In response to Keith Law’s outrageously early draft preview Mel Kiper has decided to chuck the 2010 NFL draft entirely and start handicapping 2011. True story. Anyway, there’s a top 50 list there, and some overall analysis:
In general, the quality of talent this year is below where it was
the last two years, and is well below what we can already see for the
2011 draft. It’s extremely light on college position players and weak
in high school catchers and shortstops, although I think by the time we
get to June the remaining groups — college arms, high school arms and
high school bats outside of those two positions — will have the same
quality and depth as they do in a typical year.
There is no Stephen Strasburg in this class, nor is there a Dustin
Ackley or a Matt Wieters, and right now we have only two players, Bryce
Harper and Anthony Ranaudo, who are expected to demand well-above-slot
bonuses (although that is simply industry speculation).
In a companion piece Law considers some of the early criticisms of Bryce Harper and dismisses them for the most part. I’m no prospect expert, but I’m not sure how you pass up someone like Harper. Sure, he’s a Boras guy and yes he’ll be expensive, but he’s a special kind of talent.
The only question is whether his therapy schedule will interfere with game times, what with all of that rush-rush-rushing his parents allowed.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.