*Note this is a “living” article. Please check back through the next couple of days as Ray discusses the moves teams are making at the Winter Meetings.
Last year I was at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. This year I’m at home watching MLB Network as I relay the meetings details to you all. Hopefully you will still enjoy reading it even without my on the scene observations which were epic last year.
December 8th, 10:10 AM PST
Aroldis Chapman returns to the Yankees crushing the fantasy outlook of Dellin Betances. "I know Dellin is looking forward to being on the best team he can possibly be on," GM Brian Cashman said. "If that means pitching before the ninth, I don't think that would be an issue for him in any way, shape or form. He's done that most of his career." Chapman, the most dominating closer in baseball, will be rewarded with a 5-year, $86 million by the Yankees to handle the 9th inning in the Bronx. "I love the [Yankees'] organization," Chapman said. "They welcomed me with open arms, and that's why I decided to go back. I was hoping I had a chance to go back, and it happened." Here what you need to know about the whole deal.
1 – Chapman’s contract is the largest in history for a reliever. It blows away the 4-year, $62 million contract signed by Mark Melancon with the Giants earlier this week (step aside Mark, you’re #2 now and will soon be #3 when Kenley Jansen signs his deal with someone since it too is expected to be an $80+ million deal).
2 – The contract of Chapman includes an opt out for Chapman after three years. The contract has a no-trade clause the first three years. There is a limited no trade clause the last two seasons. There is also a clause in the contract that he cannot be dealt to any club in California (another reason why I’m not a fan of Chapman).
3 – Chapman is a dominating arm. Over 383 career outings he has a 2.08 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. In seven big league seasons he’s never struck out fewer than 12.78 batters per nine innings. He owns a 15.18 career mark, the best in history for anyone who has tossed 375-innings. He never gives up home runs with a 0.45 HR/9 mark. That’s probably because his average career heater is 98.9 mph. Last season, according to PITCHf/x data, Chapman was even better with the gas with an average mark of 100.4 mph. That’s simply insane. Chapman, who has long struggled to throw strikes at times, walked at least four batters per nine innings each season from 2013 to 2015. Last season he reigned in the free passes walking just 2.79 per nine. If he keeps that up, no one is gonna hit this guy. Chapman, oddly, has never had 40 saves but he has been between 33 and 38 each of the last five seasons.
4 – There are concerns about Chapman, concerns that I ironically detailed exactly a year ago at the Winter Meetings (see the link above). Speeding, women tied up in hotel rooms, guns, domestic violence... they are all part of his past. We shall see if he can stay clean and productive for the next five seasons. I have my doubts.
December 8th, 9:40 AM PST
Chris Heston was dealt to the Mariners by the Giants who received a PTBNL. Bottom line is that the Giants didn’t have a roster spot to give to Heston so they risked losing him for nothing if they didn’t move him. Heston, who has a no-hitter to his credit, didn’t have a role with the Giants last season spending the overwhelming majority of the year in the minors. Heston will be given a shot at the rotation in 2017 with the Mariners, battling with Nathan Karns and Ariel Miranda for the final two spots in the rotation.
Sounds like, after so much bluster, that Andrew McCutchen will not be dealt. I never understood the desire of the Pirates to deal their franchise player this offseason. He’s 30 years old, is owed just under $29 million the next two seasons, and though he is coming off his worst season (.256-24-81-79-6), he did finish strong. Question. What do we say all the time in the fantasy game? We say – buy low, sell high. Why the Pirates think/thought that dealing their best player, at his lowest value, in eight years, is befuddling to this scribe.
Glen Perkins, formally one of the better closers in baseball, is doing well with his recovery from shoulder surgery. The hope/belief at the moment is that he will be able to pitch in Spring Training. His return to health could allow him to be a strong value in drafts next season, but note that there are about a gazillion hurdles in his way before you can spend a roster spot on him.
The White Sox are apparently pushing to deal Jose Quintana in their desire to build the best young talent in the game. The Braves and Astros though are claiming that the requested return for the stable lefty is extremely high.
Garrett Richards won’t be on a hard innings/pitch count in 2017, his first back since dealing with all kinds of elbow issues short of surgery, but they will certainly be careful about his workload. Sounds like 180-innings would be an absolute best case scenario. I won’t be expecting that much.
Wilin Rosario went .321-33-120 in 127 games last season with the Korean Baseball Organization. It was reported that the 27 year old was interested in coming back to the States this season. Not so much. He re-signed with the Hanwha Eagles and won’t be returning to the majors.
Tyson Ross wants $9-11 million? He threw one game last season before needing thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Good luck there. Sounds like the Pirates are potentially interested as they look to turn around a struggling hurler with a strong arm.
December 7th, 3:35 PM PST
Ian Desmond is now a Rockie after signing a 5-year, $70 million deal cashing in on his 20/20 effort with the Rangers.
A 31 year old, Desmond turned down a 7-year, $107 million offer from the Nationals back in 2014. In 2015 he went .233-19-62-69-13 and he was rewarded with a mere $8 million for 2016 and killed it for the Rangers going .285-22-86-107-21 to get paid by the Rockies. He now has four 20/20 seasons in five years, something no doubt that led to his major contract. Now he gets to take his shots with the Rockies, in Colorado, and that fact alone makes it conceivable that he could repeat the level of production that he posted last season. Tremendous move for his fantasy value.
No longer shortstop eligible, he played in the outfield last season, early word suggests that the Rockies want him to play first base this season. If so, the dual positional eligibility will be another feather in his cap that will further boost his value.
Start the excitement train.
December 7th, 3:25 PM PST
Soler is a nice talent. Just 24, he turns 25 next February, Soler has had a very hard time finding his groove at the big league level. His defense isn’t great, and he’s missed some time with injury, but the Royals added him to see time in right field and potentially DH on the hope that his production will match his skills. Soler has 765 plate appearances at the big league level with 27 homers, 98 RBI and 87 runs scored. He profiles as a Joc Pederson type performer (he went .246-25-68 last season) with the talent to be even better.
Davis should take over the 9th inning for the Cubs moving Hector Rondon back to the 8th inning. Davis had multiple issues with his arm last season limiting him to just 43.1 innings last season. Still posted a 1.87 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP, but his K-rate was 9.76, after striking out nearly 11 batters per nine the previous two seasons, while his 3.32 walk rate was a career worst. Arguably the best right-handed reliever in baseball the last three years, Davis lost a mph off his fastball and there are concerns about how his arm will hold up over an entire season.
Also, Kelvin Herrera will move into the closer’s role in Kansas City. The Royals shouldn’t miss a beat there.
December 7th, 3:15 PM PST
Nationals receive: OF Adam Eaton
Eaton is one of my favorite players. He’s consistent, stable and just good. Last season he went .284-14-59-91-15. In 2015 he went .287-14-56-98-18. Really good. He signed a team friendly deal that will pay him $4 million, $6 million, $8.4 million and then has two club options at $9.5 million and $10.5 million. That’s a great value for the 28 year old. He will likely play center for the Nationals allowing them to return Trea Turner to shortstop full-time. Eaton’s a great add for the offense of the Nats. However...
The Sox picked up two MASSIVE arms in Giolito and Lopez. Giolito struggled last year and has had Tommy John surgery in the past, but he’s 6’5”, weighs 250 lbs, has two elite pitches and entered last season as a top-5 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. There are many that argue he is the best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball.
Lopez was a top-100 prospect last year who struck out 126 batters in 109.1 minor league innings. He throws extremely hard and while not an SP1 prospect like Giolito, many think he can be an SP2/3 at the big league level. He has a huge arm.
Dunning was a first round selection in 2016. The 6’4” righty posted a 2.14 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 33.2 innings of big league work last season.
The White Sox got a HUGE infusion of talent the last 24 hours as they also added Yoan Moncada in their Tuesday day. Don’t quite get what the Nationals are doing...
December 6th, 3:25 PM PST
Mitch Moreland has agreed to a 1-year deal with the Red Sox for a bit over $5 million. He’s no Big Papa with the bat, but he has a new Gold Glove for defense and will likely take over at first base pushing Hanley Ramirez to the designated hitter role more often than not. Moreland hit just .233 with a .720 OPS in 2016, but in 2015 he was much more productive (.278/.330/.482). He isn’t likely to seem much time against lefties (career .673 OPS).
Moreland’s former team, the Rangers, might bring back Colby Lewis. The Rangers have also spoken to the Reds about Anthony DeSclafani. I would have to think nothing gets done there with an ascending and cost controlled DeSclafani, but what do I know?
Eric ‘O’Flaherty signed with the Braves on a minor league deal. The 31 year old lefty was awful last season, and in 2015, hence the minor league deal.
Sounds like the trade to bring in Tyler Thornburg means that Koji Uehara will not be back in 2017 with the Red Sox. Uehara, who shares his birthday with my brother (42 next year) can still get batters out but durability is a big issue (he had a 3.45 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 63 strikeouts over 47 innings).
December 6th, 1:30 PM PST
The Dodgers seem to be nearing the position that it might be too expensive to try and bring back Kenley Jansen, or perhaps they are just doing their due diligence and being smart about how they value relievers? I say that because Jon Morosi is reporting that the Dodgers and Royals are in talks in regards to Wade Davis.
The Dodgers also want Kenta Maeda to gain some weight with the hope being that extra mass might help him to be a bit more durable next season. I have my doubts that adding some lbs will help with that concern.
The Nationals lost out on Chris Sale so now they are turning their attention to Andrew McCutchen. The Nats were said to be willing to move Victor Robles and Lucas Giolito in a deal for Sale, so perhaps something will get done here if they are willing to move young talent like that for McCutchen.
The Orioles offer to Mark Trumbo, the one for about 4-years and $52-55 million, is now off the table reports Jon Heyman. Colorado and Texas are emerging at the top of the market for Trumbo who would enjoy hitting at either spot an awful lot. Sounds like the Orioles would rather do something like sign the much less expensive Chris Carter for a power bat.
December 6th, 10:20 AM PST
I knew we could trust Ken Rosenthal ;-)
Yoan Moncada is the top prospect in baseball, a generational type talent, that has folks thinking HOF one day. For my thoughts on Moncada see Offseason Injuries and Young Elite Talent. The White Sox have Brett Lawrie at second, Tim Anderson at shortstop and Todd Frazier at third base.There's no obvious spot there for Moncada but who is the designated hitter right now? Rymer LIriano or Avisail Garcia? If Moncada looks good in spring you have to think he will make this team and play daily.
The White Sox give away the best lefty in the American League in Sale. Folks keep waiting on Sale to break down because of his build and mechanics, but it never happens. Here’s his average effort the last five years: 14 wins, a 3.04 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 227 strikeouts in 203 innings pitched with an over the top 5.08K/BB ratio. The Red Sox now boast one of the best lefty duos in baseball history in Sale and David Price who relegate AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello to no better than third on the staff.
December 6th, 10:10 AM PST
The Nationals might be willing to deal Gio Gonzalez. Why? Well... It sounds like they have hopes of being able to acquire Chris Sale from the White Sox. Of course, that’s far from a given. In fact, Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the White Sox and Red Sox are “building momentum” for a potential deal for the ace lefty. Of course, no idea what that actually means. I hesitate to report it, but it is Rosenthal who you have to trust, so I’m going to assume he knows something he isn’t able to share. We shall see.
December 6th, 8:50 AM PST
Mark Trumbo is going to sit down with the Orioles to see if some common ground can be found between the two side. Sounds like Trumbo asked for about $75 million with a no-trade clause and the Orioles offered $55 over four years. Whether they can bridge that gap remains to be seen but both sides are obviously curious about a reunion.
Kolten Wong’s name keeps coming up as team’s hope to capitalize on his talent despite a down 2016 (.240-5-23-39-7 over 313 at-bats).
Chris Colabello is a free agent now. He served an 80-game PED suspension last season, one he still says he didn’t do anything to deserve. He appeared in just 10 games with the Jays last season.
December 6th, 8:30 AM PST
It always happens.
For those of you that don’t know, I think we will be able to launch our 2017 Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide in mid-December. How is exciting is that, right?
Yesterday I was working on reliever rankings.
Today I already have to adjust them.
Brewers receive: Travis Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington and PTBNL/cash
Red Sox receive: Tyler Thornburg
The Red Sox gain in Thornburg a potentially elite setup man for Craig Kimbrel. Last season with the Brew Crew Tyler posted a 2.15 ERA with a whopping 90 punchouts over 67 innings. He had been set to open the year as the closer in Milwaukee. The Brewers have, in six months, dealt away each of their top-3 relievers (Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress). Guess they aren’t trying to win right now.
The only player who will help the Brewers in 2017 is Shaw. The Brewers figure to utilize Shaw at first base with Chris Carter no longer with the team. At least that is my reading of it since the club has Jonathan Villar at third and a seemingly full outfield. Might this signing eat into the playing time of Hernan Perez? Seems possible/likely. Shaw will only play against righties who he faired passably well against last year (.257/.325/.437).
As for the 9th inning, the Brewers seem most likely to turn to Corey Knebel. The 25 year old righty was a first round pick in 2013 and features a hard, 95 mph fastball. Limited to just 32.2 innings last season due to ill health, he will enter 2017 healthy and the owner of 107 strikeouts in 91.2 innings in his career. As seems nearly required for hard throwers, he has issues throwing strikes at times (3.53 walks per nine).
December 5th, 4:40 PM PST
A potentially big time deal is being discussed between the Cardinals and Royals. Here’s what John Perrotto is reporting. It sounds like something might be brewing with Lorenzo Cain and Wade Davis being sent to St. Louis while the Royals would receive Kolten Wong and prospects. If a deal were consummated it’s unclear whether Davis or Seung Hwan Oh would close. We shall see if something does indeed come down.
The Rangers appear unlikely to give big dollars to a batter this offseason. The Rangers are interested in adding an arm though and they have contacted the Rays about Alex Cobb.
Santiago Casilla is not going back to the Giants from the sound of things but he will find a job soon with seven teams interested.
Michael Brantley (shoulder) hopes to start swinging the bat later this month.
Jeff Mathis agreed to a 2-year, $4 million deal with the D’backs. He’s an impressive defender who is one of the worst hitters of the last 25 years (.197/.254/.308 for his career). Chris Herrmann should see a good deal of work behind the dish if he can keep hitting.
December 5th, 2:10 PM PST
Sounds like Lucas Giolito might be a piece involved in a deal between the Nats and the White Sox for Chris Sale. Of course, we’re nowhere near close to a deal between the two teams and it would cost more than the potential future ace to secure the current ace.
December 5th, 1:40 PM PST
Jimmy Rollins is 38 years old and wants to continue his career. He’s hoping to extend his career though he wasn’t able to latch on with anyone else last season after being released in June by the White Sox.
The Yankees aren’t interest in Brian Dozier according to GM Brian Cashman. Dozier is coming off the best season of his career and is due $15 million the next two years. If the Twins move him they better get a crap ton in return.
December 5th, 12:55 PM PST
The Mets also announced that Jose Reyes will see time in the outfield this spring with the hope being that he can add a bit of flexibility to his game. He last played in the outfield in 2000... when he was 17 years old.
December 5th, 11:50 AM PST
The Dodgers want Yasiel Puig to “shed some bulk.” Not sure if that means muscle or fat, maybe both. Guy has been beset by hammy issues of late so losing so heft would likely be a good thing for the outfielder who is at a career crossroads (he turns 26 this week).
Teams still keep checking in on Chris Sale though it sounds like the White Sox are asking for the moon in return for the cost controlled lefty who it can be argued is the best lefty in the American League. "The only thing I have expressed is that I would like a six-year contract. I know that doesn't mean that I will get it, but that's what I would like to sign. There are rumors out there that I requested $100 million and that's not true at all. I believe he who deserves something, does not need to demand it."
December 5th, 10:55 AM PST
I still cannot figure out what the Dodgers are doing with Rich Hill.
December 5th, 10:20 AM PST
Rich Hill is once again a Dodger after signing a 3-year, $48 million deal. You know my thoughts on Hill. He’s not worth this investment. Hill will be 37 years old in March and last tossed 115 innings back in 2007. Read that again. The last time he posted 115 big league innings was in 2007. The Dodgers just gave that guy $48 million for his 37, 38 and 39 year old seasons. Good luck with that Dodgers.
December 5th, 9:50 AM PST
December 5th, 9:30 AM PST
Word is circulating that the Giants will be adding Mark Melancon to the fold. One of the better closers in baseball, he’s saved 33, 51 and 47 games the last three years, his addition to the Giants would clear up their biggest issue – a lack of dependable work in the 9th inning, one of the biggest reasons they failed to represent the National League in the World Series.
Mike Moustakas should enter 2017 full healthy as he will be 10 month removed from ACL surgery. I’m still not a huge fan, but over his last 174 big league games his OPS is over .800 and with health another .284-22-82 season, like he posted in 2015, wouldn’t be an outlandish expectation.
The Pirates seem intent on dealing Andrew McCutchen, despite a reasonable contract the next couple of years and the fact that his value currently is as low as it’s ever been. Don’t quite get this one.
Jung Ho Kang has indeed been arrested for a third DUI in Korea. At this point I’m not even sure he will be on the Pirates’ Opening Day roster.
Matt Holliday signed with the Yankees (1-year, $13 million). Sounds like he could spend a good deal of time at DH for the Bronx Bombers. The soon to be 37 year old struggled with health last season but was still productive when on the field hitting 20 homers with 68 RBIs un just 382 at-bats.
Carlos Beltran signed with the Astros (1-year, $16 million). The 39 year old, 40 in April, outfield could see some time with the glove but he’s likely to spend most of his time as a designated hitter. Beltran had a remarkable effort last season with a .295-29-93 line with a .850 OPS. I’d be surprised if he reached any of those numbers in 2017.
Steve Pearce is now a Blue Jay after agreeing to a 2-year, $12.5 million deal. Pearce is a versatile option who can play first, second or a corner outfield spot, and he is coming off a nice .288/.374/.492 line over 302 plate appearances. He turns 34 next April, has never been a daily player (and won’t be in 2017), but he can hit lefties very, very well (career: .270/.353/.500).
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 8 PM EDT, Wednesday 7 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 9 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work at Fantasy Alarm and on Twitter (@baseballguys).