After winning the World Series in dominating fashion in 2018, the 2019 squad has now tied for their worst start in franchise history. Starting off this season at 2-8, I’m not too sure anyone could have foreseen it. It is rather surprising because of how they got better (on paper) since last year’s squad, this has really now gotten out of hand. Both the Mariners and Diamondbacks figure to be in the bottom half of the standings by the end of the year and they haven’t faced a team projected to be in the playoff picture. While the offense has been relatively good, the Red Sox have allowed 72 runs comparatively to the Rays which have allowed 19.
Carl Edwards Jr. – Demoted
In a surprising turn of events, Edwards has been sent down to AAA Iowa. Since 2016 Edwards has been a staple in the Cubs’ pen and has been among the best relievers in the game since then. With an ERA below 3 in the last two years, he has really taken a quick regression in the first several games in 2019. In an inning and two thirds, he has already allowed 2 homers, and 5 walks meaning 6 earned runs culminating in a 32.40 ERA.
Phillies Tommy Hunter is shut down indefinitely after he received a PRP injection in his pitching arm
Tiger’s Matt Moore has been placed on the IL with a sprained right knee
Rockie’s Ryan McMahon placed on IL after an elbow strain
PITCH OF THE DAY
Adam Ottovino Incredible slider
Business of Baseball – Free Agency
Players become free agents upon reaching six years of Major League service time or when they are released from their organization prior to reaching six years of service time. A free agent is eligible to sign with any club for any terms to which the two parties can agree. If a player with fewer than six years of service time signs with a club, he remains under the control of that club until reaching the requisite service time to reach free agency — even if the contract he signed does not cover the remaining years until that point.
Jason Heyward made his Major League debut on Opening Day in 2010 and never returned to the Minor Leagues. He reached six years of Major League service time at the completion of the 2015 season, at which point he became eligible for free agency. Heyward went on to sign an eight-year contract with the Cubs.
Tony Sipp was released by the Padres in May 2014 when he had between four and five years of Major League service time. The left-hander subsequently signed a guaranteed Major League contract with the Astros that ran through the end of the ’14 campaign. Because he finished the season with less than six years of Major League service time, Sipp was eligible for salary arbitration as opposed to free agency. Sipp qualified as a free agent following the 2015 season and re-signed with the Astros on a three-year deal.
Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies has hit a payday after quite the spectacular year in 2018. After coming into his own the past few years, Nola will now be cashing in a check for a 4 year, $45MM with a club option. This now buys out his remaining arb years, and potentially two free agency years. Nola has been an interesting case stats wise. While his peripherals have remained steady, more traditional stats have changed greatly. This is a great lesson on why we use FIP instead of ERA. So if you judge by FIP, he has basically been the same pitcher, but by ERA you’d think he’s a new man.
The Athletics have come to terms with outfielder Robbie Grossman to a one-year deal worth $2MM with incentives reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. While here is another case that traditionalists might have overlooked him. The past 3 years he has posted an average of .266, but what he really excels at: getting on base. Posting an OBP of .371 puts him well above average in that category.
After Theo Epstein wanting to squeeze one more reliever in their apparent tight budget, its looking like they succeeded. The Chicago Cubs have signed Xavier Cedeno to a minor league contract with incentives. After posting an impressive 2.95 FIP over 33.1 IP, with a career best HR/FB, its not looking like a blip. Getting Cedeno on a minor league deal looks like a bargain.
The KC Royals have announced they have signed southpaw Jake Diekman to a one year contract with a mutual option for a year 2. Known for being “effectively wild” he had a 27% K% (impressive) but a 12.8% BB% (eek!) in 2018. This will be his first full year back after he had colectomy surgery in 2017. He adds the needed lefty in the Royals pen.
Veteran Doug Fister announced his retirement today via Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The right hander ends his career with 10 years in the bigs, his best year came in 2011 when he finished with a 3.02 FIP and 216.1 IP in the season he was traded to the Tigers. He received 8th place in the Cy Young voting in 2014; but if you go by WAR, that would be tied for his 5th best season. He was part of the mega rotation in Detroit when the Tigers had Max Sherzer, Justin Verlander, David Price, Rick Porcello and Fister, which ended up not getting to that elusive title.
The Oakland Athletics have come to terms on a 1 year, $1.5MM with up to an additional $1MM based on incentives. There have been quite a few ups and downs over the years for the southpaw, who is now 31 years of age. Once a highly promising young hurler in Oakland, Anderson has often been effective on the mound but has dealt with countless injuries, particularly to his back. All told, he has made about half of the starts he might have over his decade in the majors. Anderson dominated at Triple-A to earn his way back to the A’s staff, missed some time with a shoulder injury, and ultimately turned in 80 1/3 innings of 4.48 ERA ball over 17 starts in the big leagues. – MLBTR
The Diamondbacks announced today that they have agreed to a one-year deal with catcher Caleb Joseph. It’s a split deal that would pay $1.1MM in the majors or $250K in the minors, per Zach Buchanan of The Athletic (Twitter link). He has at times been a palatable performer on offense, but has also struggled badly in two of the past three seasons. Last year, Joseph slashed just .219/.254/.321. – MLBTR
STAT OF THE DAY
Weighted Runs Created (wRC) is an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs.
Similar to OPS+, Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) measures how a player’s wRC compares with league average after controlling for park effects. League average for position players is 100, and every point above 100 is a percentage point above league average. For example, a 125 wRC+ means a player created 25% more runs than a league average hitter would have in the same number of plate appearances. Similarly, every point below 100 is a percentage point below league average, so a 80 wRC+ means a player created 20% fewer runs than league average.
wRC+ is park and league-adjusted, allowing one to to compare players who played in different years, parks, and leagues. Want to know how Ted Williams compares with Albert Pujols in terms of offensive abilities? This is your statistic. – FanGraphs
TLDR: Someone posting a 191 wRC+ is 91% above average. It also adjusts for park, and different eras. (Mike Trout posted a 191 WRC+ in 2018)
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced to the media Wednesday that outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury won’t be reporting to camp until next month, as he’s currently being slowed by a case of plantar fasciitis (link via Dan Martin of the New York Post). It’s not yet clear whether Ellsbury will be ready for Opening Day, nor is it clear how much playing time would be available to Ellsbury considering a Yankees outfield mix that features Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton (with Clint Frazier also looming in the minors). Ellsbury seems poised for a bench role after missing the entire 2018 season due to injury (most notably including hip surgery). – MLBTR
Arbitration Case Winners
Trevor Bauer of the Indians, Gerrit Cole of the Astros, and Alex Wood of the Reds have all been awarded the contract values they sought by their respective arbitration panels, per ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link). Bauer will take home $13MM, a full $2MM more than the Indians had sought to pay him. Cole’s $13.5MM salary was about the same amount higher than the Astros’ $11.425MM filing figure. And Wood secures a $9.65MM payday that tops the $8.7MM the Reds defended. – MLBTR
The Washington Nationals have resigned Jeremey Hellickson to a $1.3MM deal with escalators up to $4MM. Hellickson gets a $200K bonus for every other start from his 3rd to 21st, and $300K for every start between his 25th and 30th, should he reach those. Hellickson had a rather average season for D.C. in 2018 posting a 4.22 FIP over 91.1 IP computing to a 1.2 fWAR. Hellickson did post a career high in GB% at 45.9%. After the Patrick Corbin signing it looks as though Hellickson will slide into the 4 or 5 spot in the rotation: depending on how you view Anibal Sanchez.
A new team enters the mix! Farhan Zaidai (GM) of the Giants sees some new value (or fallen cost) of Bryce Harper. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports tweeting the meeting between the two. Pavlovic also mentioned owner Larry Baer and Manager Bruce Bochy attended said meeting. Zaidi is known in the industry for his skill in finding value in players.
As the third day in a row that Realmuto has made the site, now the Phillies are in on him. As Scott Lauber has reported, the Marlins want to deal him in the very near future. The Marlins are demanding top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez in any deal. Hopefully we see a deal very soon.
After the Cubs have released their non roster invitees today, one notable name that wasn’t known was Carlos Ramirez. Ramirez who has worked with the Blue Jays in 2017 and the first half of 2018, and spent the last half of the year with Athletics, has his known command issues, but still worked to a 3.27 ERA. Which could be on the conservative side considering a 5.56 FIP.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Tom Koehler to a minor league pact today. It will not include an invite to Major League Spring Training. The lack of the invite is more of a reflection of his current injury status as he underwent shoulder surgery in July. While there still isn’t an anticipated return date, they still believe he could contribute to the majors this year as he has a club option for 2020 as well as $250K in incentives if he reaches certain milestones.
Tim Collins has signed a minor league deal with the Twins