MLB Winter Meetings 2016: Analyzing Impact of All the Day 3 Deals, Rumors
Day 3 of the 2016 MLB winter meetings started with a bang and ended with a bang, with assorted other bangs in between.
Missed it and want to catch up? Welcome to the right place.
We're here to take stock of the major moves and rumors that populated the baseball headlines on Wednesday. These range from Aroldis Chapman and Ian Desmond signing free-agent contracts to trades involving Wade Davis and Adam Eaton.
What else happened during the third day of action at National Harbor, Maryland? Oh, you know. This, that and the other thing.
Rather than get into all of it in brief here, we better get more in-depth with a slideshow.
Yankees Sign Aroldis Chapman
Source: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports
Contract Terms: Five years, $86 million
After a brief tour in Chicago that involved a part in ending a 108-year curse, Aroldis Chapman is back in pinstripes again.
The New York Yankees' first partnership with Chapman lasted only 31 games in 2016, but he was his usual self in the time they had him. He put up a 2.01 ERA in 31.1 innings, striking out 44 batters along the way.
All told, the fireballing left-hander finished 2016 with a 1.55 ERA and a rate of 14.0 strikeouts per nine innings. He now owns a 1.84 ERA dating back to his first season as a full-time closer in 2012, with a 15.2 K/9 that ranks first all-time among pitchers who have appeared in 200 games.
That sure sounds like a guy worthy of the largest contract ever given to a relief pitcher, and Chapman's clears that bar by plenty. Mark Melancon set the record with a $62 million deal earlier in the week. Chapman will make $24 million more.
How well he lives up to this agreement will depend on his fastball. He averaged 100.4 mph on his heater in 2016 and, per MLB.com, dominated Statcast's list of the fastest pitches recorded. But with his age-29 season on deck, it's fair to question how much longer he can maintain such absurd velocity.
That would be a worry for another day if the Yankees were in win-now mode. But with a rebuilding phase that isn't yet completed, their hope must be that Chapman is still in his prime when the rest of the club reaches its own.
The bright side is that Chapman is only costing them money, which they have plenty of. He was barred from a qualifying offer when the Yankees traded him to Chicago and is thus not costing them a draft pick.
Rockies Sign Ian Desmond
Contract Terms: Five years, $70 million with $15 million option ($2 million buyout) for 2022
Ian Desmond was famously punished for the sin of rejecting a $100 million extension offer from the Washington Nationals. As far as consolation prizes go, a deal worth at least $70 million isn't bad.
Desmond can credit himself for re-establishing his value with the Texas Rangers in 2016. After struggling on both sides of the ball in 2015, he came back to post a .782 OPS with 22 homers and 21 stolen bases while making a smooth transition from shortstop to the outfield.
With Desmond joining Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon an DJ LeMahieu, the Rockies now have a dangerous offense even by their own Coors Field-fueled standards. With some promising young arms in their starting rotation as well, they could be a dark-horse contender in 2017.
But this doesn't mean Desmond's contract is above scrutiny.
He isn't just costing the Rockies $70 million, after all. Signing him also required giving up the No. 11 pick in the 2017 draft.
The Rockies could recoup that value by trading some of their newfound outfield depth. But according to Rosenthal, the plan is to play Desmond at first base.
That's a position he's never played before, and his merely average (100 OPS+) career offensive numbers raise the question of whether he's a good investment at such an offense-heavy position. This question is further amplified by the .630 OPS Desmond put up in the second half of 2016.
All things considered, this deal looks better for Desmond than it does for the Rockies.
Rockies Now Eyeing Mark Trumbo?
Source: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports
The Desmond contract is a big risk for the Rockies on its own. But that could change if there's a corresponding move or two.
According to Rosenthal, one such move could be signing Mark Trumbo. Fresh off a season in which he had an .850 OPS and led MLB with 47 home runs for the Baltimore Orioles, the thought of him playing regularly at Coors Field gets the blood flowing.
Trumbo would be costly, however. As reported by Buster Olney of ESPN.com, Trumbo is on the hunt for a $75-80 million contract. He would also cost the Rockies their second-round pick in the 2017 draft.
If the Rockies did sign Trumbo, they'd have no choice but to go all-in on winning now. The bright side is that he would give them even more depth to bargain with.
Assuming Trumbo would play first base with Desmond moving back to the outfield, the Rockies could then dangle Gonzalez, Blackmon or even young up-and-comer David Dahl on the trade market. Any one of them could bring a nice arm back to Colorado.
Whatever the case, the Rockies suddenly loom large as a force on the winter market. Didn't see that coming, did you?
Wade Davis to Cubs, Jorge Soler to Royals
Source: Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com
To Chicago: RP Wade Davis
The Cubs never seemed interested in re-signing Chapman as their closer. But that didn't mean they weren't interested in finding somebody to fill his shoes.
On numbers alone, Wade Davis is as good a fit as the Cubs could ask for. He's put up a 1.18 ERA in 185 appearances over the last three regular seasons, and he allowed just one earned run in 25 postseason innings in 2014 and 2015. In all, he's allowed three home runs since 2014. T-H-R-E-E.
Davis is owed a rather steep $10 million salary in 2017. The other catch is even more concerning: After being limited to 45 appearances by forearm trouble in 2016, his durability has come into question.
But if you're going to make a risky trade, it might as well involve a spare part. Jorge Soler was the odd man out in Chicago's outfield mix, and he lacked the positional versatility that would have helped skipper Joe Maddon find him at-bats elsewhere.
Davis is under contract for only one more season. Fortunately for the Cubs, that fits with when they're trying to win following their curse-snapping championship in 2016: right now.
To Kansas City: RF Jorge Soler
When the new collective bargaining agreement changed the compensation system for free agents, Olney noted the Royals might sell the many players they have due for free agency after 2017.
This trade could only be the start of such a process. After Davis, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy could also go.
This would be a shocking about-face for a team that won the World Series just a year ago. But there are times when you gotta do what you gotta do. And as much as anyone, the Royals should know about the wonders that can come from stockpiling young talent.
Soler is a good piece to start with. The 24-year-old Cuba native has run into some growing pains in the last two seasons, battling injuries and putting up a merely average .741 OPS in 187 games when he has been healthy.
But remember, Soler was an elite prospect as recently as 2015. And in Kansas City, he'll find the one thing that wasn't promised to him in Chicago: playing time.
That could unlock the booming raw power Soler has teased throughout his professional career. And with his contract not up until 2020, the Royals could enjoy as many as four years of that.
Adam Eaton to Nationals, Pitching Prospects to the White Sox
Source: Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago
To Washington: OF Adam Eaton
The Nationals were heavily linked to Chris Sale before he went to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. But they needed an outfielder more anyway, so consider this a happy ending.
Adam Eaton was a curiosity when he arrived in Chicago in 2013. He's since developed into a star, hitting .290 with a .762 OPS, 29 homers and 47 stolen bases over the last three seasons. He really hit his stride in 2016, ranking behind only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts among American League outfielders in wins above replacement.
However, that had a lot to do with his exceptional defensive metrics as a right fielder. He's likely due for a move back to center field, where he hasn't rated as well. The other catch in this deal for the Nationals is the price. They're surrendering two of the best pitching prospects in baseball and a third pitching prospect who's no slouch.
But oh well.
Eaton isn't a rental, as the Nationals are taking on a cheap contract that controls him through 2021. And with Bryce Harper supposedly angling for a $400 million contract, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Eaton will certainly help the Nationals win now before the 2015 National League MVP can walk as a free agent after 2018.
To Chicago: RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez, RHB Dane Dunning
This trade package isn't as impressive as the one the White Sox got for Sale, which was highlighted by No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada. But it's still darn good.
According to MLB.com, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez rank as the No. 1 and No. 8 right-handed prospects in baseball, respectively. Dane Dunning isn't on that list, but he checked in as Washington's No. 6 prospect before the trade.
The catch here is that Giolito's star fell quite a bit in 2016.
He fell especially flat in six major league appearances, issuing more walks (12) than strikeouts (11) while also giving up seven home runs in 21.1 innings. As Jeff Sullivan covered at FanGraphs, there are real questions about his stuff and his command.
Nonetheless, there's plenty of time for the White Sox to make something of Giolito. And just two moves into a larger rebuilding process, they must be thrilled at how much better their farm system has already gotten.
White Sox Now Shopping Jose Quintana
Source: Bob Nightengale of USA Today
Gone are Sale and Eaton from the South Side of Chicago. Now all eyes are on Jose Quintana.
Nightengale reported the White Sox are having "serious talks" about the left-hander with the Nationals, Houston Astros and other teams. These talks could indeed lead to a deal, as Quintana is yet another attractive Chicago arm on a winter market with few other options.
The 27-year-old left-hander doesn't have the same name recognition as Sale, but he hasn't been much (if at all) worse in recent years. Quintana has put up a 3.35 ERA in 814.2 innings since 2013. He's done so without eye-popping stuff, but with pinpoint command and clever sequencing.
Quintana has another thing going for him. Whereas Sale is controlled for three more seasons at cheap rates, Quintana is controlled for four more seasons at cheap rates.
The price on him could thus be just as large as the price on Sale. But hey, at least interested suitors know that the White Sox are officially open for business now.
"Today was the first step in what will very likely be an extended process," Chicago general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday, via Scott Merkin of MLB.com. "But it's one that we feel, if we continue to acquire similar-type players with the upsides of the individuals that we acquired today, will be for the extended long-term benefit of the organization."
Stay tuned, as they say.
The Latest on Edwin Encarnacion
Source: Multiple via MLB Trade Rumors
This winter's feature film is Edwin Encarnacion in Dude, Where's My Market?
Following a five-year rise to power in which he had a .912 OPS with 193 home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays, the slugger figured to be a hot item on the open market. He was so confident he would be, in fact, that Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported he passed on a four-year, $80 million offer from Toronto.
The Blue Jays have since moved on to other things, such as Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce. Now general manager Ross Atkins is skeptical about a reunion with Encarnacion.
"If there's a way, I don't see it," he told MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm on Wednesday.
If so, that would put the Blue Jays with the Astros, Red Sox, Rockies and Yankees among teams that could have been homes for Encarnacion but now aren't.
According to Marly Rivera of ESPN.com, the Rangers and Cleveland Indians remain in the mix. The Rangers may only be doing due diligence, however. Nightengale reported they "simply don't have the money" to sign the 33-year-old.
That's saying something at this point. As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported, no team is willing to even do three years and $60 million for Encarnacion.
That could easily change with the arrival of a mystery team or a key injury on a contender. But for now, it seems like an accurate reflection of where Encarnacion's market is these days.
Dodgers Favorites for Justin Turner but Mulling Other Options
The Los Angeles Dodgers made a splash when they re-signed Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract. Now they must fill their holes at third base, second base and closer.
According to McCullough, Justin Turner remains the favorite to fill the third base opening. The Dodgers are plenty familiar with the 32-year-old and what he can do. After putting up an .856 OPS with strong defense for them over the last three seasons, he's the best third baseman on the open market.
If the Dodgers don't bring Turner back, McCullough reported they could turn to White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier on the trade market. He's not as well-rounded as Turner, but he packs an awful lot of power from the right side of the plate. He hit a career-high 40 homers in 2016 after blasting 35 in 2015.
If it's Frazier the Dodgers prefer, one wonders if they could seek a package deal that also included Quintana and/or closer David Robertson. According to McCullough, they're also on the club's radar.
Or the Dodgers could go cheap at third base and commit their assets to improving second base instead.
McCullough reported they're "still kicking the proverbial tires" on Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler. They're both well-rounded players, but Dozier has the offensive upside the Dodgers need in their offense.
The long and short of it is that the Dodgers are leaving no stone unturned. It's almost as if they have a front office led by small-market veterans who aren't wired to just throw money at problems.
Cardinals Casting a Wide Net in OF Search
The St. Louis Cardinals have the unenviable task of keeping pace with the Cubs in the NL Central. A quest like that behooves them to pursue bold options this winter.
It sounds like bold options are precisely what they have in mind for their outfield needs.
Quite a few names surface in Goold's report on the situation. One is Dexter Fowler, who may be even more attractive to the Cardinals now that Desmond, another of their targets, is off the table. Manager Mike Matheny seems especially smitten with Fowler, whom he compared to Matt Carpenter.
"The more players that you can have like that, I think the better off you’re going to be," he said.
Desmond being off the table could make the Cardinals just as interested in a deal for one of Colorado's spare outfielders, namely Charlie Blackmon. They also like Royals outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson.
These players are hardly carbon copies of one another. Fowler and Blackmon are better hitters than defenders. Cain is a great two-way player when healthy. Dyson is mainly a defensive-minded player.
Nonetheless, any of them would be a welcome upgrade to St. Louis' outfield. The Cardinals played all of 2016 without a true center fielder and now also have a left field hole after the departure of Matt Holliday.
Diamondbacks Listening on Starting Pitchers
The Arizona Diamondbacks gambled on 2016 and lost. They followed a headline-grabbing winter with a 93-loss thud and a fourth-place finish in the NL West.
That led to a regime change, including Mike Hazen replacing Dave Stewart in the general manager's chair. Hazen hinted he wants to play the long game when he traded Jean Segura for Taijuan Walker.
But according to Piecoro, that's not stopping the rest of the league from being interested in the starting pitching depth that Walker is now a part of. In addition to him, the Diamondbacks have veteran ace Zack Greinke and young pitchers with varying degrees of talent: Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray, Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley.
Of course, "varying" here is a euphemism for "uncertain." Those young pitchers all have their flaws. For his part, Greinke didn't impress in the first year of a six-year, $206.5 million contract in 2016.
Nonetheless, the sheer number of starters in Arizona's collection puts the Diamondbacks in an enviable position on this winter's market—if they're willing to do more than just listen, that is.
"I think they’re hesitant to deal any of them because they haven’t had the time to evaluate and know exactly what they have," one source told Piecoro.
Once again: stay tuned.
Chris Heston to Mariners, PTBNL to Giants
To Seattle: RHP Chris Heston
You may remember Chris Heston from that time he threw a no-hitter. It looked then like he was going to be just the latest Giants star plucked from relative obscurity.
Not so much. Heston finished 2015 with a 4.08 ERA in 19 starts after his no-no. He only made four major league appearances in 2016, putting up a 10.80 ERA.
Still, the Seattle Mariners are risking nothing to get him. And if nothing else, he's a nice piece of depth for a starting rotation that needed some following the trade of Walker.
To San Francisco: Player to Be Named Later
I assume the point of this trade for the Giants is to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Melancon. And as much as they probably would have liked to get something more substantial for Heston, a player to be named later is all he was worth.
Hey, maybe the Giants will get lucky. Scott Brosius was a PTBNL before he was a World Series MVP. You never know.
Other News and Notes
And now for other news and notes from around the winter meetings.
- According to Heyman, the Baltimore Orioles have called on Chris Carter. He was non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers despite leading the NL with 41 homers in 2016. He fits the profile of the sluggers the O's like to take chances on: powerful but inconsistent and defensively limited.
- Another Heyman report has the Orioles checking in on Jarrod Dyson. His glove would help an outfield that finished last in defensive runs saved in 2016.
- Also according to Heyman, the Mariners are shopping Seth Smith with the idea in mind to free up money for a starting pitcher. With an .857 career OPS against right-handed pitching, he's a fit for any team in need of a platoon bat at first or in the outfield.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates are checking in on some arms. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Doug Fister and Jorge De La Rosa are the starters on their radar. According to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Daniel Hudson is a reliever on their radar. These are low-risk options that pitching coach Ray Searage could make something out of.
- According to Rosenthal, the Miami Marlins have a deal with free-agent left-hander Jeff Locke. He's fallen on hard times since making the NL All-Star team in 2013 but is a nice piece of depth for a rotation that needs as much as it can get.
- Meanwhile, Heyman reported the Marlins have re-signed right-handed reliever Dustin McGowan. The 34-year-old quietly gave them a 2.82 ERA in 55 appearances that spanned 67 innings in 2016.
- According to Olney, the Marlins have also signed veteran catcher A.J. Ellis. His skills have faded in recent years, but he's still regarded as a strong leadership figure. He could teach young stud J.T. Realmuto a thing or two.
- Lastly, one for the "Oh, He's Still Around?" file. Per ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, 42-year-old reliever Joe Nathan wants to pitch in 2017. He's appeared in 11 major league games over the last two seasons.