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Chat with MLBTR's Steve Adams: 5/30/23
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Steve Adams
Good morning all! Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. I'll get this going at 1pm CT, so check back then, but in the meantime feel free to submit a question in advance. Looking forward to it, as always!
Let's get rolling
Distraught White Sox Fan
Will the White Sox spend in the offseason if they don't do a full-on rebuild this trade deadline/offseason? Not spending and not rebuilding would seem to keep them in the same place they have been since the second half of 2021.
Steve Adams
Depends on your definition of "spend." They only have $109MM committed to next year's team and they have a small arbitration class (Cease, Kopech, Vaughn, Crochet), so that won't drive up the price a ton. Add in Tim Anderson's salary, assuming he's not traded and the club option is picked up, and there should be another $40-50MM or so in terms of 2024 payroll alone before they even get back to current levels.

I don't think you're going to see owner Jerry Reinsdorf suddenly break character and beat the field for Shohei Ohtani, though, and it's a generally weak free-agent class.
So yes, I expect they'll spend to some extent, but you can argue they spent this past offseason to at least some extent... $90MM on Benintendi + Clevinger + Andrus. It didn't do much for them. I don't think they're one big free agent away from turning things around anyhow, but the best use would probably be to spread some of those dollars out on a range of free agents to help patch holes -- that is, if they're still going for it, which I expect to be the case.
They'll also need to replace Giolito and Lance Lynn in the rotation. It's going to be tough.
Kenyan Middleton
Am I a trade candidate and what will I cost?
Steve Adams
If he stays healthy yeah. Cheap veteran who'll be a free agent at season's end and is pitching well with the White Sox. The price tag won't be high; it's a two-month rental of a guy with minimal track record who signed a minor league deal. But I'd expect he'll draw interest. Velocity is back up to its best level in years, and he's sitting on a massive 20.3% swinging-strike rate.
Jerry Dipoto
I am so confused by this team I have assembled. Are they fringe playoff contenders? Legitimate threats to take the AL West? Over achievers that will fold like a deck of cards?
Steve Adams
The Mariners have a strong pitching staff and inconsistent lineup that's looked worse than it is because its best player (Julio Rodriguez) has been struggling. They started slowly last year, too. Losing Robbie Ray for the year hurts -- Yordan jokes aside -- but Bryce Miller has been a revelation (even if he's not THIS good... as yesterday's outing reminded) and they've got some key arms (most notably Andres Munoz) on the mend.
I still like the Mariners as a postseason team. I'm not sure I'd double down on my admittedly deliberately risky preseason decision to put them down as my predicted World Series winner, haha, but I think they're a good team still.
Angels 1961
Zach Neto in the running for ROY. His defense has saved halos and solidify the infield.
Steve Adams
He's been really good, yeah. I wouldn't call him the favorite or anything right now, but totally fair to say he's in the running and could move up the ranks. I've been impressed by him, particularly given how quickly he rose to the big leagues.
Logan Allen and Bibee have been outstanding for the Guards. Do you keep them in the rotation and trade Quantrill or Civale?
Steve Adams
I don't see how you could take either out, even if you get the whole staff back to full health. Bibee and Allen have outperformed Civale and Quantrill. I'd keep them both in the rotation even if it means bumping Quantrill down to the bullpen or something.

In some situations, you'd say maybe it'll sort itself out since you need to watch the innings of the young guys, but both Bibee and Allen came in around 130 IP last year in the minors, I believe, so workload isn't even as prominent a concern as it might be for some prospects. At this point, they've earned those spots.
Johnny Bench
Why haven’t the Reds who are badly in need  of good starting pitching called up there super prospect Andrew Abbott yet?
Steve Adams
I wouldn't call him a super-prospect, but I don't have a good answer as to why they're trotting out a journeyman like Ben Lively over him at this point. Lively's pitched well, so kudos to him, but going with him and Luke Weaver is an odd call. I think Abbott will be up at some point this summer, but Weaver's pitched well in two of his past three, which has probably delayed the promotion.
Juan Soto
Have I returned to my old self? Is a 400+ million dollar contract still in my future?
Steve Adams
I don't really think he was ever NOT his "old self." He basically had two bad months with the Padres -- last September and this April. He was still walking, making hard contact, etc. along the way. Guys have bad stretches. It happens. I've never thought $400MM+ was firmly off the table for Soto -- if he'd kept up at his April pace for a whole year, OK, sure, let's talk about it -- and I think he's still one of the best offensive players in the game.
Could the reds end up trading India? Would look real good atop the angels lineup even though they would have to end up platooning some combo of Drury/Urshela/Walsh if none of them go back in the trade package
Steve Adams
I don't think he'll be shopped by the Reds, but I'm sure they'd listen to offers. He has three years of control after the 2023 season, though, so the ask would be substantial.

None of Drury (on a two-year free agent deal), Urshela (free agent at season's end) or Walsh (ongoing, vague and concerning health issues) would be likely to be a prominent part of such a trade.
When will we see Elly De La Cruz?
Steve Adams
I don't think it's necessarily right on the horizon. They're taking a look at McLain at shortstop right now, and he's obviously impressed. Senzel's bat has picked up since the move to 3B, and whether that's coincidental or not, you don't want to take him out of the lineup right now. India's hitting well at second base.

I can see Senzel (two years of team control beyond '23) playing his way into trade candidacy. Injuries could open another spot. But right now, I think they've got a productive mix of non-1B infielders, and if that means EDLC spends more time getting seasoning down in AAA, that's not a bad thing. He still only has 157 PAs above Double-A and is still punching out at a 27% clip there, so it's not like the extra development time is a bad thing or somehow frivolous.
Lee Guetterman
Why is Zack Britton still unsigned?
Steve Adams
If any team were impressed enough by his multiple bullpen sessions/auditions/showcases for MLB scouts to give him a big league deal, I doubt he would be. The fact that he remains unsigned probably tells us what we need to know about how he's looked. I imagine if he were willing to take a minor league deal and continue building back up and working on things in AAA, he'd have had the opportunity to do so by now.
Patrick Sandoval would be a great extension candidate in my opinion. Maybe a 4/60 to get it done.
Steve Adams
Sandoval's taken some steps back in 2023, with his velocity, strikeout rate and swinging-strike rate all down noticeably this year. I was bullish on him heading into the year and wrote about him as an under-the-radar arm last summer, but this version is much shakier.

As for 4/60, he's a Super Two player making $2.75MM this year. A 4/60 deal would buy out three arb years and one free-agent season, so that's too much for the team to commit. Even if he maintained success and went through arbitration with strong raises -- say $6MM in '24, $11MM in '25 and $16MM in '26 -- that's still only buying out one free-agent season at a steep $27MM price point. The Angels wouldn't do it.
Beer Noises
Is the pitch clock responsible for all the pitching injuries this season?
Steve Adams
Pitchers are injured all the time. The number of Tommy John surgeries is up over the 2022 season but right in line with the 2021 season so far, last I looked (a couple weeks ago). I think there's a lot of confirmation bias where some fans see a change they don't like and want to use it as an explanation for pitching injuries, but no I don't think there's suddenly a rash of pitching injuries that didn't exist before because of the pitch clock.

Plus, a lot of younger guys have used the pitch clock in the minors in the past, so it's not necessarily even a change to everyone. Sure it's new to German Marquez, who had TJS. But it's not new to someone like Bryce Montes De Aca or any number of the younger guys who've had TJS or other arm injuries this year.
Seductive Woman
Which catcher does SD keep?  Austin Nola or Brett Sullivan?
Steve Adams
They just optioned Sullivan to AAA and added Gary Sanchez to the active roster, per a team announcement
James Outman is the NL ROY so far, Right?
Steve Adams
Corbin Carroll for me, but plenty of time for Outman (or someone else) to change that.
Starting Pitchers
Besides Lucas Giolito and Eduardo Rodriguez who else could be traded?
Steve Adams
I've said before that I don't even think E-Rod is a surefire trade candidate; the opt-out clause makes it really difficult to move him. It's possible, but the acquiring team is taking on tons of downside and that'll factor into the return.

Other names I can see hitting the market: Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Paul Blackburn, Trevor Williams, Luke Weaver... Michael Lorenzen and Matthew Boyd depending on how the Tigers play (if they're moving E-Rod, they'll listen on these two as well). Nick Pivetta, Corey Kluber.

Cubs are free-falling, which should put Stroman, Smyly and Hendricks in play if they can't turn it around. White Sox could certainly move Lynn.
If the Cardinals can't climb out of this -- they looked on their way to it for awhile before falling back down a bit -- then Montgomery or Flaherty make sense as impending free agents. They'd probably welcome the opportunity to get out from the Matz deal.
If Detroit finishes above .500 without Mize, Skubal, and Manning and with this crappy offense, then A.J. Hinch is a magician.
Steve Adams
Hinch deserves a lot of credit in that case, but it'd also be a testament to president of baseball ops Scott Harris, AGMs Sam Menzin, Jay Sartori and Rob Metzler, the rest of the front office, etc.

They brought in a bunch of MLB-ready pieces this winter (Vierling, Maton, McKinstry, Holton, to name a few), held onto Alex Lange (who is a monster) to close games. And the coaching staff, analytics and player development group deserve credit for getting Greene and Torkelson on an upward trajectory of late.

The Tigers are still below .500, but not by much -- they're exceeding all reasonable preseason expectations.
Is the AL central the worst a division has ever been for a season? I’d take all the AL east and west teams minus Oakland in a 7 game series.
Steve Adams
I don't know if it's the worst  ever -- I'd have to assume there've been some others -- but it's bad, yeah. I'd take the Twins over some of the bottom teams in the East/West or at least put them on par, since I think they're set up better for a 7-game series than an everyday schedule. A playoff series would allow them to lean on Ryan, Gray and Lopez in the rotation (maybe Ober/Varland in the fourth spot) and build in organic rest days to heavily rely on Jhoan Duran late in games.

But, to your broader point: it's a bad, bad division, haha. Yes.
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