Winter Meetings Links
The A's dealt LHP Jerry Blevins to the Nationals for minor league speedster CF Billy Burns. This deal was made possible by the Brett Anderson for Drew Pomeranz deal that I covered yesterday as the A's said they will use Pomeranz as a lefty match-up reliever next season, which made Blevins, a 6'6 match-up lefty with extreme fly ball rate and deception from a low slot, expendable. Burns is a little dude that's pretty one-dimensional as a 5'9/180 switch-hitting center fielder with 80 speed. He's improved in recent years with his approach and putting the ball in play to take advantage of his speed, likely starting next year at age 24 in AA with a solid shot at a big league future of some kind, likely a role player.
One other minor deal went through yesterday, with the Cubs and Marlins swapping fourth outfielder types in Justin Ruggiano and Brian Bogusevic. New Marlin Bogusevic was a first rounder out of Tulane in 2005 as a pitcher with noted hitting ability, then switched to hitting full-time in 2009. He doesn't have the ceiling of Rick Ankiel, but Bogusevic has a plus arm and enough speed to play all there outfield spots if needed. Bogusevic has basically a league average bat and fits the prototypical 4th outfielder profile well, as does Ruggiano. Ruggiano will be 32 next year, two years older than Bogusevic and Ruggiano also hits right-handed, but there's some hope in Ruggiano's stat line with a BABIP-fueled .313/.374/.535 season in 2012. Both could get a good bit of playing time with rebuilding clubs that don't figure to sign many more players and unsettled outfield situations, but at least should find spots in platoons.
The highest profile deal (but still relatively minor) of the second half of the meetings had the Mariners sending reliever Carter Capps to the Marlins for 1B/LF Logan Morrison. The Marlins recent signing of 1B/OF Garrett Jones and their lack of patience for Morrison's personality made this inevitable for the disappointing former top prospect Morrison. Morrison doesn't bring any notable speed or defensive value to the table and is basically the same as incumbent Seattle 1B Justin Smoak (another failed top prospect), though Smoak has more raw power. Jack Z can't get enough of his DH types and this once again is another baffling move for the club that could run an alternative fuel car on misplaced enthusiasm for one-dimensional players. Capps is a hard-throwing reliever, a notoriously steak type of player, but at 6'5/220 with a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper-90's with an above average breaking ball, but his size and effort limits his command. That said, he's been successful in 80.1 MLB innings with good K and GB rates and will be only 23 next year.
Free Agent Signings
I'll run through some free agent signings rapid-fire style. First, Corey Hart wears his sunglasses at night and is yet another one-dimensional slugger for the Mariners, albeit the kind they should be signing. Hart didn't play at all in 2013 due to a knee injury, so there's a good bit of risk and some of his defensive value is gone now that he's a 1B/DH fit but the Mariners could be getting a nice value. Jack Z drafted Hart when he was in Milwaukee and Hart was a reliable 50+ bat with 60 raw power that showed up in games, so if he can tap into that at all, he'd be worth the $6 million guaranteed with another $7 million in incentives.
Speaking of the Mariners and one-dimensional sluggers, former M's DH Mike Morse signed for $6 million on a one-year deal with San Francisco. Morse was a steroid guy and his plus raw power now isn't showing up in games as much as he's stiffened and gotten looser with his approach, garnering a stellar -1.6 WAR last year in only 337 PA. He's a minor league deal with spring training invite for me, so you could say I'm not a fan even given the limited risk. Last of the hitters, Clint Barmes re-upped for 1 year and $2 million with Pittsburgh to be a defensive specialist with a light bat, caddying for new everyday SS Jordy Mercer.
On the arms side, we had three rotation types sign late in the Meets, with Bartolo Colon going to the Mets, Edinson Volquez to the Pirates and Roberto Hernandez (former Fausto Carmona) to the Phillies. Colon signed a 2-year deal for $20 million as he continues to defy the odds with what is becoming comically bad conditioning, mediocre stuff but outstanding command at age 41. His peripherals suggest a pitch-to-contact guy that throws a lot of strikes and is a league average to slightly above pitcher, but Colon's stuff, age, body, the concept of regression and DIPS theory all suggest this part should be ending soon.
Volquez is basically a league average pitcher at the end of the day, but is maddeningly inconsistent in many ways, underming with above average stuff and mid-rotation potential that now looks like a longshot to reach. He's a solid upside play on a 31 year old for 1-year and $5 million for Pittsburgh to try to turn into another A.J. Burnett or Francisco Liriano. Hernandez signed for $4.5 million with another $1.5 million in innings pitched incentives. It's ironic that such an old-school organization like Philly would sign a guy that is beloved by advanced metrics like Hernandez. He'll be 34 next year and has slightly above league average peripherals, a well above average ground ball rate as a separator, but a decently long track record of bad to very bad homer luck, which, along with lowish LOB rates make the gap between xFIP and ERA scare off some clubs.
Charlie Morton signed an extension that I talked about some in the Winter Meetings Live Blog/Chat, essentially selling two of his free agent years at a slight discount 12 months in advance, another solid buy for Pittsburgh given their financial constraints. Lastly, Joba Chamberlain signed a one year deal with a power arm obsessed Tigers organization for $2.5 million plus incentives. Chamberlain is a solid buy-low candidate at that price with injury, conditioning and consistency issues, but even with those, he still works 93-96 mph with an above average breaking ball for set-up/low-end closer upside if he can make some progress after stagnating in New York.
Trade Rumors/Other Thoughts
The first base market is pretty shallow right now with James Loney and Kendrys Morales the top targets, both with unreasonable asking prices and the trade market with such luminaries as Mitch Moreland and Justin Smoak. Morales is in a weird spot, slowly moving towards having just one or two landing spots and being forced to sign a short term deal for around $10 million, after turning down an over $14 million qualifying offer. The QO was baffling to be offered in the first place and even more when Morales and agent Scott Boras turned it down, but Boras usually doesn't miscalculate this badly, so he must've known something we don't know.
As the large market clubs and second tier free agent pitchers wait for solutions to the David Price and Masahiro Tanaka situations, the Yankees aren't wasting time looking to fill holes on their roster. Yesterday, word leaked out that they turned down a Brett Gardner-Brandon Phillips offer from Cincinnati, which would fill some needs but the Bombers were correct to see there wasn't enough value there. Gardner is 30 and arb eligible and due for $7-9 million before hitting free agency in 2015 while Phillips is 32 and due $50 million over the next 4 years. Gardner is a 3 win player, a notch better than Phillips, along with being younger and cheaper, but this deal could get revisited with a third player involved on the Reds end. Lastly, the Yanks are also looking aggressively to fill their second base need Omar Infante, offering 3-years and $24 million while he's holding out (but likely not much longer) for 4 years and $40 million with the Royals also in the hunt.
Tweet Of The Day
"They're selling the [crap] out of him," a representative from one club said.
Sometimes the snarky internet stat nerds get one right.