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Chat: Daniel Rathman

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday November 18, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Daniel Rathman.

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Daniel Rathman is a polymathic editor at BP and the author of the daily Rumor Roundup each offseason. Ask him about all that junk.

Daniel Rathman: Hey everyone—sorry about the delay, as I got stuck underground on a train. Let's get going!

Steve Sax (Los Angeles): Any of these infielders going to be a long-term asset? Alex Guerrero, Jace Peterson, Enrique Hernandez, Christian Colon, Luis Sardinas?

Daniel Rathman: Thanks for getting us started, Steve. I think Sardinas has the best chance of the group to be an asset from the standpoint of emerging as a major-league regular.

DJ (Dallas): Thanks for the great chats!! There's a lot of noise about the Rangers trading Elvis Andrus. Are Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor good enough to handle short and second for the Rangers, or are these rumors just a bunch of hot air??

Daniel Rathman: Hey, DJ-thanks for participating.
I think that both Profar and Odor profile as everyday big leaguers, with a chance to be first-division players, and Odor may even have passed Profar from the standpoint of likelihood of reaching that ceiling. My concern, though, is that both of them might end up at 2B, with Profar's chances of playing SS dented by the shoulder problems that might affect his arm. That being said, the Rangers have more infielders in the pipeline, including Sardinas and Michael de Leon, so if someone were willing to take Andrus' contract, I think they'd gladly ship him off and find a way to patch the hole.

Sweet Lou (Pittsburgh): Hi Daniel, Now that the Rumor's of RMartin to the Cubs are deemed premature, what's your take on his contract? And what can a Buc's fan anticipate in terms of "value downgrade" from Martin to Cervelli (vs the upside of potentially more money to spread around)? Grazie, Lou

Daniel Rathman: Hi, Sweet Lou.
As details are trickling out on the contract, I think it might be a mild overpay, but view Martin as a good enough player to ensure that it won't be a brutal one. My main concern with the contract is that the Jays appear to have backloaded it, presumably to give them flexibility to make more moves this offseason. That likely will make Martin untradeable, because I doubt he'd be an asset at inflated salaries in his mid-30s.

With regard to the value drop for the Pirates, it might be a steep one, even though Cervelli is a good pitch framer and has shown some potential with the stick. I'd expect them to try to compensate at other positions.

username49 (Ohio): A few Indians questions...the most exciting thing they could do via FA is maybe sign Rios and bring Masterson back, but I think they could be players in the trade market. Have you heard anything regarding Antonetti's willingness to deal one of his starters not named Kluber? Same question but Lindor? Do you think either Beane or Friedman would change their stance on trading Donaldson or Puig if the Indians offered up Lindor as the centerpiece? I imagine Friedman would salivate at the idea of putting a GG caliber SS who can hit in his lineup for the next 6 years. Would you be willing to deal Lindor or one of the starters for a premium talent at a position of need if you were running the show for the Tribe?

Daniel Rathman: Certainly some interesting ideas here, username49. I'd imagine the Indians are much more likely to part with a non-Kluber starter than they are to move Lindor, who could be one of the best overall shortstops in the majors. It's tough to find players like that, and even tougher for lower-payroll teams to obtain them if they aren't homegrown, so I really struggle to see Antonetti moving Lindor.

As for the starters, while I haven't seen anything yet, it's certainly possible. My guess is that Donaldson and Puig will stay put, but other right-handed-hitting position players-which I see you've identified as a need in a different question-could certainly be obtainable at that price.

padremurph (Los Angeles): What are you thinking the Padres do this offseason? Does Preller finally make a splash for the Padres?

Daniel Rathman: There's been some buzz of the Padres kicking the tires on Sandoval, padremurph, so some sort of move certainly seems possible. If they can convince a mid-tier free agent outfielder or left-side infielder to come to Petco, I think Preller will dabble in free agency. My guess is Sandoval either returns to SF or signs with the Red Sox, but someone like Jed Lowrie could be on the way.

Alex (Anaheim): Is there any way Brett Gardner sustains his power numbers from 2014?

Daniel Rathman: Thanks for the question, Alex. While I don't see Gardner racking up 17 HR again, his spray chart (http://tinyurl.com/lte4r3o) shows more all-fields power than you might expect. I could definitely see him finishing with around a dozen next year.

Ryan W. (Ohio): If you're the Reds do you sell or give it another try before pitchers hit FA?

Daniel Rathman: Hey, Ryan. The Reds are in something of a tough spot, because of the way the other teams in the Central have positioned themselves to contend. It's going to be difficult for Central teams to earn wild card berths in the coming years because West and East clubs are more likely to have 70-win-type clubs against which to rack up Ws. That's a roundabout way of getting to my answer, which is actually that I think the Reds need to give it a try in 2015. Votto's prime may not last much longer, and starters like Cueto and Latos will be hard to replace from within, even if prospects like Robert Stephenson pan out. If it goes south, they might look to sell at the deadline or stock up on supplemental picks, but I'd be trying to contend this year if I were the Reds.

Grasul (MN): How much can we reasonably expect to see Jose Fernandez in 2015?

Daniel Rathman: Grasul, the last I've heard is that he's expected back in late June or July. That seems like a reasonable timeline, though I'm sure many of us are hoping that he finds a way to beat it.

username49 (Ohio): Could you see a scenario where the Indians find a way to rid themselves of Bourn's contract this offseason?

Daniel Rathman: It won't be easy, but I could envision some in which they swallow a similar contract; what I can't see Antonetti doing is throwing away prospects to clear Bourn. He's owed about $40 million over the next three years, if I'm remembering correctly, so that's about $13 million or, say, a little over 2 wins per year. Let me toss a question back at you if you're still hanging around: Given the success that he had in Cleveland in 2013 (and supposing the Orioles would do it, which they might not), would you take back Ubaldo Jimenez for Bourn?

Dragonbreath (Gurnne, IL.): Do we see Josh Bell at some poinrt in 2015 at 1st for the Pirates in the bigs? Thanks, again!

Daniel Rathman: Hey, Dragonbreath. This is probably a better question for our prospect team-and when the Pirates list comes out soon, it's sure to contain an ETA for Bell. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say you're more likely to see him in 2016, just based off his numbers in a first try at the Double-A level. That's not always the best gauge, though, so pop this in the comments on the Pirates prospect post that's upcoming if the post itself doesn't answer the question.

Rich (Cedar Rapids): where do Jon Lester and Max Scherzer go?!?!?!???!!!

Daniel Rathman: That's a lot of punctuation, Rich! Right now, I'll say Lester back to Boston and Scherzer to the Yankees.

Kenny (East Bound): What can Toronto realistically expect in exchange for Navarro if they shop him?

Daniel Rathman: There's a couple of Navarro-related questions in the queue, so I'll use this as a catchall (no pun intended) for them, Kenny. Catchers who can hit a little aren't easy to find, so I'd expect some market for Navarro from teams that need a starter. It's hard for me to fathom anyone-the Blue Jays included-shelling out $5 million for a backup. I wouldn't expect the Jays to land a top 100 prospect for him, but a couple in the next 50, or maybe a 1-2 win infielder, seems like a fair return.

GS1 (Kentucky): What do you think it would cost KC if they were to acquire Gattis and what do you think Holland could return them?

Daniel Rathman: GS1, I don't see the Braves moving Gattis now that they've traded Heyward; that move seems to have cleared left field for Gattis so that Christian Bethancourt could get the lion's share of the time at catcher. The Braves seem more likely to sign a free agent starting pitcher or two, so my guess is that if the Royals wanted to acquire Gattis, they'd need to send a rotation-ready arm to Atlanta.

Some closer-needy teams might be over the moon to get Holland, especially since he's controllable beyond 2015. Blue-chip prospects could definitely be in play if Moore chose to go that route, and useful outfielders might, too. Remember, the Padres got Seth Smith from the A's for Luke Gregerson last offseason, and Holland is both far better and younger than Gregerson.

bigguy57 (Philly): A new rule has been made that no one who has won MVP or Cy Young before can win it again. Who are your 2015 MVPs and CYs?

Daniel Rathman: That's an interesting one, bigguy57. Off the top of my head, I'll say Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Abreu win MVP, and Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale get the Cy Young.

kyle (md): thinking about applying to tufts for next year, any advice/what did you like or dislike there?

Daniel Rathman: Hey, Kyle, I'd definitely encourage you to apply. Happy to chat more about it-either tweet @danielrathman or email me at drathman@baseballprospectus.com. Good luck!

Kevin (Toronto): Word is the Blue Jays are pursuing Andrew Miller to be their closer. Did they not learn their lesson about spending big on relievers after their experience with BJ Ryan?

Daniel Rathman: Kevin, let's wait and see what the price tag on Miller ends up being-and whether he lands in Toronto-before judging this idea. This is also a different front office, so lessons learned in the J.P. Ricciardi regime might not carry over, even if they were learned back then.

Matt (Cambridge): Do the Rangers do anything in the offseason? With better health and luck, they have a pretty solid team. Could be a dark horse for Shields? Maybe explore a trade for Upton?

Daniel Rathman: I'd expect Jon Daniels to add some reinforcements, Matt, with Shields as the top-level of investment I could envision. The Rangers are definitely a sleeper in what's shaping up to be an increasingly competitive division.

Dragonbreath (Gurnee, IL.): Dodgers clear out enough outfield space for his Jocness to have a fairly full season tio produce to his ceiling suggested by his minor league track record, what do you see from him in 2015? Archie Bradley boom or bust? Great job on this chat so far and all chats in genreral...

Daniel Rathman: Thanks, Dragonbreath. This isn't always the case, but because Pederson's strikeout rate is fairly high, I'd expect his average to come in around .250 in his first try at the big-league level, with the sort of HR and SB numbers that make him an excellent fantasy asset nonetheless.

As for Archie Bradley, I think he comes together as a mid-rotation starter, which might not be the frontline outcome some previously forecasted, but also far from the worst-case scenario. The prospect team should have a more educated guess, so keep an eye out for the D'backs top 10 list; it's due up third, after the Pirates and Cards.

Liam (KC): Which player's breakout is more likely to be for real and which one (if any) is a one year wonder: Lucas Duda or J.D. Martinez?

Daniel Rathman: Hi, Liam. I actually believe in both of these breakouts. The swing adjustments that J.D. Martinez made, profiled here by Ryan Parker (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=24239) seem legit, and Duda does so much damage against right-handed pitchers that a little deflation from lefties won't knock him down too much.

Chris (KC): Prior to 1931 there WAS a rule that no one who had won an MVP could win it again, so that's not really a "new" rule...and probably the reason why Babe Ruth only won once.

Daniel Rathman: Great point, Chris. Thanks for chiming in with that.

Kevin (Toronto): Just one more question about Toronto. News reports say that Martin's contract is back-loaded and only calls for a salary of 7M in 2015. Seeing as the team only has about 27M in guaranteed money committed beyond 2015, they should be able to go after one or two more free agents this winter, especially if they backload those contracts too. Who do you see as good fits for them that's still out there?

Daniel Rathman: Kevin, if there's no constraining limit to the budget, the biggest improvements to be made are likely at 2B/3B (depending on where Brett Lawrie plays) and LF. Hanley Ramirez could be a nice fit there if the Dodgers opt not to bring him back.

Kyle (NY): Fantasy baseball question: which closers have the most tenuous grasp on their 9th inning jobs?

Daniel Rathman: Kyle-the obvious answer here is whoever is closing for the Tigers. Beyond that, Trevor Rosenthal might not be terribly safe.

Mike (Minneapolis ): Is Kennys Vargas the real deal or just a big guy who had a hot start and will soon have his weaknesses exploited by cruel MLB pitchers??

Daniel Rathman: Some of both, but probably more of the latter, Mike. He's the epitome of a dead-red hitter-http://tinyurl.com/oqod4bk-and unless that changes, at least to some extent, he's going to strike out a whole lot, and the power won't play to its potential.

Cal Guy (Cal): Daniel, Have we seen the beginning of the end for Longo? 3B is a thin position, but I'm not sure I want to invest too much in him in 2015.

Daniel Rathman: He's certainly shaping up to be a risky fantasy investment, Cal Guy, but I can't shake the feeling that one of these years, there's a huge output coming. The talent is there; he just needs to stay healthy.

There's a handful of questions left in the queue, but I need to step out for a bit. I'll come back and get to them later this afternoon, and if you have others, please add them. Sorry again about the late start.

Nokieman (VA): Sounds like Giancarlo's deal is heavily backloaded, so much so that the Marlins are getting a killer deal if he opts out in future. Do you see them actually adding pieces around him? And do top FAs even consider the Marlins?

Daniel Rathman: Kicking back into gear with this one.

I'm not really sure how much the Marlins need to add to what's shaping up to be a nice homegrown core, assuming Fernandez comes back no worse from the wear of TJ. I'd like to see them invest in a 2B or 3B, maybe Lowrie, as that seems like the biggest upgrade they could make this offseason. Fernandez, Alvarez, Heaney, Eovaldi could be a really nice front four in a rotation, and Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna is a good start in the lineup. So, to come back to the original question, I see them making marginal additions to patch up holes, but my greater concern would be locking up other homegrown pieces.

Chris (Couch): Do you think Aaron Miller lands a closer gig?

Daniel Rathman: Assuming you mean Andrew, Chris, I think he's got a fair shot, especially as some teams become less reluctant to deploy southpaws in the ninth inning. Frankly, though, he might be most valuable as a seventh- or eighth-inning fireman, and clubs who don't overvalue closers relative to high-leverage setup men might prefer him in that role.

Charles (Brooklyn): Does Chris Davis get moved in the offseason? The Orioles don't seem to want him with the emergence of Pearce. If he is moved, where does he go? Seattle?

Daniel Rathman: The trouble with moving Davis this offseason is that his value is at a nadir, Charles. Seattle might be a possibility. I could even see the Marlins making a play, if the price is cheap enough, though he doesn't really fit there because he's only controllable for one more year of arbitration. Kansas City is another possible destination.

GrinnellSteve (Grinnell): If the Dodgers are aggressively pursuing Alexei Ramirez, what is a plausible trade that makes sense for both teams?

Daniel Rathman: I always struggle to come up with hypotheticals like this, Steve, but let's call Ramirez a 2.5-3 win player. He's signed for $10 million for 2015 and has a club option at the same price for 2016, which is likely to be picked up at that level of production. If we're talking prospects, I could see the Dodgers sending a couple of their mid-rotation-type prospects. In general, if the White Sox were to trade Alexei, I'd expect at least one top-100 prospect coming back, plus a couple of secondary pieces, depending on the headliner.

Jim (NY): Will Travis d'Arnaud be a top 5 offensive catcher in the next few years? It seems like we have been waiting 5 years for is breakout.

Daniel Rathman: I'm personally low on d'Arnaud, Jim, and see him as more of a top-10 hitter at the position. Top 5 would surprise me a bit, but I've been wrong before, and the bar is fairly low.

Dylan (RI): Hypothetically, could the Yankees send A-Rod to the Astros and send over $50M over the next 3 years essentially lowering the luxury tax hit for the Yankees and giving the Astros a free player?

Daniel Rathman: I suppose that could work, pending commissioner's approval of that amount of money changing hands, Dylan. That said, I can't really see why the Astros would want to acquire A-Rod.

Cal Guy (Cal): Hi Daniel, What kind of stats do you see Gausman putting up in 2015? Top 50 starter in MLB? Top 75? Thanks!

Daniel Rathman: Top 50 seems aggressive in what would be his first full year as a starter, but I could see him being a solid no. 3, which would put him around the top 75.

John (Chicago): I am having a tough time reading Rick Porcello's year. On one hand he is only 26 and coming off big improvements in ERA and ERA+. On the other hand, he has had six full seasons where he is averaging 5.5 k/9. Was 2014 real improvement or an outlier, and should we expect a league average pitcher going forward or for him to build on those improvements?

Daniel Rathman: I think there is some legitimacy to the improvement, John, but don't see Porcello ever emerging as a frontline arm. He's a very solid pitcher in spite of the low strikeout rate, and I'd expect around a 3.75 ERA, splitting the difference between his past two years, but leaning toward 2014 as the Tigers continue to improve defensively with the addition of Gose. He's better than league average (which I'd put around a fourth starter), and more of a middle-to-low-end no. 3 starter for me.

Nightmare (Boston): Would a Cecchini/Middlebrooks platoon be THAT bad? Wouldn't it be worth a shot and use Sandoval money on pitching? I'm not sure the margin on the upgrade to Sandoval would be worth the money

Daniel Rathman: The Red Sox might be able to get by with a Cecchini/Middlebrooks platoon, Nightmare, but the flipside of that is both could be chips in a trade for a starting pitcher. Let's see how things unfold before judging Cherington's handling of 3B and the rotation. Keep in mind for now that no single move is made in a vacuum.

Dragonbreath (Gurnee, IL.): What is the health status of Brandon Beachy and how does the Shelby Miller trade effect his 2015 season? Also how does it look for of Patrick Corbin and Tony Cingrani healthwise for 2015? Thanks for the chat, and all the knowledge, you pass along!

Daniel Rathman: I haven't seen much recent new on the health statuses of Beachy and Medlen, but I wouldn't consider the acquisition of Miller as any sort of reflection on those. I'd imagine the Braves were more concerned with maximizing their return on Heyward a year away from his free agency. There is room for both Beachy and Medlen in the rotation if they are healthy. One thing to keep an eye out: I saw reports this morning that the Braves are courting Jon Lester, or at least having him in for a visit. It's hard to say if this will have any bearing on his decision, but I believe Lester lives in Georgia during the offseason.

I'd expect Cingrani to be ready to roll on Opening Day-whether it's as a starter remains to be seen-and Corbin to return around June.

John (PA): DO you think the move to Atlanta will have any effect on Shelby Miller? What do you project for him in 2015?

Daniel Rathman: I don't necessarily see a major difference in the venue change, John, but I still like Miller and think he can be a good mid-rotation arm.

Matt (Cambridge): Thanks for the chat Daniel. Is the off season one of the rare places where we get a glimpse that front offices known something we don't. For example what do the Cardinals know about Shelby Miller that made him expendable or do they just see better things for Heyward? Why do the Red Sox want Sandoval over Headley? Martin signing gave us a glimpse that teams might start to be valuing catcher defense and framing.

Daniel Rathman: Sure thing, Matt-thanks for participating. That's an interesting way of viewing the offseason, and I do think we can see the Martin deal as an indication of that, although it's worth noting that value metrics that don't include catcher framing like him at something close to the price the Jays paid. It's easier to see more general trends like that than to discern specific reasons why a team lets a player go. There's certainly a degree of asymmetric information in any trade, and it may end up benefiting the Cardinals here, but I don't think we can claim to have learned anything in particular about the Cardinals' impression of Miller from this trade.

Daniel Rathman: Thanks again to everyone who joined in this afternoon, and my apologies again for not getting started on time. We'll do this again soon!


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