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Offseason Lowdown

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Lowdown: Three-team Swap

Friday, December 14, 2018


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Thursday was the final day of the Winter Meetings. There was quite a bit of action, including a rare three-way trade, the Rule 5 draft and the signings of two good relief pitchers. The day also served up a tall stack of fresh rumors.

 

Three Ways to Build a Roster

 

The Mariners, Indians and Rays completed a three-team, five-player trade on Thursday. This one saw some elderly players, some youngsters and some cash changing hands. The Mariners acquired designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion from the Indians, a Compensatory Round B 2019 draft pick (expected to be the 77th pick) from the Indians and $5 million from the Rays. The Rays got third baseman Yandy Diaz from the Indians and reliever Cole Sulser from the Indians. The Indians got first baseman Carlos Santana from the Mariners, outfielder Jake Bauers from the Rays and $6 million from the Mariners.

 

Looking at the transaction on a team-by-team-by-team basis, the Mariners' primary motivation for this trade was to save money. Carlos Santana is owed $41.7 million over the next two seasons, whereas Edwin Encarnacion has $26.7 million remaining on his contract (including a $5 million buyout for 2020). After we factor in the money included in the deal, the Mariners will save $14 million as a result. It wasn't just a salary dump however, they also get the draft pick and one year of Encarnacion's bat. He may be 36 years old next year but he is still rocking a six-year streak of hitting 32 or more home runs -- and he had 98 or more RBI in each of those seasons as well. Scott Miller of Bleacher Report writes that Edwin Encarnacion "will be flipped" to the Rays soon in a potential subsequent move.

 

The Rays get 27-year-old third baseman Yandy Diaz. He has a .283/.361/.366 slash line with only one home run and 28 RBI in 265 career major league at-bats. He has a knack for putting the barrel on the baseball but doesn't have much power to go along with that contact ability. Despite his age he will be under team control through the 2024 season, which means the Rays will have him for the same length of time they would have had Jake Bauers even though Bauers is four years younger. Cole Sulser is a nearly 29-year-old reliever who has yet to reach the major leagues. The former 25th-round draft pick looks like a throw-in at first glance but he does have some intriguing strikeout potential -- over the past three seasons he struck out 229 batters in 188 innings across three levels of the minors. Sulser is very likely to see spurts of major league action for a team that utilizes a plethora of relievers with their unconventional opener/long relief strategy.

 

The Indians are bringing back Carlos Santana, whose bat may not be quite as potent as Encarnacion's but he is three years younger, offers better defensive ability and is under contract for two years instead of one. Santana played eight years with the Indians before leaving for the Phillies as a free agent last offseason. The $6 million included in the deal helps to offset some of Santana's hefty salary as well. He batted .229/.352/.414 with 24 home runs, 86 RBI and 82 runs scored this past season. This is the second time in a week that Santana was dealt -- he was traded from the Phillies to the Mariners in the Jean Segura swap a few days ago. Jake Bauers was a perennial top prospect for a number of years before finally reaching the majors for the first time this past season. He did not hit the ground running by any means -- he batted just .201/.316/.384 with 11 homers and 48 RBI in 323 at-bats. It is hardly the first time a highly-touted rookie has struggled in his first taste of the majors however. Bauers played primarily first base for the Rays but is likely slated for the outfield with the Tribe. The Indians have Yonder Alonso and Carlos Santana to man first base and designated hitter but are in dire need of competent outfielders. Bauers immediately slots in as their best-hitting outfielder, with Leonys Martin and Tyler Naquin likely to take the other two jobs unless more acquisitions are forthcoming.

 

Familia Returns Home

 

According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets have signed reliever Jeurys Familia to a three-year, $30 million deal. Familia spent the first six-and-a-half years of his career with the Mets before they traded him to the Athletics for prospects this past July. He has a career 2.73 ERA with 124 saves (123 with the Mets) in 343 games. He ranks third in Mets' history in saves, trailing only John Franco (276 saves) and Armando Benitez (160). Familia's 10.38 K/9 this year was the highest rate of his career. He may be back with the Mets but he won't be their closer again any time soon. He will serve as the primary set-up man for newly-acquired ace closer Edwin Diaz, whom the Mets obtained from the Mariners along with Robinson Cano last week.

 

Kelly Dons Blue

 

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Dodgers and reliever Joe Kelly are in agreement on a three-year, $25 million deal. It is somewhat surprising that Kelly got nearly the same deal as Familia despite being far less accomplished. Kelly had a disappointing 2018 season with the Red Sox, registering a 4.39 ERA with two saves in 73 games. He struck out 68 batters and issued 32 walks in 65 2/3 innings. For his career, he is 43-25 with two saves and a 3.87 ERA in 250 games (79 starts). Kelly is one of the hardest-throwing hurlers in the major leagues and is moving to a ballpark that is friendlier to pitchers. He may have been overworked a bit this year for the Red Sox and might end up being more effective in the deep Dodger bullpen where he less likely to be called upon as frequently.

 

Rule 5 Draft

 

The Rule 5 draft was held on Thursday morning and saw 14 players change teams:

  1. Orioles selected SS Richie Martin from the Athletics
  2. Royals selected RHP Sam McWilliams from the Rays
  3. White Sox selected RHP Jordan Romano from the Blue Jays, then traded him to the Rangers
  4. Marlins selected RHP Riley Ferrell from the Astros
  5. Tigers selected RHP Reed Garrett from the Rangers
  6. Reds selected INF/OF Connor Joe from the Dodgers
  7. Rangers selected RHP Chris Ellis from the Cardinals, then traded him to the Royals
  8. Giants selected LHP Travis Bergen from the Blue Jays
  9. Blue Jays selected RHP Elvis Luciano from the Royals
  10. Mets selected RHP Kyle Dowdy from the Indians
  11. Phillies selected INF Drew Jackson from the Dodgers, then traded him to the Orioles
  12. Diamondbacks selected RHP Nick Green from the Yankees
  13. Mariners selected RHP Brandon Brennan from the Rockies
  14. Giants selected outfielder Drew Ferguson from the Astros.

 

Each of these players will get a chance to stick with their new clubs in spring training. The new team must keep them on their major league roster for the entire season or else offer them back to their former club for $25,000. The best bets to make the major league roster are Martin, McWilliams, Garrett and Green. Martin looks like a utility infielder. McWilliams might get a shot in the rotation. Garrett will be a middle reliever. Green could make the Diamondbacks starting rotation and is the best bet of the bunch to wind up with some fantasy value this season. It is rare for Rule 5 draftees to develop into star players but there are some notable exceptions. Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista, Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and Joakim Soria are some fairly recent examples of Rule 5 draftees who became All Stars. Current players Odubel Herrera, Justin Bour, Tommy Kahnle and Brad Keller were also successful Rule 5 picks.


Quick Hits: Jerry Crasnick reports that the Angels' top current target in free agency is Wilson Ramos... AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports that the Padres have discussed re-signing shortstop Freddy Galvis, but a deal appears unlikely at this time... Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that the Rockies discussed trades for Jon Gray at the Winter Meetings... Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies have internally discussed a trade for Justin Smoak... Dennis Lin of The Athletic reports that the Rangers and Padres have discussed a deal involving Jurickson Profar... According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the J.T. Realmuto trade market is "essentially down to six teams: Reds, Mets, Rays, Braves, Dodgers, and Padres."... Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers have "checked in on" free agent catcher Wilson Ramos... Brewers acquired LHP Alex Claudio from the Rangers for a competitive-balance Round A draft pick... According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has spoken twice over the phone to Bryce Harper's agent Scott Boras... According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Phillies are "very much in pursuit" of free agent relievers Andrew Miller and Zach Britton... MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers have been in touch with the Pirates about a trade for catcher Francisco Cervelli... Jake Thompson has agreed to a deal with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization... According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Diamondbacks "believe they’ll get a better return for Zack Greinke at the trade deadline instead of now"... MLB.com's Adam Berry reports that the Pirates have checked in on Nick Ahmed... Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports that the Yankees met with free agent left-hander Andrew Miller during the Winter Meetings...




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