Ginny Searle is an editor at Baseball Prospectus and new Champion of the Transaction Analysis.
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: Good [insert time of day here] to everyone! It's starting to get cold, but we've got a little bit of a free agent hot stove—some Graveman or Evan White kindling here, a Grandal self-lighting log there. Let's chat.
sportsguy21792 (Madison): Brewers offseason has left holes to plug at 3B, 1B and C and maybe SS if you believe Arcia's days are numbered. That seems like a tall task to fill all the openings. Do you see them trying to pull off trades or go the free agent path to plug the holes?
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: The Brewers are quite a bit below their Opening Day payroll right now—looks like about $45m+, at a quick glance. They've been pretty clear they're in a win-now gear for a while, so it would seem an opportune time for a big free agency spend. The farm system is kind of picked over, so it'd be hard to see them in any big-time trades unless someone's just looking to salary dump.
Gila Monster (MA): Perhaps it is just wishful thinking, but I am the only one hoping the A's or Ray make a major move for say...Mookie Betts? Maybe the Red Sox have to "eat" Kiermaier or Piscotty's salary, but both have perhaps an "excess" of the young pitching the Red Sox covet and maybe pushing your chips in to win now is the new market inefficiency. It wouldn't be crazy to see Manaea + Canha + Profar for Betts, right? Or Brujan(or Lowe) + Honeywell + Choi for Betts?
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: Even with the market constraints they profess, both teams should have plenty of payroll room to take on a player of Betts' caliber. The problem I see with either Oakland or Tampa Bay as suitors is that neither seems the type to give up years of players who are basically MLB-ready for one season of Betts. Both teams have good pitchers but could also really use a starter (or more, in Oakland's case). Call me a Betts trade skeptic, at least for the offseason. It's just hard to see Boston getting the return it wants.
Dylan (RI): Two questions:
1) Can Paul Goldschmidt play the OF? Dude had 30 SB pretty recently and unless he has a Johnny Damon caliber arm....If he can, Canâ€™t the Cards simply slide Carpenter to 1B and play Edman at 3B? Not ideal with Fowler in CF, but it would at least allow them to throw money at the rotation.
2) Is â€śPlayer Benefitsâ€ť being included in the luxury tax threshold an underrated scam by owners? It is essentially the same for every team and allows them to cry poor $16M less than â€śactual payrollâ€ť. Without itâ€™s inclusion, the Red Sox,Astros, and Cubs have money to spend, not to cut.
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: Dylan, you seem like a glass half-full kind of guy. Yes, Goldschmidt had 32 stolen bases in 2016, but in three seasons since he's had 28, with three in 2019. Glancing at Statcast says that he's only a bit below average in Sprint Speed right now, but Goldy's 32 and not getting younger. Carpenter is probably better-suited to first at this point, but I can't see them hanging Goldschmidt out to try in left. As to your second question, I see how it's a bit of a strange inclusion from a certain point of view. From another, it's a part of the fuller picture of what is paid by ownership to players, and I think the larger concern is the artificial limitations on the growth of the threshold for the competitive balance tax
Paul (Providence): With Dipoto reportedly shopping Omar Narvaez, does it make sense to check team's interest in Marco Gonzales? He is equally very unsexy and very valuable. But throwing 89mph, He isn't exactly an arm I'd want to bet on being good when the Mariners are good again. A good reliable guy for the Angels maybe in exchange for a Marsh/Adams led package?
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: One of the Mariners' problems in 2019 was running up against the limits of the assumption that having a guy be able to run out there every five days is enough. Now, Gonzales wasn't as bad as Yusei Kikuchi or Mike Leake, but I don't think it's especially likely we see him moved for much of significance—that 4.00 ERA across the last two seasons looks worse when you remember it's been half in Safeco/T-Mobile. If someone picks up Gonzales I doubt it'll be for a top-10 prospect in their system.
Matt (Boston): Should the Brewers consider potentially shopping Josh Hader to fill other holes on the roster? He could command a big return while they have massive uncertainty in the rotation(to be generous) and could definitely stand to upgrade at 1B,SS, and 3B.(almost forgot Catcher now too). I canâ€™t imagine they have a ton of money to spend. Iâ€™m not sure betting on the bullpen to stay elite to bail out the rotation and win 1-run games is wise.
To a lesser extent, the same question, but regarding the Reds and Luis Castillo. Maybe one of the few piece that the Dodgers would dangle a Lux led package for(or say Ruiz,Maeda,Downs,Gonsolin in a non-Lux package). Or a Castillo-Gleyber Torres basis swap make some sense if the Yankees acquire a better SS(Didi,Lindor,Story..etc). Thank You!
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: I can't see the Brewers going this way. You could make the argument a reliever who has been as heavily used and as good as Hader is always a liability to implode, but there's also the value a fireman-type pitcher provides. I think it's more likely the Brewers add on in free agency—a few positions will likely be filled with less-than-premier stopgaps, but the team actually has a lot more money to move around than some might think. Their only contracts are Braun (mutual option after 2020), Cain (through 2022), and an enormously cheap Yelich deal (2021). I can see the team trying to scrape out the farm system coffers to bring in a player or two via trade, but for all the talk of teams restructuring by trading some of their best I'm not sure those sort of moves will actually make the teams that do them appreciably better. As for Castillo, the largest issue I see is dangling him would seem an admission the Reds don't see his 2019 breakout as real—and if they don't, why would other teams pay that way? But I doubt the Dodgers are going to trade for a starter with their wealth right now. And I don't think the Yankees want to join the Cubs in trading Gleyber Torres...
Yuri (Israel): In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Ginny, I'd just like to say that I'm thankful you're here for this chat instead of Craig. Did you see his AMA? It was embarrassing. Anyway, where do you think Josh Donaldson ends up?
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: I missed the AMA, but I saw the pies. They looked excellent. Now I want pie... I'm pretty tempted to say Donaldson goes to the Brewers, though maybe that's just today's wealth of Brewers questions biasing me... No, I think it's a good fit. The Brewers have plenty of "payroll flexibility," as the cool kid GMs call it. The Rangers would also be a great fit, or maybe the Dodgers given their allergy to long-term deals.
Dusty (Colorado): For all the teams rumored to be after elite free agents: wouldn't it make more sense to save the money and instead select generational prospect Wander Javier in the Rule 5 draft?
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: It's hard to know what sort of circumstance can break a man. Putting a 21-year-old who just posted an OPS of .601 in Single-A on a major league roster for a full season, though? It would seem to beckon the void.
Dusty (Colorado): Wander Javier's will is stronger than your doubt.
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: It's truly not impossible he gets popped, I don't think! The Orioles just let the tides take them this year, maybe they steer into the skid further.
Mark (San Antonio ): What percentage odds would you put at the Rockies winning exactly 71 games?
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: Exactly 71, huh? Well, say they're a 71-win true talent team next season-- that seems a little low, but we can go with it because I don't see them spending much and Ian Desmond looms. It'd probably be reasonable to expect anywhere from 61 to 81 wins for a team of that talent level. So let's say 5 percent.
Free Agent Chat w/Ginny Searle: All right everyone, thanks for your questions! let's hope we see some big contracts soon.