94WIP Radio’s Howard Eskin isn’t necessarily a baseball guy, but he is a big player in the Philadelphia sports radio scene, and he’s reporting tonight that the Phillies and Blue Jays are involved in “serious talks” about a deal involving Jose Bautista and Domonic Brown.
It’d be a swap of 2013 All-Stars, one seven years older than the other. Bautista, the AL leader in homers in both 2010 and 2011, hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 452 at-bats last season before a hip injury ended his season in August. It’s the second straight year he’s suffered a season-ending injury; he hurt his wrist in 2012 and required surgery.
Brown, 26, busted out with a big first half before fading last season, ending the year at .272/.324/.494 with 27 homers in 496 at-bats. He’s a poor defensive outfielder, but still a major asset at his price tag. He won’t be arbitration eligible until after next season or a free agent until after 2017.
Bautista is due $14 million each of the next two years, with a $14 million club option for 2016. He’s a great value at that price, but if the Jays did trade him for Brown, they’d free up money to chase a top free agent starter or catcher.
The Blue Jays could also ask for first baseman-outfielder Darin Ruf along with Brown. Ruf wouldn’t have much to do in Philly with Bautista and Marlon Byrd playing the outfield corners and Ryan Howard back at first, but the Jays could use him as a first baseman against lefties and as insurance if Melky Cabrera struggles.
Still, all of this seems highly unlikely to come together. This rumor might have been illegitimate from the get go, and even if there is some truth to it, that doesn’t mean something has to get done.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.