Mining the News (11/12/21)

Free Agents

Justin Verlander touched 95-96 mph in his latest tryout.

This velocity is a little bit lower than his recent “highs” and they point to him sitting 93-94 mph. While another report had him throwing harder.

…and just simply.

• Nick Martinez has been pitching in Japan and some teams are interested in signing him now that he’s a free agent.

And here is how he performed in Japan.

Over 140 2/3 innings, the 31-year-old worked to a 1.60 ERA, striking out a quarter of the batters he faced in the process. After a four-season run in Japan, that strong 2021 campaign could earn Martinez another MLB look this offseason.

Cole Hamels will not be able to pitch until mid-summer.

Robert Suarez who is now a free agent after playing in Japan will draw interest for teams needing bullpen help.

Carlos Martinez will try to show he’s healthy by pitching in winter ball.

Aaron Gleeman’s article on the top-25 free-agent starting pitchers is loaded with nuggets like …

Wacha shelved it in mid-August and then finished with a 3.20 ERA and 45-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his final 39 innings.

…and this on Tyler Anderson

Some suitors may be skeptical due to a midseason spin-rate decline.

A must-read.

American League

Angels

• Several players, including Mike Trout and Patrick Sandoval, are fully healthy.

Superstar Mike Trout is fully healed from the season-ending right calf strain that he suffered on May 17. He spoke to Minasian by phone last week and said he’s been running and working out without any issues.

Several players who ended the season injured — such as lefty Patrick Sandoval (back strain), right-hander Griffin Canning (back strain) and outfielder Jo Adell (abdominal strain) — are all healthy and working out in Arizona.

Astros

• Ryan Stanek might slot back into being Ryan Pressly’s setup man.

Stanek was the Astros’ primary eighth-inning setup man before they acquired Graveman, pushing Stanek into a seventh-inning role. He’ll be one of manager Dusty Baker’s key relievers in ’22.

• In some injury news, Jake Meyers won’t be healed from surgery to start the season. The team will likely go with Chas McCormick in center field.

Meyers underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. An exact timeline for his return is unknown, but the Astros already acknowledge he will not be back in game action before Opening Day.

If healthy, Meyers was likely to be the Astros’ starting center fielder. Now they could go in any number of directions with their outfield plan for next season. They could roll with Chas McCormick as their everyday center fielder.

Alex Bregman had wrist surgery but should be healed to start the season.

The Astros announced that third baseman Alex Bregman underwent surgery on his right wrist today, though the procedure isn’t expected to impact his readiness for the 2022 season. The team’s projected timeline sees Bregman as restarting baseball activities in 6-10 weeks, which should mean he’s set for the start of Spring Training camp in February.

• The team has not talked about moving Alex Bregman back to shortstop.

One option not being taken seriously, however, is moving Alex Bregman from this base to shortstop. When asked about that option, Click said, “I would highly doubt it” and later added, “I don’t want to get too cute by half and try to jam a square peg into a round hole.” Bregman was primarily a shortstop before reaching the big leagues, sliding to third because of the presence of Correa. He saw some significant time there in 2019 when Correa was hurt, getting into 65 games, but hasn’t played there since. The move doesn’t seem to be totally off the table, though, as Click added that he “would have to talk to Alex about it.”

Guardians

Franmil Reyes will try to get more comfortable in the outfield by playing winter ball.

Second, Reyes will gain more outfield experience. He’ll play both corner spots, and plans to shed weight and increase his mobility.

Mariners

Evan White is working out in the outfield.

And given that the club is committed to Ty France at first base after his strong season there in 2021, the Mariners have asked White — who has begun ramping up his baseball activity — to experiment with an outfielder’s glove.

“We know he’s a Gold Glove first baseman, so it’s kind of like what the Dodgers did with Cody Bellinger,” Dipoto said. “It just presents you with the potential of plate appearances, it’s just having the versatility to play three different spots on the field gives us the chance of maximizing opportunity for him.”

J.P. Crawford will not be moved off shortstop.

The Mariners always seemed like they would have a seat at the table with this loaded free-agent shortstop class given their need for an impact bat, but if they do add one of these blue-chip players it won’t be at their incumbent position. That’s because that gig belongs to J.P. Crawford for the now and long term.

The key point here is that he’s probably a nice safe option late in drafts as an accumulator.

Royals

MJ Melendez could slot in as the backup catcher and still hit every day by playing in the outfield, third base, or as the DH.

Melendez is athletic enough that he could play the corner infield or outfield positions when the Royals need him to, and they saw him do so at the alternate training site in 2020. Melendez played 80 innings at third base in Triple-A this season.

“A lot of it will be depending on how his bat performs and when he’s ready, but we want him, when his bat is ready, to be able to get on the field somewhere,” Picollo said at the GM Meetings. “We feel good about his catching skills. But he’ll probably play the corners, just so whenever that time comes, he could jump out there with them.”

Mike Minor, Brad Keller, and Brady Singer are penciled into the rotation.

For Opening Day, Keller, Minor and Singer are likely penciled into the rotation based on experience. The remaining spots are going to be determined on performance and health. And you’ll see the workload question come up all season, too, especially for the young arms — which is why the Royals will need that depth.

I like tracking these rotation locks since the arms further down the list are most likely to lose their rotation spot first.

White Sox

Michael Kopech will be on limited innings and possibly used as an opener at times next season.

But it stands to reason that if the club is actively stating that Michael Kopech will not work 200 innings, and floating the possibility of using him as an opener on some of his turns through the rotation to cap his workload, that there will be an innings shortfall somewhere that spills beyond their current five starters.

Yoán Moncada played through several nagging injuries.

Hahn alluded to nagging injuries that Yoán Moncada played through over 144 games in 2021, while discussing last week why the Sox are “reimagining” their strength and conditioning department. He acknowledged that might have been connected to Moncada’s lack of power production “a little bit,” but was generally wary of harping on the flaws of a season where Moncada posted a career-high .375 on-base percentage, a career-low strikeout rate, and was worth at least four WAR by most metrics. For what it’s worth, Hahn also downplayed the possibility that Moncada would ever be moved back to second base to accommodate another player.

Garrett Crochet could be a multi-inning reliever.

… Garrett Crochet could very well be ramping up to Kopech’s 2021 role of extended reliever/spot starter

National League

Cardinals

• John Mozeliak feels like Paul DeJong will bounce back.

A lot of people beat up on Paul DeJong’s season, and I’m not sure that’s fair. He injured his ribs and that’s not an easy thing to come back from it. No, he never got on track, but he is a capable player and when going well, he can be a dynamic player.

• The team isn’t sure who is going to get the middle infield at-bats with so many middling options.

Tommy [Edman] had a good season, you know, winning a Gold Glove is nothing to ignore. Paul DeJong was obviously not what he had hoped to be, but we still have confidence that you get back to where he was couple years ago. José Rondón had a nice season and showed he can be a major-league utility guy and we have Nolan Gorman knocking on the door after basically a full season in Triple A.

So, we feel good that we have internal options in the middle infield. Do we feel like I can tell you today who’s going to get 600 at-bats at second base, who’s going to get 600 at-bats at shortstop? Not exactly, but in some ways that’s okay. That’s that kind of depth that we want to have. We’re in a spot where whoever runs with the position, if something happens, they get hurt, we’ve got other guys we have confidence in to step in.

Tommy Edman is the player that will give me pause to roster, especially for his steals (30 SB in 2021). He posted a lowly .695 OPS which was 10th worst among qualified hitters.

• The rotation is set with Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, and Dakota Hudson in the rotation. Alex Reyes, Jordan Hicks, and others are attempting to join them.

The Cardinals’ rotation for 2022 is 80% set, with Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson pencilled into four out of the five slots. However, that last spot could still seemingly go in many different ways, either with internal or external options. Derrick S. Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch spoke to the team’s president of baseball operations John Mozeliak about the various paths they’re choosing between.

The club is apparently giving consideration to Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks, both of whom having been primarily working as relievers in recent years and are questionable fits for rotation jobs.

In addition to those two, Goold also lists Jake Woodford, Johan Oviedo and Genesis Cabrera as those who are in the mix.

Cubs

Brailyn Márquez is expected to be ready to start the season while David Bote will not be ready by Opening Day.

Pitching prospect Brailyn Márquez, who missed all of the 2021 season while primarily dealing with a strained left shoulder, is finishing his throwing program in Arizona and is expected to be ready for spring training.

Infielder David Bote, who recently underwent surgery on his left shoulder, is looking at a six-month recovery period that would potentially delay his start to the 2022 season.

In redraft leagues, I like the option of rostering Nico Hoerner to start the season. A manager can determine if he can finally be productive with Bote out of the way. If not, he’s an easy cut.

Diamondbacks

Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, and Merrill Kelly 켈리 are locks for the rotation.

The Diamondbacks rotation looks pretty full at the moment. Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly are locks to start. After posting a 3.86 ERA in September after returning from injury, Weaver probably has a leg up on the fourth spot.

Dodgers

Mookie Betts is going to continue to play through his hip injury.

I don’t like this news.

Edwin Ríos should be healthy by Opening Day and Dustin May will not ready until mid-season at the earliest.

The Dodgers got all of 60 plate appearances from Edwin Ríos before he needed season-ending shoulder surgery. He is on track to return by Opening Day, Friedman said. If he can flash at least some of the pop that made him a dangerous left-handed bench bat in 2020, Ríos could give them an element the Dodgers were perhaps missing.

Then there’s Dustin May, who flashed elite upside in 2021 before his elbow gave way. His rehab from his own Tommy John surgery could have him back after the All-Star break or early August. It could be as a starter, giving the Dodgers a group of young starters who could play more prominently in the second half of the season rather than the first one.

With Chris Taylor likely gone, Rios might fill in as the utility player.

Giants

• It’s likely that Joey Bart will not be the full-time catcher.

This isn’t to suggest that Bart shouldn’t get plenty of starts next year, or that he isn’t going to be worked into the organization’s long-term plans. It’s that we should all probably revisit just what the term “starting catcher” might mean for the 2022 Giants. It could be much more of a job-sharing arrangement than we think.

There were several reports besides this one on Bart’s limited playing time. I think he might get from 60 to 100 games thereby making him unrosterable in one-catcher leagues.

Nationals

• This whole article is full of nice tidbits like this one on Patrick Corbin

Corbin pinned his struggles on inconsistencies in his delivery mechanics after seeing improvements during the final month of the 2021 season.

Phillies

• If they resign Hector Neris, he will not be the closer.

“Your best-laid plans go for naught sometimes,” Dombrowski said Wednesday at the general manager meetings. “We’re in a position where he pitched very well for us. But I think, really, we prefer to bring [Neris] back as the non-ninth-inning guy. That’s what our hope would be. But, of course, he may go somewhere else and we may not get him.”

Matt Vierling is competing for one of the open outfield spots.

“We are hopeful [Vierling is] in a position where he can compete for a spot on the team. He hasn’t established himself where he’s a ‘for sure, 100 percent.’ But we saw enough that we’re hopeful that he could be on our team. He can do a lot of different things. He can play different outfield spots. You can move him on the infield. He’s 25, so you don’t have to keep on saying you have to further develop him. We like him. We’re hopeful that he’ll make our club.”

He hit .324/.364/.479 with 2 HR and 2 SB in 77 PA last season. He’s worth an add in all draft-and-hold leagues.

Didi Gregorius had surgery to clean up his elbow. Also, Bryson Stott is being considered for the shortstop job.

Gregorius had the worst year of his career last season, but he had a “small type of cleanup” in his right elbow following the season, which the Phillies hope will return him to form. But the Phillies are very high on top position prospect Bryson Stott. Dombrowski told reporters on Tuesday that he told Stott to come into Spring Training planning to win the job at shortstop.

Some reports have Scott’s defense as being subpar, so I asked our own Eric Logenhagen, who has seen Stott in the Fall League, if Scott is good enough to be a serviceable MLB shortstop. He simply responded, “Yes.” I wouldn’t buy into Stott just yet as the Phillies are interested in the big shortstop free agents.

Pirates

Oneil Cruz is likely to start the season in the minors to work on his outfield defense.

Cruz, 23, this year played 62 games at Double A, six games at Triple A and two games for the Pirates in the final week of the season. More importantly, he played zero games in the outfield. Not long after Cruz began doing pregame work in the outfield at Altoona, he sustained an injury. By the time he came back, it was the home stretch of the season and the outfield plans were put on hold.

If the Pirates expect Cruz to be at least a part-time outfielder (or, as I suspect, eventually the everyday right fielder) in the majors, he’ll first have to get playing time there in the minors. So, if Cruz is at Indy in April, it wouldn’t necessarily be a service-time thing.

Kevin Newman will likely be the starting Opening Day shortstop.

The incumbent is Kevin Newman, a Gold Glove finalist who’s entering his first year of salary-arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to make $2.2 million. With so many excellent free-agent shortstops available, I don’t expect there’ll be much of a trade market for Newman this winter. So for now, he’s my pick as the Pirates’ starter on Opening Day.

Greg Allen will be an outfield option.

It began that process by claiming outfielder Greg Allen off waivers from the Yankees. Allen had only 37 at-bats in New York last season, but his .907 OPS at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre over 73 games has Cherington optimistic that the 28-year-old has upped his offensive capabilities to complement the other strengths in his game.

“He’s a great teammate, hard worker,” Cherington said. “He can run, brings us a speed element that we haven’t had as much. So we’re excited to have him, and hopefully, he can factor into the outfield mix.”

If Allen can stick in the outfield, he could be a surprise source of stolen bases. Track his lineup spot in Spring Training for cheap steals.





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 once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Bobby Muellermember
6 months ago

Good information, Jeff, but I believe the Mariners player you meant is Evan White, not Mitch White.

weekendatbidens
6 months ago
Reply to  Bobby Mueller

Mitch White is wishful thinking to fix RF.

thebearproofsuit
6 months ago
Reply to  Bobby Mueller

batting lines look similar