Mining the News (12/2/19)

Enough news has trickled out to put together a few noteworthy news nuggets.

• In my opinion, Chris Sale is not worth his current price right now (NFBC ADP of 44). I can’t have my likely ace and third-round pick with so many questions surrounding … especially not being ready to start the season healthy.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale has been cleared to begin throwing again after a visit with Dr. James Andrews, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI Radio. The goal is for Sale to be a full go for Spring Training in a few short months. Sale’s latest visit to the physician comes as a follow-up to an August appointment in which Sale received a platelet-rich plasma injection.

He didn’t suffer any ligament damage, and today’s update should inspire some optimism that Sale will once again be a stalwart in the Boston rotation and return to the Cy Young form that he maintained for the better part of a decade.

Better but not great.

Yasmani Grandal’s signing should add another bat to the White Sox’s lineup but there is much being written about his framing. Here is an example of how many Runs he could save his pitchers.

It can in Chicago, too. If you look at a list of individual pitchers harmed the most by poor framing, you’ll see that three of the top six were White Sox.

-3.0 runs lost — Reynaldo López, White Sox
-2.1 runs lost — Ivan Nova, White Sox
-2.0 runs lost — John Means, Orioles
-1.9 runs lost — Dylan Bundy, Orioles
-1.8 runs lost — Sandy Alcantara, Marlins
-1.7 runs lost — Lucas Giolito, White Sox / Jon Lester, Cubs / Lance Lynn, Rangers

On the other end of that list, three of the six pitchers helped the most by good framing were Brewers, Zach Davies (+3.0 runs), Brandon Woodruff (+1.9 runs), and Adrian Houser (+1.9 runs).

The White Sox are going from being one of the worst framing teams to possibly one of the best. By these numbers, the maximum swing for pitchers is about six runs (-3 to +3) in the above examples. Assuming Reynaldo López got this full six-run swing last season, he’d lower his ERA from 5.38 to 5.09. A 0.30 ERA improvement, at best, and most pitchers would see even less.

Yoenis Céspedes is trying to come back but it seems like the Mets don’t really want him to since they wouldn’t have to pay his salary.

What we know is that Céspedes is 34 years old, hasn’t played since July 2018, is coming off multiple heel surgeries and is due $29.5 million in 2020 — a significant portion of which the Mets’ insurance policy is covering. Of course, the Mets would welcome a Céspedes return if they knew he could deliver anything close to his 2015-17 production, but that’s far, far from a sure thing. And no matter how productive he is, Céspedes’ return would complicate the Mets’ payroll and roster situations.

Mitch Haniger is penciled in to start for the Mariners and bat in the middle of their lineup.

Dipoto likes the fact Haniger can also play center field if needed and provides a versatile bat who can hit anywhere from 2-4 in the order.

Danny Jansen should start the season as the Blue Jays semi-primary catcher.

Jansen still looks like the ‘1A’ of the duo in what would likely open 2020 as a 60-40 split behind the plate. That might make McGuire easier to deal, but the interest and offers from other teams would dictate which way that tips.

Jordan Luplow could start against righties to start the season.

With Tyler Naquin on the injured list until at least April, it’s likely Jordan Luplow will get that chance. Like you said, the only guarantee right now is that Oscar Mercado will start in center field. Outside of that, the Tribe has some decisions to make. The team seems set on experimenting with Reyes in right, but even that leaves just Luplow, Jake Bauers and Greg Allen in left. Manager Terry Francona seemed clear that Bradley Zimmer will need to start in Triple-A next year after missing 2019 with shoulder and oblique injuries, and Naquin still needs to recover from right knee ACL surgery.

Fantasy owners should know almost immediately if the Indians are going with Luplow all season and how he’s performing against righties. He could be worth a flier in 15-team or deeper leagues.

Mauricio Dubón could transition to the outfield.

Dubón emerged as one of the Giants’ most exciting late-season callups this year, so I think he definitely put himself in position to earn a starting infield job in 2020. He seems to have the tools to develop into an everyday player, as the Giants were impressed with his instincts, game awareness and pop from the right side.

I think I’m more curious to see how Dubón is deployed defensively next year. He showed that he can handle shortstop and second base, but he also started five games in center field during the 2016 Arizona Fall League, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Giants will give him some more exposure in the outfield to try to mold him into a super-utility player like the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor.

A little positional versatility never hurt anyone. Well, besides Khris Davis.

• There are several interesting points on Jake Arrieta in this article.

Arrieta underwent surgery in late August to remove three bone spurs, which he initially felt months earlier during spring training. He traveled between his home in Austin, Texas, and Philadelphia over the final month of the season during the initial stages of his recovery and rehab. Arrieta estimated he gained at least 10 percent more extension by having the bone spurs removed from his elbow. He is expected to prepare as he normally would in the offseason and be fully recovered by spring training.

“Being able to come into spring training next year with the ability to spin the ball with extension, be pain-free and not have to worry about it again is going to be nice,” Arrieta said.

So Arrieta will get more extension and therefore more spin, and therefore possibly an improvement with his fastball. I wonder if it applies to other pitchers with bone spurs. I’m not sure if the effects are actionable, but I’ve added looking into it to my “To-Do” list.

The Padres are considering using Esteban Quiroz at 2B. The 27-year-old played for several seasons in the Mexican league and has the potential to be a deep sleeper with 19 homers and .923 OPS in 366 AAA plate appearances last year.

Brent Honeywell would be a late-season promotion, at best.

Honeywell showed up inside the clubhouse from time to time during the season and he seemed high in spirits, hoping that all of his injuries are in the past. If all goes well, a late-summer return isn’t out of the question.

Jorge Polanco had ankle surgery.

Jorge Polanco underwent arthroscopic debridement surgery on his right ankle on Friday to repair an ankle impingement, the Twins announced on Wednesday. Polanco is expected to resume baseball activities in around six weeks and should be ready for Spring Training.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli had hinted towards the end of the season that Polanco had been playing while dinged up, but the club had to rely on its shortstop due to a severe rash of injuries elsewhere in the infield and outfield.

The 26-year-old didn’t perform as well in the second half (.882 1H OPS vs. .788 2H OPS). I might give him a small projection boost since the injury hampered him.

Rich Hill won’t be ready until midseason. It’ll be interesting to see if a team takes a chance on the free agent before he’s healthy.

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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Quiroz is an interesting kind of player, it seems. I wonder if the Padres are actually very high on him and that made the decision to move Urias easier.


Still weird to trade a young, top prospect MIer and get back a prospect in a place where you have a logjam (ignoring the other pieces for this comparison ).