Baseball Today: More QOs, Kimbrel, Estrada
Welcome to today’s Roundup, where we’ll recap the happenings of the day. Today included a blockbuster trade that topped yesterday’s, two more QO accepters, an AL East re-signing, and more:
Red Sox acquire CL Craig Kimbrel from Padres for four prospects
Well, this makes the AL East more interesting. Kimbrel is one of the premier relief pitchers in all of baseball, and his version of a “down year” in 2015 still included a 2.68 ERA (2.58 FIP), 39 SV, and 13.2 K/9 in his lone season with the Padres, having been acquired from the Braves the night before Opening Day 2015. Kimbrel is due $11MM next year and $13MM in 2017 with a $13MM option for 2018, a more than fair price to play for an elite closer.
Boston’s former closer, Koji Uehara, will move into an 8th-inning role and is more than willing to do so.
The Padres’ end of the deal is equally as interesting and could pay dividends much further into the future. The headliner is outfielder Manuel Margot, a 21-year-old outfielder who was the #4 prospect in the Red Sox system before the trade. Margot’s best tool is his speed, with 39 stolen bases last year, but also hit for a solid .743 OPS. He should start 2016 in AA.
Second baseman Carlos Asuaje is the closest of the four prospects to the Majors; he hit an unimpressive .251 with a .708 OPS last season (especially unimpressive for a 23 year-old at AA) but the Padres think he can get back on track and will give him a shot to make the big league club out of Spring Training.
Shortstop Javier Guerra has a far higher offensive ceiling than Asuaje, putting up a .778 OPS as a 20-year-old in A-ball last season while hitting 15 homers. He’d be a ways away from the majors if still with the Red Sox, but could make an impact on the aggressive Padres GM A.J. Preller and see at least a cup of coffee in 2016 or the year after.
The final prospect in the deal is 18-year-old lefty Logan Allen, who was drafted in the 8th round this past June. Allen had a brilliant start to his career, posting a 1.11 ERA with 26 strikeouts and only one (!) walk over 24.1 innings, but is obviously the biggest wild card in this deal, being so young and a pitcher.
SP Marco Estrada re-signs with the Blue Jays for two years, $26 million
Blue Jays have confirmed the deal on their Twitter feed
Estrada forewent the Qualifying Offer process and simply worked out a new deal with his old team, signing at a lower AAV than the QO’s value ($15.8MM) but giving himself more job security. Estrada’s BAbip was a ridiculously low and probably unsustainable .216 in 2015, so don’t expect his 3.13 ERA or AL-leading 6.7 H/9 rate to last, but he’s clearly comfortable in Toronto and slots in nicely as their #3 starter behind Marcus Stroman and R.A. Dickey for the time-being; the Jays will almost certainly add to their starting corp later on in the offseason.
SP Brett Anderson accepts QO from Dodgers
Anderson confirmed the news himself on his highly-popular and must-follow Twitter feed
Anderson is just months removed from his most complete and successful season and could have earned a sizable contract on the open market (somewhere in the 3 year, $36MM range) but elected to stay in his comfort zone in Los Angeles (although the team will have a new manager, more on that later). He posted a 3.69 ERA (3.94 FIP) along with a 5.8 K/9 over 31 starts last season, his first for the Boys in Blue. Anderson is hoping his successful season will give him momentum in 2016 and onward. Anderson is currently projected as the #2 starter for the Dodgers; they clearly have more work to do in the coming months.
C Matt Wieters accepts QO from Orioles
Orioles have confirmed the deal on their Twitter feed
It was a down and frustrating 2015 season for Wieters, who played in only 75 games and rarely caught back-to-back contests. Still, Wieters’ switch hitting ability, strong fielding and track record juxtaposed against an otherwise terrible free agent market for catchers made him a good candidate to reject the offer, so this is shocking to say the least. The Orioles had reportedly wanted Wieters to reject the offer so they could pocket the draft pick, but now they have almost $16MM added to their payroll– that doesn’t leave much room for improvements to a highly underwhelming roster.
Astros OF Colby Rasmus accepted his QO yesterday
The following players rejected their QOs and are now free agents:
SP (* if left-handed)
Wei-Yin Chen*, Orioles
Yovani Gallardo, Rangers
Zack Greinke, Dodgers
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners
John Lackey, Cardinals
Ian Kennedy, Padres
Jeff Samardzija, White Sox
Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals
Position Players (* if LHH, ** if switch-hitter)
Chris Davis*, 1B/DH/RF, Orioles
Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals
Dexter Fowler**, CF, Cubs
Alex Gordon*, LF, Royals
Jason Heyward*, RF/CF, Cardinals
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Dodgers
Daniel Murphy*, 2B/3B/1B, Mets
Justin Upton, LF, Padres
-The Marlins plan to set an innings limit for ace (hell, phenom) Jose Fernandez after speaking with doctors
-The Dodgers have narrowed their manager search to three candidates: Dave Roberts, Bud Black and Kirk Gibson. Darin Erstad had been in the final four, but has removed himself from candidacy. In my opinion, the best alignment would be for the Dodgers to choose Roberts or Black, with the other as bench coach; Gibson just doesn’t align nearly enough with the analytical views of the front office.
I’d be remiss not to mention that this is all (and should be) far in the background of your mind, knowing the tragedy that occurred in Paris earlier this afternoon. I would like to send my thoughts to all of the victims, their families, and the entire city of Paris and country of France on behalf of everyone at Ball Eight. I hope you’ve found a pleasant distraction from the injustice in reading this post.
Please note: Ball Eight is not the first source for ANY of these rumblings, injury reports or transactions, etc.; the sources have been included for all transactions and rumors.