Welcome to this winter’s first installment of The Weekly Bernie! The offseason can be long, hectic, and sometimes quite boring, so I’ll be here with you every step of the way. It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!
- On Saturday afternoon, the A’s made what was probably the most inevitable move of their offseason -- trading Danny Valencia. They sent him to the division rival Seattle Mariners in exchange for 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Paul Blackburn. The move has been made official. After his 2016 altercation with former teammate Billy Butler, Valencia was as good as gone. He is still a strong right-handed bat that can absolutely mash left-handed pitching, but his atrocious defense did not make him a good fit for an Oakland club looking to improve on both sides of the ball. He will likely platoon at first base for the Mariners in 2017. Valencia is in his final year of arbitration. Blackburn, on the other hand, is an interesting Double-A starter that has shown very good command and home run prevention. However, he has never been able to miss many bats, leading some to project him as a bullpen piece. For more on the A’s newest prospect, read Tim Eckert-Fong’s excellent write-up.
- The Athletics are also willing to listen on top veterans Stephen Vogt, Sonny Gray, and Sean Doolittle, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. This is a significant turnaround from last offseason, in which Gray in particular seemed all but untouchable. However, after such a miserable year for the young right-hander, it’s hard to imagine the A’s will match up with another team on his value. It seems much more likely the A’s will move Vogt and/or Doolittle. Vogt is a rare left-handed catcher that can hit, and his replacement is already in Oakland in the form of young backstop Bruce Maxwell, while the demand for Doolittle’s high-octane fastball will be high as the value of relievers continues to increase. I personally expect Vogt to be dealt but Gray and Doolittle to stay.
- The Atlanta Braves added a pair of veteran pitchers, signing both R.A. Dickey ($8 million) and Bartolo “Babe Ruth” Colon ($12.5 million) to one-year deals. Dickey’s deal includes an $8 million team option for 2018 and has been made official, while Colon’s deal is still pending a physical. The two will bridge the gap until some of the Braves’ top young arms are ready to make an impact.
- The Toronto Blue Jays, fresh off of another disappointing ALCS loss, made a pair of significant moves this past week. First, on Friday morning, the club signed young Cuban infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a seven-year, $22 million deal, which has been officially announced. Lourdes, the younger brother of Astros infielder Yulieski Gurriel, has considerable upside, but many scouts as of late have projected him to be more of a utility player. Still, at such a low price, the risk seems very much worth taking. Toronto has also agreed to a three-year, $33 million deal with designated hitter Kendrys Morales, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Morales will provide insurance for the Jays in case the team can’t re-sign free agent sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, and as a switch-hitter, he will help balance their righty-heavy lineup.
- An old friend has been signed by a division foe, as former Athletic Jesse Chavez joins the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on a one-year, $5.75 million deal, which the club has announced. Jesse struggled with both the Blue Jays and the Dodgers in 2016, and will be looking to bounce back to his success he had with Oakland. He will most likely slot directly into the Angels’ rotation.
- In an interesting trade, the Philadelphia Phillies picked up IF/OF Howie Kendrick from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for infielders Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney. The move has been made official. This was a low-risk move on both ends — Kendrick, after a disappointing 2016, very much needed a change of scenery and could thrive in Philadelphia, while the Dodgers picked up a big right-handed bat with success against lefties (Ruf) and a speedy infielder with some potential (Sweeney).
What to expect this week:
Don’t hold your breath. The offseason has just begun, and probably won’t really pick up until the Winter Meetings in early December. I would expect a few minor trades and a couple of mid-tier free agent signings. There is, however, a slight chance that Edwin Encarnacion comes off the board sooner rather than later.
That’s all for now. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next week — lean on, A’s fans!