March 25th


Francisco Lindor – Ownership Status

During an interview with Zack Meisel of the Athletic (subscription link) Zack met with Indians Owner Paul Dolan. Zack asked Dolan some pretty interesting questions, but the question that got the most interesting answer was one referring to Star Shortstop Francisco Lindor. Zack asked him about whether or not there are plans to spend some big money, referring to the Machado, Harper, and Trout deals, on Lindor, and his quote was “enjoy him and then we’ll see what happens.” Dolan then said that they will be spending $300 MM deals once other teams are spending one BILLION dollar deals. That right there is not what it should be like folks.


Lucas Duda – Signed

After taking his opt out from the Twins last week, Duda has now signed with the KC Royals. Kansas City has told him that he will make the opening day roster, who he was with for the first half of 2018. Duda hit .242/.310/.413 with the same club last year before he was traded to the Braves. 


Notes

  • Andrew Romine resigns with Phillies, to avoid paying him a $100K bonus to keep him in the minors
  • Orioles select contract of Jesus Sucre; Announce Trumbo and Cobb will be placed on IL
  • Devin Mesoraco might not make the Met’s opening day roster, and will retire if not in the bigs. Mets sign Rene Rivera to take his place
  • John Axfora resigns with the Blue Jays. This time a minor league pact, he will be recovering from injury and still has hopes to make the club once recovered



Business of Baseball – 40 man Roster

The 40-man roster includes a combination of players on the 25-man roster, the 7- and 10-day injured lists, the bereavement/family medical emergency list and the paternity leave list, as well as some Minor Leaguers.

In order for a club to add a player to the 25-man roster, the player must be on the 40-man roster. If a club with a full 40-man roster wishes to promote a Minor League player that is not on the 40-man roster, it must first remove a player from the 40-man roster — either by designating a player’s contract for assignment, trading a player, releasing a player or transferring a player to the 60-day injured list.

A player who is on the 40-man roster but does not open the season on the 25-man roster must be optioned to the Minor Leagues. Only one Minor League option is used per season, regardless of how many times a player is optioned to and from the Minors over the course of a given season. Players typically have three option years, although a fourth may be granted in certain cases (usually due to injuries). Out-of-options players must be designated for assignment — which removes them from the 40-man roster — and passed through outright waivers before being eligible to be sent to the Minors.

The 40-man roster is also an important distinction in the offseason, as players who are on the 40-man roster are protected from being selected by another organization in the annual Rule 5 Draft, held each year in December at the Winter Meetings.


Business of Baseball Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of

MARCH 20th


Eloy Jimenez – Extension

The White Sox have inked Eloy to a $43MM over 6 years deal. If you haven’t heard his name before, don’t feel bad because I am not surprised. Jimenez is one of the White Sox’s top prospects. Yes, you heard right. He is a top prospect. He has not played one game yet for the White Sox. Due to that fact of not playing a major league game yet, that deal is unprecedented.

The only other deals where a minor leaguer got a multi year extension without a day in the majors are Scott Kingery of the Phillies and Jon Singleton of the Astros. Those two players have a combined -2.5 WAR since they signed those deals, so you could say a deal like this doesn’t always benefit the team. One positive of this, is that he will not start the year in the minors now. Considering that the team does not have an incentive for the extra year of control. 


Craig Kimbrel – FA Update

Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, talks between Kimbrel and the Brewers are “pretty serious” (tweet link)


Matt Joyce – Minor League Deal

Today the Giants announced the signing of veteran outfielder Matt Joyce. After a dreadful season with the A’s last year (.208/.322/.353 in 246 PAs), he is looking to rebound with his second team of the spring. He was with the Indians for the better part of ST so far, but the Indians told him he was not making the roster. The Giants also have signed veteran Gerardo Parra on a minor league deal, and he is also competing with a rule 5 pick Drew Ferguson. 


Notes

  • Twins released 1B Lucas Duda
  • Brewers released SP Josh Tomlin
  • Mookie Betts does not believe they will reach an extension before before he gets to free agency



Stat of the Day – SWEET SPOT

Colloquially, a player who hits the ball solidly is said to have gotten the “sweet spot” of the bat on the ball. The sweet spot classification quantifies that as a batted-ball event with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees.

A player’s sweet spot percentage — or how often he produces a batted-ball event with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees — is presented on Statcast leaderboards under SwSp%.

Why it’s useful

While the sweet spot classification does not include exit velocity and thus doesn’t tell the complete story of a batted-ball event, players with a high sweet spot percentage are putting themselves in greater position to succeed. In 2018, Major Leaguers posted a 1.099 slugging percentage on batted balls with a launch angle between eight and 32 degrees.

Sweet spot percentage can be used in concert with hard-hit rate — the percentage of a player’s batted balls that have an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher. For a batted-ball classification that takes into account both launch angle and exit velocity, check out barrels.


Stat of the Day Curtesy of MLB.com

Photo Curtesy of CBS Sports

March 5th


Luis SEverino – Injury

This morning, Yankee’s skipper Aaron Boone told reporters that ace Severino had some discomfort in his throwing shoulder, and he would be missing his spring training start. He went in for an MRI to check everything, and it was found that he did indeed have inflammation. He will be waiting two week until he throws again. Assuming that he would have made another opening day start, this really makes it difficult to make that start.


Rule Changes – Update

“Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have spent the winter negotiating over rules changes while publicly bickering over the operation of the player market. The sides now appear to be nearing agreement on a package of new rules, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link), though it’s not likely to address the broader concerns.

According to Rosenthal, a new deal may only be a day or two away from completion. It’s not clear just what’ll be covered by the pact, though we’ve known of the areas under consideration for the past week or so. From a hot stove perspective, the application of a single trade deadline and roster size modifications (26-man roster with two extra openings in September) appear to be the most important possible tweaks under contemplation.” – Jeff Todd, MLBTR


Cameron Maybin – Arrested

San Francisco Giants outfielder Cameron Maybin was arrested early Friday morning in Scottsdale, Arizona, for two DUI offenses — driving while impaired and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more. Tests on the scene determined that Maybin’s BAC was .127.

“We are aware of and monitoring the situation,” the Giants said in a statement issued Tuesday. “We do not have any further comment at this time.” – ESPN


Gio Gonzalez – Rumors

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez had at least been discussed “by some Yankees people” even before the team learned of Luis Severino’s rotator cuff inflammation earlier today, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Similarly, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Yankees do like Gonzalez and may inquire with agent Scott Boras about the lefty’s current asking price.

With Severino and CC Sabathia both unlikely to be ready for Opening Day, the Yankees’ rotation depth isn’t quite as strong as it once appeared. Of course, neither Severino nor Sabathia is expected to miss significant time, and the Yankees have quite a few other options on hand to fill in on a short-term basis; Domingo GermanLuis CessaChance Adams and Jonathan Loaisiga are all on the 40-man roster and all saw some experience at the MLB level last season. – Steve Adams, MLBTR

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Miguel Sano – Injury

“Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will not be prepared for Opening Day and could miss the first month of the season, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told reporters including Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (via Twitter) and Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link).

A cut on Sano’s foot has kept him out of action throughout camp. That injury, sustained during a celebration of a Dominican Winter League title, required a second debridement procedure to clean up the wound.

Clearly, this is not how the organization expected things to proceed when Sano showed up to camp in noticeably excellent shape. The hope then was that the cut would heal up quickly, allowing him to get back to work in search of redemption following a miserable 2018 season.” – Jeff Todd, MLBTR

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Stat of the day – Leverage index

Created by Tom Tango, Leverage Index measures the importance of a particular event by quantifying the extent to which win probability could change on said event, with 1.0 representing a neutral situation.

For instance, if a team trailing by three runs had the bases loaded with two outs in the eighth inning, the ensuing plate appearance would register an LI above 1.0. This is because the outcome of the game could dramatically change on that one plate appearance. Conversely, if a team trailing by four runs has a man on first with one out in the top of the ninth inning, the ensuing plate appearance would register an LI below 1.0.

Why it’s useful

LI can be used to more easily pinpoint the pivotal moments in a particular game and determine how often players face high-leverage situations.

TLDR: Leverage Index is a great way to see how a certain moment in a game is where someone who is “clutch” would come through. If there is an LI of say 7 or more you would say “the game is on the line.”

Stat of the Day Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Pinstripe Alley

March 3rd


Zack Granite – Traded

“The Rangers have acquired outfielder Zack Granite from the Twins for minor league pitcher Xavier Moore and cash, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune tweets. Texas has placed outfielder Scott Heineman on the 60-day injured list to create 40-man room for Granite, per a team announcement.

The 26-year-old Granite had been in limbo in Minnesota since Feb. 25, when the club designated him for assignment after signing free agent Marwin Gonzalez. Granite had been a member of the Twins since they used a 14th-round pick on him in 2013. The fleet-of-foot Granite was successful at times during his tenure with the Minnesota organization, including during a 56-steal season with its Double-A affiliate in 2016 and an outstanding offensive campaign (.336/.392/.475 in 313 plate appearances) with its Triple-A team in 2017.” – Connor Byrne, MLBTR

Vladimir Guerrero Jr – Prospect Watch

Today in a normal Blue Jays-Yankee matchup, phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Son of hall of famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr.) hit a double off the LF wall. Nothing special, right? Watch how effortless this swing is:

Vlad Jr. has crazy power. Some evaluators have him hitting 40+ homers his rookie season. He just one handed a low pitch almost out.

Bobby Wahl – Torn ACL

“When your pitching plan revolves around the bullpen, depth is important, and the Brewers lost an important depth reliever Friday afternoon. Hard-throwing righty Bobby Wahl managed to tear the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while throwing a pitch … A baseball player tearing his ACL is not all that uncommon in and of itself. In Wahl’s case, he managed to tear it while throwing a pitch, which is extreme rare. How rare? On Sunday Brewers GM David Stearns told reporters, including Fox Sports Wisconsin’s Sophie Minnaert, that Wahl is only the third pitcher in MLB‘s central injury database to tear the ACL in his push-off knee. This injury is one of the rarest in baseball history.” – Mike Axisa, CBS Sports




Stat of the Day – WPA

WPA (Win Probability Added) quantifies the percent change in a team’s chances of winning from one event to the next. It does so by measuring the importance of a given plate appearance in the context of the game. For instance: a homer in a one-run game is worth more than a homer in a blowout.

As an example: When Josh Donaldson came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth on May 26, 2015, the Blue Jays trailed by two and had men on second and third with no one out. That gave them a 43-percent win expectancy. After Donaldson’s walk-off homer, their win expectancy jumped to 100 percent. Because Donaldson boosted the Blue Jays’ chances of winning by 57 percent, his WPA for that plate appearance was 0.57.

A player’s WPA can also be affected on the basepaths. It will increase if he steals a base but decrease if he is caught stealing or picked off.

WPA should not be used as an indicator of future performance. But WPA is a fantastic “story stat” — meaning it does a good job of putting context to what has already happened. Its best use is for deciphering the impact of a specific player or play on a game’s outcome.

TLDR: WPA gives the number of how a specific play contributed positively or negatively to winning the game.

Stat of the Day Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Zimbio

February 21st

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Bryce Harper – Update

Contrary to what we posted yesterday regarding the Giants’ willingness to go for a longer term deal, according to NBC Sports’ Alex Pavlovic, on his podcast today he reported that the Giants and an 11 year deal for Harper is very possible. It was previously reported that the Giants had only interest on a short term deal. Our guess would be that the giants were just using that as a negotiating tactic until Machado was signed. Now he is off the board, the checkbooks could be opened more.

With Spring Training games starting in the next couple of days, It is anticipated that Harper should sign in the next week.

Marwin Gonzalez – Rumor

The Minnesota Twins are said to be looking at close to a 3-year deal with super utility-man Marwin Gonzalez. With the last two extensions of Polanco and Kepler, the twins are looking to reinvest the money they are now saving from Mauer retiring. The twins are still projected to be quite a few games behind Cleveland for the AL Central. Adding Gonzalez could add some flexibility all around the entire diamond for relatively low cost.

Fernando Abad – Minor League Deal

Journeyman Fernando Abad has signed a minor league deal with the Giants, making him earn $800K if he makes the roster. Having been with 6 teams in 8 major league years, this will be his 7th. He used to be a solid middle inning arm from 2012 to 2014: posting a 3.69 FIP. From 2015 to 2017 (He was no in the majors in 2018) he posted a FIP of 4.41. Yikes.


Stat of the Day – Expected Stats

Expected Outcome stats help to remove defense and ballpark from the equation to express the skill shown at the moment of batted ball contact. By looking at the exit velocity and launch angle of each batted ball, a Hit Probability is assigned based on the outcomes of comparable historic balls in play. By accumulating the expected outcomes of each batted ball with actual strikeouts, walks and hit by pitches, Expected Batting Average (xBA), Expected Slugging (xSLG), and (most importantly) Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA) tell the story of a player’s season based on quality of and amount of contact, not outcomes.

TLDR: Baseball can be unforgiving: a liner can be hit directly at an outfielder, or a weak bloop can fall in for a double. Expected stats give a more clear view of what a batter or pitcher “earned”. 

Stat of the Day Curtesy of BaseballSavant.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Orange County Register

Valentine’s Day

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Photo Credit – Call to the Pen

MAJOR NEWS

Max Kepler

A league source told ESPN that Kepler and the Twins have agreed on a five-year, $35 million deal with a sixth-year option that is worth $10 million and includes a $1 million buyout.

Kepler, 26, hit .224 last season with a career-high 20 home runs and 58 RBIs. Playing right field for the third straight season, Kepler won the team’s defensive player of the year award in 2018. Signed by the Twins as a 16-year-old out of Germany, Kepler agreed last month to a $3,125,000 salary for 2019 in his first year of arbitration eligibility. – Jeff Passan, ESPN

Jorge Polanco

Polanco, 25, has been a strong if not entirely steady presence in the middle of the Twins’ infield. Minnesota was discussing an extension with the switch-hitter last winter before he received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance that he said came from a tainted supplement. In 77 games after his return, Polanco, who has never played in more than 133 games in a season, hit .288/.345/.427 with 6 home runs and 42 RBIs. The Twins finalized a contract extension with Polanco for five years and $25.75 million that includes a pair of club options for 2024 and 2025, a league source with knowledge of the deal told ESPN. – Jeff Passan, ESPN

NEWEST RUMORS

Manny Machado

Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune has reported today that “at some point this past week” the Padres met with Machado and his wife. While he talks about how no figures have yet been leaked, they should be close to $30MM annually.

Yangervis Solarte

The Giants have interest in veteran infielder Yangervis Solarte, according to Alex Palovic of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link). Solarte seems to be a readily achievable target. He is looking for a new opportunity after the Blue Jays declined a $5.5MM club option and then non-tendered him. A 31-year-old infielder, Solarte is capable of  lining up anywhere in the infield, though he has spent most of his time at third base and second base. Solarte has played some shortstop, though he has logged fewer innings there than he has at first. – MLBTR

STAT OF THE DAY

xFIP

Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is a regressed version of Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), developed by Dave Studeman from The Hardball Times. It’s calculated in the same way as FIP, except it replaces a pitcher’s home run total with an estimate of how many home runs they should have allowed given the number of fly balls they surrendered while assuming a league average home run to fly ball percentage (between 9 and 10% depending on the year).

Home run rates are generally unstable over time and fluctuate around league-average, so by estimating a pitcher’s home run total, xFIP attempts to isolate a player’s ability level. A pitcher may allow home runs on 12% of their flyballs one year, then turn around and only allow 7% the next year. HR/FB ratios can be very difficult to predict because they contain a lot of noise, so xFIP attempts to correct for that and provide you with a sense of the pitcher’s underlying performance.

TLDR: xFIP is just FIP but it accounts for average HR rates, making it more stable over time.

MINOR NEWS

John Axford

Axford and the Jays have reached an agreement on a minor league contract that would pay him $1.65MM if he makes the roster, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports (via Twitter). Axford appeared in 45 games for the Blue Jays last season, pitching to a 4.41 ERA with a 50-to-20 K/BB ratio in 51 innings before being traded to the Dodgers prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Unfortunately for both Axford and the Dodgers, the right-hander, he was clobbered for six runs in his first appearance with his new team. Before he had time for his numbers to recover, Axford was struck on the leg by a comebacker, sustaining a fractured fibula that shelved him for more than a month. – MLBTR

For all the other minor news: MLBTR has a great roundup HERE

INTERESTING READS

Trevor Bauer says he suffered ‘character assassination’ but insists there’s no ill will with Indians by Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY 

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 6th

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MAJOR NEWS:

Jeremy Hellickson

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.

NEWEST RUMORS

Bryce Harper

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.

J.T. Realmuto

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.

MINOR NEWS

Carlos Ramirez

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.

Tom Koehler

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

Justin Nicolino signed a minor league deal with the Twins

Nick Franklin has an agreement to the Pirates for a minor league deal.

Ty Kelly will be heading to the Angels on a minor league pact.