No on Keuchel, Yes on Kimbrel

The days are short and my workload is long, so just for the sake of variety, here’s a new thread.

But, yes on Kimbrel, no on Keuchel, in one man’s opinion. Kimbrel probably signs a shorter-term deal than already envisioned, so what’s not to like there? But more importantly, it’s easier to find a spot for young pitchers deserving of opportunities in an 8-man pen vs. a 5-man rotation. And recent injury woes aside, our bullpen is much more medically volatile than our relief corps. You have a spot for Kimbrel right now. He shifts everybody down a rung, and the one who falls off the ladder is Sam Freeman or something.

I think the injury concerns have been overplayed because our GM doesn’t care about how you react, and they’re just shutting these guys down to be extra cautious. I could be wrong, but I’ve not heard anything yet that leads me to believe any of these injuries are serious, other than Soroka. Folty will not make the opening day start, but we’ve been told that he won’t actually miss a start. It seems the same thing with Gausman. So if Folty, Gausman, Teheran, and Newcomb are all healthy, then you just simply don’t have room for Keuchel, Wright, Touki, Fried, etc.

You could say that they could have traded Teheran, and you would be right. But the Braves clearly do not want to give up on Teheran yet. They could probably trade him and wash his salary, but they clearly want more than that. And no one, probably the Braves included, know what to make of this:

Everyone is wondering if he’s the 86-mph fastball pitcher or the 91-92 mph fastball pitcher. And if he’s somewhere in the low-90’s, they probably want to keep him, pay him his $11M and $12M over the next couple years, and enjoy some serious surplus value. Nothing wrong with that.

We are actually not that much different in roster approach than we were last year. We still don’t know who the majority of our young players truly are, and they don’t want to commit roster spots elsewhere while they try to figure out. But with Kimbrel, you don’t really have to do that. They should sign Craig Kimbrel. Bottom line.

136 thoughts on “No on Keuchel, Yes on Kimbrel”

  1. I’m much, much more concerned about the pen than I am the rotation, too. Even if a Starter goes down, or proves ineffective, you’ve got plenty of guys on the ready there.

    The pen? Minter’s battling a shoulder, and had some rocky outings as a closer last season. Viz has talent, but is a perpetual question mark. O’Day’s coming off of injury. There’s just a whole host of questions. Plus, closer by committee is garbage. It’s what teams say when no one has solidified the role, because it makes them appear as if they had a plan. They don’t. Go sign Kimbrel, and boot Sam Freeman, or whoever else off the roster, and get some clarity here.

  2. When teams are convinced they are not winners, they sell their closer especially if he is a top flight closer. When teams are convinced they are winners or even on the upswing, they buy (or develop) a solid top flight closer. Viz or Minter could be that but they’re not quite ready. If we go along with what the FO seems to think and that last year was a year too early then this year is right on time and the holes need to be filled. But, the more important thought, is that the Braves won’t be a winner for just one year or just two years. We plan on a long winning streak. Why would we want to sign Kimbrel for just one year if we will need a closer for another 5-6 years? And, if we’re going to give up a draft choice, why do it for just one year’s service of any player? That seems like a real waste. The Braves should, rather must, sign Kimbrel for three years with an option for 4. Decline or not, he will be an elite closer for a long time. The best seem to last until they are over 40 and Kimbrel is on that path. There is no reason we couldn’t surround him with other elite relievers with closer potential like Viz and Minter and others. That’s what the Yankees would do.

    I also think that having someone like Kimbrel at the back end will give the offense a boost by increasing the odds that comebacks will be successful. Knowing that as long as we’re within one or two runs, we can still win. We had a lot of late inning comebacks last year. That kind of intangible value can’t really be measured.

    It just seems so obvious at this point. Every data analysis should support it. If Kimbrel can deliver 2 WAR then he should easily pay of a $16M AAV. Based upon what Fangraphs have as a prediction for our pen, we could use a 2 WAR boost.

  3. Are you kidding? That ship has sailed. I thought Kimbrel would sign a hometown discount, but they won’t do it. Why spend money on Kimbrel when a new building in The Battery may need a fancy elevator and some really good crown molding?

  4. I’m definitely in on Kimbrel. Some of the bullpen guys I don’t expect much from have had a good spring, but I’m still not confident in them going forward. Beyond the guys mentioned above, Sobotka has looked really shaky.

  5. Spot on, Roger. Even more so with all the u certainty surrounding not only Minter and Viz but O’Day as well who’s still injured. Kimbrel is available, they have to go after him now.

  6. @9

    Well then how about signing him for…wait for it…market value? It’s such an absurd proposition, I know…I’ll wait for you to recover.

  7. Austin Riley has the most ABs of any Brave in Spring Training. That’s probably saying something.

    Duvall has a .172/.333/.379 line for a .713 OPS. Really just don’t know what to make of him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s non-tendered if something more stable comes up.

  8. MLB Network’s Top 100 by NL East Contenders:

    Wash: 6
    NYM: 6
    Phils: 6
    Braves: 4

    I think. It was scrolling and I had to just count them up. Of course, we have a lot of guys who are hard to project.

  9. Both Keuchel and Kimbrel would make the Braves better; however, neither is worth the money vs. others available. Braves already blew this year away in the off-season through inaction anyway.

  10. @9: My prediction was based on the fact that no one had offered Kimbrel what he wanted, so maybe the Braves would be able to lure him back home at a lower amount than he considers his market value to be. Since the team doesn’t want to spend any money, I figured that if any team could get him to sign it would be the Braves.

    However, as the days into weeks have passed, I realized that ship has indeed sailed. I didn’t think CK would be willing to lose a year of pension service, but here we are.

  11. I don’t believe the Braves want to spend any money, “any” being defined as “a number greater than the major league minimum,” on additional players at this time. Doesn’t matter if they should or if the player would; they won’t. So all of this is as much rosterbation as trying to dream up trade packages for Trout, really.

  12. @15 Kimbrel is historically the greatest closer ever, stacked up against others at his age. If he’s not worth the money, who would be?

  13. Do you ever wonder why it’s ok for Boras to have so many of the elite clients and operate in such a way where it has a tremendous impact on the market, but even something as innocuous and logical as the owners all reviewing the same information and reaching the same conclusion which impacts the market is considered nefarious and collusive? Why is it just called “economics” or “capitalism” for one guy, Boras, to have all these clients and all the pull he has, but the owners are always being accused of being illegitimate? How does it not go both ways? Is it because one impacts millionaires and one impacts billionaires? But why do we even care at that part?

  14. @17 C’mon, there’s no way the Angels say no to Tehran, Allard and Duvall for Trout. Easy. ;)

    I really want you to be wrong, even when I know you’re probably right, though.

  15. Owners trying to reduce the amount that they pay their employees so that they can keep more for themselves is kind of a problem, in any industry. In his worst moments, Boras has never done anything as remotely harmful as that (unless you yourself are an owner, in which case, sign Kimbrel already, Rob).

    Kind of feel this goes without saying, myself.

  16. @19 Huge difference.

    Not every player is even a millionaire. There’s a tier of quality ML players that are getting squeezed into taking minor league pacts, which is peanuts.

    The other issue is if every owner gets together, reviews the same information, and sets the same general market- you’ve essentially set a cap. That’s not a free market. There’s no where else for a player to go.

    Boras doesn’t cap anyone’s earning power. Even if you want to say, by trying to secure more money for his client, he cuts into an owners’ profit margin, an owner can make that money up. They can sell sponsorships, raise prices, bring on partners, etc…

  17. I guess I just don’t have that much sympathy for guys who are making hundreds of thousands and often into the millions and millions who are naturally gifted. It’s not a college thing or an intellectual thing or anything, but I just don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for whether Bryce Harper had to take $330M vs. the $350M many pundits said he was worth.

    Now, it’s downright criminal that minor leaguers don’t make a little more. I would completely overhaul the minor league and pre-arb system. I would have less minor league levels (and less minor leaguers accordingly), faster routes to pensions and insurance, a higher salary for minor leaguers, and then you would hit arb in your second year of service time. You would have 5 years of control determined by whether you spent one day in the major leagues in that year, so that would eliminate what happened with Bryant, Acuna, and Jimenez. Because you would get to free agency quicker, teams would be more incentivized to offer bigger deals quicker to young players, and you would see bigger deals in free agency because they would be getting there faster and thus while they are younger. Can you imagine what it’s going to be like for DeGrom? Heeeeeeeeeere we go again.

    I don’t like how the owners — clearly smarter than the players — got them into this system, BUT THE PLAYERS SIGNED THE DAMN DEAL. And you know why they did? Because most of them are morons who choose to be led by a moron because they have no education, no desire to learn how the deal works, and they’re making millions without ever having to actually learn their industry. No sympathy.

  18. I’m still not entirely sure what brought this on. “The players signed a bad deal (largely due to a lack of foresight and a desire to maintain labor peace) and they’ll have to put up with it for a few years” doesn’t automatically lead to “Fuck the players, they’re morons and deserve whatever the owners deign to give them.”

    I’m also unsure why you brought up Boras, considering he has little to nothing to do with the CBA.

    Labor before management. Always.

  19. I find it amusing that a large faction of the fan base is upset that Teheran is starting Opening Day rather than the 4th game, as if the first game counts more than the other games.

  20. At this point, Wright has got to be the front runner to be in the rotation, right? He’s a fun guy to watch.

  21. It is a reasonable criticism that the second-best (or even the fifth-best) pitcher on a team that is nominally trying to win should be better than 2019-era Julio Teheran. I don’t think this is even mildly controversial.

    Even if you were fine with their Plan A, baseball teams need a good Plan B, too. The Braves’ Plan B is hoping Teheran doesn’t wet the bed. I hoped for better. This is unreasonable, now?

  22. About Duvall, the numbers aren’t as important as what he’s shown lately, which isn’t much since his 2 homerun game. If you go strictly by numbers, he’s outhitting Camargo, Culberson, Flowers and Swanson. I’m not sure what they’ll do with him, but the trend isn’t good

  23. I mean, Jesus, Bowman on Twitter tried to dodge the question by bringing up 2001, when John Burkett started Opening Day because Maddux had a fluke injury, completely ignoring the fact that 1) Maddux only missed one start, while Folty hasn’t even thrown a game yet and has no timetable; 2) the Braves followed him up with Glavine and Millwood, while the Braves will start Newcomb and a dead-armed Gausman (maybe?) in the games following.

    The more I look at the rotation, the uglier and uglier it gets. Better hope Wright and Touki are ready, because if they stumble out the gate…

  24. It’s not often you see an anti-labor screed masquerading as an anti-1% screed, so I have to give you props for that unexpected mashup, bruh.

  25. Teheran isn’t the second best starting pitcher on the team, though. For a #4 starter he is fine. He is only starting Opening Day because of seniority. It’s just not worth getting worked up about that he’s starting Opening Day rather than Game 3 or Game 4. They all count the same.

  26. @35 — Is he, though? Washington’s fourth starter is Anibal Sanchez. The Mets’ fourth starter is Steven Matz. LA’s is either Rich Hill or Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Cubs’ is Cole Hamels or Yu Darvish. Houston’s is Wade Miley. The Yankees’ is J.A. Happ. Boston’s is Nathan Eovaldi. St. Louis’s is a fading Adam Wainwright (perhaps the best comparison).

    Even if Teheran was being matched up “properly,” he still seems substantially worse than the equivalent player on the other would-be contenders.

  27. Really, Teheran is the 5th starter is on the team, if we’re being fair to the other pitchers. But it just depends on which Julio Teheran you’re talking about. He’s been a mediocre pitcher for long enough that I would say that unless he gets back to 2017 form, he’s, at best, probably the 7th-best starting pitcher and he won’t be in the rotation by July. Folty, Gausman, Newcomb, Touki, Wright, and Fried are all ahead of him. A healthy Soroka is ahead of him. A healthy Gohara could be ahead of him. Those are 8 more talented pitcher than it seems Teheran is. But Teheran will take the ball 30+ starts every year, so at worst he eats innings, and at best he’s a #2 starter. Like I said the other day, the Braves probably really want to see if he’s the 87-mph fastball version or the one that hits 92 consistently.

    Like it or not, this team is extremely unproven. About a 1/3 of the roster is hard to project for a variety of reasons. Teheran is a part of that. Is he the 3.2 fWAR pitcher from 2017 or the 1 WAR pitcher of the last 2 seasons? And this stuff changes. Anibal, who you seem to cite as a better 4th starter option, was terrible for 3 years and then he wasn’t. Who’s to say that he won’t turn right back into a pumpkin at 35? Do you like his 25 recent starts vs. the previous 68 clunkers?

    And yes, he’s much, much better than Wade Miley, who hasn’t been a quality major league pitcher for more than half a season since 2013.

    I mean, do you even think JT finishes his contract in Atlanta? I sure don’t.

  28. It is quite possible that Kyle Wright or Touki Touissaint end up being our best starting pitcher this year. And that’s not knocking any of our other pitchers.

  29. Anibal completely changed his pitching arsenal and sequencing last year, so I do take his recent run seriously. His stuff could certainly decay, but he’s been a good pitcher and showed good stuff more recently than Teheran has.

  30. So you want us to believe that a guy who profiles for 0.4–2.2 WAR (depending on which system you believe) is that much worse than a bunch of guys who profile for 1.2–2.4 WAR? When we already have the first guy under contract?

    Look guys, be as angry as you want about the front office/ownership/global anti-braves conspiracy as you want, but try to make cogent arguments, kay?

  31. I mean, yeah? And it’s not like he’s given us much reason to expect him to hit the top end of his projections, either. He’s degraded by both the stats and the eye over the past several years.

    Look, I want Teheran to succeed. He seems like a good dude, and no one to my knowledge has ever questioned his commitment to the team. But he’s a thoroughly mediocre pitcher these days — a depth piece, period. A team with playoff aspirations should not be relying on him, but the Braves have forced themselves into doing just that.

    (I also have very little confidence that a bunch of the younger guys are going to jump out of the gates and push him down the depth chart, either. Maybe one or two of them do. But some are going to get hurt, or stink, or get moved to the bullpen, or (*snicker*) get traded, and then you’re right back to relying on him every fifth day again.)

    They should have made an effort to find reliable innings. They’ve got depth, kind of, in that they’ve got a bunch of guys with a chance to be something. But none of their depth is reliable, even by pitcher standards. They’re counting on a bunch of things to all go right at once. Say Folty comes back healthy — but Gausman is still throwing 85 in May and has a 5.18 ERA. Or Newcomb can’t find the zone. Or another of the young guys comes down with Soroka-itis. What’s the plan? Just keep running Teheran out there?

  32. Come on, you just ran out a list of pitchers who are exactly like Julio! And they are all on playoff contenders. The problem of the offseason is not that we didn’t replace Julio, it’s that we didn’t line up sufficient depth for the possibility that Gaus and Folty and Newk would all get hurt or suck — and you know what? We couldn’t possibly have done that. The 1927 Yankees wouldn’t be able to overcome that.

    It comes down to AA and company’s apparent belief that we must roll with the kids or die trying: you either believe or no. The way I see it, Coppy didn’t leave us much choice

  33. Our problems in the rotation are more reason to sign Kimbrel. The only thing the rotation problems do is to give us more chance to test the most ready prospects right away. If one or two actually hit the road running then you haven’t lost anything due to early injuries to Folty and Gaus. You don’t have to set the playoff rotation until the end of September. Testing the prospects early causes one of two results by the end of April – how many games we need to make up or who’s going to take control of a couple of spots in the rotation right when Folty and Gaus will be ready to step in and we have a solid five. Give starts to Wright, Fried, Touki, Bryse, and whoever else is ready. There’s every reason to believe two of those four might emerge as permanent members of the rotation. Gohara and Soroka both need regular starts at AA to prove they’re ready.

    What signing Kimbrel does is to limit the downside of the rotation being unreliable for a while. One way to reduce the impact of a suspect rotation is to have a top notch bullpen with a lock down back end. With Viz and Minter questionable, we don’t even have a solid bullpen right now. Inserting Kimbrel instantly turns the bullpen into an asset and allows for some instability in the rotation. We get to hit our way out of any issues.

    We have so many ready prospects that could be in the rotation or long relief. We have to protect against the variability in testing the prospects early in the season and time to determine the best options. Kimbrel is the answer.

    I saw this in 2016 with the Orioles. Take a look at the ERAs on that starting staff. 5/8 over 5.00 (Miley over 6.00). They still won 89 games made the playoffs as a w/c because they knocked the snot out of the ball and had a top 5 ML bullpen (Britton with 0.54 ERA). Maybe our rotation won’t be that bad and maybe we’ll have more proven options than we have now by the end of April. The key is signing Kimbrel.

  34. Not sure I understand why we don’t send Duvall to the minors to begin the year to see if he can perform there first? I’d let Alex Jackson start in the majors until Duvall is either ready or released. And Camargo is going to need a lot of regular ABs to get his bat going.

  35. I’d hoped Johan would get a lot of at bats at short, but with he who shall never be disparaged ripping the ball at almost a .150 clip, those cuts may not happen.

  36. Assuming we don’t sign Kimbrel, here’s how I’d like to see the roster shake out. And if it shakes out this way, I’d be pretty happy and excited for the first part of the season.

    Rotation

    Teheran
    Newcomb
    Gausman
    Wright
    Touissant

    DL: Folty, Soroka

    Bullpen

    Viz
    Venters
    Biddle
    Winkler
    Carle
    S. Freeman
    Fried
    Bryse

    DFA: L. Jackson
    DL: O’Day, Minter
    Option: Parsons, Sobotka

    Position Players

    Freeman
    Albies
    Swanson
    Donaldson
    Markakis
    Inciarte
    Acuna
    Flowers/McCann

    Bench

    McCann/Flowers
    Culberson
    Camargo
    A. Jackson

    Option: R. Lopez, Duvall
    Minors: Everyone not on 40-man (Pache, Riley, LaMarre, Ortega, Florimon, etc….)

    I think that Culby and Camargo are perfectly capable of handling the 4th OF slot. We don’t need Duvall unless he starts banging HRs again. We can see what he’s capable of in regular AAA ABs. There’s no true LH PH on the team. Keeping Jackson allows McCann to be the LH PH along with the left-side of Camargo. McCann has had a good Spring, too. Showing off Jackson now, especially if he stays hot, will make him either a starter candidate or a great trade commodity. It’ll also take any early pressure off of Flowers/McCann.

    Keeping Wright, Touissant, Fried, and Wilson all on the roster allows great flexibility of giving them regular starts to see who steps up and they can be used in middle relief on their bullpen days. I really want Fried in the rotation but I don’t think that will happen unless someone else is injured or fails or a trade is made. It’d be nice to have a second lefty.

    Hopefully, all of these guys will make decisions difficult for the FO when the injured players are ready to go. April could be a great month and still be like extended Spring Training.

    Of course, signing Kimbrel would force us to option Carle. I could live with that. Gwinnett will be playing this year with a near ML ready pitching staff all around.

  37. Just thinking about the above lineup. I have thought that adding power was the most important thing the Braves could do this year. Unfortunately, I don’t see a huge difference. Last year we were near league lead in EBH (2nd, I think) but below average in HRs – 175 vs. league average of 179. By sticking with Markakis, we ensured we will not be near the league lead in HRs. I’m thinking we may be able to get to 190, though.

    Anyone want to guess the over/under on 190?

    This would require Acuna to hit a full load and Albies to not drop off and Donaldson to be his normal self.

  38. @48 Outside of providing a LH PH, I can’t see any benefit to putting Alex Jackson on the roster now. I can see a few reasons not to, though:

    1. We have two capable Catchers, one of which took a discount to come here. Relegating either to PH is a bad look when selling FAs on ATL.

    2. Placing Jackson on the bench stunts his growth.

    3. It’s Spring Training. Let’s not get too carried away with ST stats. Nick, after all, is hitting better than Ted Williams.

    4. Most important, Jackson needs AAA time. Dansby was rushed, and it hurt his development.

    Jackson being optioned to Gwinnett was the best thing for him, and the club

  39. @49 I’ll take the under on 190.

    Acuna will be marvelous, of course.

    Donaldson will be close to his former self, I think. I feel as if 30 is realistic.

    Nick won’t hit as many though, nor will Ozzie.

  40. Neck: 8 games, 17 PA, 438/471/500 (971), 8.6 OppQual

    AJax: 11 games, 24 PA, 273/333/591 (924), 7.2 OppQual

    I’m going out on a limb here and saying Jackson needs to go play at AAA.

  41. I concede that you can probably hear whatever you want to hear when you listen to player interviews, but that sounds like someone who could be playing right now if he needed to, and the team is being extra cautious. And since a team should not, and it seems our team does not, care about what their Opening Day roster looks like, then let all these guys work really slowly.

    If it means Jackson ends up being on the roster for a couple weeks and then gets DFA’ed, then so be it. Let him get a couple outings in, and that’s all he’ll probably get anyway with the amount of off-days we have in March/April (4 total vs. 3 in May and 2 in June).

    And this probably sounds crazy to some, but if Parsons is throwing really well in Spring Training, then go ahead and carry him. He’s 26, he’s clearly a reliever at this point, they keep running him out there and he keeps getting scoreless innings. I hope our strategy will continue to be, even when we’re Competitive(TM), to keep trying to use the back of the roster to try guys out and give players more rest than other teams might. Some fans really need to get used to that.

  42. @53 L. Jackson over whom? Parsons over whom? I listed 13 pitchers without either and including 4 guys on the DL. Who would you send down so that those two can replace them? I do like Parsons as the first guy up in a time of need.

    @50 I’m saying keep Jackson up and start him. He’s already on the 40-man and has to use an option to go down. Why not let him start a few games in the first couple of weeks and see what he can (@52 Oppo qual notwithstanding). He goes to AAA in a couple of weeks with a little ML experience under his belt and an idea of what he needs to do to stay up. I’d say that would be fabulous for his development. He can go down when the first pitcher comes off the DL or if Duvall absolutely crushes the ball the first couple of weeks in AAA.

    What if, by some miracle, AJax crushes the ball when he’s up? Does anyone think either McCann or Flowers will catch 100 games? 81 games? There is no loss with our veteran catchers by letting AJax have 3-7 starts at the beginning of the year.

  43. More interesting quotes from the FO. AA loves Anibal Sanchez but just couldn’t bear to give him two years. Quoting from MLBTR:

    “Thanks in part to their collection of young, major league-ready starters, the Braves were hesitant to ink Sanchez to a multiyear guarantee over the winter, Anthopoulos revealed, thereby paving the way for his exit.”

    Another excuse to come up just short in pursuit of a roster upgrade.

  44. Rob, we agree on minor leaguers and I understand why you don’t feel a ton of sympathy for multimillionaires. But I don’t understand the argument you’re making @19.

    You’re making a comparison between Scott Boras, an agent who represents a number of the most in-demand players, and multiple owners. Specifically, you’re saying that Boras “operate[s] in such a way where it has a tremendous impact on the market.” I agree that Boras has a history of playing owners against each other (including doing so by effectively lying about the level of interest in his clients, which is morally dubious even if it’s ethically allowable).

    But you’re arguing that Boras, a single seller, is able to fix prices to the same degree that multiple buyers working in concert are able to fix prices. That simply doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t buy that and I don’t buy that he actually does “operate in such a way that it has a tremendous impact on the market.” Maybe he gets huge salaries for his clients because they’re the best free agents on the market.

  45. @51 You may be right. I think we need 190-200 HRs. I thought 190 might be realistic as follows:

    Freeman 30
    Albies 20
    Swanson 15
    Donaldson 35
    McCann/Flowers 20
    Inciarte 10
    Markakis 10
    Acuna 30
    Camargo/Culby 20

    15 from Kakes, 35 from Acuna, 25 from Albies, 25 from McCann/Flowers, or a few more from the bench – some combination of these could push us to 200. If Donaldson flops, we’ll be in trouble.

  46. I don’t think it has to be Kimbrel, but we need bullpen help – there are too many questions. If a few of our injuries linger and Vizzy has his expected durability problems, our bullpen could be worse than last year. That’s not good.

  47. Both guys pitching well so far. Touki striking out the side in the fourth after a rough first inning. JT with five more strikeouts after four.

  48. @56: Are you sure you didn’t major in economics? At a school heading once again into the Tournament?

  49. Not a good day so far for Braves hitters. 2 runs, 6 hits, 13 ks over 12 innings for 2 different split squad teams.

  50. I think its more likely that Donaldson plays in less than 35 games than it is that he hits 35 HRs.

  51. Bowman says that the Braves might see what outfielders become available via the waiver wire in a potential replacement for Duvall, who has had a bad spring.

  52. If Donaldson plays a full season — 150-155 games — he’ll probably hit 30. His per-162 game average is 36 since he became a regular.

    I’m sure there’s a .750 OPS corner outfielder out there for a couple million dollars to replace Duvall with.

  53. Yep. Duvall’s likelihood of starting out in Atlanta is diminishing every day. Our only internal option is Pache and I don’t see them pushing him. I still wouldn’t be surprised if they trade Inciarte at some point before the trade deadline.

  54. @58 I figure…

    Freeman 23
    Albies 15
    Swanson 7
    Donaldson 31
    McCann/Flowers 21
    Inciarte 10
    Markakis 10
    Acuna 34
    Camargo/Culby 20

    I expect Swanson to have a real tough year at the plate, coming off the wrist, and not being a generally great offensive player to start.

  55. @70 That’s awfully pessimistic on Freddie. Last year with no legitimate protection, he hit 23 and led the league in doubles. It won’t take many of those doubles to go over the fence for Freddie to have a huge season.

    If Swanson does that poorly, he won’t last. I think he will be more of a .315 OBP and .400 SLG. A little better than last year because the wrist is fixed.

    I’m also more optimistic on Ozzie. You may be correct about the HR output but the fact that he also had 40 doubles supports the idea that he can continue to exceed 20. Like Freddie, convert a few of those doubles into HRs. Look at what Machado did his first full season – 51 doubles and 14 HRs. Two years later he turned 20 of those doubles into HRs. Even at his size, Ozzie will get stronger as he ages into his mid-20s.

  56. Both Touki and Teheran looked good today, especially Teheran. He said pitching exclusively from the stretch is helping his command.

  57. Bovada’s got -115 on over 86 wins. 86… that’s a big number. Mets have 85.5. Phillies 89.5. Washington 88.5.

  58. Alex, I didn’t mean to suggest Boras was even able to “fix” prices. I definitely agree that that is not occurring and not even possible for him to do. When I said he’s made a tremendous impact on the market, I think it’s easy to acknowledge that he’s lengthened the offseason, which the owners have since used to their advantage. The owners have essentially said, “You want to play that game? We can play it harder,” and now Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent.

    But Boras has advised his clients to hold out for higher offers, and sometime it’s backfired. Why doesn’t Boras catch any flack for that? Martin Maldonado was offered 2YR/$12M, and Boras told him to turn it down. Maldonado eventually signed this offseason for $2.5M. Supposedly Keuchel was offered 5YR/$90M, he’s made $23M in two years since, and he’s definitely not going to bridge that gap this offseason. But my point is that Boras has made an impact on the game, and not all of it is positive, and yet Boras catches no flack. It’s only on the owners. I think the agents trying to maximize their commissions and the players trying to be greedy at times deserve to catch some flack too. My point is that it’s always on the owners, and while I’m tired of having to be the person who is perceived to be carrying the water for these owners, it’s just because I’m tired of everybody else getting no blame for all of this.

  59. The players (and through them, their agents) have monopoly powers on the price they will take for their skills. No one can make Manny Machado sign for a price he (or his agent) won’t accept. Manny’s next best option is something like Japan for a small fraction of what he’s worth in MLB. Call that J.

    Manny is probably worth more than J to every team, but there is one team willing to pay him the most, M, and another team willing to pay him the second most, S.

    His agent is trying to get him M, but the team paying M doesn’t see why it should have to pay more than S+$1. Indeed, if there were a completely fair, non-collusive auction for his services, the auction would close at S+$1.

    The entire battle between agents and clubs is the battle over the difference between S and M. It’s complicated somewhat by the fact that everyone keeps their estimates of value secret, and by the fact that Manny can always fall back to J for a year. Also, throwing in the complexities of multiyear deals which are not strictly comparable in terms of their allocation of risks make it not perfectly straightforward to compare. But the agent will do what he can to get M, and the team will do what they can to pay no more than S.
    What can we expect from this? When S is close to M, and there’s no great dispute about it, negotiations should close fairly quickly. When the gap is large, or the uncertainty is the second-highest valuation is large, it will take more time.
    I don’t blame anybody.

  60. Yes, very clear indeed. Thank you.

    When the gap is large, or the uncertainty is the second-highest valuation is large, it will take more time.

    What has made that time increase recently? Has the gap lengthened, of has the uncertainty increased?

    With no facts to back it up, I have suspicions Boras’ ego and competition with Dan Lozano has complicated this.

  61. If you believe in collusion, then that makes the gap huge. Indeed, with perfect collusion, S falls to J. Great differences in financial wherewithal of teams may also make the gaps large.

    But I think the biggest deal is uncertainty. Longer-term contracts shift risks onto the teams. Until recently, teams were willing to accept those burdens for star players. That was either through a love of risk (nothing ventured, nothing gained for the owner who would take risks to win a championship) or stupidity (when I’m willing to pay more than anyone else for some player, that may simply indicate that I’m worse at evaluating his future than others.) Now they are still willing to assume those risk for young stars, buying out their arb years, but don’t see the incremental winning value the fans see in the older stars, or don’t care about winning as much as they used to, viz. Ted Turner vs. John Malone. That makes the risks of long-term contracts too high and too variable across teams to be confidently predicted or estimated by agents.

  62. Another factor in slowing the bidding on free agents is probably the “it group” of GM / VP of baseball ops candidates. I figure a lot of them are putting clauses in their contracts that owners can’t go around them. They don’t want some tangent the owner shoots off on affecting the team’s ability to create value (in wins) and that reflecting poorly on them.

  63. economists
    the inner beauty of their logic they think still persists
    we’re still not sure, it could be all a con
    forever etched, we brave few will simply soldier on.

  64. Seriously…

    If Toronto are going to give a fifty per cent pay raise to ALL their minor leaguers at EVERY level then, hey, a very good for them. The revolution is underway. (TC)

  65. Regardless of how we feel about the potentially collusive behaviors of the owners, I think we can all agree that while they came out after their height of underground popularity, the Process of Belief and the New America are a couple of Bad Religion’s better albums. So, ya know, whatever.

  66. Keuchel and Kimbrel both would make us better.

    Both know what it takes to get to the promise land. Both have the “clubhouse leadership” tag like they pitched us to sign Markakis.

    Keuchel and Kimbrel both know what it takes to be the best at their position and would be great examples to the 500 young pitcher we have in the system.

    If both sign somewhere for reasonable deals and have solid seasons, our front office will have failed.

  67. @82 – You expected that anything related to trying to understand economics would have anything other than S&M?

  68. “…our front office will have failed.”

    Wait till the Braves miss the playoffs by one game behind Philadelphia and Realmuto had a monster year.

  69. If both sign somewhere for reasonable deals and have solid seasons, our front office will have failed.

    There is certainly a point at which what these guys will cost beyond this season will outweigh whatever they may produce this season. We have no way of knowing right now where the negotiations sit relative to that point, so I can’t be anything other than momentarily satisfied that, based on the media posturing, the Braves seem like they are actively engaged in a negotiation.

  70. All of this econo-talk needs to account for the fact that minor league players are a third party in the system. The MLBPA completely threw, and continues to throw, MiLB players to the wolves. If the market correction from paying old stars for past performance to paying young stars for current performance actually moves the balance of union representation to the entry level stiffs in A and AA, that would be a good outcome.

  71. Baseball has a literal antitrust exemption to fix the salaries paid to MiLB players, and indeed, MLB players up to their arb seasons. The *theory* under which this happens is twofold: (1) that the minor leagues are an apprentice system and the costs of a baseball education is being subtracted (implicitly) from their market wage; and (2) the players are implicitly having the cost of an MLB lottery ticket subtracted. Neither of these theories is great, at least quantitatively, but they are what they are. While many players are dramatically undercompensated over their lifetime, the average MiLB player is dramatically overcompensated over his, since there are many more MiLB players than make the majors and all of those that never make it lose money for their employers. this is true even though MiLB salaries are terrible (and in fact sub-minimum wage, although the lawsuits to raise their pay to minimum wage have so far gotten nowhere.)

  72. A living wage is the table ante for “apprenticeship” in a skilled physical career. MLB should be building academies that house and feed their minor leaguers, a la soccer clubs.

  73. MLBTR reporting that Pads and Indians still negotiating about Indians SP. Sure would be nice to hear AA jump in and join that conversation.

  74. @96

    L O L

    @95

    Your soccerization of baseball between pace of play and now this is getting a little bit ridiculous. Minor leaguers are the property of their clubs not MLB. This is not youth soccer.

    What’s next Pro/Rel. 3 points for a win. Having a table. A transfer market. Loans?

    Let those of us with normalized attention spans have ONE thing that you millenials don’t try to turn into the MLBEPL.

  75. I’m really ok with a six-man rotation of Folty, Newcomb, Gausman, Teheran, Touki, and Wright with Fried and Wilson available if anyone misses any time. Jim Callis thinks Wright might be our best starter this year.

    One of my cases for not signing Kimbrel was that we had a lot of depth in the pen, and they might want to use as many spots to rotate guys in and out. Since then, O’Day, Minter, Sobotka, and Dayton have all shown that they may not be ready to contribute at the beginning of the year, so that has changed. If a couple of those guys miss extended time, then not signing Kimbrel will have been a mistake, assuming something like 3YR/$45M gets it done. I think that’s what Adam is referring to, but I think at 3 years, you really can’t be worried about anything beyond this year.

  76. 97 — My guess is that the majority of the commenters and readers here fall into the “millennial” generation, so unless you enjoy antagonizing yourself to everyone, that’s not a good thing to say.

    Also, Sam is always calling himself old, so I doubt the guy you are arguing with even falls into the category of milennial.

  77. The Braves and Dodgers run (ran?) academies in South America, yes. The Braves and Dodgers are also the teams most notably found to be screwing around illegally with buskers and such in South America.

    Chief, I realize you’re old and hate everything. It’s okay. Everything hates you back, buddy. Circle of life and all.

  78. As a moderately senior member of the group here, I am in fact a dyed in the wool X’er. We have much older members than me, but eventually they will go and I will stand alone on the summit of Mount Grampa, angrily threatening the clouds.

  79. @104

    a post Millenial
    while some here vaguely approach their Centennial
    it all displays a healthy mix
    party time’s alive, others wait to ford the Styx.

  80. I very much doubt that’s our “first” post-Mil commenter Adam. In fact, I would bet that the vast majority of “Millennials” snark directed at anyone here, or elsewhere, is actually misusing the term.

    A Millennial, going by the most often use demographic bucketing, would have been born between 1977-1995. So your kid’s 42 year old kindergarten teacher is technically a Millennial.

    When people gripe and complain about mills, they almost universally mean “Generation Z,” the cohort born from 1996-present. Of course, this is a giant bucket of personalities and age groups, including 23 year old recent college graduates and your niece’s third child who just turned 1.

  81. In my experience, nobody gets carded in this bar and the lawn is free for grazing and most other activities…. Until your love for Emma Stone overcomes your better judgment.

  82. Let’s say Trout averages 7 WAR over the next 6 seasons, then 4 WAR for the next 4, and 2 WAR for the next 2. That’s 62, and probably a little conservative. They’ll have paid him $6.9M per WAR.

  83. @116 – That’s a steep price to pry Ruben Amaro, Jr. from the Mets’ front office, but to be a winner sometimes you have to spend like one.

  84. @116 RAJ would be in line for a significantly less AAV as he has a ton of pre-arb and arb years weighing down his open market value.

  85. I said 8YR/$118M in a previous post with this rationale:

    My modest proposal is 8 years, $118M: $2M in 2019, $5M in 2020, $5M in 2021 for pre-arb, $12M in 2022, $18M in 2023, $20M in 2024 for arb. $28M for both 2025 and 2026. He gets early money in his next two pre-arb years where he’d otherwise be making the league minimum. Then through his arb years, the Braves get a fairly steep discount at $5M, $12M, and $20M in his last arb year. But then they get the first 3 years of his free agency at a discounted rate of $28M per year. By that time, you’d have to think someone of Acuna’s stature could be headed for a $35M+ per year AAV, so that’s another steep discount. And in return, Acuna will have to figure out a way to be spend $131,000,000 minus, of course, a fairly precipitous 37% tax rate.

    Even if you added 8 additional years at $35M per, you would “only” end up with 15YR/$363M. He’s a loser.

  86. Who’s going to nudge our beat writers to ask the Braves what’s happening on the extension front?

  87. I must be old if I’m the only Boomer here. I think Chief’s lying – or rather over-approximating. My wife is on the edge of Boomer/X (her parents were Great Gen so technically she’s a Boomer) and the easiest way to piss her off is to call her a Boomer. She thinks of herself as an X-er. Being a “young” Boomer is not so great as we became adults after the rest of the Boomers destroyed the world.

  88. @107 Did you also notice that they rated Freddie as the #1 1B in all of baseball? FG has also upgraded their WAR projections overall and the Braves have magically moved up to being the 9th best team in baseball and 6th best offense. They haven’t updated the projected standings but the Braves at 41 WAR should be a 87-88 win team – a solid playoff team. I was surprised to see them attach a 2.7 WAR prediction to Flowers, but all the prediction systems quoted by TC for position players has him well over 2 WAR so maybe that might be real.

    There is no weak position on the Braves team except RF. Although the Braves pitching is rated the worst among playoff caliber teams. It really looks like we’re a Kimbrel away from being a real contender.

    Anyone think the rumor might be correct that Kimbrel waits until after the draft to sign to avoid the loss of draft choice?

  89. Yeah, good thing we didn’t cash in our chips for Fullmer.

    It would be hard for me to see Kimbrel waiting that long to sign. But hey, we’re about as close as a player ever has been from the season starting before he signed, so who knows.

  90. The idea of definable generational cohorts sharing broad characteristics is pure hokum. It’s signs of the zodiac for the modern age.

  91. Austin Riley homered and Max Fried went 5 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 R.

    We have some good pitchers.

  92. I’m a millennial.

    @132 nails it though, I think.

    I’m not all about rushing the game along, because I enjoy it.

    For what it’s worth, I also have zero interest in soccer. I’m not sure, as a generation, how we’ve come to own soccer fandom though?… **shrugs**

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