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December 17, 2012

Transaction Analysis

A Number 3, Anibal Style

by R.J. Anderson

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IN THIS ISSUE

American League
National League

BOSTON RED SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Ryan Dempster to a two-year deal worth $26.5 million. [12/13]

The last time we saw Dempster, he was struggling with Texas. Sechelt’s own got off on the wrong foot with the Rangers by allowing 19 runs over his first three starts—for perspective, Dempster allowed 18 runs over his final 10 starts with the Cubs. He pitched better thereafter, shelving talk about him being a NL-only talent. When Dempster is right, he’s a solid no. 2 or good no. 3 starter. He’s durable—having made at least 30 starts in four of the past five seasons since moving back into the rotation—and sequences well to set up knockout slider.

Boston has four veterans to plug into its rotation: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dempster, and John Lackey. Felix Doubront or Franklin Morales will take the fifth spot, barring further addition. In addition to youth and upside, Doubront might have the more durable body. That leaves Doubront in the rotation and Morales in the pen. The Red Sox should have an improved rotation staff in 2013. It’s not like things can get much worse.

DETROIT TIGERS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed RHP Anibal Sanchez to a five-year deal worth $80 million. [12/14]

When the Tigers acquired Sanchez at the trade deadline it appeared unlikely they would retain his services after the season. So much for that line of thought.

Sanchez had a stellar postseason with the Tigers, though he remains a true-talent no. 2 or 3 starter. He throws a number of pitches: a low-90s fastball, a cutter-slider thing, a high-70s curve, and a mid-80s changeup. There are drawbacks to his game: he’s prone to lapses in command and the occasional meltdown. But he’s a consistent, durable pitcher, having overcome fragility issues, and should continue to form a strong rotation alongside Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister.

The real intrigue with this deal involves a finished deal that wasn’t. The Cubs reportedly thought they had signed Sanchez to a five-year deal worth around $75 million. But Sanchez’s agent gave the Tigers the right to match. They did. The Cubs supposedly raised their offer before folding, leaving Sanchez to return to Detroit. The privilege to match is becoming a hot button issue this week, first with Josh Hamilton and now with Sanchez.

NEW YORK YANKEES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed OF-L Ichiro Suzuki to a two-year deal worth $13 million. [12/13]

Judgment of this deal depends on how you feel about Ichiro’s batting average. If he hits .261, as he did last season with the Mariners, then he’s unlikely to succeed. If he hits .322, as he did last season with the Yankees, then he’s likely to succeed. Determining a player’s likelihood of success by focusing on his batting average is too simplistic in most cases, but it works here. Ichiro doesn’t offer much in the way of secondary skills. Everybody is pointing toward his increased power with the Yankees, but nobody, or at least not many bodies, points toward his almost non-existent walk rate. 

Even so, you can understand the deal on the Yankees’ side. They want to maintain flexibility and avoid big-money deals right now in an effort to reset the luxury tax penalties. That means signing veterans to short-term deals, usually of the one-year variety. There is a degree of risk with Ichiro, just like there is with Kevin Youkilis, but the Yankees are betting on these guys feeling reinvigorated by the pinstripe lifestyle. Who knows, it might work. It did last season with Ichiro.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed OF-S Andres Torres to a one-year deal worth $2 million. [12/13]

The Giants traded Torres to the Mets last winter for Angel Pagan. This winter, the Giants re-signed Pagan and now have inked Torres. Funny how these things turn out. Expect Torres—who has a noticeable platoon split despite being a switch-hitter—to platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field. The combination will give the Giants strong defensive play, though they will have to live with little power production.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
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Signed UTL-R Ty Wigginton to a two-year deal worth approximately $5 million. [12/14]

At first blush, this looks like the result of a wacky market or the workings of a general manager infatuated with high-character bench players—ahem, Kevin Towers. There is some logic here, however. For all the niceties of the Cardinals roster, they lacked a true right-handed pinch-hitting option off the bench. Wigginton gives them a righty with a history of smashing lefties (he’s got a .277 multi-year True Average against them). He’s also known for his defensive flexibility, but his best position is hitter. The small amount of money makes up for the extra year of commitment.

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

16 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Richard Bergstrom

"This winter, the Giants re-signed Pagan and now have inked Torres to a four-year deal."

Pagan was inked to a four year deal.

Dec 14, 2012 15:58 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

My dumb mistake sorry!

Dec 14, 2012 16:02 PM
 
mblthd
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

What do you expect for $34.95 a year?

Dec 14, 2012 18:00 PM
rating: -19
 
Richard Bergstrom

Entertainment. Which BP provides in spades.

Dec 14, 2012 20:01 PM
rating: 5
 
Chucko

I'm entertained by just the headline itself. In n Out doesn't get referenced nearly frequently enough for my taste.

Dec 14, 2012 22:23 PM
rating: 6
 
mblthd

Negative 19? Harsh!! It was just a joke...

Mar 22, 2013 14:04 PM
rating: 0
 
Beau Giles

"The combination will give the Giants strong defensive play, though they will have to live with little power production."

The Giants are very comfortable with little power production at this point.

Dec 14, 2012 19:10 PM
rating: 0
 
rweiler

I'd expect the Giants to have a little more pop in 2013 then they did in 2012 even with a Blanco/Torres platoon in left. They will have Hunter Pence for a full year and Posey, Sandoval, and Belt will all just be entering their prime years. Brandon Crawford also showed occasional power and he will be 26 starting the season so you would expect him to improve somewhat as well. If they are a few games out going into the trading deadline, they still have Hector Sanchez and/or Gary Brown that they can try to deal for a full time left fielder with some power. On the other hand, Marco Scutaro will almost certainly come back down to earth again.

Dec 15, 2012 09:03 AM
rating: 0
 
mdthomp

Ty Wigginton...blech.

Dec 14, 2012 19:22 PM
rating: 0
 
DetroitDale

I was ecstatic when I heard sanchez re-upped with the tigers, then I heard the announcement that Rick porcello was now on the trading block and my enthusian was tempered. The team says they won't warehouse a starter in the minors but one man's warehouse is another man's make sure he's ready. Besides having an extra starter comes in handy when one gets hurt, as happened early last year. Finally if the taken was fine with smiley going every fifth day, why sign anibal at all, or trade for him last summer for that matter?

On the other hand, if trading little Ricky gets you a grade a closer, or a younger, better shortstop who'll stay past 2013, or something nice like that, I guess I could get over seeing little Ricky in a new uniform, even if this is the year he finally breaks out.

I'd love to see the look on torii hunters face the day little Ricky is traded, seeing as he gave him a large sum of money to give up number 48.

Dec 15, 2012 16:41 PM
rating: 2
 
cdmyers

The big problem with Porcello is that he's an extreme groundball pitcher on a team that has a terrible infield defense. He's just worth more to other teams than he is to the Tigers.

Dec 16, 2012 07:44 AM
rating: 5
 
SC

I wonder if a bit of the Yankees' thinking in the two year deal is that Ichiro is 394 hits away from 3,000. Depending on how much and how well he plays, he'll likely be chasing it in 2014.

Dec 16, 2012 00:18 AM
rating: 1
 
BurrRutledge

If he's in spitting distance of 3000 hits by the end of 2014, the Yankees should be pretty happy with their offer.

Dec 16, 2012 08:19 AM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Similar to Hideki Matsui, they'll probably make at least half of the contract back through Japanese marketing.

Dec 16, 2012 12:20 PM
rating: 1
 
jdeich

He's also 372 professional hits away from Pete Rose's total. Most American fans would not "count" his 1,278 NPB hits any more than they consider Sadaharu Oh the home run king. However, the Yankees could still try to market it as an event, particularly in Asia.

Ichiro's marketing appeal is not a negligible benefit on a $13.5/2yr contract. Ichiro still draws fans to the ballpark. His was the 3rd most popular MLB jersey in 2012, despite toiling most of the season in Seattle with mediocre performance.

I don't pretend to know the exact numbers, but it's probable that the Yankees view this as
~$7M for baseball services and ~$7M for advertising. Extremely popular players like Jeter and Ichiro tend to "break" the $5M per added win assumption.

Dec 17, 2012 08:39 AM
rating: 5
 
bline24

There is an interesting article to be written about the careers of Anibal Sanchez, Jon Lester, and Jonathan Papelbon who, after being teammates on the 2005 Portland Seadogs and top prospects in the Red Sox organization, have all had more than their share of peaks and valleys in their careers. Who would have thunk a couple of years ago that Sanchez would be the 2012 post-season hero and the one signing the $80 million contract, and Lester the one with the biggest question marks?

Dec 17, 2012 11:23 AM
rating: 1
 
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