Mining the News (1/27/23)

American League


• The A’s are loaded at first base with the addition of Jesús Aguilar

For a rebuilding A’s club, Aguilar could, at the very least, provide value as a reliable stopgap at first base until No. 1 prospect Tyler Soderstrom, whose quick ascension through the system saw him finish last season with Triple-A Las Vegas, receives his promotion to Oakland, which could come as early as this season. Seth Brown, Dermis Garcia and Ryan Noda are others expected to be in the mix at first base for the A’s.

Seth Brown was already in danger of losing playing time because of his splits (career .791 OPS vs RHP, .527 OPS vs LHP) but this might cement Brown around 450 PA.

Blue Jays

Hyun Jin Ryu is expecting to return in July.

• Ross Atkins thinks Nate Pearson will throw 100 IP this season.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins has suggested they view Pearson as a bulk option with something close to 100 innings pitched in 2023 looking like a fair benchmark. Pearson can be used as a traditional one-inning reliever — and at his best, his stuff would give Toronto the swing-and-miss it needs from its bullpen — or as a long-relief option, who can throw three or four innings. If he’s healthy, it’s possible Pearson could be used for short spot starts, too.

If Pearson can get his walks under control (6.8 BB/9 in 33 career MLB innings), as he did in the Dominican Republic winter league (3.0 BB/9, 4 BB in 12 IP), he could end up as a draft-and-hold darling.


Paul Sewald won’t be healthy by the start of Spring Training.

Mariners reliever Paul Sewald might not be ready for the beginning of Spring Training, as Corey Brock of The Athletic reports that the righty underwent a “minor clean-up of his heel and elbow.” The exact timeline of the procedure or recovery aren’t known, though Brock suggests Sewald should still be ready to go by Opening Day.

Jarred Kelenic (vs RHP) and AJ Pollock (vs LHP) will likely start the season in a platoon.

Much like the team’s infield, there shouldn’t be a lot of surprises here — Hernández in right, Rodríguez in center and a combination of Kelenic (vs. right-handed pitchers) and Pollock (facing lefties) in left field.


Grayson Rodriguez will have his innings limited after the 23-year-old threw only 75 last season.

He says he is fully healthy and is focused on winning a roster spot on opening day, and Orioles general manager Mike Elias said Rodriguez will have that opportunity to head north with the club. Now, the bad news. The Orioles have been extremely careful with their young pitchers who do not have a lot of professional innings. Rodriguez, 23, threw just 75.2 innings in 2022. So, though he’ll likely occupy a rotation spot at some point early in the season, his innings will be watched carefully. The Orioles prefer managing innings in-season versus shutting down a starter in August or September. So, expect shorter outings early in Rodriguez’s big-league career, meaning he may not help much in the fantasy wins category in 2023, because he may not be allowed to get through the fifth initially.

I’m worried he might get treated like Shane McClanahan in 2021 (123 IP, 25 GS) where he averaged just 78 pitches per start. That total limits him across the board with fewer counting stats and his ratios don’t have as much of an effect.

Red Sox

Brayan Bello is adding a curveball.

However, Bello knows that another pitch could be the key to his success in what is expected to be his first full season in the Majors.

“The curveball is what I’ve been working on, a newer edition, and I’m looking forward to using it,” Bello said.

Bello has two near-elite pitches, a change (22% SwStr%, 58% GB%) and sinker (8% SwStr%, 64% GB%), but his slider and four-seam were useless. He tried throwing a curve late in the year, but its traits don’t show much promise.

It’s tough to be a two-pitch guy with one of those pitches being a changeup. Hopefully, the curve allows him to take a step forward.


Matt Manning wants to make adjustments to his pitch arsenal.

Assuming he remains healthy, Manning’s biggest challenge will be perfecting a diverse pitch arsenal. He’s played around with the curve, slider and changeup from the day he was drafted and never fully emerged as a three- or four-pitch pitcher. Manning says he feels good about his slider and has played around with different changeup grips, identifying and correcting flaws related to the way the ball comes out of his hand.

The jury remains out on those pitches. Despite profiling as a power pitcher, he struck out only 6.9 batters per nine innings and ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in whiff rate. His slider — perhaps the most important pitch for Manning this season — looks good on paper and improved greatly compared to his 2021 debut.

If I rostered or plan on rostering Manning, these quotes would have me confused. It sounds like he’s happy with his slider (good so far) and fastball (it might be average). And he doesn’t like his curve (yes, it’s garbage) and change (hold up … it’s decent). Here are the stats on those four pitches and his sinker (Yu Darvish Rule violator).

Matt Manning Arsenal
Pitch Usage SwStr% GB%
Four-seam 52% 7% 42%
Slider 23% 17% 29%
Curve 11% 5% 54%
Change 7% 14% 33%
Sinker 7% 7% 36%

I wonder if the team and he think his fastball, that sits at 93.5 mph and tops out at 98 mph, is good. It’s just an average fastball in today’s game.

It might be interesting to see how he’d perform by just going fastball, slider, and change.

White Sox

Eloy Jiménez expects to play in the outfield.

When asked Monday about talking with Grifol concerning his role, Jiménez said it was good to speak to his new manager, “but I’m really preparing myself for playing outfield more than DH.”

Jiménez was then asked to clarify, to which he responded: “Yeah. Outfield. No more DH.” That was followed by Jiménez’s trademark smile and two thumbs up.

“Last year, when I was DH’ing more than [playing] the outfield, it was because I got surgery. And I understand that,” Jiménez said. “But this year, I’ve been working really hard to play the outfield more than DH.

“So, I don’t really think that I’m going to accept it [DH’ing]. If I’m working hard, I’m going to get better, and I want to play in the outfield.”

What could go wrong with Jimenez in the outfield…


• Cashman says the shortstop job will be a competition between Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe with Peraza being the favorite.

While general manager Brian Cashman, Boone and owner Hal Steinbrenner each have said to expect a spring training shortstop competition between incumbent Isiah Kiner-Falefa and top prospects Peraza and Anthony Volpe, the feeling around the organization is that Peraza might enter camp in the lead.

• Cashman also stated Josh Donaldson will be the team’s starting third baseman.

On Sunday, Cashman added that Donaldson was projected to be the team’s starting third baseman despite a terrible offensive showing by his standards (.222 batting average, 15 home runs, .682 OPS).

• Again, Cashman says Aaron Hicks will get another shot to stay healthy and play left field.

The Yankees’ efforts to upgrade left field this offseason have not resulted in tangible improvement, and general manager Brian Cashman now says the club sees veteran Aaron Hicks as the likeliest candidate to garner playing time at the position.

“I suspect he will be the guy that emerges, because he’s still really talented, and everything’s there,” Cashman told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “Hopefully, we get the Aaron Hicks that we know is in there back as a consistent player for us.”

Additionally, Aaron Hicks could see improved results because of the shift ban and a healthy wrist.

Hicks could see more hits land in shallow right field. Plus, he’ll be even further removed from the surgery that repaired a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist in May 2021. That could mean more power. The second-year Cabrera will get a look in spring training, but he’s played just 10 professional games in left field (nine in the majors) and would likely be better served in a utility role.

DJ LeMahieu is “looking good” after missing time last season with a toe injury.

DJ LeMahieu, coming off an injury to his second right toe, is working out at the Yankees’ spring training facility in Tampa and “looks good,” according to general manager Brian Cashman.

National League


Trey Mancini lost strength in his legs at the end of last season.

“After having another offseason of just normal training a year removed from having cancer, I would say that’s when I really felt like I was fully back to where I was pre-cancer,” Mancini said. “It was mostly the leg strength. It was the last thing to come back. It took a toll on my strength and legs and as the season goes on, it can be reflective of that. When you don’t have a lot left in the tank, your legs are extremely important to everything you do. So having my legs back under me is extremely important.”


Nelson Cruz and Matt Carpenter could be sharing DH duties.

Cruz, in theory, could start against left-handed pitching and come off the bench against righties — sharing DH duties with fellow offseason signee Matt Carpenter. But Cruz might also get a chance to play his way into more at-bats, if he can revert to his 2021 form.

Cruz said he had been dealing with an issue in his left eye for a little over a year. He underwent October surgery to address it, and Cruz says he “can see the baseball better now, no doubt.”


Ke’Bryan Hayes whole left side was tight last year and “may” have affected his swing.

Last season, he was bothered by a sore hip and back. “More than anything, I feel like it affected me swinging sometimes, just because of this whole left side being tight,” Hayes said.


Tejay Antone had a setback in his return.

Reds reliever Tejay Antone’s offseason throwing program has been slowed by a forearm issue, reports Mark Sheldon of, though it’s not believed to be related to the right-hander’s surgically repaired elbow.

• More confirmation on Joey Votto not being ready for Spring Training.

During Monday’s Reds Caravan kickoff, general manager Nick Krall said he wasn’t expecting Votto to be fully ready by the start of Spring Training.

“Probably not. I think he’s going to be a little delayed there,” Krall said. “That was expected at the beginning, from when he had surgery, that he wasn’t going to be unlimited, full-go at the beginning. We’ll just have to see where he comes in and go from there.”

Nick Senzel, TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, Stuart Fairchild, and Michael Siani will be fighting over two outfield spots.

“If something were to change there, I think Nick would be ready to incorporate more positions. Right now, we’re kind of going into the season where we left off. He’s still going to have to play center field, so that would be the focus right now.”

Others expected to compete for starting left-field and center-field spots are TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, Stuart Fairchild and Michael Siani. Wil Myers is expected to be the right fielder.

• Manager David Bell plans on Tyler Stephenson playing between 140 and 150 games in 2023.

Reds manager David Bell has already planned out the entire season, looking game-by-game at just where Tyler Stephenson may play against each opponent. The goal, Bell said Monday as the Reds’ winter caravan kicked off at Great American Ball Park, is for the 26-year-old Stephenson to play between 140 and 150 games in 2023, spread amongst catcher, first base, and DH.

Or until his next concussion.

Jose Barrero will be fighting Kevin Newman for the shortstop job after reworking his swing.

Barrero has another shot at taking the starting shortstop position with the trade of Kyle Farmer to the Twins. Last season he had surgery to remain a fractured hamate bone in his hand during spring training, delaying his season. He’ll enter spring in a competition with veteran Kevin Newman for the starting spot.

Barrero said he added a toe tap to his swing, “to have more balance at my base and have a better view of pitches and try to recognize pitches a little bit better,” he said, according to interpreter Angel Gonzalez.

Hitting coach Joel McKeithan worked with Barrero throughout the season and continued his work into the offseason. Barrero also played in 21 games and got 86 plate appearances in Puerto Rico this offseason to work on those adjustments.

Barrero only had a 19% K% in the Puerto Rican Winter League after a 40% K% in 298 MLB PA. Progress.


Ezequiel Tovar is expected to get full-time at-bats this year.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Tovar, 21, will become the Rockies’ everyday shortstop. He’s replacing José Iglesias, who played last year as a bridge to Tovar’s arrival. The Rockies are prepared to let Tovar work through any growing pains. In 2007, rookie Troy Tulowitzki was hitting below the Mendoza line after more than three weeks to start the season and striking out like he was swinging at a piñata. Eventually, Tulowitzki worked through his issues and hit 24 homers to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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1 year ago

Priceless. Thank you.