Joining what appears to be half the team, is headed to the IL with a left calf strain. He is anticipated to only need to be out the 9 days required (since the IL stint is retroactive to Wednesday), but having Sanchez off to such a hot start doesn’t bode well for the struggling Yankees.
Dellin Betances – Injury Update
After further reports, today GM Brian Cashman announced that relief ace Betances has a bone spur in his shoulder. He will have three weeks of rest then will be re-evaluated. The timeline, if all goes planned, is to be back in game action within 6-8 weeks.
Jermey Jeffress only needs one more rehab outing before he is activated
Rockie’s Daniel Murphy will not need surgery to repair his fractured index finger
Allen Craig joined the front office of the Padres, yes don’t ask questions
PITCH OF THE DAY
Steve Cishek pretty much impossible 90 mph two seamer
Business of Baseball – Non-roster Invite (NRI)
A non-roster invite (NRI) is an invitation for a player who is not on a club’s 40-man roster to attend Major League camp in Spring Training and compete for a roster spot. Clubs can extend NRIs to their upper-level Minor Leaguers and also include NRIs in Minor League contracts given to free agents in the offseason.
In February 2015, the Kansas City Royals signed left-hander Franklin Morales to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Morales attended Spring Training with the club and won a roster spot with a strong performance. He went on to post a 3.18 ERA in 62 1/3 relief innings for the eventual World Series champions.
Yesterday the Braves announced an 8 year, $100MM extension with star OF Acuna. While breaking onto the scene last year at only 20 years old, he won the Rookie of the Year award for the National League, and even was 12th in MVP voting. Acuna batted to a 144 OPS+ in 487 PA after getting his call up. This deal also includes two options which could bring this to a 10 year, $134MM if exercised. The two options both have $10MM buyouts so there is at least $110MM guaranteed.
German Marquez – Extension
Ace and sleeper for the Cy Young award (in my book) German Marquez has inked a 5 year extension with the Colorado Rockies that is worth $43MM. While he really set himself apart in the second part of 2018, he is nearly getting the same money that Blake Snell ($50MM) got after winning the Cy Young. Marquez and Snell have the same amount of service time, making them pretty good comparables to each other.
Kevin Pillar – Traded
The Blue Jays and Giants completed a four player trade involving stellar outfielder Kevin Pillar on Tuesday. Newly minted GM Farhan Zaidi has been looking for some OF studs to roam the expansive field at Oracle park since taking over at the helm. The Giants sent three prospects back to Toronto: P Derek Law, IF Alan Hanson, and righty Juan De Paula. Pillar is a below average hitter against righties, but offers a 100 wRC+ against lefties making for a good platoon with Steven Duggar. Pillar is an elite defender and could see time in both corners as well as mainly being deployed in CF.
Trea Turner – Injury
DO NOT TRY TO BUNT FOLKS!! In Tuesday’s game, Trea Turner tried to bunt and caught a 92 MPH Zach Eflin fastball right to his hand. When he did not even get to finish the at bat, you knew it wasn’t going to turn out good. X-Rays showed the fracture, we will update you when a timetable surfaces on when the exciting shortstop will start getting back in action.
Randal Grichuk – Extension
There have been a surprising amount of extensions happening even though the season has started! Usually they really slow down once the season starts. Not the case in 2019! Grichuk and the Blue Jays have come to terms on a 5 year, $52MM deal with several escalators as well. While his on base skills have never been his strength, he is a speedy outfielder which allows him to have great defensive numbers. This extension is on par with many several players with the same amount of service time.
Superstar Francisco Lindor is eyeing to be back by May with his calf strain
Rockies lefty Jake McGee has been placed on the IL with a left knee sprain
Jacob Nix of the Padres has decided to only rehab his injured elbow instead of undergoing Tommy John.
After the Pillar Trade today, the Blue Jays have acquired OF Scorates Brito from Padres
PITCH OF THE DAY
Blake Snell NASTY slider
Business of Baseball – Contract Renewal
Players who haven’t signed a long-term contract extension or accrued the MLB service time necessary to be eligible for salary arbitration can have their contracts renewed by their clubs as one-year deals for the coming season.
These pre-arbitration players can negotiate their salaries but have little leverage, as clubs can choose to renew a contract for the Major League minimum if they cannot come to an agreement with the player. Of course, clubs may choose to sign their pre-arbitration players to one-year deals for more than the Major League minimum to build good will for future negotiations, but they are under no obligation to do so.
Clubs cannot reduce players’ salaries by more than 20 percent of what they earned in the previous MLB season — including a player’s base salary and additional payments such as performance bonuses, signing bonuses and deferred compensation — or 30 percent of what they earned two seasons prior, per the Maximum Salary Reduction clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The Red Sox were not able to come to an agreement with Mookie Betts on a salary for the 2017 season, so they renewed his contract for $950,000 — up from the $566,000 he earned in 2016. The Astros renewed Alex Bregman’s contract for the 2018 season, giving the third baseman $599,000 after he earned $539,400 in 2017.
Conversely, the Cubs and Kris Bryant came to an agreement on a $1.05 million contract for the 2017 season in Bryant’s last year before salary arbitration, setting a record for the largest one-year deal ever given to a pre-arbitration player.
Finally, another free agent off the board. In a tweet from Jeff Passan of ESPN, he details that this is (surprisingly) a minor league deal! it is crazy that a player his caliber has to settle for a minor league deal. Last year he ended with a 4.16 FIP, which is NOT bad by any means. After a run with the Nationals in which he had a 3.28 FIP over three years previous to 2018, it seems like there should be some left in the tank. Gio’s deal is for $3MM plus incentives.
INDIANS AND PADRES – TRADE RUMORS
Earlier in the offseason, there were numerous reports that the Indians were shopping their two top pitchers, Kluber and Bauer, around to see if they could dump a salary or two. Since Christmas or so, those talks seemed to subside. After today’s tweet from Ken Rosenthal, they have picked back up: this time with the Padres. Ken does point out that he does not think this would happen before Opening Day next week.
Dustin Pedroia will not be ready for Opening Day.
Dodgers announced front office promotions
Stat of the Day – Bolt
Definition: A Bolt is any run where the Sprint Speed (defined as “feet per second in a player’s fastest one-second window”) of the runner is at least 30 ft/sec.
Players’ Bolt totals for each season are displayed on the Sprint Speed leaderboard. It is a cumulative stat, unlike Sprint Speed.
Billy Hamilton finished first or second in Bolts in each of the first four seasons in Statcast history. Trea Turner ranked first in 2018, with 145 Bolts — 43 more than any other player — though he ranked fourth on the Sprint Speed leaderboard (min. 10 competitive runs).
Since Statcast was implemented Major League-wide in 2015, the number of Bolts per season typically has been similar to the number of stolen bases. For example, there were 2,377 Bolts and 2,474 steals in 2018.
TLDR: If a runner crosses 30 ft/sec he will tally a bolt. Only the fastest of the fast get that.
2-way phenom Shohei Ohtani gets a raise to play in his second season here in America. Originally signed for much cheaper than he would have in free agency (because he is so young), he will now make $650K instead of the MLB minimum at $555K. Its is not a lot but it is more than the MVP candidate Alex Bregman got ($640,500).
Sammy Solis – Minor League Deal
Today the Padres announced a minor league deal with lefty reliever Sammy Solis. After mysteriously being released by the nationals, it came to light that it was all in good faith. Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters that he knew that he was not making the opening day roster this year, and wanted to give him a chance to make another squad. The Padres have a deep bullpen this year, but it is still possible to make their team.
Francis Martes – Suspended
Right hander Francis Martes has been found positive to have banned substance Clomiphene in his system. He will be suspended 80 games. MLB Trade Rumors has a great writeup of his profile:
[Martes was considered one of baseball’s premier pitching prospects prior to the 2017 season, landing inside the top 40 on the pre-2017 rankings from Baseball America, MLB.com, ESPN and Baseball Prospectus. His stock has dropped since that time, however, as Martes pitched to an ERA well north of 5.00 in both Triple-A and the Majors in ’17 before logging a 6.75 ERA in four Triple-A starts last season. The arm injury that ultimately necessitated his Tommy John procedure limited Martes to just 19 2/3 innings in 2018.] – Steve Adams, MLB TR
Stat of the Day – Ballpark Factor
Ballpark factor, at its most basic, takes the runs scored by Team X (and its competitors) in Team X’s home ballpark and divides the figure by the runs scored by Team X and its competitors in Team X’s road contests. Often times, that number will be ever-so-slightly adjusted if a team doesn’t play the same opponents at home as on the road.
For example: In 2018, 849 runs were scored at Coors Field, and 676 runs were scored in Rockies games away from Coors Field. Coors Field had a park factor of 1.271, when looking at runs scored.
The same exercise can be done with other stats, such as home runs, triples, doubles, etc.
Why it’s useful: Park factor is a great way of determining the extent to which a stadium favors hitters or pitchers. It isn’t affected by the teams or players involved, because those teams and players are also playing games in other stadiums. It simply compares how easy it is to score, from one ballpark to another.
Giants CEO is taking leave of absence. The team issued this statement today:
The Board of Directors of San Francisco Baseball Associates is closely monitoring the matter involving Giants President and CEO Larry Baer. Pursuant to League policy, Major League Baseball is taking the lead in gathering all facts surrounding the situation. The organization is cooperating fully with the process. Mr. Baer has acknowledged that his behavior was unacceptable, apologized to the organization and is committed to taking steps to make sure that this never happens again. He has also requested, and the Board has accepted, his request to take personal time away from the Giants beginning today. The Board has asked the Giants executive team to manage the day to day operations of the Club during this period, reporting directly to the Board. As leaders in the community, we at the Giants hold ourselves to the highest standards and those standards will guide how we consider this matter moving forward. We have no further comment at this time.
Travis Jankowski – Broken Wrist
“Padres outfielder Travis Jankowski has been diagnosed with a broken wrist, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports on Twitter. It’s not yet known how long he’ll be sidelined, but it is anticipated that he “will miss significant time.” The 27-year-old Jankowski suffered the injury laying out for a catch. Particulars aren’t yet known this time around, but he has once previously suffered a generally similar injury. Back in 2014, Jankowski fractured his wrist in a collision with an outfield wall.” – Jeff Todd, MLBTR
Stat of the Day – ERA+
ERA+ takes a player’s ERA and normalizes it across the entire league. It accounts for external factors like ballparks and opponents. It then adjusts, so a score of 100 is league average, and 150 is 50 percent better than the league average.
For example, Mariano Rivera’s 2.21 career ERA was 105 percent better than the MLB average during the time he pitched (including adjustments for park and league). That gives him a 205 career ERA+ (the best all-time).
The formula: League ERA, adjusted for park factors x 100 / ERA.
Why it’s useful: ERA is the most universally accepted tool for measuring the performance of a pitcher. But ERA+ is actually a more accurate league-wide barometer, because it evens the playing field for all pitchers.
TLDR: ERA+ is just ERA but adjusted for the league. 100 is average.
I hope you enjoyed today’s Special Cookie! Manny Machado is one of the largest free agents this game has ever seen. It looks like only one more special cookie will happen this offseason. Machado has signed a 10-year, $300MM Deal with the San Diego Padres. There are now reports coming out that at the end of 2018, Manny’s agent had requested that teams submit their best offer. Apparently they were not pleased with those offers. Only hovering around $250 and 8 years, Manny wanted that elusive $300MM. It only took signing the same week that spring training games start.
Martinez (Cardinals) has been struggling this this shoulder issue for awhile now. Now, Mark Saxon of The Athletic reports that he will be shut down for two weeks; potentially making him late for opening day. While previous reports point him to being in the bullpen anyway, this is a setback in either regard.
Created by Tom Tango (Twitter Link), the Barrel classification is assigned to batted-ball events whose comparable hit types (in terms of exit velocity and launch angle) have led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage since Statcast was implemented Major League wide in 2015.
But similar to how Quality Starts have generally yielded a mean ERA much lower than the baseline of 4.50, the average Barrel has produced a batting mark and a slugging percentage significantly higher than .500 and 1.500, respectively. During the 2016 regular season, balls assigned the Barreled classification had a batting average of .822 and a 2.386 slugging percentage.
To be Barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner Barreled classification. For every mph over 98, the range of launch angles expands.
For example: A ball traveling 99 mph always earns ‘Barreled’ status when struck between 25-31 degrees. Add one more mph — to reach 100 — and the range grows another three degrees, to 24-33.
Every additional mph over 100 increases the range another two to three degrees until an exit velocity of 116 mph is reached. At that threshold, the Barreled designation is assigned to any ball with a launch angle between eight and 50 degrees.
Note: The red-shaded area in the graphic above illustrates the exit velocity and launch angle combinations that yield Barreled status in 100 percent of cases.
TLDR: A barrel is the perfect combination of LA (Launch Angle) and Exit Velocity which results in damage at an exponentially better rate than a non-barrel
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
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
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.
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
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.
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