Marte Party in Arizona
The Arizona Diamondbacks spent most of the offseason looking for an upgrade in center field. Finally, on Monday, the D’Backs got their man.
In an unexpected move, Diamondbacks’ general manager Mike Hazen swung a deal with the Pirates to acquire dynamic center fielder Starling Marte. In full, they land Marte and $1.5 million in exchange for a pair of prospects and $250,000 in international bonus pool money for this signing period.
The 31-year-old is entering the final season of a seven-year, $41.5 million contract, though there’s also a $12.5 million club option ($1 million buyout) for the 2021 season. He is coming off the best offensive season of his career. Marte slashed .295/.342/.503 with career highs in home runs (23) and RBI (82) while swiping 25 bases.
Already a five-category monster in fantasy circles, Marte’s draft stock should get a massive bump from this move. Not only does he get a major ballpark upgrade leaving PNC Park and heading to Chase Field in Arizona, but he also gets to work with a much stronger supporting cast.
Over the last two weeks, Marte has been on average the 32nd player off the board in NFBC drafts. He’ll easily climb inside that top 30 -- and could soar into the middle of the second round -- with his wonderful new surroundings.
The move will also allow the Diamondbacks to shift Ketel Marte to second base full-time in 2020, after splitting his time between there and center field during his breakout 2019 campaign. With Ketel Marte now at second base, Starling Marte and his two Gold Gloves in center field, and Nick Ahmed and his two consecutive Gold Gloves at shortstop, the Diamondbacks are perhaps the strongest defensive team up the middle in the National League.
The prize of the return package for the Pirates is 19-year-old right-hander Brennan Malone, who was the 33rd overall selection in last June’s draft. He only threw eight total innings in his first professional season, posting a 4.50 ERA, 1.125 WHIP and 8/5 K/BB ratio between the Diamondbacks’ Rookie League squad and Low-A Hillsboro. Malone was the ninth ranked prospect in the D’Backs’ system according to MLB Pipeline.
The Pirates also snagged shortstop Liover Peguero -- the club’s 18th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The talented 19-year-old slashed .326/.382/.485 with five homers, 38 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 60 games between the Diamondbacks’ Rookie League affiliate and Low-A Hillsboro in 2019.
Both players are several years away from potentially cracking the big league roster, but the ceiling on each is very high. At least at the outset, this looks to potentially be one of those rare trades where both sides win -- the Diamondbacks getting the impact bat that they needed in center field to help them compete for a playoff spot in the National League West, while the Pirates add a pair of high-ceiling prospects to a farm system that needs to accumulate as much talent as possible.
Of the three teams that lost their managers in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal, it looks as though it’s just the Red Sox who are still looking for a new leader.
On Tuesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Astros were on the verge of hiring Dusty Baker to be their new manager.
The 70-year-old has a world of experience to his name, spending 22 seasons at the helm of big league teams. Most recently, he served as the Nationals’ manager during the 2016 and 2017 seasons -- leading his club to division titles in each season. Prior to that, Baker spent 10 seasons with the Giants (1993-2002), four seasons with the Cubs (2003-2006) and six seasons with the Reds (2008-2013).
Over his 22-year career, Baker owns a record of 1863-1636 (.532), He led his club to the postseason nine times and took the Giants to the World Series during his final season there in 2002.
Given the circumstances that the Astros currently find themselves in, hiring a well-experienced manager seems like a terrific idea - especially one who is known as a player’s manager and one who doesn’t put up with any nonsense.
Though the Astros have yet to confirm that Baker has been offered the position, Jon Heyman of MLB Network confirmed late Tuesday evening that he will be named the team’s next manager. The two sides are apparently still hammering out a contract and deciding on one or more coaching positions. Look for an official announcement within the next 12-24 hours from the reigning American League champions.
Reds Lock in Castellanos
While they had been hot on his trail on Sunday night, the Reds officially reached an agreement with Nicholas Castellanos on Monday morning.
The contract -- a four-year deal worth $64 million -- includes opt-outs after both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The contract also includes a $20 million player option for the 2024 season.
There are a couple of interesting angles to explore here from a fantasy perspective. First of all, it’s a tremendous landing spot for Castellanos, as he should see a nice bump playing half of his games in the Great American SmallPark. Over the last two weeks in NFBC drafts, Castellanos has been the 111th player off the board on average. He should easily climb inside the top 100 overall and could even wind up closer to 80 by the time March rolls around.
Secondly, the Reds now have a major surplus of outfielders and something has to give. Castellanos and fellow offseason addition Shogo Akiyama join the Reds’ existing outfield of Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker and Aristides Aquino -- not to mention Phillip Ervin.
There have been rumblings that former top prospect Nick Senzel could be on the move -- as he would likely generate a substantial return on the trade market. Reds’ general manager Nick Krall dispelled those rumors on Monday though, telling reporters, “I don’t expect him not to be [here],.. I don’t know where that came from. You can speculate all you want, but he’s on our team.”
If Senzel remains on the squad -- with Castellanos and Akiyama seeing full-time at-bats -- that could mean that 2019 breakout star Aristides Aquino will be the odd-man out. The 25-year-old slugger does still have a minor league option remaining, which is one option that the Reds could utilize if they are unable to clear up their logjam before Opening Day.
It's a situation that fantasy owners are going to want to closely monitor over the next few weeks to see how it unfolds.
American League Quick Hits: According to Ken Rosenthal and Jake Kaplan of The Athletic, the Astros are considering MLB senior VP of baseball operations Peter Woodfork for their general manager vacancy… Jon Heyman of MLB Network writes that the Red Sox "seem more serious than ever" about trading Mookie Betts… Red Sox re-signed Mitch Moreland to a one-year, $3 million contract with a $3 million club option for 2021. They designated Denyl Reyes for assignment in a corresponding move… According to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com, the Red Sox are "believed to have interest" in Mark Kotsay for their managerial opening...The Tigers signed Kennys Vargas to a minor league contract… The Athletics signed Ryan Court to a minor league deal… The Twins signed Austin Adams, Alec Asher, Parker Bridwell, Juan Minaya, Casey Lawrence and Joey Krehbiel to minor league contracts… The Yankees signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league contract… The Orioles signed veteran southpaw Wade LeBlanc to a minor league deal with a big league camp invite… The Royals signed long-time former closer Greg Holland to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
National League Quick Hits: Eugenio Suarez underwent surgery on Tuesday to remove loose cartilage in his right shoulder after injuring himself in a swimming pool. He’ll be limited at the beginning of spring training, but the Reds are hopeful that he’ll be ready for Opening Day… Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres are willing to send two young major leaguers and at least one prospect along with Wil Myers to the Red Sox in a potential trade for Mookie Betts… Luis Urias underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a fractured left hamate bone and is expected to be sidelined for the next 6-8 weeks… Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports that the Cubs continue to show interest in free agent second baseman Scooter Gennett, while Jone Heyman of MLB Network writes that the Cubs are just one of “about a half dozen teams” that are considering Gennett…. Heyman also hears that Carlos Gonzalez intends to play in 2020… The Mets signed right-hander Rob Whalen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… The Diamondbacks designated Pat Valaika for assignment to make room on their 40-man roster for Starling Marte… The Brewers re-signed right-hander Shelby Miller to a minor league contract with a big league camp invite… The Nationals signed Kevin Quackenbush and Emilio Bonifacio to minor league deals with spring training invites… The Nationals officially re-signed Ryan Zimmerman to a one-year, $2 million contract… The Cubs signed Jeremy Jeffress to a one-year, $850,000 contract… Jeff Passan of ESPN writes that the market for Wilmer Flores is "starting to move.”...The Giants signed Yolmer Sanchez to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training… The Cubs officially announced their one-year, $1 million contract with Steven Souza… Tony Barnette announced his retirement from professional baseball on Tuesday.