UPDATE: Steve Popper of the Bergen Record confirms that the deal is done, pending physicals.
9:49 PM: According to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News, the Mets are discussing a deal that would send Angel Pagan to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez.
Baggarly writes that it’s not definite yet, but appears promising. It certainly fits the criteria mentioned by Ken Rosenthal a little earlier when he called it a “change of scenery” deal.
Pagan, 30, is coming off a down year in which he batted .262/.322/.372 with seven home runs, 56 RBI and a .694 OPS over 532 plate appearances. He also led major league center fielder with 10 errors. The Mets have said that they plan to tender him a contract, but he figures to make around $5 million in arbitration.
Torres, 33, had an even worse year in 2011, batting .221/.312/.330 with four home runs, 19 RBI and a .643 OPS over 398 plate appearances. He is due between $2-3 million in arbitration and was a clear non-tender candidate following the recent acquisition of Melky Cabrera.
As for Ramirez, Ken Rosenthal reported late last month that the Giants planned to shop him so that they could upgrade in other areas. He’s due about $2 million through the arbitration process. The 30-year-old right-hander posted a 2.62 ERA and 66/26 K/BB ratio over 68 2/3 innings this season.
While Torres is the superior defender in center field, Pagan is three years younger and is probably the better bet for a bounceback year offensively. Mets GM Sandy Alderson is working with a limited budget this offseason, so he will pay Torres and Ramirez combined what he would have paid Pagan. From a pure salary standpoint, this works perfectly. But the Giants could come out on top here.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?