Here is the open thread for the night. Alabama and Georgia are playing the college football National Championship Game (8pm ET on ESPN), plus the Nets are playing. That’s pretty much it. Talk about anything that isn’t religion or politics here.
5:00pm ET: Minor league contract season has started. According to Chris Cotillo, the Yankees have inked utility man Jace Peterson to a minor league deal. I assume he received an invite to big league Spring Training. No word on Peterson’s salary at the MLB level, which is kinda important given the luxury tax plan.
Peterson, 27, was the 58th overall selection in the 2011 draft by the Padres. They traded him to the Braves in the Justin Upton deal a few years ago. Peterson spent the last three years as an up-and-down utility man with Atlanta, hitting .215/.318/.317 (69 wRC+) with two homers and three steals in 89 big league games in 2017. His defensive assignments over the years:
- First base: 55 innings (-1 DRS)
- Second base: 2,108.2 innings (-9 DRS)
- Shortstop: 34 innings (-1 DRS)
- Third base: 143.1 innings (+0 DRS)
- Left field: 250.1 innings (-5 DRS)
- Center field: 8 innings (+0 DRS)
- Right field: 16 innings (-1 DRS)
Experience everywhere — albeit not much at some positions — except pitcher and catcher, so that’s nice. The Braves non-tendered Peterson last month rather than pay him his projected $1.1M salary as a first-time arbitration-eligible player in 2018. In the unlikely event he is worth keeping around long-term, Peterson has three years of team control remaining before qualifying for free agency. He is out of minor league options.
The Yankees have openings at second and third bases, and while they say they are willing to go with kids at those positions, they still need veteran bodies for depth. If Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar get big league jobs, someone has to play the infield in Scranton. If it’s Ronald Torreyes and either Torres or Andujar, someone has to be the utility man. So on and so forth.
Peterson is a depth pickup and nothing more. He’s not going to block any prospects or take at-bats away from anyone. He’s a versatile player who can provide coverage pretty much all over the field. Even a farm system as deep as New York’s can’t possibly fill every roster spot with prospects. Peterson figures to be this year’s Pete Kozma more than anything.
The Reds are entering their third full season of rebuilding in 2018, a course of action that began in earnest when they dealt Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake at the 2015 trade deadline. Over the next year they sent Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips packing, allowing the youth movement to begin. They still have a significant amount of work to do, though, with needs all over the field. And with stud third-base prospect Nick Senzel knocking on the door, they may be best-served dealing from their modest infield stockpile to fill some of those needs.
Let’s take a look, shall we?
Scooter Gennett briefly became a household name on June 6, 2017, when he hit four home runs in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals:
Gennett, who was picked-up by the Reds on waivers just days before the season began, was hitting a respectable .270/.308/.450 (95 wRC+) before making his way into history – and that’s not too far removed from his career norms when adjusted a bit for the juiced ball. That historical day presaged bigger things for him, though, as he hit .293/.344/.516 (121 wRC+) with 20 HR in 345 AB from June 7 forward. All told, he hit .295/.342/.531 (124 wRC+) with 27 HR on the season. And this, in just 497 PA.
Is there something to the breakout beyond the juiced ball? Maybe. Prior to that fateful day, Gennett hit 33.4% of his batted balls in the air, and pulled 34.3%. From June 6 forward, however, he had a 39.1% flyball rate, and a 42.5% pull rate, both of which represent sizable increases. It’s a small sample size, to be sure – but, given what we know about the flyball revolution within the game, it stands to reason that he changed his approach over time, and embraced it.
With over 2,000 PA under his belt, Gennett is a .283/.323/.446 (103 wRC+) hitter entering his age-28 season. That is weighted quite heavily by his breakout (or fluke) 2017, but he has been average-ish or better in three of his four full seasons.
Contract Status: Arbitration eligible; under team control through 2019.
Position(s): Primarily 2B (4104 innings); 3B (71 innings in 2017); LF (55 innings in 2017); RF (41.1 innings in 2017)
Is there a catch? Aside from the possibility that this is a massive fluke from a player that was waived by the Brewers in March? Yes – he’s not a very good second-baseman. He has -5.2 UZR/150 at the keystone for his career, and DRS has him at -4 per 150. He’s played other positions sparingly, so those numbers aren’t worth digging into all that much … but they’re not good, either.
Peraza was the prize of the deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox back in the winter of 2015, as a consensus top-100 prospect at an up the middle position (though, the precise position was still up in the air). He did well in his first season in the Reds organization, slashing .281/.333/.375 (104 wRC+) with 2 HR and 10 SB in half a season at Triple-A, and earning a call up in mid-May. Peraza batted .324/.352/.411 (103 wRC+) with 3 HR and 21 SB in 256 PA at the highest level, and seemingly secured his place in the Reds future.
Unfortunately, Peraza struggled tremendously in 2017, batting just .259/.297/.324 (62 wRC+) with 5 HR and 23 SB in his first full season in the majors. He found himself on the bench a few times in deference to Gennett and the since-departed Zack Cozart, and it’s difficult to blame the Reds for that – even if he spent most of the season as a 23-year-old. He shuffled between second and short all season, too, with better numbers at the former (6.6 UZR/150 versus -8.7). And now, with Cozart in Los Angeles, the Reds are rumored to be interested in finding a shortstop of the future.
Does this mean that Peraza has fallen out of favor? Or are the Reds trying to motivate him? It might be a bit of both. What we do know is that Peraza will turn 24 in April, and that he possesses excellent base-running skills and the ability to play both second and short (he drew praise for his defense at both, though he always seemed best-suited for second due to a middling arm).
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration; under team control through 2022.
Position(s): Split between 2B (721.2 innings) and SS (672.1 innings)
Is there a catch? Peraza has never been one for patience at the plate. His BB% was below 5% in the minors, and it has been just 3.6% in the majors. There’s a lot of upside here, but he has a lot of work to get there – and the Reds may still expect quite a bit given his age, pedigree, and moderate success in 2016.
A few years ago, Suarez was viewed as a slick fielding shortstop with questionable hitting ability, albeit with a shot at double-digit home runs and steals. He was traded to the Reds for Alfredo Simon prior to the 2015 season, and there were immediate signs that that wasn’t an accurate portrait of the player. He hit 13 HR in just 372 AB with the Reds in 2015, and posted a -19.3 UZR/150 and -12 DRS 841.1 innings at short. Suarez was moved to third base in 2016, and he continued to hit for power (21 HR in 565 AB), but his overall production was a bit disappointing.
And then everything seemed to click.
Suarez slashed .260/.367/.461 (117 wRC+) with 26 HR in 2017, and both UZR (5.8) and DRS (5) loved his defense at the hot corner. He was somewhat hot and cold from month-to-month, but the sum of everything was good for 4.1 fWAR. And the fact that he increased his walks dramatically (from 8.1% to 13.3%) while cutting his strikeouts a bit (from 24.7% to 23.3%) is a terrific sign.
So why is the 26-year-old even here? Simple – Suarez plays the same position as the team’s top prospect, who is close to ready for a shot, and he’s entering arbitration. Of course, there’s also a rumor that the Reds might deal him if he won’t sign an extension, which kind of cuts both ways.
Contract Status: Arbitration eligible; under team control through 2020.
Position(s): Primarily 3B (2620.2 innings)
Is there a catch? Suarez is sure to be costly. Otherwise, 2017 looks fairly repeatable, given the flashes of potential in 2015 and 2016.
The Reds are looking for shortstop help, and pitching is the organization’s biggest issue on the whole. That could make the Yankees a reasonable match in a vacuum – Thairo Estrada, Domingo Acevedo, Luis Medina, Dillon Tate, and Domingo German are all outside of the team’s top-five prospects, and could conceivably be good fits in a deal. My trade proposal sucks, though, so I won’t go much further than that.
I’m not too interested in Peraza as a reclamation project, unless he comes dirt cheap. He doesn’t fit the Yankees semi-win now mode, after all. That leaves Gennett and Suarez, both of whom I’m interested in. The flyball heavy, pull-happy, lefty-swinging Gennett could feast in Yankee Stadium, even if he regresses a bit – and I can’t imagine the Reds demanding too much, given his track record. Suarez, though, seems far safer, with more upside on both sides of the ball … and that’s why he’d undoubtedly cost a sizable return. But, if you squint, you can kind of see a poor man’s Manny Machado for significantly less in terms of talent and money.
In our second episode back we’re chatting with RAB regular Sung-Min Kim about the lineup, starting pitching, Josh Harrison, Todd Frazier, and more.
We added audio questions to this one, so you can see how much better it is than us reading the questions. Dial-in info is below. Leave your questions for when we record later this week.
- We’re having some technical issues with iTunes, but expect to be up and running this week. Until then you can subscribe by URL in the Podcast app (or in any podcast app, I believe): https://riveraveblues.com/category/podcast/feed
- You can call our voicemail at 716-393-5330 to leave us questions for future shows. Much better to play the audio of you asking rather than reading it ourselves
- Please email us or comment or whatever to leave some feedback. While our re-launch show feels same-old same-old in terms of podcasting, we’d like to make the show as original as possible. We have some ideas, but you’re the listeners. You know what you want. We’re seeking your help.
2017 Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE
2017 Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS
Top stories from last week:
- The Yankees and Brian Cashman insist they are willing to go into the new season with young players at second and third bases. There are reasons to believe them and reasons to be skeptical.
- The Yankees reportedly remain interested in free agents Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb. They’ve also made an offer to Ji-Man Choi. It is presumably a minor league contract.
- MLB and the MLBPA will meet this week to discuss new pace-of-play measures expected to be introduced this coming season.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
(If you get an error when you vote, remove the “s” in “https” in the address bar.)
- David Laurila posted his annual best quotes of the year piece. Always a must read. I enjoyed Joe Biagini’s quote on what it feels like to be a big leaguer.
- Jayson Stark posted his annual strange but true feature. Apparently Matt Chapman got his first career hit twice in the same game, and it was against the Yankees. Huh. Forgot about that.
Friday: Here is an open thread for the night. The Knicks and the Islanders are playing, and that’s about it for local sports. Good night to fire up Netflix, I guess. I’m working my way through the new season of Black Mirror myself. You know how these open threads work by now, so have at it.
Saturday: This is the open thread again. The NFL playoffs start today with the Chiefs vs. Titans and Rams vs. Falcons. The Rangers and Nets are both playing, and you’ve got a full slate of college hoops as well.
Sunday: For the final time, this is the open thread. The NFL playoffs continue today with the Bills vs. Jaguars (1pm ET on CBS) and Panthers vs. Saints (4:30pm ET on FOX). The Knicks and the three local hockey teams are also playing, and there’s a bunch of college basketball as well. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
The various winter ball regular seasons are either over or will be soon, so this will be the final offseason minor league recap. Next time you see a DotF, it’ll be the start of the 2018 regular season in April. Anyway, embedded above is a video of 3B Miguel Andujar’s lone winter ball home run, and below are some minor league notes and links before we get to the performances:
- The Arizona Fall League announced their top prospects team. OF Billy McKinney, SS Thairo Estrada, OF Estevan Florial, and LHP Justus Sheffield all made it. McKinney made it as a first baseman, interestingly enough.
- Jim Callis ranked the top ten prospects traded this offseason. RHP Jorge Guzman, who went to Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton trade, was No. 2. RHP Juan Then was No. 9. He came over in the Nick Rumbelow trade. “(He is a) projectable 17-year-old who already reaches 94 mph with his fastball and also owns a promising changeup and curveball,” wrote Callis.
- Callis was asked about a combined Yankees and Red Sox farm system. “(A) combined Top 50 would include about 35 Yankees and 15 Red Sox. The contrast would be even more stark at the top, with left-hander Jay Groome and third baseman Michael Chavis the only Boston farmhands who would crack a combined Top 10,” he said. Hooray for a deep farm system.
The Arizona Fall League season ended back in November. I will refer to you the previous edition of DotF for the final stats and commentary.
Dominican Winter League
- 3B Miguel Andujar: 18 G, 12-65 (.185), 7 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 9 K, 1 CS, 1 HBP (.185/.243/.231) — he hasn’t played in over a month, so he’s home resting up for next season … and no, Andujar’s winter ball performance won’t hurt his chances of winning the big league third base job in Spring Training … the Yankees will value his 130 regular season games last year over his 18 winter ball games
- 1B Tyler Austin: 7 G, 4-25 (.160), 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 12 K (.160/.250/.360) — he’s been out of action since early-November … you don’t produce, you don’t play down here … Austin does have a minor league option remaining for 2018, so he’ll probably do the up-and-down thing again
- IF Abi Avelino: 38 G, 43-139 (.309), 2 2B, 1 3B, 9 RBI, 13 BB, 15 K, 19 SB, 4 CS (.309/.364/.338) — he could probably use a fresh start in an organization with less upper level infield prospect depth … it’s tough being stuck behind Andujar, Estrada, SS Gleyber Torres, and SS Tyler Wade
- RHP Raynel Espinal: 1 G, 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA and 9.00 WHIP) — that was an interesting outing … 26-year-old quietly had a 1.09 ERA (2.23 FIP) with 33.5% strikeouts and 5.4% walks in 74.1 relief innings at three levels last season
- RHP Domingo German: 3 G, 1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP (21.60 ERA and 3.00 WHIP) — made three appearances in mid-December then went home for the holidays … these short winter ball stints have always been weird to me (what’s the point?), but players keep doing them and teams keep allowing it, so I guess they serve some purpose
- RHP Adonis Rosa: 9 G, 3 GS, 24.2 IP, 14 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 8 BB, 21 K, 1 HR, 1 WP, 1 HB (1.82 ERA and 0.89 WHIP)
Mexican Pacific League
- OF Jabari Blash: 20 G, 18-63 (.286), 16 R, 2 2B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 17 BB, 27 K, 1 CS, 2 HBP (.286/.451/.556) — he came over in the Chase Headley salary dump … by the way, ZiPS projected Blash for 25 homers in 440 plate appearances in 2018 … huh
- 1B Ryan McBroom: 30 G, 34-107 (.318), 2 2B, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 13 BB, 21 K, 4 SB, 4 CS (.318/.397/.447) — came over in the Rob Refsnyder trade and had a mediocre year in Double-A (98 wRC+) … he’s going to be stuck behind Austin on the Triple-A first base depth chart, not to mention Mike Ford if he comes back as a Rule 5 Draft guy
- RHP Dallas Martinez: 2 G, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 1 HB (6.23 ERA and 1.15 WHIP)
Venezuelan Winter League
- C Francisco Diaz: 41 G, 35-128 (.273), 18 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 10 RBI, 11 BB, 15 K, 3 SB, 1 HBP (.273/.333/.305)
- OF Alex Palma: 47 G, 57-190 (.300), 13 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 8 BB, 18 K, 5 SB, 2 CS (.300/.328/.395) — interested to see what he does next year … Palma had a good 2017 season and he has lots of tools, and he’s only 22, so maybe he’s just starting to figure some things out
- RHP Daniel Alvarez: 16 G, 21 IP, 19 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 16 BB, 17 K, 2 HR (2.57 ERA and 1.67 WHIP) — interesting stat line there
- RHP Luis Cedeno: 18 G, 16.2 IP, 23 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 11 BB, 13 K, 1 HR, 2 HB (4.32 ERA and 2.04 WHIP)
Winter ball will indeed be played in Puerto Rico this year. The Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League started an abbreviated 18-game schedule on Friday. Jon Morosi says they will play day games to limit the use of electricity for stadium lights in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. No Yankees farmhands are listed on rosters at the moment.