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Which Team Will Sign Ian Desmond To A $100 Million Contract This Offseason?

After turning down a seven year/$107 million contract from the Washington Nationals two years ago, people thought Ian Desmond made a huge mistake. The following year, his contract year, Desmond folded under pressure. He hit .233, with 19 home runs, 62 RBIs, 69 runs, 13 stolen bases, and a .290 OBP. After that tough year, that $107 million contract extension that Desmond declined looked like a very bad decision.

 

Following Desmond’s tough 2015 campaign, the Texas Rangers decided to take a chance on the shortstop and sign him to a one-year, $8-million-dollar deal. The Rangers already had a starting shortstop, so they moved the former all-star to the outfield. While many people thought Desmond’s career was doomed, he is proving everyone wrong in 2016. If he continues at this pace, he could be looking at another $100 million contract offer.

 

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RUMORS: Houston Astros To Call Up Top Prospect, Alex Bregman

Following a very impressive appearance in the the MLB Futures Game, Houston Astros’ top prospect, Alex Bregman, could find himself back in a Major League Baseball stadium very soon. There has been rumors and reports that the Astros could call up Bregman as early as this weekend. While nothing has been confirmed, this is very exciting news for baseball fans and fantasy owners.

 

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Astros’ Prospect, Alex Bregman, Hit In The Head By A 94 MPH Fastball

Many Houston Astros and fantasy baseball fans have been wondering when Alex Bregman will finally make his MLB debut. Unfortunately, it might be delayed after taking a fastball to the head on Monday night. Luckily Bregman got up on his own power and he seems to be okay, but he sat out last night as a precautionary measure. Hopefully this event doesn’t hurt Bregman physically or his approach at the plate.

 

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Xander Bogaerts Is Becoming An Elite Option For Fantasy Baseball Owners

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Trey Rose (Featured BBBA Fantasy Baseball Writer/Owner – dynastydigest.sportsblog.com) 

In case you haven’t been following baseball news recently, Xander Bogaerts extended his hit streak to 24 games on Tuesday night. The Red Sox shortstop has been making headlines throughout the entire 2016 season. He is one of main reasons the Red Sox are currently 32-20 and in first place in the American League Central.

Throughout the first 50 games of 2016, Bogaerts is leading the American League in hits and batting average. He is currently batting .350, with 76 hits, six home runs, 30 RBIs, 42 runs, seven stolen bases, and a .401 OBP.

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Washington Nationals’ Top Prospect, Trea Turner, Could Be Called Up On May 30th

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Trey Rose (Featured BBBA Fantasy Baseball Writer/Owner – dynastydigest.sportsblog.com) 

The Washington Nationals are currently sitting at the top of the National League East standings, but they are starting to slip. The New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Miami Marlins are all within two games of the first place spot in the East.

In order to hold onto their current position, the Nationals must start creating more run production opportunities. This problem can be easily fixed with one move, call up star prospect, Trea Turner.

In Triple-A, Turner is currently batting .324, with 3 home runs, 17 RBIs, 32 runs, 14 stolen bases, and a .387 OBP. These numbers scream run production. Not only are his numbers fantastic, but the player he would be replacing has done nothing but struggle at the plate.

Nationals’ starting shortstop, Danny Espinosa, is currently batting .208, with 3 home runs, 14 RBIs, 8 runs, 1 stolen base, and a .307 OBP. Based on these numbers, many people must be wondering why Trea Turner hasn’t gotten a promotion in 2016, but there is a simple answer to this, service time.

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2015 MLB Hall of Fame Voting: Who Deserves to Get In?

The MLB Hall of Fame will announce which players will be part of the Induction Class of 2015. The question leading up to the announcement is which players make the cut in this loaded group of talent.

The MLB Hall of Fame will announce which players will be part of the Class of 2015. With players such as Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez being added to the ballot this year, the question remains as to which players will ultimately make the final cut this year?

By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports Writer)  

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It is very possible that history is made with regards to this year’s MLB Hall of Fame induction class. In the past, the committee has been hesitant to vote in more than three players in one class, and it has been very rare to see more than three voted in at one time. In the past, the committee voted in four players twice (1947 and 1955) and five players only once (1936- the first year of the voting process).

As the decision day quickly approaches, there is speculation that the BBWAA could possibly end the long drought and elect five players this year. With this year’s ballot having a ton of players who could make a legitimate case to be inducted, I decided to go to the process of picking my own ballot (which doesn’t count for the BBWAA), and after taking the time and effort to research my ballet, I realized that it was a much harder process then I anticipated it would be. 

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Yankees Off-Season Outlook: Big Shoes To Fill For Jeter, But How Do They?

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By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports Writer)  

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The 2015 off-season is very important for the New York Yankees, as they have a lot of major questions surrounding their current roster. With an aging roster and the return of recently reinstated Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees have some holes to fix, but those issues might not be their biggest concern this off-season.

We all knew the time would come, but no one was ready to start talking about how the Yankees would replace Derek Jeter. Jeter leaves very big shoes to fill in the Bronx, and the Yankees must try their best to find a successor who can not only handle the pressures of New York, but also can step up and produce.

Filling the void might be difficult at first, as past experiences have shown that Yankee fans are very impatient when it comes to replacing some of the best to wear the Yankee pinstripes.  The only legitimate shortstop on the roster, Brendan Ryan, won’t be the Yankees everyday shortstop in 2015, so the Bronx Bombers must go through the trade market or free agency to fill a void that right now is larger than life. 

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Are The Red Sox Mismanaging Their Shortstop Position?

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Thursday April.11/2013

Is Jose Iglesias the best fielding Shortstop in baseball? Maybe I'm biased but I believe he is. Keith Law called him the best defensive prospect he had ever seen. His defense has carried him thus far in his professional career, but I think his bat is ready for the Majors in 2013. It might not be at its full potential, but it is developed enough.

Is Jose Iglesias the best fielding Shortstop in baseball? Maybe I’m biased but I believe he is. Keith Law called him the best defensive prospect he had ever seen. His defense has carried him thus far in his professional career, but I think his bat is ready for the Majors in 2013. It might not be at its full potential, but it is developed enough.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Red Sox Correspondent): 

The Boston Red Sox have been off to one of their best starts in recent memory so far in 2013. At this early juncture in the season they are still in 1st place in the AL East and for the most part are performing like a team with playoff aspirations.

A lot of this is due to the reemergence of veterans who had down 2013 campaigns but there are also a developing core of young players contributing such as Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Jose Iglesias.

While batting .450 (9-20), Jose Iglesias couldn’t have done anything more to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. Despite his great start he was sent down to Pawtucket (AAA) to make room for Stephen Drew who is coming off injury (concussion).

Jose Iglesias Highlights: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:

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2013 MLB Fantasy Keeper Rankings: Installment #1

Friday October 12th, 2012

Peter Stein:  Now that the 2012 season is over, it is time to start thinking about the 2013. For many owners, that includes deciding on keepers, although keeper systems vary from league to league. In some leagues, keepers can be held onto for an indefinite period of time, while others build upon the previous year’s draft value. Regardless of your league’s keeper setting, this piece identifies the top keeper player at each position. I chose a time period of five years; therefore, the player at each position should produce the most total fantasy value over the course of the next five years. That is, of course, assuming another Mike Trout doesn’t jump onto the scene.

Here is the first installment of the 2013 fantasy keeper focus:

First Base:

Winner: Joey Votto

Honorable Mention: Paul Goldschmidt

First base is actually the most tenuous and hardest to predict position on this list.  Can we really expect Albert Pujols to be super-productive for another five years? He will be 33 next season and his struggles at the beginning of the year are certainly not encouraging. Then again, a .285/30/105/8 season is considered a major down year from him. And, we all know how much better he was after the brutal start. Edwin Encarnacion (.280/42/110/13) emerged into the mix and excluding Miguel Cabrera was the top option at first base. However, he is 29 years old and has just a career .815 OPS in eight seasons. Clearly he has made strides, but he is very tough to predict moving forward. (more…)

Chicago Cubs: Is Extending Starlin Castro Really the Right Move?

Tuesday August 21st, 2012

Jake Dal Porto:  Starlin Castro is one of baseball’s best young shortstops at the ripe age of just 22 years-old. Apparently, the Cubs’ front office feels the same way. While the speculated contract extension is still impending, there’s a good chance that Castro remain a Cub for a good portion of the next decade. A wealthy Cub for that matter. The rumored deal is said to be a seven-year, $60 million contract extension. Should the deal be completed, it will take him through arbitration.

Is general manager Theo Epstein and his staff pulling the right string by signing Castro? Read the rest of this entry

Manny Machado’s Impact on the Orioles

Saturday August 18th, 2012

Sam Evans: When the Orioles called up Manny Machado roughly ten days ago, reactions varied from overjoyed to disappointed. However, one thing was true of pretty much everyone’s reaction. We were all shocked. Machado, who had barely played one hundred games in Double-A, was now going to have to be relied on for the Orioles playoff push. So far, the Machado experiment couldn’t have gone any better for Baltimore.

At Double-A, Machado was having a tremendous season, despite what some of his numbers suggest. At the age of just twenty, Machado posted a 122 wRC+. While the question of whether or not he could remain at shortstop loomed, Machado received stellar reports of his range at the shortstop position. Read the rest of this entry

Top 5 Shortstop Prospects in Baseball

Sunday August 12th, 2012

Codey Harrison: In Major League Baseball, middle of the field players (catcher,shortstop, centerfield) are a premium position. So much so that most teams are reluctant to trade away elite level prospects from those positions. Shortstop is arguably the most important position in baseball. Every once in a while, shortstops like Troy Tulowitzki, and Derek Jeter come along and can propel a team to great success. The top prospects in baseball this year is fairly deep at shortstop with potential superstars in the making. Lets take a look at some of the best shortstops who are still prospect eligible.

1.) Jurickson Profar (Rangers AA) – Texas Rangers shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar is the best shortstop prospect in all of baseball. Profar is so highly thought of by scouts, that some believe the Rangers may end up trading 23-year-old 2-time All-star shortstop Elvis Andrus or moving him to second base, with Ian Kinsler going to the outfield. Profar has all five tools (hit, power, speed, glove, and arm) and he’s proven he knows how to use all five. He’s currently raking in AA Frisco at only 19 years of age, posting monstrous numbers of .279 AVG, .356 OBP, .458 SLG, 23 doubles, 7 triples, 13 home runs, and 53 walks to 69 strikeouts. Some scouts believe Profar has a chance to be a gold glove caliber top, or middle of the order run producing machine, that is a perennial All-Star. No prospect is a guarantee, but Profar looks to be legit as far as prospects go. Read the rest of this entry

An Average Day for Billy Hamilton on the Basepaths

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Sam Evans: Dark shadows cast over a luminous sky at Municipal Stadium in San Jose, California. A crowd of just fewer than four thousand people bask in the early June sunlight, some of them unaware of the history they are about to witness. The San Jose Giants are hosting the Bakersfield Blaze, and Billy Hamilton is hitting leadoff for a Bakersfield team centered around their 5’11” 160 pound shortstop. Never before in professional baseball have we seen a player like Billy Hamilton.

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Adeiny Hechavarria and his Future with the Blue Jays

Sunday June 17th, 2012

Sam Evans: Adeiny Hechavarria might be the best defensive shortstop in the minor leagues. However, his bat has always been far behind his glove, in terms of development. When the twenty-three year old started to hit at the end of last year, people started to take notice. Now, after over four hundred at bats in the minors, Blue Jays fans are starting to wonder when they’ll get to see this talented shortstop at the major league level.

Hechavarria isn’t exactly the youngest shortstop prospect. Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro and Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus are both younger than Hechavarria, who has yet to reach the majors. However, Hechavarria is still one of the younger players in Triple-A.

The Blue Jays signed Hechavarria to a contract that will pay him $10 million, when he was a free agent out of Cuba back in 2010. Back then, Hechavarria was thought of as a light-hitting shortstop, with tremendous potential due to his outstanding defense. The Toronto organization showed they believed Hechavarria could provide just enough value to be worth  the big signing bonus they gave him back in 2010. Read the rest of this entry

Manny Machado and the Shortstop Dilemma Brewing in Baltimore

Sunday June 10th, 2012

image courtesy of thelosscolumn.com

Sam Evans: Despite being only a teenager, and never having played a full season above High-A, Manny Machado has already drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez. Machado has great instincts and covers a lot of ground as a shortstop. Not to mention, he has outstanding bat speed for a player his size. Even though Machado has yet to truly dominate at any level of the minors, Orioles fans are already pegging him to be their shortstop of the future. However, Orioles’ fans shouldn’t be the only ones excited for Machado’s major league debut. If Machado can put all his tools together, he has the chance to be the best shortstop in all of baseball.

Manny Machado was born in July of 1992 in Miami, Florida. After playing in high school at Brito Miami Private School, Machado was considered a top-five prospect for the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft. After all, he had been recorded throwing up to 92 MPH, his footwork at shortstop looked great, and he squared up a lot of balls. If Bryce Harper wasn’t available at number one for the Nationals, some thought Machado could have been the #1 pick.

Machado stands 6’3’’ and weighs roughly 190 pounds. He hits from the right side of the plate, and has striking plate discipline for a teenager. Machado has a lot of room to grow, so if he does grow into his frame, he could potentially move over to third base. He is athletic enough to make this change, and become one of the top defensive third baseman in the league. However, as long as Machado can stay in shape and not bulk up too much, his team will use him at shortstop, where he will be of the most value. Read the rest of this entry

Carlos Correa: Welcome to the Houston Astros

Wednesday June 6th, 2012

                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                      Image Courtesy of Aol.Sportingnews.com

Brendan Henderson: Coming into this year’s MLB Draft, the main question people kept asking themselves was, “Who are the Houston Astros going to take with the first overall pick?” Many thought the Astros would go with college pitcher Mark Appel or the young centerfielder Byron Buxton from Appling County High School in Georgia. Instead of taking the players most people thought they would, the Astros took the young shortstop from the Puerto Rico, Carlos Correa. Was it a good move for the Astros? I will tell you what I think below. (more…)

Reds Prospect on the Rise: Billy Hamilton is on the Verge of Greatness

Sunday May 13th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Giants fan: Crystal Ramos

Sam Evans: Billy Hamilton is one of the most discussed players in the minor leagues. He might be the fastest player in baseball, but the rest of his game is far from finished. Reds fans probably won’t see Hamilton until at least late-2013, but he will be ready by that point to make an immediate impact in the majors. Let’s take a look at Hamilton’s tools and how they project in the future.

First of all, if you are unfamiliar with Billy Hamilton, then you’ve probably been hiding under a rock. If you are hiding under a rock, you should probably come out. Unless, of course, you have Bryce Harper’s haircut. Anyways, Billy Hamilton grew up in Mississippi and played football, basketball, and baseball in high school. Hamilton was drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLB Amateur draft by the Reds, and passed up a football scholarship to Mississippi State University. Hamilton stands six feet tall and weighs roughly 160 pounds. He is a switch-hitting shortstop who is currently playing for the Reds High-A affiliate, the Bakersfield Blaze. Read the rest of this entry

Christian Colón Interview: Ready to Take His Game to Kansas City

Sunday February 19th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:   A special day on MLB reports. It is the first official day of Spring Training, as camps officially open and pitchers/catchers report for most teams. To honor this special day, we present a very important interview. An exciting interview. For today, we are featuring the highest MLB draft pick to grace the pages of MLB reports. Christian Colón of the Kansas City Royals. Originally a 10th round pick of the Padres in 2007, Christian waited to sign. The gamble paid off, as the Royals took the shortstop prospect in the 1st round of the 2010 draft, 4th overall. Christian completed his second professional last year, playing for AA Northwest Arkansas of the Texas League. He showed a nice overall game, stealing 17 bases in 127 games, while popping 8 home runs. Christian drove in 61 RBIs and scored 69 runs. With the ability to play shortstop as well as second base, the Royals have a very exciting prospect on their hands. With a prospect base including the likes of Hosmer, Myers, Moustakas, Lamb and Perez, expect Christian Colón to join the other top Royals prospects in KC very soon. The Royals look to build a dynasty, with playoff aspirations becoming a near reality. Christian Colón is certainly excited about to become part of that future.

Today on MLB reports, we proudly present Royals prospect and future lead-off hitter, Christian Colón:

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Omar Vizquel to the Jays: Toronto Adds Future Hall of Famer to the Mix

Tuesday January 24, 2012

Jonathan Hacohen:  The Blue Jays signed today a backup infielder to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. But not just any infielder. Omar Vizquel. Yes, the same Omar Vizquel that will be turning 45 years of age this coming April. Entering his 24th major league season. The ageless wonder. The infield answer to Jamie Moyer. Vizquel and his 11 gold gloves will be coming to Toronto in an attempt to earn a spot on the major league roster for the coming season. 

I like this move by the Jays on many levels. With a current infield including Yunel Esobar, Kelly Johnson and Brett Lawrie, Vizquel provides depth and insurance. He is still strong defensively and can be a quality late-inning replacement. Believe it or not, he can also still hit and chip in the occasional stolen base. With Yunel Escobar still maturing on and off the field, Vizquel could prove to be the role model and mentor that the young shortstop needs to be able to take his game to the next level. Vizquel in essence would be a quasi-player-coach on the Jays, helping Lawrie and Johnson tighten their games as well. Every championship caliber team needs strong role players, regardless of the sport. For the Jays to jump to the next level, they will need Omar Vizquel type players on its roster. There are no guarantees that Vizquel will make the team out of spring training, or last a full season. But if he does, Jays fans will enjoy what they see from the Venezuelan fielding magician.

This article is as much about appreciating what value Vizquel brings to a baseball team today, as a reflection of his career to-date. I remember meeting Omar in the early 1990’s. He was a skinny guy on the Mariners and still hadn’t come into his own. I will never forget the t-shirt he was wearing during batting practice that day. It was an “Omar Vizquel” shirt, with his name and picture. This great fielding and no-hit shortstop stood at the first base line and signed autographs for over 30 minutes. He literally did not leave until every fan was looked after. Fast forward to the Vizquel today…and nothing has changed. Sure, the “Omar Vizquel” t-shirt is long gone. But he is the same Omar, engaging the fans and proud to be a major league baseball player.  For a guy that has won 11 gold gloves and had a fairly good bat for a shortstop- I only have one question. Why are we not discussing him more as a future hall of famer?

Omar Vizquel is built in the mold of many superior fielding Venezuelan shortstops before him. Luis Aparicio and Dave Conception are the most famous examples that come to mind. I always have a comparison though that I throw in every time the words Vizquel and Cooperstown are said in the same sentence. Ozzie Smith. The Wizard of Oz. I watched both players for the majority of their careers and I am at a loss for words. By no means do I want to take anything away from Ozzie Smith. Far from it. But when I start to compare the two shortstops, I see many similarities. Similar bats. Similar gloves. The numbers are there. You can argue that Ozzie was a better base stealer, or that Omar had more power. The difference in their offensive numbers are negligible. Watching both players, I would tell you that they were at similar levels with a bat in their hands. With a glove, the numbers again are not far off. Ozzie was flashier and made more errors- but then he took more chances than Omar. But to argue that either one was a better defensive shortstop would be a difficult argument to make. The Wizard had the backflips and the all-star game appearances. Omar had an almost equal amount of gold gloves (11 to 13), but less notoriety.  Ozzie made 15 all-star teams. Omar was on 3. But if Ozzie is a first-ballot hall of famer, then so is Omar.

Where I believe that Omar’s hall of fame chances are minimized are in his personality and era that he played in. While the 1980’s still had the belief of the all glove and no hit shortstops, the game evolved in the 1990’s. Cal Ripken type all-around players became the standard, with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra entering the mix. Backflips and all, Ozzie would have faced a difficult task in unseating those offensive beasts in order to gain election to multiple all-star games. Then when you take into account that Omar Vizquel is the steady/silent type- he just simply never received the headlines that he deserved. Yes, he won countless gold gloves. But rarely do I ever hear of a discussion where he is accounted for as one of the best at his position of all time. Again, if you consider Ozzie Smith one of the best- then you have to do the same for Omar Vizquel. I know this in my heart, but I have my doubts if all the hall of famer voters will see things the same way.

As the years have gone by, so have standards and criteria for election into Cooperstown. Given though the recent ‘steroid era’ and the difficult decisions faced by the voters with candidates such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, a candidate one day like Omar Vizquel should be an easy choice. While 3000 hits and 500 home runs used to be automatic markers for induction, offensive numbers are not as critical as they were in recent years. When I reflect on Omar Vizquel, I see a ballplayer that played the game the right way. He stayed fairly healthy for most of his career. He had a decent to very good bat for his position. He certainly never embarrassed himself at the plate. But first and foremost, he was a premiere shortstop. One of the best, if not THE best, that baseball has ever seen. He was steady as they come. Balls hit to Omar were usually automatic outs. He certainly earned each of his gold gloves and certainly could have earned even more. I am sure when the Mariners reflect on Omar Vizquel, they wish they would have kept him rather than moving him in 1993 for Felix Fermin. That year, Omar earned the first of his gold gloves. The first of many to come.

So in considering today’s signing, this is not an ordinary minor league deal. This is a story of a baseball warrior that is beating all odds, including father time. In an age when players are retiring earlier and the game is becoming a young man’s sport, Omar Vizquel continues to hang on. Only 159 hits away from 3000, I certainly could see him reaching that mark in 2013. But regardless of whether that magic number is hit, for everything that he has produced on the baseball diamond to-date, Omar Vizquel should be in Cooperstown in the next few years. I have enjoyed watching him play all of these years and look forward to cheering his name at least one more time before he hangs up his glove for good. Check the numbers again and begin your own thought process of whether you feel that Omar Vizquel deserves a place in Cooperstown. But hopefully we can hold off on that debate for at least a couple of more years.

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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Diamondbacks and Blue Jays Swap Second Basemen: Hill and McDonald for Johnson

Tuesday August 23, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB reports):  The Arizona Diamondbacks are in the middle of a pennant race in the National League West, and yet made a change with their second baseman, Kelly Johnson.  Statistics show that Johnson had been underperforming this year, and GM Kevin Towers said he wanted better defense and infield depth.  With that in mind, Towers got a hold of Toronto Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopoulos to inquire on super utility infielder John McDonald.  McDonald can play 2B, SS, and 3B at an above average level, although he doesn’t do much with the bat. With regular shortstop Stephen Drew lost for the season due to injury, the D’Backs have been forced to start Willie Bloomquist the majority of the games in his absence.  That led to talks involving Toronto’s longest tenured player, second baseman Aaron Hill.  The end result was Arizona acquiring Aaron Hill and John McDonald, with Kelly Johnson going to Toronto.

Aaron Hill had a terrific start to his career, which so far has peaked in 2009 when he hit .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBI.  He was an All-Star and a Silver Slugger winner that year.  He plays good defense and is a well-liked guy in the clubhouse.  His contract situation is an iffy one, in that he has 2 option years left worth $8M each.  By the end of 2009, it would have been a lock that those options would have been picked up, however, 2010 and 2011 have not been so kind to Hill.  Last year he hit .205 with a walk rate of only 7.1%.  He at least was able to club 26 home runs, which are numbers he has not been able to replicate this year.  Hill in 2011 is walking in 5.4% of his plate appearances, and has only 6 home runs to go along with his paltry .225 average.

McDonald is arguably the most beloved player in Toronto, after Jose Bautista.  He routinely gets standing ovations, and this writer can proudly say one of his favourite moments in MLB history was watching McDonald hit a home run in his first at bat after missing a few games.  The significance was that his father had just passed away, and McDonald promised to hit a home run for him.  So on Father’s Day of 2010, McDonald crushed a home run over the left field wall.  The teary-eyed McDonald crossed the plate and was embraced by every member of the Blue Jays.  McDonald is a phenomenal defender, often used as a pinch runner in key situations, but doesn’t hit much. In his 13 seasons, he has only 21 home runs, with 12 of them coming in his last 3 seasons.   His value comes as a player that will give everything for his team, playing every position imaginable and making highlight reel plays.

Johnson is only a season removed from a .284/.370/.496 slash line, and although scouts often say his defense is sub par, the advanced metrics tell a different story.  His UZR was 7.1 last year, and 3.9 this year, where 0 is average.  Johnson’s production, like Hill, has fallen off the table.  He is still hitting home runs; 18 this year compared to 26 last year.  He takes walks, just under 11% for his career.  But his main problem has been the strikeouts.  This year has been worse than usual, as he has struck out in over 27% of his plate appearances.  Johnson’s line drive rate is just a tick below his career numbers, so his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) being 50 points lower than his career average is probably a good indicator of why his numbers are so low.

All three players are free agents at season’s end.   McDonald and Hill both said during their press conference today that they are very open to returning to Toronto in 2012.  Until then, the Diamondbacks will look to add to their 1.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants with this move.  Should they be propelled to the playoffs, it is likely that an infield of Hill, McDonald, Lyle Overbay, and Ryan Roberts (all former Blue Jays) could face off against another former Jay in Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series.

This deal seems strange from a Diamondbacks perspective, as Hill is a downgrade from Johnson, even with the poor season Johnson has been having in 2011.  The amount of upside the Dbacks get from having McDonald over Bloomquist at shortstop is completely negated by this downgrade.  However, the Dbacks get two great clubhouse characters, who will surely help the club defensively and in teaching the younger players.  For the Blue Jays, this trade makes complete sense.  Johnson is currently set to be a Type B free agent at the end of the year, and with a hot streak, could become a Type A.  As a Type B, he would net the team a supplemental draft pick if he signs a major league deal with another team.  But if Johnson reaches Type A status this offseason, he will also net a first round pick on top of the supplemental pick.  The Jays can use this time to better evaluate Johnson, and by showing him what the organization has to offer, Johnson may sign with the team at the end of the year.

Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson were two players that have been coveted by each team for the last couple of years, but no deal could have been struck.  However, with both players struggling so badly this year, both players were in need of a change of scenery.  A fresh start could do wonders for Hill as he could get back into the groove he was in before the 2010 season, while Johnson could return to his 2010 form.

So at the very worst, the Jays get an extra draft pick as part of this trade, and in many people’s opinions, they will also get McDonald back in 2012 to be their utility infielder.  For the Dbacks, Hill’s production could seriously limit their offense and push them out of a playoff spot.  Both teams are facing risks, but I believe Toronto’s level of risk was much lower, as they are not in a pennant race.  The upside potential of this trade for the Jays makes them the winner in my books.

 

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

MLB Draft Signing Deadline: Who Will Sign By August 15th

Friday August 12, 2011

 

 

Rob Bland (Intern- MLB Reports):   With the August 15 deadline for all 2011 MLB draftees to sign, players and teams are getting down to the wire with negotiations.  Only two of the top ten picks have been signed, right-handed pitcher Trevor Bauer, and second baseman Cory Spangenberg by the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, respectively.  Of the 33 first round picks, 9 have signed, as well as 14 of the 27 picks in the supplemental first round.  It is expected that most of the picks from the first round will go down to the last hour, if not minute.  However, there is a lot of speculation about who will not sign, and the fans of each team are hoping and praying their team will get their guy.  Some players come into the draft with lofty expectations and high estimates of signing bonus money.  As a result, many of the lower budget franchises stay away from these players, and draft “safe” players, who will sign for a more reasonable price.

The Oakland Athletics’ GM Billy Beane was made famous through the book “Moneyball”, which portrayed the club as a bottom feeder organization financially.  They had to pick lesser talents in order to sign all their draft picks.  They shied away from the big “sexy” names on draft boards and targeted players with specific skill sets.  Other teams who have done this in the past to varying degrees of success are the Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals.  In the last couple of years, these organizations have turned their philosophies around, drafting tough to sign players with higher ceilings, and ending up signing most of them.  Today will highlight a few of the players drafted who will be tougher than others to sign.

From this year’s draft, one of the players who was known to be extremely difficult to sign was Josh Bell.  On talent alone, he was rated as an early first round pick, yet dropped to the second round to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He had sent a letter to Major League Baseball advising teams not to draft him on account that he wanted to attend the University of Texas.  Some have said this was just a bargaining tool to simply add more leverage to his situation, while others think he will not sign under any circumstances.  It has been predicted that it will take a minimum of $10M and a Major League contract in order to sign him.  I feel that the Pirates are an extreme long shot to sign Bell, and he will attend U of T and be a Longhorn for the next three years.

High school right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede could have been a top 10 pick, with his 95 mph fastball and devastating change-up.  Beede was widely known to be seeking a bonus upwards of $3-4M.  The Toronto Blue Jays and their new management have made it a point to take the best player available when they it is their turn to select a player in the draft.  So, when it came to their turn as the 21st selection, the Jays did not hesitate to choose Beede, who has said it will come down to money in the long run.  I believe the Jays will sign him in the final minutes for close to $3M.

With the 5th overall pick, the Kansas City Royals had a tough decision to make.  Outfielder Bubba Starling, a hometown kid from Kansas, was widely considered the top prep offensive talent in the draft was still on the board.  Starling has a scholarship to the University of Nebraska to play both football and baseball.  It is very likely that a bonus upwards of $8M will be what it takes for Starling to sign with KC on August 15.  Expect this deal to get done.

Gerrit Cole, the flame throwing right-handed pitcher from UCLA was taken by the Pirates first overall in the draft.  Cole has reached 102 mph on radar guns and routinely hits triple digits.  Cole has yet to sign, but is widely expected to join the Pirates.  A Major League deal for 4 years and $8M or so is likely.

Rice University has been known to producing top talent, as witnessed by having eight first round picks in the last 11 years, most notably when Phil Humber and Jeff Niemann went 3rd and 4th overall in the 2004 draft.  Another first rounder from Rice was Lance Berkman in 1997.  So when one of the top three candidates for the first overall pick came down to an infielder from Rice, who just happened to win the Dick Howser Trophy, (essentially the Heisman Award for college baseball players), nobody was surprised.  Anthony Rendon may not have above average speed or the best glove, but he has an above average arm and was considered by most to be the best hitter in the country.  Rendon dropped to #6 to the Washington Nationals due to signability concerns but should sign for $4M plus.

Shortstops with ultra talent often get huge signing bonuses and Cleveland Indians’ first pick (8th overall), Francisco Lindor will be no exception.  Lindor has the talent to warrant a $3M bonus, but should hold out for more.  The Indians tend to shy away from this kind of pick, but the talent speaks for itself and I believe the Indians will go as high as $3.5M to sign the talented shortstop.

There has arguably not been a better high school pitcher in the last decade than flame throwing Dylan Bundy.  The right-hander has reached 100 mph and has 2 plus secondary pitches.  His high school pitching numbers are straight out of a video game.  71 innings, 2 earned runs. TWO!  He also had 158 strikeouts to 5 walks. FIVE WALKS!  Good for a 31.6:1 K:BB ratio.  Oh, and the fact that he can also hit, as evidenced by his 11 home runs and 54 RBI in only 105 at-bats doesn’t hurt.  The University of Texas commit could command a Major League contract and $6-8M.  He should sign; my guess is $6.5M.

 

Here is the breakdown of the entire 2011 first round of picks, with players in bold having already signed:

1 Gerrit Cole RHP Pittsburgh Pirates
2 Danny Hultzen LHP Seattle Mariners
3 Trevor Bauer RHP Arizona Diamondbacks – ML deal 4/$7M
4 Dylan Bundy RHP Baltimore Orioles
5 Bubba Starling OF Kansas City Royals
6 Anthony Rendon 3B Washington Nationals
7 Archie Bradley RHP Arizona Diamondbacks
8 Francisco Lindor SS Cleveland Indians
9 Javier Baez SS Chicago Cubs
10 Cory Spangenberg 2B San Diego Padres – $1.86M
11 George Springer OF Houston Astros
12 Taylor Jungmann RHP Milwaukee Brewers
13 Brandon Nimmo OF New York Mets
14 Jose Fernandez RHP Florida Marlins
15 Jed Bradley LHP Milwaukee Brewers
16 Chris Reed LHP LA Dodgers
17 C.J. Cron Jr. 1B LA Angels – $1.467M
18 Sonny Gray RHP Oakland Athletics – $1.54M
19 Matt Barnes RHP Boston Red Sox
20 Tyler Anderson LHP Colorado Rockies
21 Tyler Beede RHP Toronto Blue Jays
22 Kolten Wong 2B St. Louis Cardinals – $1.3M
23 Alex Meyer RHP Washington Nationals
24 Taylor Guerrieri RHP Tampa Bay Rays
25 Joe Ross RHP San Diego Padres
26 Blake Swihart C Boston Red Sox
27 Robert Stephenson RHP Cincinnati Reds
28 Sean Gilmartin LHP Atlanta Braves – $1.13M
29 Joe Panik SS San Francisco Giants – $1.116M
30 Levi Michael SS Minnesota Twins
31 Mikie Mahtook OF Tampa Bay Rays
32 Jake Hager SS Tampa Bay Rays – $963K
33 Kevin Matthews LHP Texas Rangers – $936K

 

I think that although you can’t be sure about these kinds of things, my gut feeling is that every first rounder this year will actually sign by August 15th.  I also predict that at least one signing will come minutes after the deadline, probably a Scott Boras client, and the league will allow the deal to pass.

 

 

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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