We are at the point of the offseason where we are so close to it being over, hypothetical teams of free agents are being put together.
Jeff Passan’s All-Unemployed Team features five former All-Stars in the starting lineup, a starting rotation with two pitchers who have started World Series games this decade, and a reliever with experience closing out championship games. You’ll also see familiar faces Jason Hammel, Travis Wood, and Chris Coghlan, among others.
Over at SBNation, Grant Brisbee puts together his own free agent all-star squad and concludes there are just enough bargains to put together a team that could conceivably compete with the Padres.
Is it baseball season yet?
- The Rockies added to their offseason of intrigue by signing former Royals closer Greg Holland. The deal is worth $7 million guaranteed, but it also has incentives and could earn up to $14 million if he is Colorado’s closer. It’s not like the Rockies didn’t need bullpen help, but there are few places worse for a pitcher looking to reestablish himself than Coors Field. If you recall, Holland missed the entire 2016 season after Tommy John Surgery. His deal comes with a vesting option for 2018.
- All in all, a pricey signing for something of a flyer on Holland. You’ll recall that the Cubs were among the teams attached to him earlier this offseason, but that was mostly before they added Wade Davis and Koji Uehara.
- Staying out with transactions in the NL West, the Giants signed catcher Nick Hundley, who has played for the Padres (2008-14), Orioles (2014) and Rockies (2015-16). Hundley posted a .282/.330/.455/.785 slash line with a 97 OPS+ in 706 plate appearances for Colorado. He is set to serve as the primary backup for star catcher Buster Posey.
- A more exciting signing could be on its way for the Giants, who are reportedly nearing a minor-league deal with KBO star shortstop/third baseman/bat-flip king Jae-gyun Hwang. Seriously, his bat flips are a thing of beauty:
- If there ever is a Bat Flip Hall of Fame, Hwang will likely be inducted. And if there comes a day where baseball opens up a Hall solely for knuckleballers, Tim Wakefield will be in it. Over at Baseball is Fun, I took a look at the Hall of Fame-caliber pitch that mystified hitters for nearly two decades.
- Over at Beyond the Box Score, Henry Druschel shares Part 2 of his series in which 2016 projections are graded – with a focus on the pitchers. Part 1 (which you can read here) focused on the hitters. Without giving up too much of the findings, it’s interesting to see the difference between the season’s results compared to the projections – but also, to see the variance within the projections themselves. In the end, Steamer came out on top of both the pitcher and hitter projections, with PECOTA just behind. When some have proven to be more accurate than others, does that mean something needs to be tweaked? All things considered, it’s an interesting prism to view baseball through.
- Speaking of projections, one could project a ton of dingers on the horizon for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic with the addition of Giancarlo Stanton to the roster. Stanton will join teammate Christian Yelich on Team USA, which will play at Marlins Park to open pool play the WBC March 9-13.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Reds have signed former Cubs/Rangers/Orioles/Blue Jays/Astros pitcher Scott Feldman to a one-year contract worth up to $4.5 million, and …
Aw crap – the Reds are gonna get Jake Arrieta in about six months! https://t.co/j7wFaxMo9j
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) January 26, 2017
- Feldman was a key cog in the Cubs’ rebuild, fetching Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop in a July 2013 trade. Don’t worry, I doubt a Feldman-Arrieta deal will be consummated between the Cubs and Reds.
- Former Reds outfielder Jay Bruce will start his first full season with the Mets this spring. Even though he struggled after moving from Cincinnati to New York, and despite an offseason full of trade rumors, the Mets plan to keep Bruce as the team’s everyday right fielder. Bruce hit .219/.294/.391/.685 with an 82 OPS+ in 50 games (169 at-bats) with the Mets.
- Staying somewhat in the NL Central where over at FanGraphs, Eno Sarris took on the task of finding the next Kyle Hendricks. A tall task considering what Hendricks has done since coming up to the big leagues in 2014 – and coming out of nowhere to be a pitcher who won the 2016 NL pennant-clinching game, started Game 7 of the World Series, and finished third in the NL Cy Young race. There is a list of eight pitchers who had some comparable numbers to Hendricks, one of whom pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers – Zach Davies.
- Moving along at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron writes about the juxtaposition of the signings of Mark Trumbo and Luis Valbuena with the Orioles and Angels, respectively. Save for Trumbo’s big home run numbers, the two are more similar than one would have previously believed. Yet, Trumbo was worth $37.5 million over three years with the Orioles, while Valbuena inked a two-year deal worth $15 million. So, what’s the difference of $22.5 million and an extra year on a contract between Valbuena (115 wRC+ since 2014) and Trumbo (110 wRC+ since 2014) AND Trumbo was attached to draft pick compensation? Mostly, Cameron believes, it’s the fact that Valbuena is more likely to have to be platooned, but he wonders if the difference in compensation, even given that, is too extreme.
- (Valbuena: at minimum, a member of the Bat Flip Hall of Very Good.)
- Matt Imhof, a Phillies pitching prospect who suffered a traumatic injury to his right eye in a training accident, refuses to be defined by his worst day. In fact, Imhof shares his story and plans for his future now that he is retired from baseball.
- Remembering when Steven Souza sealed Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter with the best 9th-inning, two-out, no-hitter catch you’ll ever see (according to Brett, anyway).
- And a random Michael find to round out your Bits:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 26, 2017