Bird Seed: Infante, Trumbo, Others on the Move
Bird Seed is your regular recap of recent baseball happenings, information, rumours, and how it all affects the Blue Jays.
As we learned this morning, second baseman Mark Ellis has signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to Derrick Goold. No financials have been reported and the deal is not yet official, but assuming all goes well in his upcoming physical, this eliminates another second base option for the Blue Jays. Ellis, a veteran of 11 MLB seasons, isn’t exactly known for his bat, although a well rounded offensive skill-set has helped him to a respectable career wRC+ of 95. What he is known for, however, is his defense; he has a career 9.1 UZR/150 at second base. Steamer and Oliver both project him to be a slightly below average 2B (1.4 or 1.5 WAR) if given ~600 PA.
The Braves are nearing a deal with Gavin Floyd, reports David O’Brien. Floyd, owner of a 3.29 TIPS last season and a 4.14 career xFIP, didn’t make it very far into last year, needing Tommy John surgery after only 24.1 IP. When healthy, however, he has been a dependable mid-to-back-end of the rotation starter, with multiple seasons of 4.0+ fWAR. Steamer projects him to have a 3.59 FIP and be worth 2.7 fWAR next year (Tommy John rehab might cut into those 153 projected IP though). The Braves rotation of Minor/Medlen/Teheran/Beachy/Floyd/Wood should be comfortably above average if everyone can stay healthy, but Floyd and Beachy might not be great bets to do so.
The Mets have signed Bartolo Colon. The deal is reported to be $20 million over two years. Colon, coming off of a resurgent season in which he posted a 2.65 ERA, made the highest number of starts he’s made since 2005. He only posted a 3.95 xFIP, however, suggesting that some of his productivity may have come from pitching in O.Co for a large number of his starts. Luckily for him, Citi Field is an extremely spacious park as well. Colon is projected to be roughly league average by Steamer next year, who pencils him in for about 2 fWAR.
Due to a number or reasons, mainly his age, Colon might be the most likely starting pitcher to hit the DL in 2014 (Jeff Zimmerman’s MASH report).
Omar Infante has signed with the Royals, according to Buster Olney. The deal is worth $30.25 million over 4 years. He is coming off of an excellent season in which he posted a 117 wRC+ and a 2.0 UZR at second base, all of which added up to a career high 3.1 fWAR. Infante, who has been the 10th ranked second baseman over the past three years by fWAR, has a career 92 wRC+, but offers a dependable glove, with a career 3.2 UZR/150 at second. Steamer has him projected for 2.1 fWAR next season.
It’s a very reasonable contract for KC, but if given the choice, I’d pretty easily take the 37 year old Ellis for a year over the 32 year old Infante for four. – Nik
The Diamondbacks, Angels, and White Sox have agreed to a three way trade that sends power hitter Mark Trumbo, outfielder Brandon Jacobs and right hander A.J. Schugel to the Diamondbacks, pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs and southpaw Hector Santiago to the Angels, and outfielder Adam Eaton to the White Sox.
Trumbo, a power hitting first baseman (who can play a passable outfield) and the key to the Diamondbacks’ end of the deal, has 95 home runs over the past 3 seasons. Carrying a 111 career wRC+, Trumbo is a well above average hitter with massive power that should fit in well in Arizona.
Skaggs, a top prospect making his return to the Angels’ system, pitched to a 3.95 xFIP in 38.2 big league innings in 2013, but posted a stinky 5.12 ERA. Skaggs also posted a large difference in his ERA and FIP in AAA, with a 4.59 ERA but a 3.07 FIP. Santiago started 23 games and pitched 11 games in relief for a total of 34 appearances last year, but didn’t perform extremely well by more advanced stats, with just a 4.65 xFIP. He did, however, post a very good ERA of 3.56, and his low HR/FB of 9.2% may be sustainable in the spacious Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Eaton, who recently turned 25, didn’t exactly stand out in his 277 PA for the Diamondbacks this past season. An 84 wRC+ and a -10.0 (!) UZR in just 526.2 defensive innings resulted in a -0.5 fWAR, a large decline from his 2012 debut of a 118 wRC+ and replacement level fielding.
The White Sox made out like bandits, the Angels did pretty well here, and Kevin Towers continues to burn the D-Backs to the ground. – Nik
Continuing on in their big offseason, the Mariners have signed Corey Hart to a one year, $6 million dollar contract with roughly $7 million available in incentives.
Hart, who missed all of 2013 with injuries, is the owner of a well above average bat, holding a career 117 wRC+. He has mainly played first base and right field for the Brewers throughout his career, and is known for his power, with 87 homers from 2010-2012. Steamer projects him for 2.2 fWAR.
The Mariners also flipped RH reliever Carter Capps to the fish for Logan Morrison. Capps throws gas and misses a lot of bats, but LoMo is a former top prospect who has kind of “floundered” in Jeffrey Loria’s Florida fishbowl, so the change of scenery upside with LoMo seems more than worth the traded volatile asset that Capps is. Morrison has a career 11.1% BB rate and a .178 ISO, so judging from his statistical profile, he might be a tweak or two away from being a big time offensive player.
If the M’s are done here, then they probably haven’t done quite enough to make the extremely expensive marginal wins that they bought in the form of Robinson Cano worth it. Projection system amalgamation would currently have them just 13th or 14th overall in baseball, a few wins short of the Blue Jays even (Chris’s Power Rankings / Fangraphs depth charts).
Also, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak are both most likely on the discount rack right now. They aren’t upgrades for Toronto, but some bottom feeder would probably like to take a flier on either of them. – Nik
Finally, the Blue Jays have had rumors swirling around them lately. After starting off the week by signing knuckleballer Tomo Ohka to a minor league deal (reported by Shi Davidi), we also found out that the Cubs are asking for Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, and a third prospect in return for Jeff Samardjiza. That seems like way too much for Jeff. Chris Carruthers analyzed Shark here.
In addition, we learned that the Blue Jays have been negotiating with the Royals for 1B/DH Billy Butler. Butler, owner of a 120 wRC+ over his career, is projected for 2.4 fWAR, and might represent an upgrade over Adam Lind, but the cost definitely would not be worth the upgrade.
Last but not least, Andrew Rickli reports that the Blue Jays have talked to multiple teams about Colby Rasmus. Rasmus, coming off of a career-high 4.8 fWAR, seemingly figured something out last season, tying his career high for wRC+ with 130, along with an excellent 15.2 UZR/150. A sky high BABIP of .356, along with a 29.5% K%, however, may give some teams pause.
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