Yesterday was a crazy day in the big leagues, in terms of transactions, and the always-invaluable MLB Trade Rumors has got all of it covered. And… uh… since I haven’t covered any of it just yet, let’s just pivot off of what they’re saying, shall we?
Brad Lincoln is dealt to Philadelphia! The Jays shipped out one of their many out-of-options relievers, getting quad-A catcher Erik Kratz and Rob Rasmussen, a left-handed reliever with many options (Kratz has one too!) and some success this year at Double-A (though not so much in Triple-A), who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Michael Young trade at the end of August. It’s far too small a deal to call it great, but there’s a lot to like here– and not just because it undoes a disturbing trend where Anthopoulos goes the other way and moves catchers for relievers. Lincoln evidently wasn’t in the plans, and so the Jays turned him into some nice pieces. Kratz has started more big league games in the last two years than Dioner Navarro (!), projects by Steamer to 1.5 WAR this year, has a strong defensive reputation (he ranked 23rd by Matt Klaassen’s method this year, with much less playing time than some of the leaders), and has some power, too (18 HR in 417 MLB PA)– in other words, watch your back, Josh Thole. Rasmussen struggled in Triple-A, but a year ago was ranked 13th in the Dodgers system by Marc Hulet at FanGraphs, as he explained, “I was given a loose comp to lefty reliever J.P. Howell, formerly of the Royals and Rays. If Rasmussen can find a way to get on top of the ball and create downward action on his pitches, while also harnessing his breaking balls, he could be a valuable piece of the Dodgers bullpen as soon as mid-to-late 2013.” Yep. Definitely a win.
You may be surprised to learn, yesterday a team in the AL East made an even bigger splash than that, as the Yankees signed
Johnny Damon Jacoby Ellsbury for seven years and $153-million. It doesn’t look like they’re done throwing money at their problems, so I won’t even bother to try to assess how this impacts the AL East. What it really impacts for the Jays, though, is Colby Rasmus,who is headed into his free agent year next year. Last season Ellsbury was a full win more valuable than Colby, but in about 180 more plate appearances. Colby doesn’t provide nearly the value on the basepaths, and his high BABIP makes the offensive numbers he put up this year (and in his other elite-calibre season, in 2010 in St. Louis) somewhat suspect– as Blake Murphy wrote excellently about this week at RotoGraphs– but if Ellsbury can shake the injury prone tag and get a deal like this, another season of strong production from Colby, who is three years younger, is going to send his market value to these sorts of astronomical heights. I’ve written about it before. And while I think it’s worth it to the Jays to potentially cost themselves a tonne of money on an extension by waiting and getting just a little bit more certainty, it’s definitely something to watch.
The Yankees have also signed Kelly Johnson, apparently. Whoopty fuck. Though, actually, that could be a pretty nifty pickup at $3- or $4-million. Hey, but don’t worry, Anthopoulos is still mind-blowingly claiming he’s comfortable with Goins and Izturis (though, granted, he still says he would like to upgrade, and obviously he’s not going to give anybody leverage by knowing he needs an upgrade, right? Right???).
The Pirates are targeting James Loney to fill the first base position formerly, temporarily, held by Justin Morneau. But another name they’ve apparently looked at is Adam Lind! Cue thoughts of maple cocks, sap welling hard inside them, ready to punt Lind over to Pittsburgh and go get the man with the right passport. Except… Morneau has signed with the Rockies. Awwww, sad flaccid maple trombone.
The latest on Brett Anderson is that he’s likely going to be dealt next week at the Winter Meetings, with many suitors still involved– including the Yankees. It’s still a scary proposition, given his health, but I remain adamant that I’d take him, at the right price, even if I was unsure about getting more than 15 starts out of him. He’s not going to turn your rotation around, but the whole idea of “injury prone” is, to me, pretty flawed: just because he’s been hurt doesn’t mean he’s necessarily going to get hurt again, and if you build the risk into the cost, why not? It’s not like the Jays won’t have a bunch of very interesting arms at Triple-A, should they need to bring someone up. Not the Ortizes, Wangs (note: heh!), or Laffeys of last season.
The Marlins actually signed a free agent! A lot of us though that would never happen again, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia went ahead and proved us all wrong– mostly because of a Florida discount, it would seem. He’s from the area, and as the MLBTR piece notes, the state’s lack of income tax makes the three-year $21-million deal (which, really, isn’t that much bigger than the Jays paid for Dioner Navarro) a smaller one than other clubs might have had to pay to land him. That fact makes it more difficult to argue that the Jays should have been harder in on him– though the term isn’t so hot, really, either.
The latest on the negotiations with NPB regarding the posting system suggests that there may end up being a maximum bid, but not one as low as the $20-million MLB has proposed. That sounds terrific, except for the part– which I’ve seen contradicted elsewhere, including in a tweet I posted about yesterday– where the team with the worst winning percentage in the previous year among those having made the maximum bid would get the player. If that were to come to fruition, I guess we’re just going to have to hope for some serious forgetfulness in the Cubs’ front office during the week that the bidding is open.
Ryan Hanigan has been dealt to the Rays. The rumoured Jays target ended up there in a three way deal that also saw the Rays get Heath Bell, the Reds get pitching prospect David Holmberg, and the Diamondbacks getting Justin Choate, a player to be named later, and cash. Doesn’t exactly seem like the kind of price that the Jays couldn’t have beaten, so maybe their supposed interest wasn’t quite as hot as we believed. Then again, I don’t actually know enough about the prospects being exchanged to say that for sure. And what am I gonna do, look them up? Not at this point in the post!
The Tigers have reinvested all their savings on Doug Fister into… Joe Nathan? Holy shit! Nathan is a very, very good reliever, no doubt, but seriously? I mean, remember when people tried to give Dave Dombrowski a pass on the weirdly low return because of his track record and because he probably had something real smart up his sleeve? Yeah, about that… (Then again, supposedly the Tigers are still very interested in Shin-Soo Choo, so maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to slay him.)
Dexter Fowler went to the Astros for Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes, and… hey, they play in the American League, don’t they! I dunno, it was a trade– interesting that Fowler went, but I really have no thoughts on this one at this point.
Lastly, Brandon Phillips is no longer likely to be traded. “ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke with three teams that inquired on Phillips, each of which got the sense that Reds ownership wants to trade Phillips more than the front office does,” they explained. So… actually, given the contract length and the scary dip in offensive production while now on the wrong side of 30, uh… yeah. That’s probably pretty OK, actually.