One of the reasons I am a bit less optimistic about the Phillies this year? Given his age, Raul Ibanez is way more likely to put up a full season of his second half production from last year than he is to put up even a half season of what he did in April and May last year. Buster Olney talks to scouts who agree:
There is a lot of buzz among scouts about what is perceived to be the
diminished bat speed of Raul Ibanez, the Phillies’ left fielder. “The good thing is that they can
hide him in that lineup,” one scout said. “He’s a smart hitter, so
he’ll guess right enough to do some damage. But he’s vulnerable now to
hard stuff inside — you should pound him with fastballs. I can’t see
them keeping him in the No. 6 spot for the whole year; [Shane] Victorino
is a better hitter.”
Worth mentioning that every scout’s answer for everything is “you should pound him with fastballs in” but I do agree that anyone banking on yet another career year from Ibanez this season is of a particularly optimistic disposition about such things.
The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.
Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.
While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.