keyboard_arrow_uptop
IN THIS ISSUE

American League

National League

CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Signed C-R Geovany Soto to a minor-league deal. [1/22]

The surprise isn't the White Sox adding another catcher to go with the four on their 40-man roster and camp invitee George Kottaras, it's Soto settling for a minor-league pact. Soto didn't play much last season and is past his best days, but he's proven to be a competent big-league catcher and those are always in demand—to the point where you wonder just how much winking and nudging comes with the minor-league classification. Provided Soto is healthy, he's the favorite to enter the season as Tyler Flowers' backup and, if Soto outhits Flowers by 14 True Average points, as PECOTA unofficially projects, he could end the season in a larger role. – R.J. Anderson

ATLANTA BRAVES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Claimed OF-R Eury Perez off waivers from the Yankees. [1/23]
Signed OF-R Jonny Gomes to a one-year deal worth $4 million with a vesting option. [1/22]

John Hart has employed the same template for nearly all his offseason additions. When he's not acquiring young arms through trades, he's signing cheap veterans to low-risk deals. Hart is, in the simplest terms, acting like the GM of a transitioning team; one who believes that, if you're going to employ an increasing number of inexperienced players, then you best have some clubhouse guides on hand to help with the adjustment period.

Gomes fits on all counts. He's a bargain-bin vet and serves as a cause célèbre for those who believe clubhouse chemistry acts as a power-up for teams, enabling the good to play great and limiting the great to merely good. Whether that's true or not, well, who knows. Accept that Gomes' hijinks help to some degree, and there's hidden value to be harvested here. Of course visitors to this website care more about tangible value than whispers of possible value. Gomes offers some of that, too.

Though an untalented (if photogenic) defender, Gomes' on-base skills and pop make him an obvious addition to the lineup against lefties. If there is reason to pause about Gomes, it has to do with his power production and easy-out tendencies. He finished last season with a .095 ISO, a career-worst mark for a player who'd previously never posted an ISO below .160. Additionally, 22 percent of Gomes' fly balls stayed on the infield, which, when added to his 27 percent strikeout rate, meant an uncomfortable amount of automatic outs. Pessimists can also point to Gomes celebrating his 34th birthday back in November, making him That Age, where players with old people skills begin to fade.

Of course Gomes' 2014 wasn't without any positives. Down-trending or not, Gomes reached base in more than 37 percent of his tries versus southpaws. (Justin Upton was the only right-handed Brave who could claim he did better in 2014.) Plus the clubhouse stuff, as vague as it is, probably does hold weight. As such, Gomes could add value even if he's not as good as he once was. And hey, if he does produce? Then get ready for another wave of Gomes-related hagiography, likely coming your way right around August 1.

Perez changes hands for the second time in about four months. He's fast and could make sense as an extra outfielder. Given his offensive limitations, that's his ceiling. – R.J. Anderson

MIAMI MARLINS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Signed OF-L Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year deal worth $2 million. [1/23]

When a player as accomplished as Ichiro takes a bench role, it's usually in pursuit of a milestone or championship. Which is it with baseball's most famous fourth outfielder? Perhaps both, even if Miami feels like a poor location for either hunt.

Ichiro is 156 hits short of 3,000 for his big-league career. Do the math and you'll find he would need 550 at-bats to accomplish the feat, but if and only if he repeated last season's .284 average. He's unlikely to do so, just as the Marlins, complete with three young, productive outfielders, are unlikely to provide him with ample playing time. Similarly, the Marlins seem like a questionable contender; they've improved this winter, no doubt, just not to the extent where they're a postseason lock.

So why is Ichiro bothering with Miami? He might not have had a choice. He's too limited these days, thanks to his bat-to-ball skills atrophying, to make sense as a bench player on most good teams, and too old to appeal to rebuilding clubs. The Marlins do make sense for Ichiro in one regard, seeing as how their stacked outfield can allow him to focus on pinch-hitting and -running, in addition to serving as an experienced backup across the outfield. Should Ichiro take well to the role, he might get a better chance in 2016 at 3,000 hits and a ring. – R.J. Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
Return to Top

Signed RHP Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year deal worth $4 million. [1/23]

Think of this as the pitching version of the Norichika Aoki signing; that is to say, a move Brian Sabean didn't have to make, but one he went through with anyway so as to add another layer of depth. Vogelsong, a competent back-end starter, won't be the focus here. Instead everyone will wonder whether Tim Lincecum or Yusmeiro Petit will be the one shipped to the bullpen when the season begins. Petit figures to be the answer to that question, in part because he was the answer last spring, and in part because the Giants seem certain to give Lincecum another chance at starting to begin the year. Either way, Sabean now has additional rotation depth to burn. – R.J. Anderson

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
jfranco77
1/26
I think Ichiro just likes baseball and isn't ready to quit. Or maybe he's curious about South Beach. Or he wants to watch Giancarlo Stanton up close. Or he really likes Martin Prado.

Either way, I'll be rooting for the Fish a little bit this year just because of Ichiro.
hyprvypr
1/26
Living in Seattle and after reading report after report that Ichiro is hugely interested in his own legacy, stats and records, I have no doubt he is simply interested in 3,000 hits. During his record hits season, he would routinely lay down a bunt with two outs and a runner at second base. He was just simply not interested in anything except the pursuit of a record.

A real shame because if his character matched his hitting skills he'd be a second Tony Gwynn.