Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 11/1/18

Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, good afternoon and welcome to today’s first chat of the long, dark offseason. I’m still catching my breath from an exhausting month and working on some stuff that has yet to see the light of day, including an ESPN-Plus piece on the Defensive Players of the Year, a piece on the passing of the great Willie McCovey, and my contributions to our Top 50 Free Agents list. The Jaffe-Span household is also battling various stages of a low-grade but stubborn cold, and all of the Haribo gummies left over from Halloween can do only so much.

stever20: what % chance do you think the Nats have of retaining Harper?

Jay Jaffe: That’s a very good question. it wasn’t entirely clear whether Scott Boras was merely joking when he said the other day that a deal was “already completed and done, but Bryce has told me that he wanted to tell you personally.” https://nypost.com/2018/10/29/scott-boras-drops-improbable-bryce-harpe…

If that’s true, the only team that could be with is the Nationals, who do enjoy a particularly chummy relationship with Boras such that Stephen Strasburg actually went the extension route rather than free agency. Most believe Boras had tongue in cheek when he said that. Still, I think that there’s a reasonable chance, somewhere between 33% and 50%, that Bryce stays in Washington.

Guille: hi Jay! What do you say are the chances Yankees don´t sign either Machado or Harper? It´s gotta be higher than 50% considering neither is a great fit for the team.

Jay Jaffe: I’d put it around 50%. Given the re-signing of Gardner, even at fourth outfielder money, as well as the continued presence of Judge, Hicks and Stanton and the pending arrival of Clint Frazier, Harper doesn’t make much sense. Machado makes more sense given Didi Gregorius’s Tommy John surgery. The team loves him some Didi but he’s going to miss roughly half of his final season under club control. If they really want Machado, it’s not just to alleviate what might be a three-month absence.

Guille: hi Jay! IF Kershaw extends his contract with the Dodgers, is something like 5/175 in the ballpark?

Jay Jaffe: My guess is that it’s going to be somewhere in the 5/$150M range, but I could be low; he’s guaranteed $65 million over the next two seasons, which means the other three would average $28.3M, which might be a bit low. So yeah if it’s a five-year deal, $175M could be in the ballpark, though TBH we don’t know that it’s specifically a 5-year deal that’s being discussed. We could see a 6- or 7-year deal with a lower AAV, some kind of additional opt-outs, escalators, or other bells and whistles.

Nelson: If David Price didnt opt out of his contract does that by default mean its a bad contract for the Red Sox?

Jay Jaffe: Flags. Fly. Forever.

No, i don’t think it means that he’s on a bad contract. You can argue that he’s overpaid relative to his recent production, sure (and there’s a difference when you’re looking at bWAR (4.4) vs. fWAR (2.7) in that department), but it’s hardly a total loss. A top-of-the-market pitcher, as he was when he signed, is almost invariably going to be overpaid even before you factor in the injury risk. His deal didn’t prevent the Red Sox from signing J.D. Martinez last winter and paying the luxury tax — if it had, I think you might view Price’s deal a bit less charitably.

Kristen: Kershaw has been trending downwards the past few seasons in terms of FIP, FB velocity, SwStr%, Hard Hit%, etc.  Add his contract demands and is it possible his market won’t be huge after all?

Jay Jaffe: His market may not even be bigger than the team that still has exclusive rights to negotiate with him. But the extended negotiating period signals that he’d prefer to stay, and I think it’s just a matter of finding the right number. The Dodgers are clearly comfortable paying a premium to keep him.

Ozzie Ozzie Albies Free: How quickly do you think Harper or Machado will sign? Obviously teams will wait until they sign before they go after the lower tiers right?

Jay Jaffe: Assuming Boras wasn’t serious, I have no idea how quickly either will sign. Could be December (winter meetings?), could be January. After what happened last winter, I don’t think as many players will be in the mood to wait and see how the top of the market develops before taking reasonable deals, and I don’t think there will truly be all that many teams who are at a standstill as they wait to find out whether they’re going to win the sweepstakes, so to speak.

JRuby: If you had to irresponsibly pick one name and stick to it, who’s the highest profile FA the Phillies sign this offseason?

Jay Jaffe: Machado.

Asking for a friend: What are the chances that, long-term, the Mets will be mostly OK, and Mets fans will be mostly OK?

Jay Jaffe: So long as a Wilpon owns the team, I have a hard time thinking either the team or its fans will be fine. I’m not wild about the BVW hire — Bloom would have been an excellent choice in terms of finding a young, highly qualified GM, but nobody works in a vacuum, and ownership’s reputation for meddling and micromanaging could thwart anyone, even somebody with as strong a reputation and personality as Sandy Alderson.

Guille: Patrick Corbin. One Hit Wonder or sustainable? I think whoever gives him over 100M is gonna be very sorry in the end

Jay Jaffe: Corbin’s had good seasons before, but obviously nothing quite to the level of his 2018. I’d be a bit concerned with how he was succeeding despite a 1.4 mph drop in fastball velocity, but let’s face it, if you need a frontline starter this winter, you have only so many places to put your bet, and you’re better off putting it on a guy who misses a ton of bats (Corbin) than one who doesn’t (Keuchel)

bb: Non-baseball question: What are the two or three best concerts you’ve ever seen?

Jay Jaffe: oh jeez. LCD Soundsystem’s “final show” at Madison Square Garden is in the top three even if it didn’t turn out to be a finale (I might have had more fun seeing them at Brooklyn Steel this past December, but the occasion wasn’t as momentous), I’ve had a great time at the three Springsteen shows I’ve seen, all post Clarence, sadly — the one that stands out the most was when he did The River in full at Barclays Center in April 2016, when Emma was pregnant; some of the stuff he said in his between-songs comments, about family and choosing who one goes through life with, was incredibly moving even beyond the songs.

And then there’s the Jon Spencer Blues Explosoin and the Jesus Lizard, both of whom I’ve seen more than a dozen times, any one of which might have been The Single Best show I’ve ever seen.

buck showalter: do you think I come back to a team as a manager or as a front office type, possibly an advisory role?

Jay Jaffe: you’ll find work in baseball, Buck. Maybe not in the dugout but somewhere, yeah.

Mike: Happy Offseason Jay.  Bit of an off topic question for you.  Have you ever been to a show to see a band but the opening act really steals the show?  Years and years ago I went to a Billy Talent show but came away loving Rise Against (again, YEARS ago).  Anything similar happen to you?  Cheers.

Jay Jaffe: oh man, speaking of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, my intro to them was at just such a show. They were the opening act on a bill at Providence, RI’s Club Babyhead in June 1992, right after I graduated from Brown, with Come as the headliner — both vaguely blues-linked indie bands that I was familiar with but I was more excited about the latter.

This is in a club of about 200 people, and holy f”ing, the JSBX, with their abrupt starts and stops, and their incredible grooves and their way-out histrionics and A THEREMIN absolutely blew my mind. I’d say that they blew Come off the stage but only if we were no longer doing “phrasing!”

Andy: Carlos Martinez for Cody Bellinger?  Could the framework be there for a deal?  Replaces Rich Hill’s ancient innings and frees up playing time for Verdugo.

Jay Jaffe: I don’t see the Cardinals moving Martinez, and they’re kinda crowded both at 1B (Jose Martinez plus Matt Carpenter) and in the OF. I also don’t think Verdugo will be anywhere near as good a player as Bellinger, whose postseason struggles skew the perception of his many talents.

Scott: When do you start writing your Hall of Fame articles?

Jay Jaffe: I’ll have something next week in the wake of the Today’s Game ballot reveal on Monday. BBWAA ballot is announced on Nov 19; I may have the ballot intro that week but won’t start writing about candidates until after Thanksgiving.

Doug: Does Harper really get that $300+ contract everyone assumed? Seems kind of high given his inconsistent performance the last few years.

Jay Jaffe: Yes. Somebody will meet his demands, regardless of the consistency issues and the polarizing nature of his career.

Conner from AZ: Do you think Pollock gets a QO? And if he does, do you think there is any chance he accepts it in an attempt to stay healthy and productive for a full season and re-test the market next year?

Jay Jaffe: I think they should but no, I don’t think he gets a QO. The Diamondbacks seem to complain about payroll — particularly the fact that Zack Grienke takes up 25% of it — and threaten to blow it all up about three times a week, so the last thing they want is a player making $17.9 million even for a year.

Wonder Bread: Will Joe Kelly get 3y/$21m this offseason? I was skeptical before the playoffs but think he may have gotten himself some pretty pennies

Jay Jaffe: I think Joe Kelly should get a 100 mph fastball to the ribs this offseason.

Frustrated Dodgers Fan: Do you see the Dodgers FO taking a different approach and spending some money on bullpen and contact hitters like LeMahieu? Or business as usual for them?

Jay Jaffe: I think they’ll do more with the bullpen as a hedge against Jansen’s decline, but they have a lot of arms to sort through, some of whom might be more permanent down there (Urias? Maeda?). They may get more contact oriented but I don’t see LeMahieu, who’s never had a *road* wRC+ higher than 101, and who was at 85 last year and 81 for his career, being a particularly appealing target.

Luke: Where do you see Marwin Gonzalez ending up?

Jay Jaffe: Now there’s a guy who might make sense for the Dodgers given versatility that includes second base, though they do have Kiké and Chris Taylor still on hand and could well simplify their crowded outfield picture by steering the latter there as the regular.

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : McCovey,  Mays, and Aaron all came out of Alabama, separated by eight years. Has any other state produced a trio like that?

Jay Jaffe: Texas produced Ernie Banks, Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson within a four-year period — and that’s just the first one I clicked on.  California had Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Joe Gordon within a four-year period. I think we could do this all day with any state over similar time periods.

Jay Jaffe: But yeah that’s still one hell of a collection of talent for Alabama.

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : Have any of the Mets represented by BVW said anything publicly about BVW’s career change? I haven’t seen anything about this yet.

Jay Jaffe: Neither have I

jkim: In your opinion, what should teh Dodgers be prioritizing this offseason? Harper or Machado? Trade for Realmuto? I don’t see room for much improvement honestly unless they get a marquee bat or another ace, but I don’t think the FA crop on the pitcher side is that good this offseason

Jay Jaffe: of those three, I’d say Harper, but again, they have a crowded OF and he’s not a necessity. Machado is redundant when you have Seager under club control; might as well spend the savings elsewhere. They have the two best catching prospects in the minors in Ruiz and Smith, so probably don’t need more than a short-term move there. I think their best use of an additional ~$25-30M/yr beyond retaining Kershaw might be by signing Corbin, in part because it also weakens the Diamondbacks.

Travis: Hi Jay! Which active player(s) most helped their HoF case this year? And who…didn’t help their case? (Not sure how to phrase the second part in the most accurate sense, but whatever the opposite of helping their case for Cooperstown)

Jay Jaffe: among pitchers, the answer was Scherzer and Verlander from a JAWS standpoint. Among position players, Trout, who’s now above the HOF average for CF, and Mauer, who crossed the 2,000 hit mark

On the filp side, I think Utley hurt his chances by retiring short of 2,000 hits, though his body of work the past couple seasons suggests he was near the end of the line. The down seasons of Jansen and Kimbrel may prove to be the beginning of their respective decline phases, though there are other plausible explanations for their rough 2018s (heavy 2017 postseason and heart issue for the former, lack of spring training brought on by newborn daughter’s medical situation and pitch-tipping for the latter). But I think the biggest blow is probably to Felix Hernandez, who right now doesn’t look like a viable MLB starter. I hope he can rebound.

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : What does the hiring of Brodie Van Wagenen  mean for the baseball career of Tim Tebow? I always got the sense that Sandy Alderson was a big backer of him, but he’s not in the FO anymore.

Jay Jaffe: I can’t think of a single thing I’m less concerned about in the wide world of baseball today than this. So thanks, I guess.

Biscuit: Do you think Freddy Peralta has a place in the Brewers rotation next year?

Jay Jaffe: quite possibly. I know they have a number of arms to sort through including Woodruff and Burnes, and they may think that Peralta can be another real weapon out of the bullpen. One way or another i expect him if healthy to have a significant role.

Ben: Mike Trout needs 13 fWAR to match Ken Griffey Jr., 47.6 WAR to match Mickey Mantle and 85.2 more WAR to match Willie Mays. What do you think the chances are for him to reach each of those benchmarks? Barring a major injury, he has to be a virtual lock to pass Griffey, right?

Jay Jaffe: This is a question better suited for Dan Szymborski and his ZiPS machine than me. Pulling numbers out of the air for the sake of filling space, I’d say 93%, 52% and 13%.

Take those to Vegas and give me 15% of your winnings when they hit, but don’t come crying to me when they don’t. 😉

Shecky: You still advocating Grandal over Ramos?  I know that the playoffs is a small sample and all… but sometimes people have one opinion before they see a player for more than just a random clip or two.  Moreover, there is some legitimacy to Grandal having a career year in ’18.  There’s really little question about Ramos being the better hitter… it’s really only how much you allow ‘injury prone’ to creep into the equation IMO.

Jay Jaffe: I can tell you that our FA rankings, which are driven both by projections and industry input, have Grandal higher than Ramos — separated by 12 spots, actually — and yes, I still believe that’s the right order. The gap in age and defense is still large enough to overcome Ramos’ slight edge with the bat.

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : People always talk about Sandy Alderson in such glowing terms, but I’m not sure he was so great as Mets GM. The Mets didn’t seem to draft all that well during his tenure, traded or gave away players (Justin Turner, Colin McHugh) for practically nobody, bombed on free agent signings (especially in 2018,) and only had two winning seasons. I understand that he introduced a lot of analytic practices to baseball with the A’s, but that was years ago

Jay Jaffe: I was very gung-ho about the Alderson hiring but aside from the 2015 World Series trip and what briefly appeared to be a dream rotation (of which only Syndergaard and Wheeler arrived on his watch), he fell short of the mark in New York. I don’t think anybody really realized just how hamstrung he’d be by the Wilpons, or the extent to which he’d play the good soldier rather than breaking ranks when they probably should have been broken.

whitty: I always thought of Posey as a HOF lock, but when looking at his stats recently, I realized he has pretty poor counting stats and the way his career is going he’s in danger of not even reaching 50 WAR. Is he as much of a lock as I used to think?

Jay Jaffe: Not a lock but the MVP and the rings and the peak WAR are all there; he’s done the heaviest lifting. Needs to get to 2,000 hits (he has 1,276) and possibly a position change down the line. Wrote about him here https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/what-buster-poseys-hip-surgery-could-m…

stever20: so game 3 of the WS.  Where does it rate for you in terms of all time crazy games?  Meg yesterday was saying it was weirdly not specifically memorable…..

Jay Jaffe: it’s one of the weirdest I ever watched, for sure, but yeah, there are a lot of innings with very little happening. The first nine innings, with Buehler’s start and then Boston’s comeback, were exciting, as was the 13th, when both scored, and any game that ends at 3:30 AM gets extra points for weirdness. I’d have to think long and hard about what else I’d put on that same level as far as wackiness.

Alan: What defines a good concert to you? Musicians are professionals, and almost always play well, so a good show to me is almost always proportional to to how much I like the band. That being said, though, watching Arcade Fire with their 800 members on stage definitely elevated them for me over a traditional 4 piece.

Jay Jaffe: Some bands just have greater stage presence than others. Not necessarily “better” musicians in a technical sense but better as a functioning live unit, and better able to interact with and feed off of an audience. That plus not all venues are created equal — the sound can vary greatly. So can the visuals. A JSBX show I saw at Bowery Ballroom a few years ago, in which they played in front of some wild video projections, stands out as a cut above even some of their other great shows.

And some of it is just based on whatever mindset I’m bringing to the show. Maybe there’s one song, and even one chord change that I have been waiting months to see them pull off and when they do it just right, with the anticipation of the crowd and the band all seeming to point towards a single moment in time, it is absolutely f’ing magical.

Sam: Is anyone going to give Machado or Harper a ten year deal? That seems insane to me, even if they are young.

Jay Jaffe: I think that even if either does get a 10-year-deal, it will have at least one opt-out in there that reflects the possibility of the signing team not being particularly competitive at some point, the market changing significantly, or the player wanting to make sure he gets another turn on the market while his earning power is still high.

Marshall: Who do you think is the greatest MLB player of all time?

Jay Jaffe: I am 99.97% certain it is either Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds or Mike Trout. You can spend all day arguing over the comparative advantages and disadvantages each had/has, and how we might measure greatness, but I’m not sure that there’s any other player who deserves to be in that final four. Cobb? Not as good as Ruth. Mantle? Likewise with respect to Mays. Betts? Let’s see half a dozen carbon-copy years.

Guest: Bellinger just put up two years better than CMart ever has by WAR. Plus he’s still pre-arb and CMart is coming off of an injury year. Bellinger ranked 26 on Trade Value series while CMart wasn’t ranked…

Jay Jaffe: good points, all.

Pete: Not even a year ago, Stanton wanted to be a Dodger and the Dodgers wanted Stanton to be a Dodger. Why can’t the Yankees work out a trade?

Jay Jaffe: Because… the… Yankees… don’t want Stanton to be a Dodger, maybe?

Evan: Re: Joe Kelly, was that a Dodgers fan comment regarding pegging Kelly with a fastball to the ribs?  Or are you a Sox fan wondering where that Joe Kelly was all year?  Kelly getting $7 million a year based on a postseason is a little scary.

Jay Jaffe: I’m convinced that Kelly acted with malicious intent when he drilled Hanley Ramirez in the 2013 NLCS, and I believe that it might have swung the outcome of the series  YMMV.

Orioles Tragic: If you had your choice between Kim Ng and Ben Cherington for the GM of the Orioles, who would you hire and why?  Or is there someone better suited out there?

Jay Jaffe: Based upon her extensive resumé in other front offices, I remain very interested in seeing what Ng can do as a GM. I’m not sure Baltimore is an ideal situation for her, but if it were my call, and if what she said about her plan for the organization made sense — which, really, is the great unknown with all of these GM openings; we’re working with very little actual info, because candidates aren’t broadcasting their plans — I’d hire her.

Shecky: Hah!  Once saw the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Irving Plaza and saw Sean Penn in the crowd.  Must’ve been back around 2002 or so…

Jay Jaffe: Was that the one where the Frogs opened? I know I saw him there once. In related news, I hate Irving Plaza with a passion. Just a lousy experience every time as far as the security and the bar and the atmosphere relative to Bowery or Webster (when it was doing similarly sized shows).

Trent: Baseball Prospectus has Brian Mccann as basically a Hall of Famer, at 60+ WAR.  Will he be the first Hall of Fame “Framer”?

Jay Jaffe: I think Molina will be, and that McCann won’t make it because of his offensive decline.

Alex: Any “surprise” teams could you see signing Machado and Harper?

Jay Jaffe: Just spitballing but I wonder if the Astros and Harper could be a match. Corner OF isn’t their strongest position, though they do have prospects and Reddick.

Marshall: Do front offices communicate with managers during games? Roberts got a lot of heat for some of his decisions during the WS, but I just assumed there is a team of analysts behind the scenes to run numbers and lay out all the options as the game goes on.

Jay Jaffe: If they do, that would be highly irregular. No front office that I know of has that immediate input. There’s no way a manager could survive in that kind of atmosphere, where he was perceived to have that little actual authority within a game.

Trent: If you could pick one player to add to the Hall of Fame, who would it be?  Or slightly differently, which of your favorite players not in the Hall has the single best case to be in the Hall?

Jay Jaffe: Minnie Miñoso, a pioneer among Latin American players, is the one I’d add. I think he’s got a strong case, but there are current candidates with stronger ones, starting with Bonds and Clemens; the Hall is just incomplete without them. If I was going to go “favorite players” I’d say Edgar Martinez and Mussina, who both have great cases and should be there in time (hopefully this year on Edgar!)

Jon: Best intro video to JSBX:

Jay Jaffe: Haven’t seen this, but I’m gonna just as soon as this is over!

Jay Jaffe: ok folks, there are a lot of good questions still in the queue but I’m out of time and my stomach is growling. Thanks for stopping by today!

Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe... and BlueSky @jayjaffe.bsky.social.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Merv Throneberry
5 years ago

Yes to Edgar Martinez, professional hitter in the HOF!