The Rest of MLB [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The new season is upon us. Opening Day is Monday, which means it’s time to wrap up our annual Season Preview series. As always, we’ll end the series with a quick look around the league. Some of this is serious, most of it isn’t. Enjoy.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Why They’ll Suck: The middle infield is a mess and their corner outfield defense is going to be pretty bad if Yasmany Tomas plays left everyday. Also, they’ll probably trade some good players to unload a bad contract again.
Bold Prediction: Shelby Miller actually pitches well. I have no idea why so many analysts think he’s bad.

Atlanta Braves
Why They’ll Suck: Because they are trying to suck. Rebuilding is just a nice way of saying tanking.
Bold Prediction: Nick Markakis beats his ZiPS projection and slugs .370.

Chicago Cubs
Why They’ll Suck: They’re going to strike out way too much. It’s also only a matter of time until someone gets bit by some wild animal Joe Maddon brings into the clubhouse.
Bold Prediction: Adam Warren is their best starter. Boom!

Chicago White Sox
Why They’ll Suck: They lost their leader, Drake LaRoche.
Bold Prediction: We find out Adam LaRoche was the one who complained about Drake LaRoche being in the clubhouse all the time.

Cincinnati Reds
Why They’ll Suck: Their rotation is Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, and John Lamb. No, wait, that’s the list of their injured starters. Now they have to turn to the B-team.
Bold Prediction: Joey Votto finally loses his mind, but in a polite, Canadian way. He’s already doing this between pitches:

Joey Votto

Cleveland Indians
Why They’ll Suck: In all seriousness, their entire starting outfield is either hurt (Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall) or suspended (Abe Almonte). They’re a Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco injury away from 85 losses. Beware.
Bold Prediction: Francisco Lindor leads all shortstops in WAR.

Colorado Rockies
Why They’ll Suck: The Rockies exist in a perpetual state of suck. Fun Fact: They have never once won a division title. They’ve finished as high as second place only three times in their 23 years of existence.
Bold Prediction: They finally trade Carlos Gonzalez. I’m thinking … Orioles.

Detroit Tigers
Why They’ll Suck: They’ve punted defense at the four corner positions and, inevitably, the relievers they acquired this winter will stink.
Bold Prediction: Justin Verlander bounces back and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting.

Houston Astros
Why They’ll Suck: Karma for doing very little in the offseason outside of adding a new closer and fifth starter. The rebuild is supposed to be over.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Correa is more Alex Gonzalez than Alex Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals
Why They’ll Suck: They replaced Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist with Ian Kennedy and Christian Colon. Like, on purpose.
Bold Prediction: Kennedy wins 18 games and Colon hits .310. Eff the Royals, man.

Los Angeles Angels
Why They’ll Suck: The Angels have surrounded Mike Trout with as little position player talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: Jered Weaver’s fastball hits 84 mph once or twice.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Why They’ll Suck: The Dodgers have surrounded Clayton Kershaw with as little pitching talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: It becomes clear Yasiel Puig peaked early.

Miami Marlins
Why They’ll Suck: The fans and players are doomed to pay for Jeffrey Loria’s evil villian-ness. Fun Fact: They’ve never won a division title either. They’ve also never lost a postseason series.
Bold Prediction: Christian Yelich breaks out and puts up Andrew McCutchen numbers. I’m serious about that one.

Milwaukee Brewers
Why They’ll Suck: They’re another team that is going to suck on purpose. Before long they’re going to trade Jonathan Lucroy too.
Bold Prediction: Ramon Flores hits 15 dingers with a .350 OBP.

Minnesota Twins
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know, but I’m sure Twins fans will blame it on Joe Mauer.
Bold Prediction: Miguel Sano plays right field better than Torii Hunter did last year.

New York Mets
Why They’ll Suck: They’re still the Mets. Case in point: the recent Matt Harvey bladder story. Last year’s pennant didn’t change anything in that regard.
Bold Prediction: They have to trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline.

Oakland Athletics
Why They’ll Suck: No joke, I can name only one A’s starter (Sonny Gray) and one A’s infielder (Marcus Semien). Is Bobby Crosby still playing?
Bold Prediction: Josh Reddick gets traded for a holy crap package at the trade deadline. I’m thinking … Royals.

Philadelphia Phillies
Why They’ll Suck: Still reeling from the 2009 World Series, obviously.
Bold Prediction: Someone not named Maikel Franco or Ryan Howard hits a home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Why They’ll Suck: The baseball gods will not let John Jaso’s hair go unpunished.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Bold Prediction: Mark Melancon is traded at the deadline. I’m thinking … Dodgers.

St. Louis Cardinals
Why They’ll Suck: The Cardinals will never suck. The only thing they suck at is sucking. Their ace made four starts and their highest paid position player hit four home runs last season, and they still won 100 games. The Cardinals, man.
Bold Prediction: Three years after learning to play second base and one year after learning to hit for power, Matt Carpenter picks up pitching and saves 46 games.

San Diego Padres
Why They’ll Suck: I’m not entirely convinced the Padres exist at this point. Are we sure MLB still lets them into the league? What an amazingly nondescript franchise.
Bold Prediction: Someone throws the first no-hitter in franchise history. I’ll go with Colin Rea, who is a real player and definitely not someone I just made up.

San Francisco Giants
Why They’ll Suck: They buy into the “even year trend” a little too much and give Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner weeks off at a time this summer.
Bold Prediction: Bumgarner out-slugs the starting outfield.

Seattle Mariners
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know how it will happen exactly, but they’ll suck. The Mariners are the Wile E. Coyote of MLB. Every time they looked poised for success, they crash into the mountain with a tunnel painted on the side of it.
Bold Prediction: Bob Cano mashes 30 taters and finishes in the top three of the MVP voting. I’m expecting a big year from Robbie.

Texas Rangers
Why They’ll Suck: They won’t suck. They’ll be just good enough to get thisclose to winning something meaningful before having it ripped away again. Think Game Six of the 2011 World Series, or the seventh inning of Game Five of last year’s ALDS. That’s how the Rangers roll.
Bold Prediction: Josh Hamilton leads the team in home runs.

Washington Nationals
Why They’ll Suck: They’re the NL version of the Red Sox. They have talent and everyone buys the hype. It should work! But it doesn’t.

Homer Simpson

Bold Prediction: Bryce Harper is even better this year.

Reports: Marlins agree to five-year deal with Wei-Yin Chen

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

One of the few remaining quality free agent starters is off the board. The Marlins have agreed to a five-year contract with former Orioles southpaw Wei-Yin Chen, according to multiple reports. The contract includes a vesting option for a sixth year and an opt-out after year two.

The deal is worth $80M and it’ll be interesting to see the breakdown. The Marlins have a history of backloading their big free agent contracts then trading the player one year later. Carlos Delgado ($4M of $52M in year one before being traded), Jose Reyes ($10M of $106M), and Mark Buehrle ($6M of $55M) all got caught up in that scheme.

The Yankees were said to be monitoring the market for Chen earlier this offseason — here’s our Scouting The Market post — though they were never seriously connected to him at any point. Story of the offseason, basically. The Yankees haven’t been seriously connected to any significant free agents this winter.

With Chen off the board, the top unsigned free agent starters are Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy, both of whom rejected the qualifying offer. Doug Fister, Tim Lincecum, and Cliff Lee are the top reclamation projection arms. Meh.

The Marlins have a protected first round pick (seventh overall), so the Yankees won’t move up in the 2016 draft due to the Chen signing.

Update: Chen will make $6M in 2016 and $14M in 2017, then $60M over the final three years. So yeah, they heavily backloaded the deal again.

Cafardo: Marlins have had interest in Ivan Nova

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

The Marlins have had interest in right-hander Ivan Nova this offseason, according to Nick Cafardo. Joe Frisaro says Miami is close to signing Edwin Jackson, but he mentions they still want to add more pitching. They’ve been connected to reclamation project guys like Jackson and Doug Fister. I’d say Nova qualifies as a reclamation project given his 2015 season.

Right now the Marlins have two open rotation spots behind Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler, and Jarred Cosart. Jackson would presumably fill one. David Phelps, Adam Conley, Brad Hand, and Justin Nicolino are among the guys in line to compete for a rotation spot in camp. There’s an openings there and buying low on Nova or Fister or whoever makes a lot of sense for Miami.

Realistically, what can the Yankees get for Nova at this point? Probably not a whole lot. Martin Prado would be a wonderful fit for that last bench spot, but that’s not happening. No team is trading their starting third baseman for Nova. Derek Dietrich would be both an interesting lefty utility man and totally redundant with Dustin Ackley. (Dietrich can play third base though, which is not insignificant.)

Chances are the Marlins would be looking to trade prospects for Nova, and while prospects are cool, the Yankees are probably better off keeping Nova for depth than trading him for a few Grade-C minor leaguers. I do think there’s a chance Nova will perform better next season as he gets further away from elbow surgery, and if that happens, the Yankees could always look to move him at the deadline. Plus it’ll be good to have the depth given all the injury concerns in the starting five.

The Yankees have spent much of the offseason shopping (or at least gauging interest in) Nova, Brett Gardner, and Andrew Miller. Right now I think they’re going to end up hanging on to all three. Then again, I might feel differently next week, so who knows. I would be surprised if the Yankees went the rest of the offseason without doing anything though. They’re not done adding pieces.

2015 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Wednesday

Velasquez. (Presswire)
Velasquez. (Presswire)

After a long day with few rumors, the Yankees swung a trade last night, sending Adam Warren and a player to be named later (Brendan Ryan) to the Cubs for Starlin Castro. It didn’t come out of nowhere like so many other Yankees’ deals, but it did come together pretty quick. It went from rumor to trade within an hour or so. The on-the-fly rebuild continues.

“It isn’t part of our DNA to accept that full-blown commitment to a rebuild,” said Brian Cashman to Bryan Hoch. “Ownership’s comfort level is walking that tightrope, rather than tearing it down and living to fight another day. The public stated goal is to get younger and compete for the championship every year. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Here are Monday’s and Tuesday’s open threads. Once again, we’ll keep track of all the day’s Yankees-related hot stove rumors from the Winter Meetings right here in this post. All time stamps are ET.

  • 10:30am: Following the trade yesterday, Cashman confirmed the Cubs asked about Brett Gardner early in the Starlin Castro trade talks, but that wasn’t happening. He also said Luis Severino, Greg Bird, and Aaron Judge have not been offered in any deals this offseason. [Joel Sherman, Tyler Kepner]
  • 10:30am: “Hopefully I can do some things to add to our depth,” said Cashman, specifically about the pitching staff. He did not rule out free agents but did acknowledge trades are more likely. “I’ve been busiest on the trade front … If it’s old and expensive, we did not check on that.” [Erik Boland, Marly Rivera, Mark Feinsand]
  • 10:30am: Tyler Flowers, who was connected to the Yankees earlier this week, signed a two-year deal with the Braves yesterday. Cashman also confirmed they did check in with Ben Zobrist earlier this week, though his first choice was the Cubs. [Bob Nightengale, Ken Davidoff]
  • 10:30am: The Yankees have shown an interest in Astros righty Vincent Velasquez. Houston has interest in Andrew Miller and Velasquez could be part of the package. However, there’s some thought the Yankees would flip Velasquez to the Marlins for Marcell Ozuna. [George King]
  • 10:30am: Several teams have called about Justin Wilson, including the Tigers. Hey, if Miller is available, there’s no reason Wilson shouldn’t be as well. Whether the Yankees are comfortable trading both end game lefties is another matter. [George King]
  • 10:42am: Brett Gardner remains available but nothing is close at the moment. Nothing’s changed after the Castro pickup. [Jon Heyman]
  • 12:47pm: The Yankees are talking to the Dodgers and Astros about Andrew Miller. Houston’s been on Miller for a while now, and the Dodgers lost out on Aroldis Chapman earlier this week. In terms of performance plus contract, Miller is by frickin’ far the best available reliever right now. [Bob Nightengale]
  • 2:17pm: The Yankees did circle back and ask the D’Backs if they still had interest in Andrew Miller following their recent Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller pickups. Arizona seems to be in a very generous mood, so why not ask? They had interest in Miller earlier this offseason. [Joel Sherman]
  • 5:21pm: As expected, Cashman confirmed Justin Wilson is indeed available. “If we are willing to discuss Andrew Miller, we are willing to discuss Justin Wilson,” he said. [Marly Rivera]
  • 5:46pm: The Yankees are still getting a ton of hits on Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller. Cashman continues to say they’re open to anything, but added “it’s more likely than not we’ll have the same dynamic duo” next year, meaning Miller and Dellin Betances. [Bryan Hoch, Erik Boland]
  • 5:48pm: Cashman admitted the Yankees don’t have a whole lot money to spend this winter. “It’s accurate to say flexibility is limited currently because we’re committed to a lot,” he said. So annoying. [Pete Caldera]
  • 5:50pm: The Yankees do expect to lose someone in the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow. Jake Cave’s a safe bet. Apparently they’re also considering taking someone. They do have two open 40-man roster spots. A reliever and/or a spare infielder capable of playing third base are solid bets. [Bryan Hoch]
  • 6:01pm: The team’s interest in Tyler Flowers was limited to a non-roster invite. Flowers’ response to the offer: “Hell no.” So there you go. Cashman said the team wants to “unleash” Gary Sanchez. [Brendan Kuty]
  • 6:32pm: There’s a rumor going around that the Yankees have traded Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two prospects, but Cashman shot that down for the time being. “I don’t know what the reports are but I don’t have anything to talk about,” he said. [Brendan Kuty]
  • 6:38pm: The Yankees are “talking seriously” about trading Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two prospects, but nothing is done yet. Sounds like it’s only a matter of time. [Joel Sherman]

(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)

2015 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Tuesday

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Fernandez. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

As far as the Yankees are concerned, yesterday was the slowest Winter Meetings day I can remember. Very few rumors came out of Nashville and those that did mostly involved stuff we’ve already heard, like Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller being available. It was a boring day, to say the least.

“Clearly, I’m not comfortable with recommending anything that’s come my way, despite a lot of dialogue, and my opponents are not comfortable with the things I’m suggesting at this time,” said Brian Cashman to Bryan Hoch. With a reportedly tight payroll, the Yankees continue to focus on trades, not free agents.

Here are Monday’s rumors if you missed any of the little bit that happened. Once again, we’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here in this open thread, so make sure you check back often. All time stamps are ET.

  • 10:30am: The Yankees are among the teams “digging” on Jose Fernandez, meaning they’re asking around about his health, makeup, and work ethic. The Marlins understandably want five or six young players for their ace. Why ask for anything less? For what it’s worth, president of baseball operations Michael Hill said flatly “He’s not available.” [Jayson Stark, Jon Heyman, Clark Spencer]
  • 10:30am: The Yankees have interest in Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Miami has liked Bryan Mitchell as a starter and Adam Warren as a reliever in the past, which seems backwards, but whatever. It’s the Marlins. [George King]
  • 10:38am: The Yankees have reached out to free agent catcher Tyler Flowers, who was non-tendered by the White Sox last week. He’s deciding between the Yankees, Rays, and Braves. I wrote about Flowers in last week’s mailbag. He seems like a Yankees type because he rated as an elite pitch-framer in 2015. Flowers is from Georgia and the Braves offer way more playing time potential, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands in Atlanta. [Bryan Hoch]
  • 12:03pm: Five teams, including the Reds, Orioles, and Angels, have their eye on Jake Cave for Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft. Cave seems like a goner. Whether he sticks on the 25-man roster all year is another matter. [Brendan Kuty]
  • 1:00pm: The Yankees are willing to include Luis Severino in a package for Jose Fernandez. The belief is the Yankees do not have enough to land Fernandez though, even if they include Greg Bird in the deal. [Joe Frisaro]
  • 1:32pm: The Yankees say Luis Severino is not going anywhere. He wasn’t in their offer for Jose Fernandez and there are no ongoing talks. Sounds like the Marlins are trying to get the Yankees to blink and include Severino in the package, more than anything. [Joel Sherman]
  • 5:50pm: The Yankees and Cubs have talked about a trade that would bring Starlin Castro to New York. No word on any other pieces that would be involved. Castro’s young and I guess that means he offers upside, but he’s also been among the worst players in baseball two of the last three years. [Ken Rosenthal]
  • 6:08pm: Brett Gardner is not part of the current Starlin Castro talks with the Cubs. The Cubbies don’t want Jacoby Ellsbury either. Chicago is said to be working on all sorts of stuff — they’re after Ben Zobrist, discussing Javier Baez with the Braves and Rays, etc. — so this is part of some master plan for them. [Joel Sherman]
  • 6:14pm: Talks with the Cubs about Starlin Castro are in the early stages. The Yankees tend to keep things very close to the vest, annoyingly so at times (it’s boring!), so chances are this is coming from the Cubs’ side. [Jon Heyman]
  • 6:37pm: The Cubs have “been curious” about Adam Warren, whatever that means. Warren’s not a sexy name but he’s become incredibly valuable to the Yankees. I’m not sure Castro is enough of an upgrade at second base to move him. [Joel Sherman]
  • 7:51pm: The Yankees and Cubs are moving closer to a Starlin Castro trade. The Cubs just agreed to sign Ben Zobrist so it’s only a matter of time until Castro goes. [Buster Olney]

(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)

2015 Winter Meetings Open Thread: Monday

2016 Winter Meetings

The 2015 Winter Meetings begin today in Nashville. Well, they actually began yesterday with some minor league presentations and stuff, but the fun stuff starts today. As always, there will be a ton of rumors and trades and free agent signings out of the Winter Meetings this week. Will the Yankees be in on the action? Maybe!

“Our team is fairly set, but we’re open to exploring any and all trade opportunities. If we can improve our team, we’ll do it. If we can’t, we won’t,” said Brian Cashman to Wally Matthews recently. He told Dan Barbarisi the team is focused more on trades than free agency — the Yankees are said to be seeking young pitching in any deal — but thinks they’ll end up holding onto Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller. We’ll see.

We’ll keep track of any and all (legitimate) Yankees-related rumors right here throughout the day. Use this thread to talk about all the Winter Meetings action and keep the other threads on topic. Thanks in advance. All time stamps are ET. (Last year they were in San Diego and the time difference created a big headache.)

  • 11:30am: Andrew Miller remains available and the Yankees continue to seek a huge package in return. The Astros, who previously inquired about Miller, remain in the mix. [Joel Sherman]
  • 11:30am: At least one team has inquired about Nathan Eovaldi. Talks did not progress much, but Eovaldi isn’t off the table. Ivan Nova remains in play as well. [Sherman]
  • 11:30am: The Yankees are monitoring the market for Jose Fernandez, though the Marlins are seeking a massive haul for their ace. “The cost is so overwhelming that I don’t think he is really available,” said one executive. [Sherman]
  • 11:39am: The Yankees are interested in Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base. Cabrera is cool with that, according to his agent. The team insists they don’t have much money to spend. Asdrubal would give the Yankees a backup shortstop, allowing them to jettison Brendan Ryan and keep both Rob Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley on the roster. [Jon Morosi, Brendan Kuty]
  • 12:22pm: Teams are expecting the Yankees to lose outfielder Jake Cave in the Rule 5 Draft later this week. The Mets could be a possible fit. As a left-handed hitter capable of playing center field, Cave is prime Rule 5 Draft fodder. [Adam Rubin]
  • 2:31pm: For what it’s worth, two team executives and one agent insist the Yankees’ unwillingness to spend on free agents is legitimate and not a smokescreen. [Mark Feinsand]

(Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.)

Friday Links: Braves, Upton, Severino, Chen, Marlins, Cuba

Upton and Simmons a few years back. (Presswire)
Upton and Simmons a few years back. (Presswire)

Hang in there, the weekend is only a few hours away. Here are a handful of stray links and notes to check out and help pass the time.

Yankees, Braves talked Upton and Severino last year

Last offseason the Yankees and Braves discussed a potential blockbuster trade that would have brought Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons to New York. Obviously things didn’t work out. Heyward was traded to the Cardinals last November and Simmons was traded to the Angels last night. The Yankees ended up acquiring Didi Gregorius to play shortstop and that worked out pretty well.

According to Jeff Passan and Mark Bowman, other iterations of the Heyward/Simmons blockbuster included Justin Upton — presumably instead of Heyward — and also Luis Severino. You’ve got to give something to get something, right? Last offseason Severino was still a Double-A pitching prospect who was ranked a top 35-ish prospect in baseball. Heyward fetched Shelby Miller, an established big leaguer, and Simmons by himself landed Sean Newcomb, a top 35-ish prospect.

A Heyward or Upton plus Simmons trade would have been mighty fun, though I’m happy with the way things turned out. Gregorius looks like a keeper at shortstop and Severino dazzled in his MLB debut this summer. Plus the Yankees can still sign Heyward or Upton this winter. That really would have been a fun trade though. Blockbusters are cool.

Yankees planning run at Chen

Last week we heard ex-Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen is a “possible target” for the Yankees this offseason, and now Mark Feinsand has corroborated the story, hearing the team will indeed make a serious run at Chen. The southpaw is said to be seeking at least a five-year contract. The O’s made Chen a qualifying offer as well, so the Yankees or whoever signs him will have to surrender a high draft pick.

I don’t doubt the reporting, but I’m not sure this one passes the sniff test. The Yankees seem disinclined to both spend big and give up their first round draft pick. And if they are going to spend big and give up a pick, there are better pitchers available in free agency, right? No knock on Chen, but you know what I mean. I can’t help but wonder if the Yankees are being used to create leverage. Them going after an AL East proven pitcher is believable, and hey, getting the Yankees involved is never bad for business. I dunno. We’ll see.

Donnie Baseball's new home. (Presswire)
Donnie Baseball’s new home. (Presswire)

Big market teams upset with Marlins

According to Jon Heyman, several big market clubs are upset with the Marlins and their financial situation. Miami generates the lowest revenue in baseball and thus receives the most revenue sharing money despite having a four-year-old ballpark. The big market clubs that pay into revenue sharing aren’t happy. “They’re a joke,” said one executive to Heyman.

The Yankees have paid more money into revenue sharing than any other club since the system was implemented, so it’s fair to wonder if they’re one of the teams upset with the Marlins. The Marlins receive roughly $50M in revenue sharing each year, according to Heyman. I’m not sure what MLB and the MLBPA can do about the Marlins — the union complained the team wasn’t spending enough money a few years ago, then poof, Josh Johnson got a nice extension — but getting rid of Jeffrey Loria is a good start. No reason to think that’s happening anytime soon though.

Yankees a candidate to play spring games in Cuba

At the GM Meetings earlier this week, commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB is looking into playing Spring Training games in Cuba next year. League officials visited different parks in Cuba recently and I guess gave the thumbs up, which is why Manfred is still talking about it. According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are one of ten teams being considered for potential spring games in Cuba.

This makes a lot of sense, right? The Yankees are the most popular and most recognizable brand in baseball, if not all of sports. I don’t think selling out exhibition games in Cuba would be a problem no matter who plays, but getting the Yankees involved would create a lot more interest. Also, from a logistical standpoint, it’s a nice quick flight from Tampa. I don’t think MLB would drag teams from Arizona to Cuba in the middle of Spring Training. Either way, nothing is final yet. There are still hurdles to clear before exhibition games are played in Cuba next year.