Mining the News (10/13/22)

American League

Angels

• The Angels plan on being aggressive with player promotions.

Minasian hasn’t been shy about putting draftees immediately in Double A or about calling players up to the big leagues from Double A. He said that’s a product both of his philosophy and of needs in the organization.

“I believe that it’s with good intentions and we do it with the right people,” Minasian said.

At this point in my offseason analysis, I’m not sure who might get an early call but I know to keep my eyes open.

Athletics

Ramón Laureano plans on being healthier and stronger to start next season.

Even in his most productive past seasons, Laureano said he felt injuries limited him from reaching his true potential. After he finishes his rehab this offseason, Laureano will strive for preparing his body to withstand his goal of playing a full 162-game season.

“I haven’t really been lifting that many weights the past couple of years,” Laureano said. “Everybody says that less is more, but I think I need to go hard. That’s a key right there. I think, baseball-wise, I want to be more fast-twitch. Also clean up some stuff in the cage with my hitting.

Orioles

Jake Cave has signed with the Orioles.

The Orioles have claimed outfielder Jake Cave off waivers from the Twins, according to the MLB.com transactions tracker. Baltimore is designating reliever Jake Reed for assignment in a corresponding move. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com confirms the news (Twitter link).

Cave could end up being on the strong side of a platoon with career .744 OPS against righties and .592 OPS against lefties.

Red Sox

• The team is going to target “top caliber” relievers.

As part of the win-now messaging, Bloom admitted the club will be in the market for top-caliber pitchers in the bullpen and rotation, a shift from previous offseasons when he shopped on the periphery of the market for pitching help.

“Because of some of the depth on the pitching side, we’re going to be considering a little bit different set of possibilities,” he said.

For those in draft-and-hold leagues, this news probably means the next closer isn’t on the team especially since Matt Strahm is a free agent.

• Since Eric Hosmer will be easy to trade and the improving Triston Casas will likely be the team’s first baseman next season

While Cora and the Red Sox like first baseman Eric Hosmer, he is also a lefty hitter like Casas, and it seems most likely they will trade him for another piece of the roster. Given that they owe him the major league minimum salary with the Padres taking on a majority of $44 million left on his deal, the Red Sox have a chance to flip him for little cost.

Bloom added that he didn’t know if there was room on the roster for two left-handed hitting first basemen, and praised Casas’ debut, noting that his patient approach at the plate didn’t degrade as he handled big league pitching.

“When we got Hos, we were focused on what he could bring to us right now and not wanting to rush Triston,” Bloom said. “Sometimes the results were there (for Casas). Sometimes they weren’t. He was a tough at-bat every single time which is going to be one of his calling cards as he goes forward. So that’s all really encouraging. It’s something we’re going to have to look at. Couldn’t be happier with how he progressed the last couple of months of the season.”

Tigers

Spencer Turnbull should be ready for the start of next season.

RHP Spencer Turnbull: Hello, old friend. Turnbull had surgery in 2021, not long after he threw a no-hitter and was getting on the radar of the entire league. Turnbull’s rehab from Tommy John surgery has been slow, but he has a 3.46 ERA over his past 20 MLB starts. If he’s in a good place next spring, he could return to a front-end spot in the rotation.

• It will be tough to know if and/or when Tarik Skubal will return next season.

It still isn’t clear when Skubal can expect to a return to a big league mound, but he recently updated Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press on his status. The southpaw tells Petzold he’s currently building arm strength in physical therapy and has a follow-up meeting with his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, in December. Skubal indicated he hopes he’ll be able to begin a throwing program by January if all goes well. While he declined to specify any sort of timeline for game action, he confirmed he’s likely to pitch at some point during the 2023 season.

It seems questionable whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day, however. That’s hardly a surprise, as flexor repairs are a notable procedure in their own right. Former Tiger southpaw Matthew Boyd underwent a flexor repair last September; he didn’t return from the injured list until 11 months later. Danny Duffy had the procedure in October 2021 and has missed the entire 2022 season after suffering a setback in August. That’s not to say Skubal is certain to face the same recovery timetable, but it’s illustrative of the fact that rehabbing from these procedures is no simple matter.

Matt Manning is getting a second opinion on his forearm injury.

The third, Matt Manning, was scratched from his final start of the season with what the club called a forearm strain. Manager A.J. Hinch downplayed the issue at the time, saying the team shut him down out of an abundance of caution. However, Petzold now reports that Manning is soon to head for a second opinion with Dr. Keith Meister.

To be clear, there’s no indication that Manning is facing surgery at this point. Doctors may just be keeping a close eye on the highly-touted 24-year-old. Still, Petzold writes it’s possible Manning won’t be healthy for Opening Day (although that by no means appears certain yet).

Uh … why? Is his elbow messed up?

White Sox

Michael Kopech’s knee might have bothered him after June 12th.

Michael Kopech slamming a baseball into the infield grass in frustration as he walked off the mound on June 12, favoring a sore right knee, provided a clear line of demarcation for his first full season in the starting rotation. That separation was only made more stark by the 26-year-old undergoing surgery on a torn right meniscus in the final week of the season. While the procedure isn’t expected to significantly alter Kopech’s offseason, there’s plenty of indicators of how his right knee affected his 2022 season.

After his start on the 12th, he had a 1.92 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, and a 95.7 average fastball velocity. After that point a 4.79 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, and a 94.5 mph average fastball velocity.

Davis Martin has done enough to be considered for the rotation.

Davis Martin’s season ended with bicep soreness as his 140 1/3 total innings neared a professional career-high, and with a 4.83 ERA due to a trainwreck outing in the season finale. Since he still has minor league options, he would be an ideal fit for the always-necessary role of sixth starter who remains available in Charlotte when needed. But Martin did all he could to ensure he will be in Chicago for much of the 2023 season.

“He’s done everything to put himself in a position as a future starter,” said Katz. “He has outstanding weapons too.”

Eloy Jiménez is in line to be the DH next season to help his knees.

So let’s look at Eloy Jiménez, who figured out a routine for success at designated hitter despite having less than a strong desire to move into that role at age 25. Jiménez’s move to DH was brought about to protect his legs after he returned from right knee surgery, and he could move back to left field at least part time in 2023.

I could see a Yordan Alvarez situation where he is the DH two-thirds of the time and in the outfield for the other third.

AJ Pollock admitted to having problems with fastballs.

“There’s a lot of stuff that I just didn’t have,” Pollock said. “I wasn’t hitting fastballs like I usually do. Trying to figure that part out. If you’re not hitting the fastball, a lot more chase is going to come into play because you’re going to be trying to cheat to get to some stuff and I think that happened a lot this year. I just didn’t have quite the answer to get that back on track, but it feels it feels like I’m in a better spot (during the) second half of the year.”

Wow, fastballs ate him up. His four-seam contact rate dropped from 89% to a career-low 79%. Additionally, his swinging-strike rate doubled from 6% to 12%. He was right that his swing-and-miss got better but it wasn’t great.

National League

Cubs

Nico Hoerner will likely move to second base next season.

Hoerner is a perceptive player, so he already saw this coming, but it sounds like Hoyer already prepared him for the possibility of switching positions next season. Moving off shortstop would be even easier with a long-term contract.


Again, Hoyer doesn’t foresee any issues if Hoerner goes back to being a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman.

He didn’t play any games at second base last season and will just be shortstop-qualified next year.

Matt Mervis could be the first baseman.

If the Cubs are aggressive in other areas as expected, prospect Matt Mervis should come into spring training with a chance to win the position. Mervis broke out in the minors this season, posting a 156 wRC+ across three levels. The lefty masher is 24 and has proven himself at all levels.

He hit .309/.379/.606 with 36 HR and 2 SB across three minor league levels.

One “concern” with Mervis is that he struggles against lefties.

One concern some had with Mervis was his performance against lefties. According to Cubs internal data, he did well in High-A, but by June, in Double A, he struggled, posting a .286 wOBA. But as was the case with nearly every other aspect of his game, Mervis slowly but surely grew in this area. By July (he was promoted to Triple A late in the month), that wOBA was up to .300, still low, but clearly on the uptick. In August, he only had 17 plate appearances against lefties, but his wOBA jumped to an above-average .360. By September, it all seemed to click. He had 43 plate appearances against lefties and delivered a robust .437 wOBA. In the AFL, Mervis has already slugged a homer. It came off a southpaw.

Last season across all minor league levels, he had a .869 OPS and 25% K% against lefties and a 1.039 OPS and 15% K% against righties. I’m not sure he struggles against lefties as much as crushes righties.

• Centerfield is the only unclaimed outfield spot meaning Christopher Morel is out and will be filled by a free agent or Brennen Davis.

“Talking to a lot of these outfielders, left and right are taken,” Ross said. “It’s pretty simple, there’s an open spot in center field. That’s where I’d put in my work, that’s where I’d try to get better.”

That seems to be a message to players like Christopher Morel (who struggled with an 82 wRC+ and 34.2 percent strikeout rate in the second half) and Nelson Velázquez, neither of whom measure well in the advanced metrics defensively in center. Perhaps it’s even a nod to minor-leaguers Brennen Davis or Alexander Canario. Ross noted there are quite a few righties who are putting up numbers in the minors for the Cubs and those two fit the mold. But Davis, who is currently performing quite well early in the Arizona Fall League, played in just 15 Triple-A games this year. It was originally believed that Davis would make his big-league debut this season, but a procedure on his back led to him missing the vast majority of the season. That led to Ross sounding doubtful that a surprise arrival on Opening Day for Davis was possible “given the adversity he’s been through.”

Giants

Thairo Estrada will play all over the field next season.

Estrada made most of his starts at second base this season, but the Giants believe he’s capable of moving around the infield and outfield and possibly taking on more of a super-utility role in 2023.

Anthony DeSclafani should be in the rotation, Jakob Junis be a swingman, and Kyle Harrison should eventually join the rotation.

DeSclafani made only five starts for the Giants this year before undergoing season-ending right ankle surgery in July, but he’s expected to rejoin Logan Webb, Alex Cobb and Alex Wood in the starting rotation in 2023. Zaidi said Jakob Junis would ideally be used as a swingman, allowing the Giants to add at least one starting pitcher this offseason.

Even if Rodón departs, the Giants have another electric lefty coming up in Kyle Harrison, who is ranked the club’s No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline. Harrison, 21, is expected to open the season at Triple-A Sacramento, but he could debut in San Francisco’s rotation sooner rather than later.

Nationals

Carter Kieboom will compete with Ildemaro Vargas for the starting third base job.

Pirates

Cal Mitchell might move to first base.

Outlook: Shelton said management this winter will consider moving Mitchell to first base. He seemed a little lost at times in the outfield, so a position change might provide some kind of spark.

Ke’Bryan Hayes hasn’t been healthy for a couple of seasons.

Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who revealed he’s been nagged all season by a persistent back injury, went 0-for-3 and left the game after five innings.

About a month before spring training, Hayes tweaked his hip while lifting weights. That injury lingered into spring training, then led to nagging back pain.

“More than anything, it affected me swinging sometimes, just because of my whole left side being tight,” said Hayes, who batted .244/.314/.345 with seven home runs.

Hayes told the Pirates about his injury before the season began. Shelton and the medical staff tried to manage it by giving Hayes extra off days.

“Really, 2020 was the last time I felt normal,” said Hayes, who battled wrist injuries last year. “I want to figure out this back thing (this winter) and get back in the weight room, put on some size and get back to where I was in 2018 and 2019, maintaining my mobility and speed.”





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.

1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
weekendatbidens
3 months ago

Hosmer has a full no-trade clause as a result of his trade to Boston. However, it would be very easy for the Sox to cut bait if he refuses as they aren’t footing the bill.