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Chat with MLBTR's Steve Adams: 4/18/23
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Steve Adams
Good morning, all! We'll get this started at 1pm CT, but feel free to start asking questions sooner if you'd like!
Greetings! Let's get rolling
Regardless of position or years of control left or contract, who is the big “MIDDLE OF THE ORDER” bat that will be available at the deadline?
Steve Adams
Bryan Reynolds has been just that so far in 2023, and he'll inevitably see his name come up again.

Another candidate, and I don't think many would qualify this guy as a "BIG MIDDLE OF THE ORDER" bat, but you'd probably take .270/.350/.449 over a sample of 1334 plate appearances .... Marlins 1B Garrett Cooper.

Rockies could put CJ Cron out there again, but I've long since given up on trying to determine what they might do at the deadline.
There are plenty of guys who could pop up on the rumor circuit if their teams flop, not that I'm expecting them to. But if the Jays are buried, Matt Chapman's a free agent at season's end, just as one unlikely example
Ray Oyler
Over/under on A’s wins this year? I got them at 30
Steve Adams
It's bad in Oakland but not QUITE that bad. ...Not quite. I still think they'll avoid "worst season of the modern era," but that's a low bar to clear
Anthony used his newsletter to argue that it’s time for the Diamondbacks to cut bait re: MadBum.
When Harris comes back from the IL, should the Braves do the same with Ozuna?
Steve Adams
Yeah, Anthony wrote about how the D-backs need to move on from Bumgarner sooner than later in his latest Front Office piece, and I think a lot of the same logic applies to the Braves and Ozuna.

I'm frankly not sure why they've kept him to this point. Even last year, his 23 homers were offset by a .270 OBP and awful defense. He's hurting the team more than he's helping it. I understand wanting to salvage some of the investment, but that opportunity is long gone. It's a sunk cost. Move on.
Did I find a gem in Brandon Marsh?
Steve Adams
I think he found a viable everyday OF and parted with a viable everyday catcher to get him. Marsh might be getting a bunch of attention right now since he's hitting near .400, but he's also seeing nearly half the balls he put into play drop for hits (48.4%, to be exact). That'll regress, but I liked the trade well enough for both parties last year, and the Phils made some changes to Marsh's stance and swing mechanics that seem to have unlocked some legitimately positive gains.
Chris Young
Dane Dunning for Lars Nootbar. Who says no?
Steve Adams
I'm not sure if you're wildly overvaluing Dunning or wildly undervaluing Noot, but the Cardinals wouldn't give consideration to it. Nootbaar is a prime breakout candidate this year, and Dunning's a fine fifth starter, but that's not going to get someone with Nootbaar's batted-ball profile and remaining club control in a trade.
I know Woodruff is hurt now, and so is Burnes (to a lesser extent), but who goes first in a trade - one of those two or Adames?
Steve Adams
I don't think any of them are going to be traded. The Brewers are 12-5 with a +32 run differential in a weak division. This coming offseason, it might be another story. Burnes is least likely to sign an extension (and would cost the most), so following the 2023 season, I'd probably say Burnes becomes the likeliest candidate.
David Fletcher
I know why I was sent down, but why was I removed from the 40-man roster?  Will I make it back up or will I be traded?
Steve Adams
There was no risk for the Angels to try to remove him and plenty of incentive to do it. If another team claimed him, they were spared the remainder of a contract they didn't want. That was never going to happen, though, with the way Fletcher has hit in recent years.

Removing him from the 40-man allows them to add someone else, gives them more flexibility. And doing so now, before he reaches five full years of MLB service, means he can't reject the assignment and elect free agency without forfeiting the remainder of his deal.
The Angels were going to be stuck paying the bill regardless, so removing him at a time when they're assured to retain his rights in the perhaps slight chance that he gets going in AAA makes sense.
No one's going to trade for Fletcher unless the Halos pick up most of the tab. He's a .258/.292/.323 hitter in his past 909 PAs and is still owed around $19MM in guaranteed money, including the remainder of this year's prorated $6MM salary.
They'll hope he gets back on track in Salt Lake for now.
Has Cody Bellinger figured it out and worked his way back close to his glory years?
Steve Adams
There are plenty of positives beyond the raw batting line -- mostly the vastly reduced strikeout rate and pretty significant gains in his contact rate both in the strike zone and off the plate.

He's still not hitting the ball hard though. He has four barrels, which include his three home runs, but his average exit velo is under 87 mph and his overall hard-hit rate is at 34%.

When Bellinger was at his best, he was averaging 91.1 mph off the bat and rocking a hard-hit rate near 46%.

So... yes there's reason to think he's better than he's been in years. But no, I don't think he's back to peak Bellinger. At least not yet.
If the white sox are out of it by the Deadline, do you think the Orioles could pry Cease from them? Would Holliday as the headliner be a good start?
Steve Adams
I don't think they'd trade Cease even if they fell out of it. This front office has already gone through one grueling rebuild, and I just don't see them doing it again when they have a good number of talented players controlled well beyond 2023 (Cease, through 2025, among them).

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf is extraordinarily loyal to his group, and he's also 87 years old. It's macabre to point things like this out, perhaps, but he's a very old man who wants to see his team win. I don't think he's going to sign off on another three- or four-year rebuild.
What value does Eduardo Escobar have in a trade?
Steve Adams
The Mets beat the market to sign him in the first place, and now he's underperforming. He didn't have much trade value even if he was playing well... the Mets, by definition, acquired him by being willing to pay more than other teams valued him. Now that he's not hitting, there's no trade value. Such is the nature of struggling free agents.
seriously concerned about the padres offense, shut out in back to back games. 2-6 in last 8 games with decent pitching. How much should we expect Tatis's return to help, and is there hope otherwise for this extremely disappointing offense?
Steve Adams
Every team goes through stretches over the course of a season where the offense looks lost, or the bullpen looks bleak, or the rotation feels like it can't get out of the fourth inning. They're just magnified early in the season when you see things like Soto's batting average starting with a 1.

I don't think the Padres' recent offensive doldrums are any reason for panic. Generally speaking, outside of a team being ravaged by serious injury, most early-season developments wind up being little more than noise.

The Mariners were 21-28 through Memorial Day last year and wound up making the playoffs. I don't want to say April stats and trends don't matter at all, because in certain cases they do, but there's a lot of handwringing (or, on the other end, rejoicing) over small samples early in the season that wind up getting balanced out over 162.
Could a Grayson Rodriguez for Jordan Walker swap happen?
Steve Adams
Maybe in a fantasy league? Haha -- I would love a challenge trade of that nature. It'd be bananas. But there's a reason you can't think of a recent example of two top-10 overall prospects being swapped for one another. Get that trade wrong and it's an immediately fireable offense for that GM/president. Closest I can even think of in recent memory was Chisholm/Gallen, which worked out well for both Miami and Arizona.

Beyond the simple fact that elite prospect-for-elite prospect trades just don't happen in general, Baltimore's strength is its position players. The O's need more pitching, and trading GrayRod for a bat -- even a good one -- subtracts from their greatest area of need.
Martin Perez is already showing that last year wasn't a fluke. What kinda contract can he get this winter?
Steve Adams
Not sure I agree with the premise; his walk rate is up, velo and ground-ball rates are down. Strikeouts are up, but his swinging-strike rate isn't.

Generally, if Perez were able to repeat his 2022 numbers over a full year, I think two or even three years near his current salary would be feasible, but it's just a big bet on a guy that doesn't miss a lot of bats and is already in his mid-30s.

Dallas Keuchel got 3 and 55.5 from the White Sox for a similar skill set, and although it went poorly, Perez's camp would probably set their sights on topping that.
I'm just not convinced he's going to repeat 2022 though.
I don’t disagree on Jerry Reinsdorf, but he’s hardly making the right moves to win at 87. He should be all in.
Steve Adams
I agree with that sentiment -- the White Sox have made some strange moves and spent a bunch of money on expensive relievers that looks questionable. They also perennially have next to zero depth beyond their talented but injury-prone core. It's a big reason I don't buy the Sox as legitimate contenders over a full season. The defense is still rough, and once they incur a few injuries, they're trotting out some pretty questionable alternatives. A contending team's sixth starter should be better than Davis Martin
Javier Baez
I gotta get out of Detroit. Any takers?
Steve Adams
Nope. Not with that contract remaining. Baez can opt out of the final four years and $98MM on his deal at the end of the season, but it'd take the granddaddy of Javy Hot Streaks to make that seem feasible
So what is your opinion on the experimental rule in the Atlantic Coast league allowing for designated pinch runners?
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