American League

National League

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Signed C-R Russell Martin to a five-year deal worth $82 million. [11/17]

There goes the best catching option on the market. Martin's deal is similar to the one Brian McCann signed last winter; the differences are a few million bucks and the absence of a club option. It's a fitting comparison for other reasons, because both posted a 108 OPS+ in similar playing time in the three seasons prior to signing, and both carried strong defensive and clubhouse reputations. Heck, they almost share the same birthday, too, although Martin is a year older.

By now, Martin's game is well known. Defensively, he's a high-quality receiver and staff-handler who should work well with the Blue Jays' increasingly young staff. When he steps to the plate, he provides value with a decent amount of power and a walk rate that hasn't finished below 10 percent since his rookie season. Last year was an aberration as far as Martin's overall offensive worth was concerned, but he's a well rounded backstop whose entire value isn't captured in the numbers.

Obviously there is reason to pause whenever a team guarantees a catcher payment through his age-36 season, but in the short term Martin's addition should help the Blue Jays inch toward the postseason. The question is whether Alex Anthopoulos will stop here. Toronto is rumored to have interest in Hanley Ramirez, Jon Lester, and Andrew Miller, among others, and could buttress an already solid core in an attempt to reach the postseason for the first time in more than 20 years. Hey, Martin already helped end one extended drought, so why not put an end to another?

One of Anthopoulos' next matters of business could be moving incumbent starter Dioner Navarro. Navarro enjoyed another solid offensive season in '14, and has a strong reputation as a staff-handler (though the other aspects of his game aren't as well received). Given his cheap cost for next season ($5 million), he's bound to attract teams that need a starting catcher. —R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact

Russell Martin

We knew Martin was going to get paid handsomely, but by whom was the big question for fantasy owners. The rumored Cubs were a nice fit due to Wrigley’s dimensions, but Rogers Centre is actually a better fit. Looking at the 2014 park factors, the Jays home stadium ranked ninth in runs scored, third in home runs, and sixth in doubles. All are ahead of Martin’s previous home park, PNC (though just one spot above for doubles). Worth noting too, is that the Pirates ranked dead last in home runs for right-handed batters while the Blue Jays ranked fourth. That’s a potentially huge improvement for Martin’s power numbers. While the move is a positive for Martin’s value in the abstract, it’s worth keeping in mind that 2014 was a career-year offensively and, at 31 years old, Martin isn’t likely to repeat it. Still, he was right around league average in 2013, which is a plus from the behind the plate, and he has a chance to replicate his power numbers from that year (15 homers) now in Toronto.

The presence of the DH is another boon to Martin, who fancies himself a bit of an iron man, but he can now get at-bats without going through the rigors of catching as often. It’s not known whether the Blue Jays will use the DH like this, but one suspects that with capable backstop Dioner Navarro now relegated to backup duties, this becomes a viable option.

Dioner Navarro

Navarro takes a big hit, especially in AL-Only leagues where he was actually quite a useful player last year. It’s possible he still sees a handful of at-bats in the DH role, thanks to Adam Lind being sent to Milwaukee, but I’d expect the Jays to pursue a more traditional DH or add an extra outfield bat or two to rotate through there with Navarro. Still, there’s no way to spin this as a positive for him as long as he’s still in Toronto. —Craig Goldstein

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Acquired RHP Arodys Vizcaino and international bonus slots nos. 2, 3, and 4 from the Cubs in exchange for 2B-L Tommy La Stella and international bonus slot no. 4. [11/16]

The rare trade that makes little sense for either party at first blush; there are too many loose ends on both sides to get a firm feel for what the teams accomplished here. Nonetheless, this what we know and what we think will happen.

Vizcaino returns to the Braves more than two years following a deadline trade that sent him to the Cubs (along with Jaye Chapman) in exchange for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson. Vizcaino hasn't pitched much since, appearing in just 45 games total due to Tommy John surgery and recovery. The outlook on his future remains the same: His fastball-breaking ball combination could produce a future in the late innings, but his unreliability (physically and control-wise) make it tough to count on him. There's another pitfall worth mentioning and that's how, thanks to all the time spent on the 60-day disabled list, Vizcaino is about 12 months away from qualifying for arbitration. If Vizcaino is healthy, he could give the Braves a tantalizing back-end of the bullpen; it's just unclear how likely that scenario is to occur.

One figures La Stella was living on borrowed time in Atlanta anyway. The Braves, always aggressive with their top prospects, could give Jose Peraza a look at second base before the season ends. In the interim, it seems safe to assume John Hart will grab a veteran type. Whether that's someone like Emilio Bonifacio (who could then slide into a sub role) or a Kelly Johnson or Mark Ellis type is anyone's guess. Whatever the case, you can rest assured it won't be Dan Uggla.

The international bonus slots give the Braves some additional breathing room (around $800,000). Yoan Moncada, the latest international wunderkind, is the name on everybody's mind these days. If the Braves do pursue him, they'll have to go well above their allotment pool to sign him; as such, the money gained here, though seemingly trivial, would save them on tax costs. —R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact

Arodys Vizcaino

The hard-throwing Vizcaino comes back to the Braves where he’ll have a chance to contribute at the major-league level right out of the gate. Vizcaino is coming back from Tommy John surgery and hadn’t seen game reps since 2011. The Cubs' back of the bullpen has its share of power arms, making Vizcaino expendable. Vizcaino has a power fastball and a nice power curve. The raw stuff does profile well for high-leverage situations but he doesn’t have a firm grasp of the strike zone yet. Couple his bouts of inconsistency with the Craig Kimbrel closer lockdown and it’s difficult to see Vizcaino picking up many saves in 2015. I think he’ll be able to provide strikeouts and he’ll be relevant in SOLDs leagues but that’s as far as his stock needle moves.

Jose Peraza

Trading away Tommy La Stella gives Peraza’s 2015 stock a jolt, as his quick rise through the Braves system paired with a vacancy on the big-league depth chart creates an enticing opportunity for the converted shortstop. He has a ton of natural speed but his natural aggressiveness and lack of power leave questions about the hit tool. I wouldn’t expect too much out of him outside of the SB categories at the outset, but there’s potential here for a solid contributor in runs and average, and elite stolen base numbers. I’d place him on watch lists and I think he makes his debut sometime late in 2015. —Mauricio Rubio

Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Acquired 2B-L Tommy La Stella and international bonus slot no. 4 from the Braves in exchange for RHP Arodys Vizcaino and international bonus slots nos. 2, 3, and 4. [11/16]

Whatever the Cubs' motivation for adding La Stella—is he a stopgap at second base in case of a Starlin Castro or Javier Baez trade, a potential utility man, just minor-league depth?—it's a surprising addition. La Stella, a fairly inflexible player, doesn't feel like a fit on a roster with so many young infield options. He lacks the athleticism or arm to play some of the more demanding positions, leaving him as a second-baseman-slash-left-fielder type. It's not like the bat can atone for his physical shortcomings, either. He's a singles-and-walks hitter who struggled mightily down the stretch. None of this is to say La Stella is useless—he could be a second-division second baseman if all goes well—but just that it would be an upset if he's in a Cubs uniform for long.

On an unrelated note, La Stella is older than Castro and Anthony Rizzo. —R.J. Anderson

Fantasy Impact

Tommy La Stella

La Stella leaves an enviable situation in Atlanta and enters an organization that has a glut of middle infield options. La Stella was relevant only in deep leagues where playing time starts to take precedence over statistics. His particular Marco Scutaro impression comes sans the positional flexibility and job security Scutaro enjoyed during his prime, so while La Stella does fit what the Cubs were actively looking for—OBP from the left side—his playing time in Chicago seems dependent on trades or other people failing which, is a big ol' red flag for one’s fantasy stock. —Mauricio Rubio

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
Also of potential note: Vizcaino may be replacing the bullpen slot recently vacated by new St. Louis Cardinal Jordan Walden.
Whenever I see Baez or Castro in a trade reference I cringe. I think Castro has some growing up to do, he loses focus mid game, mid inning in fact, but is a rock solid fielding SS that can play great 3B and a great muscle bat. I havent seen enough of Baez to know whether he is the real deal or not, but he is the real deal.

Longtime cub fans who believe, from Lincoln Square to Evanston, will be hanging themselves from light poles if neither Baez nor Castro deliver. I can't imagine the crap I will get if I have to tell friends to pound sand, next year Dan Vogelbach is coming up and you will see.
Any thoughts on how this Cubs transaction could fit into their every-other-year strategy of spending in the international bonus market? My quick read on this deal was that the Cubs used bonus money that they'd have trouble spending this year to pick up a player that lots of people liked last year who can fill a need for left-handed OBP. So La Stella loses a bit of his shine after struggling a bit in his first taste of the majors, and the Cubs pick him up at the cost of a relief prospect who's scuffled a bit as well and some pool money they couldn't really have spent anyway.
No worries. Baez and Castro aren't going anywhere. I think.