Wow, that was fun, wasn’t it? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like things get more hectic and crazy every year. Now let’s all take a breath and see what all this stuff means. Just like any deadline or winter meetings period, some teams did better than others, and some teams you just don’t have any idea what the hell they are doing.
One of the biggest winners in my book is the Toronto Blue Jays. I know they paid a pretty hefty price, but this is the time for them to be pushing their chips in. We know all about David Price and Troy Tulowitzki so I’m not going to waste anyone’s time talking about how good those guys are. We know. I am slightly concerned with Tulo playing his home games on that Rogers Centre turf given his injury history though. With Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion both potentially walking after 2016, and R. A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle not getting any younger, this is the time to go for it.
Their playoff odds are now up to 54%, and on May 23 their playoff odds (at BP) were only 10%, so this is a team trending in the right direction. If Jeff Hoffman winds up hitting his ceiling in Colorado, then that really increases the pain level there but I think it’s worth it to go for it. Also, not only is the upgrade from Reyes to Tulowitzki offensively quite large, but defensively Tulo could be worth as much as a win just with the glove over the rest of the season, and more than that over future full seasons. The Jays are mid-pack defensively, being 17th in PADE (park adjusted defensive efficiency), and that upgrade isn’t anything to sneeze at either.
The Kansas City Royals are basically in the same boat as Toronto. Alex Gordon will likely stick around for another year with his 2016 player option, but he also could test the market. After 2016 the Royals don’t really have much money guaranteed, but Eric Hosmer is under team control until after 2017. Ben Zobrist is a good guy to plug into left until Gordon returns from his injury, and his flexibility enables them to plug him in pretty much anywhere should other injuries strike down the stretch, and if everybody’s whole going into the playoffs, he would likely play second in lieu of Omar Infante. Johnny Cueto helps shore up their biggest weakness, that being their starting rotation. Edinson Volquez is due to turn back into a pumpkin any day now, and the rest of their rotation is kind of “meh.” Of course, with that bullpen, if you can just get through the lineup twice in the playoffs and turn it over to that murderer’s row of relievers, you’ve got a pretty good shot. I’m sure giving Sean Manaea and Brandon Finnegan up was painful, but flags fly forever.
The Los Angeles Dodgers don’t really care about money, obviously, given the amount of dead money they already have, and just took on, but they did a pretty good job of building up rotation depth, with the acquisitions of Mat Latos and Alex Wood, and only giving up one prospect in their top 10 (according to BP’s list). I’m sure they would have rather wound up getting Price or Cueto (or both!) but they got a pretty good consolation prize for what they gave up, and also receiving Jose Peraza, who is a nice piece.
Of the teams that sold pieces, I’ve been seeing mixed reactions about the Colorado Rockies, and they probably should have moved Carlos Gonzalez, but I really like the return for Tulo. Miguel Castro has already pitched in the major leagues and if Jeff Hoffman hadn’t had Tommy John he was possibly going to go 1.1 in his draft. There’s high upside there, and if you’re Colorado that’s what you want at this stage.
I also really like the Philadelphia Phillies’ return for Cole Hamels. Ruben Amaro gets made fun of a lot, and quite a bit of that snark is deserved, but he did a good job there. I’m really big on Nick Williams, especially if his plate discipline continues to improve, and Jake Thompson has struggled a bit this year, although that could be BABIP-fueled, but I think he’s an interesting piece as well. Thompson’s top age-21 PECOTA comparables are Jarrod Parker, John Lamb, and Carlos Martinez. That’s interesting.
The Cincinnati Reds appear to have one M.O: Pitching, pitching and more pitching. I think the return for Cueto was fine, if a little underwhelming. Putting on my Reds fan hat for a second, I would have rather had the return Price got from Toronto, but to be fair, Price is probably a little bit better, so Toronto probably valued Price a bit more. If Cueto was a bit less of an injury risk their values would have been probably a bit closer. However, things even out, because I was pleasantly surprised at the return for Mike Leake.
I know I said on Episode 27 of the pod that I didn’t think they’d get anything better than an organizational guy and it seems they did better than that. Adam Duvall is a bit of a long shot to be anything more than lefty power off the bench, but I’m intrigued by Keury Mella. He could wind up being a bullpen arm, but the Reds have had a bit of success with trying guys who profile as relievers as starters (in fact, they have a bit of a fetish for drafting college relievers and converting them to starters, and that’s a topic I’ve been kicking around for a future article), and he definitely has a mid-rotation ceiling. They probably should have moved Marlon Byrd, but I imagine he’d clear waivers in the next month if something came to fruition. They probably could have moved Chapman as well, but if no one wants to pay the asking price, that’s fine, and it could be revisited in the off-season.
Everyone is so used to the New York Yankees just buying up whomever they want that it’s a little shocking when they don’t. The George Era is over, folks. I understand that they didn’t want to give up Aaron Judge or Luis Severino but with the moves the Blue Jays made, I think they should have done something, although I acknowledge that’s easy to say sitting here as an armchair analyst.
As far as the San Diego Padres go…..I don’t know. I just don’t know. Perhaps A.J. Preller really believes that they can make the playoffs. I can’t imagine that happening. I know it’s hard to give up, because they really went for it last off-season, but come on, it’s not working. They’ve seriously pushed their competitive window back a couple of years here, at least, and for what? A 2% chance at getting to a game where you could be one-and-done? No way. If I were a Padres fan I’d be pulling my hair out right about now.Next post: Beating Defensive Shifts with Game Theory
Previous post: BttP Podcast: Ep 29 – Matt Jackson & Nick Strangis