Should the Royals trade Joakim Soria?

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The KC Star’s Sam Mellinger thinks they should at least consider it:

There’s something that’s been discussed in certain circles of Royals fans, and this offseason it should be out in the open. Soria is among the Royals’ very best trading chips, and they should look long and hard about using it . . . Tampa Bay needs a closer, and they’re stocked with young talent. St. Louis could certainly use Soria. The Cubs and Rangers, too. Look around. Soria would be an upgrade for just about every team in baseball, and the Royals could use an upgrade at most every position.

The idea animating this is a good one: closers are almost always overrated and overvalued. Not necessarily specific ones — Soria is about as good as it gets — but the value of the position itself is overvalued.  They don’t pitch a large number of innings, and while the ones they do pitch are often high-pressure and high-leverage, that’s not always the case.  How many of any given closer’s saves are of the three-run, one inning variety?  Can’t a lot of guys handle that?

Even if the answer to that last question is “well, not, not nearly as well as Soria,” who cares?  It’s not like five blown saves one way or the other makes or breaks the Royals next season.  A strong closer is huge in the playoffs, but the Royals will never even sniff the playoffs unless and until they find some better players at just about every position on the field.  The contenders Mellinger notes could all use a guy like him way more than the Royals could, and they all have talent to spare. It makes sense.

There are only two reasons not to trade Soria: (1) the fans will get depressed; and (2) Dayton Moore is the guy doing the trading.  Reason number one can mostly be discounted. The fans are already depressed, and that depression will only continue to deepen the longer the Royals continue to lose, even if they do have a great closer.

The second reason is a much bigger problem.  Can you trust Moore to get a decent return for the guy?  This is, after all, the man who actually gave up talent to pick up one of the worst players in all of baseball last summer. The kicker? One of the guys he gave up could very easily be on his way to being Soria’s successor in the pen if he had stuck around.

But even a blind pig finds an acorn once in awhile, and that’s enough of a reason for the Royals’ pig to start sniffin’ around.  If not this winter — when, to be fair, there will be a lot of closers to be had — then next summer when the contenders start to realize that their bullpens aren’t what they thought they’d be when they broke camp. 

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.

Braves and Jim Johnson reunite on a one-year contract

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 17: Jim Johnson #53 of the Atlanta Braves throws a ninth inning pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on July 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: The deal is official. Bowman adds that Johnson will make $2.5 million in 2016.

6:11 p.m. ET: Jim Johnson enjoyed some success out of the Braves’ bullpen in 2015 until a midseason trade to the Dodgers and Mark Bowman of reports that he has returned to Atlanta on a one-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved.

After an awful 2014 between the Athletics and Tigers, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Braves last winter and bounced back to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 33/14 K/BB ratio over 48 innings. He also saved nine games. However, things went south for him after a trade to the Dodgers in late July, as he put up an ugly 10.13 ERA in 23 appearances. He was left off the team’s roster for the NLDS against the Mets.

It’s unclear what role the Braves have in mind for Johnson, as Arodys Vizcaino finished the season as the closer, but they have made upgrading their bullpen a priority this winter.