Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and previewing some of this week's expected news and notes.
In this week's Musings, the Red Sox add another southpaw ace and shore up their bullpen in two swift moves, the Yankees give a record deal to a familiar face (much to the chagrin of many), the White Sox rebuild their farm, and a former Toronto slugger remains unsigned.
Transactions & Deals
4 - Prospects acquired by the White Sox in the dealing of ace Chris Sale. Sale joins David Price as a formidable 1-2 rotational punch for Boston, but the acquisition came at a steep price. To land Sale, Boston gave up Yoan Monacada, the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, and Michael Kopech, the organization’s best pitching prospect (per Baseball America's organizational prospect rankings). The package also included Victor Diaz and middle infielder Luis Basabe, both single-A players.
90 - Strikeouts for Tyler Thornburg across 67 innings in 2016. Boston added not only a major piece to their rotation but they acquired Thornberg from Milwaukee for minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington.
3.9 / 6.0 - Adam Eaton’s wins above replacement by Baseball Reference WAR and FanGraphs’ WAR respectively. The Washington Nationals traded Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning to Chicago for the cost-controlled 28-year-old outfielder. Eaton’s WARs are dissimilar primarily because of differences in his defensive metrics. Either way, Rick Hahn again added some solid pieces to the White Sox farm and the Nationals improved their outfield at a high player, but minimal monetary, cost.
$86,000,000 - money given by the Yankees, over five years, to closer Aroldis Chapman. The deal leaves a nasty taste in the mouth of many as not only does it come with three opt-outs and a limited no trade clause, but it follows a season in which the Yankees traded for Chapman while his value was suppressed after a domestic violence incident and traded him away for a tidy profit later in the summer. Now, they just made him the highest paid relief pitcher in the history of the game. It’s a curious move for a team that looked to be fully in rebuild mode, and still has plenty of work to do to solidify the other parts of their roster before they’ll be ready to compete.
0 - Games started at first base by Ian Desmond during his career. The dark-horse Colorado Rockies signed Desmond to a $70 million, five-year contract and, to date, have said they plan for him to be their first baseman. The offseason is young, and there may be plenty of moves in the Rockies’ future, but Colorado just sacrificed the number eleven pick in next year’s draft to sign Desmond.
$9,000,000 - Total career earnings for Rich Hill prior to this offseason, who inked a three-year, $48 million deal with the Dodgers last week. Hill’s rise from independent ball a mere 18 months ago to playoff starter and sought-after free agent is already one of legend, and he will be a key number two in an LA rotation that already features the game’s best pitcher.
18 - Players selected in the Rule 5 draft. Although most players exchanging teams rarely amount to key contributing pieces, there were two players last year who were eligible for selection, remained with their original teams, and managed to hit 20+ home runs. Sometimes it’s the players taken, and sometimes it’s the overlooked guys who make an impact.
$76,627,827.09 - Record-setting players’ pool of money from the 2016 playoffs, nearly seven million dollars more than 2015’s pool. The players’ pool consists of 50 percent of the wild card gate receipts, 60 percent of the first three LDS series’ gate receipts, and 60 percent from the first four games of the LCS and World Series receipts. The players on each team then vote to decide how to allocate the money amongst the players who contributed throughout the course of the season. A full share on the Cubs was worth nearly $370,000.
549 - Ballots that were cast during the Baseball Hall of Fame voting last year. Moving forward, all ballots after the current BBWAA election will be made public. The move is long overdue and will help bring transparency and accountability to a process that has remained opaque and inconsistent.
3 - DUI arrests for Jung Ho Kang, who has now demonstrated repeated bad make-up off the field. South Korean police arrested Kang last week after fleeing an accident and charged him with his third driving under the influence offense. He is also under investigation for sexual assault stemming from a July incident in Chicago. The Pirates should likely be looking elsewhere to fill his slot, as it looks like Kang has quite a bit to figure out from both a personal and legal perspective in 2017. It also seems likely that MLB will see fit to discipline him for either or both of the incidents, regardless of the outcome of any charges against him.
42 - Home runs last year for Edwin Encarnacion. EE had a solid year, posting a 134 wRC+ and nearing 4.0 fWAR. While the price for relievers continues to climb, Encarnacion still finds himself without a team, though as more dominos fall, his services may be more coveted by teams missing a power bat in the middle of their lineup. Rumor has it that he is unlikely to get a multi-year deal worth $60 million, never mind the original $90 million that some people expected. Edwin is going into his age-34 season, but he still has significant pop; over the past three years, he has posted 42, 39, and 34 home runs, and that trend line runs in the correct direction.
1 - number of years it took Dexter Fowler to reset his market value and win a World Championship with the Cubs. Last offseason Fowler turned down a three-year deal from the Orioles worth $33-35 million, opting instead to sign a one-year deal with the Cubs for $8 million. Fowler did well for himself, as the Cardinals signed him to a five-year deal worth $82.5 million
111 - Days to Opening Day!