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Chat with MLBTR's Steve Adams: 1/31/23
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Steve Adams
Greetings everyone! We'll get underway at 1pm. Looking forward to it, as always!
Change of plans! Sorry to move the chat up on everyone, but it's for a pretty good reason -- to accommodate a chat with D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed that will launch at 1pm CT here instead of this one!
So, I'll chat for the next hour or so, and Nick will host a new chat at 1:00. Stick around for both!
A fresh link to Nick's chat will hit the site at 1:00
If I am hoping for a Tyler Mahle extension before the end of spring training, do you think that is something that could come to fruition? Also, is Max Kepler going to be a twin opening day or not? Thanks!
Steve Adams
I still expect Kepler to be moved, personally. The Twins just have so many LHH OFs, and he's kind of redundant with Gallo in particular.

Mahle extension would've seemed far likelier to me had he finished the year in good health. It's still possible, but if he's healthy this season he'll hit the market as a 29-year-old... have to think he's looking for five years in that scenario, and not sure the Twins would guarantee him that right now with the shoulder being a question mark.
I think a concerted push to extend Pablo Lopez feels a little likelier to me.
Chad Pinter is another underwhelming signing with better options available.  Michael Wacha and several relievers out there to support three good young starters.  Their projected payroll is a paltry 80 million.  They have spent at least 50 more in the past.  This seems a big middle finger to the fans.  Do you agree?
Steve Adams
I take a lot of flak from Reds fans for criticizing the team and am often branded a Reds hater, so I'll elaborate here using this example... I think the 2021-23 seasons in general are a slap in the face to Reds fans from an ownership group that has proven (largely through Phil Castellini's boneheaded comments) that it's out of touch with reality and with a fan base that deserves better. Reds fans call out my critique of their inactivity, questionable decisions etc. because they have a good group of passionate fans who care, and ownership is all but telling those same fans they don't give a crap when Phil's out there making comments like "Where else are you gonna go?"
The Reds can point to market size, their crappy TV deal, etc. But every team pulled in $65MM from national TV and streaming deals last year before even considering gate revenue, local TV deals, and other revenue streams. Every team got $30MM from the most recent sale of the remaining stake in BAMTech.

The Reds have spent modestly this winter, and in a vacuum, the Wil Myers and Luke Weaver deals are fine, but against the broader backdrop of the team, I'd be pissed off if I were a Reds fan. Especially when Phil Castellini is opening his mouth again to say they run the team "like a non-profit."
Is Will Smith going to sign somewhere or stick with a minor league contract?
Steve Adams
He should get a big league deal. Earlier in the offseason I'd have said he should even get two years based on how well he finished the season in Houston:
Now, I'm more expecting a one-year deal, but it should be a big league one with a decent guarantee all the same. Some team could get a nice bargain there.
Maxi Pow
Do you think it will be extended to Max Fried before arbitration?
Steve Adams
Not personally expecting it. He's a different animal from the Braves' other extensions, given how far into the arb process he already is. I've said before that I think a Fried extension will approach something like the Carlos Rodon deal, and that AAV is higher than the Braves' preferred max of around $22MM. Alex Anthopoulos has said it's not a hard cap that they put on annual salaries and that there are exceptions to it etc., but Fried would send the Braves into the second tier of luxury penalization and I just don't think that's something they have the appetite for, based on their lack of free-agent additions.
Padres Fan
Likelihood of Machado extending prior to end of this season? Do you see us keeping Machado, Tatis, Bogarts AND Soto long term?
Steve Adams
No, I don't see that. Machado has the chance to be the first player to ever sign two $300MM+ contracts. I fully expect he'll opt out. Padres could try to re-sign him, of course, but I'm sure Preller and Seidler will be aggressively pursuing Ohtani, too, and the possibility of trying to extend Soto looms as well.

I don't think all four will stay on long-term deals, but Bogaerts isn't going anywhere and Tatis isn't likely to, either.
Have the Yankees really improved? Obviously Rodon is a bog get but they still seem to have many questions in the infield and LF. Is this it fir them? Or will they make an addition prior to spring training?
Steve Adams
They've improved simply by adding Rodon, yeah, but probably not to the extent their fans would've hoped.

I don't think they'll make another addition unless they trade one of Hicks, Donaldson, Torres or Kiner-Falefa. The latter's probably the easiest to move but also lightens the luxury-tax concerns the least.
Does Chris Flexen get traded before opening day?
Steve Adams
I'd have said practically 100% on this a couple months ago. I'm more on the fence now. He's a fourth/fifth starter and most contenders have filled those spots by now. All it would take is a spring injury popping up, though, and he could easily have more appeal somewhere.
Who do you recommend that the Twins sign as another reliever?
Steve Adams
Andrew Chafin is the best reliever left on the market, so I recommend that any team seeking bullpen help -- Twins or otherwise -- sign him. Good fit in Minnesota though, sure, and they do need another 'pen arm.
White Sox fan
I know with the new rules, a player's remaining contract value is divided by remaining years to get the lux tax salary. How does it work for the team that traded him? For example, Benintendi gets $8.6M this year, but counts as $15M for lux tax. If he's traded after this season, does that figure get revised down? Won't make a difference for the Sox since they'll never get into lux tax issues with JR, but in theory, could it matter to a team like the Mets or Dodgers?
Steve Adams
My understanding is that the acquiring team is taxed at the AAV of what's left on the contract. So backloading a deal like Benintendi's makes it harder to trade him on the end. We've seen an increase in front-loaded or at least evenly distributed contracts over the past year and I have to imagine that's a significant reason for it.
the cardinals have been really quiet this off-season besides Contreras. Are they waiting for a domino to fall on the trade market or are they done for the off-season?
Steve Adams
I still think they'll sign one of the left-handed relievers, at least, but in terms of a big marquee trade or something, I'm obviously less bullish every week.
Why would I leave San Diego
Steve Adams
Because he can make a lot more than the five years and $150MM remaining on his contract. Padres might be the ones to pay him the raise, but they have a lot of other big-money issues on the horizon, too.
As rosters stand today who are you taking in the NL West. Padres or Dodgers?
Steve Adams
Who's the NL West favorite?

Padres (54.7% | 421 votes)
Dodgers (38.4% | 296 votes)
D-backs (1.4% | 11 votes)
Giants (2.7% | 21 votes)
Rockies (2.7% | 21 votes)

Total Votes: 770
Tyler O'Neill for Chris Flexen. Who says no?
Steve Adams
Cardinals aren't giving up two years of O'Neill for one year of a back-end starter.
Anthony B
What’s the holdup with the LH relievers market?
Steve Adams
I would imagine Chafin and Moore have similar asking prices and similar teams interested, and the rest of the market is waiting for them to blink and get on with it.
Unless Ben Cherington finds a price he likes for Bryan Reynolds, do the Pirates seem pretty set going into spring training? Or should they still look for bullpen and/or depth?
Steve Adams
I don't think anyone's going to meet his asking price, and I don't expect much more in the way of guaranteed deals, either. The Pirates could obviously stand to improve in a variety of areas, but this feels like the 40-man roster for now. Can't rule out a couple more non-roster pickups for camp though.
No way wacha gets 2/30 like he is asking right? Maybe 2/16
Steve Adams
We predicted 2/16 at the beginning of the offseason, yeah. I'd take the under on that now. I understand to an extent where he's probably coming from, looking at some of the deals around the league and at his own 3.32 ERA. But the lack of strikeouts and some good fortune in other areas make that dubious, and the three preceding years were terrible.

At this point, I lean toward him taking a year and $10MM plus incentives or something, then hoping he does better in free agency next year.

Problem, of course, is that if he's good enough in 2023, he can still receive a QO, which could put him in this spot again.
I remember some of the Red Sox beat suggesting a QO for Wacha back in September/October, which always seemed wildly implausible to the MLBTR team, but a healthy 2023 with comparable results to 2022 could put it in play.
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