My first thought when I saw that the Giants were unloading Bengie Molina on the Rangers last night: Wow, if the Mets had only gone multiple years and, like, ten million bucks, he could have been theirs! My next thought: this works for everyone involved.
The Giants needed to find a permanent home for Buster Posey. They also needed to find a more comfortable home for Aubrey Huff. Now the former can catch, where his bat is more valuable and the latter can play first base where his glove is less vulnerable. Molina wasn’t hitting to save his life, so this is addition by subtraction as well, and now the Giants can pursue first base and/or left field options if they want to add a much-needed bat.
For the Rangers this makes sense too, if only because they are one of the few teams for which Molina represents an offensive upgrade behind the plate. The Rangers once were so rich in catching talent that there were rumors of the Red Sox shopping Clay Buchholz to Texas to get in on some of that, but for the past year it’s been a nightmare behind the plate. At least now can pencil in Molina behind the plate in the 9th spot of the order and be done fretting about it.
The Chris Ray-to-the-Giants portion of this trade is gravy. With him leaving, and a bunch of cash coming back to Texas, the deal helps the strapped Rangers take on Molina’s salary. This morning Buster Olney tweeted that this could be a model for a more significant trade by the Rangers inasmuch as, if they send a big ugly contract like Rich Harden plus some added sweetener in the form of better prospects to, say, Seattle, they could still get someone like Cliff Lee.
Makes sense, though in the long term it kinda stinks for Rangers fans that the team has to overpay in terms of prospects simply because the guys in the suits couldn’t get their business and legal house in order fast enough. But such is the way of the world.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.