Welcome back to The Weekly Bernie! Once the new CBA was agreed upon, this became a very busy week for baseball leading up to the Winter Meetings. It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!
- The A’s made their first big addition of the offseason, signing outfielder Matt Joyce to a two year, $11 million deal. The move has been made official. Joyce, 32, was awful with the Los Angeles Angels in 2015, but really turned it around with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. As a strictly platooned bat, the lefty posted a .403 OBP and swatted 13 home runs in only 293 plate appearances. This was good for a 137 wRC+, a career high for the veteran. Joyce should do a fine job of replacing Josh Reddick in right field, at least offensively. Corner infielder Rangel Ravelo was designated for assignment to make room for Joyce.
- On Saturday morning, the A’s chose to tender a one year, $4 million contract to first baseman Yonder Alonso. The 29 year-old was in his final year of arbitration and was a non-tender candidate after a rough 2016 that saw him post a career-low 88 wRC+. However, Alonso is a decent placeholder at first base until third base prospect Matt Chapman is ready for the bigs and can push Ryon Healy from the hot corner to first. Also, Alonso’s glove saved the A’s infield countless errors in 2016 with his fine picks. Overall, I don’t expect the $4 million spent on him to influence the A’s offseason in any significant way, so I’m pretty neutral on this decision.
- The trade and free agent floodgates were opened this past week, as the MLBPA and MLB agreed on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the next five years. Some significant changes in this new CBA include restructured free agent compensation and international amateur signing pools, new luxury tax rules, and the change that the All-Star Game will no longer decide World Series home field advantage. For more on the CBA, check out Jeff Todd’s summary on MLB Trade Rumors. In addition, it has been decided that the Athletics will be phased out of revenue sharing over the next four years. For more on this controversial decision, check out our own Jeremy F. Koo’s write-up.
- The New York Mets have re-signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four year, $110 million deal. This makes him, by average annual value, the second highest paid position player in MLB history. The deal has been made official. The Mets originally acquired Cespedes at the trade deadline in 2015, and then signed him to a three year, $75 million deal during the 2015-16 offseason. He opted out of that deal at the beginning of this winter and the two sides were able to come to an agreement once more. He will likely spend most of his time in left field for the Mets, who have now made fellow corner outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson available as a result.
- Veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran will be heading back to the Houston Astros, as the two sides reached agreement on a one year, $16 million deal. The deal, not yet official, was first reported by Buster Olney of ESPN. Beltran had a fine season in 2016, posting a 124 wRC+ and 2.3 fWAR between the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers. Now 39, he certainly won’t enjoy the amount of success he did with the Astros in 2004 when he hit 23 home runs and stole 28 bases in only 90 games for the club, but he adds a reliable veteran bat to a young, exciting team. The Astros lineup is now stacked one through nine, and many have speculated the team could deal a young bat in exchange for a top arm.
- A potential A’s target came off the board early in the week, as the Milwaukee Brewers signed Eric Thames to a three year, $15 million deal. The left-handed hitter clobbered the ball over the past three years in Korea, smacking 124 home runs, but there’s still no guarantee these numbers will translate stateside. He will also be playing primarily first base for the Brewers, as his outfield defense is questionable. The team designated former Athletics slugger Chris Carter for assignment to make room for Thames. Carter smacked 42 home runs in 2016 but didn’t do much else and is awful defensively. He should still be able to find an American League home as a designated hitter.
- Late Sunday afternoon, the New York Yankees reportedly reached an agreement with outfielder Matt Holliday on a one year, $13 million deal, according to Sweeny Murti of Sportsradio 66 WFAN. Soon to be 37, Holliday hasn’t quite been the same on either side of the ball since 2014. However, he remains a consistent hitter and will likely see more time at first base or designated hitter with New York.
- While they still have interest in the top available aces, the Atlanta Braves opted to send right-handed pitchers John Gant and Chris Ellis and infielder Luke Dykstra to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for left-handed starter Jaime Garcia. The deal has been made official. While the move makes plenty of sense for the Cardinals, who have plenty of rotation depth and now add three interesting young players, it is a bit of a curious move for the Braves. Garcia will be a free agent after 2017, has struggled with health throughout his career, and didn’t pitch particularly well in 2016. However, if all goes well, Garcia could slot in as a strong number two behind Julio Teheran.
- The Braves made another interesting move this week, sending righties Rob Whalen and Max Povse to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for outfield prospect Alex Jackson and a player to be named later. The move has been made official. Jackson, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, hasn’t really panned out at all. However, he still has huge potential, and the Braves are exactly the kind of team that can take a chance on that upside. Whalen and Povse are a pair of interesting right-handed pitching prospects that could be back-end starters or bullpen arms in the near future.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly reached an agreement with lefty Rich Hill, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. The deal will be for three years and over $40 million, according to Peter Gammons. Hill, 36, enjoyed a fantastic 2016 between the A’s and the Dodgers and will now be rewarded for it. His story remains a fantastic one, going from top prospect to the disabled list to independent ball and now to a large contract with one of baseball’s best teams.
- The Washington Nationals have been coming closer and closer to a deal with the Pirates for star outfielder Andrew McCutchen, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN. The Nationals would be buying low on Cutch, who struggled and was barely above replacement level in 2016. He has two more years of team control remaining. The Pirates, meanwhile, would open up a spot in their outfield for top prospect Austin Meadows. They have been targeting young outfielder Victor Robles in addition to one of the Nationals top young arms.
- The Mariners picked up their bullpen lefty, signing former Athletic Marc Rzepczynski to a two year, $11 million deal. The 31 year-old southpaw really wasn’t great in 2016, posting a 5.48 BB/9 and a 4.24 xFIP. However, the price for relievers is only going up, and Rzepczynski should at least be solid these next two seasons for Seattle.
- Another former Athletic was on the move this week, as the Nationals acquired catcher Derek Norris from the San Diego Padres in exchange for righty Pedro Avila. The move has been made official. Norris has improved his defense since leaving the A’s and is still a great hitter against lefties. He will help fill the void left by the injured free agent Wilson Ramos. The Padres add an interesting 19 year-old arm in Avila with three solid pitches and potential to start.
- The Chicago Cubs added outfielder Jon Jay on a one year, $8 million deal. The 31 year-old had a solid 2016 with the San Diego Padres, but dealt with a broken forearm that caused him to miss two months of the season and struggle upon his return. The left-handed hitter will platoon with youngster Albert Almora Jr., and this addition makes the return of Dexter Fowler to Chicago unlikely.
- The Miami Marlins added rotation depth, signing right-handed pitcher Edinson Volquez to a two year, $22 million deal. The move has been made official. While the Marlins certainly needed rotation help after the unfortunate and untimely passing of Jose Fernandez, I can’t say I agree with the contract. Volquez is inconsistent at best, and the 33 year-old has only posted an ERA under 4.00 in three seasons of his big league career.
Bernie’s Weekly Deal: A’s sign LHP Derek Holland to a one year, $8 million deal
The A’s rotation is deep and young, filled to the brim with potential. However, there are still many questions. Will Sonny Gray rebound? Is Kendall Graveman for real? Will Jharel Cotton and Sean Manaea experience sophomore slumps? The club could use a reliable veteran to slot in, and Derek Holland isn’t a bad option.
The 30 year-old lefty has spent his whole career with the Rangers. He was once a very good mid-rotation arm, although injuries have taken their toll on him and limited him to only 38 games (35 starts) over the past three seasons. He still has good control and can keep his fastball in the low nineties, and perhaps a move from Texas to Oakland could do him wonders.
What to expect this week:
The hot stove will only be getting hotter, as the annual Winter Meetings began last night. Expect big names like Edwin Encarnacion, Ian Desmond, and perhaps Aroldis Chapman to be coming off of the board, as well as blockbusters like a Chris Sale or Andrew McCutchen trade. This will be one of the most exciting weeks of the offseason, so buckle up.
That’s all for this week. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!