It’s the Winter Meetings this week in Orlando – Disney World in fact, a part of Florida where even Derek Jeter might struggle to be the biggest joke on show. As ever with the set piece offseason occasion, the list of Major League transactions is long and growing. Luckily, our podcast team of Tom (TP), Ben (BC), Darius (DA) and John (JM) are on hand to keep you up to speed.
Here are their takes on the big moves so far…
Pray for poor Christian Yelich, consigned to spend 2018 in the Marlins outfield alongside Adam Duvall and a pedal bin. He’s certainly going to get fit given the amount of ground he’ll cover – assuming that Jeter isn’t currently unbolting the nameplate from above his locker to shill on Ocean Drive for a bag of spice.
With Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon already gone, Ozuna following them out of the door indicates a wholesale tear down in South Florida. Defcon-3 has been reached. In this instance they at least scored a decent prize – Alcantara ranks 9th in MLB.com’s list of Cardinals prospects, with a ++ fastball his primary weapon. He was set to be the centrepiece of the mooted Stanton to St. Louis trade so the Marlins have their man.
In Ozuna the Cards have two years of a player of supreme quality. Last year’s 27 homers and 142 wRC+ were good for a Fangraphs WAR of 4.8, second only to Stanton amongst the Marlins roster. The Birds needed some playable outfield defense and middle order pop. This is a big win for them. (JM)
Michael Pineda to the Twins (2 years, $10m)
Pineda had Tommy John surgery in July, so don’t expect to see much of the former Yankee next season. If there are no setbacks, he should get a few starts or a run as a potentially devastating bullpen arm for the Twins down the stretch.
This move is really all about 2019, as the distribution of the money indicates: $2M in 2018 and $8M in 2019. There are also incentives built in for innings pitched, from 150 up to 200. Pineda has always possessed high end stuff, with a career 12.5% swinging strike rate and a strikeout rate that has been as high as 27.4% in 2016. However, the results have never matched the stuff over longer periods of time, as Pineda has struggled with both home runs and injuries, from shoulder problems to this torn UCL.
Despite the inconsistent performance and injury history, it’s a low risk move for the Twins with considerable upside. If Pineda can make a full recovery and pitch anywhere close to the potential his arsenal suggests, Minnesota will have a bargain on their hands, and can either keep him as part of a playoff push or deal him in 2019 with greatly increased value. If it doesn’t work out, it won’t have cost them much. (DA)
In the past 18 hours or so, the Rockies have secured the services of relievers Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee and (per Jon Heyman) are closing in on Greg Holland too. That’s a serious overnight bullpen revamp.
Let’s start with the negatives. Three years for Shaw and McGee is excessive, especially given the Rockies have been burned by three-year deals for relievers before (see: Mike Dunn and Boone Logan). McGee is only one season removed from injury woes and Shaw is a guy with underwhelming K/BB numbers and some serious mileage on the arm. Neither of these guys project to be a shutdown reliever in the Wade Davis mould yet the Rockies will be splashing over $60m in guaranteed money on them when all is said and done.
On the other hand, that’s a pretty handy bullpen the Rockies have assembled. Holland and McGee were terrific last year and Shaw has long been a reliable workhorse in Cleveland. Put simply, these moves make the team better, and make the exciting statement that GM Jeff Bridich is building a team to compete now. The money will almost certainly be an issue further down the line but every cloud has a silver lining: we’re probably out of the Fernando Rodney sweepstakes now. (BC)
When a team is rebuilding, they generally remove the players who are performing, have little or no time left and replace them with prospects. I’m not saying Jabari Blash is a prospect, but I am saying that Chase Headley has been fairly average over the last few years and nothing special at 1B/3B. Not to mention the cash in his contract. So this isn’t really rebuilding.
Headley has been either below or slightly above average in terms of wRC+, clocking 92, 92, 104 in the last three years. His WAR has gone 1.5, 2.6, 1.9 over the last three years as well. He’s owed $13m for this season and then he’s a UFA. So the only immediate playing reason, I can see for Headley coming in, is that the Padres have a potential suitor for Yangervis Solarte and Headley will fill that gap for 2018. Plus, it’s lovely that Headley can come “home”. All that being said, don’t be surprised if he’s flipped in the coming weeks. (Edit – I forgot to mention this in the original post)
The other part of that trade was Bryan Mitchell. A RH reliever who boasts a 4-year career ERA of 4.94, K/9 5.86, BB/9 4.03 and WAR of 0.6. He’s nothing special, a 16th round pick for the Yankees who has a grand total of 98.1 IP in 4-years. As I said at the start of 2017, and it looks like I’ll be saying it again, another year of all filler and no killer could be ahead.
Second trade, Ryan Schimpf, Schimpf Cocktail, Schimpf Salad, The Three True Outcomes, he’s gone. Gone for a man who’s last name is almost a christmas decoration (Tinsel for those struggling).
I have no idea who Deion Tansel is, so I’m about to Fangraphs him. Standby.
Well that was easy, he’s reached A- and stopped. He’s a 32nd round pick and will more than likely never see the majors. A clear roster spot clearance for the Friars.
Padres winter meetings grade so far – WTF? (TP)