Free agency has officially started, with two of the top names on the market, Michael Cuddyer and Victor Martinez, already reaching new agreements (Cuddyer, two-years, $21 million with the Mets) or re-signing with their club (Martinez, four-years, $68 million). There’s still plenty of time remaining for teams to make improvements or trades, and these are the names that you’ll want to know, while hoping that your team makes the highest bid.
- Hanley Ramirez, SS
- Yoan Moncada, SS – Cuba
- Max Scherzer, RHP
- Yasmany Tomas, OF – Cuba
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B
- Jon Lester, LHP
- James Shields, RHP
- Nelson Cruz, OF/DH
- Russell Martin, C
- Melky Cabrera, OF
- Ervin Santana, RHP
- Francisco Liriano, LHP
- Kenta Maeda, RHP – Japan
- Brandon McCarthy, RHP
- Andrew Miller, LHP
- David Robertson, RHP
- Nick Markakis, OF
- Chase Headley, 3B
- Jason Hammel, RHP
- Hyeon-jong Yang, LHP – Korea
- Sergio Romo, RHP
- Alex Rios, OF
- Nori Aoki, OF
- Michael Morse, 1B/OF
- Colby Rasmus, OF
- Jed Lowrie, SS
- Hector Olivera, 2B – Cuba
- Billy Butler, 1B/DH
- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
- Jung-ho Kang, SS – Korea
RIP – This is so sad for many, many reasons. As a fan of baseball, it is certainly horrific, but my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family, the family of his girlfriend, and the St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Originally posted on The Baseball Haven:
If you don’t know who Oscar Taveras is at this point, you should ask your internet service provider to explain how you’ve had Wi-Fi go through the boulder that you’ve been living under. Taveras has been a top prospect for three seasons ranking 23rd in 2012, 2nd in 2013, and 3rd in 2014 prior to each season (Baseball Prospectus), gaining all kinds of impressive comps along the way, including Vladimir Guerrero. The left-handed hitting outfielder was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in November of 2008 at the tender age of 16. Much like Gregory Polanco, who I wrote about on Wednesday, he appears stuck in the minors due to the financial constraints of the Super Two process, although…the Cardinals do have better talent blocking Taveras than what the Pirates have blocking Polanco, as Matt Adams and Allen Craig seem much more…
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1. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
Say what you’d like to about Buxton’s inability to stay on the field – it still doesn’t tell me that he’s lost any tools. However, if he has another lost season, it may be time to re-evaluate that view. Power, speed, and elite centerfield defense make him valuable in fantasy and real-life baseball. He has more tools than Lowe’s.
3. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
4. Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs
5. Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers
6. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians
7. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
9. Jorge Soler, OF, Chicago Cubs
10. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Washington Nationals
11. Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
12. Julio Urias, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
13. Carlos Rodon, LHP, Chicago White Sox
14. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
16. Jon Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies
17. Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets
18. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
19. Robert Stephenson, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
20. Kohl Stewart, RHP, Minnesota Twins
21. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Miami Marlins
22. Hunter Harvey, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
23. Jorge Alfaro, C, Texas Rangers
24. Daniel Norris, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
25. Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
26. Blake Swihart, C, Boston Red Sox
27. David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies
28. Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
29. Alex Meyer, RHP, Minnesota Twins
30. Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins
31. Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
32. Tyler Kolek, RHP, Miami Marlins
33. J.P. Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies
34. Nick Gordon, SS, Minnesota Twins
35. Clint Frazier, OF, Cleveland Indians
36. Jesse Winker, OF, Cincinnati Reds
37. Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
38, D.J. Peterson, 1B/3B, Seattle Mariners
39. Braden Shipley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
40. Kyle Crick, RHP, San Francisco Giants
41. Eddie Butler, RHP, Colorado Rockies
42. Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City Royals
43. Lucas Sims, RHP, Atlanta Braves
44. Mark Appel, RHP, Houston Astros
45. A.J. Cole, RHP, Washington Nationals
46. Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
47. Josh Bell, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
48. Nick Kingham, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
49. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF, Chicago Cubs
50. Michael Foltynewicz, RHP, Houston Astros
51. Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees
52. Kevin Plawecki, C, New York Mets
53. Matt Wisler, RHP, San Diego Padres
54. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Kansas City Royals
55. Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals
56. Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
57. Domingo Santana, OF, Houston Astros
58. Max Fried, LHP, San Diego Padres
59. Rusney Castillo, 2B/OF, Boston Red Sox
60. Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
61. Austin Hedges, C, San Diego Padres
62. C.J. Edwards, RHP, Chicago Cubs
63. Sean Manaea, LHP, Kansas City Royals
64. Maikel Franco, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
65. Christian Bethancourt, C, Atlanta Braves
66. Jose Peraza, 2B/SS, Atlanta Braves
67. Stephen Piscotty, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
68. Brandon Nimmo, OF, New York Mets
69. Dalton Pompey, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
70. Nomar Mazara, OF, Texas Rangers
71. Aaron Blair, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
72. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees
73. Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies
74. Nick Williams, OF, Texas Rangers
75. Alen Hanson, SS, Pittsburgh Pirates
76. Hunter Dozier, 3B, Kansas City Royals
77. Kyle Freeland, LHP, Colorado Rockies
78. Steven Moya, 1B/OF, Detroit Tigers
79. Micah Johnson, 2B, Chicago White Sox
80. Alexander Reyes, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
81. Jorge Polanco, 2B, Minnesota Twins
82. Trea Turner, SS, San Diego Padres
83. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets
84. Rosell Herrera, SS, Colorado Rockies
85. Taylor Guerrieri, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
86. Billy McKinney, OF, Chicago Cubs
87. Justin Nicolino, LHP, Miami Marlins
88. Brandon Finnegan, LHP, Kansas City Royals
89. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics
90. Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox
91. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks
92. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres
93. Alex Jackson, C/OF, Seattle Mariners
94. Marco Gonzales, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
95. Lewis Brinson, OF, Texas Rangers
96. Jeff Hoffman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
97. Grant Holmes, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
98. Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians
99. Rob Kaminsky, LHP, St. Louis Cardinals
100. Sean Newcomb, LHP, Los Angeles Angels
The Reds aren’t good, finishing with a losing record while facing a fall from contention in 2014, nursing a prolonged absence from their superstar, Joey Votto. So, with this season lost and little room on the payroll, what will the team do to improve? Likely…nothing. Ownership clearly didn’t have any intentions of improving the roster, at least not at the cost of…a cost. Last winter left a lot to be desired, as the loss of Shin-Soo Choo led to the promotion of Billy Hamilton, yet, there was little to nothing done to off-set the loss of offensive production between those two players, as the Reds can only take solace in the fact that Choo wasn’t nearly as productive in 2014 with the Texas Rangers as he was in 2013 with Cincinnati. The addition of Skip Schumaker wasn’t enough, and the loss of Choo on top of two trade deadline (2013 and 2014) with no movement whatsoever leaves the Reds in a situation that isn’t favorable for the club’s future.
Now, with Homer Bailey paid handsomely with his extension, the Reds are unlikely to see a large enough increase in payroll to allow the team to add an offensive weapon, and with Jay Bruce‘s horrific season and the questions surrounding Votto’s health hovering over the future of the franchise, it appears time to sell off the pieces that the club can move and hope for the best with some young talent.
Enter Johnny Cueto.
Heading into Friday night, Cueto has made 100 starts since the start of the 2011 season. They have been very good:
51-25, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 661.1 IP, 553:178 K:BB
While Cueto doesn’t have the innings over the last four seasons that Mike Leake or Homer Bailey have, he has shown the consistency that neither have presented, and, while Mat Latos has top-of-the-rotation stuff, his injury history and ability to handle his emotions have played a role in his inability to become an elite pitcher in MLB. Cueto, however, continues to improve, and with another season with 200 innings (his second, 2012 being his other), the 28-year-old right-hander has done enough to emphasize his value to the rest of the league.
The Cincinnati Reds have a team option on Cueto for 2015, as they can pay him $10 million to keep him or $800,000 to buy him out. That option is an easy decision, but Cueto is the lone player on the Reds who has positive value in trades, as Votto and Bruce certainly aren’t worth dealing considering the loss of market value and the remaining money on their contracts.
Cueto is a bargain. While $10 million seems like a lot of money, consider that Tim Lincecum will earn $18 million in 2015, Ubaldo Jimenez will earn $12.25 million in 2015, and Edwin Jackson will earn $11 million in 2015. Even a single year of control would have tremendous value for the Cincinnati Reds in a potential trade, and with so many question marks for the club offensively (as they rank 28th in MLB in runs scored), dealing from their strength, starting pitching, is necessary, and getting the most value out of their strength would force a trade of the club’s ace, Cueto.
So, who would be interested?
Boston Red Sox: Piecing together a rotation, especially if they are unable to make a deal with Jon Lester in free agency. They also have plenty of outfield depth after signing Rusney Castillo and trading for Yoenis Cespedes. Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley would be excellent pieces to start a deal, and acquiring a young arm, like Henry Owens or Anthony Ranaudo, or infield prospect from their loaded farm system could be very lucrative and beneficial to the future of the organization.
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs are loaded with offensive talent, but they don’t have much pitching depth in their system, especially in the upper minors and the majors. Cueto would be an excellent piece to anchor the rotation, but it is fair to question if the Reds would trade Cueto in-division, as well as whether the Cubs can trust all of their existing young pieces enough to be competitive by adding Cueto.
Baltimore Orioles: The O’s may be looking to get Cueto for one final push before the makeup of their current, AL East winning club begins to fall apart. After the 2015 season, both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters will be free agents, and it is fair to wonder if either would be non-tendered after the 2014 season, joining Nick Markakis in the land of confusion, as their right fielder is owed $17.5 million or a $2 million buyout (which appears to make his days in Baltimore numbered). If the Reds want pitching depth, the Orioles have it, but they could have some interest in Jonathan Schoop as a starting piece, as well.
It would be unfortunate to see Cueto leave Cincinnati. He has been fantastic during his career when he is healthy, which has been the leading factor in his ability to fly under the national radar. Cueto would certainly be missed in the Reds’ rotation, but the club is in desperate need of offense, and after signing Bailey, they won’t be able to extend their ace. Did they extend the wrong pitcher? In my opinion…absolutely. I’d much rather pay Cueto $20 to $22 million per season than to pay Bailey the $10 million that he will earn in 2015, let alone the $18 to $25 million he earns annually between 2016 and 2020. Cueto has proven to be capable of greatness, and his time in Cincinnati needs to come to an end so that the team can return to greatness at some point in the near future.
I was lucky enough to earn a chance to join the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America this year, joining a group of internet bloggers and several other overqualified folks who aren’t members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Those of us who love baseball enough to write about it, most of the time for free, have found the IBWAA to be a blessing, as we have an opportunity to vote for the Hall of Fame and yearly awards without having the all encompassing vendetta that so many of the national writers take with them to their ballots, whether its a poor relationship or experience with a team or player, or the constant hatred of those who have used performance-enhancing drugs.
This is my first ballot, so I figured that I would publish it. Take a look and let me know what you think. NOTE: There is some sort of formatting issue with the last cell on the American League, as that should be for the AL Reliever of the Year.
American League ballot:
AL Cy Young
the National League ballot:
NL CY YOUNG
The Houston Astros have been historically bad since the start of the 2011 season, losing 100 games in each of the last three seasons. This season, the squad is 59-79, needing just four wins over the next 24 games to avoid a fourth such disastrous season, but it wasn’t enough to save the job of the Astros’ manager, Bo Porter. Porter was, ironically, relieved of his managerial duties on the day that we all celebrate the hard work and efforts of those in the labor force.
— Houston Astros (@astros) September 1, 2014
Porter’s squads have not been good, going 110-190 over the last season-plus (.367 winning percentage), but it didn’t have a lot to do with what Porter was doing on the bench. Ken Rosenthal recently reported tension between Porter and General Manager Jeff Luhnow stemming from Mark Appel making an appearance in Houston for a bullpen session for Astros’ pitching coach Brent Strom that Porter had to explain to players on his roster, who were upset over the struggling prospect’s possible special treatment from the organization. Beyond that issue, there appeared to be some separation from the analytical team at the top of the organization and what was being done from the bench by Porter, which was creating relationship woes within the organization.
The Rosenthal piece details those woes at greater lengths, but the firing of Porter clearly wasn’t for what he was doing on the field, as he can’t be held accountable for the recent failures of the franchise.
Luhnow, hired away from the St. Louis Cardinals in December of 2011, developed an awkward approach to rebuilding the Astros’, essentially gutting the entire roster and eliminating as much payroll as possible to field a horrific team that would be capable of landing high-upside talent through the draft, while building the farm system and promoting talent from that pool to compete for championships within a window. Upon taking the position and immediately producing horrific seasons, the team was able to “earn” the No.1 overall pick in back-to-back seasons (after having the No.1 overall pick in 2011, which Luhnow used on Carlos Correa), Luhnow’s plan was becoming somewhat relevant, as the Astros will, likely, finish ahead of the Texas Rangers in the AL West in 2014, barring some kind of sudden change from the injury woes to the Rangers’ 2014 season.
Porter, though, had done well with what he had. He and his coaching staff had guided a very young, inexperienced squad to some very high peaks among the very low valleys, watching Jose Altuve become a star, while handling the franchise’s quick rising future stars, as Jon Singleton, George Springer, and Jake Marisnick had arrived to showcase their talents at the Major League level. He had very little control over the day-to-day roster, watching Jarred Cosart, one of his top pitchers, get dealt at the deadline (which brought Marisnick but didn’t help the pitching staff), while having limited options in the rotation and a horrific group to run out of the bullpen.
Of course, Porter was bound to be limited in his roster, as the club wasn’t going to call-up a player sooner than necessary and risk service-time becoming an issue, especially as the team continued to try to limit their expenditures.
Perhaps the complete breakdown of the roster was too bold, and perhaps the club had a manager with too much emotional attachment and fire to sit back and wait for the Astros to build a team that he could truly manage successfully. Regardless, what looked like an intelligent move in guiding the Astros to become what Sports Illustrated called the 2017 World Series Champions, suddenly became much more complicated, and whether Bo Porter was actually part of the long-term plan or not, his firing has created a lot of questions about the long-term goal of the Astros’ organization, as well as the ability for Jeff Luhnow, who was so quickly admired for his plans, to work well enough with those around him for his ideas and visions to become a reality.
Bo Porter didn’t fail as a manager of a horrible team, he failed at working with an ego that had grown beyond repair. Jeff Luhnow must now build this winner from the front office and the field, as he has no one else to blame for the team’s future struggles but his own actions and decisions.
Joey Votto hasn’t played a game for the Cincinnati Reds since July 5. Battling a quad injury in his left leg, the four-time All-Star has watched his team fall out of contention, as the Reds have gone 12-25 since the All-Star break and 19-28 since he last suited up. His teammates picked him up early on, winning seven of nine games heading into the break, immediately following Votto being placed on the disabled list, as the club was just 1.5 games out in the NL Central before the break.
Then…it all fell apart. The offense has the lowest OPS in baseball in the second half (.596, 13 points lower than the next worst team), while the starting pitching, formerly the club’s greatest strength, has fallen off, including having to battle the depth chart due to an injury to Homer Bailey.
At ten games back going into Wednesday night’s battle with the Chicago Cubs and just 30 games remaining, there isn’t much left to play for this season, and there isn’t much left for Joey Votto to prove.
— ctrent (@ctrent) August 27, 2014
The recent news of Votto returning to the field and completing “baseball activities” is great. He has been out for so long and the offense is suffering. A healthy Joey Votto makes the Reds worth watching. A healthy Joey Votto makes the ten years and $213 million look much less unreasonable, and his ability to produce at his 2010 MVP levels would make it a bargain…
But…we don’t know if that Votto is ever coming back. We don’t know just how bad this quad injury is, and whether rest is or was the correct solution. The Reds allowed Votto to sit on the disabled list for nearly two months to rest his injury, while setting him up for a September return. Over those two months, fans weren’t updated on his injury, his treatment, or his future outlook, but was it really the fan’s rights to know that?
Here is the problem with how the Reds have handled the Joey Votto situation:
1) No one knows the true extent of the injury. Is it the quad, the knee, a ligament, a tendon? What is wrong with him and can it heal with rest or would a surgery have been more appropriate? What if rest didn’t work and another surgery knocks him out of action for a third or half of the 2015 season?
2) The Reds didn’t communicate the status of their superstar, which has left fans and media alike wondering what is going on. When Votto finally made an appearance, the media nearly ripped his head off and this was his response:
“Let’s make it clear here. This is a real gray area and I feel like I’ve been the one in the crosshairs. I’ve been injured and this is something I’ve had hanging over me in the general population, with the fans. The question is whether it is toughness or playing through pain or playing hurt sort of thing. I’m injured. And I’ve played injured. I went on the disabled list because I’ve been injured. I’m trying to be un-injured right now. So the second I’m capable of playing, and no longer injured, I will be back on the field. In the meantime, you can assume I’m injured. I shouldn’t get any sort of different treatment (from the fans). I’ve noticed little comments here and there, just a general perception that this is something I elected to do, that I elected to be hurt. I didn’t elect to get injured. I’m injured. What can I do?”
The organization left those who follow the team out to dry, but not nearly as much as they left the face of the franchise out to dry. Why do that to your top asset, whether you agree with the contract or not?
3) Votto is now coming back in September. He is going to prepare to return to the team WITH the team, as there isn’t going to be a minor league rehab assignment with the minor league season nearly over. With a game and an approach built on timing, the Reds are, once again, setting Votto up to fail. He has a .390 on-base percentage this season in 62 games, but the focus remains on the six home runs and .255 batting average that many still, unfortunately, consider the only valuable measurables when it comes to determining player value. If the fans and club weren’t happy with his production before the injury, how are they going to be satisfied with Votto returning to the lineup in September after 60 or more days away from live, Major League pitching?
It doesn’t make sense for Votto to return in 2014. He has nothing to prove and he is only going to hurt himself more by coming back. The expectations that he has to live up to in a “small-market” like Cincinnati seem quite outrageous, and it’s very unfortunate that a very good player with a very useful skill-set continues to be ripped apart for accepting a life-changing contract that the team was responsible for offering.
Joey Votto is a fantastic player. He needs to get himself right to truly help the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, the rest of the team and management didn’t do their part in 2014. Replacing Shin-Soo Choo‘s production with a rookie speedster (Billy Hamilton) and veteran utility-man (Skip Schumaker) didn’t do the trick, especially when the club’s top player was unable to take the field. Joey Votto didn’t help the Reds in 2014, but neither did Walt Jocketty or Bob Castellini. It’s time to put the blame elsewhere and let Votto get himself right for 2015 and beyond. There is much more riding on his knee in 2015 than this wasted 2014 season.
The 2014 season has been absolutely magnificent for Chicago Cubs’ right-hander Jake Arrieta. After four seasons in Baltimore, Arrieta was dealt to the Cubs (along with Pedro Strop) for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman. Feldman became a free agent after the 2013 before signing with the Houston Astros. It didn’t seem like a big deal on paper, as the Cubs were dumping what was left of Feldman’s one-year, $6 million deal on Baltimore, and the Cubs were getting a reliever and a starting pitcher who never lived up to expectations for the Orioles. Arrieta’s numbers for Baltimore were pretty atrocious:
|BAL (4 yrs)||20||25||5.46||69||0||0||358.0||368||228||217||159||277||4.72||1.472||9.3||4.0||7.0|
However, things changed for him quickly in Chicago. Arrieta made nine starts after the July 2nd deal, posting some pretty solid numbers in the “friendly confines” of the National League and Wrigley Field:
Arrieta was suddenly a little less hittable, though his FIP showed that some very unfriendly regression towards the mean could be coming.
Arrieta, at the age of 28, has become one of the top pitchers in baseball, ranking 15th in MLB (just ahead of Johnny Cueto) with a 3.5 WAR (FanGraphs). His numbers entering play on Friday were certainly impressive:
Then, on Friday afternoon, he lowered his ERA to 2.53 when he earned win number seven against his former team, allowing just a Nelson Cruz solo bomb over seven innings.
While it’s easy for those who hate everything west of Washington, D.C. to say that Arrieta is better because he isn’t pitching in the American League East any longer, that likely isn’t the reason why he has looked like a different pitcher. Certainly, the AL East is a challenging division, but the NL Central also has some strong teams, with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati rotating atop the division in an “I don’t want it” type of division race. Still, there’s plenty of talent that Arrieta has had to battle with over his 20 starts and 124.1 innings this season. So…how has he won those battles?
Jake Arrieta is a different pitcher. Jake Arrieta has recreated himself thanks to a single pitch – the cutter.
The pitch is his new “baby”, as he goes to it with great confidence throughout the game:
Beyond the cutter usage and pitch values, however, there are additional changes to Arrieta’s game that have altered his future career outlook. The biggest change is that he’s keeping the ball in the yard this season. The Cruz home run on Friday afternoon was the fifth homer that Arrieta had allowed all season. That’s five home runs in 124.1 innings – or 0.36 home runs per start. Compare that to the rest of his career, when Arrieta allowed 55 home runs in 409.2 innings – or 1.21 home runs per start, and you can see part of the problem.
Additionally, Arrieta isn’t walking anyone this season. His 2.32 BB:9 is drastically lower than the 4.0 BB:9 that he had in 358 innings for Baltimore, and when you’re putting that many runners on base and allowing that many more home runs, you can see why Arrieta’s ERA was 5.46 for the Orioles. It doesn’t stop there, however. Arrieta has a career-best in ground ball rate (49.2 percent), a career-best in strand rate (75.6 percent), a career-low WHIP (1.01), and a career-best batting average allowed (.190).
Arrieta is simply harder to hit, harder to predict, and harder to score on because of a single pitch impacting the pace of the game and his ability to get the opposition to fail.
Arrieta is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, and he is under team-control through the 2018 season. After trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the Cubs could use a top-of-the-rotation arm, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Theo Epstein and Company lock up the late, blossoming arm of Arrieta prior to going before an arbitrator. With all of those amazing offensive prospects, Chicago could really use the stability that Arrieta can bring to the rotation.
The Boston Red Sox are finalizing a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo, which would give him the richest contract ever given to a Cuban player, surpassing the six-year, $68 million deal that the Chicago White Sox gave to Jose Abreu this past offseason. The deal starts immediately, making the deal run from 2014 through the 2020 season. The 5’9″, 27-year-old is represented by Roc Nation Sports and Jay-Z, who also represent Seattle Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano.
Castillo will join a somewhat crowded outfield for Boston, teaming up with fellow countryman Yoenis Cespedes, who was acquired from the Oakland A’s for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes at the trade deadline. With Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava, Allen Craig, and Brock Holt under team-control heading into 2015, Castillo’s signing could allow the Red Sox to make an additional deal this winter, possibly dealing from their outfield wealth and depth to acquire pitching in what could be a very weak free agent class outside of a reunion with Lester or a huge contract to Max Scherzer, James Shields, or Ervin Santana.
Castillo, however, provides a bit of position versatility, as he could possibly handle second base, though he’ll likely never play shortstop in MLB, even after having taken grounders there during his July 28th showcase. The presence of Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts make the keystone position one of little value for Castillo, and he is a natural center fielder. For what it’s worth, Ben Badler, of Baseball America, said that prior to gaining quite a bit of muscle prior to his showcase, Castillo was a similar player to Detroit outfielder Rajai Davis, a short, speedy outfielder; however, he could be capable of 15 home runs and plenty of speed at the major league level due to his newly developed physique.
Castillo will have quite a bit of pressure on him in Boston to succeed quickly, and receiving the type of money that he did prior to playing a game is certainly not going to alleviate any of those expectations. Worth mentioning is the fact that Castillo didn’t produce anywhere near the levels of Cespedes and Abreu in Cuba:
- Cespedes hit .334/.420/.629 from 2009 to 2011.
- Abreu hit .393/.537/.802 from 2011 to 2013.
- Castillo hit .315/.383/.512 from 2011 to 2013.
Although Cepedes and Abreu never played a game in the minor leagues, it would be somewhat surprising to see Castillo join the Red Sox in 2014, despite their post-World Series title rebuild that they are in the middle of. He hasn’t played in a game in nearly two years, and with the minor league season nearly complete, we may not see him in Fenway until 2015, rich contract or not.
Castillo may not have the skills of Yasiel Puig, Cespedes, or Abreu, when comparing him to recent defected Cuban outfielders, but he has some tools that will make him a very intriguing player for the Boston Red Sox and fantasy baseball fans alike.
Monday night in Baltimore, the Orioles season may have crumbled along with the right knee of third baseman Manny Machado. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 3rd inning against the New York Yankees, Machado was up against left-hander Chris Capuano when this happened (VIDEO):
Manny Machado’s leg. Not the one he hurt last year. pic.twitter.com/0s8o220FpY
— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) August 12, 2014
As of right now, it’s being called a right knee sprain, and the 22-year-old third baseman will be re-evaluated on Tuesday:
Manny Machado exited tonight’s game in the third inning with a right knee sprain. He will be reevaluated tomorrow.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 12, 2014
The Orioles entered play Monday night five games up on New York for first place in the AL East at 67-50. After losing Machado for the first 25 games of the 2014 season due to the medial patellofemoral ligament tear that cost him the final six games of the 2013 season, the team was once again thriving with their slick-fielding third baseman robbing would-be hits and producing offensively.
Baltimore is obviously a much different team with Machado at third base over Ryan Flaherty, having gone 46-35 since his return; however, it’s what Machado has done since his return from his little bat-tossing incident that is most impressive.
Over his last 27 games, the Orioles were 18-9, while Machado has led the club with a .348/.383/.536 triple-slash over 120 plate appearances including five home runs and 15 RBI.
A major piece of the Orioles future and one of the many fresh, young faces of the league, there are many hoping that knee issues aren’t going to continue to interfere in Machado reaching his lofty career expectations going forward. While his overall numbers don’t quite rival those of Mike Trout, Machado is certainly an exciting young player with the potential to be a perennial All-Star.
There will be plenty of news available on the web tomorrow when the results of Machado’s MRI are publicized.