not a big deal and useful for the team as a negotiating concession? 12:23 Dave Cameron: It’s not a terrible point, but I think players realize this too, and aging pitchers are less likely to give up significant value to get an opt-out in their deal. Notice how Greinke didn’t bother asking for one this time around. 12:23 Z: Todd Frazier could net the Reds what? 12:23 Dave Cameron: Jose Peraza and some stuff, apparently. 12:24 Bob: You think the Tampa-LA shuttle will be open for Jake McGee? 12:24 Dave Cameron: Seems to make a lot of sense to me, yeah. Doesn’t have to close, so Jansen can stay in that role, and still gives them an elite LH. Could get one of TB’s surplus starters in a deal too. 12:26 Erich: My take on the Heyward contract: Kind of “square peg in round hole” move. Improves team in the short term no doubt, but Heyward loses some of his considerable defensive value in CF, and to put him in one of the corner OF spots displaces either Soler or Schwarber, whom the Cubs may be counting on to provide future value (and in Soler’s case, have some $$$ invested in). Not convinced Heyward in CF is worth $100M+ more than any of the other options out there. Am I just being an rival team homer and nitpicking? 12:26 Dave Cameron: Yes. 12:26 Brian: Soler for Inciarte makes too much sense for both teams. Do you believe the Braves are holding out for more? 12:26 Dave Cameron: Agree, it’s a fair move for both sides. Trading with Dave Stewart regularly might give one a desire to not make fair trades, though. 12:27 Mike: Still trying to wrap my head around the Dansby Swanson trade. This is pretty much unprecedented. As I find it difficult to believe that Arizona was actually that high on Miller, I am left only with the conclusion that they had already soured on Swanson. Which is more likely? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Rumor going around Nashville was that Stewart was never in love with Swanson. But everyone in baseball agrees that this package should have gotten more back, even if they’re low on him. 12:28 Joe: Who would get the biggest contract if they were FA right now: Machado, Arrenado, or Bryant? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Bryant. 12:28 Sebastian: Is Kyle Hendricks better than most teams’ #5 starters? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Yes. He’s better than a lot of team’s #4. 12:28 Kevin: What do you think about the DBacks chances in 2016? The projections on the site think they still kinda stink but media spin is that they added good pitchers to a strong offense 12:29 Dave Cameron: I don’t think they stink. I think they’re .500ish, so they’ll need LAD or SFG to have a rough year, and they’ll need some stuff to go well. 12:30 Alex: Are the Cards gonna go anything? Seems like right now they are an 80-win club. 12:30 Dave Cameron: Yeah, if they had $200M to spend on Price of Heyward, they’re not going to just pocket that now. They’ll do stuff. 12:32 Michael: If the Marlins were actually interested in dealing Fernandez, would Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart, and one of Owens/Johnson/Shaw/Travis be a reasonable offer? 12:32 Dave Cameron: Yes. Maybe even an overpay, depending on how high you are on Swihart. I’m not as high on him as many others, so I think it’s about right. 12:32 (: Soler for Rusney Castillo plus. What’s the plus? 12:32 Dave Cameron: A lot. Rusney has minimal trade value. 12:34 Julio Pepper: Wait, wait, wait. Why on earth would Cleveland trade Carrasco for Baez/Soler? Carrasco’s under control for 5 more seasons and is at least as good as Greinke over that time (and probably much better). Isn’t his surplus value something like $150m? 12:34 Dave Cameron: Carrasco is intriguing, but when you think his floor is Zack Greinke, you’re overrating him. 12:35 JJ: Best FA SP left on the market? Chen? Kazmir? 12:35 Dave Cameron: Chen. 12:37 El Chapo: Dave I dont get why fans dont understand that player options only benefit the player. But in the case of Cueto and SF it seems SF essentially is looking at this like a 2 year deal with all the risk of a 6yr deal. They front loaded the contract in hopes that Cueto will opt out as they will need to reallocate costs elsewhere while betting that pitching in the minors will be ready to step into the rotation. Its a expensive gamble. 12:38 Dave Cameron: Right, but it’s a less expensive gamble than guaranteeing him $140 million or whatever he would have required without the opt-out. That’s the benefit to the team; they lower their total costs if the deal goes badly. They give up some upside to get a smaller penalty if the deal goes south. 12:38 TIM: Do you think we ever see a contract structured with a team opt-out? Like a 5-year deal where the team can cut bait after year 3 if they want? 12:39 Dave Cameron: We see that all the team with pre-FA contracts. Lots of long-term extensions include a bunch of team options. 12:39 Jojo: What a weird deal for the Dodgers. 12:39 Dave Cameron: They probably like Montas and Thompson more than Peraza. I don’t blame them. 12:39 Joe: Seems like a poor return for Frazier, no? 12:40 Dave Cameron: Two years of a good-not-great player at arb prices. I don’t know how much more than this he should have brought back, really. 12:41 DS: Among Gordon, Upton, and Cespedes, who would be the best fit for the Angels LF job? Who are they likeliest to sign? 12:41 Dave Cameron: Gordon 12:42 Currywurst: how much did the Reds cost themselves by not trading Frazier at the deadline last year? 12:43 Dave Cameron: A lot. Chapman too, and probably Bruce. They should have burned it down in July, and now they’re going to take significantly less than they would have otherwise gotten for their pieces. 12:43 Jordan: Is it just me or does it look like the Dodgers got the best end of the Frazier trade? 12:44 Dave Cameron: I think I’m okay with this for everyone involved. Love it the least for the Reds, but I don’t think Frazier had as much trade value as was assumed. 12:44 Rays 7th Infielder: With Frazier gone, does Eugenio Suarez move to 3B? 12:44 Dave Cameron: Yeah, seems like it. Peraza to 2B, Suarez to 3B. 12:44 Julio Pepper: If Stewart wasn’t in love with Swanson, why the F did they draft him? 12:45 Dave Cameron: You have to take someone, and you can’t trade draft picks in MLB. It’s possible to not think any of the guys in a draft are 1-1 worthy. 12:45 Josh in DC: What do you think the Nationals should do with Papelbon? I vote for just cutting him, but it’s not my money. 12:46 Dave Cameron: Just keep him. He’s a jerk, but he’s always been a jerk, and teams win with jerks all the time. 12:46 Ben: Please tell me that the Piscotty, Grichuk, Wacha and CMart are still reasons to be optimistic on our future. It’s been a cold winter. 12:46 Dave Cameron: Yeah, Cardinals still have a bright future. Just happen to play in a rough division, but franchise is in a good place. 12:46 Joe: I realize this will be the third question on this, but why would Bryant get more on the market than Machado? 12:47 Dave Cameron: No knee surgeries, more power. 12:47 Northsider: Do you see a player like Heyward exercising the opt-out? When scenarios would make it more likely? 12:48 Dave Cameron: Barring injury, yes, Heyward is likely to opt-out. He’ll be choosing between FA at 29 or 5/$106M. He’d have to be a +2.5 WAR guy at that point to not get a better deal than 5/$106M, probably. 12:48 EC: What’s the age cutoff for players receiving opt-outs? It seems like anyone going into their age 31 season or older hasn’t been able/hasn’t wanted one. 12:48 Dave Cameron: Not true: James Shields got one last winter. 12:48 Joe: The Diamondbacks seem to have the same problem as the White Sox last year. They’ve made moves and have a great core of about 5-7 players. But once you get past those players, there’s just not that much there. 12:49 Dave Cameron: I like their supporting cast more than I like CHW’s, but yes, they have serious CHW/SDP potential; big off-season moves that look bad not too long after and lead to nothing good. 12:49 second thoughts?: You were on record for saying numerous times last year that the Mets shouldn’t make a trade for a bat because they weren’t one player away from contention. How do you like them now? (Seruously) 12:50 Dave Cameron: Actually, that’s not at all what I said. Here’s what I actually wrote about the Mets last year, back when everyone was destroying them for thinking they were a contender by signing Cuddyer. http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/just-a-bit-outside/story/maybe-the-mets-aren-t-crazy-for-signing-cuddyer-111214 12:51 jose: Can we think of opt-outs (specially early ones like Cueto’s) as a way for teams to sign star players to short contracts when they simply arent financially able to do so for long term? 12:51 Dave Cameron: No, because teams are still signing them to long-term deals when they give players these opt-outs. The Vernon Wells deal didn’t become a short-term contract just because the Blue Jays put an opt-out in it. 12:51 Terrible Ted: After the signings so far this off season, doesn’t the Trout contract look insanely undervalued? 12:52 Dave Cameron: It was insanely undervalued when he signed it. 12:52 Robert: I can’t make heads or tails for what to expect from the Mariners this year. Thoughts or predictions? 12:53 Dave Cameron: Middle of the pack team with a ton of variance. They need Felix/Cano to have MVP seasons and have to hit on a few of these bounce-back guys. If things break right, they could win the division. More likely, they’re a fringe WC team, and if Felix or Cano struggle, they’re looking at a rebuild. 12:53 Slew: Are the Indians squandering an opportunity by doing nothing? 12:54 Dave Cameron: It’s early. I wouldn’t assume they’ll do nothing all winter. 12:54 James : Trayce Thompson as a platoon partner for Joc Pederson? 12:54 Dave Cameron: Or outfield depth to replace coming OF traded. 12:54 A cat: If Soler is available, it would seem that BOS would try to get their hands on him, given the good job Chili has done in developing young hitters over the past year, such as the turnarounds for JBJ, Bogaerts and Swihart. Re: Rusney, adding Rodriguez to obtain Soler and signing Chen, would not increase payroll significantly, CHN receives a good starter to develop behind Lester. 12:55 Dave Cameron: Cubs would probably love to get Eduardo Rodriguez, but I doubt Red Sox move him. 12:55 Guest: Your view of opt outs is very simplistic and assumes perfect rationality and information. Probably players routinely value themselves higher than teams do at the point of opt out, like life-long winners do, and therefore the opt out could benefit the team 12:56 Dave Cameron: Please show me an example of a time a player opted out of his contract and then signed for less than what he had guaranteed remaining. 12:56 Dave Cameron: (Hint: it hasn’t happened.) 12:56 Bob: How did the Dodgers get Montas AND Thompson for that package? What am I missing?? 12:57 Dave Cameron: Reds probably preferred someone who could play right away. They seem to be targeting near-ready prospects in their trade, so they gave up some long-term upside to get a guy who can step in to a starting role next year. 12:57 TKDC: Guys have declined qualifying offers and then got less money than they would, so it’s not completely black and white. 12:58 Dave Cameron: That’s because players hate one year contracts. Guys aren’t opting out of one year deals. 12:58 Dave Cameron: When you have 3/4/5 years guaranteed on the table, you’re not walking away from that without knowing you can get a raise. 12:58 Bob: Selection bias. It hasn’t happened yet bc all the opt outs were early enough that there were still some prime years in play. As with QOs, once that needle gets pushed further, we will see someone chose not to opt out. 12:59 Dave Cameron: We’ve seen plenty of players choose not to opt out. Opt-outs aren’t new, they’re just becoming more fashionable this winter. The earlier assertion is that players (and their representatives) are not good enough at reading the market so that it’s reasonable to expect a player on a bad contract to opt-out, making the opt-out good for the team. 1:00 Dave Cameron: My assertion is that players will not opt-out of above-market deals, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen any evidence of a player doing that. 1:01 Forsyth: Re: Erod added to Soler deal. Sox won’t part with ERod, but would a deal with Owens and Holt rather than ERod get close? 1:01 Dave Cameron: Rusney/Owens/Holt for Soler? Maybe, but feels like Cubs prefer one thing over mutliple things.