Top Of The First
Despite the Cubs signing Jason Heyward, the free agent market has yet to develop as many thought it would. Though the Cubs’ offseason to-do list is likely finished, trading for or signing a centerfielder with above-average defensive skills remains a desired luxury. It may take a little more clarity in the marketplace before the Cubs make another move, if they do.
Is Austin Jackson A Perfect Fit Considering The Cubs Needs?
Jackson’s career seems to be trending downward after a very impressive 2012 campaign and a decent follow-up in 2013. He hasn’t been better than league-average since but that is mostly related to offense.
Some relevant information regarding Jackson via Fangraphs:
- Has averaged 2.1 WAR per 600 PA over last three seasons.
- Recorded a 2.3 WAR in 527 PA in 2015.
- Is projected to record 0.9 WAR per 600 PA going forward.
- Is entering his age-29 season.
- Made $7.7M in 2015, as part of deal signed in January 2015.
But what makes Austin Jackson attractive is his defense. An outfield with Jason Heyward in right and Jackson in center is worth 22 more runs defensively than one with Jorge Soler in right and Heyward in center. That’s 2-3 wins, and though you give up some offense, analytics point to 15 HR and 20 SB for Jackson as he enters his peak years. The K-rate (23%) is a little high and may increase but the contact rate improved last season.
Jackson is worth about $8 million dollars on a one-year deal, but I don’t believe anybody will pay it because the market is too saturated with available outfielders. A two-year deal at $14 million is probably out there somewhere and it’s possible a team may offer Jackson a three-year deal, though I remain skeptical.
It is important to note that the Cubs do not need to make a move in the outfield right now. It has been mentioned often that they may have the most complete team in baseball as the roster sits. Right now the Cubs have the highest payroll in team history, so adding more to save a few runs may be something that is a little out of their reach at this time. But if the Cubs could get Jackson on a one-year, team-friendly deal, it has to be worth considering.
ChiSox Make A Trade
The Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers engineered a three-way trade that netted power-hitting third baseman Todd Frazier for the White Sox.
At first glance, this trade seems like a huge win for the White Sox, though I believe the common denominator for the principals in this deal is that all of them are overrated. The Reds received three prospects from the Dodgers: infielders Jose Pedraza and Brandon Dixon, as well as outfielder Scott Schebler. For participating in the trade, the Dodgers received pitcher Frankie Montas, infielder Micah Johnson and outfielder Trayce Thompson, all from the White Sox.
This is a good deal for the White Sox, who fill a glaring need by getting Frazier in his last two arb years. Of all the prospects that were traded, I am highest on Brandon Dixon. I do believe Montas could be a lights-out, high-leverage relief pitcher and he may be their 7th or 8th inning guy as soon as this year. With the trade, the White Sox can move newly acquired INF Brett Lawrie to 2B.
Looking At Kansas City’s Minor League Pitching Depth
If the Cubs are looking at depth moves for the starting rotation, Kansas City offers some under-the-radar options. I don’t think anybody is untouchable in this system, which is deep in pitching prospects. Jorge Soler is a good fit for Kansas City because of his bat, positional need for the Royals, and the strong value tied to his contract.
SP Kyle Zimmer: the 24-year-old comes with a well-documented injury history and durability issues. But Zimmer is a dominant pitcher. His stuff is not all the way back after shoulder issues, but the big right-hander has a frontline arsenal led by a plus-plus fastball and a sharp changeup. He mixes that in with a hard slider to post impressive K-rate. The curve is adequate. Zimmer leverages his height to pitch downhill and he throws constructive strikes. If healthy, he has top-of-rotation stuff.
SP Miguel Almonte: The power-armed, slightly-built hurler was moved to the ‘pen in AAA in preparation for a big league call-up. The 6-2, 160 pound right hander owns an excellent fastball/changeup combo but his curve is erratic and at times far too slurvy. Lack of a third pitch may keep Almonte in the bullpen, and he did post a higher K-rate as relief pitcher. Almonte needs to throw more strikes and work on better pitch sequencing, but his pure stuff is too good to ignore.
Fact, Fiction, Truth, or Rumor
Are the Dodgers accumulating minor league depth to make another run at SP Jose Fernandez?
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina had a second thumb surgery and will miss most of spring training.
The Orioles signed Korean OF Hyun-soo Kim to a 2-year/$7M contract.
The New York Mets agreed to terms with 42-year old swingman Bartolo Colon.
The Indians may no longer be looking for OF help (read: Jorge Soler) after signing Rajai Davis to a one-year deal. The team also signed 1B/DH Mike Napoli. Javy Baez is now an intriguing trade option for Cleveland, but I’d like to see the Cubs hang on to Baez.
Bottom Of The Ninth
With the majority of the big names now off of the market in MLB’s free agent frenzy, the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants are locked in a tie as the favorites to win the 2016 World Series at +600 at online sportsbook Bovada.
Here’s the current championship odds of the top ten teams according to Bovada:
- Chicago Cubs +600
- San Francisco Giants +600
- Boston Red Sox +900
- New York Mets +1400
- Kansas City Royals +1400
- Los Angeles Dodgers +1600
- Toronto Blue Jays +1600
- St. Louis Cardinals +1600
- Washington Nationals +1800
- Houston Astros +1800