Minor on the Move?
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Sunday that the Rangers have been receiving trade interest in left-hander Mike Minor.
The biggest weaknesses that the Rangers have are with the quality and depth of their starting rotation. In 2018, their starting pitchers combined to post a 5.37 ERA, the second worst mark in all of baseball, behind only the Orioles. They also compiled a ghastly 1.44 WHIP in 846 innings.
Those terrible marks include 157 quality innings from Minor. The 30-year-old southpaw was a tremendous free agent pickup for the Rangers in 2018. After missing three full seasons due to injury issues, Minor resurfaced in 2017 as a valuable bullpen piece for the Royals. The Rangers liked what they saw, and believed that he could successfully transition back to the starting rotation for the first time since 2014.
Since Minor didn’t have many offers that guaranteed him a chance to start, the Rangers were able to ink him at a nice bargain to a three-year, $28 million deal.
Aside from his strong performance on the field, and in an extreme hitters park no less, it’s that team-friendly contract that inquiring clubs are likely fawning over. With a lack of quality high-end starters available via free agency this winter, it’s not surprising at all to see the Rangers fielding calls on Minor.
And that’s precisely why they should deal him away. The Rangers have no intentions of competing for a playoff spot in the next two seasons, and Minor should be able to generate a nice return package of prospects that will help to speed up their rebuild.
At this point, it would be surprising to me if Minor wasn’t donning a new uniform on Opening Day.
The Astros made an under-the-radar move on Sunday in an effort to replace one of the most valuable contributors to their club over the past few seasons.
Thornton, a fifth-round selection from the 2015 draft class, went 9-8 with a 4.42 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 122/31 K/BB ratio across 124 ⅓ innings at Triple-A Fresno in 2018. He should debut with the Jays during the 2018 campaign, and could even contend for a spot in the Opening Day rotation with a strong showing in the spring.
As for the Astros, Diaz will have some rather large shoes to fill as the replacement for super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez. Last year, Gonzalez played 73 games in the outfield (seeing time at all three spots), 39 games at shortstop, 32 games at second base, 24 games at first base and three games at the hot corner. Any time that injury struck, or a player needed a day off, Gonzalez was the ready-made replacement who stepped in with no drop-off in production. Unlike many utility players who move around the diamond because they didn’t excel defensively at one position, Gonzalez is by all accounts a tremendous defender at every position.
Diaz, a shortstop by trade, only saw action at two positions for the Jays in 2018 -- shortstop and third base. He did see limited action in left field and at second base for the Cardinals in 2017 though, and the Astros believe he possess the requisite skill to handle those positions as well.
The 28-year-old also had a nice season at the dish in 2018, slashing .263/.303/.453 with 18 homers, 55 RBI and three swipes in 452 plate appearances.
While he isn’t going to play everyday, he’s a name to remember in the later rounds of deep roster slow drafts that are going on around the industry at the moment. If he is actually used in the Marwin Gonzalez role, he should have no problem garnering between 400 and 500 plate appearances once again and his power stroke should play nicely with the short left field wall at Minute Maid Park.
Gray Skies Returning?
Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported on Friday that the Athletics have been in talks with the Yankees about re-acquiring right-hander Sonny Gray.
While Morosi notes that there is “no present momentum” in trade talks between the two clubs, it’s interesting to see the A’s interest in a reunion.
The Yankees have reportedly been weighing several offers for Gray and are likely to make a decision soon. The Reds are the only other team known to have interest in him, though Andy Martino of SNY said there are approximately 11 teams with interest in acquiring him.
The 29-year-old was a major disappointment with the Yankees in 2018, posting an 11-9 record, 4.90 ERA, 1.496 WHIP and 123/57 K/BB ratio over 130 ⅓ innings.
His fantasy value would certainly benefit from a move away from Yankee Stadium, where he compiled a miserable 6.98 ERA and 1.90 WHIP while serving up 11 home runs in 59 ⅓ innings. Away from New York, he owned a stellar 3.17 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 78/22 K/BB ratio across 71 innings, much more in line with what we have come to expect from Gray over the years.
If he is indeed moved, which looks increasingly likely, he should represent a very nice value in the middle rounds of mixed league drafts.
Retaining the MVP
The World Champion Red Sox made a move on Friday in an effort to keep the gang together for a run at a repeat, re-signing World Series MVP Steve Pearce to a one-year, $6.25 million contract.
The 35-year-old provided tremendous punch during the World Series, blasting three home runs and driving in eight. During the regular season, he slashed .284/.378/.512 with 11 homers and 42 RBI in 251 plate appearances between the Red Sox and Blue Jays.
While it’s a nice move for the Red Sox, this doesn’t move the needle much from a fantasy perspective. Pearce is going to continue to mash left-handed pitching, while functioning as the short-side of a platoon at first base with Mitch Moreland. Given the limited action that he’ll see, he’s much more likely to have an impact in DFS than he is to be an asset in season-long mixed leagues.
American League Quick Hits: Rob Bradford of WEEI.com believes that the Yankees will throw their hat into the crowded ring of suitors pursuing free agent right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe adds that the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Angels, Red Sox, White Sox, Blue Jays, Padres and Giants are among the “early suitors” for Eovaldi… According to Ian Browne of MLB.com, the Red Sox are unlikely to re-sign Craig Kimbrel, citing the likelihood that he lands a much more lucrative multi-year deal than the Red Sox will be willing to give out… Tigers’ prospect Grayson Long is on track with his recovery from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome and should be fully healthy for the start of spring training… Jon Morosi of MLB.com notes that the Blue Jays are not in any active trade discussions regarding right-hander Marcus Stroman… The Angels signed Peter Bourjos to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The 31-year-old returns to the organization where he spent his first four years in the big leagues from 2010-2013…
National League Quick Hits: Initial X-rays on the injured left foot of Braves’ prospect Braxton Davidson revealed no structural damage. He suffered what has been diagnosed as a mid-foot sprain while circling the bases on his walk-off home run during Saturday’s game in the Arizona Fall League. To be on the safe side, he’ll undergo a precautionary MRI in Atlanta on Monday… Bob Nightengale of USA Today believes that the Diamondbacks are “highly likely” to trade away Zack Greinke this winter. While still an elite pitcher, the 35-year-old is owed $104.8 million over the next three seasons, meaning that the Diamondbacks will likely have to take on some of that salary in a potential deal… Kenley Jansen is set to undergo heart surgery on November 26. The procedure was expected after the right-hander battled an irregular heartbeat during the 2018 season. The recovery time ranges anywhere from two-to-eight weeks, though it shouldn’t impact his availability for the start of the season… Marlins’ president of baseball operations gave updates on a pair of his injured hurlers, noting that Pablo Lopez (shoulder) is back to full strength already while Caleb Smith (lat) could be a little behind at the start of spring training.