MLBits: Low-Cost Relievers, Best Hitters By Pitch Type, Astudillo, Oracle Park, More

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MLBits: Low-Cost Relievers, Best Hitters By Pitch Type, Astudillo, Oracle Park, More

Chicago Cubs

Today is the deadline for arbitration filings, so like Kyle Hendricks’ late-night settlement, you should expect some news throughout the day. Now, we just have to wait to see how many players will actually head to arbitration.

The hopeful answer, of course, is none, because in addition to our desire for strong player-team relationships, the more deals that get worked out, the more cost-certainty the front office will have. If money is as tight as it appears to be, a million saved or earmarked with certainty here or there can go a long way. Apparently.

… to signing a low-tier reliever or something …

  • Though even those guys have been getting gobbled up lately. Right-hander David Phelps, for example, signed a one-year, $2.5M deal, plus a club option for 2020, with the Blue Jays. There are some escalators in the fine print, but that is a very team-friendly deal for a 32-year-old who posted a 3.40 ERA (3.55 FIP) last season and a 2.28 ERA (2.80 FIP) with 32.4% strikeout rate the year prior. And as a former starter, he seems like a good bet to gobble up a bunch of innings – something the Cubs may soon need desperately. And he’s not the only one.
  • The Mariners also signed a 32-year-old right-hander, Cory Gearrin, to a cheap one-year deal with some incentives. And like Phelps, Gearrin had a solid 2018 season (3.77 ERA, 4.31 FIP in 57.1 IP), but an even better 2017 (1.99 ERA, 3.89 FIP in 68.0 IP). Neither guy is earning a lot or has a particularly high, realistic ceiling, but they each come with reliable arms and cost next to nothing.
  • There remain a ton of low-tier relief arms out there, but now that things have opened up and bargains are coming in, I sure hope the Cubs are more proactive about who they want, as opposed to merely picking up whatever’s left. These deals are already about as small as big league contracts get … just go get the guys you want, before someone else scoops them up.
  • Oh, this is fun: A convincing post on why new Brewers catcher Yasmani Grandal is actually really, really awesome and the contract he just signed with the Brewers is a steal. Fun. FUN. Oh, and here’s even more fun about how good Grandal is and how the Brewers keep managing to find some excellent deals in iced-out offseasons.
  • Well, this’ll take some getting used to: the San Francisco Giants home, previously known as AT&T Park, is now known as “Oracle Park.” AT&T had the naming rights since 2006, but Oracle has just signed a 20-year-pact. So get used to it, I guess. If you’re unfamiliar with Oracle, the company, that’s not entirely surprising, but you might be interested to learn that their co-founder and CEO, Larry Ellison, is among the ten richest people in the world ($58.5 billion). Company must do something, I guess.
  • After a grievance was filed against them by Carter Stewart for an apparently insufficient offer in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft, the Atlanta Braves will keep their compensation pick for 2019, and Stewart will have to go back into the draft. More details at
  • I love interesting breakdowns and player performance rankings this deep into a cold winter, so Matt Kelly’s latest at was right up my alley: 2018’s best hitters by pitch type. Of note, Bryce Harper was the fifth best two-seamer/sinker hitter last season and Mike Trout is pretty good at hitting, like, everything. No Cubs make the top 5 of any pitch type, but there’s good stuff in there.
  • You might remember strikeout-less slugger Willians Astudillo from this wonderfully-pimped Game 5 (Venezuelan League) playoff home run:

  • But at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan looks a little more closely at Astudillo’s actual stats and projections, and how his unique profile might make him one of the most likely players to put together the sort of hitting streak that could rival Joe DiMaggio’s record. Sullivan admits it’s almost definitely not going to happen (ever again, potentially), but there’s still probabilities to consider, and Astudillo might just have the right profile.
  • This feels a little obvious to Cubs fans who’ve seen Kris Bryant play center, Willson Contreras play left, and about a hundred guys play just about everywhere else, but it’s still important to remember. The game is valuing versatility more than ever:


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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami