Welcome to the offseason, folks, and one more round of congratulations to the Kansas City Royals!
Since all you’re going to hear over the next couple months is: hot stove, sources, etc… we’ll keep it relatively short this week.
We’ll touch the essentials: qualifying offers, international bidding, and the like, but we’ll have plenty of content over the next several weeks documenting, predicting, and analyzing everything from the potential moves to the actual moves themselves.
For now, enjoy a sample.
Qualifying Offer Bonanza
Ah, the qualifying offer: an interesting form of free agent compensation. Don’t want/can’t afford to re-sign an organizational piece, but don’t want to lose him for nothing? Throw out the offera��valued at $15.8 million this yeara��and watch the madness unfold.
When (and I do mean when, not if) the player rejects it and enters free agency, any team that signs him will have to give up their first round draft pick (unless it’s a protected top-10 pick, then they lose their next-highest).
Entering Friday, 34 such offers were made since the process began in 2012, with all 34 being rejected. 20 were made this yeara��including such names as: Zack Greinke (LAD), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Yovani Gallardo (TEX), Jason Heyward (STL), and Marco Estrada (TOR). No, that last one was not a typo.
Each player has until November 13 at 5 p.m. ET to decide if they’ll take it or risk free agency.
Will we get any takers this time? Estrada could budge. Other names that might: Ian Desmond (WAS), Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA), and perhaps even Colby Rasmus (HOU). That said, I will not be surprised come next week when all 20 have said a�?Thanks, but no thanks.”
Let the games begin.
Mariners, Rays Get Things Moving
The new tandem in Seattle of GM Jerry Dipoto and Manager Scott Servais have wasted little time in shaking things up, completing a six-man trade with the Tampa Bay Rays just four days after the World Series concluded.
Nathan Karns, SP
CJ Riefenhauser, RP
Boog Powell, OF
Brad Miller, UT
Logan Morrison, 1B/OF
Danny Farquhar, RP
There will be no diagnosing a winner, but here’s where each piece fits for their respective new clubs. It’s the age-old experience for potential swap.
The 27-year-old Karns will slot right into Seattle’s rotation, while the Rays will welcome back Matt Moore and Drew Smyly (injuries) with open arms. Acquiring Miller and Morrison was to add middle infield help and a left-handed bat, respectively, while Farquhar is very much a work in progress. The 28-year-old had a rough 2015, accumulating an ERA and FIP of 5.12 and 4.60 over 51 innings of work.
Miller, 26, is under team control through 2020, but they’ll be hoping his bat comes around in 2016. In 343 games with the Mariners spanning three seasons, he slashed .248/.313/.394. For what it’s worth, 2015 was Miller’s most productive year at the plate: .258/.329/.402; 22 doubles, and 11 home runs. He’s young and an average defender, so despite his experience already, there’s plenty of room (and time) to grow.
There are a few positives with Morrison: he’s 28 years old and possesses a decent amount of power from the left side. He also racked up a personal best in games played last season (146), which is fairly special considering he’s only hit the 100-game mark once before (123 in 2011). He only slugged .383 last season, notching 15 doubles and 17 home runs, but that’s likely to change in 2016 when half of his at-bats come in a more hitter-friendly ballpark.
Back to Seattle. After working just 12 innings apiece in 2013 and 2014, Karns made 26 starts with the Rays last season, managing a 3.67 ERA with an elevated FIP of 4.09. Just as Morrison will benefit from a hitter-friendly park in Tampa Bay, Karns will benefit from a more pitcher-friendly atmosphere in Seattle. That, and pitching behind/learning from Felix Hernandez has its upside.
There can’t be much of a judgment on Riefenhauser just yet as he’s a) very inexperienced and b) hardly shown us anything when he’s had the opportunity. He pitched 14.2 innings last year and just 5.1 in 2014, registering a career ERA of 6.30 with a staggering FIP of 5.68. He’s also walked more batters than he’s struck outa��10 to 9a��in a limited showing.
As for Boog Powell (what a name), he finished last season with Triple-A Durham, playing in 56 games for the Bulls and hitting .257/.360/.364. Dipoto and company might want to make sure he’s completely ready for the big leagues, and that the on-base percentage translates well to the next level.
Byung Ho Park Bidding
He’s 29 and a first baseman, and he’ll be the second player in as many offseasons to come over from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), with Jung Ho Kang coming to Pittsburgh last year. Park is a year older than Kang, but boasts significantly more power.
In his last four KBO seasons, he put up home run totals of 31, 37, 52, and 53a��coinciding with his best slash line over nine seasons: .343/436/.714. Combine his career KBO line (.281/.387/.564) to Kang’s (.298/.383/.504), taking into account what Kang did with Pittsburgh over 126 games before getting injured (.287/.355/.461; 24 doubles, 15 home runs), and there’s no reason to doubt that at the very least, Park’s tremendous power will bring him success.
As of Saturday afternoon, an a�?unknown team” had earned the rights to discuss a deal with Park after having a bid of $12.85 million accepted. A reminder: that bid has nothing to do with an eventual contract.
So, who do you think it is? We’ve already got a handful to exclude: the Indians, Tigers, Rangers, Orioles, Padres, and Red Sox… who elected to stay committed to Hanley Ramirez.
Gee, I bet that made Boston fans really happy.
What’s to Come
We’re excited to share with you a couple series over the next several weeksa��one brand new, one reborna��and be sure to check back for breakdowns and analysis of all the moves this MLB offseason throws at us.
See you next time.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference