Calhoun Heads Home
For the first time in his professional career, Kole Calhoun is venturing outside of the Los Angeles Angels’ organization. The 32-year-old outfielder was drafted by the Halos in the eighth round of the 2010 draft, broke into the big leagues at the end of the 2012 season and has never looked back.
Now, fresh off of a season where he clubbed a career-high 33 home runs, he’ll return to his roots in Arizona -- signing a two-year, $16 million contract with the Diamondbacks. The deal also includes a $9 million option for 2022 with a $2 million buyout.
Calhoun was born and raised in Arizona and played his college ball locally at Arizona State, so this is a true homecoming for him. He’ll slot in as the club’s everyday right fielder and he should land behind Christian Walker in the middle of the Diamondbacks’ lineup.
From a fantasy perspective, the move to the National League is never ideal, but Calhoun will also see a major positive park shift in the move to Chase Field. While his 22.9 HR/FB% from 2019 looks like an outlier, and some regression to the mean should be expected, the move to Arizona should help Calhoun challenge for another 30-homer season provided he remains healthy.
Early NFBC drafters have been selecting Calhoun just outside of the top 350 players overall, making him an afterthought in many mixed leagues. With his playing time now solidified -- in addition to the major positive park shift -- it wouldn’t be surprising to see Calhoun jump up inside the top 300 players in the coming weeks.
Mets Snag Betances
Jeff Passan of ESPN reported Monday that the Mets had agreed to terms on a one-year, $10.5 million contract with Dellin Betances. The deal also includes a player options for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The 32-year-old hurler posted a 2.22 ERA with 607 strikeouts in 373 1/3 innings between 2014-2018. He made at least 66 appearances in each of those seasons.
He’ll work in a setup capacity in front of closer Edwin Diaz. He makes for an interesting save candidate himself though, as it may only take a couple of blown saves by Diaz to give Betances serious mixed-league value.
Passan reported the details about the contract, which can max out at $13 million in 2020 if he reaches certain benchmarks. Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds that the deal is worth $13.5 million guaranteed if Betances exercises the player option for 2021. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com writes that the deal also includes a $1 million player/vesting option for 2022, with a $500,000 buyout, so he could technically max out at $14.5 million.
Strength up the Middle
Days after shedding salary by dealing Corey Kluber away to the Rangers, the Indians began spreading some of that savings around to address other areas of need – signing former Phillies’ second baseman Cesar Hernandez to a one-year, $6.25 million contract.
The 29-year-old was non-tendered by the Phillies earlier in the month as they didn’t want to shell out the $11.8 million that he was projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn through his second season of arbitration.
It’s a nice discounted addition for the Indians, as he’ll provide stability up the middle and a functional bat that’s capable of hitting at the top of the order. Even taking a step back offensively in 2019, Hernandez still slashed .279/.333/.408 with 14 homers, 71 RBI and nine stolen bases – representing a major upgrade over Christian Arroyo who had been the Tribe’s most likely starter at second base before this move.
Prior to this signing, Hernandez had been going off the board just inside the top 300 picks overall in early NFBC drafts. Now with a secured starting spot – and with a positive bump with the move to the American League – I’d expect that he’ll climb closer to the 250 range before March.
Piercing the Market
The Padres went to the international market to bolster their bullpen on Monday, as Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that they had agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with right-hander Pierce Johnson. The deal also includes an option for a third year.
The 28-year-old hurler is coming off of an extremely impressive season with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, compiling a 1.38 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 91/13 K/BB ratio across 58 2/3 innings. Johnson, who was a fringe top-100 prospect back in 2014, saw his only meaningful big league action in 2018 – where he registered a woeful 5.56 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 36/22 K/BB ratio over 43 2/3 innings out of the Giants’ bullpen.
If he’s able to carry over the gains that he made overseas, he’ll make for a nice, inexpensive setup option for the Padres to work in front of closer Kirby Yates. For fantasy purposes, he could make for an interesting late-round flier in NL-only formats if you’re speculating on save chances.
American League Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the White Sox are “said to be in very serious pursuit” of Edwin Encarnacion… According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the White Sox remain interested in free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos… Morosi also notes that the Angels haven’t had any discussions with the Tigers in recent days regarding Matthew Boyd… The Royals acquired Chance Adams from the Yankees in exchange for minor league infielder Cristian Perez… Mike Freeman accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus and will remain in the Indians’ organization… The Astros officially re-signed Martin Maldonado to his two-year, $7 million contract… Raul Alcantara will remain overseas in 2020, signing with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization… Former Indians’ closer Cody Allen held a showcase last Friday for 19 MLB teams, where his fastball reportedly sat in the 89-90 mph range.
National League Quick Hits: The Marlins signed veteran backstop Francisco Cervelli to a one-year, $2 million contract… Tyler Saladino signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization… The Mets designated Sam Haggerty for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Dellin Betances.