The rumor mill doesn’t slow down for the weekend this time of year, and some actual, like, stuff has happened …
- The Pirates and Angels got together on a bullpen swap, with the Pirates sending ousted closer Jason Grilli to the Angels for ousted closer Ernesto Frieri. It’s a change-of-scenery type deal, with the Angels getting the older, previously-better, currently-worse, more expensive guy, and the Pirates getting the younger, under-control-for-a-few-years-but-non-tender-candidate, currently-better-perhiperals guy. Frieri is already making $3.8 million this year, so, even if he rebounds with the Pirates, he’s either a non-tender or a really expensive reliever for a team like the Pirates. In other words, I don’t necessarily see this as any kind of significant upgrade for the Pirates next year (when it might be more relevant to the Cubs). And since it was an arm swap, I also don’t see this as taking the Angels out of the market for a reliever (especially if Grilli doesn’t turn things around).
- Cuban righty Raisel Iglesias (or Raicel or Raciel or Rasiel – it is not uncommon for Cuban players to have a handful of reported spellings of their names as they come over the U.S., and it’s not yet crystal clear which version he’ll be going with yet) has finally signed, and it’s with the Reds. That’s unsurprising, given that they Reds also topped the market for one of the other most recent big Cuban arms, Aroldis Chapman. The surprising part, however, is how much money Iglesias is getting: seven years and just shy of $27 million.
- That’s a huge commitment for a small-ish guy many see as a future reliever, but obviously the Reds believe he can start (as confirmed by GM Walt Jocketty). As we’ve seen countless times before, third party outsiders are often ineffective at evaluating the true talent level/potential of Cuban defectors – through no fault of their own – because of the difficult of getting really solid scouting reports on these players. Often, the dollar amount for which they sign tells you more about the quality of the player than the early pub. In other words, Iglesias might be pretty darn good, but it’s a pretty sizable gamble just the same. It’s fair to wonder if Iglesias is viewed by the Reds as nearly as good as Chapman (who received a similar deal four years ago), or if we’re just seeing the Cuban market continue to explode.
- Iglesias is just 24, and, with the Reds’ roster core rapidly aging/becoming expensive, he could be a huge addition to extend their window if he’s a hit in the rotation. Further, if he is ready soon enough, he could be inserted into their pen/rotation as soon as a month, reducing their need to hit the market to acquire an arm at the Trade Deadline.
- (Just as an FYIminder, the other top two Cubans available/soon-to-be-available are outfielders Rusney Castillo (could sign next month) and Yasmani Tomas (big-time 23-year-old power prospect).)