Wednesday, September 16, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Wild and Sabres swap Staal and Johansson

 


       The Buffalo Sabres have acquired forward Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for forward Marcus Johansson. 

       For about the 50th year in a row, the Sabres are not a great team. Next year's roster will be drastically different from the 2019-20 squad, as only 10 players are signed for next year, Of those ten, two (Rasmus Dahlin and Henri Jokijarju) are on entry level deals, and two players combining for $15 million of cap space (Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo) scored 23 goals in total this past season. The Sabres, who will have eight RFAs this offseason, lack center depth, and Staal is an improvement. He can easily slide behind Jack Eichel and be Buffalo's second line center. With a $3.25 million cap hit and one more year left on his contract, Staal can be dealt at the trade deadline if he performs well, or even if he doesn't perform well with his new team. A former captain in Carolina, Staal was a teammate of Jeff Skinner, although the Sabres would want to keep Skinner with Eichel, and not move him down. In return, the Sabres give up Johansson, who played center for them but is best suited as a winger. Even at his age, Staal is an improvement, and he takes up less cap space. He had a 50.3% face-off percentage over his time in Minnesota, while Johansson had a 40.1% mark in 2019-20. 

        Staal, 35, scored 19 goals with 28 assists for 47 points in 66 games for the Wild this past season. In his NHL career for the Wild, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers, Staal has 436 goals with 585 assists for 1021 points in 1240 games. He has received Lady Byng votes six times and Selke votes seven times. 

        Johansson is a big injury risk, with a higher cap hit than Staal, and his peak hasn't been much better than Staal's average season. So, this deal is a head scratcher for Minnesota. Both are solid defensive players, but Johansson is an above average defender for a winger, but at center that doesn't hold up as well. He has only scored at least 20 goals twice, last in 2016-17. And, his 60 games this past season was his most since that year. If both Staal and Johansson were dealt for prospects and draft picks, Staal would get the better return. It is understandable if Johansson had more term on his contract, but he has one year left with a $4.5 million cap hit.

       Johansson, 29, scored nine goals with 21 assists for 30 points in 60 games for the Sabres this past season. In his NHL career for the Sabres, Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins, Johansson has 129 goals with 235 assists for 364 points in 648 games.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Canadiens get Edmundson

 


       The Montreal Canadiens have acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 2020 5th round pick. 

       The Canadiens need help on the left side of their defense, with Ben Chiarot, Victor Mete and Brett Kulak being their most prominent players on that side last year. Now, they acquire Edmundson, who is a pending UFA, but they get his rights. Most players do sign with a team after their rights are traded, and I would be surprised if Edmundson doesn't end up a Canadien. In his five year career, Edmundson has played over 60 games in each season, but has never reached 70. If the 2020-21 season is more than 70 games, then a healthy Edmundson should reach it for the first time. A 2019 Stanley Cup champion, he is definitely an improvement.

        Edmundson, 27, scored seven goals with 13 assists for 20 points in 68 games with the Hurricanes this year. In his NHL career for the Hurricanes and St. Louis Blues, Edmundson has 20 goals with 52 assists for 72 points in 337 games. 

        The Hurricanes have a bunch of defensemen, and they have five d-men signed for next year with a cap hit of at least $4 million. Three of them (Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei and Jake Gardiner) are left-handers, with another lefty, Hadyn Fleury, becoming an RFA. Edmundson didn't fit in, especially since he was going to leave as a free agent. The Canes get a fifth rounder back, and it would have been conditional normally, but the new CBA means that picks can not have a condition based on a player signing with a team, so the pick is automatically going to Carolina. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Wild acquire Bjugstad

 


       The Minnesota Wild have acquired F Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional 2021 7th round pick. 

      The Penguins had just under $6.95 million in projected cap space prior to this trade, with Justin Schultz and Conor Sheary pending UFAs, and Matt Murray, Tristan Jarry, Dominik Simon and Jared McCann becoming RFAs. While one of the two goalies could be dealt, the Penguins are once again dealing with cap issues. This trade helps that, as Bjugstad has one more year left on his contract, with a $4.1 million cap hit. Bjugstad was born in Minneapolis, and he could be a success gamble for the Wild. A 2010 first rounder, Bjugstad had 49 points as recent as 2017-18, although he was traded the next season to Pittsburgh, and cannot stay healthy. Lower body injuries led to multiple surgeries, and just 13 games played, none of which came in the playoffs. 

        For the Wild, this is definitely a worthy trade, as a conditional 7th round pick is next to nothing. While a $4.1 million cap hit is hefty, it is only for one season, and the team has a bunch of cap space without many key players needing new deals. He can play both center and wing, and he has multiple connections to Minnesota. Not only was he born in the state, his uncle Scott played in parts of five seasons for the Minnesota North Stars, and he scored 43 goals in 1985-86. 

       Bjugstad, 28, scored one goal with one assist for two points in 13 games for the Penguins this past season. In his NHL career for the Penguins and Florida Panthers, Bjugstad has scored 97 goals with 110 assists for 207 points in 439 games.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Canadiens acquire Allen

 


       The Montreal Canadiens have acquired G Jake Allen and a 2022 7th round pick from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2020 third round pick and a 2020 7th round pick. 

       The Canadiens really need a backup goalie, as Carey Price started 58 of the 71 games that the Canadiens played, and 11 of those 71 were started by Keith Kinkaid and Charlie Lindgren, who each posted save percentages well under .900. The other two were started by Cayden Prime, and while the 21 year old could be the goalie of the future, he is not completely NHL ready. Allen is a big get, as while he has been inconsistent, he is a veteran who won the Stanley Cup (albeit as a backup) last year. Allen's $4.35 million cap hit brings the total cap space occupied by goaltenders up to $15 million in Montreal, but Allen is a free agent after the 2020-21 season. While Max Domi being an RFA is concerning cap wise, the Habs could trade him for a defenseman, an area of need for them. This trade is good considering that the third rounder was originally Washington's, acquired this past deadline for Ilya Kovalchuk, who was disappointing in the Capitals' playoff run. 

       Allen, 30, had a .927 SV% with a 2.15 GAA and two shutouts in 24 games for the Blues in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in St. Louis, Allen has a .913 SV% with a 2.50 GAA and 21 shutouts in 289 games. 

       For the Blues, they are still over the salary cap, even after unloading Allen. Jordan Binnington came back to Earth this year, and their next best backup goalie option is Ville Husso, who has zero games of NHL experience and a .909 save percentage in the AHL this past season. While Vladmir Tarasenko could go on LTIR, the Blues look very likely to lose captain Alex Pietrangelo in free agency. This trade helps, but opens up a big hole in net.


Monday, August 31, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Reds acquire Bradley


 

       The Cincinnati Reds have acquired RHP Archie Bradley from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for IF Josh VanMeter and OF Stuart Fairchild. 

       Bradley has been a good late inning reliever over the years for the Diamondbacks. The 7th overall pick in 2011 became their closer when Greg Holland was released last year. Bradley will be a much needed addition to a struggling Reds bullpen. While he hasn't had an amazing start to the season, Bradley still has one more year left of control, so I am surprised he got this low of a return. VanMeter is young with some MLB experience, but he has had an awful start to this season. A 2017 2nd rounder, Fairchild was Cincinnati's 11th best prospect (per MLB Pipeline) prior to the deal. He reached AA last year, and had good numbers.

       Bradley, 28, has a 4.22 ERA with 12 strikeouts, six saves and a 2.01 FIP in 10.2 innings for the D-backs this year. In his MLB career, all in Arizona, Bradley has a 3.96 ERA with 419 strikeouts, 28 saves and a 3.66 FIP in 404.1 innings. 

       VanMeter, 25, has one home run with a stolen base, a .059 average and a .334 OPS in 38 Plate Appearances for the Reds this year. In his MLB career, VanMeter has nine home runs with 10 stolen bases, a .214 average and an OPS of .683 in 298 Plate Appearances.

       Fairchild, 24, hit 12 home runs with six stolen bases, a .264 average and an OPS of .794 in 460 Plate Appearances for AA and High-A last year. In his minor league career, Fairchild has 24 home runs with 41 stolen bases, a .272 average and an OPS of .777 in 1212 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: Blue Jays acquire Villar


 

       The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired UT Jonathan Villar from the Miami Marlins in exchange for OF Griffin Conine.

       Villar is very, very fast, and he can play multiple positions. He has appeared at second base, shortstop and center field for the Marlins this season. After acquiring Starling Marte from the Diamondbacks and learning that Isan Diaz was returning after he opted-out, Villar became expendable. While he leads the league in stolen bases with nine, Villar has also been caught a league leading five times. The return is also pretty good in Conine, the son of Jeff Conine, who played for the Florida Marlins from 1993-1997, and again from 2003-2005. Conine was ranked by MLB Pipeline as Toronto's 16th best prospect. The Marlins drafted him in the 31st round in 2015, although Conine instead opted to go to Duke University. The Blue Jays are going for it this year, and Villar is a good player, giving them defensive flexibility and a speedy guy. 

       Villar, 29, hit two home runs with nine stolen bases, a .272 average and an OPS of .688 in 126 Plate Appearances for the Marlins this year. In his MLB career for the Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros, Villar has 80 home runs with 211 stolen bases, a .261 average and a .734 OPS in 3128 Plate Appearances. 

       Conine, 23, hit 22 home runs with a .283 average and a .946 OPS in 348 Plate Appearances for Single-A Lansing last year. In his minor league career, Conine has 29 home runs with a .266 average and an .863 OPS in 587 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: Rockies acquire Pillar


 

       The Colorado Rockies have acquired OF Kevin Pillar from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later and international slot money. 

       Pillar has always been knows as a great defender, but with hitting skills that are just okay. A longtime center field with Toronto, Pillar has played all three outfield positions with Boston this year, but mostly right field. Pillar could platoon in center with Sam Hilliard until David Dahl returns from the IL. The lowly Red Sox have unloaded multiple players recently, and Pillar joins now joins the group.

       Pillar, 31, has four home runs with one stolen base, a .274 average and an OPS of .795 in 126 Plate Appearances with the Red Sox this year. In his MLB career for the Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants, Pillar has 80 home runs with 84 stolen bases, a .261 average and a .704 OPS in 3389 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: Marlins acquire Marte


 

       The Miami Marlins have acquired OF Starling Marte from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for LHP Caleb Smith, RHP Humberto Mejia and LHP Julio Frias. 

       The Marlins are 14-15, but they are in second place in the NL East, so they will try to hold that spot and make the playoffs. Marte is an instant addition, although they gave up two starters in their rotation for him. Marte had at least 21 stolen bases in every season from 2013 to 2019, reaching 30 five times and 40 twice. He can also hit for average, with a .295 BA last year. The Diamondbacks acquired him in January for Brennan Malone and Liover Peguero, so this is a very good return. Smith is currently on the IL, but he can strike batters out and he isn't a free agent until 2024. On August 4th of last year, Smith had a 3.35 ERA, but he soon fell off. Mejia is a young pitcher from Panama that joined the rotation for three starts this year, although he was sent down. He was not a top-30 prospect in the Marlins system. Neither is Frias, who has never reached higher than Low-A.

       Marte, 31, has two home runs with five stolen bases, a .311 average and an OPS of .827 in 138 Plate Appearances this year. In his MLB career for the Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates, Marte has 110 home runs with 244 stolen bases, a .288 average and an OPS of .794 in 4124 Plate Appearances. 

       Smith, 29, has a 3.00 ERA with three strikeouts in three innings in this year. In his MLB career with the Marlins and New York Yankees, Smith has a 4.64 ERA with 277 strikeouts and a 4.87 FIP in 252.1 innings.

       Mejia, 23, has a 5.40 ERA with 11 strikeouts and a 6.93 FIP in 10 innings this year. He had a 2.09 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 90.1 innings in the minors last year, although he has never played in AA or AAA. 

       Frias, 22, had a 2.83 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 70 innings for Low-A Batavia last year. In his minor league career, Frias has a 4.28 ERA with 184 strikeouts in 195.1 innings. 

MLB Trade Review: Blue Jays acquire Ray

from Getty Images

 

       The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired LHP Robbie Ray and cash (reported to be $300,000) from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for LHP Travis Bergen.

       The Diamondbacks should have sold high on Ray last year. Then, he still had one more year left of control, and he finished with 235 strikeouts in 174.1 innings. However, they held on to Ray and traded away Zack Greinke, and now they got a weak return for the lefty. That is not only because the Jays will get a month of Ray, he has also been terrible this year. Ray has walked a league leading 31 batters this year, and his 27 earned runs allowed are the most in the league as well. While he still has a 12.5 K/9, Ray needs to improve his control, as the Jays will expect a lot out of him. Toronto already has a bunch of starters, with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, and the newly acquired Taijuan Walker. None of those players were in the organization when the 2019 season concluded. They also have Matt Shoemaker, Trent Thornton and top prospect Nate Pearson on the IL currently. They give up Bergen, who is mainly a minor leaguer, but he played for the Giants last year after they took him in the Rule-5 draft, although he was returned in August. Still, Ray was hurting the Diamondbacks more than he was helping them this year, and Bergen can be a farmhand for them.

       Ray, 28, has a 7.84 ERA with 43 strikeouts and a 7.23 FIP in 31 innings for the Diamondbacks this year. In his MLB career for Arizona and the Detroit Tigers, Ray has a 4.25 ERA with 1017 strikeouts and a 4.09 FIP in 821.2 innings.

       Bergen, 26, has allowed no runs in 1.2 innings with three strikeouts this year. In his MLB career for the Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants, Bergen has a 5.06 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 21.1 innings.

MLB Trade Review: A's get Minor

 


       The Oakland Athletics have acquired LHP Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers in exchange for two players to be named later.

       The A's are almost guaranteed to make the playoffs. Their bullpen is amazing, their lineup is good although guys have underperformed, but the rotation is weak. Chris Bassitt and Jesus Luzardo are the only starters with an ERA under 4.00. While like Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas, the top two pitchers in the Oakland rotation, Minor has had a bad start to the season, he has shown that he can be a two or three pitcher in a rotation. Minor, who missed 2015 and 2016 with injuries, came back as a reliever in 2017 before transitioning back to being a starter after signing with the Rangers. Last year, Minor had a 3.59 ERA with 200 strikeouts, and finished 8th in Cy Young voting, but his 7.8 WAR led pitchers. While he has an 0-5 record through seven starts this year, the pending free agent is a valuable pick-up for Oakland. 

       Minor, 32, has a 5.60 ERA with 35 strikeouts and a 4.83 FIP in 35.1 innings for the Rangers this year. In his MLB career for the Rangers, Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves, Minor has a 3.95 ERA with 1021 strikeouts and a 3.98 FIP in 1131 innings. 

       The Rangers are 12-21, and they aren't making the playoffs. They will be selling off their rotation, as both Minor and Lance Lynn were heavily rumored to be dealt, although Lynn still remains in Texas at the moment. The two players to be named are likely minor leaguers not on the 60-man player pool for the A's.

MLB Trade Review: Padres strike again, acquire Clevinger from Tribe

 


       The San Diego Padres have acquired RHP Mike Clevinger, OF Greg Allen and a player to be named later from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for OF Josh Naylor, RHP Cal Quantrill, C Austin Hedges,  SS Gabriel Arias, LHP Joey Cantillo and IF Owen Miller.

       The Padres have been very busy over the last 48 hours, acquiring six players that will go on their active roster, and that was before this trade. The Padres and the Indians were in contact last year when the Indians were trading another very good starter in Clevinger's friend, Trevor Bauer. Bauer went to the Reds, but the Padres were involved in the three-team deal, and acquired prospect Taylor Trammell, who they traded yesterday to the Mariners. The big area that the Padres needed to improve to go on a playoff run was starting pitching, as Chris Paddack and Garrett Richards (among others) have struggled, leaving Zach Davies and Dinelson Lamet as the only dependable starters. Clevinger can be the bona fide ace that the Padres are looking for, as from 2017 to 2019, his worst ERA in a season was 3.11. While he has dealt with injuries, Clevinger is an elite starting pitcher. The Padres did not give up any of their top five prospects, and Clevinger has two more years left of control. They also get Allen, a light-hitting outfielder who has speed and can be a pinch-runner. He is also a San Diego native and he went to San Diego State University.

       Clevinger, 29, has a 3.18 ERA with 21 strikeouts and a 5.60 FIP in 22.2 innings for the Indians this year. In his MLB career, all in Cleveland, Clevinger has a 3.20 ERA with 584 strikeouts and a 3.58 FIP in 523.1 innings. 

       Allen, 27, has one home run with one stolen base, a .160 average and an OPS of .534 in 28 Plate Appearances for the Indians this year. In his MLB career, all with the Tribe, Allen has eight home runs with 31 stolen bases, a .239 average and an OPS of .639 in 614 Plate Appearances. 

       After Zach Plesac and Clevinger were suspended and sent down to the alternate site after breaking the COVID-19 protocols, the Indians were at a fork in the road. The other players were mad at Plesac and Clevinger for their selfish act, and the team could also get a lot for the pitchers. The Indians are 21-13, well on their way to the postseason. Clevinger is an amazing pitcher, but they need some better hitters, and Naylor is a much needed outfield addition. Even after this trade, the Indians have Cy Young frontrunner Shane Bieber, plus Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Civale and top prospect Tristan McKenzie, who have all pitched well this year. Plus Plesac, who is still in the minors, but had a 1.29 ERA in three starts before the incident. The Indians will be fine without Clevinger, and they get some boosts to their lineup and their farm system. A 2015 first round pick, Naylor will slide into left field, and he is still very young. Hedges is not a good hitter, but he is a boost over Sandy Leon, who is having an awful season so far. In San Diego, Hedges was pushed out by yesterday's acquisitions Jason Castro and Austin Nola. Quantrill, the eighth overall pick in 2016, started 18 games for the Padres in his rookie season last year, and he has had some success in the bullpen in 2020. The other three players in this trade are all in the top-11 prospects in the San Diego system, per MLB Pipeline. A 20 year old from Venezuela, Arias was ranked 7th in the system, and he had good numbers in High-A last year. The left handed Cantillo was ranked ninth, and the 2017 16th rounder was amazing for Single-A Fort Wayne last year, and made it to High-A. A 3rd rounder in 2018, Miller was ranked 11th overall, the worst of the prospects acquired in this deal, but he is probably closest to the big leagues. Miller is primarily a shortstop, but he has experience at second and third base, and if he is to make it to the big leagues, second base is probably his best bet, with Francisco Lindor (and now Arias) at short and Jose Ramirez at third, but no long-term option at second. 

       Naylor, 23, has one home run with one stolen base, a .278 average and an OPS of .732 in 38 Plate Appearances for the Padres this year. In his two year career, Naylor has nine home runs with two stolen bases, a .253 average and a .720 OPS in 317 Plate Appearances.

       Quantrill, 25, has a 2.60 ERA with 18 strikeouts and a 3.94 FIP in 17.1 innings this year. In his two year MLB career, Quantrill has a 4.79 ERA with 107 strikeouts and a 4.23 FIP in 120.1 innings.

       Hedges, 28, has three home runs with a .158 average and a .591 OPS in 71 Plate Appearances for the Padres this year. In his six year career, all in San Diego, Hedges has 49 home runs with a .199 average and an OPS of .616 in 1339 Plate Appearances.

       Arias, 20, hit 17 home runs with eight stolen bases, a .302 average and an OPS of .809 in 511 Plate Appearances for High-A Lake Elsinore last year. In his minor league career, Arias has 23 home runs with 16 stolen bases, a .270 average and an OPS of .715 in 1247 Plate Appearances.

       Cantillo, 20, had a 2.26 ERA with 144 strikeouts and a 0.931 WHIP in 111.2 innings in the minor leagues last year. In his minor league career, Cantillo has a 2.51 ERA with 221 strikeouts and a 0.990 WHIP in 168.2 innings. 

       Miller, 23, hit 13 home runs with five stolen bases, a .290 average and a .785 OPS in 560 Plate Appearances for AA Amarillo last year. In his minor league career, Miller has 17 home runs with nine stolen bases, a .307 average and an OPS of .808 in 890 Plate Appearances.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Padres acquire Nola and two others in seven player deal

 

from Getty Images

       The San Diego Padres have acquired C/1B Austin Nola, RHP Austin Adams and RHP Dan Altavilla from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for OF Taylor Trammell, IF Ty France, RHP Andres Munoz and C Luis Torrens.

        The Padres have been very active recently, acquiring Trevor Rosenthal, Mitch Moreland, Jason Castro and now these three players in just over 24 hours. Castro looked to be the new catcher with Austin Hedges as the back-up, but Nola could start, and Castro could push both Hedges and Francisco Mejia out, or one of them could be traded for a starting pitcher, most likely Indians ace Mike Clevinger, whose best friend Trevor Bauer was dealt for Trammell last July. A career minor leaguer with the Marlins who developed into a catcher and debuted at age 29 last year, Nola is off to a hot start offensively, although he is heavily overshadowed by his younger brother Aaron. Adams becoming a strikeout machine after being acquired last May from Washington. While he has not pitched so far this year recovering from ACL surgery, he should return soon. He also has four more years of control. Altavilla has been with the Mariners since 2016, and while there have been a bunch of up-and-downs since, he has consistently struck batters out. All three are solid depth pieces to add to your team, but when you consider what San Diego gave up, the trade is definitely questionable. 

       Nola, 30, has five home runs with a .306 average and an OPS of .903 in 110 Plate Appearances for the Mariners this year. In his MLB career, all in Seattle, Nola has 15 home runs with a .280 average and an .827 OPS in 377 Plate Appearances.

       Adams, 29, had a 3.94 ERA with 53 strikeouts and a 3.12 FIP in 32 innings for the Mariners and Washington Nationals last year. In his MLB career for those two teams, Adams has a 3.79 ERA with 63 strikeouts and a 3.55 FIP in 38 innings.

       Altavilla, 27, has a 7.71 ERA with 14 strikeouts and a 5.88 FIP in 11.2 innings for the Mariners this year. In his MLB career, all in Seattle, Altavilla has a 4.08 ERA with 117 strikeouts and a 4.46 FIP in 106 innings.

       Even for the Mariners, these three players weren't necessities. While Nola was one of their best players, he was a guy that went from nothing to something with them, and they are selling high. Adams has been hurt all year, and Altavilla is a spare part. In return, they get Trammell, who has fallen off in recent years, but the former 1st round pick is still ranked as the 60th best prospect in the major leagues, and he was 5th in the San Diego system. While the rest of the players aren't prospects, they have MLB service time. Munoz is a Mexican right-hander who is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery and will miss this season, but he debuted last year and he can reach up to 102 mph with his sinker. France, drafted as a 34th rounder in 2015, has been a utility player since he was called up last year, and he has had a great start at the plate this year. A Rule-5 pick from the Yankees before the 2017 season, Torrens played in 56 games that year, but has only played in 14 games in the three seasons since, seven of those coming in 2020. He can definitely get more playing time in Seattle, with Tom Murphy injured and back-ups Joseph Odom and Joe Hudson having a weak start to the season.

       Trammell, 22, hit 10 home runs with 20 stolen bases, a .234 average and an OPS of .689 in 514 AA Plate Appearances last year. In his minor league career, Trammell has 33 home runs with 110 stolen bases, a .270 average and a .769 OPS in 1799 Plate Appearances.

       Munoz, 21, had a 3.91 ERA with 30 strikeouts and a 3.17 FIP in 23 innings for the Padres last year, his only taste of Major League Baseball action.

       France, 26, has two home runs with a .314 average and an OPS of .885 in 56 Plate Appearances for the Padres this year. In his MLB career, all in San Diego, France has hit nine home runs with a .251 average and a .737 OPS in 257 Plate Appearances. 

       Torrens, 24, has no home runs with a .273 average and a .697 OPS in 13 Plate Appearances this year. In his MLB career, all in San Diego, Torrens has no home runs with a .176 average and a .479 OPS in 168 Plate Appearances. 

MLB Trade Review: Padres acquire Castro

 


       The San Diego Padres have acquired C Jason Castro from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for RHP Gerardo Reyes.

       The Padres have few holes offensively, and they cleared up one of them when they acquired Mitch Moreland today from Boston to be the designated hitter. Their biggest problem is behind the plate, with career .200 hitter Austin Hedges having a .614 OPS. While Hedges is good defensively, San Diego needs a replacement, and Castro is a fine defender. While I wouldn't call Castro a great, or even good hitter, he is better than Hedges. Castro hit 13 home runs with a 103 OPS+ last year. He has a strikeout problem, with a 30.8 K% over the past five seasons, and he has struck out over 100 times in five seasons, although Castro has only reached 500 Plate Appearances once. 

       Castro, 33, has hit two home runs with a .192 average and an OPS of .707 in 62 Plate Appearances for the Angels this year. In his career for Los Angeles, the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins, Castro has 88 home runs with a .231 average and a .703 OPS in 3084 Plate Appearances. 

      A disappointing season for the Angels has led to them being sellers this year. Another former all-star in Tommy La Stella was dealt to Oakland, and now Castro is gone. Overall, signing Castro and trading him after 18 games isn't bad. Reyes has not played in the majors this year, and he debuted last year. In AAA last year, Reyes struck out 61 batters in 45.1 innings with a 3.57 ERA. When called up, Reyes allowed a bunch of runs but he had a 13.2 K/9. With the Angels having a much weaker bullpen than the Padres, Reyes should find a spot.

     Reyes, 27, had a 7.62 ERA with 38 strikeouts and a 3.41 FIP in 26 innings for the Padres last year. He allowed just 24 hits but walked 11 batters. His fastball averages 97 miles per hour, and he can touch 100 mph.

MLB Trade Review: Rockies acquire Givens

 


       The Colorado Rockies have acquired RHP Michael Givens from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for 1B Tyler Nevin, IF Terrin Vavra and a player to be named later.

       Givens is one of the premier relief pitchers on the trade market this year, especially since he is not a rental. Givens will be a free agent after the 2021 season. That, plus his strong start to 2020 led to a three player return, including a former 1st and 3rd round picks. Debuting in 2015, Givens became a late inning reliever in Baltimore before becoming a part-time closer in Baltimore when Zack Britton was traded in 2018. While he lost the closing job to Cole Sulser this year, Givens is having an amazing season, and he is a big improvement to a bullpen that lost both Wade Davis and Scott Oberg, and has only three pitchers with an ERA under 4.00. 

       Givens, 30, has a 1.38 ERA with 19 strikeouts and a 1.000 WHIP in 13 innings for the Orioles this year. In his MLB career, all in Baltimore, Givens has a 3.32 ERA with 406 strikeouts, 20 saves and a 1.137 WHIP in 336 innings. 

       The return for Givens is nice, as the Orioles get two prospects ranked in the top 15 of the Rockies' system, per MLB Pipeline. Vavra is ranked 7th, while Nevin is 14th. A 2015 supplemental 1st rounder, Nevin is closer to the MLB. The son of former 1st overall pick and 12 year MLB veteran Phil Nevin, Tyler reached AA for the first time last year, but he had his worst offensive minor league season. Vavra is actually older than Nevin, but the 2018 3rd rounder has never reached a level higher than Single-A. Like in many other trades this week, the player to be named later is likely a player not on the 60 man player pool that will be revealed when the season is over. 

       Nevin, 23, hit 13 home runs with six stolen bases, a .251 average and an OPS of .744 in 540 Plate Appearances for AA Hartford last year. In his minor league career, Nevin has hit 36 home runs with 23 stolen bases, a .286 average and an OPS of .802 in 1546 Plate Appearances.

       Vavra, 23, hit 10 home runs with 18 stolen bases, a .318 average and an OPS of .899 in 453 Plate Appearances for Single-A Asheville last year. In his minor league career, Vavra has hit 14 home runs with 27 stolen bases, a .313 average and an .888 OPS in 652 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: Cubs acquire Martinez


 

       The Chicago Cubs have acquired 1B/OF Jose Martinez from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for two players to be named later. 

      I really don't like this trade for the Rays, although we likely won't know who they got until the season is over. This offseason, they gave up LHP Matthew Liberatore, who is the 61st best prospect in the league (per MLB Pipeline) to acquire Martinez and Randy Arozarena. When the trade happened, it looked like an overpay, and it looks even worse after Martinez only played in 24 games in Tampa Bay. The Rays do have a lot of outfielders, including Arozarena, who was called up after the trade and has not played yet this year, but guys like Hunter Renfroe, Kevin Kiermaier and Yoshi Tsutsugo have gotten off to much worse starts than Martinez this year. For the Cubs, Martinez is a lefty-masher who has played in the NL Central before, spending his first four seasons with the Cardinals. In his career, Martinez has a decent OPS of .773 against right-handers, but against lefties? it is an outstanding .946 in 336 Plate Appearances. So far this year, he hasn't hit southpaws as well, with a .229 average and .718 OPS against them, although that only accounts for 38 Plate Appearances. He also walks a lot, with a 9.3 BB% in his career. While he may not be a great defender, Martinez is definitely an improvement at designated hitter over catcher Victor Caratini, who has started at the position 12 times this year. 

       Martinez, 32, has hit two home runs with a .239 average and an OPS of .717 in 76 Plate Appearances for the Rays this year. In his career for the Rays and St. Louis Cardinals, Martinez has 43 home runs with a .294 average and an OPS of .815 in 1364 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: Moreland to the Padres

 


       The San Diego Padres have acquired 1B Mitch Moreland from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for OF Jeisson Rosario and 3B Hudson Potts.

       The Padres are going for it this year, after acquiring Trevor Rosenthal from the Royals yesterday and now Moreland today. The offense has been very good for San Diego this year, with catcher, left field and designated hitter being the exceptions. Tommy Pham can play left field, but DH'd a lot this year before going on the IL. He is a good hitter, although he had a weak start. Moreland will fill the DH spot, and he can spot Eric Hosmer a day at first base if necessary, although Hosmer is a four-time Gold Glover and the Padres would want him in the field (however, Moreland did win a Gold Glove in 2016). A four-time 20+ home run hitter, Moreland has power from the left side of the plate, and he is one of the few Red Sox that are hitting very well this year. Plus, he could be back for 2021, with a club option after this year. Moreland has familiarity with both GM AJ Preller and Manager Jayce Tingler, who both came from the Rangers organization, the team that drafted Moreland in 2007 and employed him through 2016. 

       Moreland, who turns 35 on September 6, has hit eight home runs with a .328 average and an OPS of 1.177 in 79 Plate Appearances for the Red Sox this year. In his MLB career for the Red Sox and Texas Rangers, Moreland has hit 174 home runs with a .253 average and a .770 OPS in 4211 Plate Appearances. 

      While losing Moreland hurts for the Red Sox, as he was a fan favorite, had an .803 OPS in four seasons for the team and won a World Series in 2018, they need to look to the future. The new starting first baseman for the 11-22 Sox will be Bobby Dalbec, a 25 year old who is the team's 3rd best prospect (per MLB Pipeline) and was recalled following this trade. Plus, they got a good return. Both Potts and Rosario were ranked in the top 20 prospects in the Padres system, with Potts 16th and Rosario 19th. A 2016 first rounder, Potts is still very young, although he needs to figure it out at AA, as his 129 games at that level have not led to pretty stats. Potts has some experience at shortstop and second base, which is good as the Red Sox are very deep at third base with 23 year-old Rafael Devers becoming the face-of-the-franchise, and top prospect Tristan Casas also plays the position. Even Dalbec was originally a third baseman before moving to first. A left handed bat, Rosario reached High-A last year, and while he did not have a great batting average, at age 19 he walked 87 times. 

       Potts, 21, hit 17 home runs with three stolen bases, a .240 average and an OPS of .724 in 461 Plate Appearances in the minors last year, mostly for AA Amarillo. In his minor league career, Potts has hit 57 home runs with 17 stolen bases, a .256 average with a .743 OPS in 1792 Plate Appearances.

       Rosario, 20, hit three home runs with 11 stolen bases, a .242 average and a .686 OPS in 525 Plate Appearances for High-A Lake Elsinore last year. In his minor league career, Rosario has hit seven home runs with 37 stolen bases, a .264 average and an OPS of .716 in 1270 Plate Appearances.

MLB Trade Review: Braves acquire Milone

 


       The Atlanta Braves have acquired LHP Tommy Milone from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for two players to be named later. 

       After Max Fried, the Braves have a weak rotation, with Mike Soroka hurt and Touki Toussaint, Kyle Wright and Sean Newcomb struggling so badly that they were optioned. This led to both Josh Tomlin and Robbie Erlin joining the rotation, and Milone is a pretty good comparable to those two. Tomlin has pitched about 100 innings more than Milone in his career, but the two have the same ERA+ (91), and Erlin  is just under both of them, with a better career FIP. The journeyman lefty joined the Orioles this offseason and not only made the Opening Day roster, he started game one of the season after John Means was injured. Milone has had a decent start to this season, even better than last year, where he had a 1.5 bWAR, his best since 2015 (which was also 1.5, and he hadn't had a positive WAR in a season in between). Entering 2020, Milone's best K/9 in a season was 7.9 (in 2018, a season he only had 26.1 innings pitched), but he has a 9.5 mark through six starts this year. While he may not be the biggest name, Milone helps out the desperate-for-starting-pitching Braves. Two players to be named later sounds weird, but players not on the 60-man player pool cannot be traded, so it is almost guaranteed that the teams have an under-the-table agreement on who the players are, and that they will be announced when the season is over. 

       Milone, 33, has a 3.99 ERA with 31 strikeouts and a 3.85 FIP in 29.1 innings this season. In his MLB career for the Orioles, Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers, Milone has a 4.45 ERA with 679 strikeouts and a 4.56 FIP in 904 innings. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Padres acquire Rosenthal

 


       The San Diego Padres have acquired RHP Trevor Rosenthal from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for OF Edward Olivares and a player to be named later.

       Before you can accurately describe how Trevor Rosenthal is as a player, you need to go back to when he broke into the league. Rosenthal pitched well in his first two major league seasons and became the closer of the St. Louis Cardinals. He registered over 100 saves for them over the next four seasons before Tommy John surgery cost him his 2018 season. Rosenthal signed a contract with three different teams last year and played for two of them, and he walked 26 batters in 15.1 innings, with a 13.50 ERA, but 17 strikeouts. Rosenthal joined the Royals this offseason, and has become their closer. While his seven walks in 14 games is short of good, Rosenthal has gotten back into a groove, and is close to being back to the player he once was. The Padres entered the season with one of the league's best bullpens, but they really need help now, as closer Kirby Yates went on the IL early into the season, and his replacement, Drew Pomeranz, soon joined him. Emilio Pagan is currently the closer, but he has struggled, along with Craig Stammen, Javy Guerra and Luis Perdomo. Rosenthal can help bring stability to the 'pen that could use some help as the Padres eye a playoff spot. 

       Rosenthal, 30, has a 3.29 ERA with 21 strikeouts, seven saves and a 3.74 FIP in 13.2 innings for Kansas City this year. In his MLB career for the Royals, Cardinals, Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers, Rosenthal has a 3.46 ERA with 473 strikeouts, 128 saves and a 2.83 FIP in 354 innings. 

       The Royals, currently sitting in the basement of the AL Central, get a decent return for a reclamation project after a month of usage, as Olivares will slide in as their 22nd best prospect, per MLB Pipeline. After trading away Brett Phillips to the Rays a couple of days ago, Olivares could take Phillips' spot in the outfield. Olivares will be another speedy Royal, as he has stolen at least 20 bases in three separate minor league seasons. He has shown flashes of power, and a good summer camp earned him his MLB debut this year, although a weak start to the season got him optioned. Alex Gordon, Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier are all regulars in the outfield, but the depth is pretty weak after that, with Phillips gone and former Padre Franchy Cordero injured, Bubba Starling seems to be the main competition for Olivares in Kansas City. The player to be named later will likely be a minor league prospect not on the 60-man player pool for the Padres, so they could wait until the season is over to complete the deal as players not in the player pool cannot be dealt.

       Olivares, 24, had a .176 average with one home run and a .516 OPS in 36 Plate Appearances for the Padres this year, his only taste of Major League Baseball. For AA Amarillo last year, Olivares hit 18 home runs with 35 stolen bases, a .283 average and an .801 OPS in 551 Plate Appearances. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

MLB Trade Review: A's acquire La Stella

 


       The Oakland Athletics have acquired IF Tommy La Stella from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for IF Franklin Barreto.

       A light-hitting fan favorite with the Cubs, La Stella left Chicago for the Angels before the 2019 season, and he blossomed into an all-star, hitting 16 home runs in 78 games with an .832 OPS, before a fractured leg lead to him only appearing in two more games for the season. With Matt Chapman at third base, La Stella won't need to play his secondary position, but he completes the Oakland infield. Aside from Chapman, the A's have Matt Olson at first base and Marcus Semien at shortstop, but their second baseman this year has been Tony Kemp, who has a career .679 OPS. All they give up is Barreto, a young infielder who was the last remaining piece in Oakland from the 2014 Josh Donaldson trade. Barreto has always been blocked in Oakland, but he should get a chance in Los Angeles. Barreto proved last year that he can hit at the minor league level, with 19 home runs, 15 stolen bases, a .295 average and an OPS of .926. He has played second base and shortstop for the A's, although he could probably play other positions if the Angels need him to. 

       La Stella, 31, has hit four home runs with a .273 average and an OPS of .845 in 117 Plate Appearances for the Angels this year. In his MLB career for the Angels, Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, La Stella has hit 30 home runs with a .272 average and an OPS of .751 in 1385 Plate Appearances. 

       Barreto, 24, is 0-for-10 this year with five runs scored for the A's. In his MLB career, all in Oakland, Barreto has hit nine home runs with three stolen bases, a .180 batting average and an OPS of .570 in 219 Plate Appearances.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Blue Jays acquire Walker


 

       The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired RHP Taijuan Walker from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later. 

       The Blue Jays have plenty of starters, with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson healthy, although Nate Pearson, Trent Thornton and Matt Shoemaker are currently on the IL. A first round pick in 2010, Walker had a 3.49 ERA in 28 starts in 2017 with the Diamondbacks, his first year with the club. However, he missed most of the next two seasons with Tommy John surgery, and returned to the team that drafted him, the Mariners. Starting pitching depth is key, especially for the surprise Blue Jays. Since Walker is a free agent at the end of the season, his price tag is low. A report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says that the player to be named will be a minor leaguer not on Toronto's 60-man player pool, which means that nothing big is going Seattle's way. Still, it is something, and Walker is useless for them now. Even in his eighth season, Walker is still in the middle of his prime.

       Walker, 28, has a 4.00 ERA with 25 strikeouts and a 4.94 FIP in 27 innings this year. In his MLB career for the Mariners and Diamondbacks, Walker has a 3.95 ERA with 503 strikeouts and a 4.24 FIP in 555.1 innings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Penguins get Kapanen back in seven piece deal

 

       The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired forwards Kasperi Kapanen and Pontus Aberg, plus defenseman Jesper Lindgren from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forwards Evan Rodrigues and Filip Hallander, defenseman David Warsofsky, and a 2020 1st round draft pick (15th overall).

       Immediately, I loved this trade for the Maple Leafs. When attempting to unload Patrick Marleau and his $6 million cap hit last offseason, the Leafs either had to part with their first round pick, or one of Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson. They chose to trade Marleau and a first round pick to Carolina, and the first rounder became the 13th overall pick. Now, they got a year out of Kapanen, and move two spots back in the draft, and they get a solid bottom six player in Rodrigues and a decent prospect in Hallander. A pending RFA, Rodrigues will probably have a cap hit lower than the $2 million he received from Buffalo and Pittsburgh this past year. Acquired at the trade deadline with Conor Sheary for Dominik Kahun, Rodrigues had a disappointing 2019-20 season after he scored nine goals with 20 assists in 2018-19. If the Leafs don't want Rodrigues, they do not have to tender him a contract, and he would become a UFA. If he does play, Rodrigues will join the long list of Toronto natives to play for his hometown team. Unloading Kapanen's $3.2 million cap hit is huge for Toronto, and he just finished year one of his three year deal. A 2018 2nd rounder, Hallander played in the Swedish Hockey League last year, and he was on team Sweden in the World Juniors in 2019, although he did not record a point in five games. Warsofsky is a depth defenseman with some NHL experience, although he has not played in the NHL since the 2017-18 season. Even with Toronto having a weak blue line, Warsofsky is just a roster space and an AHLer in this deal.

       Rodrigues, 27, scored four goals with six assists for 10 points in 45 games for the Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres in 2019-20. In his NHL career for those two teams, Rodrigues has scored 27 goals with 45 assists for 72 points in 199 games. 

       Hallander, 20, scored five goals with nine assists for 14 points in 27 games for Lulea HF of the Swedish League this past season. In his two year career in Sweden, Hallander has 12 goals with 23 assists for 35 points in 72 games.

       Warsofsky, 30, scored 10 goals with 23 assists for 33 points in 51 games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins (AHL). In his NHL career for the Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils, Warsofsky has two goals with nine assists for 11 points in 55 games. 

       For the Penguins, Hallander and a first is a rough price for Kapenen, a middle-six winger. Although, he will likely play with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh, which is good news for him. The Penguins obviously like the young winger, as they drafted him 22nd overall in 2014, before trading him to Toronto a year later in the Phil Kessel deal. Kapanen had a breakout year in 2018-19, scoring 20 goals with 44 points as he was a pending RFA. However, he regressed in 2019-20, although being on Crosby or Malkin's wing will definitely help his production go up. They also get Aberg, a forward who only played in five NHL games this year. He scored 11 goals in 37 games with the Ducks to start off 2018-19, but he struggled after a trade to Minnesota. A 4th round pick in 2015, Lindgren came over from Finland for the AHL playoffs last year, and appeared in 31 games for the Marlins in 2019-20.

       Kapanen, 24, scored 13 goals with 23 assists for 36 points in 69 games for the Leafs this past season. In his NHL career, all in Toronto, Kapanen has 41 goals with 49 assists for 90 points in 202 games. His father, Sami Kapanen, had over 450 points in his 12 year NHL career. 

       Aberg, 26, had one assist in five games for the Leafs this year, and 20 goals with 24 assists for 44 points in 55 games for the Marlins (AHL). In his NHL career for the Leafs, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers, Aberg has scored 17 goals with 27 assists for 44 points in 132 games. 

       Lindgren, 23, had one goal with eight assists for nine points in 31 games for the Toronto Marlies this past season. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Phillies acquire Workman and Hembree

 

       The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired RHPs Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree, as well as a player to be named later and cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for RHPs Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

       The bright side to the 2020 Red Sox does not seem to exist. Starting off 8-18 with the worst record in the American League, Boston has a horrible rotation. Unfortunately, their bullpen was not much better and it gets even worse now with this trade. Workman, who never had an ERA under 3.00 or a K/9 of 9.0 or higher in his first four seasons, absolutely broke out in 2019, becoming the Boston closer, and finishing with a 1.88 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 71.2 innings. While he hasn't gotten off to the best start this year, he is an immediate upgrade to the Phillies bullpen that just lost its best reliever so far this year, Jose Alvarez. While Workman is a free agent after the season, Hembree has one more year left of arbitration, before becoming a free agent after the 2021 season. While he doesn't compare to Workman, Hembree has been a big part of the Boston 'pen since coming over for Jake Peavy in 2014. The Phillies acquired three relievers today, as David Hale was picked up from New York in the afternoon. While Pivetta has started and came out of the bullpen over the past four seasons, the return of the 2015 Jonathan Papelbon deal has allowed 10 runs in three games this year. 

       Workman, 32, has a 4.05 ERA with eight strikeouts and four save, plus a 2.57 FIP in 6.2 innings so far this year. In his six year MLB career, all for the Red Sox, Workman has a 3.75 ERA with 303 strikeouts and 20 saves, plus a 3.76 FIP in 288 innings. 

       Hembree, 31, has a 5.59 ERA with 10 strikeouts and a 4.72 FIP in 9.2 innings for Boston this year. In his MLB career for the Red Sox and San Francisco Giants, Hembree has a 3.60 ERA with 282 strikeouts and a 4.22 FIP in 265.1 innings. 

       As an awful team, the Red Sox could get some value out of Workman and Hembree. This deal helps their tank for the number one pick, and it could get them a viable starting pitcher. 71 of Pivetta's 92 career games are starts, and while his career numbers are not good, he can strike a lot of batters out, and compared to the other options the Sox have, he is an improvement. They have really struggled this year, with David Price and Rick Porcello leaving, plus Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez missing the season due to Tommy John and COVID, respectively. Seabold, a 2017 third rounder, has good minor league numbers, although he is 24 and has never pitched at the AAA level. Ranked as the 23rd best prospect in the Philadelphia system by MLB Pipeline, this return seems weak, although the main part of the trade (Workman) might only be a Phillies for about a month. Still, this could signify a weak pitching trade market this year, about 10 days away from the trade deadline.

       Pivetta, 27, has a 15.88 ERA with four strikeouts and a 9.70 FIP in 5.2 innings for the Phillies this year. In his four year MLB career, all in Philadelphia, Pivetta has a 5.50 ERA with 421 strikeouts and a 4.64 FIP in 396.1 innings. 

       Seabold, 24, had a 2.24 ERA with 58 strikeouts and a 1.012 WHIP in 56.1 innings for three different minor league levels last year, mainly AA. In his three year minor league career, Seabold has a 3.52 ERA with 203 strikeouts and a 1.063 WHIP in 196.2 innings. 

MLB Trade Review: Phillies acquire Hale

 

       The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired RHP David Hale from the New York Yankees in exchange for RHP Addison Russ. 

       Hale has been with the Yankees multiple times, as the 2009 third rounder of the Braves has signed with the team a whopping five times, and he's only pitched in 28 games for the team over three seasons. In a middle relief role last year, Hale found major league success for the first time since 2014, with a 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings. He was designated for assignment at the end of the season, but made the team this year as a non-roster invitee. Hale pitched well in five outings this year, but he was DFA'd when Aroldis Chapman returned from the IL. The Phillies bullpen may be the worst in all of baseball, and it is definitely in the bottom five. One of their best relievers this year, Jose Alvarez, will go to the IL after being recently hit by a line drive. Blake Parker is the only other reliever with at least five innings pitched and an ERA under 4.00 this season. The way Hale has pitched since 2019 with the Yankees, he is probably good enough to be the 7th or 8th inning pitcher for the Phillies right now. The Phillies are also reportedly interested in Red Sox relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree.

       Hale, 32, has seven strikeouts with a 3.00 ERA and a 2.34 FIP in six innings for the Yankees this year. In his MLB career for the Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins, Hale has a 4.23 ERA with 158 strikeouts and a 4.25 FIP in 236 innings. 

       The Yankees have a tendency to acquire talent for just about nothing. Although that has mostly been limited to position players, Russ could fit the bill. While at 25 years of age, Russ is way too old for a guy who has never played at the AAA level, he has amazing minor league stats, and he probably could be very close to MLB ready. While he is not on the 40-man roster, Russ will go to the Yankees' alternate site. 

       Russ, 25, was the 19th round pick for the Phillies in 2017. For AA Reading last year, Russ had a 2.54 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 22 saves in 56.2 innings. In his three year minor league career, Russ has a 2.48 ERA with 200 strikeouts and 50 saves in 152.2 innings.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Padres acquire Alonso

 

       The San Diego Padres have acquired 1B Yonder Alonso from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for cash considerations.

       Alonso will report to the Padres' alternate site, but if he returns to the big leagues, he will be a good veteran presence for the team. Alonso has spent 10 years in the major leagues, and four of them were with San Diego, from 2012-2015. Also, his brother-in-law is Padres star Manny Machado. Alonso is a lefty bat with some power, although his best season was far-and-away 2017, his only all-star year. The 7th overall pick in 2008, Alonso could back-up Eric Hosmer at first base, although with rosters currently at 28 men and shortening to 26 soon, it seems unlikely that we will see Alonso in the bigs this year. For a guy who hits for power, Alonso doesn't strikeout too much, with a K% of 18.3% over the last five seasons, and he does walk, with a BB% of 10.4% in that time. Signed by the White Sox last year, Alonso had an awful start to the season, and was released on July 3rd, but he was signed by the Rockies a week later, and improved in Colorado, with an .837 OPS. He signed with Atlanta on February 14th, but has not gotten into a game this year. 

       Alonso, 33, hit 10 home runs with 37 RBIs, a .199 average and a .641 OPS in 335 Plate Appearances for the Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies in 2019. In his MLB career for the White Sox, Rockies, Padres, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics, Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners, Alonso has hit 100 homers with 426 RBIs, 22 stolen bases, a .259 average and an OPS of .736 in 3773 Plate Appearances.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Mets acquire Hamilton


       The New York Mets have acquired OF Billy Hamilton from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for RHP Jordan Humphreys.

       This move comes as a surprise, as Hamilton was on a minor league deal with the Giants, and did not make the team's roster. Also, MLB Pipeline ranks Humphreys as the club's 14th best prospect. However, Humphreys was recently designated for assignment, and the highest level he has pitched at is High-A, and he's only made two starts there. Humphreys is only a year younger than star Pete Alonso, as well as bench bat Dominic Smith, and he is the same age as shortstop Amed Rosario. While Hamilton brings almost no value at the plate, even though he's a switch-hitter, he is known for his great speed and his glove. Hamilton had seven outs above average last year, and has reached as high as 21 in a season. Hamilton also had a 29.5 ft/s sprint speed, and he can easily go from home to first base in under four seconds. With a runner starting on second base in extra innings, Hamilton has added value for the Mets. They can use him like the rival Braves did last year, as he only had 41 at-bats in 26 games.

       Hamilton, 29, hit no home runs with 15 RBIs, a .218 average, 22 stolen bases plus an OPS of .564 in 353 Plate Appearances for the Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Royals last year. In his seven year MLB career for the Braves, Royals and Cincinnati Reds, Hamilton has hit 21 home runs with 176 RBIs, a .242 average, 299 stolen bases and a .623 OPS in 3089 Plate Appearances.

       The Giants aren't a very good team. Humphreys can make their team and pitch, even without much minor league experience. Humphreys missed most of 2019 and all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery.

       Humphreys, 24, had a 4.50 ERA with two strikeouts in two innings for the rookie league Mets last year. In his minor league career, Humphreys has a 2.60 ERA with 177 strikeouts in 169.2 innings. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Marlins acquire Bleier


       The Miami Marlins have acquired LHP Richard Bleier from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a player to be named later. 

       After more than half of the Marlins tested positive for COVID-19, the team has been acquiring pitchers so they can field a roster when the team returns to play. Joining Bleier is new players Mike Morin, Josh D. Smith and Justin Shafer. Bleier has been an effective late inning reliever for the Orioles since he was acquired from the Yankees in February 2017. From 2016-2018, Bleier's worst ERA was 1.99, although he had a 5.37 ERA in 53 games last year, raising his career ERA to over 3.00 (it has since been lowered). While he does not strike batters out, Bleier walked just 3.4% of batters last year, and he had a ground-ball rate of 60.1%. Bleier allowed fly-balls just 12.4 percent of the time. He also has a career 0.6 HR/9. In front of closer Brandon Kintzler, the Miami bullpen is weak, and Bleier will be at the back of it even when all of the sick players return. He also will return to home, as he is a native of Miami Beach, Florida. 

        While they are a rebuilding team, the Orioles might have been able to get more than a player to be named later for Bleier, especially from a contender later this month. While Bleier is not young, and he does not have a future in Baltimore, a team like the Orioles should have held on to him, to at least keep them a little bit competitive. With Bleier gone, Baltimore will need someone to step up and pitch the 7th or 8th inning, while Cole Sulser is the closer. Former closer Mychal Givens seems to have the 8th inning job locked up, while Miguel Castro and Paul Fry can replace Bleier until Hunter Harvey returns from the IL, and everyone moves down one spot.

        Bleier, 33, struck out four batters in three innings over two games this year so far, and has not allowed a run. In his five year career for the Orioles and New York Yankees, Bleier has a 2.99 ERA with only 88 strikeouts in 177.1 innings, plus four saves and an 8-1 record. Bleier has a career WHIP of 1.201. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

MLB Trade Review: Astros acquire Velazquez

    
      The Houston Astros have acquired RHP Hector Velazquez from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for a player to be named later.

       The Astros need experienced pitchers, especially in their bullpen. Opening Day was less than a week ago, and the Astros have already had seven relief pitchers make their MLB debut (Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes, Cristian Javier, Brandon Bailey, Brandon Bielak, Andre Scrubb and Nivaldo Rodriguez). Velazquez was claimed off waivers by Baltimore from Boston in March, but he didn't make the team. The Mexican righty has starting experience, and he has had some success over his three year MLB career. With injuries impacted the pitching staff heavily, Velazquez is a fine pick-up. While he threw it less than 17% of the time last year, Velazquez's slider is a pitch that the Astros might look to abuse. The slider had a .125 average against and a 32.9 whiff rate, plus an average exit velocity of 85 mph, all the best among Velazquez's five pitches. The Orioles don't need Velazquez, as he didn't make the team, and when the squad is as bad as they are, getting value from anything is worth it.

       Velazquez, 31, had a 5.43 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 56.1 innings for the Boston Red Sox last year. In three seasons for the Red Sox, Velazquez has appeared in 89 games (starting 19 of them), and he had a 3.90 ERA with 121 strikeouts in 166 innings. Velazquez has a career ERA+ of 117. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Ranking every single MLB stadium


     
 The thing that separates MLB parks from arenas and fields from the other major sports is their uniqueness. Every NHL and NBA arena has the exact same dimensions, with just their location being the thing that puts them apart from the rest. The same could be said for the NFL, although some seating arrangements are different. Every MLB stadium has different field dimensions compared to the next one, plus a different skyline view and other quirks. While I rank them, keep one thing in mind: these are based off of looks and special details. Age of the park has nothing to do with the rankings, so sorry Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, the thing that aids you in other rankings is gone now. Another disclaimer: I have not been to every MLB stadium. 

       30. Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago White Sox
I have never been a big fan of Guaranteed Rate Field. It is just a default baseball stadium, with nothing that makes it special. The signs on top of the scoreboard that I will now call "the seven swirls" are cool, but that's just about it. There's not many ballparks that I don't like, but this is one of them.

       29. RingCentral Coliseum, Oakland Athletics
The MLB stadium with the most foul territory space, RingCentral Coliseum (formerly known as the Oakland Coliseum) is hardly an MLB stadium, as it doubled as the field for the Oakland Raiders before they moved to Las Vegas this year. With weird and ugly gaps all-throughout the outfield, this place has little outfield seating, and A's fans won't be too sad to see it go when (if) they open up a new ballpark in a few years. 

       28. Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers 
From here-on-out, I like every single stadium. Miller Park has a retractable roof, which does give it bonus points. So does the slide that their mascot goes down. But besides that, nothing else really separates it from the rest of the league. 

       27. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays
I already know that Brewers fans won't be happy with this one. The main thing that Miller Park has going for it are the roof and the slide, and "the Trop" has the roof, and the stingrays in center field are cooler than the slide, especially since it also relates to the team. Who wouldn't love Ji-Man Choi hitting right-handed bombs into a tank full of Rays. Oh, well, I think we could have seen that coming.

       26. Globe Life Field, Texas Rangers
This ranking is more arbitrary, since it is mostly based off of my first impressions. Globe Life Field is a big step-down from its predecessor, Globe Life Park. The retractable roof is great, but the main thing that the park has going for it is the scoreboard hanging high-up over right field, making us wait for the glorious day when someone finds a way to hit a baseball off of it. Besides that, it is kind of bland.

       25. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays
The view of Rogers Centre is great when the retractable roof is open. Plus, the hotel is center field is one of the more creative things in an MLB stadium. So, Rogers Centre should be high up on the list. However, the many decks in left and right field look really bad, so it drops a lot of spots. 

       24. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals
I have never been a big fan of Kauffman Stadium, and I don't know why. The fountains in the outfield is a really nice touch, but the rest of the field has never stood out to me. It has already risen many spots while I was doing these rankings, and I wouldn't be surprised if it went up more in the future. 

       23. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees
As a Yankee fan, this placement feels weird. But, Yankee Stadium feels like it was built to be the most average MLB stadium that there is. The short porch in right is always fun, and I really like the look of the terraces that were added in a few years ago. However, nothing makes this place special, besides the team that plays there. Monument Park moves it up multiple spots. 

       22. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodger Stadium has a very similar problem to Yankee Stadium, as it seems basic. However, the beautiful background of Los Angeles mountains definitely moves it up a lot of places. The concourse underneath the outfield seats is a fun touch, but the ugly batter's eye in center field hurts its placement. 

       21. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks
Chase Field has an odd batter's eye in center field, but the pool in right-center is an automatic win. While it might be pointless, the sharp edges separating the bullpen and the crowd down the left and right field line is a fun quirk. Also, with the Arizona weather, a retractable roof is a very important touch. 

       20. Marlins Park, Miami Marlins
While the loss of the sculpture in left-center field makes the stadium less unique, but Marlins Park is still unique. Like Chase Field, there is a pool, but it is in an exclusive club in left field. A wall in right-center field separates center field from right field, and makes the right field section of seats, right behind the bullpen, look cool. 

       19. Target Field, Minnesota Twins
Down the left field line, the wall in foul territory with standing room space on it is a really nice add for Target Field. The view of the right field seats, and over the right field seats of the city is also a very good look. The dimensions are kooky, which makes a unique ballpark.

       18. Truist Park, Atlanta Braves 
The second newest ballpark in the league after Globe Life Field, the park was called SunTrust park when it opened up, and it is a nice ballpark. However, the company name change made an awful sounding ballpark. The chophouse in right field looks very cool, especially with the seating in front. The park looks very clean, and my only complaint with it is the awful name. 

       17. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers
While it doesn't compare to Monument Park, the brick wall in left-center with the Tigers' retired numbers is a good idea. While having the center field wall 420 feet deep isn't good for hitters, down the line at Comerica is shallow, and the gaps make it easy for triples and inside-the-park-home-runs, which are always great. 

       16. T-Mobile Park, Seattle Mariners
Formerly known as Safeco Field, the left field concourse that leads up to the bullpen is a good look. Also, the second deck in left ends short enough so that it is possible to hit the ball out of the stadium, the most fun type of home run. 

       15. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals
The most improved stadium on the list, Busch Stadium gets so many points for the arch in the background behind right-center field. Besides that, the buildings to the left of the arch also make a good looking background. The left-center buildings are a clean look, and the green batter's eye is nice, although fans are not allowed on it, unlike Globe Life Park, the former field of the Rangers. 

       14. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs
I'm sorry, Cubs fans. You should have been prepared for that, with age not a factor. I've never been a big fan of the ivy on the outfield wall, but it is a quirk that makes Wrigley unique. The buildings around the stadium make the field feel like it is in a neighborhood, because it is. Also, the seating down the right field line and the scoreboard look good. 

       13. Petco Park, San Diego Padres
The warehouse down the left field line is original to Petco. It is always special when someone hits a home run that lands on top of it. Also, the San Diego buildings make a cool background for a stadium. Plus, Bartolo Colon's only home run was in this park, so that's a bonus.

       12. Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians
The high wall in left field isn't the best high wall in left field in the MLB, but it creates a cool aesthetic, especially down the line with the standing room only section. Also, the concourse in center behind the bullpen makes the bullpen feel like it is in the stands and not the field. Progressive Field has always been a favorite of mine, and that's why it is at the 12th spot.

       11. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies
Who doesn't love home runs (besides pitchers)? The elevation of Denver helps balls travel further, leading to more home runs, despite a big outfield. The purple row of seats at exactly one mile above sea level is also a great touch by the Rockies. The trees in center are random, but still feel cool. 

       10. Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati Reds
While there isn't anything super special with it, "Great American" is just a good looking stadium. I like the smoke stack-looking pillars in right-center, plus the bullpens are condensed down the line so that they don't take away any seats. 

       9. Citi Field, New York Mets
The decks in left field look natural, unlike the odd, trampled decks at the Rogers Centre and other places. Also, the bridge right-center over the bullpen is a very good look, and the Pepsi Porch might not be a unique thing, but it also overlooks the bridge in a nice way. 

       8. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies

While it may be contaminated right now, "CBP" has a bridge behind the center field batter's eye which bridges left and right field, making traveling through the ballpark a fun experience, as you can watch the game while walking, and you can look over the elevated bullpens in center field. Also, who wouldn't love the Philly Phanatic roaming around?


       7. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals

The left-center seats are much different from the other sections, as they are colored red and separate from everything else, making the park feel unique throughout. To dead center, two walls converge to make a tiny gap far away from home plate, a little quirk that isn't in every stadium. While Yankee Stadium is perfectly average in a boring way, Nationals Park is similar, but in a good way.


       6. Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros

The Crawford Boxes in left-center are so unique and odd that it makes Minute Maid Park special. The train on top of the boxes does the exact same thing, and in a cooler way. Right field is a little bland, but that's fine, especially with everything going on in left. Minute Maid could go for a top-three spot, but the infamous Tal's Hill is no longer apart of the field. 


       5. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels

While Angel Stadium might not be as high on other people's lists as it is on mine, I've always loved it because of the rocks in left-center field, a really cool touch. While it may not be great for money, having no seats and instead having grass from left-center to center makes the park seem less major league, but more fun. Also, there is a hit it for $1 million can in the outfield. 


       4. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates

While most people have it as number one, PNC Park is not there for me, but it is still amazing. The Roberto Clemente Bridge and the Allegheny River work as a great background. The field itself feels small, with little outfield seating, and it is very possible to hit a ball into the river. The very short wall in left makes robbing a home run easier, and that is always fun.


       3. Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants

While having four different names since opening in 2000 is not ideal, Oracle Park is the best stadium in the National League. While I'm not the biggest fan of left field, with the biggest thing to point out being a statue of a Coca-Cola bottle and a baseball glove, right field is where it makes it great. Triple alley is one of my favorite on-field quirks, and who could forget McCovey Cove, the body of water in right field that tops PNC Park's Allegheny River. 


       2. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

Our runner-up might have one of the smallest capacities, but it is possibly the coolest park. Fenway has the green monster in left field, which makes it top-five, easily. But, Fenway Park gets a higher ranking because of other things, like the odd configurationof the walls in center field. With the monster, the pesky pole is often overshadowed, but it helps odd home runs occur in right field. 


       1. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles

While it would be best for the "Oriole Park at" part of the name to be dropped, Camden Yards is the best MLB stadium. The B&O warehouse trumps the buildings at Petco Park and other places, and it also is the border for a concourse on Eutaw Street that includes a standing room area in right field. Plus, "Boog's", a barbecue place in right-center field run by former MVP Boog Powell, is a great place to eat. 


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Washington Nationals 2020 Season Preview

From Getty Images

       The bullpen has become arguably the most important part of an MLB team. Teams have found a lot of success on the shoulders of a great bullpen, but the Washington Nationals proved that a bullpen isn't as necessary as we all thought. With a pretty thin relief core, the Nationals used their starters as relievers, and they won their first World Series. While they have improved on their weak points, it will be very hard to recreate the magic of last year after an awful start and an amazing comeback.

       Offseason additions: RHP Will Harris, 2B Starlin Castro, 1B Eric Thames, RHP Ryne Harper, LHP Sam Freeman.

       Offseason subtractions: 3B Anthony Rendon, 2B Brian Dozier, 1B Matt Adams, OF Gerardo Parra, RHP Hunter Strickland, LHP Matt Grace, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Fernando Rodney.

       Rotation
The Nationals have the best top-3 starters in the league. While he only made 27 starts last year, his least since his rookie year of 2008, Max Scherzer had another great season. He had a 2.92 ERA with 243 strikeouts in 172.1 innings, for a league leading 12.7 K/9. However, it was the first time since 2015 where Scherzer wasn't the league leader in strikeouts. His 1.027 WHIP also didn't lead the league for the first time since 2015. Scherzer finished 3rd in Cy Young voting, and he has finished top-5 for that award the last seven seasons. Scherzer's slider had a .168 wOBA against and a 50.6% whiff rate. Forced to choose between Stephen Strasburg and third baseman Anthony Rendon, both big ticket free agents, the Nationals brought back Strasburg, the first overall pick in 2009, giving him $245 million over seven years, while Rendon got the exact same contract from the Angels. Strasburg pitched a league leading 209 innings last year, with a 3.32 ERA and 251 strikeouts. With a 2.51 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 14.1 innings over two World Series starts, Strasburg brought home the title of World Series MVP. The Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a six year deal before the season. Corbin finished 11th in Cy Young voting, with a 3.25 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 202 innings. Corbin allowed 7.5 hits per nine innings, but he had an 8.4 percent BB rate, his highest since 2016. Anibal Sanchez's first season with the Nationals saw him pitch in 166 innings, his most since 2013, but he struck out 134 batters for a 7.3 K/9, tied with his 2014 season for his lowest since 2010. Sanchez had a hard hit percentage against of 28.1%. After Joe Ross opted-out, the 5th starter competition was between Erick Fedde and Austin Voth. Fedde pitched in 78 innings last year, but he only struck out 41 batters with a 4.50 ERA. Voth pitched in 43.2 innings, but had more strikeouts than Fedde, with 44, and he had a 3.30 ERA.

       Bullpen
Sean Doolittle lost closing privileges in the playoffs after the worst season of his career, but he should retain the job for 2020. Doolittle had a career high 29 saves last year, but he had a 4.05 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 60 innings. Doolittle's WHIP jumped exactly 700 points. He allowed an average exit velocity of 90.9 mph, after it was 84.4 mph in 2018. Daniel Hudson recorded the final out of the World Series, and he converted six saves in 24 regular season games after coming over from Toronto. For the Nats, Hudson had a 1.44 ERA and 23 strikeouts, plus a 0.880 WHIP. The Nationals signed Will Harris, who blew Game 7 of the World Series for Houston, allowing the Nationals to win. Harris had a 1.50 ERA in his age 34 season, a career best. He struck out 62 in 60 innings, with 26 of the Ks coming versus his curveball. That curve had a .151 average against. Tanner Rainey came over from the Reds for Tanner Roark before the season, and dominated strikeout-wise, with 74 Ks in 48.1 innings. Rainey had a 3.91 ERA and only allowed 32 hits, but somehow walked 38 batters. Rainey throws a fastball that can reach 100 miles per hour. Ryne Harper debuted for the Twins last year, four days after his 30th birthday. Harper was decent for Minnesota, with a 3.81 ERA and 50 Ks in 54.1 innings. Harper only walked 10 batters, for a 4.4% BB rate. Injured list placements put Roenis Elias and Wander Suero's statuses in question. The left-handed Elias had a 3.64 ERA with 14 saves for the Mariners last year before being traded to the Nats. Elias made just four appearances in Washington thanks to a hamstring strain. Roenis' change-up, sinker and curveball, combined for about 50% of his pitches, all had an average against under .200. Suero made 78 appearances out of the 'pen last year, and struck out 81 batters in 71.1 innings. While he had a 4.54 ERA, Suero's FIP of 3.07 was much better. Suero throws a cutter with a 2554 rpm average spin rate. After being claimed off of waivers in May, Javy Guerra pitched in 53.2 innings for the Nationals. Guerra had a 4.66 ERA with a 7.6 K/9 if you combined his Nationals stats and his stats with the Blue Jays early in the season. Sam Freeman has a very good chance of making the team as a non-roster invitee. While he only pitched in one game last year, Freeman struck out 58 batters in 50.1 innings in 2018, with a 4.29 ERA, and he has a 3.62 career ERA. In 2018, Freeman had a 2.4 barrel percentage.

       Catchers
Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes split catching duties last year, and Suzuki produced at the plate more, earning the job in the postseason. Suzuki hit 17 home runs with a .264 average plus an OPS of .809 in 2019, the first season of his second stint with the Nationals. Suzuki only struck out 11.7% of the time. Gomes, a native of Brazil, was an all-star in 2018, but he only had a .704 OPS last year, with 12 home runs. Gomes is quick to throw to second base, and will be one of the best back-up catchers in the league, although he will play more than a back-up.

       Infielders
Howie Kendrick won the Nationals the World Series. After a surprisingly great regular season, with a .344 average, a .966 OPS and 17 home runs (the first two were career highs, the home runs were his most since he hit 18 in 2011), Kendrick hit a Grand Slam against the Dodgers to win the NLDS, and a two-run home run against Harris to win Game 7. Kendrick has mostly played second base in his career, but he moved to first when Ryan Zimmerman was hurt. With Zimmerman opting-out of the season, Kendrick can split first base and DH with Eric Thames, signed from Milwaukee. Thames improved defensively last year, with two outs above average. He hit 25 home runs with an .851 OPS, which are both better than his 2018 numbers. Starlin Castro, who was coached by Manager Dave Martinez in Chicago, is the new second baseman. Castro just turned 30, but he already has over 1,600 hits. Castro played in all 162 games for the Marlins last year, and hit a career high 22 home runs with a .270 average. Castro has 11 outs above average between second base, third base and shortstop last year. Trea Turner might be the fastest player in baseball. In each of his five seasons, Turner has had a sprint speed of at leats 30 ft/s, at 30.3 last year. Turner stole 35 bases, and hit 19 home runs, with a .298 average plus an OPS of .850. With a .596 slugging against fastballs, Turner has become an ideal lead-off hitter. After Rendon left, Carter Kieboom will take over at third base. Kieboom, a natural shortstop, is the Nationals' top prospect and the 21st best prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. Kieboom had an 11 game debut last year, although it was less than stellar, with a .128 average. For AAA Fresno, Kieboom had a .303 average, a .902 OPS and 16 home runs in 109 games. Veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera was the second baseman last year, but will move into a utility role. In 38 games after being released by Texas and signed by Washington, Cabrera hit six home runs with a .323 average and an OPS of .969. Cabrera had seven outs above average combined at three different positions. Wilmer Difo will make the team as a back-up infielder and speed threat. Difo had a 27.8 ft/s sprint speed last year, which was a decrease of 1.8 ft/s from 2016, which is a big gap.

       Outfielders
The outfield from last year remains intact. Now entering his third season at age 21, Juan Soto hit 34 home runs with 110 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and a .949 OPS. Soto finished 9th in MVP voting, and helped Nats fans forget about Bryce Harper. Soto had an average exit velocity of 92 mph. Another former top prospect in Victor Robles also had a great season. While he wasn't spectactular at the plate, with 17 home runs and an OPS of .745, Robles stole 28 bases, and cemented himself as potentially the best defensive player in baseball, with a league leading 23 outs above average, 22 of them in center and one in right. However, Robles had an average exit velocity of only 83.3 mph. Adam Eaton, who the Nationals traded Cy Young candidate Lucas Giolito for back before the 2017 season, hit a career high 15 home runs with 15 stolen bases. Eaton hit .279 with a .792 OPS. Eaton has had an OPS+ of over 100 for six consecutive seasons. Michael A. Taylor played in only 53 games last year, his lowest since 2014. Taylor stole just six bases, with a .669 OPS. With a 29.1 ft/s sprint speed and two outs above average, Taylor is still a good fourth outfielder. Emilio Bonifacio has not played in the majors since 2017, but he can play all over the field, so his versatality is valuable. Bonifacio has played for eight teams in his eleven year career (including the Nationals, who he played for in 2008), with a .256 average and a .645 OPS. Andrew Stevenson can be used as a pinch-runner, and he had a 28.5 ft/s sprint speed last year. In 37 MLB Plate Appearances last year, Stevenson had a .953 OPS.

       Projected Opening Day Lineup
SS Trea Turner (R)
RF Adam Eaton (L)
LF Juan Soto (L)
DH Eric Thames (L)
2B Starlin Castro (R)
1B Howie Kendrick (R)
3B Carter Kieboom (R)
C Kurt Suzuki (R)
CF Victor Robles (R)

       Projected Rotation
Max Scherzer (R)
Stephen Strasburg (R)
Patrick Corbin (L)
Anibal Sanchez (R)
Austin Voth (R)

       Projected Bullpen
Sean Doolittle, closer (L)
Daniel Hudson (R)
Will Harris (R)
Tanner Rainey (R)
Roenis Elias (L)
Wander Suero (R)
Sam Freeman (L)
Ryne Harper (R)
Javy Guerra (R)
Erick Fedde (R)

       Projected Bench
C Kurt Suzuki (R)
IF Asdrubal Cabrera (S)
IF Wilmer Difo (S)
OF Michael A. Taylor (R)
UT Emilio Bonifacio (S)
OF Andrew Stevenson (L)

Baseball-Reference OOTP Simulator Stats
64-39 record, 1st in NL East
Most home runs: Juan Soto (30)
Highest batting average: Juan Soto (.345)
Highest OPS: Juan Soto (1.122)
Best ERA, starters: Max Scherzer (2.63)
Best ERA, relievers: Wander Suero (2.51)
Most innings pitched: Max Scherzer (143.2)
Most strikeouts: Max Scherzer (216)
Best K/9: Max Scherzer (13.5)

Record through 60 games, last five seasons:
2019: 27-33
2018: 35-25
2017: 38-22
2016: 36-24
2015: 31-29

       Prediction
The Nationals are really good. While their lineup isn't as deep as other teams, and their bullpen is not what you would call "amazing", their rotation makes up for it, and so do stars like Turner and Soto. The Nationals will finish 1st in the NL East in 2020, but get knocked out in the NLDS.