Winter Flurry: Non-Tender Deadline Fallout
Freezing rain is on the forecast here in the remote northern community of Peterborough, but today in baseball was HOT HOT HOT!
Ok, that was a terrible line… but still, baseball went nuts today on the transaction front. Here’s what happened and what we think about most of it.
The Tigers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year pact in the $20M range. This comes not even 24 hours after the Tigers announced that they successfully Fisted themselves right up the value chute. There were some assurances made after the Fister punting that the team had plans to utilize the freed up payroll, and I guess this was part of that. Fister probably would have given the Tigers 6+ wins over the next two years for ~$18M or so. Nathan has been great in Texas, but he’s still a 39 year old relief pitcher. If he gives Detroit two wins for $20M, then he’d probably be exceeding his two year projections. This isn’t the reinvestment that Tigers fans were looking for, but there could still be salvation on the horizon. Mike Feinsand (NYDN) says that the kitty cats are “hot” for a left handed outfielder, and Shin Soo Choo is their top target. If Detroit can somehow land Choo on an attractive contract, then maybe all of this apparent Bronze Age thinking could be forgiven. Maybe.
The Reds shipped out Ryan Hanigan and landed David Holmberg from Arizona. Cincinnati has been shopping Hanigan for what appears to have been a few weeks, and the Blue Jays were rumoured to have some interest in him. The Reds seem ready to finally give Devin Mesoraco the reins at catcher, so getting a decent lefty pitching prospect like Holmberg probably seems like a solid deal for a guy that hit .198 last year and that the team ostensibly viewed as a backup or part-time catcher.
The Diamondbacks said bye to Holmberg in order to get rid of Heath Bell and $5.5M of his 2014 salary. Bell was worth exactly zero fWAR in 2013, and Holmberg, as a non-top 100 pitching prospect, probably isn’t even “worth” $5.5M if we’re being rational and objective and all that good stuff. The DBacks also received some likely irrelevant Justin Choate guy and a PTBNL/cash from Tampa Bay. It has also been speculated that Bell didn’t really fit into the DBacks old-school, gritty, country club, whatever-the-fuck team culture. From this perspective, Arizona made a decent swap here.
Except that Ryan Hanigan isn’t just a part time catcher, and Heath Bell doesn’t really suck. Again, we see the Rays landing probable wins at sub-market costs.
Hanigan can both prevent runs behind the plate and produce them with the stick. Thanks to well-regarded defense and excellent plate discipline (career 12% BB rate, 10.1% K rate, .359 career OBP), Hanigan was about a two-win catcher each year from 2009-2012, despite limited playing time. The Rays peered through the 2013 BABIP mist and immediately locked him up to a three year, $10.75M deal (with a nice club option at the end). Hanigan’s 2.2 Steamer projected wins in 2014 would pay for that entire contract, the $3.75M club option, and then some. Hail Friedman.
Heath Bell was definitely just an absorbed cost in order to land Hanigan, but he’s not the lost cause flame out that he’s sometimes perceived to be. Bell’s K/9 last year was practically 10, and his K/BB was nearly 5. His xFIP was a hair above 3.00 and his TIPS (which is the best ERA predictor for samples below 70 IP) was 3.73. There appears to be some gas left in the tank for Heath Bell, and if any team can get some mileage out of him, it’s Tampa Bay.
The Rangers traded Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom for Michael Choice and Chris Bostick. Lindblom is a controllable replacement-level arm and Bostick is a 21-year old A ball 2B prospect with some decent peripherals and supposedly a good feel for the game. Lindblom and Bostick might end up having a big impact on this trade someday, but probably not. Craig Gentry is a “bench piece”, but only in a strict sense of that term. If given a chance to accrue significant playing time, Peter Bourjos’ estranged older brother would probably put up some serious SABR numbers. He eats flyballs for breakfast, and he has a .355 career OBP to boot. Billy Beane is trading for his three years of arbitration control here. Michael Choice is a former top 100 prospect, 10th overall pick, and a guy who has slashed pretty well on his age vs. level appropriate climb through the minors. Choice is probably worth a few million bucks. This seems like a fair trade, but I would take Oakland’s end of it. Gentry is a much more bankable commodity.
Carlos Beltran has a three year $48M offer on the table, and it’s probably from the Royals. GMDM is apparently feeling a bit frisky after his two-year extension. This would be an overpay for the 37 year old Beltran, who projects to put up about 4.2 WAR in the next three seasons combined. With our value calculation figures, that would be $33.7M in value, $14.3M less than this offered contract. So the contract offer seems to be one year too long, although as MLBTR has sub-reported, a third year wouldn’t necessarily turn the Yanks off of Beltran. Kansas City doesn’t really seem to be one Carlos Beltran away from World Series contention, but who knows, with 86 wins in 2013, a big breakout from Moose or Danny Duffy could maybe change that.
The A’s and Padres swapped Seth Smith for Luke Gregerson. Both of these guys are 3rd year arbitration players that were worth about one win last year. Smith would project to put up a bit more WAR next year, largely due to the extreme volatility of relievers that would factor into Gregerson’s projections, but specific roster situations and needs would probably cancel out any hypothetical gaps in projected value or probable salaries. An even swap. Very fair. Much trade.
Miami is about to land Jarrod Saltalamacchia for something in the neighbourhood of three years and $21M. Salty sold his curly-haired soul to the BABIP dragon in 2013, and he won’t hit nearly that well in the lifeless lime green confines of Marlins Park next year, but he doesn’t have to to be worth this contract. Salty was worth 1.6 and 1.9 wins in 2011 and 2012, so even if he regressed back to that realm, he’ll be worth more than an AAV of seven million greenbacks. Geez, second division starting catchers seem to be a bit of a market inefficiency right now for some reason.
Colorado has dealt Dexter Fowler to the Astros for Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes. This is a weird trade, since it seems at a glance like Fowler should have been worth more. Fowler is fairly overrated though, and the Rockies could be channeling Dombrowski here, planning to reinvest the $7.35M that Fowler was under contract for in 2014. I’ll avoid saying too much about this for now because Fowler’s home/away splits and the “Coors Effect” might warrant a post of their own in the next couple of days.
The Dodgers have apparently agreed to a one year re-up with Brian Wilson. Wilson came back from Tommy John surgery quite effectively in 2013, but the sample size was small and his velocity was a couple of ticks below where it’s been in the past. A pillow contract seems fair for Los Angeles, and really, this is what you should want with almost all of your relievers – short term commitments with upside.
The Red Sox signed AJ Pierzynski to a one year deal, which we actually made a post on, probably in anticipation of a slower news day.
Everyone believes that the A’s will soon trade Brett Anderson. The Blue Jays are “infatuated”, the Yankees are interested, and we’ve already talked about it a bit.
And in case you slept through yesterday, check out our recap of the major news and Blue Jays centric tidbits here.