Buster Olney has an interesting column up today, talking about how the trade deadline has changed in the past several years. The upshot, with which I agree, is that whereas teams didn’t value their prospects as highly as they should have 15 or 20 years ago, trading them for rent-a-veterans all willy-nilly, these days they’re probably being too cautious. They overvalue even fringe prospects and lack the cajones to make a bold deal.
Supporting the column are quotes from some random, anonymous baseball executives. One says that given some past bad deals — Buster cites the famous Heathcliff Slocumb-to-Seattle for Varitek and Lowe deal — GMs are afraid to make a mistake. Another talks about how GMs pay more attention to contracts and money now than they used to. Another says that there is probably more media and fan pressure to make deals for their own sake than is warranted given a team’s competitive decision and the pieces it has available.
All of those make sense. As does the general idea expressed in a view of their quotes that media pressure and scrutiny from fans on the Internet affect all of this. But I think one guy Olney quotes — an “AL official” — is kind of off-base:
“I’d say one of the biggest changes has been the advent of Twitter and the impact it has had upon the coverage of the deadline and the game. Now there appears to be a race to be first — instead of being right — and to get it out there in 140 characters or less. Every rumor is quickly and widely disseminated, oftentimes without regard for its possible veracity. This causes many more potential deals and players’ names to be ‘out there’ and has created an additional element for teams to try to manage.”
Being charitable, I get the broad strokes of what he’s saying here — it fits with the media scrutiny thing — but what kind of a team is basing its decisions on Internet chatter? Do you think Ruben Amaro, Theo Epstein or Brian Cashman give a fetid pair of dingo’s kidneys what rumors are being tweeted around? Heck, I bet they spend more time laughing at how they could, if they wanted to, mess with all of us, than they do worrying about how what so-and-so is hearing might affect their trade strategies.
Show me a team that is “trying to manage the additional element” caused by Twitter, and I’ll show you a team that doesn’t have its priorities in the right place. Good teams set the narrative. They don’t react to it.
With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.
“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”
Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.
Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.
It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.
The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.
Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.
As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.
Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.
Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.
The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.
Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.