Hey, so the Winter Meetings ended and then Ken Rosenthal lit the Hot Stove. Friday was a big one, here’s our take on the three top tier transactions.
Carlos Santana to the Phillies (3 yrs, $60m)
The Phillies have been one of the worst teams in baseball in recent years and had almost no long-term salary commitments to speak of, relying almost exclusively on players under team control. That looks to be changing with the signing of Santana, one of the most reliable free agent pieces on the market with a long track record of strong offensive production. The money is entirely reasonable for a player of Santana’s calibre and still leaves the Phillies plenty more to go after high-end free agents (Bryce Harper, perhaps?) next offseason.
Santana’s chief selling point is his elite plate discipline. He has an outstanding career 15.2% walk rate, with a strikeout rate that’s almost identical. Outside of Joey Votto, Santana has arguably the best plate discipline numbers in the game over the last half-decade. He also possesses good power, with a career .196 ISO and a high of 34 home runs in 2016. The batting average is uninspiring, but with such an exceptional walk rate that’s hardly an issue. A former catcher and third baseman, Santana also seems to have taken well to first base, posting positive defensive numbers by both UZR and DRS since he moved there permanently.
One potential issue with this move is the fact that it pushes 2017 rookie phenomenon Rhys Hoskins to the outfield. The Phillies weren’t convinced that Hoskins could play an outfield corner effectively, but this move seems to ensure he’ll be spending the majority of his time there over the next three seasons. Hoskins posted an OPS over 1.000 in his 50-game MLB debut and if he can produce anything remotely close to that offensively going forwards, all he really has to do is not be a disaster in the outfield. The numbers didn’t hate him in 2017, but we need a lot more than the 237 innings he played out there to draw any real conclusions. (DA)
Freddy Galvis to the Padres for prospect Enyel De Los Santos
The San Diego Padres have had a problem at shortstop for some time. In 2017, their merry bunch of shortstops (Dusty Coleman, Erick Aybar, Luis Sardiñas, Chase d’Arnaud and Allen Cordoba) combined for a total Fangraphs WAR of -2.5. Their wRC+ was at a high of 87 (Coleman) and a low of 2 (Two). In 2016, it was no better, with Alexei Ramirez taking the bulk of games and ending up with a WAR of -2.1 and a wRC+ of 62. The last properly positive season for a Padres shortstop was in 2013, with Everth Cabrera (3.0 WAR) leading the way.
So the Padres need help (not just at Short, but maybe that’s for another blog post), especially as they wait for their young stud — Fernando Tatis Jr — to get through the minor leagues in 2018.
They did that with their most recent move, trading for the Phillies shortstop — and J.P. Crawford placeholder — Freddie Galvis. Galvis has always been talked about for having some potential power and he showed glimpses of it in 2016, when he hit 20 HRs. Just a quick glance at his advanced stats, it shows you’re not getting Galvis primarily for his bat. Between ‘16 and ‘17, he did bring his strikeout rate down from 21.8% to 16.7%. Unfortunately that did mean a drop in HR production as well, in a season where everyone seemed to his 20 HRs (not you Red Sox), Galvis managed just 12. Maybe his plate discipline is up? Well, BB% rose from 4.0% to 6.8%, not exactly ground breaking, but an improvement. His wRC+ did increase from 73 in 2016 to 80 in 2017, so you never know, Galvis may be deciding to concentrate on his excellent defence and also attempt to become more of a contact hitter in 2018. With this being a contract year for Galvis, he really has to shine. As stated previously, his defence is great, but he has yet to achieve the dizzy heights of an “average” hitter. Never once rising above 100 in wRC+ for his entire six year career.
As for what the Padres gave up, it was Enyel De Los Santos. I’m not going to pretend to know what the number 15 Padres prospect can do, but I’ll just Fangraphs it and tell you some quick stats. He holds a 3.79 ERA in 2017 AA baseball, primarily as a starter. Pitched 150 innings, 138 Strikeouts, 48 walks. In the last scouting report (2016) on Baseball America, they projected him to be a 4 / 5 starter with plenty of opportunity to be more. Friars on Base had him around number 11 in their system, stating a “very consistent first year in the Texas League.”
These trades for the Padres have been relatively intriguing. However, their rotation is looking pretty bare at the moment, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with over the next few months. I’m still predicting and championing Wade Miley. (TP)
Zack Cozart to the Angels (3 yrs, $38m)
Hey, so the Angels want to be good now.
Former Reds shortstop Cozart has been signed to anchor the Anaheim infield at third base, joining an exciting ‘on paper’ up the middle combo of recently acquired Ian Kinsler and the peerless Andrelton Simmons. Even before factoring in Albert Pujols likely semi-regular presence at first base to give Shohei Ohtani batting reps, this is going to be a fun infield to watch.
Cozart joins the Angels off the back of a career year in Cincinatti, in which he hit 24 homers at a slash of 297/385/548, good for a wRC+ of 141. In other words, he was really, really good. Some regression to the mean is to be expected, but this contract seems far friendlier than the possible albatross deal which the market’s leading 3B, former Royal Mike Moustakas, is likely to attract. Cozart will likely join Kinsler and Simmons in ‘setting the table’ for the formidable Mike Trout.
As so many blogs, podcasts and words have been spilled over the last 24 months about how the Angels win with Trout we finally have an answer. At least for the offseason… (JM)