Yankees Land Cole; Mazara to the White Sox

Gerrit Cole signed by NYY (9 years/$324 million dollars)

I’ll be honest, I was really hoping Cole would sign with the Angels but that’s only because I really want Mike Trout in the playoffs and that would’ve really helped. Brian Cashman has landed his white whale and the Evil Empire has returned with this incredible deal. This is unfathomable money and congratulations to Cole for securing the bag. Here’s the thing, he’s coming off a truly masterful season in 2019 meaning he can’t really go anywhere but down from this insane peak.

I mean, he could repeat, but there’s no way you can project someone for another 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 40%(!!!) K rate, and 6% BB rate in 212.3 innings. Steamer has him down for a very healthy 3.00 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 35% K, and 7% BB in 195 IP. Perception seems to be that the park move will be a downgrade for Cole, particularly with home runs which was the one thing that stuck out as a negative in his profile last year (as it did for many pitchers). Of course, if you don’t put anyone on base, a 1.2 HR/9 isn’t the end of the world.

There’s also the “New York environment” factor but knowing how a player will handle such a thing is impossible so I’m reluctant to overrate it. Maybe he’ll thrive on the energy of New York and not get flustered at the clown fans who will boo him the second he allows more than three runs in a game. There will almost certainly be some level of transition as Cole is going to a new city as “the man” with incredible expectations and I generally choose to take a year off from guys in these situations.

It’s not that every pitcher becoming the unquestioned ace with a megadeal on a new team flops without fail, but enough peel back at a higher level than expected that it’s become a market I just don’t usually play in. That’s mainly he was my #4 for 2020 with a team new team, but #1 had he somehow he remained in Houston. He’s currently the 6th player off the board and could even overtake Cody Bellinger for the #5 spot now that he has landed in New York which I get but just choose not to follow.

Nomar Mazara traded to CWS

This was a trade that materialized quickly with some brief rumors that Mazara was being discussed in deals and then a consummated deal to the White Sox for prospect Steele Walker (who is now Steele Walker Texas Ranger, which pleases me to no end). The left-handed rightfielder has been a consistent disappointment over the last few years as he continually gets tabbed for a breakout, only to put up another underwhelming below average effort. His wRC+ totals in his four seasons are 91, 87, 95, and 94, and both of the last two seasons have been shortened by injury (128 and 116 games).

It’s not hard to see why some keep looking for more from Mazara, especially as his ISO has risen yearly, but at the same time the plateaued stat profile outside of that one factor makes him feel like a WYSIWYG mid-to-late 20s outfielder. I used to be one of those who saw more coming here, but the rising strikeouts, sinking walks, and modest output just don’t do it for me anymore, especially as he seems to hold some extra name value that makes more expensive than he should be in most drafts.

That said, even if he is only this same guy, it would be a substantial upgrade for the White Sox in particular, at least in regards to what they got in 2019. They were easily dead last in RF production with a 71 wRC+ and even that overstates their production there as it includes all of Leury García’s season even though he only played 284 innings there. Rob Silver shows the absolute bleakness of White Sox RF in 2019:

We don’t yet know how the Rangers new stadium with a retractable roof that will likely be closed more often than not will play, but it will almost certainly cut into the offense that made Globe Life Park one of the best home run parks in the game as it will mitigated the oppressive heat that helps the ball travel for most of the 81 games there each year. So if there new park becomes more of a neutral outlet, this actually helps Mazara a bit as Guaranteed Rate (what the hell are these park names, man?) is still a plus park for homers. He should finally eclipse 20 HR if he can reach 550 PA, but I’m not sure there’s much else to be excited about here right now.

Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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2 years ago

Man, does Mike Trout have a historical comp in any of the four major sports? Dude’s gonna end up on baseball’s Mount Rushmore despite playing for teams that range between “kinda ass” and “complete ass” for his entire career.

Pepper Martin
2 years ago
Reply to  Sleepy

Barry Sanders is the first one that springs to mind, but at least Sanders did manage to win a single playoff game.

2 years ago
Reply to  Sleepy

Ernie Banks, though he’s not on the mount Rushmore. James Harden? His teams are great but very little playoff success, at least so far.

2 years ago
Reply to  Sleepy

Mike Trouts career is nowhere near done, and I’d imagine at least at one point he is on a good team.