Jays, Nats, swap Revere and Storen

The pernicious Blue Jays bullpen has garnered a boost at the expense of their one-time table-setter. Toronto shipped left fielder Ben Revere to Washington in exchange for right-handed reliever Drew Storen, no money was retained on either side.

Storen spent the first six years of his big league career with the Nationals, pitching a minimum of 50 innings out of the bullpen in five of those campaigns. The 28-year old had an untenable 2015 season coming off of a 2014 campaign that saw him put up a redoubtable 1.12 ERA, however his FIP was 2.71. The proceeding season was insatiable, at least from the Nationals’ point of view, and his ERA was up at 3.44, however his FIP was only .08 points higher than the year before. The one-time National closer was catapulted out of the role he immersed himself in for the first time since 2011, as the team’s closer. 2015 wasn’t completely nugatory for the righty due to the facts he recorded his highest strikeout per nine ratio of his career at an even 11 and only saw his hits per nine go up by 0.4.

Following a vexing start to his short-lived Blue Jay career, Ben Revere turned it on and finished the season at over .300, this being the third straight season he has done so. The 27-year old will be heading back to the National League East, a place were he spent the previous two and a half seasons as a member of the Phillies prior to being dealt to the place people douchily refer to as “The Six”. Very much non coextensive to Storen, Revere’s place insidiously rose as 2015 proceeded, recording his second straight 180+ hit season. After a pair of 40+ stolen base seasons, and was on pace for another prior to injury, the 5-foot-9-inch outfielder’s propensity to run was trumped by the arrogation of the major bats behind him in the lineup, stealing only seven in 56 games in Toronto. Contrary to popular belief, Revere wasn’t necessarily a benefit to have in your outfield. He had a -0.6 Defensive WAR last season in Canada, which wasn’t a sole conspicuously negative defensive season, he’s had a negative dWAR five out of his six seasons in the MLB.

With the egress of Denard Span via signing a three-year, $31 million contract in San Francisco, many were perplexed by the decision by the Nationals. Michael Taylor, whom the team was said to very much like, is now all but relegated to either a competition with Revere for the starting job, a platoon or a secondary role. With Harper in right and Werth in left, the center field job is very much there for the taking come spring training. The Nationals parlayed an asset they deemed extraneous with the young bullpen arms they have, in Treinen and Barrett among others, into an ostentatiously valuable player that will push one of their young players.

The opulence of having Revere in the Jays outfield was very much that, opulence. In making this transaction, they addressed a desperate need within the organization. It puts a little cocking on a massive gap of a Toronto bullpen that might have Pat Venditte in it come the regular season. The move also triggers a battle in spring training between Dalton Pompey and Michael Saunders for the final outfield position. Pompey, who made the team out of spring training last season, faltered mightily once the 2015 campaign began and was subsequently in AAA for the majority of the season. Saunders on the other hand didn’t see more than 36 plate appearances, after coming to Toronto in the deal that saw current Jay J.A. Happ go to Seattle, before going down for the year due to an, obviously, severe knee injury.

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Yankees acquire Aroldis Chapman

As if the back of the Yankees bullpen wasn’t proficuous enough, the team has just consigned a quartet of minor leaguers to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for four-time all-star Aroldis Chapman. Heading to Ohio are right handers Rookie Davis and Caleb Cotham along with infielders Eric Jagielo and Tony Renda.
Over his preceding six seasons in the MLB, Chapman has always had a FIP lower than his ERA, excluding last season, and has only had an ERA over 2.54 once in his career. Last year was a resplendent one for the flamethrower, posting a 1.63 ERA, and had a strikeout per nine of 15.7, the third highest total in his six years with the Reds. Some statistics did vaulter however, as the 27-year old only recorded 33 shutouts, a career-low. That stat does however have a major asterisk next to it, as the Reds had one of their worst campaigns in years. Despite his team’s prosaic play, the lefty still managed to tally his second highest strikeout total of his career with 116.
He made eight million last season in Cincinnati, and is expected to make upwards of $13 million through arbitration.
The conglomerate of Andrew Miller, Delin Betances and, now, Aroldis Chapman, form the scariest bullpen in all of Major League Baseball. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Chapman, Miller and Betances were the top three in strikeouts per nine last season. Chances are that the newly acquired Chapman will likely move right into the closer’s role.

The Mets’ second base situation

The New York Mets have been out on the market looking for a second baseman to potentially replace Daniel Murphy who had an outstanding postseason. Many thought he would immediately re-sign but that was not the case.
Ben Zobrist had mentioned that he would like just to play at second base and the Mets went out to make a deal with him. Zobrist would have been an upgrade for the Mets and a solid bat to help a little if Yoenis Cespedes doesn’t re-sign with the team. Eventually the Mets would lose out to the Cubs signing a 4-year deal as mentioned in a previous article. https://baseballsofsteal.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/cubs-sign-zobrist-to-a-four-year-deal/

So would they go back to Murphy? The answer is no. Jon Niese lost his job in the starting rotation which made him trade bait for the future. Just yesterday Niese was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for 2B Neil Walker. Walker can be an upgrade at second for the Mets. He’s got a little more pop in his bat that could be useful down the stretch.

As for Daniel Murphy his time with the Mets is most likely over. There appears to be no room for him now as it seems that the Mets are going in a different direction. It seems that a new second baseman is what the Mets wanted. Daniel Murphy will look for another option from a different team.

Quick Hits; December 9th Transactions

Trades:

White Sox acquire infielder Brett Lawrie From the Athletics for minor league pitchers J.B Wendelken and Zack Erwin.
Mets acquire 2B Neil Walker from the Pirates for LHP Jon Niese.
Astros acquire RHP Ken Giles for righty Vincent Velasquez, lefty Brett Oberholtzer, outfielder Derek Fisher and a player to be named later.
Tigers acquire LHP Justin Wilson from the Yankees for pitching prospects Luis Cessa and Chad Green.
Mariners acquire 1B Adam Lind from the Brewers for RHPs Carlos Herrera, Freddy Peralta and Daniel Missaki.
Mariners acquire RHP Evan Scribner from the Athletics for minor league pitcher Trey Cochran-Gill.

Free Agent signings:

Braves sign utility man Emilio Bonifacio to a 1-year contract.
Blue Jays sign infielder Darwin Barney to a 1-year contract.
Angels sign CF Craig Gentry to a 1-year contract.
Athletics sign RHP John Axford to a 2-year $10 million contract.
Phillies sign reliever David Hernandez to a 1-year $3.9 million contract.
Mets sign infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to a 2-year $16.5 million contract.
Nationals sign RHP Yusmeiro Petit to a 1-year contract.

Waivers:

Cardinals claim lefty Jayson Aquino off waivers from the Indians.
Mariners designate 1B Andy Wilkins for assignment.

Shelby Miller moves to Arizona in blockbuster deal with the Braves

Shelby Miller was traded with relief pitching prospect Gabe Speier to the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Ender Inciarte and prospects Dansby Swanson and Aaron Blair. This deal is the second time this week the D-Backs have acquired a starting pitcher, the first being ace Zach Greinke who had the lowest ERA in the MLB last year.
Shelby Miller is now added to a vastly improved rotation, as was mentioned earlier, Zach Greinke will stabilize the front of the rotation which was before last week was lacking significant “oomph”. Last year’s opening day starter for the D-Backs was Josh Collmenter, who ended landing in the bullpen, as only started 12 of his 44 appearances. Shelby Miller, who just turned 25, has had a great career thus far, in his first three years in the big leagues he has 95 starts with a career 3.22 ERA. Last year, he reached 200 innings and pitched 3.02 ERA ball. Since being traded alongside Tyrell Jenkins to the Braves for Jason Heyward, Miller has developed into a great middle of the rotation starter, if not better. Miller will be a great addition to D-Backs rotation that now consists of 1.Zach Greinke 2.Shelby Miller 3.Patrick Corbin 4 and 5.Ray/DeLaRosa/Bradley/Anderson/Collmenter. After this week’s acquisitions the D-Backs now have a decent chance of perhaps winning the NL West title.
The D-Backs have also acquired Gabe Speier, a 20 year old who pitched very well in A ball in a relief role in 2015, and could one day be an addition to the Diamondbacks bullpen.
The deal for the Braves is yet another trade showing their will to entirely rebuild their farm system. Both Blair and Swanson are former first round draft choices, Swanson being taken first overall in the draft last June. Neither has reached the big leagues to date, but both are highly touted prospects, and both are believed to be possible contributors in 2015. Swanson now joins Ozzie Albies on the Braves, as two of the best shortstop prospects in baseball. Blair will join other young starting pitching prospects Wisler, Banuelos, Perez, Foltynewicz, Jenkins, Ellis, Newcomb, Sims, Fried, Toussaint, and Allard, when he joins the Braves in the coming season. Braves have now gathered what is likely to be considered the best bank of pitching prospects in baseball. They also acquired 25 year old outfielder Ender Inciarte, who is known for his contact bat, and incredible speed and defense. In two seasons he’s hit a career .292 and has 40 stolen bases during his two years at the Major League level.
This deal will probably be a trade that you might want to re-evaluate years from now, as the deal has many young players moving. Parting ways with the first overall choice of the 2015 amateur draft and will likely be the best player in this deal, and he may make the Braves the long term winners of the deal.

Yankees acquire Starlin Castro

After a season of having a combination of Dustin Ackley and an eight-year old with braces holding down second base, the New York Yankees have acquired Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for right-hander Adam Warren and Short Stop Brendan Ryan.
Castro, a three time all-star, was moved out of “The Windy City” due to the influx of middle infield prospects present in the organization. By no means was this an impetuous decision, the Cubs have the likes of Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Tommy La Stella, top prospect Gleyber Torres, who isn’t anywhere near MLB ready, and the recently acquired Ben Zobrist down the middle to fill the gap left by the aforementioned Castro.
Last season the depreciating asset that is Starlin Castro batted a sub-par .265 relative to his .292 average the preceding season where he was voted into the All-Star game. His On-Base percentage dropped from .339 to just under .300, he walked only 21 times, eight less then his previous minimum despite playing 26 more games, and had the second lowest offensive WAR of his career.
Castro spent some time on the other side of the second base bag last season due entirely to his prosaic defensive abilities. In six seasons Castro has had three positive defensive WAR’s, including last season when he had 0.4 in that category. Despite many insufficiencies last season, the Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic native still managed to rack up 69 RBI’s, the second highest total in his career.
Heading to Chicago are right-hander Adam Warren and defensive wizard Brendan Ryan. Warren has been resplendent both out of the bullpen and as a starter thus far in his MLB career, posting a career 3.39 ERA, including a 3.29 ERA last season in New York. Warren had a 2.7 WAR last season primarily out of the ‘pen, he also pitched a career-high 131.1 innings.
Ryan is widely regarded as one of the best purely defensive players in baseball with a career 14.5 career defensive WAR. Despite his unparalleled career stability, within the Cubs organization anyway, he had a negative dWAR for the first time in his career last season, coming in at -0.2.

M’s acquire Miley; Elias headed to Boston

The Seattle Mariners have made an acquisition of a pitcher they were coveting in bringing in left-hander Wade Miley and reliever Jonathan Aro in exchange for lefty Roenis Elias and right-hander Carson Smith.
Miley still has two years left on his deal that will pay the starter $7.625 million annually, accompanied by a $12 million club option in 2018. Miley, whom the Red Sox signed last offseason, had a solid finish to his fifth major league season after a horrific start with Boston; he finished with a 3.81 FIP, his best since 2012. Despite the mediocre inception to his 2015 campaign, the 29-year old still managed to pitch 190+ innings for the fourth time in his career, the only time he didn’t reach that make was in 2011 when he only got into eight games. His HR/9 and BB/9 were lower from the preceding season however as was his K/9 and he had his highest WAR (2.5) since he was an all-star in 2012 (3.5).
Miley is now fastened to a young pitching staff lead by six-time all-star Felix Hernandez and will likely slot in the third spot behind the aforementioned Hernandez and 22-year old Taijuan Walker. A couple weeks ago rumours were swirling around about a potential deal involving the Mariners and the Marlins involving either Walker or Elias who was move today. The M’s aren’t done yet as GM Jerry Dipoto still wants to add another arm to his rotation.
Along with reliever Carson Smith, the Sox received highly touted pitching prospect Roenis Elias, who finished the 2015 season with a 4.52 FIP. The 2018 arbitration eligible lefty is a little older relative to his title as a prospect however was touted by many teams including the Red Sox. The 27-year old has had a rough start to his MLB career posting a 4.03 FIP in his first career season and after pitching 163.2 innings in his first season and pitched 115.1 in his second.
The Red Sox now have three resplendent left-handed starters, in Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens and now Elias in their organization to supplement the veteran starters they have in David Price and the over-paid Rick Porcello.

Quick hits; December 5-7 transactions

December 5 2015

  • Giants sign Jeff Samardzija to a 5-year $81 million contract. He will receive $9 million during the first year of his contract and $18 million in each of the next four years.

December 6 2015

  • Athletics sign relief pitcher Ryan Madson to a 3-year $22 million contract.
  • Dodgers sign 2B Chase Utley to a 1-year $7 million contract.
  • Tigers sign Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a 1-year MLB minimum contract.
  • Royals sign relief pitcher Joakim Soria to a 3-year $25 million contract.
  • Royals re-sign starter Chris Young to a 2-year $11.5 million contract.

December 7 2015

  • Dodgers sign RHP Hisashi Iwakuma to a 3-year $45 million contract.
  • Cubs re-sign RHP Trevor Cahill to a 1-year $4.25 million contract.
    Tigers sign relief pitcher Mark Lowe to a 2-year $13 million contract.
  • Mariners acquire LHP Wade Miley and RHP Jonathan Aro for LHP Roenis Elias and and right handed reliever Carson Smith

The Royals acquire Tony Cruz from St. Louis

The Kansas City Royals acquired Tony Cruz from the St-Louis Cardinals for Royals shortstop prospect Jose Martinez. Yadier Molina has been injured in the last few seasons, and it looks like the Cards will go with recently acquired free agent Brayan Pena, who was signed to a $5 million contract spread over the course of 2 seasons, to be his backup.  Pena, who has been a consistent backup and a temporary starter with the Reds, is what the Cardinals need as there is always uncertainty with Molina’s health.

After the signing they elected to trade Tony Cruz for an 18 year old shortstop from Venezuela. Kansas City will be certainly happy with the acquisition, Cruz, although not offensively gifted, can give the Royals a defensive edge when Salvador Perez’s rare day off comes around. He has posted a .997 fielding percentage through his 5 year career, which is superb for a backup catcher.  He is a low risk acquisition that will be put against other Royals catcher Drew Butera; both backups will be in a heated battle this spring for the backup role, unless a trade occurs that concerns either catcher, this will certainly be a position battle to watch for Royals fans this March.

After the acquisition the Royals designated Francisco Pena for assignment, the 26 year old has appeared in 9 MLB games for the Royals.

The A’s acquire Alonso; Pomeranz headed to San Diego

The A’s and Padres swung a deal today that sent starter Drew Pomeranz to San Diego and had first baseman Yonder Alonso going the other way to Oakland.

Pomeranz had a solid year, when healthy, on a young Oakland Athletics starting rotation with a 3.66 ERA and an almost identical FIP at 3.62. Unfortunately for the former Cleveland Indian farmhand, he only managed to pitch in 86 innings last season and was reduced to a bullpen role.  The A’s have a lot of young arms in Sean Nolin, Dillon Overton and Raul Alcantara, among others, coming up through their system so it makes sense to move the 27-year old for a bat they can either insert into their lineup or use in a platoon. Ironically enough for Pomeranz, he now joins a Padres team that’s littered with young arms in its organization such as Rob Erlin who was dealt to the team in the Mike Adams trade from 2011.

Alonso, who was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2008, also had a concrete season in 2015; batting .282 with five homers and 31 RBI’s in 103 games. The 28 year-old had his fair share of troubles staying healthy as well, which has been the story of his career thus far. He’s now on an Athletics team that was in need for a left-handed option at first base; Mark Canha, who had 15 homeruns and 71 RBI’s last season, held down the position for the majority of the 2015 campaign. He had a 1.1 WAR last season in California.