Mining the News (12/9/22)

• Michael Brantley is just starting baseball drills after his shoulder surgery.

The Astros still are interested in bringing back free-agent Michael Brantley for a fifth season in Houston, but it’s going to depend on his health. Brantley, 35, just started to do baseball drills after undergoing an arthroscopic labral repair on his right shoulder in August.

Brantley is in a ton of rumors but it’ll be tough for a team to sign him without knowing if he’s healthy.

American League


• The Angels plan on starting Shohei Ohtani every sixth day and skipping the bottom starter.

Angels manager Phil Nevin said on Tuesday he expects to keep the six-man rotation. But, he said, the team will find ways for Ohtani to start more regularly. Instead of having a week off in between starts, he’ll likely start every sixth day. That will mean other starters might be skipped from time-to-time, or pushed back.

“But if there’s a day off, I’m going to skip somebody to get Shohei all his innings. … He needs to be used and we will.”

• Carlos Estévez signed with the Angels with the hope of closing.

The newest Angels acquisition didn’t mince words about his desired role for the 2023 season.

“I’m not going to lie, it would be great if I win the closer job,” Estevez said on Tuesday. “What reliever doesn’t want to be a closer? If they tell you, ‘I don’t want to close.’ I mean, C’mon. Keep telling that to yourself.”

In part, Estevez said he chose the Angels because he felt there would be an opportunity to close. The team does not have an established closer currently on the roster. Estevez has 25 career saves in his six seasons with the Rockies.

I wonder if the Angels told Estevez he would be the closer or could compete for the job. No matter what, I think he’s a must-roster in all draft-and-hold leagues.


• Chas McCormick seems to be penciled in as the starting center fielder.

McCormick, a solid defender, started 32 games in left last season, but he appears to be the favorite to start in center heading into 2023, leaving Dubón as the only player on the roster other than Alvarez and McCormick having started a game in left in 2022.


• James Kaprielian had surgery on his elbow.

Right-handed starter James Kaprielian had offseason shoulder surgery to address an A/C joint issue that had caused him to miss a couple of starts over the last two seasons. The A’s won’t have a timeline for when he’ll be ready to pitch in games until he starts his throwing program.


• Josh Naylor will now get platooned against lefties.

The biggest benefit for the Guardians in adding Bell is that he can be a solid option to platoon with Josh Naylor at first base or can man the position when Naylor is in right field, which the team is planning for him to do again in 2023.

On days that Naylor is at first, Bell can slide into the DH spot.

For his career, Naylor has a .565 OPS against lefties and a .781 OPS against righties.


• Dylan Moore had core surgery.


• The team isn’t set on their left-field options.

Adolis García is the only outfielder who has proven to be an everyday big leaguer, and Leody Taveras, 24, still has some growing to do. Left field has been a revolving door for the Rangers over the past two seasons, occupied by Brad Miller, Josh Smith, Bubba Thompson and Ezequiel Duran.

“We want to continue to explore left field, see what the market is and see what the options are,” Young said. “We feel pretty good about our catching and our infield. So I think those are probably the biggest areas that we’ll continue to monitor and look to improve and keep an open mind.”

It seems like Bubba Thompson (288 ADP, projected for .655 OPS) and Leody Taveras (361 ADP, .684 OPS) aren’t guaranteed any starting role.

• Heaney’s new slider might have led to his shoulder pain. Also, he (may) have added a changeup.

But, like deGrom, Heaney’s success was limited by the amount of time he was able to spend on the mound. A shoulder strain limited him to just 15 innings between Opening Day and July 27. Part of that might have been the new slider. As he changed his delivery on the pitch, he also had to change his arm angle, and it’s possible the change in motion contributed to the shoulder pain.

Another interesting note on Heaney’s arsenal: He added a changeup later in the year, a side-loaded grip that was different than the one he threw in 2014-16. This year’s version averaged 16.7 inches of horizontal break (2.2 inches more than league average), though it also came in 2.2 inches less than league average on vertical drop, at 31.6 inches.

I am not sure how much to believe in both reports. Heaney always gets hurt and has only thrown over 130 IP once in his career (180 in 2018).

Second, I isolated the late changeup (increase usage to 10%) and it comps right there with his previous changeups (2019 and 2021).

I don’t think there is anything new about the pitch, but its results are decent and should be thrown more.


• J.P. Feyereisen will be out until at least the All-Star break after having shoulder surgery.

Feyereisen’s procedure involved Dr. Keith Meister performing a “general cleanup of the rotator cuff and labrum,” the team announced Thursday afternoon. He will begin rehabbing with the goal of resuming throwing in four months, according to the club. It will take a similarly long time for Feyereisen to work his way back from that shutdown, meaning he’ll be out of game action for the entire first half and likely won’t be all the way back until late August.

Red Sox

• Masataka Yoshida signed with the Sox but there isn’t a good way to value him. I decided to find outfielders with similar contracts and their 2022 projections. With Yoshida’s contract valued at $18M per year, I found the outfielders with contracts within $2M.

Masataka Yoshida Salary-Based Projection
Nick Castellanos 609 20 70 78 5 .257 .309 .430 .739 122
Kyle Schwarber 616 36 89 85 6 .226 .329 .479 .809 69
Starling Marte 602 17 78 67 23 .268 .325 .422 .747 67
Charlie Blackmon 553 15 64 66 3 .264 .322 .418 .740 287
Seiya Suzuki 602 25 82 76 10 .262 .350 .466 .815 138
Marcell Ozuna 469 20 56 62 2 .248 .312 .436 .748 308
Average 575 22 73 72 8 .254 .325 .442 .766 165
Ian Happ 644 23 77 80 9 0.246 .331 .427 .758 164

The final average production comes in around ADP 165 which is similar to Ian Happ. From reading scouting reports, Yoshida is more of a contact hitter with less more and speed than the final average line.  Maybe Jeff McNeil (221 ADP) and Oscar Gonzalez (183 ADP) are better comps.  They put him around an ADP of 200. It’s a start.


• There might be some infield platoons this season.

The Royals feel they have enough options for their outfield and would prefer to find a versatile infielder. Bobby Witt Jr. is expected to settle in at shortstop and Michael Massey is the early favorite at second base, leaving Adalberto Mondesi (with whom the Royals avoided arbitration on Tuesday) and Nicky Lopez fighting for at-bats.

“There’s a couple of names we’ve keyed in on — guys who have been in the big leagues, experienced guys who know where they are in their careers,” Picollo said. “I think when you look at the left-handedness, someone who can play third and play second would fit us well, because Mondy, Bobby and Nicky can all play short.”

The handedness of the batter doesn’t matter, all four hitters listed have not been good major leaguers.

Royals Middle Infield Options
MLB Splits MiLB Splits
Name vsLHP vsRHP vsLHP vsRHP
Adalberto Mondesi .719 .674 .673 .761
Michael Massey .646 .693 .931 .849
Nicky Lopez .597 .642 .806 .810
Bobby Witt Jr. .717 .724 1.060 .812

I know I’ll get some backlash, but Bobby Witt Jr. had a .99 wRC+ last season and is just projected for a .775 OPS this year. I don’t think he’ll lose his job but his performance isn’t heads or tails better than the other four options.

The one player I’m interested in at his cost is Massey. He was unlucky with his home runs last season after hitting 17 Barrels but only getting 4 HR. Here is how his batted ball mix would have played out in different ballparks.

He looks like a great road streaming option.


• Justyn-Henry Malloy will start in AAA but will likely see some time in the majors at third base or the outfield.

Harris said it is “probably a safe assumption” Malloy starts next season in Triple A but didn’t exclude the idea of his playing in the majors by year’s end. Harris said the Tigers want Malloy to continue playing third base and corner outfield spots, though there could be some uncertainty around Malloy’s ultimate defensive home.


• Kenta Maeda is already 100% healthy for Spring Training.

President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Monday that Maeda was likely healthy enough to pitch out of the bullpen in September “if we were in playoff position,” but the Twins decided it was a better idea to let him continue strengthening his elbow and go into the offseason fresh, without any potential setbacks.

Three months later, Falvey and manager Rocco Baldelli expressed confidence that Maeda is fully healthy and the 2020 AL Cy Young Award runner-up will be part of the opening-day rotation.

• Alex Kirilloff is feeling fine and making progress after his wrist surgery.

Alex Kirilloff’s recovery from a second consecutive season-ending wrist surgery has gone smoothly, Falvey said Monday, about four months after the 25-year-old first baseman/corner outfielder underwent a procedure to shave down his right ulnar bone.

“Alex is feeling good,” Falvey said. “He’s hitting, he’s starting his (offseason) progression. The wrist feels good. Feels like the surgery went well.”

White Sox

• Oscar Colas should start the season with the major league team.

But as the organization’s No. 2 prospect and 95th overall prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline, Colas certainly is in play to break camp and likely bring his left-handed bat to the White Sox lineup.

National League


Lars Nootbaar should be an everyday player.

However, the Cardinals are strongly encouraged by Lars Nootbaar’s strong second-half, and Marmol said Tuesday he expects Nootbaar to be an “everyday player.”

• Jordan Walker has a decent chance to be on the Opening Day roster.

It also appears that top prospect Jordan Walker will report to spring training with a sizable opportunity to crack the Opening Day roster as a corner outfielder.


• The team is confident with Gavin Lux as their shortstop.

But, at least publicly, the Dodgers are expressing some confidence in a scenario that results in Gavin Lux as the club’s Opening Day shortstop, with Dodgers officials noting Lux’s physical and mechanical progress to help alleviate concerns about the 25-year-old former top prospect.

Lux put together his best prolonged big-league play to date last season while playing second base alongside Turner, with a .745 OPS in 471 plate appearances while serving as an athletic left-handed option at the bottom of the lineup.

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

The *AcromioClavicular* joint is in the shoulder, not the elbow.

Another Old Guymember
1 year ago
Reply to  ccctl

The article below the bold type states clearly in is in the shoulder. It is easy mistake to make and I certainly give Jeff a pass for that minor blip. Just seeing Andrew Heaney in the same article makes my own mind gravitate toward thinking about elbows. Either sort of injury is cautionary for me when I do draft prep. I appreciate these news blips to add to my research before beginning to crunch projection numbers.