The Athletics may be closing in on a trade involving starter Jeff Samardzija, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). Oakland would receive several players in return, per Slusser, with the focus being on acquiring bats.
Here’s the latest out of the National League East:
A look at this year’s market for free agent starting pitching reveals a group that is deep in quality options and also features a pair of prime-aged top-of-the-rotation arms in Max Scherzer and Jon Lester. This duo, represented by Scott Boras and ACES, respectively, is commonly believed to be the cream of the free agent crop, but which will be the better buy?
Few pitchers have been as dominant as Scherzer over the past two seasons. In that time, he’s pitched to a 3.02 ERA with 10.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate in 434 2/3 innings. His K/9 rate trails only Yu Darvish among qualified starters, and he grades out well according to ERA estimators FIP (2.79 — sixth) and SIERA (2.94 — eighth). In that two-year stretch, Scherzer leads qualified starters in ERA, FIP, xFIP, SIERA, K/9 and opponent batting average (.216), to name a few categories. He’s entering his age-30 season on the heels of a pair of All-Star appearances and a pair of top five finishes in the Cy Young voting — including his first Cy Young win in 2013. The 6’3″, 220-pound right-hander has cemented himselves among the game’s elite arms and is looking for a sizable payday, as evidenced by his rejection of a six-year, $144MM contract extension in Spring Training.
Lester is no slouch, however, as he ranks second to Scherzer in ERA (3.10) and FIP (3.19) among qualified free agent starters in that time. His SIERA mark, though a ways behind at 3.49, is still third-best over the past two seasons (Brandon McCarthy sits between them). Beyond that, Lester has been more of a workhorse in his career; he has reached the 200-inning mark in six of the past seven seasons, falling shy only in 2011 when he tossed 191 2/3 frames. Lester certainly keeps the ball on the ground more often than Scherzer, with a career ground-ball rate just under 47 percent and sitting at 43.7 percent over the past two seasons. Lester is also coming off the best platform season of any free agent starter, having pitched to a brilliant 2.46 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate. He’s spent almost all of his career in the hitter-friendly AL East, whereas Scherzer has spent more time in a more favorable pitching environment (Detroit’s Comerica Park). Lester is a year older than Scherzer, however, and he’s thrown about 300 more innings in his big league career. He’s rumored to already have an offer upwards of $120MM from the Red Sox, and another possibly as large as $135MM from the Cubs, so the price tag figures to be substantial here as well.
In our free agent profiles, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted a seven-year contract for Scherzer while I personally went with six years for Lester, but it certainly wouldn’t be a shock to see a team guarantee Lester that seventh season. The above paragraphs are a mere snapshot of each pitcher, while the linked profiles offer a more in-depth look at the pair of aces. You can read over those to brush up on each pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses before making a vote below if you wish, but let’s get to the question at the root of this post.
Which starting pitcher would you rather sign?
Belisario, 32 on New Year’s Eve, pitched 66 1/3 innings for the White Sox in 2014, though he struggled to a 5.56 ERA with a below-average mark of 6.4 K/9. However, Belisario also posted a strong 2.4 BB/9 with an outstanding 59.3 percent ground-ball rate, leading metrics such as FIP (3.54) and SIERA (3.22) to feel that he was experienced some particularly poor luck. He did see his BABIP spike to a career-worst .339, and his 57.7 percent strand rate was well below both the league average and his career mark (69.9%).
Belisario has been a fixture in a big league bullpen in each of the past three seasons, averaging 68 innings per year with the White Sox and Dodgers. FIP and xFIP have graded him pretty consistently throughout his career and both feel he’s capable of an ERA in the 3.60 range, while SIERA (3.22) is a bit more bullish.
12:32pm: Campana’s contract is a minor league deal, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.
The 28-year-old Campana is a veteran of parts of four Major League seasons, where he’s batted a combined .249/.296/.288. Not known for his bat, Campana possesses blistering speed, as can be seen in his 66-for-75 track record in stolen base attempts. Those 66 swipes have come in a total of just 477 plate appearances/257 games. Unsurprisingly those wheels allow him to cover a significant amount of ground in the outfield, leading to plus defensive marks in both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved (although both metrics feel he’s better suited to play a corner position than center field).
Camapana, who broke into the bigs with the Cubs in 2011, split this past season between the D’Backs and Angels and should give the ChiSox some additional outfield depth. He’s a career .291/.348/.361 hitter at the Triple-A level.
The 2014 season was a success for the Seattle Mariners. The team improved by 16 wins, transforming a 71-win team into an 87-win team.
The 2014 season was also one of change. Seattle brought in a new manager, Lloyd McClendon, and a player, Robinson Cano, who immediately became the co-face of the franchise along with Felix Hernandez.
In addition to Cano, the team brought in a bevy of new players who paid dividends. Included in the group was American League Comeback Player of the Year Chris Young, who posted 12 wins and a 3.65 ERA in 30 starts.
In addition, the team brought in ace reliever Joe Beimel and closer Fernando Rodney to solidify its bullpen. Beimel posted a 2.20 ERA, while Rodney led the league with 48 saves. Lastly, first baseman Logan Morrison provided the team with an injection of offense. Morrison posted an OPS of .735 in 2014—higher than that of Ian Kinsler, Joe Mauer, Evan Longoria and Dustin Pedroia.
Despite those changes, the team just missed the playoffs. With a solid pitching staff already in place, the Mariners should look to improve their offense in 2015.
Seattle was reportedly interested in Hanley Ramirez and Victor Martinez but missed out on both. Either would have filled the need for a cleanup hitter.
If the M’s want to contend in 2015, they’ll need to improve their offense. If the offense improves, changes will be necessary thanks to last season’s woefully underperforming unit. Here are three Mariners who could be with different clubs next season.
Coming into the offseason, it seemed like the Cubs were building momentum. They were seemingly connected to every major free agent, and fans were starting to get hyped about what potential stars they could sign. However, the team hasn't made any significant moves yet as the MLB's winter meetings get ready to begin.
Even though they haven't done anything so far, that doesn't mean they're not going to do anything all winter. In fact, expect rumors to heat back up this offseason as soon as the winter meetings begin. Here are five things to look for from the Cubs as they try to become more competitive for 2015 and beyond.
Major League Baseball's offseason is barely a month old, and already there are all sorts of rumors and speculation—and questions—around a number of free agents and trade candidates, as well as teams' objectives and plans of attack.
Some of the latest center on the fallout from the Boston Red Sox's spending spree, the possibility of Jon Lester being the first big-name pitcher to change teams and the impact of Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Having hit on a number of topics last time, what better way to continue taking the temperature of the hot stove than by running through a batch of the hottest questions to cover the latest potential transaction action across the sport?
See, that's a question in and of itself, although the five to follow are a bit more meaningful. Promise.
Fresh off their third World Series title in five years, the business of baseball moves on for the San Francisco Giants.
Pablo Sandoval has signed with the Boston Red Sox, leaving a gaping hole at third base and in the middle of the Giants' batting order. In addition to third base, general manager Brian Sabean is also in the market for a left fielder, starting pitcher and right-handed reliever.
The Giants will likely have about $30 million to spend to fill these needs, and it will be wise for Sabean not to spend it all on one player.
Let's take a look at some of the key players the Giants have expressed an interest in and gauge the odds of whether we will see them in a Giants uniform.