This Lukewarm Stove exists mostly to confirm for you, after a day in which you may have returned from a holiday respite wondering if the dam was going to break after Christmas, that it may have been the quietest “business day” of the offseason so far.
On the one hand, I could always have seen today being quiet, what with Christmas just yesterday, and a short week ahead – I figured a lot of folks would be taking advantage and more or less closing up their professional shop until the New Year. On the other hand, I wondered if some things would have built up over the holiday weekend, and then would have been dropped on us today as executives and agents rolled back into their offices.
No dice. If you were looking for the activity today and you feared you must have missed something, you did not. We did not fall asleep at the wheel!
Here are the three things even remotely worth discussing that occurred today:
- The Reds signed reliever Jared Hughes to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million (and the Reds get a $3 million option for 2020), which seems like quite a bargain for the former Brewers sinkerballer, though he also gets up to $1.5 million in relatively achievable incentives (Cotillo). For the Reds, the 32-year-old righty is something of a huge upgrade in their bullpen, though he’s not a guy who’ll knock your socks off (and his hard contact rate spiked quite a bit in 2017), hence the limited contract. Still, the guy sports a career 2.85 ERA, and was right around 3.00 each of the last two years, thanks to excellent contact management. His strikeout rate is below league average and his walk rate is average or worse, but he keeps getting the job done with a silly 60+ percent groundball rate. Nice piece for the Reds. Did I say flippable piece? I meant flippable piece.
- The Giants are reportedly still eyeing a deal for Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 26, 2017
- Given the ground he can cover in the outfield, the Giants may get more value out of Hamilton that most teams, and their need is pretty dire. Hamilton’s bat has never become anything resembling passable on its own (he hit .260/.321/.343 with a 79 wRC+ in his *best* offensive season in 2016), but the defense and baserunning have been enough to make him an above-average overall player in three of his four MLB seasons. The problem is that the one exception was last season, when the baserunning and defensive value both lagged in the advanced metrics, relative to years past, and he was worth just 1.2 WAR. Hamilton, 27, could simply be at the part of his career where the speed starts to fall off a bit, and with it, any trace of value. He projects to make $5 million in 2018, and has one more year of arbitration after that. The Reds don’t figure to be competitive in 2018, so dealing Hamilton probably doesn’t move the needle too much in terms of “easy wins” for the other NL Central teams. And I don’t know that he really adds much to the Giants. I just don’t see this trade doing much in either direction.
- The Twins signed lefty Zach Duke to a one-year deal after he fully recovered from Tommy John surgery last year:
Knee-deep in radio, so apologies if this out: Duke's #MNTwins deal is a major league one, not MiLB. Probably not surprising. Expectation is 1-year in the 1.5-2M range.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) December 26, 2017
- Duke is a bit on the remarkable side, because the 34-year-old came back from Tommy John surgery in well under a year – just 287 days after his surgery, or a little over nine months. Even for a reliever, that’s incredible. It was the fastest MLB return in well over a decade, and one of the fastest ever.