On Saturday morning, ESPN’s Buster Olney passed along the interesting fact that all five teams in the American League East has a negative run differential. The first-place Yankees are tied for the worst differential at -10 with the Red Sox, while the second-place Orioles are at -1, the third-place Blue Jays are at -6, and the last-place Rays are at -2.
It’s still early so run differential doesn’t mean a whole lot. But over a larger sample of games, run differential correlates strongly to winning baseball games. By this simple arithmetic function, we can conclude with a large grain of salt that the five AL East teams have played no better than average baseball to begin the season.
The only other division with three teams in the red in run differential is the AL West. The Rangers (-2), Mariners (-6), and the Astros (-51) have played subpar baseball. It’s… a bit of an understatement for the Astros.
Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.
Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.
Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.
Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.