Mining the News (2/1/24)

American League


• Contrary to initial reports, Aaron Hicks was NOT guaranteed to be an everyday outfielder.

Hicks said on Tuesday that he was told by Minasian and manager Ron Washington that he will be an everyday player, seeing action at all three outfield spots and occasional time at designated hitter. But he later clarified, he only met that he’s ready to play every day and hadn’t been given any assurances about regular playing time. Minasian also said Trout will remain the club’s center fielder and that there are no plans to move him off the position.


• The team traded for Trey Cabbage.

Cabbage is not a great hitter but if for some reason he is getting full-time at-bats this summer, he’s rosterable in deeper formats. Here is a list of hitters with similar Steamer600 projections.

Hunter Brown was fatigued in the second half.

Now that he’s had a chance to reflect on his 2023 rookie season, Astros right-hander Hunter Brown admits fatigue was one of the factors that led to his subpar second half. That’s understandable when you consider Brown’s 162 2/3 innings pitched last year, including the playoffs, were 30 more than he amassed in any season since he was drafted by Houston.

“I think some things in my mechanics changed probably due to fatigue without even realizing it,” Brown said last week.


Austin Voth is now the team’s sixth starter.

DeSclafani was slated to be a sixth starter of sorts who would be stretched out in spring, then transition to the bullpen to be the first rotation reinforcement, if needed. Austin Voth, a Washington state native signed to a big league deal earlier this month, now takes that spot.


Bruce Zimmermann admitted to a core injury bothering him last season.

Zimmermann, who had a 4.73 ERA in seven O’s games last year while pitching most of the season in Triple-A, had core muscle surgery Oct. 19 in Philadelphia.

“The surgery went real well,” the Baltimore-area native said of the October procedure. “Really grateful I had one of the top doctors that has worked on a few other guys on the team. Rehab went really well. Been down in Florida for about two weeks now to get an early start and get in front of the training staff and that has been going really well. I should be full go when pitchers and catchers report.

Zimmermann said the injury first seemed to impact him in July, but he never went to the injured list. He had a cortisone shot and finished up the season.

• Contrary to earlier offseason reports, it’s likely DL Hall will end up in the bullpen.

Red Sox

Pablo Reyes is out of options, so he might be the bench outfielder.

Reyes was strong defensively last season but also doesn’t have any minor-league options remaining so he has to make the big-league club or be designated for assignment.

Reyes is an interesting player. First, here are his Steamer600 comps.

In deeper formats, 12/15 with a .250 AVG is playable.

Now, here are his talent comps.

Some decent comps so I expect him to be productive if playing.

• The team is hoping for 400 at-bats from Wilyer Abreu.

Chairman Tom Werner noted at Winter Weekend he’d like to see 400 at-bats from Abreu this year, a good indication Abreu will be the starting right fielder despite getting just 76 major-league at-bats at the end of last season.


• Here are the team’s projected outfielders.

Projected starters: MJ Melendez, Kyle Isbel, Hunter Renfroe

Backup options: Nelson Velázquez, Dairon Blanco, Drew Waters

What a disaster. The big red flag is Velazquez going at a 265 ADP in the NFBC Online championship, ahead of everyone else (Melendez at 284, Renfroe at 356, others not drafted). Here is how we rank them in batting talent.

Projections agree with Renfroe and Melendez over Velazquez. Velazquez’s value takes even more of a hit because Salvador Perez and Nick Pratto will be taking DH at-bats from him.

However, whoever wins the centerfield job between Isbel and Waters could be a source of power and stolen bases.


• The manager states that Andy Ibáñez, Zach McKinstry, and Matt Vierling will be battling for the third base job. A platoon between McKinstry and Ibáñez is on the table.

Hinch suggested the Tigers were content to mix and match at third base. In response to an inquiry from Heyman about the possibility of going outside the organization for a clearer upgrade, the manager spoke of the team’s comfort with “optionality for (players) to emerge.” Hinch said the team planned to give playing time to each of Ibáñez, McKinstry and Vierling — in addition to any reps which Keith might pick up — and opined they’ll “be able to piece it together and maybe have a better player than (they would’ve with) one singular guy.”

Specifically, the manager pointed out the possibility for “a natural platoon” between the right-handed hitting Ibáñez and the lefty-swinging McKinstry. Ibáñez, claimed off waivers from the Rangers last offseason, had a quietly effective season after being promoted to the majors at the end of April. He hit .264/.312/.433 over a career-high 383 trips to the plate. He did most of his damage against left-handed pitching, connecting on six homers and nine doubles with a .261/.297/.523 line over 118 plate appearances versus southpaws.

The interview in question.


Jose Miranda is not close to being able to contribute in the field.

After months of uncertainty and attempted rehabs, Miranda finally had scar tissue removed from his labrum and rotator cuff in an Oct. 4 procedure. Miranda was given a timeline of three to four months and feels “pretty good.” Currently, Miranda is hitting off a machine and began to throw two weeks ago.

“There are some days it feels good, some days it feels so so,” Miranda said.

Miranda’s expectation is he would start playing as a designated hitter in spring training and work his way to the field. After the surgery, Miranda was able to clean up his swing mechanics and likes how he feels. Carlos Correa got a look at video of Miranda’s hitting sessions and was impressed.

Were Kirilloff or Miranda behind schedule, the Twins could look to Kyle Farmer and Edouard Julien to play at first base. With a plethora of utility men, including Castro, Gordon and rookie Austin Martin, the Twins could easily find enough bodies to play second base, allowing Farmer and Julien to slide over to first in the interim.

National League


Alec Burleson reworked his diet and workout this offseason.

Burleson, 25, went about things differently this offseason by working with a nutritionist to rework his diet and rework how his body moves around the outfield. Predominantly a star hitter when he played collegiately at East Carolina, the Cardinals experimented with the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Burleson more in the outfield the past two seasons in an effort to get his impressive bat-to-ball skills in the lineup more.

“The body,” Burleson said bluntly. “Getting everything moving better … losing weight … getting faster — I’m checking all those boxes. I’m ticking off a lot of things that I wanted to accomplish this offseason. It’s coming together.”


• The team is hoping to get incentive draft picks with Kyle Harrison and Marco Luciano so they will likely start the season on the roster.

The Giants would get a Prospect Promotion Incentive draft pick after the first round in 2025 if Harrison wins the NL Rookie of the Year Award. The same incentive exists if shortstop Marco Luciano begins on the Opening Day roster and wins the award.

Assuming Harrison and Luciano are on the Opening Day roster, they also could net the Giants a PPI pick in 2025 or ’26 if they finish top three in Cy Young or MVP balloting in either season (although teams are limited to one PPI bonus pick per season).

“Hell yeah, we’re going for it,” Harrison said. “That’s honestly really cool. That’s good motivation. Hopefully, Luciano is thinking the same thing. If all the rookies are thinking that way, we’ll be pretty tough to beat.”


Max Kranick was added off waivers.

The Mets recently added Max Kranick off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates; the right-hander is healthy after missing last season because of Tommy John surgery and is said to be throwing around 95 mph.

The 26-year-old should be fully healthy entering the season. The reason I’m interested is that he’s throwing 95-mph and both his slider and curve have a career 17% SwStr%. The issue holding him back the past few seasons was his control but hopefully Tommy John surgery fixes the cause. He’s likely stuck on the MLB team since he’s out of options.

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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3 months ago

sick article