Some low publicity signings and a quiet yet productive trade happened this past week that added good value to the MLB clubs and potentially in the fantasy world too, but as a whole the hot stove is still snoozing. Let’s get it!
Discretely quiet signings this past week in the NL:
- The Phillies acquired young center fielder Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for two pitchers – 25-year-old right-hander Vance Worley and 23-year-old right-hander Trevor May. Worley is 18-13 with a 3.50 ERA over parts of three seasons for the Phillies. May, among the Phillies’ top prospects, pitched in Double-A last season. Revere, 24, was going to be the Twins' center fielder after Denard Span was traded to the Nationals for Alex Meyer last month. After seeing BJ Upton sign with division rival Atlanta and trading away Victorino in 2012, the Phillies needed to fill the hole in CF and have done it very well in this move. Giving up on Worley was likely tough as he did show promise over three seasons, and May was the #2 prospect in the PHI system, so Revere has to live up to some hype pretty fast. Having Revere’s speed in centerfield and on the base paths should be very valuable with Howard coming back healthy and guys like Brown and Mayberry coming into their own. I can likely see Revere being good for 45+ SBs, close to .300 average and close to 90 runs if he plays 145-150 games and gets to hit in the leadoff spot, which could let Rollins move to #2 and lessen the abuse on his body stealing bases and hitting lead off as well as give him more RBI chances. As for the Twinkies, they will likely get to enjoy both Worley and May pitching in a pitchers park for many years to come!
- LHP Randy Choate and the St. Louis Cardinals came to terms on a $7.5 million, three-year contract. The 37-year-old left-handed reliever tied for the major league lead with 80 pitching appearances this past year, splitting the season between the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers. Choate is 11-11 with a 4.02 ERA and six saves in 476 games during a big league career that began in 2000 and should provide a solid lefty specialist out of the pen for the Cards, but will have little to no fantasy value, without significant injuries to the rest of the bullpen.
- RHP Brandon McCarthy signed a 2 year contract worth a reported $15.5 million. The former Oakland Athletics pitcher is coming off a uber scary head injury after being struck by a line drive in the melon, but he has since been cleared for all baseball activities and is expected to make a full recovery. Before undergoing emergency brain surgery (which still sounds ridiculously scary for a baseball injury), McCarthy was well on his way to his best season as professional, compiling a 3.24 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 24 walks in 111 innings. McCarthy's ground ball tendencies will be a great asset in the tighter confines of Chase Field, and if he gets a full time starting spot I think he can put up numbers similar to his pre injury 2012 ones – say 10 wins, 3.50 ERA and 125Ks in 150 IP for now...good late round pick if he shows well in spring training.
- RHP Dan Haren agreed to a 1 year, $13M deal with Washington which could turn out to be the signing of the year – if Haren’s back issues go away and he returns to his old self, or very close to it, this one year deal is a huge bargain with little risk. Although his velocity has dipped about 3 mph from his peak, he is only 32 so the odds of Haren having a bounce back year are still good as he wants another deal worth 2-3 years. Also, being slotted in behind Strasburg-Gonzalez-Zimmerman means he will face mostly SP4-SP5 type pitchers with a blossoming young offense hitting behind him. Personally, Haren is on my target list for the later-middle rounds as I expect his medical issues to scare off most managers in fantasy drafts. 12-14 wins, a sub 4.00 ERA and a 160K:40BB ratio is what I expect from Haren if he puts in 30 starts…the risk-reward evaluation on Haren is all dependent on where in a draft you can get him.
- Marco Scutaro signed a 3 year, $20M deal to stay in SF after a big postseason and second half of 2012. Assistant GM Bobby Evans noted that the signing of the 37 year old infielder was easy: “If he can survive (Matt) Holliday at second base, it gives me a lot of confidence he can survive into his late 30s.” Now, I do think a 3 year deal for a 37 year old infielder is a little more risky than that, but odds are his presence in the clubhouse, ability to play multiple infield positions, and his solid defense should make up for any drop off in offensive production - Scutaro should put up 3 years of .275-70R-5HR-50RBI-5SB, nothing to get excited about, but he will always the solid INF fill in or backup in the fantasy world.
Rants and Ramblings:
Just for fun, imagine what the FA market would be like if the following players hadn’t signed extensions prior to reaching free agency: Matt Cain, Andre Ethier, Cole Hamels, Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, and Brandon Phillips would have altered the whole landscape of this year’s FA crop if they were part of it. Greinke would be #3 in pitching after Hamels and Cain in my humble opinion, and Molina and Phillips would quickly gobble up a lot of space that guys like Napoli, Victorino and Bourn need to find their deals.
So, looking forward to 2014 we might have a crop of free agents headlined by Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Tim Lincecum, Brian McCann and Josh Johnson, some big names but nothing that makes GM’s all excited and mushy about dropping hundreds of millions, maybe save Tim Lincecum if (and when) he wins the NL Cy Young in 2013.
Arizona GM Kevin Towers said recently on the topic of a possible Justin Upton deal - "An Upton deal is not going to be a prospect deal. We're not a better ball club. It would have to be some key major league pieces coming back. If that's not out there, we're fine with Justin, and we'll stay with what we have." So basically he is saying the shortstop and starting pitcher they wanted this off season have yet to materialize (McCarthy is good and young but not the starter they planned on) so they will continue to wait to see if they can lure TEX into a multi team deal to get Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar or Indians’ SS Asdrubal Cabrera for example.
Towers supposedly took a few offers centered on Upton but once again failed to see anything he liked. For some reason I don’t think he will pull the trigger this year either, maybe closer to the deadline in July if ARZ is out of the race – this is bad for Upton as I think the youngster let all this trade talk get to him last off season and during the 2012 season resulting in a decline in some of his offensive numbers. A change in scenery for Upton, after the team has basically shown they want to move him, might be what he needs to blow up into super stardom, but going to Tampa isn’t the spot he should go; TEX on the other hand would be huge for him.
Rumblings have the Reds and Ryan Ludwick working on a 2 year deal for the aging outfielder. Ludwick will be 35 in the 2013 season and has shown signs of slowing down a little from his biggest years in a Redbirds uniform. After a poor year hitting in Petco he returned to Cincy and put up 26 dingers and 80 RBI in 125 games in the potent Reds line up. Expecting 25 HR and 80 RBI again this year might not be far-fetched, but Ludwick will never again hit the 2008-2009 numbers he did in STL. The key to not only Ludwick’s success, but to Cincinnati’s offense, all revolves around the knee of Joey Votto which has been undergoing a strict rehab program this off season with rumours sounding good for Votto’s return at 100% in 2013.
Non-NL news, just because it is funny - The Yankees have reportedly offered Kevin Youkilis a $12M deal – likely to fill the hole at 3B A-Rod will leave recovering from hip surgery, but to pick up a former BoSox leader is always something the NYY enjoy doing. The only true question for the NYY is when will they sign Robinson Cano to a long term deal, as the countdown to when A-Rod is off the books has been on for a while now.
Catch me on Twitter @CanuckHoppy
More from Hoppy: