MLB Offseason Report: Cole to the Yankees
Greg Jewett breaks down the headliner signing of Gerrit Cole to the Yankees, as well as Gregorius to the Phillies, Mazara to the White Sox, and Gausman to the Giants.
Well, New York got its target. Gerrit Cole agreed to a nine-year contract, with an opt-out after the fifth year, for a whopping $324 million dollars. In 2019, Cole became the first pitcher to record at least 325 strikeouts while giving up fewer than 150 in a season (h/t to Katie Sharp). While the Yankee fan base celebrates the arrival of an ace to their staff, they did lose Didi Gregorius to the Phillies on a one year deal. Texas traded from a strength giving up left-handed hitting right fielder Nomar Mazara to the White Sox for prospect Steele Walker. In an under the radar signing, Kevin Gausman agreed to a one-year contract to fill a hole in the rotation. Now to look at the fantasy impact of each transaction.
Yankees get an ace
During the playoffs, New York actually pitched better than expected but lacked a true number one to secure a big win. Gerrit Cole will try to fill this need coming off a 20 win season during which he recorded a 2.50 ERA, 2.48 xFIP and 0.89 WHIP with 326 strikeouts over 212.1 innings. Cole’s eye popping 39.9 strikeout percentage occurred with a surge in swinging strike percentage to 16.8 percent and a 35 percent O-Swing (swings and misses outside the strike zone) percent. Here’s a look at his swinging strikes from last season courtesy of Statcast:
Over the last three years, Cole owns a 3.20 ERA with 798 strikeouts in 615.2 innings with 47 wins of his 69 decisions. Armed with a 3.10 xFIP and WHIP of 1.06, he’s going to be the first pitcher taken in fantasy drafts despite the move to New York. Steamer projects Cole for 15 wins, 195 innings, a robust 171 strikeouts, a 3.00 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Pretty, pretty good.
Didi to Philly
Former Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius heads to Philadelphia. He missed time to injury last year and traded some discipline for power finishing with 16 home runs in only 82 games but with a .238/.276/.441 slash line. Before delving into his three-year statistics, check out all of his line drives and fly balls the last three years with Citizens Bank Park as the backdrop:
Movement to the mean should happen for Gregorius who owns a .267/.314/.473 slash over 1,493 plate appearances the last three seasons. He’s hit 68 home runs with 235 RBI in this time along with 15 stolen bases. Currently slated to hit fifth in the Phillies lineup, Gregorius will continue to be a solid, yet underappreciated fantasy asset in the middle infield.
His Steamer projection reflects this with Gregorius appearing in 141 games with 70 runs, 24 home runs, 82 RBI, six stolen bases and a .259/.308/.451 line.
Nomar heads to the White Sox
Chicago remains busy turning over the roster and filling holes in the lineup. They added Nomar Mazara to play right field in 2020 for prospect Steele Walker. Mazara may not get a huge boost moving to the White Sox, but there’s some hope due to his propensity to hit to the opposite field:
Although Mazara feels like a disappointment in terms of fantasy, he did hit 19 home runs with a .268/.318/.469 slash last season with a .200 isolated power and 45.3 hard hit rate. It’s his 46.8 ground ball percentage which caps his power upside. It remains to be seen if a team can unlock Mazara’s power and perhaps a new location will provide it. Steamer remains hopeful Mazara can take another step in his development forecasting 136 games, 76 runs, 27 home runs, 86 RBI, four stolen bases and a .269/.331/.477 line. Remember, Mazara will only turn 25 in April and will be very inexpensive this year in terms of average draft position.
Gausman to the Giants
Hopes of a team making Kevin Gausman a closer expired with his one-year contract with San Francisco. However, all may not be lost since his new ballpark will mask some of his weaknesses. Gausman only won three of his 12 decisions last season with a 5.72 ERA, 4.05 xFIP and 1.42 WHIP in 102.1 innings. He turned the corner working as a reliever with the Reds where he used almost exclusively fastballs.
As a reliever with Cincinnati, Gausman’s last 20.1 innings featured a 3.01 ERA, 2.42 xFIP, 1.13 WHIP and 27:5 K:BB. If Gausman can regain fantasy appeal, his split-fingered fastball will be the reason why. According to Statcast, Gausman recorded a .233 batting average against with the pitch, a .199 expected batting average, .274 expected slugging and 32.8 strikeout percentage with his splitter. There’s a chance Gausman could be more than a home stream to avoid in Coors, so stay tuned.
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