February 13th

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Photo Credit – MLB.com

MAJOR NEWS

Aaron Nola

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.

2016: 4.78 ERA | 3.08 FIP

2017: 3.54 ERA | 3.27 FIP

2018: 2.37 ERA | 3.01 FIP

Robbie Grossman

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.

getsonbase-moneyball

Xavier Cedeno

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.

Jake Diekman

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.

Doug Fister

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.

Brett Anderson

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

Caleb Joseph

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

wRC+

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)

MINOR NEWS

Jacoby Ellsbury

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

February 8th

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Photo Credit – Let’s Go Tribe

TOP NEWS:

Francisco Lindor

All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indianswill likely miss the start of the season with a strained right calf. Lindor, one of baseball’s best all-around players, sustained the injury recently while working out in Orlando, Florida. He was checked Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Mark Schickendantz, who confirmed a moderate sprain. – ESPN

Rule Changes

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said today at the owners’ meetings that the league is not interested in considering certain union-proposed changes in advance of the 2019 season, as Ronald Blum of the AP reports. In particular, Manfred indicated he is not open to the introduction of the designated hitter to the National League.It emerged recently that MLB and the MLB Players Association were exchanging proposals on a variety of significant potential rules changes. – MLBTR

MINOR NEWS

Daniel Hudson

The Angels have added a former Dodgers reliever to their bullpen with less than a week to go before pitchers and catchers are due to report to Arizona for spring training. Daniel Hudson agreed to a minor league contract with the team on Friday, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Times. If he makes the team, Hudson would earn $1.5 million next season, according to the person, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. – LA Times

Adam Rosales

The Twins have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran infielder Adam Rosales, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The Hilliard Sports Management client has a $1MM base salary on the contract and another $250K worth of incentives available to him. He can also opt out of the deal on March 19 if he hasn’t been added to the MLB roster. Rosales spent the 2018 season with the division-rival Indians, playing the bulk of the year with their Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, where he hit .239/.313/.445.  An 11-year veteran, Rosales is a career .226/.291/.365 hitter with at least 580 innings of experience at all four infield positions and a brief bit of work in left field as well. – MLBTR

Matt Joyce

Free-agent outfielder Matt Joyce announced this morning, via Twitter, that he’s agreed to sign with the Indians. Joyce’s contract comes with a $1.25MM base salary if he makes the roster, and he can earn an additional $500K based on his number of plate appearances, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). The 34-year-old Joyce will join Cleveland in search of a rebound campaign after struggling through a down season with the A’s in 2018. Last year, in the second season of a two-year deal worth $10MM, Joyce hit just .208/.322/.353 with seven home runs and nine doubles in 246 plate appearances across 83 games. Back troubles hampered him along the way, as he spent nearly two months of the summer on the disabled list due to a lumbar strain. – MLBTR

February 4th

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Photo by SB Nation

MAJOR NEWS:

Steve Delabar retires

After 6 seasons in the Major leagues Steve Delabar has announced his retirement. Although he hasn’t filed the proper paperwork, on the Outta the Park show Steve said he is now pursuing a different path as a high school baseball coach. Steve made one All-Star squad, but some might remember a 2017 PED suspension.  Steve ends his career with 194.2 IP with a 4.11 FIP.

David Carpenter to the Rangers via Kyle Boddy

Via Kyle Boddy on twitter, David Carpenter has been signed by the Texas Rangers to a minor league deal. Driveline Baseball’s Kyle Boddy reported it as Carpenter has been revamping himself at said facility. After Bauer did the same, he was in the running for the Cy Young award until he was hurt. Carpenter may be someone to put on your watch-list.

NEWEST RUMORS

Jacoby Ellsbury

Buster Olney has reported that the San Francisco Giants have “talked about” a trade involving the injury prone center fielder. As the seriousness is still unknown by the teams, it would be an interesting move by the Giants. While Ellsbury has upside, he did not play in 2018, and missed 50 games in 2017. Considering the large contracts the Giants already have on the books for 2019, one would wonder if they can afford another.

MINOR NEWS

A.J. Cole

After the Indians claimed the righty from the Yankees on Jan. 11, his future is now uncertain yet again. A.J. Cole has been designated for assignment. Since he is out of options, the claiming team will have to put him on their major league roster, or try to pass him through waivers.

Nick Wittgren

The Marlins have sent Nick Wittgren to the Indians for Jordan Milbrath. After a solid year (3.63 FIP over 63 IP combined) In AAA and the majors, it was a shock when the Marlins DFA’d him last week. It could be a solid pickup for the Indians. He has spent the past 3 years on the shuttle between the Marlins and AAA New Orleans.

Austin Brice

The Marlins have claimed Austin Brice off waivers and at the same time, DFA Isaac Galloway. Austin Brice, RHP, goes back to the team who drafted him in the ninth round in 2010. After being with the Reds in 2018, he was claimed by the Angels in November, Orioles in January and now the Marlins. Galloway did have his major league debut this past year, but with only a 94 wRC+ apparently he didn’t impress.

Francisco Liriano

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that Liriano has signed a minor-league deal with the Pirates. After 13 seasons (Three and a half of which with the Pirates), the veteran is now trying to prove himself for another year. With $1.8MM base salary if he indeed does make the Major League roster, and $1.5MM in potential bonuses, the Pirates add a low risk player. While he is assuredly looking at the rotation as his landing spot, it is quite full. Pirates however do lack in lefty bullpen help.

Jerry Blevins

Journeyman Jerry Blevins has an inked deal that will take him to Oakland. It is currently a minor league contract, with $1.5MM on the table if he makes the majors. This will be his second stint with the club, after making his debut and 7 seasons with the A’s he is back. Getting up there in age at 35, he is trying to use pitcher friendly O.co Stadium to his advantage to bounce back from a subpar 2018 season.

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