Roster Moves Brewing
The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t necessarily been in on the biggest names on the free agent market this winter, but they have still found ways to improve their roster. They recently acquired Omar Narvaez to fill the void behind the plate that was created when Yasmani Grandal left town. They landed top prospect Luis Urias from the Padres in the Trent Grisham deal, and he should immediately slot in as the team’s starting shortstop. They also inked veteran southpaw Brett Anderson to a one-year $5 million contract on Friday to add depth to the starting rotation.
Clearly, they aren’t finished tinkering. The Brewers made a couple of under-the-radar additions via free agency on Monday that could pay tremendous dividends during the upcoming 2020 season. First, they officially announced a three-year, $9.125 million contract with Josh Lindblom.
Lindblom is headed back to the states after a successful stint in the Korea Baseball Organization. Now 32 years old, he posted a 2.50 ERA and 189/29 K/BB ratio over 194 2/3 innings for the Doosan Bears, winning the league's MVP Award. The big question is how those numbers will translate to MLB, but the Brewers plan to put him in their rotation from the jump. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, Lindblom could earn more than $18 million on the contract if he reaches certain benchmarks. Lindblom had a brief stint with the Pirates back in 2017 and is best known for his time in the Dodgers' organization.
The club then went out and made a major addition to its outfield, signing Avisail Garcia to a two-year, $20 million contract that also includes a $12 million club option ($2 million buyout) for the 2022 season.
The 28-year-old outfielder is coming off a very strong season with the Rays where he slashed .282/.332/.464 with 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases over 125 games. He's likely going to play left field for the Brewers, opening up Ryan Braun to see more time at first base.
As long as he’s able to stay on the field, Garcia could become an extremely attractive -- and undervalued -- fantasy asset. He gets the benefit of a major park shift leaving Tropicana Field to wind up in Miller Park in Milwaukee. He’ll also hit near the middle of the Brewers’ lineup with the likes of Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Braun and Keston Hiura hitting ahead of him and providing ample RBI opportunities.
Prior to the signing, Garcia had been going off the board at an average of pick 281 overall in early NFBC drafts. That number is surely to climb based on the favorable destination.
The Brewers also potentially landed themselves a starting third baseman on Tuesday, signing Ryon Healy to a one-year contract.
Healy was pushed off the Mariners' 40-man roster in October after appearing in only 47 games in 2019 because of a serious hip injury that eventually required surgery. He batted .237 with a .289 on-base percentage in just 187 plate appearances with the M’s in 2019.
Keep in mind though, he’s still only 27-years-old and slashed .254/.291/.433 with 49 homers and 151 RBI over 1129 plate appearances during the previous two seasons. His power will most definitely play up in Milwaukee and he should see plenty of at-bats between third base and first base -- barring any additional signings by the Brewers this winter.
Making the Journey
Josh Lindblom wasn’t the only player who played overseas last season that will put their talents on display in Major League Baseball for the 2020 season.
The Rays officially announced their two-year, $12 million pact with Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. The Rays will also be responsible for a $2.4 million posting fee. Tsutsugo, 28, batted .272/.388/.511 with 29 homers in 131 games for the Yokohama BayStars during the 2019 season. The Rays are expected to try him in left field and at third base, although he might ultimately see most of his starts in the designated hitter spot.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday that the Cardinals reached an agreement with Korean left-hander Kwang-Hyun Kim on a two-year, $8 million contract. He was then officially introduced in a press conference at Busch Stadium. The 31-year-old southpaw posted a 2.51 ERA and 180/38 K/BB ratio over 190 1/3 innings this past season as a member of the SK Wyverns in the Korea Baseball Organization. He could slot into the fifth spot in the Cardinals' rotation, potentially leaving Carlos Martinez in the bullpen.
Sportsnet's Shi Davidi then reported that the Blue Jays agreed to terms on a contract with Japanese right-hander Shun Yamaguchi. It's reportedly a two-year deal worth a little over $3 million annually and is only pending completion of a physical exam. Toronto will pay 20 percent of the total guarantee to the Yomiuri Giants as a transfer fee. Yamaguchi won 15 games for Yomiuri in 2019 while registering a 2.91 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, and 188/60 K/BB ratio across 170 innings. The 32-year-old will get a shot at claiming a spot in Toronto's starting rotation but could ultimately wind up working in relief. His best pitch is a split-finger fastball.
Reds Snag Miley
The Reds solidified their rotation on Monday as Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that they had reached an agreement with left-hander Wade Miley on a two-year, $14 million contract. The deal also includes a $10 million club option for the 2022 season.
The 33-year-old hurler was outstanding for the majority of the year for Astros in 2019 -- carrying a 3.06 ERA into the final month of the season -- before posting a 16.68 ERA over 11 ⅓ innings over his final five starts.
All told, he went 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA, 1.345 WHIP and 140/61 K/BB ratio over 167 ⅓ innings in 33 starts. In joining the Reds, he’ll be reunited with former pitching coach Derek Johnson.
Given his propensity to serve up the long ball, playing half of his games in the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is going to negate the positive shift from the American League to the Senior Circuit. He remains nothing more than a middling late-round flyer in mixed league fantasy drafts -- as evidenced by his average draft position of 440 in early NFBC drafts.
American League Quick Hits: Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Angels are interested in acquiring Tigers’ left-hander Matthew Boyd… The Rangers officially signed left-hander Joely Rodriguez to a two-year, $5.5 million… Jon Heyman of MLB Network hears that the White Sox "would need to be overwhelmed" to trade James McCann… Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com believes that it’s unlikely the Blue Jays land free agent left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu… The Rangers also signed Tim Dillard, Brian Flynn, Arturo Reyes and Blake Swihart to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training, as well as re-upping with Matt Bush on a two-year minor league deal… The Astros re-signed Joe Smith to a two-year, $8 million contract… The White Sox re-signed Nicky Delmonico to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training… The Royals signed Braden Shipley to a minor league deal with a big league camp invite. The Royals also re-signed Humberto Arteaga and Erick Mejia to minor league deals with invites to spring training... Red Sox prospect right-hander Noah Song had his request to continue playing professional baseball denied by the Navy. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes however that the process is still ongoing… Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Mike Bell will serve as the Twins' new bench coach, replacing Derek Shelton who left to take the Pirates’ managerial job.
National League Quick Hits: The Diamondbacks officially announced their five-year, $85 million contract with Madison Bumgarner… Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Dodgers have had "exploratory trade talks" with the Red Sox for Mookie Betts, though their top priority is still Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor… Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Nationals “are in heavy” on free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson… Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic notes that the Dodgers are still in on Donaldson as well… Rosenthal also reports that the industry expectation is that Hyun-Jin Ryu will get a contract north of the $17 million AAV Madison Bumgarner received… Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Phillies are in “prominent” talks to land right-hander Dellin Betances. He notes that Betances is looking for a one-year deal in the $10 million range… Also according to Heyman, the "belief so far of many" is that the Dodgers will not trade Gavin Lux "in any scenario" this offseason… The Padres signed former Marlins’ closer Kyle Barraclough to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… The Cubs signed Hernan Perez to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp… The Mets designated Steve Nogosek for assignment, clearing a roster spot to officially announce their one-year, $10 million pact with Rick Porcello… Gregory Polanco (shoulder) is now throwing up to 120 feet with no issues. So far, so good in his recovery as the Pirates’ outfielder is expected to enter spring training sans restrictions… The Bucs are also “cautiously optimistic” that Nick Burdi will be ready for the start of spring training… Tim Healey of Newsday reports that "many teams" have recently asked the Mets about the availability of Jeff McNeil… The Rockies sent Joe Harvey outright to Triple-A Albuquerque… The Cubs signed Noel Cuevas to a minor league deal with a big league camp invite… The Pirates signed Luke Maile to a one-year deal… Mark Saxon of The Athletic reported that the Cardinals are “still engaged in trying to retain” Marcell Ozuna… Max Scherzer admitted Tuesday that he had a few MRI’s after the World Series which showed that everything was clear in regard to his neck… According to Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post, Daniel Hudson is looking for a multi-year contract… The Brewers signed speedy utilityman Jace Peterson to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… The Pirates signed Socrates Brito, Miguel Del Pozo and Phillip Evans to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training.