Nick Doran

Offseason Lowdown

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Lowdown: Chips are Falling

Friday, December 22, 2017


The chips are finally falling into place. The offseason got off to a very slow start but things are moving along briskly right now. The logjam broke when studs Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani found their new homes. Teams had been holding on to their resources in the hopes of landing one of those studs, but now it is time for the mad scramble to snare the best of the remaining players before the music stops in the game of musical chairs.

 

Rays Lose Face

 

Veteran third baseman Evan Longoria was traded from the Rays to the Giants for outfielder Denard Span, third base prospect Christian Arroyo and minor league pitchers Matt Krook and Stephen Woods. The Rays are reportedly sending an estimated $16 million to the Giants to help offset some of the $86 million left on Longoria's contract. This was an emotional move for the Rays as Longoria was the face of their franchise and the best player in team history. Longoria's hitting performance took a small step backward in 2017. He hit .261/.313/.424 with 20 home runs and 86 RBI. While that is still a solid season it actually qualifies as the worst all-around season of his career. He is now 32 years old and moving to a ballpark that is very tough on power hitters.

 

The big get for the Rays is Arroyo, who remains a top prospect despite struggling to a .192/.244/.304 slash line in 135 plate appearances in his first brief taste of the majors in 2017. He slugged .396/.461/.604 in 25 games at Triple-A Sacramento before getting called to the big leagues. He missed much of the season with a broken hand and a wrist injury. He will likely take over for Longoria at third base and projects as a high batting average, mid-range power threat as he matures.

 

Longoria is the all-time franchise leader for the Rays with 261 home runs, 892 RBI, 780 runs scored, 338 doubles, 1438 games played and 50 WAR. The Devil Rays joined the major leagues in 1998 and Longoria made his debut in 2008, which was the year they changed their name to the Rays. That was also the first time they made the playoffs, advancing all the way to the World Series where they fell to the Phillies.

 

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Orioles Woes

 

Orioles closer Zach Britton ruptured his right Achilles tendon during an offseason workout on Tuesday in California and is expected to be sidelined for at least six months. The team hopes to have him back on the mound in June, but July may be more realistic. Britton will be a free agent at the end of the season. Brad Brach filled in nicely for Britton in the ninth inning for much of the 2017 season and is likely to reprise that role for the first half of 2018.

 

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports the Orioles may soon pull superstar shortstop Manny Machado off the trade market unless they receive a drastically improved offer. The best reported offer we've heard came from the Cubs, who built a package around shortstop Addison Russell, outfielder Albert Almora and pitcher Mike Montgomery. MASN's Rich Kubatko says the Orioles want two starting pitchers in any return for Machado, who will be a free agent after the season and is expected to sign a contract worth up to $300 million. If the Orioles don't deal Machado this winter he will likely hit the trade market again near the July 31st trade deadline.

 

Yankees Chatter


Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports hears Jacoby Ellsbury might consider waiving his no-trade clause. He is in line for a backup role in the Bronx but could start for a number of other teams. Heyman lists the Giants as a logical destination for the veteran center fielder. The 34-year-old has three years and $68.4 million remaining on his contract.

 

Rumors are swirling that starting pitcher Gerrit Cole is destined to be dealt from the Pirates to the Yankees in the near future. Jon Heyman of FanRag sports reports the Yankees want to build a package around young outfielder Clint Frazier, while the Pirates are holding out for shortstop Gleyber Torres. The Pirates need infield help much more badly than outfield reinforcements, so it makes sense for them to insist on Torres. Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts for the Pirates in 2017. 

 

Nationals Make Moves

 

The Nationals re-signed RHP Brandon Kintzler to a two-year, $10 million contract with both player and club options for a third year. Kintzler served as the Twins' closer for most of the season before being traded to the Nationals, where he operated as a setup man. He finished the season with an excellent 2.61 ERA in 76 games. He will return to a setup role with Washington for the 2018 campaign.

 

The Nationals signed first baseman Matt Adams to a one-year, $4 million contract with another $500,000 in performance-based incentives. He is expected to serve as a power bat off the bench and make occasional starts to rest Ryan Zimmerman. Adams batted .274/.319/.522 with 20 home runs and 65 RBI in 131 games this past season between the Braves and Cardinals.

 

Brewers Bolster Staff

 

Brewers signed RHP Yovani Gallardo to a one-year, $2 million contract. He's had success in Milwaukee in the past but is coming off an ugly season in which he posted a 5.72 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 22 starts and six relief appearances with the Mariners in 2017. Gallardo will battle for a rotation spot in spring training but might have to settle for a bullpen role.

 

The Brewers also signed RHP Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year, $15.5 million contract. Chacin registered a strong 3.89 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 180 1/3 innings this past season with the Padres, although he had some drastic home/road splits that could be worrisome now that he is moving to a much more offense-friendly ballpark.

 

Other News

 

Eric Hosmer is the best first baseman left on the free agent market. He is seeking a big-money contract but none of the big-money teams seem to be looking for a stud first baseman. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports the Padres and Royals are the leading suitors for Hosmer, who posted a career-best .318/.385/.498 batting line with 25 home runs and 94 RBI over 162 games in 2017 and won his fourth Gold Glove award. Perhaps teams are wary of making too large a commitment to Hosmer due to his up-and-down history. He hit a much more pedestrian .266/.328/.433 in 2016. 

 

The market for free agent outfielder Jay Bruce is heating up, with the Giants and Mets believed to be the leading contenders for his services. The 30-year-old outfielder batted .254/.324/.508 with 36 home runs and 101 RBI in 146 games this past season between the Mets and Indians. His power could take a hit if he ends up playing his home games in AT&T Park.

 

The Indians and first baseman Yonder Alonso agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract with a vesting option for a third year. Alonso turned in an MVP-caliber first half of the season with the Athletics then cooled down to merely an above-average hitter in the second half and was traded to the Mariners in early August. He batted .266/.365/.501 with 28 home runs and 67 RBI in 142 games combined with both teams. Alonso is expected to serve as the Indians' primary first baseman in 2018, filling the role vacated by the departed Carlos Santana.

 

The Mariners signed reliever Juan Nicasio to a two-year, $17 million contract. That is a pretty steep price for a setup man, but Nicasio justified it by registering a strong 2.61 ERA, 1.078 WHIP, and 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings this past season between the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals. He will pitch in the late innings in front of Mariners closer Edwin Diaz.

 

Quick Hits: The Braves are set to sign utilityman Danny Santana to a minor league contract... The Giants signed former Red Sox infielder Josh Rutledge to a minor league deal... Yu Darvish tweeted #fakenews in response to rumors he had signed with the Cubs... The Rockies have been talking to free agent relievers Addison Reed, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. They've already signed Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw as they attempt to build a dominant bullpen in Coors Field... Dodgers signed reliever Tom Koehler to a one-year, $2 million contract with additional incentives... Tucker Barnhart is expected to serve as the Reds' starting catcher even if Devin Mesoraco is fully healthy... Braves acquired OF Preston Tucker from the Astros for a player to be named later or cash considerations... Diamondbacks signed Japanese reliever Yoshihisa Hirano to a two-year, $6 million contract to serve as a setup man.




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