April 2nd


Ronald Acuna – Extension

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. 


Notes 

  • 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

Definition

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.

Examples

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.


Pitch of the Day Curtesy of @PitchingNinja

Business of Baseball Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of MLB.com

March 24th


Jose Ramirez – Injury Scare

In the third inning of Sunday’s game Jose fouled a ball off his left knee and was CARTED off the field. Stunningly the X-Rays came back negative on a break in the bone. News still hasn’t come out if this would require an IL trip to start the season. If it does, it could be a major blow to the Indians who are already down Lindor and Kipnis.


Erik Kratz – Traded

After being out of options, and being third on the depth chart in Milwaukee, they knew he had to move. The Brewers have found a suitor, getting SS C.J. Hinojosa from the Giants. 


Brad Miller – Signed 

The Indians have signed some IF/OF depth with the signing of Brad Miller. Miller’s best season came in 2016 when he had 30 balls hit over the fence, but over his whole career he owns a 99 wRC+, good for basically league average. His defense has always been below average, but his versatility has always been his strength. 


Daniel Hudson – Signed

After releasing John Axford, the Blue Jays have signed a major league deal with Daniel Hudson for one year worth $1.5MM. 

Notes

  • Hanley Ramirez has a really good chance to make the opening day roster
  • Matt Duffy will start the year on IL
  • Sandy Leon has been placed on waivers by the Boston Red Sox. 
  • Nick Green will be returned to the Yankees after being selected in the rule 5 draft by the Diamondbacks
  • Jordan Romano has been returned to the Blue Jays after being selected in the rule 5 draft by then Rangers



Business of Baseball – 25 Man Roster

A club’s 25-man roster is its full roster of active Major League players. Typically, a club will have some combination of 12 position players and 13 pitchers or 12 pitchers and 13 position players. Players on the 25-man roster (or the Major League injured list) accrue Major League service time. All players on the 25-man roster must also be on the 40-man roster. Teams are required to have a minimum of 24 players on their 25-man roster.

In the case of doubleheaders, clubs are allowed to recall one additional player who is on the 40-man roster to serve as the 26th member of the active Major League roster only for the day of said doubleheader. That player accrues one day of MLB service time and is returned to the Minor Leagues following the completion of the doubleheader.

Upon being optioned to the Minor Leagues, a player must remain there for a minimum of 10 days before he is eligible to be recalled to the Major League roster, unless he is serving as the 26th man for a doubleheader or replacing a player who has been placed on the injured list. In these exceptions, there are no minimum number of days in which the optioned player must remain in the Minors.

On Sept. 1, teams can carry up to 40 players on their active roster until the start of postseason play, at which point the maximum reverts back to 25. All players added to the active roster during this period must be on the 40-man roster.

THIS IS ONLY FOR 2019 – 2020 ROSTERS WILL EXPAND TO 26 MEN


Business of Baseball Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of Minor League Ball

March 21st


Ichiro Suzuki – Announces Retirement

In a Mariners press release, Ichiro released this statement: 

I have achieved so many of my dreams in baseball, both in my career in Japan and, since 2001, in Major League Baseball. I am honored to end my big league career where it started, with Seattle, and think it is fitting that my last games as a professional were played in my home country of Japan. I want to thank not only the Mariners, but the Yankees and Marlins, for the opportunity to play in MLB, and I want to thank the fans in both the U.S. and Japan for all the support they have always given me.

There is not many words that can describe just how important Ichiro has been to this game. Just looking at his numbers in the MLB, he is a sure hall of famer. Add in the 6 years he played in the NPB in Japan, and he has the most hits ever. Just a glance at his baseball reference page, he was not only a perennial all star, but always in the race for MVP. After winning MVP in his rookie season, he AVERAGED 13th in MVP voting over his first 10 years; also being an All Star and Gold Glover in each of those 10 years. 


Paul Goldschmidt – Extension

Wow, this has been quite the extension season the past two weeks or so. This time, it will be the newly acquired Paul Goldschmidt with the Cardinals. 5 years and $130MM sounds about right for a 1B who has been an all star almost every year since he got to the bigs. I would rate Goldy and Arenado two of the most underrated performers in the game. Last offseason the Red Sox signed JD Martinez who is a little better hitter, but a worse fielder for 5/$110MM. This deal will not include any opt outs, but JD’s did given the dollar differences. Goldy’s deal with the Cardinals does have full no trade protection, so any deal moving him would require his permission. 


Blake Snell – Extension

Yes, another extension. After being disappointed with such a pitiful raise since winning (only) the Cy Young award in 2018; Blake Snell has come to terms with the Rays on a 5-year, $50 MM deal with several incentives and bonuses depending on his placement in the Cy Young race. This buys out all his arbitration years, and one free agent year. It looks like he will become a free agent in his age 30 season. Primed for another big payday if he continues this pitching dominance. 


Corey Knebel – Injury

Today it was reported that Brewers RP Corey Knebel has a tear in his UCL. UCL injuries scream Tommy John, but apparently the aren’t sure if it is bad enough for that. This is probably why they have entered into the Kimbrel market. If Kimbrel has lowered his ask to only one year, it would only make perfect sense for the Brewers to fill the void from Jeffress and Knebel starting the year on the IL. 


Sandy Leon – Trade Rumors

Marly Rivera of ESPN reports that the Red Sox are “actively shopping” catcher Sandy Leon. We have known since the beginning of ST that the Sox’s plan was to only carry two catchers this year. Last offseason they hashed out a multi year extension with starter Christian Vazquez, and so the battle really came down between Blake Swihart and Leon. Leon has never hit well, while when given ABs Swihart has a near average batting line. It has been clear to me that Swihart should be given the ABs when his average potential is clearly better, and has some defensive versatility: playing 1B, 2B, 3B and some OF. Sandy Leon is well regarded as a terrific defender and is heralded for handling a pitching staff. Those intangibles can only take you so far, as we are seeing here. 


Connor Joe – Traded

Today the Giants and Reds paired up to make a trade: Connor Joe will be going to the Giants, and the righty Jordan Johnson and cash will be going back to the Reds. To make room on the 40-man, Drew Ferguson will be DFA’d. In yesterday’s cookie, I talked about how Ferguson was part of the outfield logjam of guys trying to make it. It seemed like the Giants saw that logjam and turned it into a utility infielder.


Notes

  • Brad Miller Opts out of his minor league pact with the Dodgers
  • Braves Outright Sam Freeman
  • Phillies release Drew Butera, Andrew Romine
  • Hunter Pence has made Rangers’ roster




Stat of the Day – LEAD

Lead Distance represents the distance between the base and the baserunner’s center of mass as the pitcher makes his first movement — either to home or to the base on a pickoff attempt.

Lead Distance might be the most overlooked aspect of stealing bases. Certain baserunners — those who can react quickest to a pitcher’s move — take leads that are longer than an average player. In doing so, the distance between the base stealer and the base he is trying to swipe is cut down.

Sure, Maximum Speed, Acceleration, a catcher’s Pop Time and a pitcher’s delivery all have a major impact on stolen bases, too. But on a bang-bang play, the runner’s initial Lead Distance can sometimes make all the difference. (The same can hold true even when the runner is not attempting to steal, but rather when there is a close play at the next base after the ball is put in play.)


Stat of the Day Curtesy of MLB.com

Photo Curtesy of 500ish Words

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 4th


Dallas Keuchel – FA Update

“The Astros haven’t been engaged on Dallas Keuchel in recent weeks, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his latest look at the free-agent left-hander’s apparently stagnant market (subscription required). The Phillies, he adds, still have interest only in a “very” short-term deal, as was reported last week. Meanwhile, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that unless Keuchel or free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel is suddenly willing to take a one-year deal, the Twins aren’t likely to sign either pitcher three weeks into Spring Training. As for the Braves, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman wrote late last week that spring ailments for Mike Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman haven’t been deemed concerning enough for Atlanta to pursue Keuchel.” – Steve Adams, MLBTR

Larry Baer – Domestic Incident Update

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.

Stat of the Day Curtesy of MLB.com

Header Photo Curtesy of New York Post

February 27th

Rule Changes – Update

Commissioner Rob Manfred ponders his possible negotiating tactics

ESPN’s Jeff Passon reports that the league has pushed its plans for a pitch clock back until 2022 as a negotiating tactic to try to implement some other changes that have a much easier path to getting approved through the Players’ Union.

Major League Baseball is prepared to scuttle the implementation of a pitch clock until at least 2022 as part of a wide-ranging proposal to the MLB Players Association that would include the ability to implement a three-batter-minimum rule for pitchers and roster-size changes in 2020, sources familiar with the plan told ESPN.

Jeff Passon

Bryce Harper – Update

Several teams have now entered the mix more heavily as of late: Dodgers and Giants are among those. The Giants have been meeting with Bryce Harper for a potential 10 year deal, and while the salary that is being discussed has not yet leaked, several sources close to action are reporting that it is of record breaking size (Record being $325MM)

Peter Moylan – Retiring

[Veteran reliever Peter Moylan has opted to retire from Major League Baseball at the age of 40, he tells David O’Brien of The Athletic (subscription required). The Australian-born hurler isn’t entirely walking away from the game, as he’ll pitch for a professional team in Italy this summer and hopes to pitch for the Australian Olympic baseball team, O’Brien adds.

Moylan details his decision in the lengthy interview, revealing that although the calendar is about to flip to March, he simply never received an offer this winter. Despite the fact that Moylan believes he’s still capable of competing at the game’s top level, he also insists that there’s no bitterness or anger with regard to how the offseason played out. “The game is trending younger,” said the veteran righty. “I’m certainly not that. It’s time for me to let the kids play, so I’m done.”] – Steve Adams, MLBTR


Stat of the Day – DER

Defensive Efficiency Ratio is a statistic used to evaluate team defense by finding out the rate of times batters reach base on balls put in play. Basically, for every ball hit into the field of play, how likely is the defense to convert that into an out?

The formula for Defensive Efficiency Ratio is: 1 – ((H + ROE – HR) / (PA – BB – SO – HBP – HR)).

Defensive efficiency is a very good tool for assessing team defense, but it has its flaws. For instance, a team whose pitchers allow a high frequency of hard-hit balls will most likely have a lower DER because those balls are more likely to wind up as hits. There is also nothing in the equation that factors in luck or the ease of a team’s defensive chances. But over a large enough sample size, this concern is mitigated.

TLDR: This is an upgraded fielding percentage but used for entire teams.

 

Stat of the Day curtesy of MLB.com

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 12th

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Photo Credit – LA Times

MAJOR NEWS

Sergio Romo

The Marlins have signed Sergio Romo to a one year deal worth at least $2.5MM, with other incentives on top of that. Romo had a decent year in 2018 posting a 4.04 FIP who was also “The Opener” several times with the Rays. While he could compete for the closer role for the fish, the aging Romo has some competition with Drew Steckenrider and flamethrower Tayron Guerrero.

NEWEST RUMORS

Bryce Harper

Harper is reportedly not even considering short term deals. I personally was thinking that Harper was confident enough in himself to take a pillow contract and get somewhere in a 1 year $40-50 range and gamble on himself until next year. In the devils advocate you could say “well what’s going to change next year”? And you would probably be right. Apparently thats what Bryce himself is thinking.

STAT OF THE DAY

FIP

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) measures what a player’s ERA would look like over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing. Back in the early 2000s, research by Voros McCracken revealed that the amount of balls that fall in for hits against pitchers do not correlate well across seasons. In other words, pitchers have little control over balls in play and assuming short-term fluctuations in BABIP are attributable to the pitcher is likely incorrect. McCracken outlined a better way to assess a pitcher’s talent level by looking at results a pitcher can control directly: strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches, and home runs.

FIP is a measurement of a pitcher’s performance that strips out the role of defense, luck, and sequencing, making it a more stable indicator of how a pitcher actually performed over a given period of time than a runs allowed based statistic that would be highly dependent on the quality of defense played behind him, for example. Certain pitchers have shown an ability to consistently post lower ERAs than their FIP suggests, but overall FIP captures most pitchers’ true performance quite well. – Fangraphs

TLDR: Pitchers don’t have control on balls in play. FIP measures what a pitcher can control

MINOR NEWS

Jorge Posada

The Marlins are “expected” to hire long-time MLB catcher Jorge Posada as a special adviser to the club’s baseball operations department, according to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Posada’s precise duties aren’t yet known. Posada obviously has deep ties with Marlins CEO Derek Jeter. The pair starred together for years with the Yankees, forming half of the legendary “core four” that helped lead the New York organization to five World Series titles. –MLBTR

Gerardo Parra

Gerardo Parra, who played the previous three seasons for the division rival Rockies, is signing a minor league deal with the organization, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area. The deal was first reported by Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Parra will be in big league camp. Parra, 31, has played all three outfield spots in the majors and adds depth to a young group. The Giants have openings in right and left, with Steven Duggar on track to start in center. – Alex Pavlovic NBC Sports

Jose Lopez

The Giants announced Tuesday that they’ve claimed right-hander Jose Lopez off waivers from the Reds. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, San Francisco designated left-hander Josh Osich for assignment. Cincinnati had designated the 25-year-old Lopez for assignment Monday after signing Zach Duke.