Filtering by Tag: Offseason Targets
In the past the big deciding factor in the value of a free agent was name value. That has diminished a bit. Better players well have bigger name value, but it isn't so much a deciding factor in the signing of free agents. Youth and potential have started to play a bigger role. Teams are no longer as willing to pay for past performance with aging veterans. It has caused a strange thing to happen. Aging veterans have become undervalued.
Just last off-season the Cardinals were able to sign Carlos Beltran to a two year $26 million contract. His batting line of .269/.346/.495 is slightly below his career batting line of .282/.360/.496, but the Cardinals got Carlos Beltran for a discount. Another big aspect that made the Carlos Beltran deal work was that he wasn't expected to be a key cog on the team. Carlos Beltran was signed to be a complimentary player. The fact that he was close to the Carlos Beltran of old was a bonus.
One important thing to keep in mind as the Nationals look for a new pitcher is that they are replacing Edwin Jackson. The Nationals are looking for a fifth starter and now as the market is starting to develop the players the market views as such can be identified. There is a lot of talk about Zack Greinke who everyone knew was going to be highly sought after and then the second tier guys are not the ones that were expected. Kyle Lohse and Anibal Sanchez are emerging as the two options after Greinke.
Before the off-season began it was my estimation that Ryan Dempster would be the most overpaid player on the market, but that isn't coming to fruition. The only team that has been reported with any level of interest are the Twins, but that may be due to the fact that options for Dempster won't be fully realized until Greinke, Lohse, and Sanchez have signed. It is then that the market for Dempster would start to materialize.
Now that the distraction of that election thing is out of the way it is back to the issues that really matter, the issues of the hot stove. One of the big names that could be on the move this off-season is Justin Upton. Upton is coming off a disappointing year following his career year in 2011. In 2012 Upton had a slash line of .280/.355/.430. Most of that is in line with his career numbers of .278/.357/.475 except for his power numbers.
It has to be remembered with Justin Upton that he is only 25 years old and is just about to enter his prime. If those offensive numbers are considered a down year for him then it doesn't take much to imagine what a good year looks like. In 2011 Justin Upton had the best year of his young career hitting .289/.369/.529. The real surprise was the power increase. He should return or surpass those numbers as he enters his prime and continues to develop more strength.
With the start of free agency now official the rumors are flying fast and furious and one such rumor is the Nationals will pursue starting pitcher Kyle Lohse. There are a lot of questions about Kyle Lohse. The main one being, who is he. Is he the Kyle Lohse who over the last two seasons has ERAs of 3.39 and 2.86 with FIPs of 3.67 and 3.51 or is he the Kyle Lohse of the 12 year career with an EAR of 4.45 and FIP of 4.34 with a K/9 of 5.6 and BB/9 of 2.6.
There is some evidence that Lohse has changed over the last two seasons. He was never a strikeout pitching and his last two season's K/9 of 5.3 and 6.1 are in line with his career numbers, but his BB/9 of 2.0 and 1.6 are lower. Kyle Lohse has become less afraid of pitching in the strikezone and has become a better pitcher because of it, but does leaving St. Louis alter that. Pitchers like Joel Pineiro, Jeff Weaver, and Jeff Suppan all saw career resurgence in St. Louis and then flopped when they went elsewhere. Kyle Lohse could do much the same.
Of all the players available this off-season the one most expect the Nationals to sign is Michael Bourn. It came out the other day that Bourn wants $100 million. A lot of people want a lot of things, but $100 million won't be on the table for Bourn unless a GM completely loses their mind. the main reason for this is that Bourn isn't a better player than Jose Reyes who signed a six year $102 million contract last off-season.
Bourn is the same age as Reyes which makes him one year older than Reyes at the time Reyes' contract was signed. That is enough to drop a year off the contract and the fact that Reyes is a .291/.342/.440 hitter compared to the .272/.339/.365 career averages of Bourn should drop a couple million off the AAV. Bourn should get a contract in the five year $75 million range.
With the way Ross Detwiler performed in 2012 the Nationals are not looking for a great starting pitcher or even a good one. What they are looking for is a back of the rotation starter who can give them innings and keep them in games. Anibal Sanchez has the overall numbers of that type of pitcher having pitched at least 195 innings the last three seasons, and his 3.75 ERA is more of a mid rotation number than a back of a rotation number. The overall numbers of Anibal Sanchez don't tell the full story of Anibal Sanchez.
Sanchez is a pitcher capable of throwing a no-hitter. One who can look completely dominant, but he is also a pitcher that can completely blow up. Replacing Edwin Jackson with Anibal Sanchez is, in a way, replacing Edwin Jackson with a younger better version of Edwin Jackson, and the problem with the Nationals situation is that while they need a fifth starter there exist teams like the Royals and Orioles who may very well be willing to pay Anibal Sanchez like a top to mid rotation starter.
When all factors are considered Angel Pagan could be the best signing made this off-season. There are many outfielders that teams will value more than Angel Pagan, but those players are either going to get long expensive multi-year deals or tear a farm system apart. Pagan is going to get nowhere near the contracts handed out to Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino, Josh Hamilton, or BJ Upton and he costs nothing in prospects like Justin Upton, Denard Span, or Alex Gordon might. The signing of Pagan is the definition of a stop gap.
Pagan is coming off a good season for the World Champion San Francisco Giants and is going to want to cash in, but with the vast number of outfield options available this off-season Pagan could end up being plan B or C for many teams, and this creates the possibility to snag him before the bidding wars find him. While teams are fighting over the more expensive options a smart team will swoop in and sign Pagan for a two year contract in the teens with either a vesting or mutual option for a third season. Pagan will then reward that team with steady production in centerfield while their prospects develop.
It hasn't taken long for the hot stove to heat up and the rumor mill to start turning. It was known long before now that the Angels were unlikely to pick up Dan Haren's option, but yesterday it broke that they will try and trade him before the date they have to make a decision on his option arrives. To a lot of people it doesn't make sense to trade for a player that is about to hit the free agent market anyway, but if you think a little deeper it makes a lot of sense.
With the option Haren is basically going to be on a one year $15.5 million deal. After a down year teams might be reluctant to invite Haren in on a long term deal and if they trade for him it prevents any type of biding war from developing. $15.5 million is a lot of money for a one year deal for the 1.8 fWAR pitcher that Dan Haren was in 2012, but it is a great deal for the 4.4 or 6.1 fWAR pitcher Haren was in 2010 and 2011. For teams with money it could be worth the risk and because it is known that he is likely to be a free agent in a week it isn't going to take a lot in prospects to get him.
This past weekend there were rumors that the Royals were scouting James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners ahead of a potential trade for a hitter. One of the names that came up on the Royals side was Alex Gordon. A Seattle/Kansas City trade holds little interest for Nationals fans, but Alex Gordon is someone who could help the Nationals. Trading young players with years of control left on their contract is becoming the new way that small markets build, but I have to admit I am not sure a minor league starting pitcher who pitched at most 106 1/3 innings last season with a AA BB/9 of 4.1 is worth a .269/.348/.439 left fielder.
What Nats fans can figure out from the rumors of Paxton for Gordon is what it might take for the Nationals to get Alex Gordon. In a world that made sense it would take a package along the lines of Danny Espinosa, Tyler Moore, and Alex Meyer, but we do not happen to live in a world that makes sense and with a known price to beat the Nationals can take Espinosa out of the deal and if the Royals still want a 2B they can offer Lombardozzi instead. Moore would give the Royals an outfield replacement for Gordon that will be cheaper for longer and may not provide much loss in power. Meyer then would be the pitching prospect in lieu of James Paxton.
This is a move that cannot be viewed in a vacuum. If the Nationals are making a trade for Price or Shields it is because they have either retained the services of Adam LaRoche or have signed an outfielder to replace his bat in the line-up. This move may also facilitate a follow-up move. It can be assured that in any trade discussions Danny Espinosa's name will come up and in order to secure a player like Price he will need to be moved. The 2013 free agent second base class is a scary place with the best names being Kelly Johnson and Marco Scutaro. Both might be better back-ups to Steve Lombardozzi than they would be starters.
It is important to consider what a trade for either Shields or Price would look like since either very likely costs at least one MLB player. The Rays need hitting. They scored the fourth fewest runs in the AL and lack depth at short, catcher, first, and corner outfield. What the Rays do have is pitching, and what they don't have is money. Despite winning 90 games and contending for the entire season the Rays finished at the bottom of the AL in attendance. With Price going through the arbitration process after a Cy Young worthy season and Shield's team options starting to get expensive the Rays are entering a crisis point where it might be too expensive to hang onto both.