Archive for December, 2016

MLB’s Celebrated 2018 Free-Agent Pitching Class Is Overhyped

The 2018-19 MLB offseason is going to be epic. Epic enough, in fact, to justify the use of that played-out adjective.

A galaxy of the game’s brightest stars will hit the market. Front offices will throw around enough cash to exceed the gross domestic product of a few small nations.’s Anthony Castrovince was already craning his neck toward the 2018-19 offseason in December 2015:

The continued escalation of baseball salaries can be hard for the common fan to wrap his or her head around, yet because of how rare it is for a premier player to reach the open market in his prime years, it’s the cost of doing business.

But here’s the deal about these deals: You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Just wait until three years from now, when the free-agent pool looks to go from deep to downright historic.

As Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan put it, “There is a historic confluence of talent and money coming, and it’s going to influence every single move of consequence made not just today but following the 2016 and ’17 seasons, too.”

Assuming neither signs an extension before then, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will be available as they enter their age-26 seasons. By itself, that makes the hitting class a glistening treasure trove.  

Add ancillary names such as Josh Donaldson, Daniel Murphy, Brian Dozier and Adam Jones, and the offensive pickings are inarguably impressive.

What about the starting pitching? That’s where the hype could exceed the haul. 

In fact, the closer you peer at the 2018-19 starting pitching pool, the shallower it looks.

We begin on a somber note: That’s the offseason Jose Fernandez would have hit free agency (assuming, as in all these cases, the Miami Marlins didn’t lock him up first).

Fernandez, like Harper and Machado, would have been entering his age-26 season. He paced qualified MLB starters with 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016 and seemed poised to elevate his already enviable game to the next plateau.

Now, after his tragic death in a September boating accident, we’re left with a heap of regrets and unanswerable what-ifs.

To be fair, there could be other ace-level arms on the market. The gaudiest name is Clayton Kershaw, who could pull the opt-out ripcord after the 2018 season.

He’ll be entering his age-30 season, and he missed more than two months with a serious back injury in 2016. At the same time, he posted a 1.69 ERA with 172 strikeouts in 149 innings. The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner and one-time NL MVP could well command a ludicrous contract.

It’s nearly impossible, however, to imagine the Los Angeles Dodgers letting Kershaw get away. He is the face of the franchise. The Dodgers are the only big league club he’s ever known and, much like Buster Posey with the San Francisco Giants, they are likely to be the only big league club he ever does know, at least until his prime is fully spent.

Odds are Kershaw‘s opt-out will merely be a chance to negotiate a raise, with the deep-pocketed Dodgers dutifully paying up.

If Fernandez and Kershaw are off the table, who does that leave?

There’s 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, but he took a huge stumble back last season, posting a 4.55 ERA.

There’s New York Mets right-hander Matt Harvey, but he’s coming off a 4.86 ERA and surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.

David Price could opt out of his deal with the Boston Red Sox. That’s no guarantee, however, after Price surrendered an MLB-leading 227 hits in his first season in Beantown. Even if he does opt out, Price will be entering his age-33 season, making any long-term pact problematic. 

Cole Hamels could be available if the Texas Rangers don’t exercise his $20 million option, but he’ll turn 35 in December 2018.

There are other interesting names on the list, courtesy of Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, including Garrett Richards and Carlos Carrasco, but none that leap out as can’t-miss options worthy of bank-busting megadeals.

Add it up and you have less of a once-in-a-generation gold mine and more of a hodgepodge of aging veterans and reclamation projects.

What’s the point of all this, other than a little simmering speculation to supplant the waning hot stove? At the least, it should be a wakeup call to teams planning to hoard their resources for post-2018.

Take the New York Yankees, who have restocked their farm system and have a glut of money set to come off the books. 

The Yanks should absolutely position themselves to be players for Harper and Machado, and possibly both. As they look to the rotation, however, they’d be wise to consider other avenues, including Chicago White Sox southpaw Jose Quintana, who is inked through 2020 with a pair of club options.

New York may have already gotten the message. It has been among the “most aggressive teams” on Quintana, per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale

Whether that happens, the point stands: Franchises with starting pitching needs putting all their eggs in the 2018-19 basket should reconsider.

“With God as my witness, I don’t know who is in the 2018 free-agent class,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in March, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post

If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. When it comes to arms, though, it’s probably the right mentality for Cashman and MLB’s other 29 GMs to adopt.

Otherwise, the most epic part of that distant, fabled winter pitching class could be the letdown.


All statistics and contract information courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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Joe Blanton: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation on RP

Joe Blanton is dangerously close to going into the new year without a new team, but it appears his market is heating up. 

Continue for updates.

Blanton Drawing Interest from Multiple Teams

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Jerry Crasnick of reported teams are expressing increased interest in Blanton with most elite relievers signed. He points to a return to the Los Angeles Dodgers as a possibility.

The 36-year-old converted starter posted a 2.48 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 75 appearances last season in Los Angeles. He struck out a batter per inning while converting 28 holds as a setup man for Kenley Jansen.

The Dodgers already reportedly re-signed longtime closer Jansen earlier this offseason, per Jim Bowden of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Bringing back Blanton would solidify a back half that helped lead Los Angeles to within two games of a World Series berth.

The move to the pen, which began in 2015, gave Blanton a new lease on a career that appeared to be nearing an end. He retired from baseball in 2014 after failing to make the Oakland Athletics roster and following a four-year stretch of futility as a starter. 

“I had my time starting. Now it’s kind of my second career and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Blanton said in August, per Corey Seidman of “I’m proud of what I did [starting]. A lot of people had better careers and a lot of people had worse careers. But I’m proud of what I did, I did it for a long time. I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”

Blanton shouldn’t have any trouble finding a market for his services, even if he doesn’t return to Los Angeles. His underlying numbers were generally pretty solid, though he did have times where he struggled with command. If his walk rate returns to his career average, Blanton should enjoy as much if not more success in 2017 as an eighth-inning option.

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Trevor Plouffe: Latest News, Rumors and Speculation on Free-Agent 3B

Despite being limited to 84 games in 2016, Trevor Plouffe will likely have a few suitors this offseason as teams target more cost-effective corner infield options.

Continue for updates.

Red Sox Show Interest in Plouffe

Tuesday, Dec. 27

The Boston Herald‘s Evan Drellich reported Tuesday the Boston Red Sox are looking to potentially sign Plouffe. However, the Red Sox are waiting until his price tag lowers, so any agreement before the end of 2016 is unlikely.

FanRag Sports’ Jesse Spector was somewhat surprised Boston is taking such a hard line on Plouffe since he’s not in a position to command a hefty salary:

Injuries interrupted Plouffe’s 2016 campaign, and his offensive numbers suffered as a result. He batted a career-high .260, but his slugging percentage dropped from .435 in 2015 to .420. His 12 home runs and 47 runs batted in were his fewest since 2011, when he appeared in 81 games.

The 30-year-old’s home and road splits do raise the question as to whether he can be a productive hitter outside Target Field, per

For that reason, the Red Sox are smart to be wary of overpaying for Plouffe.

According to Drellich, Plouffe might be receptive to the idea of being more of a platoon option rather than an everyday infielder. If that’s the case, then he’d be a nice fit on the Red Sox.

Boston added Mitch Moreland in early December, and Pablo Sandoval will be the team’s starting third baseman now that he’s healthy again.

Plouffe could be an alternative to Moreland at first against left-handed pitching, and he could spell Sandoval at third considering durability was a concern for the two-time All-Star before his season-ending shoulder surgery.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Brian Dozier, Jed Lowrie, More

Major League Baseball’s hot stove has cooled off in the aftermath of the winter meetings, but there’s still some buzz circulating the rumor mill as the calendar gets set to flip to 2017. 

Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier has emerged as a legitimate trade candidate following a sensational 2016 season, and he’s not the only infielder who could be available. 

Then there’s the Tampa Bay Rays’ Drew Smyly, who has continued to generate interest from teams in need of quality starting pitchers to round out their rotations. 

So as the rumblings get louder, here’s a rundown of the latest rumors from across MLB


Multiple Teams Showing Interest in Dozier

With so many big names off the market, all eyes are on Dozier and the Twins for the time being. And as it turns out, Minnesota may be more motivated to deal him than initially believed. 

According to 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson, the Los Angeles Dodgers are “still very much in it” when it comes to the chase for Dozier. Wolfson added the St. Louis Cardinals are also “very much in it,” while the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants “remain in dialogue.” 

Interest in Dozier, of course, is not a surprise. 

The 29-year-old put together a stellar 2016 campaign that saw him bat a career-best .268, smash 42 home runs and notch 99 RBI. Those 42 dingers were the most all-time by an American League second baseman, per’s Mike Axisa, and they evidently made several National League contenders take notice.

Chief among that group is the Cardinals, who represent a logical landing spot for the 2015 All-Star.  

“The Cardinals spent big to sign Dexter Fowler, and they were linked to Justin Turner before he agreed to re-sign with Los Angeles, so it’s not [surprising] to hear they’re in on Dozier,” Axisa wrote. “St. Louis clearly wants another middle-of-the-order power bat and Dozier qualifies.”

Regardless of which team comes out on top in the chase for Dozier, one thing is clear: The Twins are intent on maximizing return value for the rising star before he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the 2018 season. 


A’s Making Lowrie Available? 

The Oakland A’s don’t appear thrilled with their situation at second base in the short term, and executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has disclosed as much.

“It’s a concern,” Beane said, per CSN Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich. “Long term, I think we feel like we have some options that probably aren’t quite ready yet. I think we prefer not to rush those options.”

And while Jed Lowrie has proved his worth in the past, it seems the A’s could look to ship him out of the Bay Area if they’re able to show teams he has recovered fully from August’s left foot surgery. 

“It’s believed they’ve at least gauged trade interest for him this winter, though his physical status could make it tougher to pull off a deal,” Stiglich wrote. “He’s in the final season of a three-year deal that will pay him $6.5 million in 2017.”

Dealing Lowrie over the offseason may not be particularly easy since interested parties will want evidence he’s able to stay healthy once he returns to the diamond, but this is a situation worth monitoring as the spring approaches. 


Mariners Still Chasing Smyly

Seattle Mariners starting pitchers ranked fourth in the American League with a 4.25 ERA last season, but the team’s front office isn’t content just yet. 

According to the Seattle TimesRyan Divish, “A baseball source said the Mariners tried to work a deal for Rays lefty Drew Smyly during the winter meetings.”

Divish added the following regarding Tampa Bay’s motivations behind a potential deal involving Smyly: “Tampa seems more inclined to part with Smyly since he’s projected to make $6.8 million in his third year of arbitration and is a free agent after the 2018 season.”

It remains unclear what the Mariners would part with to try and pry Smyly from the Rays, but there’s no denying he’d be a quality pickup for a franchise looking to make its first postseason appearance since 2001. 

The 27-year-old southpaw owns a 3.74 lifetime ERA, and his mark of 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings would bolster the back end of a Mariners rotation that already boasts Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton. 


Stats courtesy of

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Early 2017 MLB Playoff Team Projections If the Offseason Ended Today

Next year will soon be here, but the 2017 Major League Baseball playoffs are so far off that they might as well be in a whole ‘nother year. You might be thinking it’s too soon to go there.

Or is it?

The 2016-17 offseason still has some boxes to check, including homes for free agents like Mark Trumbo and Jose Bautista. But most of the big names on the open market have already found homes. There have been some blockbuster trades as well.

We thus know where most key pieces fit, making it safe to pretend like the offseason is over and call some early shots for the 2017 postseason. Let’s cut this introduction and get on with it.


American League

AL East Champions: Boston Red Sox

With most of a 93-win team carrying over from 2016 to 2017, the Red Sox didn’t need to do anything big this offseason to be the team to beat in the 2017 AL East race.

Instead, they went all-in.

Minor moves for first baseman Mitch Moreland and reliever Tyler Thornburg rounded out the team’s depth. The blockbuster trade for lefty ace Chris Sale, meanwhile, was the Red Sox’s upside move. They now have a starting rotation headlined by him and Cy Young winners Rick Porcello and David Price. 

Of course, the Red Sox have a David Ortiz-sized hole in their lineup after Big Papi’s retirement. But Sale’s arrival should mean they won’t need as much offense in 2017.

And even if they do, their lineup should be up to the challenge. Moreland‘s arrival will keep Hanley Ramirez fresh at designated hitter, and there’s all sorts of upside in the Red Sox’s young Killer B’s: Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

Elsewhere in the AL East, it’s hard to tell who’s supposed to be Boston’s primary challenger. The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles are missing key pieces from the 2016 rosters. The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are teams in transition.


AL Central Champions: Cleveland Indians

With the major difference being that they darn near won the World Series, the Cleveland Indians were in a similar position as the Red Sox heading into the winter. They didn’t need to do anything big to carry over as favorites in the AL Central.

Instead, they signed Edwin Encarnacion on a three-year contract last week. With a .912 OPS and 193 home runs since 2012, he’s an easy upgrade over Mike Napoli in the heart of Cleveland’s batting order.

That’s the only upgrade Cleveland needed to make. It had holes elsewhere at the end of 2016, but that was mostly due to injuries that should be healed in 2017.

Michael Brantley will be back in the outfield, and Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar will be back in the starting rotation. That’s three All-Star-caliber players returning to the fold. Having Andrew Miller, acquired at the 2016 trade deadline, back for a full year will also help.

The concern is a possible hangover after playing so deep into the 2016 postseason. Miller and Corey Kluber are most likely to feel it, as manager Terry Francona asked the world of them last October.

On paper, though, the Indians look more than capable of beating last year’s 94 wins. The same can’t be said of any other team in the AL Central. Only the Detroit Tigers can match Cleveland’s star power, and most of their stars are too long in the tooth to count on.


AL West Champions: Houston Astros

Finally, a division trophy that should change hands in 2017. 

The Texas Rangers won the AL West in 2016 but have hemorrhaged more talent than they’ve gained this winter. The Houston Astros have done the opposite, taking an 84-win roster and fitting it with the nuts and bolts it needed.

Houston needed to lengthen out a lineup that relied too heavily on Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and Evan Gattis in 2016. So, Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran were signed on free-agent contracts, and Brian McCann was brought in on a trade.

The Astros will also have former top prospect Alex Bregman and Cuban sensation Yulieski Gurriel in their lineup for the whole year in 2017. After finishing in the middle of the pack in the AL in runs (eighth) and OPS (ninth) in 2016, there’s a good chance the Astros will have an elite offense.

Their starting pitching staff is less of a sure thing. Charlie Morton might not be much of an upgrade over Doug Fister, and the trio of Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Lance McCullers have performance and durability questions to answer.

However, even more of the same would be good enough. The Astros finished fifth in the AL in ERA in 2016 despite their starting rotation issues. This was in part thanks to a bullpen that was quietly elite.

There could be as many as three other contenders in the AL West in 2017, but none match the legit championship aspirations of the Astros. Sports Illustrated could be right about them after all.


AL Wild Cards: Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers

Neither of this year’s two AL wild cards, the Blue Jays and Orioles, are better now than they were before. The same goes for the Yankees and Tigers. The Kansas City Royals are geared up for a last hurrah, but their homegrown core is no longer surrounded by good depth.

This sets up the AL West to be the primary battleground for the 2017 AL wild-card race, with the main combatants being the Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.

The Angels might seem like the odd team out after losing 88 games in 2016. But they’ve put some nice pieces alongside MVP Mike Trout this winter. Corinne Landrey of FanGraphs wrote about how the Angels targeted run prevention by going for Cameron Maybin, Danny Espinosa and Martin Maldonado. They will also be helped by Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Shoemaker coming back healthy.

The Mariners have a star-studded offense but are lacking depth around it. The Rangers have a depth question in their starting rotation, but they have just the counterbalances for it.

Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish are an excellent one-two punch, and they’ll be backed by a multitalented lineup and a deep bullpen. The Rangers may not win 95 games again, but they won’t fall far enough to miss out on a third straight postseason.


National League

NL East Champions: Washington Nationals

The 2016 NL East race had a chance to be the National League’s best. Instead, the Washington Nationals won it handily over the New York Mets. 

Expect more of the same in 2017.

While the Mets face questions about the health of their rotation and who the heck will play center field, the Nationals have all their big bases covered. The key was acquiring Adam Eaton to play center field, which freed up young phenom Trea Turner to go back to shortstop and set the Nationals up for a dynamic top-of-the-order duo.

“You got Turner and Eaton [at the top of the lineup], fairly similar style of play,” catcher Derek Norris, another new addition, told Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. “They’re scrappy, they get on base. They steal bags. They play great defense. That’s kind of what I envision.”

Turner and Eaton will be setting the table for Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth. That’s a scary proposition under any circumstances. It’ll be something else entirely if Harper recaptures his MVP form from 2015.

The Nationals are also returning pretty much everyone from a pitching staff that finished second in the NL in ERA in 2016, including staff aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The one exception is closer Mark Melancon. But new closers pop up all the time, and the Nats have two good in-house options in Shawn Kelley and Blake Treinen.

In all, there are no big reasons to believe the Nationals won’t match or beat their 95 wins from 2016.


NL Central Champions: Chicago Cubs

Sorry to go with such an obvious pick, but…man, the Chicago Cubs are just really good.

When we last saw them, they were winning 103 games in the regular season before snapping a 108-year championship drought with a dramatic comeback in the World Series. That’ll do as far as seasons go, and there was never any real threat of the magic going away this winter.

The Cubs did lose Dexter Fowler from center field and Aroldis Chapman from their closer spot. But Fowler should be replaced in the aggregate, defensively by Albert Almora and offensively by a healthy Kyle Schwarber. To fill Chapman’s shoes, the Cubs traded for Wade Davis, who was baseball’s most dominant reliever in 2014 and 2015.

Otherwise, the gang’s all back for 2017. It’ll still be Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta atop the rotation. It’ll still be Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist in the heart of the lineup. It’ll still be Addison Russell and Javier Baez turning double plays up the middle. It’ll still be Joe Maddon in the manager’s chair.

Like with Cleveland, there is the possibility of a World Series hangover overtaking the Cubs. But the worst that might do is knock them down from 103 wins to 95 or so, which should still be plenty to win an NL Central race that doesn’t feature another elite team.


NL West Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers are an incomplete team. They don’t have a second baseman. Their outfield and pitching depth charts are complex math problems.

And yet they’re no worse than the team that won 91 games and a fourth straight NL West title in 2016.

There was a distinct possibility that the Dodgers would get a lot worse. They dodged that bullet by re-signing Justin Turner to play third base and Rich Hill and Kenley Jansen to help anchor their starting rotation and bullpen.

The various holes the Dodgers still have do stand out. But you can also look at them and see plenty to like.

On offense, the core of their lineup is populated by stable veterans Turner, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal and young guns in Corey Seager and Joc Pederson who might still have some untapped upside.

On the mound, Clayton Kershaw and Hill lead a stable of starters that’s as deep as any in the league. Not to be lost in the shuffle is Julio Urias, the 20-year-old lefty who’s ready for the next step.

The San Francisco Giants will give the Dodgers a run in 2017. But theirs is a top-heavy roster wherein the role players alongside the scrubs offer little upside.


NL Wild Cards: San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals

Picking up where we just left off, the Giants should have no trouble nabbing a wild-card berth as a consolation prize.

They’re returning basically the same team that won 87 games in 2016, led by excellent pitching performances by Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto and well-rounded performances from Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. The difference now is that they have a real closer. Melancon should keep the blown-save problem that plagued the Giants in 2016 at bay in 2017.

After the Giants, it’s the Mets who have the most upside in the 2017 NL wild-card race. But they also have too much downside to be trusted. Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Matt Harvey are all coming off surgeries, and they don’t figure to get much help from a lousy defense.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals are the two teams most likely to benefit from the Mets falling short of expectations. The Cardinals don’t have as many potential pitfalls as the Pirates. While there are real questions in Pittsburgh’s pitching staff, the Cardinals answered the one big question they had by stealing Fowler from the Cubs.

At any rate, there are predictions for all 10 playoff teams for the 2017 MLB season. Now we find out if they can withstand 10 months of general baseball craziness.


Stats courtesy of and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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MLB Trade Ideas Based on Latest Offseason Week 9 News, Rumors and Speculation

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is typically a quiet one in the Major League Baseball universe. General managers are spending some much-needed time away from the office with their families, more focused on assembling the toys that Santa delivered for their kids than building a roster for the 2017 season. 

Yet they can’t ever fully escape their day jobs. Conversations with other GMs are assuredly taking place, providing the rumor mill with just enough speculation to satisfy ravenous fans who want to know what their favorite teams are doing to improve. 

That speculation revolves around three big names—two bats and a pitcher—who have been the focus of trade rumors for weeks. We’ll delve into potential deals involving that trio of game-changing talent on the pages that follow. 

Keep in mind these proposed deals are only ideas and speculation. Unless otherwise noted, there’s no indication any of them have been discussed.

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Is Andrew McCutchen the Right Win-Now Splash for Mets’ World Series Chase?

Starting in center field for the New York MetsAndrew McCutchen.

Your reaction to that sentence—assuming you’re a Mets fanlikely depends on your feelings about risk versus reward. Because, boy, does McCutchen offer plenty of both.

McCutchen is a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates as of this writing. His name has churned through the rumor mill this offseason, however, with the Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays among his reported suitors. 

After the winter meetings, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington expressed a desire to keep McCutchen in black and yellow.

“Our intent coming in here was to have Andrew McCutchen in our lineup going forward. No one changed that,” Huntington said, per’s Adam Berry. “It’s unlikely that someone changes that going forward. We’re not going to close the door, but we’re not going to be making calls.”

There’s wiggle room in that statement. McCutchen may not be on the clearance shelf, but he’s available for the right price.

The Mets have spoken with Pittsburgh about McCutchen at a “preliminary level,” as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported. 

There’s no indication those talks have advanced past the tire-kicking stage, but it’s worth exploring whether it would be a prudent move for New York.

On the reward side, McCutchen is a 30-year-old former National League MVP and five-time All-Star who accumulated 27.9 WAR between 2012 and 2015, second only to Mike Trout by FanGraphs‘ measure

He’s also not a budget-buster, as he’s due $14 million next season with a $14.5 million team option and $1 million buyout for 2018. 

If he approximates his peak production, that would be a bargain. The key word being “if.”

McCutchen is coming off a disappointing season that saw him post career lows in batting average (.256), on-base percentage (.336) and slugging percentage (.430). 

Even more damningly, his defensive numbers plummeted. He posted minus-28 defensive runs saved and a minus-18.7 UZR, both career worsts.

It’s not an anomalous blip, either. McCutchen‘s defense has been trending downward since 2013 according to the metrics. It’s reasonable to ask if he’s even a center fielder anymore, forget about a good one.

That’s a big deal for the Amazin’s, because they need a center fielder, as Rosenthal outlined:

The Mets’ biggest position need is obvious.

They’ve got Yoenis Cespedes in left field. They’ve got Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce and Michael Conforto as options in right. But their only true center fielder is Juan Lagares, whose career OPS against right-handed pitching—even after showing some improvement last season—is only .633.

To clear room for McCutchen in the outfield and on the payroll, the Mets could trade Granderson and/or Bruce, who are owed $15 million and $13 million next season, respectively. 

That leaves the question of whether McCutchen can capably patrol center, or at least rake enough to make up for his inconsistent glove work. 

Again, he’s only 30. If he hits like he did as recently as 2015, he’d provide ample value for a Mets team that scored the fifth-fewest runs in baseball last season.

“I can’t wait to get my feet back there on the field, get ready and show that I’m not washed up, I guess,” McCutchen said, per Berry. “I’m only 30. It’s not like I’m 40. And even that is possible, toosee what Papi [David Ortiz] did. Anything is possible in this game.”

Norse god/staff ace Noah Syndergaard is coming off a superlative season. If at least three of Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler return healthy and productive, the Mets’ starting pitching will be elite.

Add a top-tier bat, and suddenly another NL pennant seems attainable.

Let’s set aside the defensive concerns. Let’s assume McCutchen will bounce back with the lumber, at least to the tune of the .283/.378/.470 slash line Steamer projects

What would it take for New York to get him?

A “possible deal” between Washington and Pittsburgh for McCutchen involved Lucas Giolito, the top pitching prospect in baseball according to, as well as 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning and a third player, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman

That means New York may need to dangle shortstop Amed Rosario,’s No. 11 overall prospect, plus a couple of high-upside ancillary pieces, assuming the Pirates’ asking price hasn’t budged.

That type of gut-the-farm machination makes sense if you’re in full-blown win-now mode. 

The Mets aren’t necessarily in that mode, though. Matt Harvey is the first of their core starting pitchers set to hit the market, and that won’t happen until after the 2018 season. The same goes for closer Jeurys Familia. 

They re-upped Cespedes through 2020. There are nice young pieces on the roster, including the 23-year-old Conforto and 27-year-old catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

Mortgaging the future for the hope that McCutchen can play a passable center field, rediscover his MVP stroke and get New York over the championship finish line seems like an overreach born of desperation.’s Joe Giglio made the case for the Mets going all-in on McCutchen over other theoretically available outfielders such as the Kansas City Royals‘ Lorenzo Cain and the Colorado Rockies‘ Charlie Blackmon

New York, Giglio argued, “should take a risk and move the moon and stars [relatively speaking] for McCutchen.”

It’s intriguing. It has a certain ring. If you think the Mets’ window is about to slam shut, it may even seem necessary.

But, boy, does it also sound like a big-time risk in the making.


All statistics and contract information courtesy of, FanGraphs and

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Lesser-Known MLB Players Who Will Have Breakthrough Years in 2017

Each season, we are treated to a handful of out-of-nowhere breakout performances from around Major League Baseball as lesser-known players become significant contributors.

Position players like Aledmys Diaz (STL), Adam Duvall (CIN), Jake Lamb (ARI), Brad Miller (TB), Trevor Story (COL) and Jonathan Villar (MIL) were good examples this past season.

As for pitchers, Kyle Hendricks (CHC) ascended several levels to emerge as a Cy Young candidate, and starters Junior Guerra (MIL), Drew Pomeranz (SD/BOS) and Dan Straily (CIN), as well as reliever Alex Colome (TB), are also worthy of mentions.

So who will break through in 2017 and go from relative unknown to household name?

Ahead is a look at seven guys worth keeping an eye on.

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Previewing 10 Heated MLB Position Battles After Pile of 2016 Offseason Moves

Not only are we still in the year 2016, but we also haven’t even gotten past the holidays yet. Spring training is but a glimmer on the Major League Baseball horizon.

And yet, I can already make out some of the position battles people will be talking about.

While there’s still plenty of hot stove wheeling and dealing for the league to take care of, enough has gone down to highlight positions that are settled and positions that are not. Let’s focus our attention on the latter and preview 10 position battles that figure to be the most heated come spring training.

First, some ground rules. Position battles on contending teams carry more weight, so the list ahead consists exclusively of such battles. The rankings are unscientific but generally relate to the intrigue of the players and positions involved and the team overseeing it all.

Now then, let’s take it away…

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Ben Revere to Angels: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

The Los Angeles Angels have added free agent Ben Revere to their outfield mix for 2017.  

ESPN’s Buster Olney and the Los Angeles TimesMike DiGiovanna reported Revere’s agreement with the Angels. Olney wrote Revere’s deal is for one year and $4 million.

The Angels will be hoping Revere is due for a bounce-back season in 2017. The 28-year-old never got going last season with the Washington Nationals, suffering an oblique injury on Opening Day that kept him out until May 6. He wound up losing his starting spot to Trea Turner in the second half. 

Revere’s performance when he did play was lacking. He hit just .217/.260/.300 in 103 games with an OPS more than 100 points below his career mark (.662), per

Despite his own numbers, Revere never caused problems for the Nationals. He told Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post in August that winning was all he focused on:

I don’t want to be the teammate pouting and everything. I want to do everything I can to be a good teammate, help him out in the outfield and feeling good at the plate. The main thing now for me to do is just anything I can to help this team win a championship. Get to the playoffs, win a championship. There will be some times when they may need me. If that case comes, I got to be ready.

The poor offensive numbers caused Revere’s stock to plummet heading into free agency, though there are reasons to believe he can be successful for the Angels in 2017. 

Age isn’t a problem for Revere, who is among the youngest free agents this offseason with other outfielders like Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler over the age of 30. He is just one year removed from posting a .306/.342/.377 slash line in 152 games for the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays

Revere does have to prove his injury woes are a thing of the past. He’s only reached the 150-game mark twice in six full MLB seasons. 

The Angels can plug Revere into a corner spot with Mike Trout entrenched in center, as he has played all three positions in his career. His ability to get on base and set the table for run producers like Trout, C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun in the middle of the lineup gives Los Angeles’ lineup more depth. 

There are plenty of questions for Revere to answer on this contract, but a successful season for the Angels would give him a chance to rebuild his value and hit free agency next winter at the age of 29. It’s a smart short-term investment for both the player and team. 

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