Robinson Cano and PEDs, again. Mike Clevinger and a second Tommy John surgery. Free agents. Podcasts. News and notes of recent player reports. There’s a good deal of info in this little piece for Fantasy Guru.
SPOT TO BOOKMARK
The 2021 MLB Free Agent Tracker is up. We will be updating this sucker for the next whatever months, as players sign with new squad. You can bookmark the page so that you can keep track of all the player movement this offseason.
SOMETHING TO LISTEN TO
I’ve been posting an MLB podcast each Monday and Saturday. Topics I’ve covered of late include: a review of the top-50 men at each position, who won the awards (MVP, CY, ROY, Gold Gloves), and in a note to the above, some player movement action. Hopefully there’s been enough in this to keep you interested. If you would like to hear something else discussed, let me know on Twitter (@BaseballGuys).
What a mess.
Mike Clevinger lied to his teammates, got traded to San Diego, hurt his arm, tried to pitch through it and ultimately his season ended on a sour note. We recently learned that his arm issue, the one that the team continually said wasn’t that big a deal, is a huge deal as he will need Tommy John surgery meaning he won’t throw a pitch in 2021 that means anything (he did sign a 2-year, $11.5 million deal to pay him through the 2022 season). “Each week kind of felt like it was a little bit different. We were optimistic at various points of time in the process, especially earlier in the process when the season ended. As we kind of went through the rehab process the last few weeks and he wasn’t getting drastically better, he felt like the surgery was the best route,” GM A.J. Preller said.
Adding concern to this situation is the fact that Clevinger already had T.J. surgery in 2012.
Don’t forget that the Padres sent six players to Cleveland for Clevinger, so getting little out of him in 2020 and nothing out of him in 2021 hurts.
Wipe Clevinger off your draft board.
WHAT WAS CANO THINKING?
Robinson Cano may have won two Gold Gloves, he may have made eight All-Star Teams, he may have won five Silver Slugger awards, he may have made nearly $215 million playing baseball, but there is no way to the question of – will he make the Hall of Fame?
The answer is no.
Cano was suspended for 80 games back in 2018 for PED use, though he said he had no idea he was taking an illegal drug. That explanation rings hollow today after he tested positive for a PED for a second time and because he is a repeat offender, the current suspension will cost him the entire 2021 season while costing him his entire $24 million salary as well. As of this writing Cano has yet to offer a public defense.
Cano rebounded last season to hit .303 with a .896 OPS as he went deep 10 times in 49 games. For many, that entire effort is now completely tainted. Further, his career accomplishment are completely under the microscope now. Regardless of your position on when he did what, as a 2-time loser in the PED game, his legacy is smashed. He had a great statistical career, and made more money than is imaginable, but when he goes to sleep at night will that be enough, or will he be dogged by the fact that the world believes him to be a phony and a cheater? I don’t know. I bet most people would cheat for $200 million. Would you?
THIS AND THAT
Brandon Belt hopes to be ready for the start of Spring Training after having heel surgery. It is not a given though. Before you say ‘who cares, it is Brandon Belt’ you might want to check out the back of his ball card as it holds the best numbers of his career including a stellar slash line of .309/.425/.591 from 2020. Those are MVP levels of production from the 32 year old.
Steven Brault had a 3.38 ERA and 1.20 WHIP last season, and it appears that teams are calling the Pirates to see if he might be available in trade. He doesn’t become a free agent until 2024, and he made just $591,000 last year, so calls make sense. Even so, there are some legit concerns here if anyone is expecting him to be anything other than an SP5 in the majors. The last three seasons he has a solid 1.41 GB/FB ratio with a below average 7.99 K/9. Even more concerning than the lack of punchouts is the absurdly high walk rate of 4.80 per nine. That’s just not going to work when you don’t miss way more bats than he does (it really doesn’t work for anyone, just ask Robbie Ray). Remember that 3.38 ERA? Was that really who he was last season? It wasn’t if you ask SIERA (5.07) or xFIP (5.00). Hope those feelers from other squads don’t include any big-time prospects.
A million dollars is great, as long as the rock that led to it doesn’t smash through your skull.
Aaron Brooks is staying in the KBO as he signed a 1-year deal. He went 11-4 with a 2.50 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 23 starts last season and will be paid just over a million dollars in 2021. He has a 6.49 ERA and 1.51 WHIP during his time in the big leagues.
Michael Chavis has 23 homers and 77 RBI in 137 games played. He’s also shown defensive versatility appearing 73 times at first, 53 times at second and 12 times in the outfield. Not a bad start to a career. You had to know there is a however coming, right? Here it is. Wait for it. However, there’s a massive contact issue going on here. In 493 at-bats Chavis has struck out 177 times. In 95 games as a rookie his K-rate was 33.2 percent. In 42 games in year two the rate was 31.6 percent. His career batting average of .241 falls right in line with that career 32.8 percent K-rate. If anything, that batting average might be a wee bit high. Given that the average isn’t likely to be any better without an overall change, and given that he owns a subpar .304 OBP to date, we could say that the start of his career has basically been a wash. The power and versatility are impressive for a youngster, but his overall offensive game needs to take a couple of strides to vault him above the fantasy riff-raff.
Johnny Cueto is going to pitch in the Dominican Winter League. He’s 34 years old and has made gazillions of dollars so why pitch in the offseason? He must feel that the 12 starts he made last season weren’t enough as he strives, against Father Time, to recapture some of his previous glory. Note that his last full season of innings was 2016, though he did throw 147.1 innings in 2017. He was solid in 2020 for the Giants, but the 5.40 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 2-3 record didn’t do anything for those that rostered him in fantasy.
Austin Slater (elbow) is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training. He dealt with a flexor strain last season but still managed to post an excellent effort with five homers, eight steals and a .914 OPS. The fact that he did all of that in 85 at-bats was just – outstanding. His first three big league seasons he didn’t show any of that with previous bests of five, seven and .750. Take away that two homer game against Clayton Kershaw and his homer total drops to three with an OPS in the mid .800’s which would look a lot different from the final numbers.