MLB Winter Meetings 2016: Analyzing Impact of All the Day 2 Deals, Rumors
If we were going to slap a pun-tastic headline on Day 2 of the 2016 MLB winter meetings, it would be: Chris Sale Changes Sox.
After much anticipation and speculation, the Chicago White Sox dealt the ace left-hander to the Boston Red Sox, shifting the balance of power in the American League and taking one of the biggest trade targets off the board.
Tuesday wasn't all about Sale, of course. Other deals went down—including the Red Sox adding a bat and trading for a reliever—and more rumors and rumblings flew at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland.
The possibility of late-night machinations remains. For now, let's round up and analyze the day's action, from the big Sale-off to the most intriguing chatter.
Chris Sale Traded from White Sox to Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, 3 Others
Source: Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal
To the Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale
To the White Sox: INF Yoan Moncada, RHP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Basabe and RHP Victor Diaz
We'll begin with the biggie.
In Sale, the Red Sox got one of the top pitchers in the game, a 27-year-old five-time All-Star who has eclipsed 200 strikeouts in each of the last four seasons, thrown more than 200 innings in three of them and finished among the top six in AL Cy Young Award balloting every year since 2012.
He'll join fellow southpaw David Price and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello atop Boston's rotation. The move, as Bleacher Report's Scott Miller opined, "immediately established the Red Sox as strong World Series contenders."
You've got to give to get, and the Red Sox gave a lot. The 21-year-old Moncada is about as close to can't-miss as a player can be after posting a .294/.407/.511 slash line with 45 stolen last season between High-A and Double-A and getting his first taste of MLB action.
The Red Sox, as Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com reported, will pay the $31.2 million remaining on Moncada's $63 million deal, meaning Chicago gets him on the cheap, like any other prospect.
The White Sox also landed Kopech, a hard-throwing 20-year-old right-hander who immediately became their No. 2 prospect behind Moncada, per MLB.com. Diaz, the other pitcher included in the package, checks in as the White Sox's No. 29 prospect. Basabe, meanwhile, is a 20-year-old switch-hitter with five-tool potential.
Sale could go bust, of course. He has defined durable, but his unorthodox delivery and slender frame hint at the possibility of future injuries. And no prospect, not even one with Moncada's skill set, is a guarantee.
At the moment, though, this looks like a win-win. The White Sox kick-started an overdue rebuild and the Red Sox slid an ace into their deck.
Nationals Aim Focus at Andrew McCutchen
After whiffing on Sale, the Washington Nationals are pivoting toward Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, per FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.
By not trading for Sale, Heyman pointed out, the Nats still have their full trove of top prospects, including right-hander Lucas Giolito and outfielder Victor Robles.
That was the Bucs' initial asking price, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune. The Pirates, Biertempfel added, were not surprisingly "rebuffed."
McCutchen is a five-time All-Star and former NL MVP. He's also coming off a down year in which he posted a career-worst .766 OPS.
Still, if the Nationals can edge Pittsburgh's asking price down a bit, McCutchen would be a strong addition and could allow budding star Trea Turner to return to the infield.
He's signed for a reasonable $14 million in 2017 with a $14.75 million club option for 2018, so he's far more than a rental. He's also just 30 years old, so a return to his elite production isn't a pipe dream.
Update on Aroldis Chapman's Price Tag
This much we know: The record-setting four-year, $62 million deal Mark Melancon signed with the San Francisco Giants Monday won't be the record for long.
Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen will soon become the highest-paid relievers in baseball history. The only question is how much they'll get.
Tuesday didn't feature too much Jansen chatter. Chapman, we learned, has already gotten multiple offers north of $80 million. That's according to Heyman, who listed the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins among possible suitors, as well as the Nats.
The Yankees have to be considered the leaders in the clubhouse, especially considering Chapman professed his love for the organization to New York Sports Day's Ray Negron in November.
The Dodgers can't be discounted, however, despite talk of debt-related financial constraints. The Marlins are always crazy enough to cut a huge check. Nationals manager Dusty Baker, meanwhile, was Chapman's skipper with the Cincinnati Reds and has publicly defended the Cuban flame-thrower in the past.
No matter what, multiple interested teams will only drive Chapman's cost higher. Could it hit nine figures? It's not likely, but it's far from impossible.
Royals Could Trade Wade Davis 'Soon'
For teams that miss out on the Chapman/Jansen sweepstakes, the Kansas City Royals' Wade Davis is an intriguing fallback.
The 31-year-old two-time All-Star posted a 1.87 ERA with 47 strikeouts next to a just 16 walks in 2016 while picking up 27 saves. He's signed for $10 million in 2017, after which he'll become a free agent.
The Royals' asking price will be high, but "there is an increasing expectation" Kansas City will move Davis, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, and a deal could happen "soon."
The Chicago Cubs are one logical landing spot. Davis pitched for Cubs skipper Joe Maddon during their days with the Tampa Bay Rays, and Chicago may need late-inning reinforcements if Chapman skips town.
The Dodgers may likewise view Davis as a lower-cost replacement for Jansen, and the Nationals will be in on basically every high-profile trade rumor until and unless they swing a deal.
Rays Sign Wilson Ramos, Pending Physical
Source: FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman
Terms: Two years, $12.5 million guaranteed; up to $18.25 million with incentives
Wilson Ramos would have undoubtedly gotten a longer, richer contract if his ACL hadn't betrayed him in late September.
As it is, the All-Star catcher landed a two-year deal with a base annual value of $6.25 million plus incentives from the Rays.
The 29-year-old was having a bust-out season with the Nationals before his injury and finished with a .307/.354/.496 slash line with 22 home runs and 80 RBI.
The pact was pending a physical as of this writing. Assuming Ramos passes, Tampa Bay expects to have him on the field by June or July, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
If Ramos can return healthy and replicate his 2016 production, he could end up the steal of the offseason.
His defense remains a work in progress, but if the Rays keep their stash of starting pitchers headlined by Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi, Ramos should have every opportunity to succeed and mature as a pitch-caller.
Blue Jays 'In Talks' with Jose Bautista, Indians Also in the Mix
The Toronto Blue Jays "met with" free-agent outfielder Jose Bautista on Tuesday and are "in talks" to retain his services, per Heyman.
Those talks, Heyman added, came after the Cleveland Indians began sniffing around. The Indians have also kicked the tires on Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays' other free-agent masher, but he's "looking for [a] longer, more lucrative deal than they're ready to give him," per ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
Bautista is 36 and hit a scant .234 last season, though he flashed power with 22 homers and posted an .817 OPS.
If the Jays re-signed Bautista and not Encarnacion, Joey Bats could share time at designated hitter with Kendrys Morales, sparing his legs and possibly improving his stat line.
In February, Bautista was reportedly demanding five years and nine figures. That's not on the table, obviously, but it'll be interesting to see if he can leverage a contract longer than two years with multiple interested teams circling.
Red Sox Sign Mitch Moreland
Source: MLB Network's Jon Morosi
Terms: One year, $5.5 million
Boston continued its busy day by inking Mitch Moreland to a one-year pact.
The 31-year-old hit .232 with an anemic .298 on-base percentage last season for the Texas Rangers, though he did crack 22 home runs and posted a more-robust .278/.330/.482 slash line in 2015.
Moreland plays a solid first base, where he posted seven defensive runs saved in 2016, per FanGraphs, and has logged innings in the corner outfield spots.
Moreland should be in the designated hitter/first base mix with Hanley Ramirez. His signing doesn't necessarily preclude a more significant addition such as Encarnacion, but it makes it far less likely.
Boston, apparently, is banking on the Sale trade and a hitter-by-committee approach to make up for the loss of DH and franchise icon David Ortiz.
Yankees Getting Offers on Brett Gardner
The Yankees began an uncharacteristic sell-off at the 2016 trade deadline and continued it in November, trading veteran catcher Brian McCann to the Houston Astros.
One piece New York hasn't moved is outfielder Brett Gardner. That's not because teams haven't asked, according to general manager Brian Cashman.
"He's here not because I can't move him; he's here because I'm not comfortable moving him, or haven't been satisfied in my asks that would make me move him," Cashman said Tuesday, per MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "You're going through the process, and you see if that changes. So far to this point, I've said no to a lot of different concepts thrown my way on it."
The Yanks could be more motivated to trade Gardner after inking Matt Holliday to a one-year, $13 million deal. Holliday, though, profiles best as a DH or first baseman.
The 33-year-old Gardner hit .261 last season, stole 16 bases and won a Gold Glove for his play in left field. The list of possible trade destinations is long. One interesting possibility: The San Francisco Giants, who could lose left fielder Angel Pagan to free agency.
Brewers Trade Tyler Thornburg to Red Sox for Travis Shaw, 2 Others
Source: Milwaukee Brewers' official Twitter feed
To the Red Sox: RHP Tyler Thornburg
To the Brewers: INF Travis Shaw, SS Mauricio Dubon and RHP Josh Pennington
Boston shored up the back end of its bullpen by grabbing Tyler Thornburg from the Milwaukee Brewers. The 28-year-old righty posted a 2.15 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 67 innings in a breakout season while notching 13 saves.
"We scouted him very thoroughly last year. He has nasty stuff," president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said, per ESPN.com's Scott Lauber. "We feel he's a guy that projects to be a quality eighth-inning individual for us that can also close a game if needed. He was what we were looking to try to find."
Thornburg should slot in as the primary setup man behind closer Craig Kimbrel, replacing Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler, both of whom are on the market.
The 21-year-old Pennington posted a 2.86 ERA last season at Low-A, and Dubon slots as the Brewers' No. 9 prospect, per MLB.com.
The biggest name going back to the Brewers is Travis Shaw, who hit 16 home runs and tallied 71 RBI last season and was in the mix for the third base job in Boston.
Now, with Shaw shipped out—and Moncada also gone—Boston appears to be putting its faith in a slimmed-down Pablo Sandoval to man the hot corner.
It's a gamble. Sandoval played just three games last season before undergoing shoulder surgery and has largely (yeah, pun intended) been a dud since signing a five-year, $95 million deal in November 2014.
All statistics and contract information courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.