With the signings of Jose Abreu and Jacob deGrom, the off-season feels officially underway, and I feel like I’m falling behind on some general moves and shakes around the game.

We’ll get back to the lists and cover the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday. 

The Abreu signing is unique for our purposes in that it creates value for the team he leaves behind and the team he’s joining. If the team lets Eloy Jimenez DH and installs Andrew Vaughn at first base, both youngsters get a glowing arrow up. No longer condemned to wander the outfield, they can finally settle into everyday roles. The club has been batting Tim Anderson at the top for a long time, but his high-contact, low-walk approach would be better employed in an RBI spot. Trouble is that’s true for several White Sox. A healthy Yoan Moncada could lead off, but he was awful last season, posting a .273 on base percentage in 104 games. But let’s just pretend he can bounce back to something like the .367 OBP he posted in 2019 or the .375 from 2021. 

I’d probably lay it out like this: 

1. 3B Yoan Moncada 

2. OF Luis Robert 

3. DH Eloy Jimenez 

4. SS Tim Anderson

5. 1B Andrew Vaughn

6. C Yasmani Grandal 

That’s a compelling top six. Could arrange the top five in any sequence. What happens with seven through nine is anyone’s guess.

Roster resource has Oscar Colas written into right field batting eighth. That’s fun. They’ve also got Romy Gonzalez getting a reunion with the playing time he received last season, opening up at 2nd base in the nine spot. Grains of salt all around. They’ve also got Eloy playing left field. Ought to be an investigation if that’s the case. No offense to Gavin Sheets, who wound up at DH hitting sixth in the RR math (bumping Grandal to seven). Their focus should be protecting Eloy’s health the way Houston protects Yordan Alvarez. Only reason it hasn’t happened so far is the team’s glut of non defenders. Or so you’d hope. 

On paper, the team could stand to add a free agent infielder and a free agent outfielder. With Tony LaRussa out of town, Leury Garcia no longer counts as both. I suppose Jake Burger belongs in the second base picture somewhere, but the hidden-second-baseman trick could become less viable under the new shift rules. Maybe he could play third base and Moncada could move back to second? Yeah, that’s the ticket! Could actually work if both hit. Then the lineup is seven deep without a glaring hole on defense. Maybe even, dare I say it, a good defense? Depending what they do in left and right field? 

If things get tight on the 40-man, they should consider releasing Leury Garcia and his 39 wRC+ from 2022. He’s under contract for another $11 million through 2024, but the damage done by that sunk cost only gets worse across time if you’re missing opportunities to add or retain value for your 40-man roster. 

On the Houston side of the Abreu signing, they built a dominant offense despite getting glove-first-catcher outcomes at first base in 2022, when Yuli Gurriel slashed .242/.288/.360 with eight home runs in 146 games. Everyone in the lineup gets a little up arrow from Abreu joining the squad, and I’m excited to see what Jose can do in Minute Maid park. He’s generated a lot of power to center-right in his major league career, but I expect him to adjust his approach to hunt the Crawford boxes: a strategy that also works well in Texas and Oakland. Should also make a nice change for him to join a lineup filled with productive, deep-count hitters. Feels to me like they might let Verlander walk and open up a sixth-starter type chance for Razzball-fave Hunter Brown to bump Jose Urquidy or Lance McCullers to the bullpen. 

Here’s a link to Grey’s Hunter Brown, 2023 Fantasy Outlook.

In the piece, Grey says he’d be “mildly shocked if Verlander doesn’t return to the Astros,” and I tend to agree that they’re the frontrunners to sign him, but he also wrote that before Abreu signed. Houston’s got plenty of money, but I wonder if that changes the shock level at all for a Verlander departure. They’ve still got a patchwork outfield in left and center. Chas McCormick played well, but Jake Meyers did not, and Roster Resource has him starting in center today. Pedro Leon could make a charge this spring. Brandon Nimmo could be a great fit. Verlander defies time and aging and is a fate-changing player in the postseason, but I can see how they’d decide to let him go, especially after firing the nerdy numbers guy because Jeff Bagwell didn’t like him. Kidding. I’m sure that wasn’t the only reason. 

Over to the deGrom story, I absolutely love this for the Rangers.

You might recall I liked their big spend last winter, and this makes that look even better. Sure, it might not look ideal half a decade from now, but I don’t live for the future that way. Just ask my doctor. We might all be dead in five years. Most of us won’t be, I hope. The future is unknowable, is all I’m saying. Except for some things. It’s perfectly knowable that the Rangers’ ownership group will still be absurdly wealthy in five years, and this contract might make them even more wealthy. That part of reporting always seems to be missing somehow. As the Mets scramble to feed stories to hungry writers ready to parrot their talking points, reporters fail to say a wealth-generating asset has been lost to bartering. National reporters debating the value of deGrom’s contract in four years fail to cite how much money and value he can generate for the ownership group over that time frame. Wins and losses are one measurement and that’s fine, but the Rangers are building a brand. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the wealth-added piece of free agency gets ignored. The same goes for franchises gaining value year-over-year when labor is at the table. It’s all about the hard numbers at the bottom of the yearly budget math–not about how much someone paid for a team and how much someone could sell it for today.

Doesn’t change much, fantasy wise. Nobody to block in Texas, which is now a good place to pitch. Maybe he’ll stay healthier in the warmer weather, far away from the Mets’ team doctors. 

Jesse Winker got dealt to Milwaukee in exchange for a package including Kolten Wong, so it’s stock up for Winker and stock down for Wong. Doesn’t have to get much more complicated than that, but Milwaukee confuses me. Did not need an outfielder. All five of their top five prospects are outfielders. I’m concerned this could impact Sal Frelick’s 2023 playing time. I still think he’s the best outfielder they’ve got on the roster. 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Jolt In Flow
Jolt In Flow
2 months ago

Hey Itch,

Long time, no speak. I hope I can get your take on another player from the Rangers.

If you had Bubba Thompson on your team and you had a chance to extend him (dynasty league – AL only – auction draft) a year or two, would you consider it? Simply for the steals.

I hope all is well. Really looking forward to your AL team prospect deep dives. And a Merry Christmas to you and yours in case I don’t post over the next few weeks.

Jolt

Harry Beanebag
Harry Beanebag
2 months ago

Being a Brewer fan, the thinking here is that Winker will just be DH. If agree, give Mitchell, Frelick, Ruiz, etc. opportunities to play this this year.

junior56
junior56
2 months ago

Hi Itch!
Thanks for writing this piece. Good time to take note of the off season moves and take note to the dynamics in play.

In a 16-team dynasty league and have a few teams looking for prospects right now. Of this list who would you hold and who would you deal?

Carlos Jorge
Kyren Paris
Wenceel Perez
Cristian Santana
Peyton Burdick
Hudson Haskins
Joshua Baez
Drew Romo
Ryne Nelson

Thanks!

NUX
NUX
2 months ago

Sitting in the car in the driveway again while the kid naps… listening to James and Jesse on the pod reviewing your team/available players for that Highlander draft. Congrats on that win brother! And way to rep Team Razz, as always

Loving the offseason content. And I just want to thank you for your help over the last few years with dynasty. I comment a bit less frequently than I had been… bc you taught me to fish bruv!!!

Not shocked to hear that you’re winning industry leagues like that. I’ve been fairing well over here myself last few years and it’s bc of your rankings (and Grey’s). But the value I get from the youngins I scoop off the wire… just bc I read your stuff…. Its so critical to my success.

I had been hesitant to say that here over last year or so bc I know several leaguemates are reading. But by now they have prob already figured me out and why I’ve been successful. You are really F’ing good at what you do. Thanks for sharing that talent with us. Have a lovely Sunday bruthaman ??

NUX
NUX
Reply to  NUX
2 months ago

Not sure why that last comment ended with question marks. I’m (not) Ron Burgundy?

But Lol!!!! Even better, you’ve just logged on to the pod hahah I didn’t read the preview before turning it on. Didn’t realize this draft was happening right now live on the Pod. This will be a great nap shift. Though depending on how many you get poached… less fun for you I bet! What a cool idea. Is this like the funnest league setup you’ve played in? Obvi requires a dedicated league of people everyone can trust is in for the long haul. But wonder if you guys know about people who set up a Mirror league of Highlander yet?

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

Bryan Reynolds would make a ton of sense in Houston. Pittsburgh will give him up for too little. Maybe Meyers plus 3 midlevel prospects. Nimmo was a good name to toss out as well.

galica1234
galica1234
2 months ago

The Itch!!!

Awesome!!!

a. Great report/intel on the recent signings. My take…

1 Milwaukee is not done dealing Winker yet. Maybe they trade him around super II and let Frelick play.

2 That would be awesome if Eloy got FT ABs at DH, Vaughn at 1B and maybe Sheets in LF. Leury has worn out his welcome so the Jakester at 3B would also be great, assuming Moncada goes to 2B.

b. George Carlin quote of the day for December 4, 2022

‘And this civilization of ours that we’re so proud of, this civilization with its so-called civilized behavior, you ever stop and realize how fragile all this is? How fragile the whole structure, how easily it can all just break right down, just break right down. It wouldn’t take much. It’ll probably happen in less than two years. It wouldn’t take much to throw us right back into barbaric times. All you’d have to do would be eliminate electricity. That’s all. But completely. Eliminate electricity. So, no electricity, no lights. You’re back to candles and lanterns. Campfires and bonfires. Batteries couldn’t be recharged. Generators couldn’t be refueled because fuel is pumped electrically. So is water, by the way. So no lights, no fuel, no water, no computers. And computers run everything. And among the many things computers run that operate on electricity are all of the security systems in all of our jails and prisons and nut houses. So suddenly without electricity, all across America the gates and cell doors of penitentiaries and mental institutions would fly open and out would come all of our old friends. The ones who’ve been away, at camp. Serial killers, mass murderers, felony rapists, armed robbers, car jackers, home invaders, thieves, burglars, kidnappers, sadists, pedophiles, sexual predators, pimps, pushers, pornographers, speed freaks, crack heads, sick junkies. All the ethnic street gangs. Blacks, Spanish and Asian gangs, Japanese Yakuza, Russian Mafia, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Sicilian hit man, Italian mobsters, Jamaican and Colombian drug gangs. And those are just the ones we caught. Lets not forget their counter-parts still on the outside right now waiting to hook up with their prison buddies so they can start a new organization, The American Federation of Sociopaths. Just what the country needs. Another special interest group. Eight to ten million of them there would be. Counting all the parolees and all the probationers and the ones who’ve never been caught. Eight to ten million bitter, angry, violent, sexually hyperactive alpha males with nothing to do. No hobbies. No medication. No scruples. Just a bunch of bad guys looking for a good time. Maybe dropping by your house. “Hi. Hope we’re not intruding. Got any beer? Oh, good. Well, I got about 1400 really thirsty guys here. How about women? Got any women? Oh, just your wife, huh? Well, I think we can make that work. Now boys, there’s a lady here. So I want you to mind your manners and wait your turn.” Police wouldn’t help you. They’d be gone at the first sign of trouble. They’d be home protecting their own families. So would the Army and the National Guard. You’d be alone. You’d be on your own. You’d be S.O.L. And J.W.F. Shit out of luck and jolly well fucked. Shit out of luck and jolly well fucked. After a couple of years of living like that, beheadings would be the least of your problems. People would be lining up to be beheaded.’

LIFE IS WORTH LOSING (2006)

Cheers,
Ante

fivepoundbass
fivepoundbass
Reply to  galica1234
2 months ago

Glad he was wrong about that happening in less than two years.

galica1234
galica1234
Reply to  fivepoundbass
2 months ago

fivepoundbass!!

True. A bit comical on his prediction in 2 years or less.

The place where I was based when I was in Central African Republic (Lobaye Province) had no running water, no electricity, no Internet and no mobile phone network. It’s frightening but like a cold shower awakening to appreciate what we have in the western/civilized/industrial world. One day, the dollar system, the Internet and electricity will all collapse and humanity will be left with our memories and subsistence farming.

Cheers,
Ante