Tag: AL West

Albert Pujols Injury: Updates on Angels Star’s Recovery from Foot Surgery

Los Angeles Angels star Albert Pujols‘ status for Opening Day in 2017 could be up in the air after undergoing surgery on his right foot.

Continue for updates.

Latest on Pujols’ Timeline to Return

Friday, Dec. 2

The Angels issued a statement announcing Pujols underwent surgery on his right plantar fascia, and the normal estimated recovery time is four months.

This is yet another physical setback for Pujols, who underwent foot surgery in the offseason, which jeopardized his status for the start of the 2016 campaign. He also had arthroscopic knee surgery in 2012 and suffered through plantar fasciitis in 2013.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register noted before the 2016 season that Pujols seemed “more open to DHing now,” given his injury history.

Pujols played a career-high 123 games at designated hitter in 2016 because of his foot problems and declining skills in the field. He did hit 31 home runs, but his .323 on-base percentage was the second-lowest mark of his career. 

When healthy, Pujols has been one of the best players in baseball over the course of the last 15 years, and the 10-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, three-time National League MVP and two-time Gold Glove winner gives the Angels power in their lineup alongside Mike Trout. 

Despite that sterling resume, Pujols hasn’t been the same dominant force for the Angels as he was with the St. Louis Cardinals during his prime:

Injuries and age have been factors in the decline in production, and it’s unlikely he will ever return to being anything close to what he was at his peak or even when he had an .859 OPS in his first season with the Angels.

The Angels can use a combination of Jefry Marte and C.J. Cron at first base or designated hitter if Pujols is unable to be back before the season starts in April. 

While the Angels at least have some pieces to help them remain afloat without Pujols, they are a more dangerous offense when he is in the lineup and producing behind Trout.

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Matt Joyce to Athletics: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Outfielder Matt Joyce found a new home Wednesday, as he signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Oakland Athletics

The team announced the move after Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report the deal.

Joyce, 32, hit .242 with 13 home runs, 45 runs and 42 RBI in 140 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2016 season. It was his sixth season with at least 10 or more homers, though his batting average matched his mediocre lifetime average of .242.

That said, Joyce posted an excellent .403 on-base percentage and struck out just 67 times in 231 at-bats. In turn, he was fantastic for the Pirates as the team’s fourth outfielder, making him a valuable addition to Oakland’s depth.

And if Joyce continues to produce like he did in limited plate appearances in 2016, he may just earn himself a steadier dose of playing time.

The A’s have long embraced the Moneyball system under general manager Billy Beane, and the fact that Joyce registered a career-best OBP in 2016 likely endeared him to the organization.

Certainly, there will be concerns that Joyce could sink back to his 2015 form, which saw him hit just .174 with five homers and 21 RBI in 93 games with the Los Angeles Angels. But Joyce appeared to make significant changes to his approach at the plate in 2016, and it paid major dividends.

Now, Oakland will be hoping to cash in on those alterations.

Joyce is far removed from the career season he put up with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, when he hit .277 with 19 home runs and 75 RBI en route to his first and only All-Star nod, but he seemingly fits what the Athletics are trying to do at a reasonable price.

Although Joyce isn’t likely to put up huge numbers, he should provide an upgrade to an outfield that lacked in terms of production and experience outside of Khris Davis in 2016.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Rangers Prospects Reportedly Questioned for Alleged Sexual Assault of Teammate

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported Monday that authorities in the Dominican Republic are investigating allegations that a group of Texas Rangers prospects sexually assaulted an underage teammate in a “hazing incident.”

Police questioned eight prospects and informed a Dominican court they intend to charge at least four of the players with a crime. Passan wrote that Rougned Odor’s brother and Yohel Pozo are among those at the focus of the police investigation.

Prospects from Colombia and Venezuela were the victims of the hazing rituals, and some were under the age of 18, according to Passan, who detailed a brief Snapchat video showing one specific occurrence:

Video of the alleged assault, which took place toward the end of October, was captured and posted on Snapchat, according to sources. A 10-second clip of video, obtained by Yahoo Sports, shows the alleged victim in a Rangers shirt and Rangers shorts laying on a bed with his arms held behind his back and his legs pinned down. At least four men are seen in addition to the alleged victim, whose penis is exposed, grabbed and maneuvered underneath a hand towel. All of the men in the video, including the alleged victim, are seen laughing.

Citing a report from Dominican media outlet Metro, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote last Thursday that Dominican authorities arrested three Rangers prospects from the organization’s Dominican Summer League team several months ago.

Last week, the Rangers provided a statement:

The Texas Rangers became aware of an incident at our Academy in the Dominican Republic and we acted promptly to open an investigation. We have reported the incident and are cooperating fully with Major League Baseball and the authorities in the Dominican Republic. With this being an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment at this time.

After being shown evidence of the alleged hazing, the Rangers alerted MLB to the incident, and the players involved were then placed on administrative leave as part of the minor league domestic violence policy.

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Andrew Cashner to Rangers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Andrew Cashner turned in arguably the worst season of his career in 2016, but the Texas Rangers took a chance on him Friday to the tune of a one-year, $10 million contract.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the terms of the agreement. TR Sullivan of MLB.com also passed along word of the free-agent signing.

Cashner started his career with the Chicago Cubs and pitched down the stretch of the 2016 season for the Miami Marlins after they acquired him from the San Diego Padres via trade. He posted a 5.98 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 12 appearances for Miami, which both would have represented career-worst numbers throughout an entire season.

However, Cashner flashed his potential as a No. 2 or 3 starter in 2013 and 2014 with the Padres. He posted a 1.13 WHIP in each season and appeared to be coming into his own as an impact pitcher at the major league level. Still, there was a drastic decline in performance the next two years:

Injuries are part of the concern, as he went on disabled list in 2016 with a strained neck and dealt with a shoulder injury and elbow injury in 2014 that limited him to just 19 starts. Considering he hasn’t been the same since that 2014 campaign, it is not hard to speculate his health impacted his overall performance.

At his best, Cashner’s fastball often exceeds 95 mph, per FanGraphs. If he can remain healthy in 2017 and tap into the effective power pitcher he was from 2013-14, the Rangers will end up with one of the better under-the-radar signings of the offseason. 

He’ll likely join a rotation headlined by Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. Finding more mid-rotation options to bolster the group behind those co-aces was one of the biggest things on the team’s offseason to-do list. A bounce-back year from the newest addition would be a key step in the right direction.

He is still just 30 years old and should be relatively fresh considering he has never pitched more than 184.2 innings in a season throughout his career. Cashner’s new team hopes that translates into an effective 2017 effort.  

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McCann, Reddick Give Houston Strong Vets to Help Push Young Astros Over the Hump

On Thursday, the Houston Astros sent a message to their fanbase, and it was loud and clear: We want to get back.

Back on track. Back to the postseason. Back into position as one of baseball’s up-and-coming contenders.

The message was delivered with a pair of moves. The ‘Stros engineered a trade with the New York Yankees, flipping pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman for veteran catcher Brian McCann, per the Yankees PR staff. They also inked right fielder Josh Reddick to a four-year, $52 million deal, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.

With that, Houston plugged holes behind the dish and in the outfield and added a pair of solid veteran pieces to bolster the club’s youthful core.

Let’s start with McCann. The 32-year-old backstop became superfluous for the Yankees after the emergence of rookie sensation Gary Sanchez. While he isn’t the player who made seven All-Star teams between 2006 and 2013 with the Atlanta Braves, he still has value.

McCann hit 20 home runs in 2016 despite ceding playing time to Sanchez down the stretch and rated as the American League‘s third-best pitch-framer, per StatCorner.

He’ll replace free-agent catcher Jason Castro, also a lefty swinger, and represents an offensive upgrade across the board:

McCann is owed $17 million in each of the next two seasons, but the Yankees will pay $5.5 million of that, per ESPN The Magazine‘s Buster Olney. In turn, the ‘Stros surrendered some talent. Abreu became the No. 10 prospect in New York’s loaded farm system, per MLB.com.

It takes something to get somethingand Houston got something.

“Brian McCann is a great fit for the Astros, as he is not only a good defensive catcher, he is also a left-handed hitter with proven run-producing ability,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement, per the Houston Chronicle‘s Jake Kaplan. “His experience and his ability to impact his teammates will be a significant benefit to our team.”

Reddick is coming off an injury-shortened year in which he played just 115 games with the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In 2015, however, he hit .272 with 20 home runs, and he’s a plus defensive outfielder who could slot into left with George Springer the unmovable incumbent in right.

Reddicklike McCannrepresents an upgrade over his predecessor, free agent Colby Rasmus, who posted a .206/.286/.355 slash line in 2016. Reddick hit .281/.345/.405.

A four-year commitment north of $50 million may raise a few eyebrows, but it could end up being below market value in a weak free-agent class.

In 2015, the Astros finished 86-76, slid into the postseason as a wild card and pushed the eventual champion Kansas City Royals to five games in a division series.

Last year, they missed the dance with an 84-78 mark and wore the scarlet “R” for regression.

Still, Houston boasts an enviable offensive core, headlined by second baseman Jose Altuve (.338 average, 24 HR, 30 SB), shortstop Carlos Correa (.274 average, 20 HR, 96 RBI), Springer (.815 OPS, 29 HR, 82 RBI) and 2015 No. 2 overall pick Alex Bregman.

Astros starting pitchers ranked in the middle of the MLB pack in 2016 with a 4.37 ERA, with 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel taking a big stumble. The bullpen is a strength, but Houston could use more pitching, even after signing sinkerballer Charlie Morton to a two-year, incentive-laden deal Wednesday, per Kaplan.

The ‘Stros, though, are squarely in the mix in the wide-open AL West. The defending division champion Texas Rangers are nominal favorites, but Houston is a few key moves from vaulting over the hump.

McCann and Reddick count as key moves. They may preclude other high-profile machinations, including the intriguing rumored trade for the Detroit Tigers‘ Miguel Cabrera.

The takeaway, however, is that the Astros are being aggressive early. They’re filling needs. They want to get back.

Message received.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MLB.com unless otherwise noted.

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Mike Trout Is Bull’s-Eye Choice for AL MVP as MLB’s Consensus Best Player

It feels like an upset that Mike Trout won the American League MVP. That says enough about where the baseball world is.

Or rather, where it’s been.

In the weeks, days and hours leading up to Thursday’s big announcement, it seemed like everyone was bracing for Trout (and fellow finalist Jose Altuve) to fall short of Mookie Betts in the AL MVP vote.

Trout had numbers, as usual. But Betts had numbers and what’s historically a big advantage: His Boston Red Sox made the playoffs and also won 19 more games then Trout’s Los Angeles Angels.

But whaddya know! Turns out the Baseball Writers’ Association of America had a surprise in store. For the second time in his career, Trout is the American League’s Most Valuable Player.

And it wasn’t even close. Trout received 356 points to Betts’ 311 and Altuve’s 227. Trout also received 19 first-place votes to Betts’ nine and Altuve’s zero.

“It’s crazy,” the 25-year-old said on MLB Network, via Austin Laymance of MLB.com. “Can’t take anything away from Mookie and Jose Altuve, great guys, great team guys. I’m speechless, man.”

The Houston Astros would have struggled to get to even 84 wins without Altuve. The tiny-yet-fierce second baseman won the AL batting title with his .338 average and also chipped in 24 home runs and 30 stolen bases.

Likewise, the Red Sox would have been a lot worse without Betts’ .897 OPS, 31 homers and 26 steals. This is not to mention the defense he played in right field, which earned him a Gold Glove and more defensive runs saved than any other defender.

With respect to Altuve, it’s Betts’ performance that stands out. And the fact it was all in service of a winning team would have earned him some hardware on Thursday under normal circumstances.

You know, the same circumstances that contributed to Trout’s falling short in 2012, 2013 and 2015. The circumstances that said, “Sorry, dude. You’re really good, but your team missed the playoffs.”

This year, the writers flipped the script and chose circumstances many have been begging them to choose for the last five years: All that matters is who’s the best.

Because this is an article in honor of Trout’s value, here are the three letters you’ve been expecting: W-A-R. 

Yeah, it just wouldn’t be a proper AL MVP discussion without referencing Trout’s value as measured by wins above replacement. And whether you prefer the Baseball-Reference.comFanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus version, he easily topped both of his competitors:

Betts and Altuve shouldn’t feel bad. Everyone else in the AL finished behind Trout in WAR this year too. That’s the way it’s been for five seasons now.

And no, that’s not normal. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Trout’s five straight seasons leading the AL in WAR is the longest stretch since a fella named Babe Ruth back in the 1920s and ’30s. There’s your daily reminder that when it comes to Trout and WAR, the most relevant names are typically legendary ones.

WAR, of course, is a convoluted stat. But as a measure of all-around value, it usually has the right idea. 

Trout was a monster at the plate in 2016. He hit .315 with 29 home runs and a .991 OPS. He led all of baseball with his .441 on-base percentage and his 174 OPS+, which adjusts his OPS in part to account for the huge dimensions of Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

After a couple of down seasons, Trout also got back to being a monster on the bases. He swiped 30 bases after stealing just 27 in the last two seasons combined and finished barely behind Betts for the MLB lead in total baserunning value.

On defense, the advanced metrics rated Trout’s play in center field as somewhere between acceptable (minus-0.3 UZR) and quite good (six DRS). Given that center field is more difficult and more important than left field and right field, even merely acceptable center field defense is welcomed.

Trout has offered nits to pick in past seasons. In 2014, he struck out too much. Last season, his already declining baserunning got especially mediocre. Et cetera.

But in 2016? A guy who was already regarded as the best player in baseball turned in arguably his best season yet. The best got even better.

The only reason to deny Trout the MVP was the one most everyone expected to be used against him: He didn’t play for a winning team. This is true. The Angels won just 74 games, and even that seems like a lot for a team that was a ghostly shimmer outside of Trout.

But as Dayn Perry did a wonderful job of breaking down at CBSSports.com, the notion that MVPs must come from winning teams is manufactured. The voting guidelines mention no such thing, nor are there any ambiguous hints toward such a guideline. The only thing ambiguous is how to define “valuable.”

If we’re being fair, that means voters need not consider only WAR and its assorted parameters when weighing MVP options. It would be perfectly reasonable, for example, to make a case for why Betts deserved extra consideration over Trout because of how he specifically helped the Red Sox get to 93 wins and into the postseason.

Thing is: That case doesn’t exist.

You could make the case that Betts pushed the Red Sox into the playoffs when it mattered most in September. But he didn’t. His OPS in the season’s final month was just .762. Among the many players who outperformed him was Trout, who had a .948 OPS.

You could also make the case that Betts had a lot of clutch hits throughout the year. But he didn’t do that either. He had a .907 OPS in high-leverage situations. That landed far short of the MLB leader in that category.

Who, by the way, was Mike Trout.

His upset on Thursday is therefore of the pleasant variety. This is not a case of the MVP going to the best player who also had X, Y and Z. It’s a case of it going to the best player, period.

What a concept! What’s say we try it again sometime?


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Josh Reddick to Astros: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Veteran outfielder Josh Reddick has reached an agreement with the Houston Astros, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported Thursday.

Passan noted the deal is for $52 million over four seasons.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed Reddick will sign with the Astros, pending a physical.

Reddick is a streaky player, but his net impact on a team has almost always been positive. He’s accumulated 15.9 WAR across eight seasons, and he’s rated above replacement level every year except 2009, when he played just 27 games for the Boston Red Sox in his debut campaign, per FanGraphs.

The 29-year-old Georgia native split the 2016 season between the Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Dodgers. He posted a career-high .345 on-base percentage in 115 games but racked up just 10 home runs, his lowest total since 2011.

His up-and-down play was on full display after he joined the Dodgers in a midseason trade. He hit just .161 with a miserable .395 OPS in August before rebounding with a strong September to help the club clinch a playoff berth by winning the National League West.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times highlighted the type of production the outfielder can provide when he’s in a zone at the plate:

Interestingly, Reddick told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register the resurgence wasn’t about making changes but rather sticking to his normal routine until he broke out of the slump.

“I learned that probably last year,” he said. “For the most part, when I’m going well, my cage work is limited to almost none at all. Pregame, right before the game, I go in there and do my routine.”

Another thing he didn’t spend much time thinking about was his impending foray into the free-agent market. He explained his mindset early in the season, per Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com.

“I’m one of the guys that doesn’t think about that,” Reddick said. “I’m not going into the box thinking, ‘If I don’t get this run in, or I don’t get this amount of home runs, I’m not going to be the free-agent player I need to be.’ That’s just something I’ve put very far back in my mind.”

The plan worked. Even with the drop-off in the power department, Reddick’s overall performance allowed him to maintain his value.

In the end, Reddick is heading to his third team in the past year. The upside is that going through the transition of joining the Dodgers should make the latest change of scenery easier to deal with during spring training.

Now the question is whether Reddick can put everything together. He’s shown the ability to hit for power, with 32 homers in 2012, and he recorded a strong on-base percentage this past season. If he combines those, he could be a bargain.

It’s a risk worth taking for the Astros. Even if he doesn’t have a huge year at the plate, he’ll likely be a solid hitter who plays plus defense, and that combination carries plenty of value.


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MLB, Rangers Investigating Alleged Sexual Assault Involving Academy Players

Major League Baseball and the Texas Rangers are reportedly investigating an alleged sexual assault involving multiple players at the Rangers’ academy in the Dominican Republic.

On Thursday, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported the alleged assault involved four players from the Rangers’ academy. Charges have not been filed.

The Rangers released a statement confirming they are cooperating with MLB during the investigation, per Rosenthal:

The Texas Rangers became aware of an incident at our Academy in the Dominican Republic and we acted promptly to open an investigation. We have reported the incident and are cooperating fully with Major League Baseball and the authorities in the Dominican Republic. With this being an ongoing investigation, we will have no further comment at this time.

Citing sources, Rosenthal reported the players allegedly involved were placed on administrative leave under the guidelines of the minor league domestic violence policy. They will reportedly remain on leave until the investigation is complete.

According to a 2011 article from ESPN.com’s Richard Durrett, the Rangers’ academy—like several in the Dominican Republic—is designed to immerse developing players in baseball on an all-day basis. 

It’s a 24/7 baseball environment,” Rangers field coordinator Jayce Tingler said at the time. “We have a chance to teach them, get them game experience, help them learn English and make them stronger.

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Sonny Gray Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Athletics SP

Following a disappointing 2016 campaign, the Oakland Athletics are reportedly willing to listen to offers for starting pitcher Sonny Gray.

Continue for updates.

Latest on Gray’s Future with Athletics

Friday, Nov. 11

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the A’s aren’t actively shopping Gray but are open to a deal if the right one presents itself.

After finishing third in the 2015 American League Cy Young Award voting, Gray experienced a huge drop-off in 2016.

The 27-year-old righty went just 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and 94 strikeouts in 117 innings. He was also limited to 22 starts due to a pair of stints on the disabled list with a strained trapezius and a strained right forearm.

Gray enjoyed a career year in 2015 with a 14-7 record, 2.73 ERA and a personal-best 1.08 WHIP, but he was nowhere close to the same pitcher last season.

The fall from grace was surprising since Gray went 33-20 with an impressive 2.88 ERA in his first three MLB campaigns.

Gray was 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA over his first four starts of the season, but the wheels came off after that. However, if injuries were primarily responsible for that, and he is now healthy, he is in position to bounce back in 2017 and beyond.

Since Gray is arbitration-eligible for the next three years, per Spotrac, there isn’t a ton of incentive for the Athletics to trade him.

The A’s have some major question marks in their starting rotation aside from Gray, although youngsters Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton showed flashes of brilliance last season.

A package of high-quality prospects could entice an Oakland team that is rebuilding, but following Gray’s awful season, it seems unlikely that fair value will be offered in return.


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Sonny Gray Is the Wild Card of the MLB Offseason’s Ace Trade Market

Remember when Sonny Gray seemed to have one foot in an Oakland A’s uniform and one foot on the trading block? Those were interesting times.

Now they may be ready for a comeback.

No two Major League Baseball offseasons are exactly alike, but a prevailing theme through all of them is the widespread need for starting pitching. In a related story, another prevailing theme are the showers of cash that fall on the best free-agent aces.

The 2016-17 offseason, however, presents a conundrum: There are no aces on the open market.

Rich Hill is good, but also older and not very durable. After him, the best free-agent pitcher is Jeremy Hellickson. After him…Ivan Nova? Jason Hammel? Bartolo Colon? I mean, you can take your pick.

And so, teams in the market for an ace must turn to the trade market. The trade winds are blowing around names like Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Chris Archer. All good pitchers! Certainly better than any on the open market, anyway.

But therein lies another conundrum. The teams that employ those pitchers know they have key pieces of supply in a world flooded with demand. They can jack up the sticker prices, which could force suitors toward more affordable options.

Which brings us to Gray.

There’s a good reason Gray’s name doesn’t loom as large on the trade market. He put up a 3.08 ERA in 219 innings in 2014 and then finished third in the American League Cy Young voting after posting a 2.73 ERA in 208 innings in 2015. But in 2016, he pitched just 117 innings in 22 starts and watched his ERA balloon to an ugly 5.69.

Nonetheless, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has it on good authority that the A’s are ready to field some calls on their 27-year-old right-hander. 

“Sonny has been a popular trade conversation for the last couple of years, so it won’t be new,” A’s general manager David Forst said at the GM meetings in Scottsdale. “Certainly it’s expected, and we have to be open to anything at this point considering where we are and how much work we have to do to catch up with the teams at the top of our division. I can’t speak to how aggressive teams will be or when the calls will come in, but we have to be open to that conversation.”

When pressed, he added: “It’s nice to have assets people want.”

Given the nature of the A’s finances, it’s relevant that Gray will stop being cheap in 2017. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projects his salary will go from $528,000 to $3.7 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

Gray’s arbitration eligibility also means his free agency is now there on the horizon, just three years away. Coming off a 93-loss season in 2016, the A’s are facing a rebuilding stretch that may not be over by then. Trading him for pieces that could boost said rebuild could be their best play.

The deflation of Gray’s value in 2016 should be a deal-breaker, but the lack of options on the open market and the gigantic price tags of alternative trade options are just the things to cancel that out. Rather than a broken pitcher to stay away from, teams may be compelled to look at Gray as a once-great pitcher who could be remade.

Gray is still in his prime years, and one positive sign from his rotten 2016 is that he wasn’t plagued by bad stuff. He lost only 0.2 miles per hour off his fastball from 2015, sitting at 92.7 mph. And according to Baseball Savant, he experienced a significant increase in spin rate.

Gray’s real problem? Command.

He went from 2.6 walks per nine innings in 2015 to 3.2 walks per nine innings in 2016. One thing Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs noticed early on is that Gray wasn’t able to command his breaking stuff. He was throwing too many non-competitive curveballs and sliders way down below the strike zone. That would lead to walks.

That also made it easier for hitters to sit fastball. Gray could find the zone with those, but too often found the wrong parts of it. Per Brooks Baseball, he threw more four-seamers and sinkers right down the middle:

Hitters responded accordingly. They hit .310 against Gray’s four-seamer and .380 against his sinker. This after hitting .262 and .270 against them the prior season.

The elephants in the room are the injuries Gray suffered. He went on the disabled list with a bad shoulder in May and with a bad forearm in August. 

The shoulder injury is especially alarming when paired with what was going on with Gray’s release point earlier in the year. It was down from where it had been throughout 2015. That won’t go unnoticed or unworried about by potential suitors.

But the silver lining also isn’t hard to spot. Albeit in limited exposure, Gray’s release point did move back up toward the end of the year. That’s a sign he’s not necessarily damaged goods, and that his struggles in 2016 may have been due to a mere mechanical funk.

Such things can be fixed. And in this case, fixing such a thing could turn Gray back into what he was in 2014 and 2015: one of the best pitchers in baseball.

What it would cost to take this chance won’t be cheap. The A’s can demand one or two elite prospects or perhaps some established major league talent with controllability and untapped upside.

However, that doesn’t sound so bad compared to what it would take to land one of the other guys.

Sale ($38 million through 2019) and Archer ($39 million through 2021) have value even beyond what’s left on their contracts. That would have to be matched by a bucket of top prospects in a trade.

Verlander and Greinke don’t have that kind of excess value on top of their remaining contracts. But if a team deals for either one, it would have to take on all or most of the $84 million (or $106 million if his 2020 option vests) owed to Verlander or the $172.5 million owed to Greinke.

Since going home without an ace isn’t an option, the choice before teams is to either pay a huge price for a sure thing or a lesser price for a lottery ticket. Gray’s the latter, and he could be a winner.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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