Nick Nelson

Offseason Lowdown

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Lowdown: St. Louis Blues

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


The past few days have marked the official pitcher and catcher report dates for teams across the league, signifying the official start of spring camps. It's mostly a time for hope, optimism and excitement, but the St. Louis Cardinals hit an ominous snag right out of the gates.


Just one day Baseball Prospectus named him the game's No. 1 prospect in their annual Top 101 rankings, Alex Reyes skipped his scheduled throwing session following a Tuesday morning physical exam. Shortly thereafter, he underwent an MRI, revealing a partial tear of the UCL. The electric righty has been tabbed to undergo Tommy John surgery in Florida.


It's an absolutely crushing blow for the Cards, who were prepared to rely on the MLB-ready hurler as a youthful spark in their rotation this year. Reyes dazzled during his MLB debut last season, posting a 1.57 ERA and 52-to-23 K/BB ratio over 46 innings. By going under the knife for Tommy John, he'll miss all of 2017 and probably a chunk of 2018 as well.


The Cardinals, even after trading away Jaime Garcia, have more starting pitching depth than most, so they are relatively well equipped to deal with this brutal loss. It sounds like Michael Wacha's chances of grabbing a rotation spot have greatly improved, provided he's up to the task physically after battling through shoulder issues in 2016. Luke Weaver is another option and now carries more appeal as a sleeper in fantasy drafts.


Meanwhile, the pressure is on for Adam Wainwright to find some semblance of his previous form, and for Carlos Martinez – fresh off signing his big extension – to keep pitching like a No. 1 starter.


Keep a close eye on the player news feed for the latest offseason rumors and updates. Also please make sure to follow Rotoworld Baseball and myself on Twitter!


Peraza Slides to Second


After opening up second base by trading veteran Brandon Phillips to Atlanta, the Reds indicated they plan to have Jose Peraza take over the position full-time this year after moving all around the field in 2016. Most of his time came at shortstop, so he will have eligibility there in most drafts and stands out as one of the more intriguing options.


The speedy 22-year-old had multiple 60-steal seasons in the minors and swiped 21 bags in 72 games as a rookie for the Reds, so he offers a ton of upside in that category, as well as triples. He shows signs of developing long ball proclivity as he matures physically too. There is plenty to like here, especially now that he figures to have a solidified regular spot in the field.


Editor’s Note: Mookie Betts graces the cover of the new Rotoworld Draft Guide magazine. You can pick it up in stores or order right now. Our online version of the draft guide is now available with fresh content added throughout the preseason.

 

KC Recruits Another Cub


Following the tragic passing of Yordano Ventura, Kansas City faced a greater need in the rotation than anticipated. In order to supplement the unit, the Royals have pillaged from the team that succeeded them as World Series Champs. One week after signing right-hander Jason Hammel, KC brought in one of his 2016 teammates, inking free agent left-hander Travis Wood to a two-year, $12 million deal.


Almost exclusively a starter during his first five years in the majors, Wood transitioned to relief after a rocky start in 2015 and hasn't looked back since. His numbers out of the bullpen have been phenomenal, but the Royals say they're planning on giving him a chance to start, and the price they paid reinforces that.


In order to be effective in that role, Wood will need to figure out a way to suppress right-handed hitters, who teed off for an .865 OPS last year, but it's nice to have the fallback as a proven lights-out lefty reliever in the bullpen.


Nationals Add A Big Bat


With the league as a whole suddenly losing its thirst for power bats this offseason, we saw many high-profile victims. Chief among them was Chris Carter, who settled for a $3 million deal with the Yankees after tying for the NL lead in homers last year. But one of the quieter cases was Adam Lind, who up until this week had failed to find employment despite his consistent and reliable track record as a lefty masher.


He finally found a home this week, linking up with the Nationals on a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2018. It's a big offensive addition for Washington at the outset of spring training, and Lind could play a sizable role.


The current occupant at first base is Ryan Zimmerman, who is coming off a terrible year but under contract long-term. Lind will immediately siphon many of Zimmerman's starts against right-handed pitchers, and could expand his role with continued struggles or injuries from Zim (who hasn't played in 120 games in a season since 2013).


In down year with the Mariners, Lind produced 20 bombs and 58 RBI over 126 games. I like his chances of being a sneaky value for fantasy owners, and even more so for the Nats.


Quick Hits: Phillies manager Pete Mackanin downplayed the team's ninth-inning competition, stating that Jeanmar Gomez has earned the closer job, though he left the door open for an early-season change  ... Glen Perkins threw his first bullpen session Tuesday since undergoing shoulder labrum surgery last summer as he works through the long and difficult recovery process ... Chris Tillman, two months removed from receiving a PRP injection in his shoulder, may open the year on the DL for Baltimore ... Marlins skipper Don Mattingly told reporters on Monday that he plans to use Justin Bour as his everyday first baseman this year ... The latest updates on Wilson Ramos, recovering from knee surgery, suggest that he likely won't play in games until July, and may not crouch behind the plate until August ... The Diamondbacks signed Kevin Jepsen, only one year removed from posting a 2.33 ERA with 15 saves for the Rays and Twins, to a minor-league contract ... Matt Harvey says he's heading into camp completely healthy after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery last July ... The Reds reunited with Bronson Arroyo on a minors deal just days ahead of his 40th birthday.



Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.
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