Did you know that we’re exactly four weeks removed from pitchers and catchers reporting? It might not feel that way given the mountains of snow outside most of your windows right now, but we’re getting close.
Hang in there.
- At ESPN, David Schoenfield looks over the worst contract investments for each of the 30 teams, with a specific eye on 2018. As I’m sure you can imagine, the $28.2M Jason Heyward is scheduled to receive according to ESPN is the Cubs “winner/loser.” I would like to point out that, per Cot’s Contracts and our own reporting at the time of the deal, Heyward is actually set to make $26.5M next season (21.5M salary and $5M deferred signing bonus on April 1), not $28.2M, but it doesn’t make much of a difference, he’d still be the pick. And, of course, his $23M AAV is probably the most important number of all … and it also doesn’t change the calculus here. Here’s hoping the mental approach stuff he’s working on with new hitting coach Chili Davis will help him provide more value in 2018.
- But if you’re feeling down about sunk money, just take a tour around the rest of baseball – the Cubs are *FAR* from alone on this. It’s sad to see a guy like Miguel Cabrera on a list like this, set to make $30 million in 2018 following his 91 wRC+ in 2017. Cabrera will play this season at age 35 … and then the Tigers only have five more years after that.
- The Brewers might get their “ace,” Jimmy Nelson, back much sooner than expected. “Originally slated to begin a throwing program at the start of Spring Training,” writes Adam McCalvy at MLB.com, “Nelson instead plans to pick up a baseball for the first time on Friday.” Nelson, you’ll recall, had right shoulder surgery on September 19th and wasn’t expected to be ready until well into the season (if at all in 2018). He’s still not likely to be ready for Opening Day, but maybe he’ll be back sooner than his mid-to-late-season projection after all. That would be huge news for the Brewers.
- Sticking with the NL Central for a bit, 35-year-old Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina says he’s planning to retire after the end of his current deal (a three-year/$60M extension he signed last April, which begins this season). We’ll tackle all of his career achievements and greatness when that day comes, but for now just imagine watching Yadi catch as a 38-year-old, while listening to Cardinals fans *still* tell us that he’s the best. You can read more about his plans at Cardinals.com.
- “With the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen,” writes ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle, “the Giants have gotten older, more expensive, and – depending on how they want to deploy their newest outfielder – even worse on defense.” That’s a rough take, but helps to prove a broader point that the Giants seem to be clinging on to one final chance at contending before things need to change. And with the soaring Dodgers, rising Rockies, and solid Diamondbacks, it’s going to be a tough time to try it – though it may be their only realistic option given the composition of their roster and the market place in general. You should really check out that article, because it’s a good one. I loved this line in particular, “In effect, the Giants are behaving as if they are putting the finishing touches on their 2016 team ….”
- Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen, and Buster Posey, for that matter, are bad players (far from it), but they’re certainly not the guys they were:
If it were 2012/2013, the Giants would be, terrifyingly awesome:
Buster Posey – 7.7 WAR (2012)
Andrew McCutchen – 8.4 WAR (2013)
Evan Longoria – 6.5 WAR (2013)
But it's 2018, and the projections are in:
Longoria – 3.0 WAR
McCutchen – 3.0 WAR
Posey – 4.6 WAR
Still good, but …
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 15, 2018
- After checking in on ESPN’s projections – 83.3 wins for the Giants behind the Dodgers 98.7 wins – … it doesn’t look great, to be honest. To be fair, according to FanGraphs, they did underperform their projections more than any other team in baseball last season, so maybe there’s some positive regression coming. And, who knows, maybe they’ll catch lightning in a bottle and ride the coattails of three former stars.
- Speaking of Andrew McCutchen – this guy is just one of baseball’s very best people:
Pittsburgh.My Home.My Fans.My City. The placed that raised me and helped mold me into the man I am today. You will 4ever be in my heart.A tip of the cap to all who have been on this journey with me. With Love and respect,
— andrew mccutchen (@TheCUTCH22) January 15, 2018
- If you’ve been following me at all this winter, please stop. I’m a human being and like to keep my private life separate from my professional life. You can’t just follow people around, that’s crazy. But if you’ve been reading any of my work, you’ll know that I was a huge fan of Addison Reed and hoped the Cubs could get him on something close to that three-year, $27M deal everyone was projecting. And then he signed with the Twins … for just two years and $16.75M. But I’m not here to discuss why the Cubs weren’t willing to give Reed just half of what he was probably initially looking for, but rather why he settled for that much in the first place.
- Certainly, some specific geographic/team preferences could’ve played a role, as could some unreported injury, but given what we know about Reed and the market in general, Carson Cistulli (FanGraphs) wonders if he wasn’t the first victim of the New Year’s Effect. Indeed, the extent of Reed’s under-market deal is far greater than any other reliever deal this winter, and Cistulli thinks it has to do with timing. This is a really great read, and I suspect he may be right. Historically, the free agents who sign after January first do not do as well as those who are signed before the flip of the calendar.
- Brett discussed the impending pace-of-play negotiations earlier this week, highlighting, among many things, the potential for the players union to request a 26th active roster spot in exchange for new rules. If you recall, the players have very little leverage in these negotiations, because the commissioner has the ability to make changes unilaterally under certain circumstances (like these). HOWEVER, Ken Rosenthal writes that the players could abandon all support for the pace-of-play changes (or go hard the other way), shifting all blame entirely on the league/commissioner’s office if the changes aren’t received well. Obviously, getting fans on board with such drastic changes is important, and players would be the best way to do that, so perhaps there’s some leverage to be had, after all.
- Shohei Ohtani’s ability to play as both a hitter and a pitcher is giving the fantasy baseball world headaches. Apparently, CBS Fantasy Baseball figured out a way to toggle him between both types of players, but it was a massive coding effort that took “weeks of hard work.” I’m sorta just sad-smiling. I like this story, but, sigh, Ohtani – the Cub that never was.
- Hey, it’s something:
— MLB (@MLB) January 16, 2018
- Remember when Bryce Harper launched his helmet
no where near the vicinity ofat Hunter Strickland last season? It was one of baseball’s funnier moments, but does it stand up against Roger Clemens’ bat throw at Hall-of-Famer Mike Piazza? You tell me:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) January 16, 2018