Miami Marlins' lefty Brad Hand might be traded this July.
With the Marlins getting Jose Fernandez back from the DL today, the team finds themselves with a surplus of pitchers. If the team decides to sell after Giancarlo Stanton went down to his injury, Hand could be among the first to go.
Hand's 5.95 ERA in 39.1 innings does not look appealing to many teams, but when you dig a little deeper, it makes more sense why teams have interest in the swingman.
First, Hand's 5.95 ERA isn't a good indication of how he has done. His 2.55 FIP and 3.76 xFIP, however, are. They suggest that Hand's ERA is at least 2.19 runs overinflated, due to factors outside his control, such as an extremely high .370 BABIP.
Second, as a swingman, Hand makes himself more valuable. Being able to both start and relieve is a skill that not many pitchers have. Hand can do that and do it as a left-hander, which is an added bonus for obvious reasons.
Finally, Hand has the stuff to be successful at the big league level. He has a fastball which he can dial up to 95 mph, a cutter that strikes out hitters, and a two-seamer with movement, while also mixing in a change-up.
The Marlins are willing to move Hand because he is out of options, meaning that if he was sent to Triple-A, he would have the right to reject the assignment and become a free agent, where he would almost certainly sign a deal. Thus, they either need to keep him on the active roster or deal him by July 31.
The Texas Rangers have been connected to Hand.
The Trade Deadline season has began. With the deadline just 30 days away, teams are going to be moving players and prospects at extremely fast rates, trying to either build for the future or improve their team for the stretch run.
Here are six of the most notable players that could be moved at the deadline and predictions for where they will be headed on July 31.
Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers
Hamels is obviously the biggest name available at the deadline with the highest chance of being moved. Considering the sad state of the Phillies, Hamels has an extremely high chance of being on another team on August 1. The Texas Rangers represent a strong fit for Cole Hamels, as they have showed interest in him. Their rotation this season has been good at run prevention, but the analytic stats show that they're not as good as advertised. They view Hamels as an elite upgrade worth getting, and they seem like the team that would pay GM Ruben Amaro Jr.'s price--or at least close to it--in order to get him.
Other possible fits: Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays
Jonathan Papelbon, Toronto Blue Jays
Papelbon, like Hamels, will be another key part of the Phillies' trade deadline season. His contract is more of an obstacle, though, so his deal will likely take longer to progress while all the details are hammered out. The Blue Jays have had plenty of interest in acquiring Papelbon throughout the season and dating all the way back to the offseason. The contract has been the only thing keeping them from actually pulling the trigger, it seems. As the Phillies become more motivated to move their players, asking prices and the amount of contract to be picked up should become lower. The Blue Jays will get this deal done.
Other possible fits: Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs
Jeff Samardzija, Houston Astros
The Astros are going to make a move for a starting pitcher this deadline season, but it remains unclear as to which pitcher they will most heavily pursue. Samardzija looks like a solid fit in Houston. His run prevention numbers have not been great, but the Astros are a team that would definitely look past that, perhaps even viewing that as a way to get Samardzija on the cheap. Samardzija's analytical stats show that his ERA is about a run inflated (check this!!), due to poor luck and defense on the White Sox' part. With the Astros, Samardzija would be moved for the third time in two years, but would fit their system much better, with what is likely to be improved defense. Samardzija's the type of guy the Astros want.
Other possible fits: Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees
Johnny Cueto, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers seemingly never have enough pitching, and the same goes for this year, as the team has lost starters Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy for the entire year. The Reds are likely going to sell after they host the All-Star Game, and when they do so, Johnny Cueto will be the first to go. Cueto's in the last year of his contract, so he will get an opportunity to contend throughout the rest of the season and then get a huge contact for 2016 and beyond. When the Dodgers get Ryu and McCarthy back next year (check to make sure they're under contract), Cueto will be gone, but in the short term, he's definitely a move worth making and one that they will ultimately make.
Other possible fits: Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays
Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs
Zobrist has already been with Cubs' manager Joe Maddon in a clubhouse when the two were with the Tampa Bay Rays together. The Cubs may want to get an upgrade in left field, where Chris Coglan currently resides. Maddon also understands the importance of having a super utility man down the stretch, as that could go a long way if a player gets injured or needs a day off. Zobrist is pretty much a starting-caliber super utility man, which will make him in hot demand at the trade deadline.
Other possible fits: Pretty much any contending team in need of an infielder or outfielder.
Scott Kazmir, Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays and Athletics have already had their trade in past year, with the Josh Donaldson deal over the offseason. However, a second deal could be made this July, as the Blue Jays need starting pitching and the Athletics will likely unload Kazmir. While the two sides haven't been mentioned as anything more than a practical fit, as the arms start going off the board, the Blue Jays may be more likely to make a move. Another plus to Kazmir is that he has just this season left on his contract, perhaps making him a cheaper option at the deadline. Also, when Marcus Stroman comes back from injury in 2016, the Blue Jays will be able to make a quick and easy transition from Kazmir.
Other possible fits: Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees
From 1995 to 2012, the New York Yankees missed the playoffs just once. They made the playoffs in seventeen of those eighteen years and won five World Series championships. The Yankees were, and still are, big spenders, and their money was able to keep them winning.
Since 2012, the Yankees strategy has built them two above-average teams (by record, at least). In 2012, the MLB postseason featured the Rays, Indians, Pirates, Athletics, and Braves, but not the Phillies, Angels, Rangers, and Yankees. Younger talent has become more of a necessity, while free agents are just additions to your nucleus, not the nucleus itself.
What really led me to writing this post was the Dodgers hiring Andrew Friedman to be their President of Baseball Operations, even after a season where they won 94 games and won the National League West division. The Dodgers hiring of Friedman speaks volumes on how they're willing to make a culture change in order to catch up with sabermetrics, something that has become very important.
The Yankees, Phillies, and Rangers have not yet to do something like that. Brian Cashman was extended as Yankees GM, Ruben Amaro Jr. is still running the Phillies further into the ground, and Jon Daniels continues to throw money at free agents that still haven't helped. And yet Billy Beane (Athletics), Chris Antonetti (Indians), and Dayton Moore (Royals) are building winning teams with a minimal payroll.
Has the window closed for big market teams?
I don't know. On one hand, you still have the Dodgers winning plenty of games with the highest payroll in baseball. They didn't go anywhere in the playoffs, but still were able to get there. However, on the contrary, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013. I don't think it is truly a question of having the money, but what you do with the money that you have.
The Dodgers are big in the international market. They signed Yasiel Puig, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Erisbel Arruebarrena to extravagant deals and still have been able to create homegrown talent in Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, and others to help take this team far. But they have been able to keep those guys with their big market (See: Kershaw's seven-year, $215 million extension).
I think the window has closed for teams that have built their team around pricey free agents. The game of baseball has turned into one of trades, prospects, and analytics, not free agents that are either on the downfall of their career or are injury prone (See: 2014 Rangers lineup). Since about 2010, teams have been better at signing guys to longterm deals during the prime of their career, rather as they get closer to reaching free agency. While this can only buy out a few free agent years, it will likely be the years that the team did not buy out when the player begins to decline or become hampered by injuries.
Take a look at Ryan Howard. Based on my calculations, through the arbitration process, Howard would have become a free agent following either the 2011 or 2012 seasons. Instead of extending Howard to a five-year deal in say, 2009, after Howard had already been one of the league's most prolific sluggers for a few seasons, the Phillies decided to wait until after the 2011 season.
Put that into prospective. Had Howard been signed to his five-year, $125 million deal back in 2009, he would likely become a free agent at the end of this season (the Phillies have a sixth year as a team option). That means Philadelphia would "only" have to deal with three terrible seasons from Howard. The Phillies did extend Howard following the 2011 season, so he is under contract through 2016, with an option for 2017. The Phillies could perhaps deal with five terrible seasons from Howard, paying him over $20 million in each and every one of them.
In short, the window hasn't closed for big market teams. But big market teams that still rely on old methods of signing contracts, giving extensions, and the traditional method of scouting will have a very difficult time contending in a major league system that has developed into a very analytical organization. So while the forward thinkers continue to thrive, the traditionalists will continue to fall. It is time for the Phillies, Yankees, and Rangers to finally change their ways.
30. Chicago Cubs (16-27)*
Pitcher Jeff Samardzija is second in the National League in ERA, but has yet to earn a win, going 0-4 in his nine starts. Since 1914, only Whitey Ford and he have gone nine starts, each allowing three or less runs, without getting a win. That goes to show how hard it is for the Cubs to score some runs and win ballgames consistently.
29. Houston Astros (17-29)*
Offseason acquisition Dexter Fowler has been the main cog in the offensive attack for the Astros, leading the team in OPS+, on base percentage, and runs scored. Overall, the Astros rank second-to-last in the American League in batting average, last in runs scored, and fourth-to-last in OPS. It's been a tough season all the way around for Houston.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (18-26)*
The Pittsburgh Pirates cannot find that same spark that took them all the way to the postseason last year. Part of the reason could be the play from outfielder Starling Marte, who's OPS+ took a big hit, from 121 to 108. There is reason for hope in Pittsburgh. Their team batting average has gone up 22 points since the beginning of May, but their pitching staff has brought it's ERA up too. Losing five of their last seven does not help, either.
27. Philadelphia Phillies (20-22)*
The Phillies are seeing on-and-off play from third baseman Cody Asche so far this season. He has 16 hits and a .333 batting average in the month of May, but seven of those 16 hits have come in the last three games. Without those at bats and hits, Asche would be batting just .250. The Phillies offense has been just like Asche, inconsistent. The Phillies have been shut out five times in May, but have averaged 3.8 runs a game, higher than their April mark of 3.7.
26. Tampa Bay Rays (19-27)*
I am not really sure what has gone wrong with the Rays to begin this season. They have scored an adequate amount of runs, have an average American League ERA of 4.20, but are sitting at the bottom of the American League East at 19-26. Injuries seem to be the main issue. Matt Moore is going to miss the entire season, Ben Zobrist has a dislocated thumb, and Jeremy Hellickson recently had right elbow surgery. It does not get much worse than that.
25. Chicago White Sox (23-24)*
Jose Abreu is now on the disabled list. He leads the American League in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and total bases. He has been the heart and sole of the White Sox. Without him, it looks like they could be falling down this list, and fast. But for now, they are holding their own at number 25, despite losing six of their last eight games.
24. San Diego Padres (21-25)*
I expected more from the San Diego Padres going into this season. They really have not been meeting expectations, and injuries have slowed them more than ever. Like the Rays, many of their stars are currently hurt and on the disabled list, including Andrew Cashner and Josh Johnson. In order for the Padres to make a move, their offense has to pick up the pace. They rank second-to-last in the National League in runs scored, but rank second in ERA.
23. Arizona Diamondbacks (18-29)*
The Arizona Diamondbacks made a fantastic hire in Tony LaRussa to lead their baseball operations. They have been able to string some wins together in May, going 9-6 thus far, scoring 0.6 more runs per game this month than they have all season. The light is finally starting to be seen at the end of this long dark tunnel. Their pitching is starting to figure it out as well, posting a 3.81 ERA in the month.
22. Cleveland Indians (21-25)*
Lonnie Chisenhall has been the Indians best producer this season, posting a .912 OPS, 162 OPS+, and a .364 batting average, all leading the team. Chisenhall has played in only three games against a left-handed pitcher, compared to 31 against righties, causing much uproar across the web. Over his career, Chisenhall has just a .205 batting average against lefties.
21. Texas Rangers (21-24)*
Prince Fielder has a herniated disk in his neck, which is just even more great news for Rangers fans. They have 13 players on the disabled list to begin the season, and even Fielder, who had played in 547 straight games, is now going to be on the sidelines, adding yet another player to the lengthy list of names of Rangers that are injured (although Fielder will not be going on the disabled list).
Yu Darvish has never been closer to writing himself into baseball's record books.
The Rangers ace lost his bid at a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning yesterday, after David Ortiz hit a single through the Rangers shift into right field. This is the second time that Darvish has lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth, with the first coming on April 2 of last year against the Astros when he lost his perfect game.
Controversy surrounds on whether Darvish really lost his no-hitter in the ninth inning. In the seventh, Ortiz lifted a fly ball into medium right field that neither right fielder Alex Rios nor second baseman Rougned Odor could handle, ending Darvish's perfect game. Official scorer Steve Weller charged Rios with an error, claiming that the fly ball should have been caught by the right fielder, therefore keeping Darvish's no-hitter alive. Regardless of weather Ortiz is given another hit through review, let's take a look at what Darvish has done in flirting with no-hitters over his career.
If the error stands, this would be the fourth time that Darvish has gone 8+ innings and allowed only one hit. That currently stands tied for fifteenth place among Major Leaguers since 1914, with the leader being Nolan Ryan with 16. Of the pitchers whom have tossed 8.2 innings or more while only allowing one hit, Darvish's two are tied for sixty-fourth place.
Darvish will throw a no-hitter one day. He's got the stuff, the control, and the velocity to do it. It could happen in his next start, it could happen a few years from now. Regardless, there is no doubt in my mind on wether Yu Darvish will throw a no-hitter. The Rangers got themselves a very good pitcher in Darvish a few years back when they signed him before the 2012 season. One that may be no-hitter potential.