More fun stuff continues to spin out of that Greatest Living Player post from the other day. This one comes from Bill Parker over at ESPN’s Sweet Spot, running down a list of underappreciated non-Hall of Famers. Guys like Dave Stieb, Reggie Smith, Jimmy Wynn and … Jim Fregosi.
As Bill notes, Fregosi definitely should have made the conversation for Greatest Living Angel.* He was beyond solid at shortstop for the Angels — and was easily one of the best in baseball — during the 1960s.
We forget it now, but there was a time when you didn’t need to hit a lick to play short in the majors. In 1968 the Tigers won the AL Pennant with Ray Oyler as their Opening Day shortstop. He got 247 plate appearances in which he hit .135 and slugged .186. He was eventually replaced, but in those days it took something that bad to have a manager make such a move.
Fregosi, in contrast, posted nine straight years as an above-average hitter — for all players, not just for shortstops — in baseball’s second dead ball era. In 1964 he slapped up a .277/.369/.463 line with 18 homers. Adjusted for era, that’s kind of like the seasons Robbie Cano and Adrian Beltre had last year.
Good stuff from Bill, talking about some of my favorite players in baseball history.
*I think someone mentioned him in the original comment thread too.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.