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Chat with MLBTR's Steve Adams: 3/28/23
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Steve Adams
Greetings all! Let's chat for an hour amid the ongoing flurry of spring training moves and newds.
News, even
Do you think O Neill can play CF all year?  Injury chances increase?
Steve Adams
I think it'll be a fluid situation and imagine he'll still spend some time in left field. He's missed 80-plus games himself over the past two seasons, so I don't think it's reasonable to just expect him to play 150+ in CF suddenly.
Where does Pache end up? Seems like a struggling A's team is the type of team he would have ended up with. Anywhere going to give him a legitimate big league chance?
Steve Adams
I like him with the Rockies, Royals, Reds -- some rebuilding team without a clear answer in center. I suppose Colorado has Daza, but he's nowhere close to the same level of defender
With the timing of Hoskins injury in a contract year, does he become a prime candidate for a Farhan special like Conforto and Haniger? (2-3 years/$35-45M with a player option after the first season). He's also a local boy which the current regime seems to love
Steve Adams
As a first baseman only, that feels pretty steep. Josh Bell just got 2/32 with an opt-out off a healthy season in which he was pretty productive for two thirds of the year.
Master Guard
Does the McKenzie injury lower the Guardians chances of winning the AL Central? It doesn’t appear that it matters based on the other teams in the division.
Steve Adams
He's their second-best starter and will miss at least a month of the season, possibly close to two. I think it's pretty clear it hurts them and improves the Twins and White Sox' chances a bit.
Surprised Hiura wasn't claimed?
Steve Adams
I'm not. I wrote about how he didn't look like a lock to make the roster a few weeks ago and have indicated on multiple occasions that I just don't think he's very good or has much value:

There's no way he's repeating last year's BABIP and HR/FB rates, and he has minimal (if any) defensive value. There's a lot of fixation on who he was as a rookie in 2019, but the approach has gotten so much worse since that point, and even that rookie season was hugely BABIP-dependent.

Hiura hits the hell out of the ball when he makes contact, but it's a short-side platoon, 1B-only skill set with so much swing-and-miss that the OBP is never going to be any good. That's not a skill set MLB teams care for, in general.
how surprised are you that Cleveland and Gimenez are close to finalizing a long term deal.  Something Lindor wouldn't do before he was traded
Steve Adams
Every player is different. It seems like Gimenez's 7-year, $106MM deal is probably in the ballpark of the nine-figure deal that Cleveland offered Lindor. Gimenez said yes. Lindor said no. Everyone has different risk tolerance, priorities, etc.

Good for Cleveland for getting it done. Gimenez is a really good, really underrated player
Wrote about how good Gimenez is late last year too:
Thoughts on HOU 2B to start with Altuve down? Is it Dubon? Is it Hensley? Or both?
Steve Adams
Probably some of both, but I'd like to see Hensley get more playing time. We already kind of know what Dubon is.
Should I be concerned about Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall? Help me not be. I will believe the orioles have developed a legit starter when I see it
Steve Adams
I think it's fair to be concerned about Rodriguez in the general sense that any pitching prospect coming off a notable injury (lat strain, in this case) carries increased risk. I don't think the ceiling on him has changed any, but the attrition rate on pitching prospects as a whole is significant.

Hall is a guy who scouts of pegged as a potential reliever for a long time now. I tend to think that's where he'll end up, though I envision him as a pretty damn good one.
Thoughts on the Hoerner extension? I'm not a fan of it in my opinion.
Steve Adams
It's such a weird deal for both parties. I can't remember an extension where I disliked it for both sides, but this fits the bill.

Hoerner's giving away his age-29 season and agreeing to head into free agency at 30 instead, and he's doing so at a point when he's already earning notable money in arbitration with no real risk of being non-tendered anytime in the future. We don't see players take that risk, because there's just not much upside.

It's even weirder for the Cubs, though. They're basically putting $35MM on the line right now in order to buy out one year of Nico at what could be an above-market rate if he doesn't start hitting for power -- and his batted-ball profile doesn't look like someone on the cusp of a power surge.
I'd have assumed a Hoerner extension would lock in a pair of free-agent seasons and maybe add an option or something; I don't feel like Hoerner got so much money that it was worth it for him to forgo free agency at 29, and I don't feel like the Cubs saved enough money since they priced the free-agent and arb years so aggressively. It's just a weird deal.
Tim Dierkes, Anthony Franco and I chatted about this a bit last night, and we all agreed it's just bizarre, especially from the team side (I think they liked Nico's end of it a bit better than I did)
Was reading the Hiura post and saw the note that he would have to give up his $2.2M contract salary if he chose free agency.  If the White Sox DFA Leury Garcia and he clears waivers -- which seems likely since he's owed $11M over the next two years -- would he similarly have to give up his $11M to opt for free agency rather than get sent to the Sox minor league system?  Or does he have different choices since he has more years of service?
Steve Adams
Once a player has five-plus years of service they can reject an outright and retain their entire salary. Hiura has three-plus. Leury has eight-plus.
So Garcia can reject any assignment to the minors and retain his whole salary
New team would pay him the prorated league minimum for any MLB time, which would be subtracted from what the White Sox owe. ChiSox remain on the hook for the rest of it. That applies in 2024 as well, since he's signed through that season.
Minor League Options
Does it count against the 5-times-per-season limit when a player is optioned to begin the season?  Or does it only count after the season begins, when the player has been optioned from the active roster?
Steve Adams
Initial option to the minors out of camp also counts.
I understand what you're saying about Hiura, and there are certainly flaws, but he's a 25 year old with a career slugging percentage of .453. And as bad as last year looked, his OPS vs. RHP was .866. If I'm a dog crap team like the Tigers, Pirates, A's, Rockies, or Reds, why not at least give him a bunch of at bats at DH and see if you found a lottery ticket?
Steve Adams
That career slugging percentage includes his rookie season, which was a long time and a bunch of swing changes ago. He's slugged .394 over the past three seasons, and last year's numbers against righties were propped up by a .369 average on balls in play and ludicrous 37% homer-to-flyball rate. It's not sustainable, and you factor in striking out at a 40% clip against righties, it's just an ugly package all around.
Is Eduard Julien for real? If he translates his lower level production to the MLB, he's a star.
Steve Adams
I think the general expectation on Julien is that he can hit/walk his way to a premium OBP with his eyes closed, but the defense is always going to be suspect wherever he lands.
Any chance Hyun Jin Ryu has an impact on the Jays roster this season?
Steve Adams
Yeah he's hoping to be back by mid-July, and healthy Ryu has always been at least an average starter, at times a premium one. He's 35 coming off TJS, so it's more feasible to just step in as a decent back-of-the-rotation guy, but that can have value in what should be a competitive division.
Last minute trades?  Ikf is very redundant..
Steve Adams
I'm not going to rule one out or anything, but Kiner-Falefa has been redundant for awhile now and the Yankees have wanted to lower their luxury number for awhile now. A trade still hasn't come together.

Maybe Opening Day looming will be a catalyst and spark some late compromises, but I just don't think he has a ton of surplus value at $6MM and only one year of control remaining.
With Hoskins out for the year what do you think the Phillies do in regard to 1B? I heard Hall would get a lot of AB's but does he get any help. I'm just not confident in Hall, tbh.
Steve Adams
Lots of power, lots of K's and few walks against righties. I think he can hold his own from a power standpoint but probably with a pretty weak OBP. Against LHP, I imagine you'll see plenty of Bohm mixing in (Sosa/Harrison at 3B on those days), maybe get JTR some starts at 1B.

I think a lot of times, people will hear "Hall's going to get a lot of ABs" and think "Oh not they're not going to do anything?"

If Hall's not hitting mid-May or early June, the Phillies will move things around. He has options, they could play Bohm at 1B regularly while they look for a better option and go with Sosa's defense at 3B.

There's a decent chance they're in the market for a 1B this summer, but going in house for now seems fine. If they want to add Darin Ruf or something at put him in a part-time 1B gig, that'd be perfectly logical, but I don't think it's a necessity either.
The Soothsayer
Hey Steve! Which young outfielder has the best year, Nootbaar, Friedl, or Mitchell?
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