Matthew Trueblood: Today is the one-year anniversary of the official kickoff of Banished to the Pen, the group blog started by several of us who met in the Effectively Wild Facebook group, and a site that gave me the platform from which I stepped up to BP. Many thanks and kudos to the guys who ran and still run that operation, including Ken Maeda, Scott Kramer, Brandon Lee, Mikey Poley and Ryan Sullivan. Now: let's talk ball.
awethy (Chicago): Does a move like Baez for Gausman make sense for both the Cubs & O's from a value perspective? How does Gausman stack up against Miller/Teheran/Odorizzi?
Thanks you sir!
Matthew Trueblood: There are echoes of Pineda-for-Jesus Montero there, but other than that deal, no obvious precedent occurs to me. Challenge trades like that are so rare. That said, it's not a radically imbalanced proposal. Combine remaining team control and talent, and I think Gausman is the best of the four pitchers you named here, from a trade-value perspective.
alcrisafulli (Washington, DC): I've heard Jason Heyward puts ketchup on hot dogs so he'd be a horrible fit in Chicago, right?
Matthew Trueblood: Jesus. And in the rest of the civilized god-damned world. Send him to Minnesota; they put that shit on everything.
Tommy (B Town): What are the chances Yoan Moncada is the top prospect in all of baseball by the end of the season?
Matthew Trueblood: I'm not a prospect guru, but the fact that the chance isn't zero says what needs to be said. Elite talent.
Ben (Chi Town): Eddy Julio Martinez - where does he rank on the top prospect lists? Star potential?
Matthew Trueblood: Several members of Cubs Twitter and I have kicked around the interesting, fairly enormous range of evaluations of Martinez we've seen out there. Keith Law thinks he'd be a potential 1:1 candidate in 2016 if eligible; Ben Badler and Jim Callis don't view him as a top-10 Cubs prospect. I think we just have to wait and see. Based on the details of their respective reports, my inclination is toward KLaw's end of the spectrum.
collins (Greenville NC): Say, when are we getting the results of the Internet Award balloting? That usually comes out a few days after the MVPs are announced.
Matthew Trueblood: Very good question, someone else also asked, and I'm sorry that I don't know the answer. Shoot me (or more directly, Sam Miller or Bret Sayre) an email, and someone will follow up. Either that, or the results will pop up any day now!
Scott (Lincolnshire): As Price was the first domino to fall for pitching FAs, who's the first big domino to fall for the position players? Is everyone waiting on Heyward?
Matthew Trueblood: That's what Olney is suggesting today, right? I think Zobrist probably signs first, because his market seems so much more defined right now, but who knows? Heyward is definitely the BIGGEST domino, even if he's not the first.
Alex (Anaheim): Do you have a favorite minor league park in California?
Matthew Trueblood: I'm a Midwesterner. Ask Chris Crawford and/or Wilson Karaman about this. Never go to Bakersfield.
Andy (Philly): JP Crawford, better then Francisco Lindor once he gets called up?
Matthew Trueblood: I don't know. Crawford's control of the strike zone in Double A this year was amazing, better than Lindor ever showed. I think he might have the higher eventual ceiling. I'm not sure he matches what Lindor did over his first 100-plus games.
oldbopper (New Britain, CT): As a Red Sox fan, I loved the Kimbrel trade and this deal of Smith and Elias for Miley and ??? looks every bit as good. I know innings count but 4.5 ERA's are a dime a dozen. What is your take?
Matthew Trueblood: The Kimbrel trade was an overpay, but it's not a franchise-killing mistake or anything. Dombrowski fleeced Jerry D on the Miley-Smith/Elias deal.
kbethel (richmond): What can you tell us about the JOhnson brothers Jordan and Chase besides the fact that they aren't brothers?
Matthew Trueblood: These people could be entirely fabricated, for all I know. Are they minor leaguers? Draft prospects? Clearly, you'll want to direct this question elsewhere.
Craig (Chicago): How good can Victor Robles be? Where will he rank in the upcoming prospect rankings?
Matthew Trueblood: He can be really, really good. Tons of ceiling. Multi-dimensional game-changer. But I have no idea where he'll rank on our lists, because I have nothing to do with that process.
@ScottSewellNYC (NYC): If the Reds/Dodgers trade actually happens, what are some names the Reds fans should be hoping for? The top 3 are obviously out, but who else can should I be googling??
Matthew Trueblood: Grant Holmes. I think he'll be the centerpiece, if it's true that none of Seager/Urias/De Leon are in there. And if it happens. Holmes shouldn't have slipped to 22 in the Draft, and would be a very nice headliner in a Chapman deal. If it happens.
mattstupp (NYC): If you're the Mets, do you theoretically prefer Zobrist for 4 years/$56 million, Murphy for 3 years/$40 million, or Asdrubal Cabrera for 1 year/$8 million? Or none of the above?
Matthew Trueblood: Zobrist, but that's certainly assuming that they're ready to run a real, live New York team's payroll. If they're not, it's probably still Zobrist, because he fills a huge need and the savings you propose by opting for Murphy are fairly small and Asdrubal Cabrera is washed up, but it's a lot closer.
kbethel (richmond): Can Billy Burns improve on or even repeat what he did last year? Seemed to be awfully lucky with the bat
Matthew Trueblood: Hit .479 and slugged .718 in 118 balls put in play on the first pitch! I don't think it was luck, per se, because jumping on pitchers early in counts was how hitters reclaimed some of the ground they'd lost over the last five years in 2015, but I'll say that another set of adjustments is ahead of Burns if he wants to have another above-average offensive season.
Kevin Brown (NY): How many Michael Conforto's will be moved during the meetings?
Matthew Trueblood: One. Maybe two. It's so hard to tell anymore.
Jake (Chicago): Baez/McKinney for Quintana fair for the Cubs and White Sox?
Matthew Trueblood: I could be talked into that. I think I only think that because I'm lower than the median observer on all three of those guys, though, and I don't think either of the teams involved would probably pull that trigger.
Tom (San Francisco): How bad are A.J. Griffin's injuries that the A's kept the pitcher with two Tommy John surgeries and a fractured elbow in his history (Jarrod Parker), but designated Griffin for assignment?
Matthew Trueblood: Multiple setbacks after TJ, he feels like one of the 15 percent who just never get back. Maybe he does make it back, but it's not like he had huge upside in the first place. Parker is a higher-risk proposition, but also one with higher reward potential. That's what the A's were thinking.
Jdwatson09 (CA): In a dynasty league, would Chris Archer, Giolito and Orlando Arcia be too much to give up for Kris Bryant?
Matthew Trueblood: Bret Sayre could answer this just dizzyingly better than I can. I would probably take the Bryant side of that, but narrowly.
oldbopper (New Britain, CT): Everybody else has an opinion but #1 on Red Sox fans minds is Ramirez. Do you think he can actually play a very poor major league level first base or is he completely dead money. Forget reasonable value.
Matthew Trueblood: I think he can absolutely be a tenable big-league first baseman, and hit like one, too. I don't see evidence that he's one of those players who was simply signed right before their talent fell off a cliff. But obviously, there are mental and physical hurdles to clear if he wants to recover before that talent does run away from him for good.
Dave (Chicago): What kind of contract do you see Ben Zobrist getting this offseason? Does a team risk going four years with him?
Matthew Trueblood: We have some estimates on this, which wasn't true when Dave asked the question. I'll guess four years, and that he gets somewhere between $60 million and $68 million. If he signs for less, as is the current rumor, it seems to me that it'd be a steal in this market.
Tom (San Francisco): Billy Butler was below replacement for the second straight season. The only things he excels at are grounding into double plays and not missing a meal. How much patience do the A's have with him next season before cutting their losses and eating the contract?
Matthew Trueblood: He's making eight figures for a team who doesn't pay that kind of money out lightly, and there were some signs last year of the recovery they hoped for when they signed him. With a slightly below-average bat, he's also not going to kill you as your sixth or seventh hitter, even if he's not helping any. I think the A's will be more patient than you'd expect. I doubt it will be rewarded, but you never know.
Ryan (Texas): God names you GM of the Orioles. Take me through your next 15 months.
Matthew Trueblood: First things first, I have to ascertain what Peter Angelos is going to be willing to do for me. The Orioles have three years before they lose Manny Machado, and nothing like a championship core around him at the moment. I'm either going to get wild and crazy and surround Machado and Adam Jones with a team I think can realistically win the AL East pronto, or tearing the thing down to the studs. The wiser course is the latter, I think, but it's hard to find as good a franchise-starter as Machado. I wouldn't want to waste that, either. I think, in the end, you try for one more year, then trade everyone next winter regardless of the result.
Prich (Edmonds WA): Puig, $$$ and Urias for Ozuna and Fernandez... who says no?
Matthew Trueblood: Hoo boy... Probably the Marlins. Yeah. The Marlins. Really, what are they going to do with Puig? Both corner OF spots are spoken for. He's not a CF. I just think the price tag on Fernandez is higher. Ozuna, I suspect, they'll end up selling for practically peanuts.
Scott (Lincolnshire): With the inflation of baseball salaries, would position players be better off with fewer years but higher AAV contracts? If I'm Heyward, I don't want to lock myself into a 7 year deal when i can get paid again in my prime in 3-4 years. At the rate they're going, 200 million in 4 years will look like a bargain. I also suppose that's why some pitchers ask for the opt out clause in their contracts, but I haven't heard as much with position players. Your thoughts?
Matthew Trueblood: I would be shocked if Heyward's contract doesn't end up including an opt-out. Justin Upton might push for one, too. Giancarlo Stanton, of course, has that opt-out that essentially halves the reported length of his contract. Yes, I think opt-outs are the future for every top-tier free agent under 30, and for many signers of pre-FA extensions.
oldbopper (New Britain, CT): While on the subject of Billy Butler, where does his contract rank on the list of the worst ones you have ever seen and it wasn't like everybody didn't see it coming. The Red Sox didn't know that Ramirez and Sandoval were going to stink but, outside of Billy Beane, knew this was not going to work out well for the A's.
Matthew Trueblood: Welll.... it's still just 3/30. I think B.J. Upton and Josh Hamilton, just in the last few years, get in line ahead of Butler as obviously inadvisable big-money deals.
Steve (Phila): What exactly is 2080 baseball and was the divorce amicable? Can you comment on it?
Matthew Trueblood: No one has told me not to comment, but I also don't know enough about the whole situation to say a lot. Joe Hamrahi moved on from BP a while ago. The project doesn't really step on our toes, and for my money, the very best prospect work we've done since the Kevin Goldstein heyday is going up right now, so I'm not sweating the losses. Best of luck to those guys, though.
(Seriously. Read the top 10s Chris Crawford, Craig Goldstein, and others are churning out. They're a level or two above the last couple years'. I'm loving them and learning tons.)
oldbopper (New Britain, CT): Taking the other side of the contract equation. Every time I see Chris Archer's name I think of Paul Goldschmidt because they have a couple of the most team friendly contracts in the game. An article fictitious team with the best team friendly contracts, only players in arbitration or beyond, would be interesting.
Matthew Trueblood: Yes, Archer, Sal Perez (even if he's shown some warts now, and even if Ned Yost is determined to kill him with two years left on the deal), Goldy, all excellent.
M's Fan (Seattle): Jerry Dipoto isn't dumb... But, what the hell happened in the Miley trade? Did he simply panic after Kuma left and overpay for a slightly valuable asset?
Matthew Trueblood: Yes. That. And I'm not sure why. LOVED his work up to that point. Hopefully he's not on tilt.
Brewers Fan (The Good Land): What can we expect for Lind should we trade him?
Matthew Trueblood: A prospect who will slide into the middle section of your organizational top 10. Lind isn't an elite player, obviously, but he comes at a reasonable cost and fills a need for several hopeful teams. Remember, the Brewers' system is on the rise, so a guy not being at the top of that list isn't an indictment of his overall prospect status.
Matthew Trueblood: Alright, we've trickled down to dry now. Have a very merry Winter Meetings. Whoever is bottlenecking things, please get the Hell moving. I'm not writing about an Alex Gordon signing on Christmas.