The Winter Meetings begin on Monday, but that doesn’t mean that the hotstove isn’t already sizzling. Yesterday was a ridiculous day in terms of transactions, and the always-invaluable MLB Trade Rumors has got all of it covered. And… uh… since I barely covered any of it myself, let’s just pivot off of what they’re saying, shall we?
Of course, the big one is the Mariners’ poaching of Robinson Cano. It’s a stunning deal, and one that I’ve already written about from a business perspective, but which also has baseball-related consequences for the Jays. The Mariners would now seem to have a second baseman to offer, with interesting prospects Nick Franklin and Dustin Ackley as potential trade chips. We’ve already heard suggestions that the Mariners could use Franklin and Taijuan Walker to try to get David Price, so the notions might be fleeting, but there are certainly some things to like, and some to not like, about Franklin and Ackley. The former is a converted shortstop who isn’t a great defender at second and who was as good in the first half of 2013 as he was bad in the second. Did he get figured out? It’s too small a sample to say, and the consensus seems to be that his bat will play. Ackley, on the other hand, is better liked by the defensive metrics at second, had a terrific second half after being demoted at the end of May and coming back as a centre fielder. The latter fact had me wondering on Twitter last night if Anthony Gose might be of interest– cheaper, younger, years more control, and a better defender in the outfield– but the second-half turn around was maybe enough to make the Mariners think hard about whether Ackley is about to make good on the huge promise he showed as a prospect and as a rookie. And now, of course, the Yankees are going to be sniffing around all these same sorts of players as the Jays– Kelly Johnson is certainly not all that they’re going to do at second.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Rangers’ signing of J.P. Arencibia. It’s a little frustrating that this is the team he ended up coming to terms with, given that the Jays and Rangers had a deal worked out before the non-tender deadline that would have seen the club get at least something for him, had they been able to agree on this contract by then. Of course, that would have undercut a tonne of Arencibia’s leverage, and it was entirely his right to not agree to do the Jays any favours, so… whatever. Good spot for him, and a one-year deal for $1.8-million with incentives is pretty reasonable. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, it should be noted that Jon Daniels is no fool. Will be interesting to see how he does.
The Marlins signed Rafael Furcal to a 1-year, $3-million deal. I noticed immediately that a number of folks on Twitter were wondering where the Jays were on this one. A not entirely unfair question, I guess, given what the Jays claim they’re planning on running out a second this year. I kind of see it two ways: one, if a guy ends up on the Marlins on a deal like that it’s not like there was a tonne of interest elsewhere, and that’s probably because he kinda fucking sucks, that he didn’t play at all in 2012, hasn’t played second base since 2000, and wasn’t particularly well regarded at short when he last played in 2012. Or… actually maybe that’s the only way worth looking at it. The other is, if the Jays weren’t desperate to add this small, cheap, near-certain upgrade, uh… maybe they have bigger plans in mind. Such as…
While this isn’t from MLBTR, and isn’t anything that– as far as we know– anybody’s actually discussed, Dave Cameron writes a piece for ESPN.com (Insider only), in which he suggests four trades that he thinks out to happen. One of those suggestions involves the Jays sending Brett Cecil and salary relief to the Reds in exchange for Brandon Phillips. It sounds awfully fanciful to me, but the Cameron thinks the relationship in Cincinnati has soured, plus Reds definitely could use both of those things, the Jays certainly could use a guy like Phillips, and as Cameron explains, “taking on the remaining $50 million due to Phillips over the next four years doesn’t seem that crazy given what free agents are signing for this winter.” He’s a guy I’d like to think the Jays could explain to upper management is worth taking on a little extra money for, and with the cost of top relievers getting nutty (Brian Wilson and Joe Nathan, come on down!), maybe? It seems light, but then again, think of the standard aging curve– Phillips was worth 2.6 WAR this season, and would be expected to go down by half a win next year (his age-33 season), and 0.7 wins each in the years following. That’s pretty imperfect science, for sure, but it’s scary– as is the fact that his only full season with a wRC+ above 104 was driven by a BABIP 30 points higher than his career mark. Upgrade, though! And out of an area of surplus, if it’s to be believed.
Another second base item that isn’t on MLBTR comes from Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, as he reveals that “the Angels have offered [Howie] Kendrick to the Blue Jays, Tigers and Royals, among others, to no avail. But they’ll keep trying.” Now, we have no idea what the Angels were trying to get in return, but the fact that they would love to get their hands on some young, cheap, controllable starting pitching, and that they’re built to compete now, gives us a pretty good idea. Marcus Stroman would do it, I bet. I’m glad the Jays balked, but for a lesser price, there’s appeal there: Kendrick isn’t the defender that Phillips is and he strikes out a bit more, but they’re pretty similar otherwise. Kendrick had a better year at the plate in 2013, but Phillips made up the difference in value with his defence, and looking at two- and three-year samples Phillips has been slightly better. Yes Kendrick is two years younger, and is owed just $18.85-million for two years, instead of the four-year $50-million commitment left for Phillips. Hmmmm…
The Yankees have re-signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $16-million deal. So now they have three starters! And while it’s probably a good deal for them (because: Big Hirok), his last couple of months in 2013 weren’t so hot. FIP and xFIP still liked him, though, so we’d better cross our fingers extra hard that it was a harbinger.
Speaking of the Yankees’ quest for a pitcher, apparently Masahiro Tanaka may not be posted at all. I’m not sure that’s good for the Jays, seeing as they too could be players for him, or because the Yankees could jump in and spoil the party for the Jays with someone else. But it’s also kind of hilarious, right? “Rakuten is ‘really balking at the $20MM posting fee,’ tweets Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker,” we’re told. We’re then pointed to a report saying that Rakuten is going to meet with Tanaka, with their priority being asking him to stay.
The other big Yankee move was their signing of Carlos Beltran. He moves to the AL, somewhat inexplicably to a team that’s well-covered at DH (meaning his creaky knees will see time in the outfield– though you can bet not at Rogers Centre). The deal is for three years and $45-million, which… I guess is about right on this market. It’s not as well-liked, generally, as the Ellsbury and McCann deals, but Beltran still makes them better than they were yesterday, even if they’re relying a lot on the elderly, and pitching that they still ought to be desperate for more of. An issue for the Jays, though, is that the Yankees are now getting interest in Brett Gardner, which could help them find help in areas the Jays are also looking for help in: the rotation and second base.
Scott Feldman agreed to a 3-year, $30-million deal with Houston. I don’t mind Feldman– he did alright in the AL East when he moved to Baltimore this year, and when he’s been able to stay on the field, over his last 335 innings he’s been quite good. Good enough to make that kind of commitment to, though? For some teams, sure, but for a team with a bunch of guys who could be worth about two wins– as Feldman has in each of the past two seasons– for a lot cheaper? Leaving aside the prospects even, I mean, I’d take him over a guy like J.A. Happ straight up, but at that price, compared to Happ’s guaranteed $5.4-million, plus an option for $6.7-million? Assuming the Jays have a very hard time getting the green light to go over $150-million this year (which I don’t necessarily think is for sure going to be the case), definitely not. Then again, a deal like that probably makes Happ look not so terrible to another team, right? Well, hopefully it does. Ben Nicholson-Smith write about Happ at Sportsnet, as well.
Another one that’s not from MLBTR comes from Gamereax, as Chris Toman looks at some platoon possibilities for Adam Lind who are still out there. Food for thought, but as he notes, probably a January move. Also: Youk!?!
The Mets signed Curtis Granderson, which is notable for us only because it takes him out of the AL East, and also for the fact that Granderson, who played almost exclusively in centre field until 2013 (and still played the majority of his games in centre during this injury-hampered season), has one season in his last six that was more valuable (by WAR) than what Colby Rasmus did this year. If Colby keeps that BABIP regression at bay next year, while being terrific for the 2014 Jays, he’s going to be ridiculously expensive, as he heads to free agency ahead of his age-28 season. Granderson’s deal is for four years and $60-million. He turns 33 in March.
Mike Napoli re-signed with the Red Sox, which seems like a good deal for both sides, even at a bit of a discount at two years and $32-million. Wait, but players don’t really actually do that, right? Oh, and you totally can’t compete unless you sign giant mega-contracts free agents, right???
A note worth passing along from a post on Brett Anderson, which says that the Rockies had interest in him, is the fact that “the 6’4 southpaw has seen his last several seasons derailed by Tommy John surgery and a fracture in his right foot.” That’s right. As much as people are falling all over themselves to call him a terrible injury risk, his Baseball Prospectus page shows the injury history, and it’s not exactly horrific. He had elbow issues in 2010, pitched half a season in 2011 before requiring Tommy John. He came back off the DL in late August of 2012, making a handful of starts, and then missed much of 2013 because of a foot/ankle issue. There are other minor issues throughout the chart, too, but maybe he’s not as giant a health risk as some like to believe?
The agent for Matt Kemp, who the Jays have been linked to, thinks his client might be moved. Hmmm. And in the same piece, we’re told that the Diamondbacks are searching for some power in a corner outfield spot, and have a bunch of pitching that they could possible move. Double hmmm….
Lastly, Eric Thames is headed to Korea! The one-time Jays prospect who a lot of people thought was a better prospect than he really was has signed on to play with the NC Dinos in the Korean league. Yeah… that Delabar trade is looking pretty alright, I think.