To me the most surprising aspect of the big three-team Curtis Granderson trade is that the Diamondbacks were willing to give up on Max Scherzer, who just moments before the deal was talked up by Arizona manager A.J. Hinch as a future ace and has always looked to me like a potentially dominant starter.
Scherzer is 25 years old with a mid-90s fastball, makes the minimum salary, is under team control through 2015, and has a 3.86 ERA with 240 strikeouts in 226 career innings. So why would the Diamondbacks essentially swap him for Edwin Jackson, who’s a year older, about 20 times more expensive, eligible for free agency after 2011, and coming off a career-year that included a 3.62 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 214 innings?
ESPN.com’s Buster Olney has a possible explanation:
If the Diamondbacks viewed Max Scherzer as a can’t-miss, front-line type of pitcher, there is no chance they would have traded him early in his major league service time. Rather, there is some sentiment inside (and outside) the organization that with his unusual head-snapping mechanics, Scherzer is going to be at high risk for injury, and that eventually, he would probably have to be moved to short relief.
Along those lines, Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports writes that the Diamondbacks dealt Scherzer “because they thought he lacked durability” before amusingly noting that “the Dodgers said same thing about Pedro Martinez in 1993.” I’m not ready to declare Scherzer the next Pedro, but it is odd that Arizona would make him the 11th pick in the 2006 draft, watch him blitz through the minors and rack up 240 strikeouts through 226 innings in the majors … and then deal him because he might break down or end up in the bullpen.
My prediction: Scherzer will win at least twice as many games for Detroit as Jackson will for Arizona, and he’ll do so while being significantly cheaper.
In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.
Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.
He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.
Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.
Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.
He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.
Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!
Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.
This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.
If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.