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Chat: Sahadev Sharma

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday December 10, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Sahadev Sharma.

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Sahadev is in San Diego for the winter meetings. Ask him anything.

Sahadev Sharma: All right folks, I'm here and ready to talk all things Winter Meetings. There are probably a few things worth discussing...

bleedingcubbieblue (Palos Hills): Do you see the Cubs making any more big splashes after the signing of Jon Lester??

Sahadev Sharma: It's possible, they could certainly go after a big bat like Kemp or J. Upton, but I get the feeling that's unlikely. Perhaps there's a name out there that we're unaware is available, but I think they'd prefer a LH OF bat with OBP skills. Not sure who that guy is, at least of the big name variety.

Ryan (SLC, UT): Why is Ross being herald as a better backup option than Castillo?

Sahadev Sharma: I think there are a few reasons here. First off, Ross has the veteran presence they crave, I know some of us number crunchers don't value that much, but I've learned that front offices truly love it, even the forward-thinking groups

dvanhait (Holland): Rank McHugh, deGrom, and Tanaka. Who has the best chance of having a long and productive career in pitching????

Sahadev Sharma: Tanaka, deGrom, McHugh. They're all nice arms, but Tanaka is a level above and deGrom really proved that he could be near the front of a rotation last season.

Kevin (Chicago): Is it a given that at least a couple years of the Lester deal are going to be wasted money? Do you also think that part of the cost of doing business for a winning team is carrying a bloated contract or two?

Sahadev Sharma: This really goes with any contract given to a top-tier free agent, when handing out such a deal, a front office just has to go forward with the assumption that the back end won't look pretty. It's the front of the deal where you maximize the value. Front offices have to know that these deals won't always work out well and if you're handing out that much money, you better be able to accept that it may be an immediate sunk cost. Are you able to continue being competitive if that's the case? That's what they have to answer, otherwise it's quite the risk.

Chuck (Miami): Hearing anything on the Yoan Moncada trail? What's the consensus around the league on when he will sign? And how much would he go for? Thanks man and happy holidays. Keep up the great work Sahadev.

Sahadev Sharma: This is really an interesting one to follow. International scouts are enamored with Moncada and frankly, nobody seems to have a clue when he'll be cleared by OFAC. He's somewhere in Florida right now, just playing a waiting game. Obviously teams like the Cubs and Rangers hope this drags out a little while longer, because the closer it gets to July, the more likely Moncada will be willing to wait for those teams to shell out the big money necessary to bring him aboard. As far as the price, it's gonna be $40 million-ish, from what I hear and that doesn't include the extra cash they'll shell out for going over their allotted amount to spend.

Alex (Anaheim): What's more fun to cover: regular season games, or the hot stove rumors?

Sahadev Sharma: huh, that's a really good question. I love rumors, well, legit ones, at least. But I don't find any fun in chasing them down. Covering a game is simple, come up with a storyline you want to tackle, hope it plays out that way during the game, if not, adjust midstream, then get some answers during the postgame session. I like that, instant analysis is fun if done right.

John (San Francisco): Josh Donaldson had 4 years before free agency, and the A's got an adequate, injury prone replacement in Brett Lawrie, a pair of soft-tossers in Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman, and an infielder who is years away from contributing in Franklin Barreto. Then they dealt Brandon Moss for a 24-year old second baseman who just got to Double-A in Joey Wendle. And before that, they signed DH Billy Butler to a three-year deal. Why sell off Donaldson and Moss for such paltry returns? Why bring in Butler if you're going to rebuild? What is Billy Beane doing?

Sahadev Sharma: I think, emphasize think, I could come up with explanations on each of these moves on their own. But combined, they really throw me for a loop. I'm struggling to come up with an answer that's not far-fetched... We've been programmed to trust Beane, but it looks like he went all in last summer, which I loved and now he realizes that if he doesn't try and get some long-term assets for his club, it could go down the tubes quickly. I get that thought process, I'm not sure I see these moves being the best execution. Adding Butler to the mix almost feels like they changed their minds as to how to approach the offseason a few weeks into the process. Perplexing...

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Sahadev, So who will be the closer for the Yanks? They pretty much traded Robertson for Miller and saved 2.5 mil/yr, but gave up a proven closer. Miller and Betances have closer stuff for sure, but neither has actually done it before.

Sahadev Sharma: Betances and Miller were two of the best relievers in baseball. Robertson didn't have much experience closing coming into last season, so I'm sure if they believe Betances can handle the ninth (which is the direction I'd lean as currently constructed) they'll feel comfortable putting him in that spot.

Todd Ricketts (My bike shop): What beer goes best with Jon Lester? How about Samardzija?

Sahadev Sharma: Lester has the bulldog mentality on the mound, he looks thick and big out there, so I'd go with a nice stout, preferably barrel-aged. Samardzija has the long hair and is tall and lean, I'd go with something lighter, perhaps a Gose.

Jay (Seattle): Do you think Austin Jackson will ever have his breakout season, or is he just a slightly above average player?

Sahadev Sharma: Didn't he already have that breakout a few years ago? He's just regressed as he headed towards his prime. I think this just may be what he is, the power has progressively disappeared, doubt going to Seattle will help that very much.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Who do you think is the biggest name to get traded this offseason?

Sahadev Sharma: Matt Kemp, I'd put him above Heyward and probably JUpton, but maybe that's just me...

Shawn (Office): Red Sox Plan B: Cespedes/Webster for Cashner or Latos and then Owens/JBJ/Cecchini/Coyle for Hamels- reasonable?

Sahadev Sharma: Both feel a little light, would the Padres prefer Cespedes over Kemp? I'm not sure one year of Cespedes makes sense for them and I think Cashner garners more value than that package. To get Hamels, I think the deal needs to be headlined by one of Xander/Betts/Swihart, Betts being most likely and Xander probably being a nonstarter for the Sox

CGAnderson (mpls): Describe what an average day looks like for you at the Winter Meetings. Thanks for the chat!

Sahadev Sharma: Wake up, get thrown off by the Pacific Time Zone, slowly emerge from my bed and down some pain pills because I messed up my back hours before my flight out here. Walk over to the main hotel, write/edit for a few hours. Eat lunch, walk around and people watch and talk with friends in media/front offices. Go back and write some more, troll twitter for breaking news. Watch Jeff Passan run around like a chicken with his head cut off as he's spending hours gathering news (I literally watched him do this yesterday as he was attempting to break the Lester news, he was first with the contract details, so kudos to him). Forget to eat dinner. Feel sick after realizing it's 10pm and I haven't eaten in 12 hours, eat dinner, drink some beer, go to bed. Repeat.

allangustafson (Lou and Mickey's): Who would you draft in a 5 x5 root league? Wong or Betts?

Sahadev Sharma: I'd say Betts, but honestly, folks, I'm not the guy you want to ask for fantasy advice. I'm asking our staff what to do just so I can pocket a few extra bucks at the end of the season.

John (Chicago): Do you think John Groce is capable of building a top 10 national program?

Sahadev Sharma: I love Groce, I think he starts to get some elite talent in the coming years, Coleman-Lands is pretty near elite and getting a guy like that out of Indiana is huge for the Illini. I think he needs to make a tourney run to the Sweet Sixteen to really convince the Chicago elite that they should start considering Illinois over Kansas/Kentucky/Duke. He's gonna miss on most of those kids, but if he can just land one every few years, that's a huge win for this program.

John (Chicago): Do teams ever get trade ideas from writers? I know it sounds silly, but there has to be a writer or two out there that come up with good trade ideas that a GM may have never considered.

Sahadev Sharma: Maybe? They certainly talk to us and get our thoughts on things. Sometimes we have a better idea on a prospect/player's makeup than some scouts. Some of them like to hear our opinion on actual moves that have taken place (I got asked about some deals a few times last night), but I'm not sure if they're coming to us for suggestions on what to actually do. That feels unlikely the more I think about it. But our opinions do matter at times if they respect us and the work we do (and that certainly varies from person to person).

John (Chicago): Do teams ever get trade ideas from writers? I know it sounds silly, but there has to be a writer or two out there that come up with good trade ideas that a GM may have never considered.

Sahadev Sharma: Maybe? They certainly talk to us and get our thoughts on things. Sometimes we have a better idea on a prospect/player's makeup than some scouts. Some of them like to hear our opinion on actual moves that have taken place (I got asked about some deals a few times last night), but I'm not sure if they're coming to us for suggestions on what to actually do. That feels unlikely the more I think about it. But our opinions do matter at times if they respect us and the work we do (and that certainly varies from person to person).

tvbona (Rockford, IL): Do you see any more significant moves out of the Yankees (beyond possibly re-signing Headley and McCarthy)? Feels like that team still won't be a big competitor without one more big piece, but they seem at their spending limit.

Sahadev Sharma: Are they really at their limit? The Scherzer rumors haven't ramped up as of yet, I'd put them as the early leaders on the front. Headley and McCarthy both make sense in addition to Scherzer, either way, I think ruling them out on the remaining big names on the market would be unwise.

Myrick (Charleston, SC): What's holding the Braves back from a firesale? The current team is severely lacking offensively.

Sahadev Sharma: I'm not sure. I don't really get why Kimbrel isn't on the market and signing Markakis when you know he's about to go under the knife seems odd to me. I don't think the return for a year of Heyward was anything to mock, but outside of that, I'm not completely clear as to what their plan is for the immediate future. A rebuild does seem like the right move, at least a very quick one. I'd keep Freeman, Simmons and Teheran and go from there.

bubbledachimp (dc): Should the Cubs try and YOLO and get Zimmerman or Cueto?

Sahadev Sharma: It's not a crazy suggestion. I'm not sure if they could pry Cueto from Cincy, but Zimmermann could be had. The real question is what's the price? And what's a FAIR price for both teams? I feel like the 5+ pitchers are hard to determine as far as trade value goes. Obviously the team with the pitcher knows they have a very talented player and want strong compensation. But the team trying to acquire said pitcher won't want to give up elite prospects with 6+ years of control for one year of a stud. And from polling front office people here in SD, that window of exclusive negotiation for an extension isn't really something they value very highly, at least in terms of what to give up in a trade.

AB (Chicago): A certain member of your staff who shall remain nameless, but we'll call him Rauricio Mubio for example's sake, has been pushing the "tacos are sandwiches" agenda through private channels recently. Two fold question: What are your feelings on this premise? Follow-up being this: would you give #tacos a 7th year and a no-trade clause to get a top of the rotation taco? First time caller, long time reader.

Sahadev Sharma: I have very strong feelings about this, and by that I mean, I strongly don't care. A sandwich is a sandwich, if you want to call pizza and tacos a sandwich, go for it. I honestly don't care if you're gonna go through life being wrong about what a sandwich is... Your friend Rauricio seems like he needs a sandwich education from the likes of Craig Breslow. Tacos as a sandwich, silliness...

Ken Malmberg (Tampa): Sahadev. Congrats again on you new job and membership to the BBWAA. I suspect that the timelines for the Cubs has been accelerated (if all things fall in to place), and the Cubs want some offensive leadership. Is Gomes really the guy? I like the idea of a trade for Crawford.

Sahadev Sharma: Crawford on the cheap both in terms of money and prospects isn't awful, but I'm not really a huge fan of that. There's a question about Span in here, I think that makes some sense as well. Again, how to value these guys with just a year of control left gets a little tricky. I'm working on my thoughts on the Lester signing and what it means in the grand scheme of things right now (well I was, but you guys interrupted me) and I'm coming to the conclusion that, yeah, it speeds things up, but a lot still has to go right for 2015 to be a playoff year. It's really a big stepping stone and helps us all see just what the Cubs have here, especially in regards to guys like Soler, Hendricks, Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, etc

Pat (Chicago): Any chance Cubs get in on Cole Hamels too or is it more likely they go after a McCarthy type?

Sahadev Sharma: I'd be surprised if they add either of those guys. I think Hammel is a real nice add at a quality price. Unless they go after one of the 5+ arms (Zimmermann is the guy I could see them targeting, they've already been linked to him), I don't see any big pitchers being added from here on. Maybe some one year guys looking to up their value, perhaps a veteran bullpen arm on the cheap.

The Dude (Office): Have you done any brewery tours in SD? Recommendations on beers you've had?

Sahadev Sharma: I haven't, just don't have the time. It's good to be busy with work, but also is unfortunate that I don't get to explore this beautiful city, San Diego really is a close runner-up to Chicago as far as places I'd like to live. But I do love most of what Ballast Point and Alesmith have to offer, Alesmith has a stout (Speedway) that's absolutely amazing, one of the best I've had. Sculpin IPA (from Ballast Point) is roundly considered one of the best IPAs in the country. I'm searching for some Russian River, but just haven't had the time to really go after it.

John (Chicago): Do you see Joe Mauer ever being an All-star again?

Sahadev Sharma: Man, I hope so. I'll be honest, I didn't see a lot of the Twins last season, but when I do watch him, the swing just makes me giddy. So simple and just reminds me of the pure hitters I grew up watching (Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn). If he can just stay healthy, I believe he has an AS level still in him, but staying healthy just doesn't seem too easy for him, does it?

LGBT (Evanston, Il): I'm afraid, very afraid!!! Talk me down off the ledge. Tell me the Cubs aren't going to trade their top tier prospects for one year rentals. Please tell me they'll stay the course and not do anything rash. PLEASE! (I want the dynasty, not a 'one-and-done).

Sahadev Sharma: They may trade for a one-year guy, but they won't give up any of Soler/Bryant/Russell/Baez for that guy. Look at the return for Samardzija. He's really good, I think he's a solid number two and he has very few miles on that arm. But the White Sox, whose system has improved, but isn't close to as deep as the Cubs, didn't give up anything that makes you concerned about their long-term health. Zimmermann probably costs a little more, considering the Nats expect to contend next season, but I could see a deal that doesn't make you want to jump. Back away from the ledge, my friend.

JMR (Chicago): Are Ross and Cashner the best 1-2 in baseball when you consider age and salary?

Sahadev Sharma: Interesting, that seems almost ridiculous at first glance, but perhaps it's not... Maybe deGrom and Harvey will have an argument come June/July? Sale and Quintana? Kluber and one of Carrasco/Salazar/Bauer at some point? Who am I missing? That's a thought-provoking question...

Nate (Minneapolis): Any word on potential OF pick ups for the White Sox?

Sahadev Sharma: Hahn specifically said yesterday that in his mind, they weren't done making moves. There are OF bats that could make sense for them (Melky, Rasmus, maybe), maybe there's a trade to be made, not a huge name, but one that's an upgrade over Viciedo. In my opinion. outside of getting some cheap, upside bullpen arms, improving LF trumps upgrading 3b and 2b for them.

Jim (Texas): What's your best guess for resolution on the Profar/Andrus/Odor logjam?

Sahadev Sharma: Total guess, but Profar gets moved for a pitcher. It may be a stretch, though, because other teams may be hesitant to value Profar highly coming off a weird injury.

NateSpringfield (Illinois): So how long before Castillo is traded and David Ross is signed? He adds veteran leadership the Front Office seems to say they are looking for, and Lester seemed to enjoy him as his catcher in Boston.

Sahadev Sharma: I talked answered the leadership stuff in a prior question, but wanted to add a second part. I think Castillo could fetch a decent prospect, possibly an arm. If that's the case, I wouldn't be surprised if he's dealt with Ross being added soon after

Fredisucks (Atlanta): The Braves want more for Justin Upton than they got for Heyward. Do they get it?

Sahadev Sharma: long term, I'd take Heyward over Upton, but this is a one-year scenario. The fact that Upton can produce with the bat at a higher level (right now), especially in the power department, makes me believe they can get more for him.

hehner22 (Chicago): What do you think the chances of the Cards adding one of the remaining top pitchers either FA or trade (i.e. Scherzer, Shields or Hammels)

Sahadev Sharma: I think they'll lay low and some time next year they'll pounce on an arm that still sitting around and get him at a solid price. They don't usually wade into the deep end of free agency, so a shrewd signing makes the most sense.

Fred Fenster (Chicago): How likely you think the chances of the Cubs landing Ben Zobrist? To me he fits exactly what they are looking for. Also, think they still might sign Brandon McCarthy?

Sahadev Sharma: I think Zobrist makes sense, but I don't think anything is likely until I hear concrete information that a team is interested and motivated to make a deal. That doesn't appear to be the case just yet, at least with the Cubs, Rays, and Zobrist.

Tens (work): Back in '96 the Chicago Bulls gave Jordan a 1 year/29 mil contract and everyone outside of Chicago hated it. Why not try that for a mlb player today? Say 1yr/50 mil for whatever hotshot free agent is available.

Sahadev Sharma: Ok, this is the last question, I have to finish up my Lester piece which is already way late...

This is an interesting suggestion and one I've discussed with front offices. They usually suggest more than one year, something like 3 years and $30M per, it could work, but I bet guys on the business ops side may be scared by such things. But I'm far from an expert on the biz side, so perhaps I'm off base on that. But, yeah, it's certainly and idea some front offices have at least kicked around. Not sure if a player has actually been offered such a deal in the past.

Sahadev Sharma: All right people, that's it for today. I'm gonna schedule another one soon if you enjoyed this, so let me know via twitter (@sahadevsharma) and I'll do it. I just have a ton of work to do and I assume (hope) you guys want to read my full thoughts on Lester to the Cubs, so I'm gonna get that up ASAP. Take care!


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