Mining the News (11/21/23)

Adam Plutko 플럿코 wants to test the MLB free agent market.

In five MLB seasons, he posted a 5.39 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 273 IP. While his results in Korea were better, his average fastball velocity dropped to 89.3 mph.

American League

Guardians

The team plans on using Scott Barlow in high-leverage situations.

The Guardians believe Barlow is a better fit in the bullpen than De Los Santos for 2024 because of their need for late-inning relievers. Cleveland suffered 10 losses in ’23 after having a lead through seven frames. In games that were decided in the seventh inning or later, the Guardians were 29-34. The team is hoping that Barlow can help fix that problem.

“We did not perform as well in the late innings and lost a lot of those close games,” Antonetti said. “So, what we were hoping to do is add another leverage reliever that can help us when those games are tight. It gives us another option on the days when Emmanuel [Clase] isn’t available or maybe a little bit fatigued, we have another option to go to back there.”

Ramón Laureano was brought back to play against left-handed pitching and possibly some center field.

Laureano, 29, was claimed off waivers from the A’s on Aug. 7 and hit .243 with eight doubles, one triple, three homers and 14 RBIs in 41 games with the Guards.

“He put up some really good at-bats against left-handed pitching, especially,” Antonetti said. “Has some power, plays well defensively, especially in right field, and has the ability to slide over to center, so we think he complements our roster really well.”

Great, a short-side platoon bat.

Mariners

Luis Urías looks to be a short-side platoon bat with Josh Rojas.

Urias makes plenty of sense for a Mariners club that could use an upgrade to its second base mix, which currently features Josh Rojas and Dylan Moore. Urias figures to provide the club with a solid right-handed complement to Rojas and fellow lefty JP Crawford up the middle who can play capable defense all around the infield. If he’s able to regain his 2021-22 form, Urias could be in line for the lion’s share of starts at the keystone given Rojas’s tepid .245/.303/.338 slash line in 350 plate appearances between Arizona and Seattle this year.

Name: Career OPS vs LHP, vs RHP

  • Urias: .795, .691
  • Rojas: .689, .701
  • Moore: .791, .673

While a platoon seems like the perfect answer, Urias just might be good enough to take the role by himself.

Tigers

Javier Báez plans on staying in Florida to train this offseason.

Brutal as the 2023 season was for Baez, Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press relays that Baez is planning to spend much of his offseason stateside this winter rather than return to his home in Puerto Rico, as he typically does after the season comes to an end. During his time stateside, Petzold indicates that Baez plans to focus on strengthening his back and core muscles to recapture the athleticism that allowed him to connect for 86 home runs from 2017-2019, the fourth highest figure among qualified shortstops during that time span.

He thinks his struggles are mental

“I think it’s more mental than anything, to be honest,” Báez said. “I know the numbers are not there. The confidence at the plate is not there. Every time I go to focus on my approach, I maybe have it for one pitch and then it goes away. I don’t know what’s really happening. It’s not about the strikeouts. I’m still going to chase balls out of the zone and stuff. I’m still gonna hit ’em, too. But I don’t know if it’s timing or I’m just not recognizing the pitch. Just trying to do too much, but I go out there and try every day and try again. Nothing’s working.”

… so the team is going to try “new ways to reach him”

Harris said. “And we have some new ways we feel like we can support him this offseason. But it’s going to take organizational effort in Javy. The best thing and the best takeaway that we can have here from Javy is obviously he’s really motivated. … And it starts with that. We can’t get anywhere unless we have a real investment from the player himself in himself. We have that. We just got to find new ways to reach him.”

and “hope that there are solutions out there”.

“Trying harder doesn’t necessarily satisfy people where the expectations are super high,” Hinch said, “but it does give hope that there are solutions out there and there are ways to surround him with a different way of doing things.

“Do I think we can just try harder again next spring? No, we’ve got to make some changes. I think he knows that.”

Live look at everyone involved in the situation right now.

Twins

The team expects Austin Martin to play some center field next season

The primary names within the organization are Austin Martin and Willi Castro, who both could — and almost certainly will –fit into the center-field picture in some way in 2024.

“I look at guys in Triple-A or in the Minor Leagues, Austin Martin stepping into some role in center,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said at the end of the season. “These guys are going to all play a role for us. What that looks like, exactly, on our roster, is TBD. Hopefully, Byron is also playing a role in that mix, and we’ll see what else.”

… and added him to the 40-man roster.

Minnesota also added infielder/outfielder Austin Martin, the No. 20 prospect in the organization, as part of the moves that brought its 40-man roster up to 38 players.

National League

Braves

The team is considering playing Vaughn Grissom in left field especially since he raked in his last two months in AAA.

“(Playing Grissom in left field) is a scenario because he’s a tremendous athlete,” said Alex Anthopoulos, Braves president of baseball operations and general manager. “We did it with Austin Riley (who played left field as a rookie in 2019). Guys like Chipper Jones did the same thing. So that could happen. We’re not committed to that. But the fact that he can play short, second and third, we think he’s absolutely athletic enough if we want to put him out in the outfield.”

“He’s open to playing anywhere,” Anthopoulos said. “He’s expressed that to us. We want to make sure to continue to get him reps in the infield. That’s something that we’ve talked about, just being able to move him around all over the place to get his bat in the lineup. Look, he had an unbelievable year in Gwinnett. If you look at the last two months, I think it was an 1.100 OPS. So we are now talking about ways to get him into the lineup.”

Marlins

Luis Arraez’s ankle was only at 30% to 40% during the playoffs.

Since the offseason began, Arraez has been getting massages and working on his mobility as part of the rehab for his ankle, which he said was around 30-40 percent during the NL Wild Card Series. Arraez feels better, and he recently hit in the Dominican Republic while celebrating mentor Nelson Cruz’s retirement.

The injury happened on September 19th. From that point on, including the postseason, he went 3 for 15 (.200 AVG).

Phillies

The team isn’t looking to add a “closer” but go with a bullpen by committee.

Remember a year ago, when the Phillies signed Craig Kimbrel but told him they didn’t envision anointing anyone as “the ninth-inning guy”? That appears to be their approach again this winter. So that would be a clear non-starter for Hader, who hasn’t thrown a regular-season pitch before the ninth inning since 2021.

That means the Phillies seem ready to empower manager Rob Thomson to mix and match his way through the late innings again, with the hardest-throwing bullpen in baseball. They’ll be shopping for live bullpen arms to add to that mix. But they haven’t shown interest so far in adding a traditional closer — especially because their minor-league pitcher of the year, Orion Kerkering, appears positioned to be a major back-of-the-bullpen presence as soon as next year.

Pirates

Johan Oviedo has a serious injury and he might need Tommy John surgery.

An already murky Pirates rotation mix is now facing even more uncertainty, as Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that righty Johan Oviedo is dealing with an arm injury that’s believed to be serious. The team hasn’t announced details or a precise diagnosis, but Mackey writes that Tommy John surgery is among the potential outcomes, so it would seem there’s some degree of ligament damage at play.

Oneil Cruz is expected to play some winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

The good news is that Cruz has been participating in full baseball activities at the Pirates’ training camp, and he’ll be at least getting in some game action at the Pirates’ academy in the Dominican Republic, even if the winter ball assignment doesn’t happen. Cherington still expects Cruz to be ready to go for Spring Training.

Rockies

Elehuris Montero seems to have kept his swing adjustment that was reported during the season.

Elehuris Montero persisted through a tough first half of the MLB season with a .544 OPS, but made swing adjustments that led him to an above average .844 OPS in the second half. The swing adjustments were on display this series, as Montero looked much more comfortable with his timing at the plate. One adjustment he worked on involved keeping his head steady, to the ball, and on time with the rest of his movements. He recorded two hard-hit base hits in Saturday’s game, the first a line drive and the second a 104 m.p.h. ground ball up the middle.





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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dannyrockmember
3 months ago

“Every time I go to focus on my approach, I maybe have it for one pitch and then it goes away.” Has Baez been tested for ADD or ADHD?

Devern Hansack
3 months ago
Reply to  dannyrock

You know, I didn’t initially think about that when reading the article, but as a dude who got diagnosed with ADHD at age 34, those quotes would make a ton of sense in that context.