Last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Dustin Ackley, had modest numbers this season, hitting .267 with a .368 on-base percentage and .407 slugging percentage in 134 games.
However, his season totals were dragged down by an awful first month that saw him hit just .147 in April and as a 22-year-old in his first pro season Ackley was very young and inexperienced to be making the jump directly to Double-A (and then Triple-A).
And now he’s crushing the ball in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .429 with four homers, six doubles, 17 RBIs, 22 runs, and twice as many walks (17) as strikeouts (8) through 14 games.
Opinions are mixed on how much power Ackley will develop, but the consensus seems to be that he’s a potential .300 hitter and combined at Double-A, Triple-A, and the AFL he now has a 77/92 K/BB ratio that shows excellent plate discipline and control of the strike zone. Ackley moved to second base as a pro after playing first base and the outfield in college, so ultimately his defense may determine how quickly he arrives in Seattle.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.