Tag Archives: hot stove

Sizing Up The Tigers Left Field Options

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

One of the strengths of the 2014 Tigers is that most of the 2013 version is locked up through at least the upcoming season. Seven of the nine starting position players  and all five starting pitchers are under contract going into next season so the main focus will be on the bullpen and the bench. The two starting spots to consider are second base and left field. Second base looks like it will be Infante if the price is right and a future post if the price is too high. Left field remains a more interesting question.

THE IN-HOUSE CANDIDATES

The Tigers ran through the 2013 season predominantly using an Andy Dirks and Matt Tuiasosopo platoon who combined for 2.5 WAR across close to 700 total PA (some at DH and RF). All told, the Tigers LF hit .259/.325/.383 in 2013 and the league average LF hit .259/.323/.412. Not quite as much power as the average left fielder but essentially identical when it comes to AVG and OBP. The Tigers had more or less average offensive production from their left fielders when their left fielders were Dirks and Tuiasosopo.

Ultimate Zone Rating loves Dirks in LF, ranking him 3rd in baseball last season at 9.4 (DRS had him 6th). Tuiasosopo isn’t around anymore, so his average-ish ratings aren’t too relevant. In general, the Tigers worked a couple of wins out of left field with average offense and solid defense for next to nothing. They have that option again.

Dirks will be back with the team in some capacity and they have the option of handing him the job again in 2014. Dirks has about 1000 career PA and ranks just above average offensively (103 wRC+) with a .276/.332/.413 line. In 2011 and 2013 he was in the 85 wRC+ neighborhood with his 2012 season much higher at 132. It’s unclear exactly how good he would be over a full season, but it’s safe to say he’s somewhere in that range. An average OBP for a LF with a little less pop and a lot more glove is a pretty reasonable bet. If healthy, that’s about a 2 win player.

The Tigers could also hand the job to top prospect Nick Castellanos. Castellanos has 18 big league PA so we’re going to have to judge him based on his minor league numbers and scouting reports. He tore up AAA as one of the youngest players at the level in 2013 (.276/.343/.450) after crushing at three of five stops along the way from 2010 to 2012. Scouts love his bat and think the power will come with age. No one loves his feet or his defense, but plenty think he can be good enough not to warrant a DH spot. I’ve heard some scout/writers like Keith Law hang “future all-star” on him. Maybe the Tigers give the job to Nick and see if he’s ready.

It’s also possible, maybe even likely, that they use some sort of job share between the two. They won’t make Castellanos the weak half of a platoon, but they may find a way to use him for 110-120 games as they ease him in against big league pitching and full contact defense. If the Tigers want to stick with their in house options, it’s very likely they can match the production they received this season, which was plenty considering the talent they have elsewhere – even after a down year at times from Fielder, Jackson, Martinez, and Avila.

THE FREE AGENTS

FanGraphs has a leaderboard that includes 32 free agent outfielders that’s worth examining. Let’s limit our search to players who have some chance of being worth two wins in 2013 and don’t have a giant red flag (Franklin Gutierrez) or a huge price tag (Jacoby Ellsbury).

I have six names.

Granderson, Beltran, Choo, Chris Young, Marlon Byrd, and David Murphy.

You can click the link and view their statistics and you’ll notice that none of these players are ideal fits. Granderson makes a good deal of sense but the Tigers will need to commit to more than the $14 million qualifying offer waiting in his inbox and then subsequently more than the Yankees are willing to offer in addition to the loss of a draft pick. Granderson has had five seasons of 3.5 WAR or better in his career, but on the wrong side of 30 and coming off two down years (injuries included), I’m not sure he’s worth the money and the draft pick compared to what the Tigers have in house.

Beltran remains a great hitter but is approaching DH status, comes with the QO, and is even older than Granderson. This would be like signing another Torii Hunter if Hunter was better. Beltran is still a great hitter but his diminished defense isn’t really something the Tigers can absorb given the price he’s likely to command.

Choo would be a strong fit entering his age 32 season considering the fact that he’s among the best dozen or so offensive players in the sport and that his defense would look much better in a corner than it does in CF. The key variable with Choo is cost. He doesn’t come with the risks that Grandy and Beltran do, but that will also make his price tag harder to handle. The floor of a Choo deal is 4/60 and the final number will probably be higher. The Tigers aren’t likely to add that kind of money to their payroll given the coming raises, but if they do have the cash, he makes the most sense.

Young and Murphy are the wild cards because they are coming off down years and might be available for cheap. Young is a great defender with power and Murphy until recently was an excellent hitter against righties with some nice balance mixed in. Neither are great, but both are interesting if their market disintegrates. Byrd would never have been on my radar if he hadn’t just had a four win season. I don’t think it happens again, but for the right price, you talk.

TRADES

Only two names jump out as legitimate upgrades that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg that could be on the market this offseason. The Padres’ Chris Denorfia and the Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer. Denorfia is on a cheap deal and will be a free agent after 2014, so if the Padres admit they aren’t going to catch the Dodgers, they may be willing to part with their underrated outfielder. He’s routinely been an average to above average hitter across varying playing time and showed promise defensively last year. He’s not an automatic upgrade over Dirks/Castellanos, but he might provide some depth and stability at the position without mortgaging the future.

Cuddyer has the potential to be an impact bat at a cool $10.5 million if the Rockies are will to part with him. The prospect cost might be a touch higher, but Cuddyer is coming off his best season at the plate with a career 113 wRC+. The high BABIP and resulting stats are partly Coors aided but Cuddyer was no slouch on the road last year either. He’s not the kind of upgrade that you’re really going to notice, but he’s probably a safer bet to produce than Dirks and Castellanos.

THE RECOMMENDATION

Given a sparse market and a weak trade crop, it’s hard to suggest the Tigers do anything but play the hand they were dealt. Test out Castellanos and have Dirks there to back him up. It would be a great idea to sign a right-handed bench bat like Reed Johnson or something to fill in if Castellanos needs some time in AAA, but there really isn’t a better option that wouldn’t be pretty expensive. Granderson, Beltran, and Choo are reasonable upgrades but they come at a cost. Dirks and Castellanos are going to cost the Tigers next to nothing and those players would also add $10 to $18 million to the yearly payroll. That might be worth it in a vacuum, but considering the other needs that money is better spent keeping Infante and stocking the bullpen.

The Tigers have to figure out how to make the money work going forward with Verlander, Fielder, Sanchez and whomever they wish to extend into the future. It’s hard to see how paying more than ten million dollars right now on a LF who might improve the team by 2 wins is truly worth it. If there was a great option out there, they should go for it, but there doesn’t appear to be anything worth doing. Dirks is underrated and Castellanos could be a star. This is the year to find out what those two can do.

Quick Notes on the #Tigers Moves

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

 

The Tigers made three minor moves today, but since it’s November and there’s nothing worth doing in November, they feel like big moves. The Tigers let Darin Downs and Matt Tuiasosopo go on waivers to Houston and Arizona and they declined Jose Veras’ team option valued at $3.25 million.

Tuiasosopo played very well during the first half of the season but struggled mightily down the stretch. He may have had a chance to win a bench spot again in 2014, but he won’t have the same chance to platoon and likely won’t ever perform like he did this year again. If the Dbacks want him, you’re happy to take the roster spot.

Downs is actually a bit of a disappointment for me because I think Downs is tremendously underrated. He stuck out more than a batter an inning and walked fewer than 3 per 9 across 35.1 innings. The ERA looks bad because of a couple of rough outings (one right before he went on the DL), but the FIP and xFIP are solid and he’s left-handed. I realize the Tigers don’t see him as part of the long term plan, but this is the kind of guy you’d like to have around for depth.

The Veras option is extremely surprising given that the Tigers gave up a reasonably good prospect to get him and that they gave him the ball with the entire season on the line just a week and a half ago. He was going to cost them less than $4 million next year and could easily fill a variety of roles. It’s not so much that you’ll miss Veras, it’s that he was a cheap option for a bullpen with very little set in stone. Smyly will be back unless he’s in the rotation due to an injury and you’ll have Rondon and Alburquerque, health willing. Benoit is a free agent and everyone else is kind of on the brink. Having Veras around, even if you don’t think he’s a high leverage guy, makes sense.

The meat of the offseason is still coming and there will be much more to discuss, but on the first day of action, the Tigers have made one obvious move, one iffy move, and one seemingly crazy one. Not exactly a great start, but also not exactly critical either.

Dodgers Make Yankees Blush, Sign Zach Greinke

Zach Greinke has a 6 year, $147 million deal with the Dodgers pending a physical. This deal shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone, especially anyone who read my post about Greinke last month. The Dodgers needed pitching and had money. They existed in the center of the Venn Diagram of “need pitching” and “have money” in which Zach Greinke would no doubt sign.

You can read my previous post to give you an idea of what I think about Greinke, but the contract is new, so let’s talk about that.

$24.5 million a season for six seasons, totaling $147 million. Not a bad gig if you can get it. I like this for the Dodgers, however, even if a lot of people will write that it is an overpay. Greinke is 29. This contract will take him into his decline years, but not that far into it. He’s easily capable of putting up a couple 4-5 win seasons during the span and those seasons will pay for themselves. There might be some lost value on the back end where he’s worth a few million less than the contract if inflation doesn’t catch up and make it a wash.

The point I’m trying to make is that if this is an overpay, it’s a small one. Over six years, it’s hard not to imagine Greinke putting up at least 3 WAR a season. That’s $90 million with no inflation and nothing better than 3 wins a season. With all the money flying around the Dodgers front office right now, whatever part of that $50 million excess cost doesn’t get picked up by inflation and better than 3 win performances, I’m sure they will be able to cover it. They have a lot of dollars, so giving a lot to Zach Greinke should be okay.

It should also help to move to a nice pitcher’s park like Dodger Stadium. And putting him next to Clayton Kershaw should be pretty awesome. Two Cy Young contenders on one club.

Money isn’t an object for the Dodgers and they needed pitching. Zach Greinke likes money and is good at pitching. This is a pretty good match. Grade: A-

Previewing the Winter Meetings

Baseball’s Winter Meetings kick off this week in the annual “Now is About the Time We Start Doing Things” portion of most GMs’ job. As the week goes on, we should start to get a sense of where the bigger free agents might end up and we might see a trade or two as well.

Here are five things to watch at this year’s meetings:

1) Centerfield

Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan, Shane Victorino. Four centerfielders last season who are looking for new teams and somewhere between 2 and 4 of them will get jobs as centerfielders. Bourn and Pagan certainly, with Hamilton and Victorino potentially moving to a corner.

The market here is interesting because the players are all looking for very different contracts and are very different style players, but they are actually probably all worth about the same on the field. Hamilton provides power, Bourn provides speed on offense and defense, Pagan plays good defense and gets on base, and Victorino does everything kind of well.

It will be very interesting to see who takes the plunge on Hamilton, how much Bourn gets, who sees Pagan as the safe bet, and who thinks Victorino will bounce back. This part of the market is deep in a strange way.

2) Zach Greinke

Greinke is easily the top free agent on the market in my book and he should become a very rich man in the next couple weeks if he doesn’t fall down a flight of stairs while simultaneously tearing his UCL.

Earlier this offseason I wrote that the Dodgers and the Angels were the most likely suitors for Greinke, but there is some talk that the Angels might not be as in control of this as we thought a month ago.

The Dodgers can give Greinke the team credit card and he could really shine in the big park, light hitting NL West. Yet the Angels need him desperately and currently have a pitching staff that more closely resembles the Cubs than the Phillies. Last year, a lot of mystery teams jumped in on big rf mystery teams tly have a pitching staff that more closely resembles the Cubs than the Phillies. Yet the Angefree agents, so keep an eye out for that again.

We’re watching Greinke because of his value, but also because everyone will wait for him to sign to go forward with starting pitching plans. His market will set the market for other pitcher and teams that needed Greinke will turn up the heat on other options.

3) Relievers

I won’t say much here other than that Brandon League and Jonathan Broxton got three year deals in excess of $20 million to pitch 60 innings a season. The relief market is off the rails and we’ll see where it goes from here. How much does Soriano want if this is what his inferior competition is making?

Fans and teams dramatically overvalue individual relievers and I’ll be watching how this plays out in Nashville this week.

4) Good Players that Don’t Fit

There are a few players on the free agent market who might be in odd situations because their current club doesn’t really have a place for them anymore. Adam LaRoche might have just been pushed out in Washington with Span coming over. The Tigers can’t afford Anibal Sanchez. The Yankees don’t want Nick Swisher. There’s no room at the inn in LA for Victorino.

It will be interesting to watch how this market plays out given that a lot of very useful players won’t be able to turn around and resign with their previous clubs. They might be undervalued, but they could still get overpaid. It’s really hard to tell how all of the new money will change the game and how a weak top of the market plays with a deep middle of the market.

5) TRADES?

Everyone seems to love trades and trade scenarios. Justin Upton? Giancarlo Stanton? Wil Myers? R.A. Dickey? Could these guys be traded?!

The Winter Meetings will give teams a chance to really gauge both the free agent and trade markets as they look to improve their clubs for 2013. If another big trade is going to happen this offseason, it’ll come in the next few days.

There’s a lot to watch next week as the offseason gets into full swing, so check with STT every day for complete coverage.

Lots of Baseball Happens: Signings, Extensions, and Trades

In the most cliché move yet this offseason, the hot stove is heating up as baseball’s GMs decided to start making moves in the week before the Winter Meetings in Nashville. Because my day job doesn’t allow me to spend the 12 hours a day I would like to writing about baseball, I’m going to have to get you caught up at lightning speed.

Here are the big moves from this week and my brief take on each:

Angels sign RP Ryan Madson, 1 year, $6 million plus incentives

Excellent move by the Angels who followed up by dumping Jordon Walden on the Braves for Tommy Hanson. Madson was a solid reliever for the Phillies for several years before signing a 1 year deal with the Reds last season. He got injured before the season and never threw a pitch, so it’s hard to judge exactly how healthy he may be. The Angels took that risk and added Madson to their bullpen on a one year deal during and offseason that has seen two meh relievers (League and Broxton) get three year contracts. Grade: A

Braves sign OF BJ Upton , 5 years, $75 million

The Braves needed to resign or replace Michael Bourn and this will do the trick. I have my doubts about Upton going forward and think he’s a guy who peaked early and will never live up to his skills. That said, he’s been a useful big leaguer with flashes of star power in the past and the Braves are only signing him through his age 32 season. I don’t love this deal, but it’s not a huge risk given how big contracts are getting. I think Upton has a couple more $15 million seasons in him, I’m just not sure how many and when they’ll come. I’m glad my team isn’t taking this risk, but I’m guessing the Braves won’t regret this and if they do, it won’t be a huge regret. Grade: B-

Nationals acquire Denard Span from the Twins for P Alex Meyer

The Tigers fan in me is thrilled Span is leaving the AL Central. The analyst in me thinks the Nationals made a shrewd move here. A cost controlled Span for three more seasons will do wonders between Harper and Werth and can provide a nice boost at the top of the order in a much cheaper way than the free agent options. Meyer is an interesting prospect, but most of the people I’ve talked to or read seem to think he’s a risky-high upside type. Span fills a hole in the Nats outfield and they traded from pitching depth, and they have a lot of that. The Twins have Ben Revere to fill the Span void and they do need a lot of pitching. I like this deal for them except that I think they probably could have gotten more in a deal for Span. Grade (Nats): A, Grade (Twins): C+

Pirates sign Russell Martin, 2 years, $17 million

The Pirates got something they needed. Offense. Martin hits for power and walks at a decent rate while provide some value on defense through solid pitching framing and debatable throwing skills. He’s a good fit for the Pirates and it’s hard to call $8.5 million for a free agent who can easily get to 2.0 WAR an overpay. Can’t complain if I’m a Bucs fan, but I really just want to point out that the Pirates outbid the Yankees for a player. The Pirates…outbid…the Yankees. With money. Grade: B

Mets extend David Wright, 7 years, $122 million

This extension starts after 2013 and carries Wright into his age 37 season. I was preparing a “What Should the Mets Pay Wright” piece when the news broke of this extension and I have to say, the Mets are getting a really solid yearly price for the cost of guaranteeing a lot of years. This is similar to the Longoria deal in a lot of ways except Longoria signed his four years ahead of free agency and Wright signed his one year ahead. Wright proved, through signing this deal, that he is committed to winning in New York and he’ll likely be a Met for life. Assuming he stays healthy, it’s hard for me to see a way in which this deal becomes a mess. It might not payoff, but it should mostly pay off. Grade: B+

The Winter Meetings are coming next week and a lot more action should be coming. Check back with STT for complete coverage.

122 days until Opening Day.

Rays Extend Best Contract in Baseball, Evan Longoria is now Rich, Awesome, and Loyal

Baseball’s most team friendly deal just got longer. It didn’t get better, but that would have been impossible.

This morning, the Tampa Bay Rays signed Evan Longoria to a 6 year, $100 million extension that tacks on to the end of their current accord.

Let’s summarize Longoria’s salary progression:

2008: $500,000

2009: $550,000

2010: $950,000

2011: $2,000,000

2012: $4,500,000

2013: $6,000,000

2014: $7,500,000

2015: $11,000,000

2016: $11,500,000

2017-2022: $16,667,000 (average, breakdown unknown at time of publishing)

2023: (undisclosed option at time of publishing)

Basically, Longoria’s first three seasons brought him standard pre-arbitration payment with a touch of sweetener. In what would have been his arbitration seasons, he will make $12.5 million. That’s about what Hunter Pence will earn in arbitration next year alone.

Needless to say, the Rays made a good investment with the first contract that guaranteed money through in 2013. Longoria ended up earning a lot less than he could of, but he opted for certainty over potential.

The new deal exercises the options from the first deal (14-16) and adds 6-7 more seasons. Longoria’s going to average $14.4 million over the life of this deal (not counting the 2023 option). He’s basically going to be paid to average 2-3 WAR over the next ten seasons after averaging 6 WAR through his first five seasons that included three seasons of less than 140 games.

His average WAR is 6 despite only playing two full seasons, two majority seasons, and one half season. That’s pretty awesome given that he is entering his prime according to our conception of aging in MLB. According to Fangraphs’ Salary numbers, Longoria has already been worth $128 million in his career. To earn the rest of his contract, he essentially only has to match his value over the next ten years with the last five.

This is a great deal for the club given the kind of money flying around to players these days. 10 year, $200 plus million deals are everywhere. Pujols, Fielder, and Votto all got that in the last 12 months.

Certainly Longoria could have earned more on the open market, but he’s also going to have more money than any reasonable person can spend for the rest of his life. He’s tied to one city and one team. He’ll easily earn 10 and 5 rights if the deal doesn’t include its own no-trade clause. He’s basically mapped out his professional career at 27 years old.

He’s an elite third baseman now, but he can move to 1B and then DH as he ages if need be. The Rays only need him to be pretty good to earn his contract and he’s set for life on a team he loves either way. Longoria can basically guarantee he’ll retire as the greatest Ray of all time and he’ll be a very rich man.

So while the Longoria contract is no longer a giant steal, it’s still a steal. It’s probably no longer the best contract in baseball because he’s making more than $500,000, but it’s still amazing.

Everyone wins, especially baseball fans in Tampa Bay. If any ex-Marlins fans are looking for a new team to follow, the guys in St. Pete are actually building a winner in a small market, and their poster-boy is now a Ray for life.

Blue Jays Take a Smart Risk, Sign Melky Cabrera

For most of the day I stewed over Mitch Albom’s silly defense of Cabrera as MVP and wanted to write about how ridiculous it was, but then lots of other smart people rushed in to fill that void. I decided to let it go and get back to legitimate baseball discussion, and once again, the Toronto Blue Jays are driving the day’s story.

News broke this afternoon that the Jays and GM Alex Anthopolous had inked Melky Cabrera to a 2 year, $16 million deal. To be clear, this is the switch hitting steroid suspended OF, not the other M. Cabrera that is getting all the attention today.

To me, this is a great sign by one of the game’s better front offices. They bought low on an undervalued player.

But the Melky saga is quite complex. He’s had three bad seasons, two solid seasons, and two great seasons. The two great seasons have been the last two, but the most recent one ended with a 50 game suspension for testing positive for steroids (which he admitted to).

How should we value a player like this? What is he worth and what is the risk?

First, it should be noted that he’s only 28, which means his two great seasons came between ages 26-28, which is exactly when you would expect a player to peak. In other words, there is a very logical explanation for his breakout other than steroids.

We also can’t assume he was using prior to this season, because we would expect that he would have taken 1-3 tests during 2011 as well. None of this is perfectly certain, but it is fair to say that Melky is probably better than the very bad seasons and not quite as good as the very good seasons.

It’s very possible that steroids aided his improvement, but there is still a lot of scientific debate about how steroids help baseball players. Some say power, some say endurance, some say there is no real effect.

So assuming he doesn’t get suspended again and is on the field for the next two years, let’s evaluate this for the Jays.

The Free Agent market is set somewhere around 1.0 WAR per $5-6 million. This is an average, but over two seasons, for Melky to earn $16 million he needs to be worth somewhere between 3.0 and 4.0 WAR in my book if we want to account for a range given imperfect modeling.

Over the last two seasons, 34 MLB hitters fell between 3.0 and 4.0 WAR regardless of how many plate appearance they had. In other words, these are the hitters who ended up being worth about what Melky is going to make regardless of how they were used.

I averaged their production and then divided it into two seasons to get an idea of what Melky needs to look like in order to be worth this deal. I should note this is all hitters, not just OF and there is plenty of variation.

Per Season Stat Line:

113 G, 436 PA, 101 H, 11 HR, 49 R, 46 RBI, 8 SB

.260/.329/.414

8% BB, 19% K

(League average defense and baserunning)

That looks extremely doable for Melky in the next two seasons. He needs to hit .260, walk at a league average rate and hit 11 HR per season to earn this contract. He doesn’t need to be the player he was last year, he needs to be respectable.

To give you a sense of this, let’s consider the players in 2012 who hit between .250 and .270 and slugged between .400 and .420.

A.J. Ellis, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, and Delmon Young. Those players aren’t good defense comparisons to the player Melky needs to be, but he can certainly hit like those guys and be average in the other aspects of baseball if he stays reasonably healthy.

The Blue Jays were willing to bet on Melky not using PEDs again and certainly willing to pay $8 million a season for a player who could easily be worth close to $12 or $15 million if he’s really who he’s been the last two seasons.

This is a solid deal for the Blue Jays and good chance for Melky to repair his image and still have some good years left when he’s ready to hit the market again after the 2014 season.

Tigers Get Their Man, Ink Hunter to a Two Year Deal

I was among the first to call for it and predict it over the last few weeks here at SABR Toothed Tigers, but I won’t take credit for it because of how obvious a fit it was. The Tigers signed OF Torii Hunter to a 2 year, $26 million deal this afternoon to flank Austin Jackson in LF or RF depending on future moves.

This is a phenomenal signing by Dave Dombrowski. Hunter can fill in as the Tigers #2, #5, or #6 hitter depending on how the rest of the offseason goes and he can play a great corner outfield even at 37 years old. Better yet, he can mentor the budding star of Austin Jackson.

Since becoming a regular in 2001, Hunter has had one below average offensive season for his position. He’s a career .277/.335/.466 hitter and has actually been better by those standards as he’s gotten older. Hunter is clearly an offensive upgrade for the Tigers in the corners for the next two seasons as the kids get ready and he does not show any sign of dropping off.

He may start to slow down at the plate, but has only posted a wOBA below .334 once since becoming a regular and had his second best season by that metric last year.

He’s a big upgrade on defense over the Boesch/Berry tandem that got most of the playing time in 2012. He started to lose a step in CF in 2010, but the shift to RF over the last two seasons has been great for him and he’s back to being a top flight defender. For the Tigers, average would have been enough.

But Hunter’s value to me is heavily driven by his leadership and teaching ability. Mike Trout, the Angels phenom, has routinely credited Torii Hunter for his development. Trout’s talented on his own, but Hunter has been there to help him learn some of the nuances of playing defense and being a big league player.

I’m excited to see how Hunter can help Jackson, who is very talented, improve his overall game and turn into a star in centerfield.

I don’t know how much this matters, but in a sport with fewer and fewer black stars, it should help to have Hunter as a mentor to Jackson because he may identify with him. Hunter was a star for the Twins in the early 2000s and seems like the kind of player Jackson sought to emulate. It helps that they’re both from Texas and play a similar style of baseball.

Hunter’s value as a hitter, defender, and leader should be plenty enough to justify the $13 million he’ll make this year and next. He’s never posted under a 2.4 WAR as a starter and is coming off his best season. He’s also moving to a slightly better hitters’ park and gets to hit between Jackson and Cabrera most likely, which should feel familiar to Trout and Pujols, not to mention a slightly easier division.

This was a great signing and an obvious choice, but I have to say it’s one of Dombrowski’s best free agent signings. Kenny Rogers and Victor Martinez come to mind as others, but this is a deal that benefits the Tigers tremendously without being large and cumbersome. Obviously Pudge, Maggs, and Prince were great signings, but those required truckloads of cash.

This deal, like the Rogers and Martinez signings, was for market value. This is a great deal for the Tigers and I can’t wait to see Hunter in the Old English D.

Blue Jays Trade for Entire Marlins Roster, Avoid Centerfield Statue

Tonight the Marlins agreed in principle to a deal that would send Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar and a handful of solid prospects.

This deal was a massive salary dump. They traded their #1 and #2 starters, their shortstop, a solid utility player and one of their catchers for a haul of prospects that does not measure up to the package they sent.

They dumped everyone on their roster that had any kind of salary this year. They did so long before those contracts were up. They did so after one year at a $400 million stadium they begged the city of Miami to build.

This is a farce. The ownership of the Marlins went on and on about how they were changing baseball in Miami and this looked like a franchise ready to break out. Fooled us.

Four bad months of baseball and it was “Sell, sell, sell” in South Beach. What a sham.

Giancarlo Stanton and Ricky Nolasco voiced their displeasure on Twitter tonight. Fans were livid. The owners blew up the Marlins one year into a massive overhaul of the franchise. I can’t imagine anyone going to a game in Miami this year unless you’re a fan of the visiting team.

There ought to be a coup in Miami. This is a joke.

Now if you’re a Blue Jays fan, I’m very happy for you. You just went from solid team in a tough division to contender in a tough division. You upgraded your rotation in a big way. You dramatically improved at short. You’ve added depth.  You hardly lost anything you can’t replace.

This is a good day for baseball in Canada and a sad one in Miami. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve lost a generation of young fans in Florida because we’ve allowed crooks to run the Marlins while a gem of an organization in Tampa Bay can’t get a decent stadium despite a phenomenally interesting and successful club.

My heart goes out to anyone who bought a jersey in Miami without the name “Stanton” on it, and even those of you who did, because he’ll be gone soon too. What a sad moment for baseball.

But I rejoice for Blue Jays fans and am excited to see them contend with an Orioles team on the rise and perennially good clubs like New York, Boston, and Tampa Bay.

Tonight the Blue Jays traded for the entire Marlins roster and were smart enough not to ask for the homerun sculpture. The Marlins traded away their entire roster for way less than market value and couldn’t even dump that centerfield monstrosity. That tells you about everything you need to know.

Is Now the Time to Trade Justin Upton?

So the pundit echo chamber buzz of the week is about the Diamondbacks listening to offers on Justin Upton, their 25 year old RF coming off a down season. You may remember him from such posts as, “I Thought He Would Win MVP this season.”

Needless to say, I saw a good deal of potential in Upton entering this season and haven’t lost a ton of faith in him after a meh 2012.

But should the Diamondbacks trade him?

As always, it depends. If someone makes a really good offer, you should always take it, but if we’re talking about reasonable offers, I would argue it depends a lot on what players you get back.

That sounds like a stupid answer, but I mean it in a very specific way. You should trade Upton now if you’re getting back big league players. For example, Dave Cameron at Fangraphs evaluated an Upton for Andrus deal. That’s a deal you take.

But if it’s for prospects, I’m waiting.

But not because I’m someone who wants to see proven talent and all that, I’m waiting because this is the wrong time to trade Upton. His value is never going to be lower. He’s coming off a down season that followed a great year. You’re selling low on your most valuable asset if you deal him now.

That’s a fine strategy if the deal you want won’t be available during the season. The Rangers won’t deal Andrus or other big league pieces in July. So if you want an MLB level guy, pull the trigger.

If you want a massive prospect haul, wait. Those guys will be available in July because the team you’re dealing with won’t have to subtract from the big league team to get Upton, and they’ll be more desperate. The options will be more limited.

There are 3-5 OF on the market right now who can be as good as Upton in the short run. At the 2013 deadline, that number should be much lower.

Hold on to Justin Upton because he’s either going to help you contend in 2013 or bring you a bigger return than dealing him now.

Tigers Perspective: Lots of people are asking if the Tigers should target Upton, but I can’t see them doing it. I don’t know for sure what Arizona is asking for, but I think you’re talking about Castellanos, Smyly, and more. That’s a high price to pay for a player coming off a down season. The Tigers have a loaded 3-4-5 combo for the next two seasons and a solid leadoff man. They need depth more than they need star power. Pass.

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