Monday, February 20, 2017

Cespedeez Nutz

Remember when the Mets won the NL East and slugging Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes celebrated with a big cigar? GOOD TIMES BABY!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

All Acquired 2017 National League

UPDATE: It's time to finish what I started yesterday! UPDATED National League All-Acquired roster! Enjoy!

Yesterday I posted a depth chart of the top players acquired by American League teams as of New Years Eve 2016. Today, I'm following it up with the National League version. These hypothetical teams will obviously improve as the offseason goes on and more free agents come off the board / more trades are completed, so I will (likely) be updating these posts on a semi-regular basis. Enjoy!


Kurt Suzuki - 860 (8.1) - ATL
Derek Norris - 851 (6.8) - WAS
Nick Hundley - 821 (9.9) - SFG
Chris Iannetta - 518 (5.5) - ARI

In another one of my favorite projects (Developed Teams), Derek Norris also belongs to the Nationals, by virtue of the fact that the catcher spent the plurality of his formative minor league years in Washington's system before making his debut with Oakland. If all goes according to plan (i.e. Washington doesn't sign Matt Wieters and flip Norris before the season starts), the Nationals might reclaim a developed player who got away. The Angels curiously received only a backup catcher and a fringe prospect when they traded away their presumptive catcher of the future, and Jett Bandy will have some bigger holes to fill taking over where Jonathan Lucroy left off in Milwaukee. I was somewhat surprised that the Dodgers didn't re-sign A.J. Ellis as soon as the World Series ended, given that Clayton Kershaw is still on their team, but instead the backstop with the fabled clubhouse presence will reunite with his former manager Don Mattingly in Miami.

UPDATE: If you are looking for a dynamic catching acquisition for the National League, you'd better hope that Matt Wieters goes to the Nationals, or the Braves, or the Rockies. Because while this list has grown in size (even counting the replacements for Jett Bandy and A.J. Ellis), it hasn't added a confidence-building option behind the plate. Even though Norris is still slated to start for the Nationals, Kurt Suzuki and Nick Hundley each had better 2016 seasons from a points per game stantpoint, even though the former could very well be playing second fiddle to Tyler Flowers in Atlanta, and the latter will DEFINITELY be well behind Buster Posey in San Francisco.

Ian Desmond - 2,065 (13.2) - COL
Eric Thames - 2,569 (21.2) [KBO] - MIL
Darin Ruf - 141 (3.3) - LAD

It seems like a waste to have the player with the most defensive versatility playing the least defensively demanding position on the diamond. But then again, the point of versatility is for a player to be able to fill the role that's the greatest area of need for his club, and that's what Sean Rodriguez did at first base for the majority of his games in 2016 with the Pirates. Rodriguez likely won't play much first over the life of his deal with the Braves due to the presence of Freddie Freeman, and he might not even play much first on this hypothetical team if Eric Thames can come close to replicating his production in Korea over the last three years (124 homers, 64 stolen bases, and an OPS well over 1.100), he'll quickly force the issue and relegate Rodriguez back to a super utility role.

UPDATE: Those of you who looked at this list between New Year's Eve and the present will have seen Ian Desmond in his 2016 position of the outfield, leaving Sean Rodriguez to man first base. However, a recent outfielder acquisition means that a maximized NL All-Acquired lineup involves Desmond moving to the position he's projected to play in 2017 with the Rockies, who are now looking a lot less likely to sign a big bat and shift Desmond back to the grass.

Logan Forsythe - 1,440 (11.3) - LAD
Howie Kendrick - 1,196 (8.2) - PHI
Arismendy Alcantara - 37 (2.3) - CIN

Until 2016, when he was primarily a left fielder for the Dodgers, Howie Kendrick had spent relatively little time away from second base, apart from his rookie year in 2006 where he played more first base than second. Which is why it confused me during the '16 post season when Kendrick lost out playing time at the keystone to the likes of Charlie Culberson (who averaged 4.2 points per game in 2016 and has since been outrighted off LA's MLB roster) and Kike Hernandez (3.9 PPG). I mean, I know there exists something called the platoon advantage, but I don't blame the veteran Kendrick for being unhappy with his role on that team. He should have more of an opportunity for regular at bats with the rebuilding Phillies, at all of his positions.

UPDATE: The same second baseman who was replaced by the Dodgers in real life (Howie Kendrick), was just replaced on this list, by the same person who replaced him in real life (Logan Forsythe). Los Angeles acquired the former keystone infielder from the Rays, but for the same price that they offered to the Twins (Jose De Leon, see yesterday's post) for the guy who set the American League record for home runs by a second baseman (Brian Dozier). Seems like someone (possibly multiple folks across multiple organizations) has their prospect evaluation strings all crossed up.

Travis Shaw - 1,357 (9.4) - MIL
Richie Shaffer - 106 (5.3) - CIN

The Brewers picked up another presumptive position player of the future in Boston's former corner infielder Travis Shaw in exchange for their former closer Tyler Thornburg. While Shaw proved himself capable of handling the hot corner last year, his acquisition was also kind of a hedge in case Eric Thames doesn't deliver on his trans-pacific journey, in which case Shaw would move across the diamond to first and base stealing breakout Jonathan Villar could return to where he spent his 2016.

Sean Rodriguez - 1,083 (7.7) - ATL
Ketel Marte - 876 (7.4) - ARI
Alexi Amarista - 264 (4.1) - COL

It must have been a while since Ketel Marte was last seriously considered as Seattle's shortstop of the future, given the rumblings that the Mariners tried to acquire Cincinnati's Zack Cozart, and then the November trade that netted Jean Segura from Arizona. But the young Marte doesn't have tremendous expectations to live up to in his new home of Arizona, given middle infielders Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings, so it's likely that Marte would start the 2017 season in the minors to get a little more seasoning. And if he doesn't pan out, Sean Rodriguez could cover shortstop if necessary.

UPDATE: The positional shakeup continues, as the versatile Sean Rodriguez will take over at the position that's number three on his personal depth chart. At least he's got a little backup with new Rockies utilityman Alexi Amarista now officially in the fold.

Michael Saunders - 1,459 (10.4) - PHI
Jeremy Hazelbaker - 672 (5.9) - ARI

And if neither Thames nor Marte works out, that would leave Ian Desmond to play first base, as he's projected to do in Colorado in 2017. However, I would consider that alignment a last resort if I were putting together this team, since Desmond's bat plays so much better in the outfield (assuming moving back to his original position of shortstop is out of the question due to defensive shortcomings). In fact, I'm all but certain that the Rockies have another move up their sleeve, whether that be dealing Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez for pitching and signing Mark Trumbo/Chris Carter/Mike Napoli/etc., or... no, that's pretty much what I think is gonna happen.

UPDATE: Michael Saunders is the outfield acquisition who started the positional merry go round that caused Desmond and Rodriguez to shift spots. While the new Phillies left fielder has some questions of his own (most notably some long term injury concerns and a disastrous second half last year), his presence on this list does wonders to showcase the positional versatility of the rest of the roster.

Dexter Fowler - 1,573 (12.6) - STL
Jon Jay - 803 (8.9) - CHC

Dexter Fowler was denied a spot on last year's version of this All-Acquired roster when the Cubs brought him back on a one-year deal after talks with the Orioles reportedly fell through. (And I don't care what Fowler's agent says, I have a gut feeling that there were definitely some wheelings and dealings up until the last minute.) Backing up Fowler is the man who will (partially) replace him in Chicago, doubles-machine Jon Jay.

Adam Eaton - 1,821 (11.6) - WAS

Adam Eaton (not the pitcher) is the National League's version of Chris Sale: an affordable building block who was shipped out of Chicago (AL) for an impressive haul of prospects. He'll patrol center field in Washington this year in deference to Bryce Harper, even though he rates much better defensively as a right fielder, but if Harper bails after 2018 in search of a $500 million deal, Eaton could surely shift over to a corner spot.

Dan Straily - 1,721 (50.6) - MIA
Bartolo Colon - 1,699 (50.0) - ATL
Jaime Garcia - 1,060 (33.1) - ATL
R.A. Dickey - 998 (33.3) - ATL
Taijuan Walker - 987 (39.5) - ARI

Edinson Volquez - 797 (23.4) - MIA
Clay Buchholz - 794 (21.5) - PHI
Jhoulys Chacin - 767 (22.6) - SDP
Jeff Locke - 534 (17.8) - MIA
Brett Anderson - -110 (-27.5) - CHC

Apparently Atlanta thought the best way to celebrate the opening of their new ballpark was to scoop up all the oldest starting pitchers on the market on one year deals (and also trading for a relatively youthful option who will hit free agency next year). Whether that strategy was to provide a cheap-ish bridge to their young prospects in the pipeline or a sneaky attempt at competing in 2017, the Braves alone have picked up more viable starting candidates for 2017 than the entire American League combined. And since they're all three short term commitments, Atlanta could be setting themselves up with a great hand from which to deal at the deadline. Another reason why it wouldn't be a disaster if Ketel Marte were not to pan out in Arizona is because the main part of that Jean Segura trade was the upside-laden Taijuan Walker, who never put it all together in Seattle despite three seasons ranked within MLB's top 20 prospects.

The NL's crop of acquired starters is deep enough to have a pretty decent competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Bounceback candidates Volquez and Buchholz should get plenty of time in the questionable rotation pictures for the Marlins and Phillies, respectively, while Jhoulys Chacin has a chance to establish some value spending the season in a pitcher's park for a team with a clear need for innings. All three of these pitchers - plus lefty Jeff Locke, for that matter - spent time in the bullpen in 2016, so whichever of them is not serving as rotation depth in the minors could function in a long relief capacity.

UPDATE: Even with the vast majority of the NL's pitching transactions settled before the calendar flipped, this team still managed to grab new pitchers for the top and bottom of its depth chart. Resurgent minor league strikeout specialist Dan Straily eclipsed Bartolo Colon in total fantasy points, points per game, and fantasy ranking (235 to 282). However, both of Colon's new teammates also eclipsed Big Sexy in rank (Dickey with 258 and Garcia at 266). However, everyone else in the rotation loses out to Taijuan Walker, who clocks in at 193, which means that someone at MLB Advanced Media is probably a Mariners fan. Brett Anderson would likely be a very strong pitcher if healthy, but as someone who's followed Anderson's career (being an A's fan living in Los Angeles), I have no predictions of him being healthy.

Mark Melancon - 2,255 (30.1) - SFG
Wade Davis - 1,311 (29.1) - CHC

I gave Mark Melancon the top spot on the All-Acquired closer depth chart because he managed to stay on the field for a full season in 2016, which led to his widely predicted free agent contract with the Giants. However, Wade Davis might have the better raw stuff, if you're not concerned with his forearm troubles from last year. which the Cubs clearly weren't, given that they gave up a controllable outfield piece to acquire him from the Royals. Either way, both of these relievers should rack up plenty of saves when healthy, playing for contenders.

Fernando Rodney - 1,247 (18.6) - ARI
Brad Ziegler - 1,234 (17.9) - MIA
Koji Uehara - 714 (14.3) - CHC
Mike Dunn - 484 (9.5) - COL
Trevor Cahill - 623 (12.5) - SDP

Neftali Feliz - 623 (10.0) - MIL
Scott Feldman - 603 (15.1) - CIN
Joaquin Benoit - 526 (10.3) - PHI
Daniel Hudson - 504 (7.2) - PIT
Brett Cecil - 215 (4.0) - STL
Greg Holland - N/A - COL

The top three of these relievers served as closers for a portion of 2016 - Rodney and Ziegler until they were traded to teams with more established closing options, and Uehara when filling in while his team's closer was out with an injury - but it's the amount of time they each spent setting up that places them in this lower tier of the relief depth chart. Rodney will likely pitch the ninth inning for Arizona and Joaquin Benoit has a chance to supplant the surprising Jeanmar Gomez as the Phillies closer, but the rest of this group will have to be content with holds, barring any unforeseen roster changes. Lefty Mike Dunn does have a clause in his contract that rewards him for finishing games, but he strikes me as pretty far down on Colorado's closer pecking order. Brett Cecil didn't exactly have the 2016 numbers to merit placement on this list, but he's sure getting paid like he did, thanks to the three-year deal given by St. Louis.

UPDATE: Three of the four new 2016 relievers all scored within a couple dozen points of each other, but they were each acquired with a different role in mind. Trevor Cahill was acquired to start for the Padres, a role he's familiar with from his pre-Cubs days, and that projected workload makes him ideally suited as a long relief candidate on this particular hypothetical club. Neftali Feliz was acquired to close for the Brewers, and he has the murkiest track record of all the past/future closers on this roster. The Reds actually didn't have a fixed role in mind when they signed Scott Feldman, but they added provisions in his contract that will pay him if he winds up finding one role and sticking with it over the course of the season. And Greg Holland was acquired with the expected role of "pitcher not on the disabled list."

And that's the updated version of the top players acquired by National League teams! Spring Training is only a couple weeks away! Woo!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

All Acquired 2017 American League

UPDATE: Now that the Super Bowl of Football has come to an historical(ly depressing) conclusion (at least for anyone who sides with the forces of good against those of evil and corruption), the national conversation can finally turn back to baseball. And what better way to take our minds off the most impressive comeback (i.e. most embarrassing choke-fest) in Super Bowl history than by looking back at how some of the most impactful MLB transactions from the past month have impacted my All-Acquired teams. All new additions are highlighted in yellow.

I didn't make any New Years Resolutions this year, but if I had, one of them would likely be to post more to this blog. And the start of a new year is the perfect time to get started than with a project I like to do every year: making baseball lineups out of the players who have been acquired by a new team (either via trade, free agent signing, waiver claim, or otherwise) during the offseason. Since there are still several big chips yet to come off the free agent board and many potential trade possibilities, so I will maintain two posts as ongoing lists, this one comprising the players acquired by American League teams, which I'll update at semi-regular intervals (i.e. whenever I feel like it).


Brian McCann - 1,203 (9.3) - HOU
Welington Castillo - 1,117 (9.9) - BAL
++Wilson Ramos - 1,577 (12.0) - TBR++

The Astros replaced a pitch framing specialist (Jason Castro, signed with the Twins) with an offensive-minded backstop when they convinced Brian McCann to waive his no-trade clause to come to Houston. McCann should share time behind the plate with re-converted catcher Evan Gattis and at first base with Marwin Gonzalez, Yulieski Gurriel, etc. Another bat-first catcher, Welington Castillo, provides a good opposite-handed backup option until Wilson Ramos returns from his knee surgery.

Edwin Encarnacion - 2,420 (15.1) - CLE
Mitch Moreland - 1,159 (7.9) - BOS
Steve Pearce - 845 (9.9) - TOR

Even though EE's deal with the Indians hasn't been formally announced on the MLB transactions page, and he spent the majority of last season as the Blue Jays DH, he's the best player with first base eligibility, so at first he goes. Of course I would have preferred to see Encarnacion on this list because he went to Oakland, but it's only right and proper that the team who made the deep playoff run the year previous reaps the rewards of the free agency bounty, rather than a team whose stadium is a literal toilet bowl. Either Moreland or Pearce would make a good backup, depending on whether you want opposite handedness or some limited defensive versatility, respectively.

Danny Espinosa - 1,325 (8.4) - LAA
Adam Rosales - 764 (7.3) - OAK
Yoan Moncada - 2,011 (19.0) [minors: A+ / AA] - CHW

The Angels struck another blow to field an entire infield made up of ex-Washington Nationals when they brought in Danny Espinosa to play on the same diamond as his former teammate Yunel Escobar. Espinosa played mostly shortstop last year in DC, but there's no way he's supplanting arguably the game's best fielder in Andrelton Simmons. The only action Yoan Moncada saw in 2016 came at third base, but now that he's out of Boston, where he was blocked by Dustin Pedroia, MLB's new top prospect should move back to his natural position.

Danny Valencia - 1,342 (10.3) - SEA
Luis Valbuena - 900 (10.0) - LAA
Trevor Plouffe - 851 (10.1) - OAK

The second of the two infield Danny's (this one of the Valencia variety) doesn't really have a natural position, but he hits well enough that his bat forgives some of his defensive shortcomings at the hot corner. Rutledge is the rare Rule 5 draft pick who has already picked up significant MLB experience before his selection, so Boston should have no problem keeping him around as a utility infielder all season.

UPDATE: The majority of the AL west experienced turnover at the hot corner this offseason. If you go by MLB's newly-released fantasy player preview for 2017, you'll find that new A's third baseman Trevor Plouffe is the top-ranked player of the bunch (365 to Valencia's 425 to Valbuena's 449), but since the former A's third baseman had the most productive 2016 season according to my preferred fantasy point system, Valencia retains the top spot here.

Jean Segura, SEA
Taylor Motter, SEA

The Mariners banked a lot of resources on Jean Segura's breakout year with Arizona, sending a potential future top of the rotation starter (Taijuan Walker) to the Diamondbacks (among other players) for his services. The former All-Star with Milwaukee played mostly second base in 2015, but he did also qualify at short, where he will form the left side half of a double play combo with Robinson Cano in Seattle.

Brandon Moss - 1,331 (10.4) - KCR
Matt Holliday - 1,176 (10.7) - NYY
Nori Aoki - 1,048 (8.9) - HOU
Colby Rasmus - 865 - 8.1 (TBR)
Jorge Soler* - 689 (8.0) - KCR

Reddick and Holliday are perfectly suited to platoon in left field, given the former's inability to hit left-handed pitching and the latter's inability to play in the outfield for a whole season. Even though these two players have both played for the Athletics in the past, only Holliday is guaranteed to not make an appearance with his former team due to some unconventional no-trade protection. Aoki was acquired by the Astros via trade before the Reddick signing, and while they appear to play similar roles (left-handed hitting corner outfielders), Houston elected to tender Aoki an arbitration contract, so they should both be around next year.

UPDATE: In my last version of this roster, I had switched Josh Reddick and Jorge Soler's position so that the former could platoon with Matt Holliday in left and the latter could add to the depth in right. But Brandon Moss's new two-year contract with the Royals makes him the odds on favorite to play every day in left (even though he spent the majority of his 2016 at first base), possibly ceding at bats against tough lefties to his former Cardinals teammate Holliday or even Cameron Maybin (see below).

Rajai Davis - 1,542 (11.5) - OAK
Cameron Maybin - 1,190 (12.7) - LAA
Jarrod Dyson - 1,023 (9.6) - SEA
Ben Revere - 726 (7.0) - LAA

Maybin and Revere are imperfectly suited to platoon - since the one you want getting the majority of at-bats is more vulnerable to the more common right-handed pitching - but that's nevertheless what they're slated to do in Anaheim. Of course, they will be sharing time in left field due to the presence of Mike Trout in center, but each is fully capable of captaining an outfield.

UPDATE: Rajai Davis was heavily platooned during the 2016 postseason with Cleveland, despite the fact that he led the American League in stolen bases, and it's this elite speed that prompted me to give him the starting gig in center field. Meanwhile, the right-handed hitting Maybin could still play a useful role if healthy (see above), and defensive whiz Jarrod Dyson is an ideal fit as a reserve outfielder.

Carlos Beltran - 1,870 (12.4) - HOU
Seth Smith - 1,181 (8.6) - BAL
Josh Reddick* - 1,095 (9.5) - HOU
Matt Joyce - 910 (6.5) - OAK

Beltran spent most of his 2016 as a DH, but in order to get the most out of this lineup, he will have to play in the outfield, at least the majority of the time. Joyce and Soler are good platoon partners behind him on the depth chart, but each would likely function as All-Acquired Triple-A depth if we were actually building out a roster.

Kendrys Morales - 1,708 (11.1) - TOR

If we made a team based on this list, top All-Acquired free agent Edwin Encarnacion would get a chance to hit in front of the man who replaced him in Toronto, Kendrys Morales late of the Royals. It's a good thing for the sake of this list that the Blue Jays moved quickly to replace their former top slugger before waiting for his market to (fail to) develop, because they were clearly willing to spend more than the Indians did to keep Encarnacion in Toronto. Of course, the A's were also willing to outspend the Indians, but a fat lot of good that did them... But this paragraph is about Kendrys Morales, so... he's a switch hitter? That's a thing about Kendrys Morales.

Chris Sale - 2,444 (76.4) - BOS
Drew Smyly - 1,096 (36.5) - SEA
Nathan Karns - 659 (29.9) - KCR
Derek Holland - 541 (24.6) - CHW
Andrew Cashner - 521 (18.6) - TEX

Yovani Gallardo - 440 (19.1) - SEA
Charlie Morton - 137 (34.3) - HOU
Reynaldo Lopez - 306 (27.8) - CHW
Jose De Leon - 1,168 (73.0) [minors: AAA] - TBR

The blockbuster trade that sent Chris Sale from the south side of Chicago to Boston represents the only movement of a proven rotation workhorse to an American League team. Derek Holland has had an injury plagued last three seasons, but the White Sox took a flier on him to replace some of Sale's innings, if not his elite level production. Andrew Cashner has struggled recently after a solid run with San Diego, and Texas took a similar flier on the beard aficionado having a bounceback year. Charlie Morton missed most of last year due to a non-arm related injury, and the Astros are hoping he will return to health for 2017. And Reynaldo Lopez is one of the prospects netted by Chicago AL in yet another blockbuster, whose main centerpiece will be discussed in the NL version of this list.

UPDATE: When last we saw this rotation, it consisted of one bona fide ace and a bunch of fifth starter candidates. Since then, the starting staff has gotten some reinforcements, thanks mostly to three separate trades involving the Mariners. With Seattle acquiring Drew Smyly from the Rays (for a package involving a player who was acquired from the Braves just hours earlier), the lefty will slot in as the clear SP2 behind Chris Sale. Nathan Karns should stick in the Royals rotation after being traded for the aforementioned Jarrod Dyson. And Yovani Gallardo (traded for the NOT-aforementioned Seth Smith) will likely have to battle for a spot with the rest of the value plays on this roster.

UPDATED UPDATE: If I had been more closely following MLB Trade Rumors this Sunday instead of paying attention to the Super Bowl, I would have seen that Kansas City has signed Jason Hammel, whose 2016 points earn him the SP2 slot, pushing everyone down and intensifying the fifth starter competition. Further complicating matters is the fact that Hammel's addition to the Royals could likely push Nate Karns out of the rotation altogether, calling into question my practice of relying on 2016 fantasy stats rather than projected 2017 performance...

Aroldis Chapman - 1,975 (33.5) - NYY

Even though Chapman played for the Yankees last year, he technically counts as a new acquisition because he was dealt to the Cubs in what could be the most historically significant transaction in the history of one of baseball's most famous curses. Chapman reportedly turned down more money from the Marlins to return to New York, which is good news for this hypothetical team.

Santiago Casilla - 1,405 (22.7) - OAK
Tyler Thornburg - 1,355 (20.2) - BOS
Matt Belisle - 446 (11.2) - MIN
Jesse Chavez - 449 (7.2) - LAA
Boone Logan - 456 (6.9) - CLE*
Shawn Tolleson - 367 (9.9) - TBR

Marc Rzepczynski - 368 (5.3) - SEA
J.P. Howell - 322 (5.0) - TOR*
Logan Verrett - 298 (8.5) - BAL
Kirby Yates - 275 (6.7) - LAA

Tyler Thornburg, a former starter, got some closing experience with Milwaukee in 2016, but he'll likely play second fiddle to Craig Kimbrel in his new home of Boston. Marc "Scrabble" Rzepczynski was one of three left handed relievers to ink pretty significant contracts this offseason, and he'll likely function as a LOOGY type for Seattle. The Angels are reportedly going to look at Jesse Chavez as a starter, the role he had with Oakland in 2014 and '15, and Logan Verrett has started his share of games for the Mets, so these two could be part of the starting pitching conversation as well, for what that's worth.

UPDATE: As of New Years Eve, this bullpen had several key pieces in place (an elite setup man, a lefty specialist, and a couple of long relief candidates), but things have filled out significantly. Santiago Casilla joins Tyler Thornburg as a second former closer who will likely have to be content with setup duty this coming season. Neither Boone Logan nor J.P. Howell's deals had been officially announced as of Super Bowl Sunday, but they should both give Rzepczynski a run for his money. Jesse Chavez remains as the top long man candidate, but Matt Belisle and Shawn Tolleson should help provide some quality in-between innings.

Now you've seen how the top American League acquisitions have evolved over the first two months of the 2017 calendar year. Next, I'll be updating the National League's post!