BP's rumor rounder-upper catches you up on all the latest offseason events.
Daniel Rathman: Hey everyone, let's get this thing started!
baseballjunkie (SF): What moves do you see the Giants making to fill their outfield?
Daniel Rathman: Thanks for the question, baseballjunkie.
I don't expect the Giants to do anything fancy — in fact, it seems that Sabean is once again prioritizing retaining the players who contributed to the championship run. With Pence staying in right field, I think they'll do their best to re-sign Pagan, and perhaps simply add a better reserve outfielder than Xavier Nady to share time with Gregor Blanco in left. Blanco doesn't exactly fit the power-hitting left fielder profile, but he does a lot of other things well and could be an adequate, cheap starter.
JoshC77 (Columbus): With the Astros moving to the AL, I would imagine that there will now be a need for interleague games throughout the season. How will this impact roster construction for NL teams given that they will need a DH for those away games? Previously, many teams would just call up a player to DH for a couple of weeks and then send them back down. This now seems less feasible. So, have there been any rumblings about NL teams looking at guys that are bat-first types? To see a NL team go to Boston (with David Ortiz as their DH) and have to use their futility infielder as their DH would seem to be competitive disadvantage.
Daniel Rathman: Hey, JoshC77. You're right that moving the Astros to the AL will require interleague games to be scheduled throughout the season, but even though there will always be an interleague series on the slate, the number of games each team will play against the other league will stay the same. With that in mind, I don't think you'll see a significant impact on roster construction in the NL, since interleague play will continue to make up one-ninth of the schedule. And, as painful as it was watching the Giants trot out "futility infielder" Ryan Theriot as their designated hitter, they did manage to the World Series while doing it!
temple (madison): with the trade where the dodgers got adrian gonzales and carl crawford, what does that mean for yasiel puig. is it possible they try him out at third or will the dodgers try to trade eithier. in any case have you heard any rumors about puig's future.
Daniel Rathman: I actually thought about this at the time of the trade, temple, but with the financial reserves the Dodgers have now, I don't think they're terribly concerned about blocking Puig. The outfield does seem set for the long haul, barring an Andre Ethier trade, but even if the Dodgers ultimately must eat money to open up a spot for Puig, they may not think twice about it. And depending on Puig's development, that decision might be two years away.
Alex (Anaheim): Is Kuroda staying with the Yankees? Returning to the Dodgers? Heading back to Japan?
Daniel Rathman: Thanks for stopping by, Alex. My guess is that Kuroda will end up staying with the Yankees, especially if Cashman and co. still intend to cut their payroll to avoid the luxury tax beginning in 2014. He was their most reliable starter last season, and it's hard to imagine the Yanks not ponying up the short-term money it will take to retain him. That said, the Dodgers have the coffers to make a run at whoever they want, so a return to Los Angeles can't be ruled out. I wouldn't expect Kuroda to head back to Japan, though.
Chopper (Indy): What does the future (statistically) hold for Wilin Rosario, and what position/ceiling do you anticipate for Xander Bogaerts in Beantown?
Daniel Rathman: Good questions, Chopper. From an offensive standpoint, I'd expect to see more of the same from Rosario — that is, lots of home runs and not very many walks — though a modest improvement in plate discipline is probably attainable with more experience. He led all catchers in homers (admittedly, with help from Coors Field) and was a 1.9-win player in 117 games, so I'd be more concerned about Rosario's defense. He looked very rough around the edges on the few occasions I watched him, and allowed a league-high 21 passed balls. A 3.0-3.5 WARP-per-year future seems possible, if he can improve in those areas.
Regarding Bogaerts, that's probably a better question for Jason Parks and the minor-league team, but I'd assume the Red Sox will give him every chance to stay at shortstop — at least until Deven Marrero is ready. I think he has a chance to be a perennial All-Star.
baseballjunkie (cali): Where do you see James Shields pitching in 2013?
Daniel Rathman: Hello again, baseballjunkie. The Angels and Twins seem like possible trade partners, now that the Dodgers have seemingly moved on, but I wouldn't be entirely surprised to see the Rays hang on to Shields for the first half of the season, before reevaluating their situation. There were some rumblings last week that Jeremy Hellickson was the hotter commodity on the trade market, though I'm sure the Rays will be more averse to moving him given the difference in service time.
Rabbi Glickman (Elaine's buliding): Would you care for a snack of some kind?
Daniel Rathman: No thanks, Rabbi — you can offer those high-calorie Snackwells to someone else, and I'll be sure to keep my jealousies to myself.
Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): Apparently Houston is considering making a run at Hideki Matsui to DH for them in 2013. Wouldn't Travis Hafner be a better option? Any chance they make a run at him?
Daniel Rathman: Thanks for the question, Ashitaka1110. It sounds as though the Astros are planning to keep their payroll to a minimum for now, so while Hafner might be a better option than Matsui in terms of performance, Luhnow is probably just looking for a cheap placeholder. I do think there's a chance they'll consider Hafner instead, but ultimately, I'd expect this to come down to cost.
John Carter (Toronto): Could you set us straight, please, about some slow right-handed sluggers: 1) Why are the Orioles pursuing Jonny Gomes, unless Nolan Reimold is not expected to fully recover? 2) Why would anyone want a 27 year old .700 OPS (last two seasons) player known for his miscues - Delmon Young, unless they are duped into thinking he's still going to be good based on a good week in the ALCS?
Daniel Rathman: Good afternoon, John Carter. The Orioles-Gomes connection surfaced yesterday, and I touched on it in today's Rumor Roundup. A designated hitter platoon certainly isn't ideal, but Gomes has a track record of mashing left-handed pitching, so there's room for him to share that job with, say, Chris Davis, even if Reimold and Nick Markakis are healthy and playing full-time in the outfield corners.
As for Delmon, I think most teams will be smart enough to seek other options, so a rough landing might be in store.
Preston (Colorado): The park factors at AT&T generally haven't been real extreme but the Giants home/road splits this year were definitely extreme. Do you think it plays differently from year to year or were the park factors not picking up on the effects earlier or was this a one-year fluke?
Daniel Rathman: Hey, Preston. That's an interesting question, and looking at the year-by-year park factors, 2012 was the second straight year in which AT&T Park ranked dead last for home runs. I'm still somewhat hesitant to call it much more than a fluke, but another season in the cellar would probably change my mind. As for the Giants' specific home-road splits, I'd attribute their lack of homers in home games more to the lineup than anything else. The 6-7-8 hitters were almost always lefties who showed little power at home or away (Belt, Blanco, Crawford), and the Giants didn't really have a true power hitter anywhere in the order.
cooldude (Mpls): The Cubs got Scott Baker for 5.5 plus incentives. Did they pay too much, or should the Twins have ponied up to match given their huge SP abyss?
Daniel Rathman: A few questions in the queue about Baker, so I'll use cooldude's as sort of a catchall to answer them. I like this deal for the Cubs, because Baker has a history of 2.0-3.0 WARP performance when his elbow and shoulder aren't barking. If he can stay healthy, he'll be easily worth the salary (even with $1.5 million in incentives), and he could fetch the Cubs a nice prospect or two if they then flip him at the trade deadline. Given the current state of the Twins' rotation, I probably would have matched the Cubs' offer, though Minnesota might also have additional information on Baker's health that we're not aware of.
Matty the K (Portland, OR): Jacoby Ellsbury: discuss!
Daniel Rathman: One of my favorite fantasy sleepers this year! From a real baseball standpoint, it'll be interesting to track Jackie Bradley Jr.'s progress in the upper minors. The Red Sox might be tempted to field an elite defensive outfield with the two of them playing side-by-side, but there are enough holes in the roster to at least consider trading Ellsbury before he hits free agency.
Rockford (Flowmont): Do you see the Reds doing anything on the offensive side this offseason? I expect Todd Frazier to be the 3b, but what happens at SS, CF, and LF?
Daniel Rathman: Thanks for stopping by, Rockford. After watching GABP help Ryan Ludwick to turn back into a serviceable everyday player, I think the Reds will go with a low-cost option in left, and possibly just bring back Ludwick if his price tag doesn't bloat too much. I also wouldn't expect them to give up on Zack Cozart so quickly, especially because he did amass 1.4 WARP last year, even with a .288 OBP. Given the depth of the outfield market, there might be a center fielder who fits the Reds' budget, so that's the position I think Jocketty will be most tempted to address. If Angel Pagan, B.J. Upton, and Michael Bourn all price themselves out of the Reds' range, Shane Victorino might be an intriguing option.
R.A. Wagman (Toronto): Daniel,
What do you think of the Blue Jays' strategy of claiming random waiver wire flotsam and then trying to sneak them back through waivers themselves for added AAA depth?
For all the trouble that they've undertaken (and IIRC the waiver claim fee) wouldn't it be better to simply do a better job with milb free agents?
Daniel Rathman: R.A., It's certainly hard to fault Anthopoulos for trying to leave no stone unturned, but I agree that the claim-and-DFA sequence has become more comical than productive, at least from an outsider's view. Having watched the Giants pluck quality contributors off the minor-league free agent market in recent years, I agree that there's value to be found there, especially for Triple-A depth. And I'd expect Anthopoulos to scour it once he's done flipping the Scott Maines and David Herndons of the world.
Cristian (Los Angeles): In laymen’s terms could you explain why teams must bid for the right to the negotiate with foreign players...examples: Matsuzaka & Ryu Hyun-Jin.
Daniel Rathman: Cristian, this is basically a rule that was put in place to make sure that major-league teams wouldn't extract talent in droves from the Asian leagues. The draft in Japan, for example, ties players selected to their team for a certain number of years, and the only way they can jump across the Pacific is through the posting process (keep an eye on the Shohei Otani case this offseason). The process itself was developed as a solution to the Hideo Nomo problem, which originated when Nomo was effectively able to ditch his career in Japan by retiring from Nippon Professional Baseball and signing with the Dodgers. It's certainly not a perfect solution, but it does enable Asian teams to get compensation for their players, similar to what's done in professional soccer.
Father Pete (San Francisco): Zach Britton: what's his upside, and how soon can he reach it? Am I wrong in thinking that he could be a top-30 starter by 2014?
Daniel Rathman: I agree with you on Britton breaking out in the near future, Father Pete, but I see him as more of a number-two/three starter than a possible ace. For the Orioles, who have Dylan Bundy surging through the pipeline, that's perfectly adequate.
sykklone (iowa): What are your thoughts on Clayton Blackburn and Kyle Crick?
Daniel Rathman: Looking at the Giants' farm system, those two seem to be the only established prospects with much upside, sykklone, so I have high hopes for both. The Giants have a strong track record of developing power arms, so I trust them to do that with Crick, though his walk rates in the low minors are a bit worrisome. Blackburn seems like a high-probability mid-rotation pitcher, whose command and control will be enhanced by AT&T Park. I'd love to see both of them slide in behind Cain and Bumgarner within a few years, though I highly doubt either will be ready when the back of the rotation opens up after 2013.
smitty99 (Federal way, WA): What's your best guess regarding the Phillies outfield solution?
Daniel Rathman: Thanks for coming, smitty99. Amaro said the other day that he's looking at free-agent solutions rather than trade options, so as long as the price tags on the center fielders don't grow terribly exorbitant, I think one of them will land in Philly. My guess there is Upton, but it might just as easily be Bourn. Aside from that, I think they'll give Dom Brown a fair chance to win an everyday job for 2013, and possibly go with a timeshare of some sort in left. Cody Ross wouldn't be a bad fit, and after 2010, if you can't beat 'em, add 'em, right?
Thomas (San Francisco): Curious what your long-term goal in baseball is or if you have a long-term goal in baseball. Where do you see yourself in 25 years?
Daniel Rathman: This seems like a fitting question to wrap things up with; thanks for asking, Thomas. I don't have any specific long-term goals, and looking ahead 25 years is more "scary thought" territory than anything else right now. Short-term, I'll probably be in grad school at this time next year; long-term ... ask me in 24 years haha.
Daniel Rathman: This was a lot of fun — thanks for all the questions! I'm looking forward to chatting with y'all again soon.