Mining the News (1/5/23)

American League


James Kaprielian’s status is unknown and A.J. Puk will be stretched out as a starter.

James Kaprielian’s status for Spring Training is unknown after he underwent shoulder surgery this offseason, and A.J. Puk is going to be stretched out to a starter’s workload this spring.

Puk’s 66 IP last season was the most he’s thrown since his 125 IP back in 2017. I’m guessing 120 IP max for him.

As for pitches, Puk was mainly four-seamer (10% SwStr%, 41% GB%) and slider (19% SwStr%, 33% GB%) last season. He’s thrown other pitch types in the past and will need to revive one in order to navigate a lineup a third time.

Cristian Pache is out of minor league options.

Pache’s outlook is not looking very bright right now. In the aftermath of the Murphy trade, Forst indicated that the club views Esteury Ruiz as an everyday center fielder who will be ready to contribute to the A’s from the start of the regular season. For Pache to make this club out of Spring Training, he’ll need to show improvements to his overall offensive game — which remains a work in progress in the Dominican Winter League.

Given that Pache is out of Minor League options, he’s at risk of being traded or even designated for assignment if the A’s decide they view more upside with another corner outfielder in camp, such as Brent Rooker.

The team signed Drew Rucinski.

The A’s are in agreement with starter Drew Rucinski, pending a physical. It’s reportedly a one-year, $3MM guarantee for the Paragon Sports International client. The deal also contains a $5MM club option for the 2024 season.

Here are the best comps I have for his last season in Korea:

Drew Rucinski Comps in KBO
Name Season Age IP G GS K% BB% HR/9
Drew Rucinski 2022 33 193 31 31 24% 4% 0.1
Josh Lindblom 린드블럼 2019 32 194 30 30 24% 4% 0.6
Hyeon-jong Yang 2020 32 172 31 31 20% 9% 0.7
Brooks Raley 레일리 2019 31 181 30 30 18% 8% 0.5
Lucas Harrell 2015 30 171 33 30 19% 14% 0.6
Ryan Feierabend 피어밴드 2018 32 163 27 26 20% 5% 1.3
Hector Noesi 2018 31 174 29 29 18% 5% 1.3

And here is how the six comps performed the first year in MLB:

Drew Rucinski Comps in MLB
Name Season IP G GS K% BB% HR/9 GB% velo ERA WHIP
Josh Lindblom 2020 45.1 12 10 27.2% 8.4% 1.2 27% 90.1 5.16 1.28
Hyeon-jong Yang 2021 35.1 12 4 15.6% 10.0% 2.3 42% 90.0 5.60 1.64
Brooks Raley 2020 20.0 21 0 32.1% 7.1% 1.4 39% 90.2 4.95 0.95
Lucas Harrell 2016 47.0 9 9 17.3% 12.0% 0.8 44% 91.5 4.21 1.51
Ryan Feierabend 2019 5.2 2 1 13.8% 3.4% 3.2 46% 85.6 11.12 2.12
Hector Noesi 2019 27.2 12 4 19.4% 11.3% 2.3 30% 93.0 8.46 1.59
Average 29.9 11 5 20.9% 8.7% 1.8 38% 90.1 6.58 1.51

The best performance was a 4.21 ERA so I’m not interested … at all.


• The hitting coach thinks Steven Kwan has some untapped power.

However, as hitting coach Chris Valaika has hinted, there’s some untapped power there.


• Scott Servais expects Julio Rodriguez to steal around 25 to 30 bases.

“Everyone says he’s going to get older, he’s going to slow down, the body gets thicker,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I know, for where he’s at right now, it’s big for him. He still wants to go out and steal 25, 30 bases, or maybe more with the rule changes. It may open up more things for him as well. Speed is a big part of where he’s at and his focus this offseason.”

Kolten Wong and Dylan Moore are still penciled into a platoon.

The Mariners are likely going to platoon Kolten Wong and Dylan Moore, but maybe that’s not the worst avenue given the massive asking prices on free agents Carlos Correa ($315 million), Xander Bogaerts ($280 million) and Trea Turner ($300 million).


Adley Rutschman will catch around 125 games and be the DH or first baseman in other games.

The Orioles likely wish Rutschman could be behind the plate for all 162 games. That’s not realistic, though, due to the physical toll taken on catchers, which is why even the best and most durable backstops aren’t back there for more than about 120-130 games in a season.

General manager Mike Elias sees that range as the “max scenario” for Rutschman in 2023, in terms of his time behind the dish. But there could be ways for Baltimore to get his bat — which was key to its offense this past season, and will continue to be in the future — in the lineup a bit more often.

Rutschman made 23 starts at designated hitter this past season. The 24-year-old also made 30 appearances at first base over two years in the Minors.

“I think whether or not he plays any first base will depend on what we do the rest of our offseason with other position-player acquisitions. I definitely think he’ll be playing some DH,” Elias said. “I think we want him back there catching as much as he can while not wearing his body down to where his performance suffers.”

Red Sox

Triston Casas’s knee is just about at 100%.


• For now, Joey Wentz is out of the rotation.

The flip side of the Tigers signing Boyd and Lorenzen for their rotation is that it likely costs Wentz a chance at a rotation spot to open the season. It’s a tough break, not just because of his 12 scoreless innings in the Arizona Fall League, but because of the 1.73 ERA and .161 opposing batting average he posted down the stretch in the Tigers’ rotation. That said, given Detroit’s injury history with starters over the past season and a half, his chance could arrive soon enough.


Trevor Larnach played through a hand injury last season.

It was later discovered he was playing through a hand injury. Although we’ve only seen a small sample size, it suggests there might be a breakout coming if Larnach can stay healthy.

I added him to my list of hitters who played through injuries.

White Sox

Lance Lynn’s knee finally felt healed in the second half and he added a slider to get lefties.

As much as a pitcher taking any extra workload these days triggers concern, Lynn’s participation also doubles as a statement about how he feels about his surgically repaired right knee. He could already point to his second half as testimony — his velocity crept back up, as did opponent swings and misses; he did not so much as issue multiple walks in a game in any of his last 14 starts, and quietly posted the seventh-lowest post-All-Star break ERA in the American League. After feeling like he was racing to ramp up after tearing a ligament in spring, Lynn talks like he has a handle on what he’s dealing with.

As much as a pitcher taking any extra workload these days triggers concern, Lynn’s participation also doubles as a statement about how he feels about his surgically repaired right knee. He could already point to his second half as testimony — his velocity crept back up, as did opponent swings and misses; he did not so much as issue multiple walks in a game in any of his last 14 starts, and quietly posted the seventh-lowest post-All-Star break ERA in the American League. After feeling like he was racing to ramp up after tearing a ligament in spring, Lynn talks like he has a handle on what he’s dealing with.

Lynn even touted a sweeping slider that he developed with pitching coach Ethan Katz last year, helping him put down lefties easier than cutting and sinking his heater could.

Lynn posted a 4.06 xFIP in the first half and 3.18 xFIP in the second half. That is when he added the slider which projects as a decent pitch.


Estevan Florial is out of options.

Estevan Florial: The 25-year-old has been stuck in the upper minors for a while now, tallying just 63 big league plate appearances in the last three seasons. During that time he’s hit .185/.302/.278 with a single home run. The former top-100 prospect hit .283/.368/.481 with 15 home runs and 39 stolen bases at Triple-A last year. He’s out of options now, so the Yankees would have to expose him to waivers if they want to take him off the big league roster.

While Florial doesn’t have the best Steamer projection (.220/.296/.377, 31% K%), he had 39 SB in AAA last season. If he ends up with a starting role on any team, he could be a recent source of stolen bases.

National League


Tyler O’Neill is not going to be as bulky next season to help stay in the lineup.

Under the strong suggestion of the Cardinals, the muscle-bound O’Neill has spent the bulk of his offseason in St. Louis working to build a body that can better endure the grind of a 162-game season. Keeping O’Neill healthy and productive in 2023 is a major point of emphasis.

Steven Matz will report to Spring Training completely healthy.

The expectation for Matz is he’ll report to spring training at full strength, with no lingering side effects regarding the torn left MCL he sustained in July. That Matz was able to return and compete in the final weeks of the 2022 season — albeit in a relief role — was especially encouraging. The Cardinals are counting on Matz to provide stability in the back end of the rotation, and neither his MCL injury nor the shoulder soreness he experienced earlier in the year are believed to be factors going forward.

Matz came back from the IL to throw 5 IP with the same fastball velocity (94.7 mph vs 94.8 mph). His fastball should have played up around 1 mph, but didn’t. Before buying in, I’d like to see his Spring Training velocity.

Jack Flaherty should have no limitations in Spring Training.

Mozeliak indicated during the Winter Meetings that Flaherty was in the midst of a healthy and unimpeded offseason as he trains back in Los Angeles, and the expectation is he’ll report to spring training ready to start with no limitations.


Miguel Vargas is working at second and third base.

Of the prospect group ready to make an impact, it’s safe to say Vargas is the player that the Dodgers will lean on the most, as early as Opening Day. With both Turners no longer on the team, the Dodgers have huge holes to fill in the infield. Vargas, who has been working out at Dodger Stadium all offseason, is capable of playing second and third base.

On most fantasy websites, he’s only qualified at first so adding one or two positions, especially third, could be a bump to his value.


Anthony DeSclafani should have close to a full workload next season.

DeSclafani logged a career-best 3.17 ERA over 31 starts for the Giants in 2021, so he could play a big role in mitigating the departure of Rodón if he’s healthy. Earlier this month, Zaidi said DeSclafani’s rehab is going well, as strength and conditioning coach Brad Lawson recently visited him and sent encouraging video back to the Giants.

“It wasn’t arm-related, but again, he just didn’t throw a lot of innings last year, so at some point we’ll have to have the conversation about what a workload looks like,” Zaidi said. “It may be a full workload. We just aren’t there yet. He feels really good and everything is on track for him to be a full go next year.”.

Disco threw only 19 IP last season while losing 1.7 mph off his fastball. Check-in on his velocity in the spring.


Francisco Álvarez may not start the season in the majors if the Mets want him to eventually catch.

Were Álvarez not so raw behind the plate, this would be a much more complicated discussion. But I’ve spoken to folks both inside and outside the organization who seriously doubt Álvarez is ready to start five-plus games per week at catcher. Using Álvarez at DH instead — while tempting, given his offensive upside — wouldn’t do him or the Mets much long-term good. Álvarez is most valuable if he can become an everyday catcher, which he’ll have a tough time accomplishing without more Minor League seasoning.

To be clear: Álvarez’s service time isn’t the top priority here, even though the Mets will ensure themselves an extra year of control over him if they keep him in the Minors a few additional weeks. It’s worth noting also that none of this is set in stone; there’s a path for Álvarez to make the team if he’s simply too good in Spring Training to ignore, like Pete Alonso was in 2019. But as we sit here in late December, I’d be surprised to see Álvarez on the Opening Day roster.


• The backend of the rotation is a mess.

The current rotation features three frontline weapons in Snell, Darvish and Joe Musgrove. But after that trio, question marks abound. Nick Martinez and Seth Lugo are options, but relatively unproven as starting pitchers. Even if that duo fills out the starting rotation – it leaves the Padres’ depth riddle unsolved.

Martinez was the swingman last season. He’s now locked into a starting job.

Who knows? Maybe pitching coach Ruben Niebla works some of his magic on one of the Padres’ upper-level Minor League options — say, Ryan Weathers or Jay Groome. Maybe Adrian Morejon has a Gore-like breakout (though he’s still never thrown more than 66 innings in a professional season and has been largely inconsistent at the big league level).


• Recently, Nick Senzel was using a scooter to get around.

Center fielder Nick Senzel was still using a scooter to get around at Redsfest. His foot remained in a boot because of complications from a broken left big toe, and he hadn’t walked in months.


Randal Grichuk got a new bat based on his exact swing.

“When we first got there, we talked about what I was trying to achieve,” Grichuk said. “I got loose, then they did this testing — upper-body tests, core and legs test, isolated. They have a way where they can tally up all the numbers and they come up with the horsepower number. It’s kind of how strong you are, I guess.”

Taking account of his body and his swing — which he calls “a steep swing, instead of an upper-cut swing” that can rob him of contact — Grichuk took swings in the batting cages, while the technicians and manufacturers worked to get the right bat into his hands.

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

Nick Senzel is working that post-post-post-post-hype angle, ready for one big ‘told you so!’ moment once he gets his first multi-hit game of the season in September.

1 year ago
Reply to  LightenUpFG

“…hadn’t walked in months” is not something you typically read about someone who will be ready to go this spring.

1 year ago
Reply to  Werthless

Yeah, think of how much atrophying there must be in his foot, ankle, and calf. Not good.

1 year ago
Reply to  LightenUpFG

Nick Senzel is so fragile he belongs in a LifeAlert commercial