The first day of the MLB Winter Meetings was rather light in terms of actual moves made, but trade and free agent rumors were flying fast and furious. From news on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to a potential blockbuster deal involving both New York clubs, the baseball world gave us plenty to talk about on Monday.
Amazingly, the biggest signing of the day came from our Detroit Tigers — yes, the Tigers that we are so deeply concerned about as they slowly move through their rebuild. Detroit inked righthander Tyson Ross to a one-year deal worth $5.75 million on Monday, all but closing the book on pitching-related signings this offseason. Signing Ross gives the Tigers six potential starters heading into the new year, along with solid depth in Spencer Turnbull and Matt Hall down in the minors.
The AL Central was busy
Ross’ $5.75 million price tag slightly outpaced Billy Hamilton’s $5.25 million contract with the Kansas City Royals as the largest of the day on Monday. The speedy center fielder was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds at the end of November, but will have a chance to rebuild his value in Kauffman Stadium’s spacious outfield. Our friends at Royals Review took a look at how best for Hamilton and the Royals to maximize his value.
So, one thing the Royals could potentially do to maximize Hamilton’s value would be to change his approach when batting left handed, and to limit his PA vs. RHP. In the era of launch angle and home runs, Hamilton needs to be focused on doing just the opposite in an attempt to increase his BABIP and thus his OBP. He can’t wreak havoc on the bases if he isn’t on base, after all.
There weren’t any other major signings in the division (or around baseball, for that matter), but the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians could both be major players this week. The Twins have cast their net far and wide in search of productive veterans to help the club return to contention. Names mentioned include Nelson Cruz, Wilson Ramos, and former Tigers reliever Joakim Soria.
Meanwhile, the Indians are still looking to get younger. They dangled ace Corey Kluber in front of the Dodgers, Brewers, and Yankees on Monday, but don’t have any bites yet. I’ll be surprised if they actually get a deal done — Cleveland’s asking price for Kluber seems rather high — but I wouldn’t mind seeing him leave the division.
Oh yeah, that Syndergaard guy
This is probably burying the lede, but the Yankees and Mets were discussing a blockbuster three-way trade involving flamethrower Noah Syndergaard late Monday evening. The move, which would bring J.T. Realmuto to Queens, seems like a horrible idea for the Mets, who are chock full of horrible ideas.
Ignore the Yankees part of it. Trading Noah Syndergaard to get Realmuto when there are good free agent catchers available and few needle-moving pitchers out there just doesn't make sense. https://t.co/ncDTwdoyl2— D.J. Short (@djshort) December 11, 2018
While it pains me to see a franchise potentially make a move this dumb — this is worse than the Shelby Miller trade, or even the deal that brought Syndergaard to New York in the first place — I will watch that trainwreck for as long as it goes on.
Where do the Tigers go from here?
Not up, apparently.
Tigers leaning towards having catching prospect stay with Double-A Erie to open next season, Avila said. They’re looking for another catcher for depth, with Chris Herrmann among their options.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) December 11, 2018
While Ross has a decent price tag attached to him, we shouldn’t expect the Tigers to go on a spending spree, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. That said, don’t be surprised if the Tigers get a lot of work done this week.
But there is a different dynamic in play this year. Players, particularly those not considered top-shelf worthy, are more motivated to get their deals done quicker. Seeing so many quality players sit on the shelf without jobs into and through spring training last season changed the mind-set of a lot of mid-level players.
Chris Herrmann, in particular, seems like an uninspired option at catcher. He played for Ron Gardenhire for three years in Minnesota, then again in 2017 when both were with the Arizona Diamondbacks. While Herrmann has some offensive upside — he has two seasons with an OPS+ north of 100 on his résumé — he is a poor defender.