Zack Wheeler agrees to five-year, $100M-plus deal with Phillies
The market for Wheeler had been sizzling since the start of free agency and his deal is worth in excess of $100 million, according to multiple reports. Right-hander Zack Wheeler and the Philadelphia Phillies are in agreement on a five-year deal worth more than $100 million, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2019Wheeler is 29 and has put up solid numbers throughout his career, but he had a 3.96 ERA last season with the New York Mets and has a career ERA of 3.77. Those aren’t exactly ace numbers, but starting pitchers are in high demand this offseason, and Wheeler was able to take advantage of that.
The Brewers have agreed to a deal with free agent first baseman Justin Smoak on a one-year, $5M contract, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports. There’s also a club option for the 2021 season, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The deal is pending a physical.
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Smoak will earn $4M in 2020 and has a $1M buyout on a $5.5M option for the 2021 season, Passan tweets.
This is the latest in a string of short-term acquisitions for the Milwaukee organization, which has almost completely turned over its infield over the past six weeks. The club installed Eric Sogard and Luis Urias in the middle infield mix while picking up Ryon Healy and now Smoak to help cover the corners. Keston Hiura, of course, will factor prominently into the mix as well after impressing with the bat in his rookie season.
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Beyond that, president of baseball ops David Stearns said after this week’s signing of Avisail Garcia that Ryan Braun will likely see some time at first base in 2020 as well (Twitter link via Andrew Wagner of the Wisconsin State Journal). It’s a layered collection of veterans and young upside hitters, and the precise manner in which playing time will be sorted remains to be determined in spring training.
Smoak made a long-awaited breakout at the plate in 2017 and followed that up with a strong ’18 effort. In combination, he slashed .256/.353/.495 with 63 home runs in 1,231 turns with the bat in those campaigns. Unfortunately, he hit the skids a bit in the just-completed season. The switch-hitting 33-year-old is coming off of a .208/.342/.406 effort, but the underlying metrics on his season are far more interesting than his surface-level .208 batting average.
Brewers sign 1B Justin Smoak to one-year, $5M deal with club option
this is the latest in a string of short-term acquisitions for the Milwaukee organization, which has almost completely turned over its infield over the past six weeks. The club installed Eric Sogard and Luis Urias in the middle infield mix while picking up Ryon Healy and now Smoak to help cover the corners. Keston Hiura, of course, will factor prominently into the mix as well after impressing with the bat in his rookie season.
In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest that the Brewers could hit gold with this signing. As explored here at MLBTR back in September, Smoak’s .323 wOBA lagged the .366 xwOBA he registered with Statcast, indicating there could be some positive regression in the batted-ball department. He also drew walks at an exceptionally healthy 15.8 percent rate while striking out just 21.2 percent of the time.
As highlighted in that September exploration of his odd season, Smoak chased pitches outside the strike zone less than nearly any hitter in MLB, and he ranked among the game’s best in terms of pitches per plate appearance. He’s an extremely disciplined hitter who should make opposing pitchers work even if he continues to hit for a low batting average. Supposing Smoak can turn balls in play into base hits at an increased rate — his .223 BABIP was certainly an outlier — he could bounce right back into being a productive hitter.
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Milwaukee undeniably lost some key pieces this winter, with Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas departing for four-year deals with the White Sox and Reds, respectively. Eric Thames, meanwhile, was bought out and sent into the free-agent market. Smoak will in many ways replace Thames at a slightly reduced cost — likely bringing better glovework to the table but lesser production against right-handed pitching.
Smoak will come in at $1.5M less than Thames would’ve earned — a slight savings that exemplifies the Brewers’ risk-averse mentality and focus on the margins when building out a roster. This depth-forward approach both safeguards against injury and allows for slightly reduced workloads that, in theory, lessen the overall risk of injury and keeps their position players fresher. It also leads to a great deal of turnover, which can be frustrating for fans at times but has resulted in three straight winning seasons and two consecutive postseason appearances.
Related slideshow: The MLB 2010s All-Decade team (Provided by Yardbarker)
White Sox reportedly in very serious pursuit of Edwin Encarnacion
Encarnacion would make a fine designated hitter for the White Sox, especially with top prospect Zack Collins probably not ready for full-time duty just yet. Chicago has been in the market for a big bat this offseason after all.Related slideshow: The best moves of the MLB offseason so far (Provided by Yardbarker) 1/21 SLIDES © Mike Stobe/Getty Images The best moves of the MLB offseason so far The early part of the MLB offseason has already brought with it some blockbuster moves, as well as some under-the-radar signings that could have a big impact in 2020.
The MLB 2010s All-Decade team
The second decade of the 'aughts' is in the books, making it a prime time to look back at the players who defined it in Major League Baseball. In an era rich with Hall of Famers-to-be, who would comprise the best possible MLB roster. This piece takes a look at what the team would be in All-Star terms: 35 players, selected by position, role and impact on the 2010 through 2019 era. John McCoy/Getty Images
Catcher: Buster Posey
Posey’s first full season came in 2010, and he quickly became one of the most decorated catchers in history. He won Rookie of the Year in 2010 while winning the first of his three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants. During his second championship season in 2012, he also led the National League in hitting at .336 and won NL MVP honors. Along the way, Posey made six All-Star teams, picked up four Silver Slugger Awards and a Gold Glove, in 2016. He led all MLB catchers in hits (1,378), runs scored (594), RBI (673) and batting average (.302) in the decade. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
First baseman: Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera spent the decade establishing himself among the greatest right-handed hitters of all-time. Cabrera won four of five AL batting titles between 2011 and 2015, averaging a .340 average across those years. He won consecutive AL MVP honors in 2012-2013, completing baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years in ’12. His .317 average led all of baseball for the decade, while he also finished in the top five for hits (1,595), doubles (324), RBI (941) and OPS (.943). Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Second baseman: Robinson Cano
Cano led the decade in hits (1,695), doubles (363) and total bases (2,801), while his 54.2 WAR is second behind only Mike Trout. He had five seasons of at least 180 hits and 100 runs scored and finished within the top 10 of AL MVP voting six times. Among second basemen, in addition to hits and doubles, Cano sits atop the list for home runs (237 – 45 more than the runner-up), slugging percentage (.496) and OPS (.855). Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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Third baseman: Adrian Beltre
Beltre spent the 2010s solidifying a Hall of Fame resume. He made his All-Star debut in 2010 and by 2017, he had joined the 3,000 hit club before retiring following the 2018 season. In between, he carried a .307 average for the decade, drove in 100 runs four times, won three Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards and finished in the top 10 in AL MVP voting five times. Beltre finished his career the all-time leader among third basemen in hits (3,166), RBI (1,707) and runs scored (1,524). Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki
The decade was a tale of two halves for Tulowitzki, who was unquestionably the game’s most brilliant all-around shortstop to open the decade before injuries set in. Between 2010 and 2015, Tulo was an All-Star five times, topped 20 home runs four times and hit for a .306 average. He also remained brilliant defensively, picking up a pair of Gold Gloves. No shortstop in the decade had more than Tulo's five seasons of both 20 home runs and a defensive WAR of 2.0 or greater. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
Outfield: Mike Trout
The player of the decade and he only needed to play in roughly 80 percent of it do so. Trout’s 72.5 WAR is over 18 games better than any other player, the largest difference between the impact of a first and second player in a decade in MLB history. Of the 10 highest WAR seasons of the decade, Trout owns five of them. He has two MVP wins while never finishing lower than fourth in voting during any season. No player scored more runs than his 906, and he is the only player to post both over 200 home runs and steal 200 bases. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Outfield: Mookie Betts
A true jack of all trades on the diamond, there is nothing that Betts can’t only do, but do well. In 2018 he became the first player in MLB history to win MVP, a batting title, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and World Series in the same season. Along with Francisco Lindor, Betts is the only player with multiple seasons of 30 home runs, 40 doubles, 100 runs scored and 100 RBI, doing so in 2016 and 2018. His 10.9 WAR in 2018 is the highest of the decade. Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Outfield: Andrew McCutchen
At his peak, McCutchen resurrected the Pirates from the depths of professional sports most prolonged losing stint. He made five consecutive All-Star appearances from 2011 to 2015, finishing in the top five in NL MVP voting four out of five of those years. In 2012, he won NL MVP honors, hitting .317 with 38 doubles and 27 stolen bases and owned the second-best outfield range in the National League. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Designated hitter: Nelson Cruz
No player hit more home runs than Cruz over the past 10 years. Spread among the Rangers, Orioles, Mariners and Twins, his 346 homers are nine more than any other player. Cruz hit at least 40 home runs in four different seasons and had two more years of 37 and 39. Likewise, his 961 RBI are the second-most of any player, only bested by Albert Pujols’ total of 963. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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Utility: Ben Zobrist
The game’s most versatile impact player, Zobrist was a pioneering part of creating the “super utility man." In Tampa Bay he received MVP votes in two different seasons where he played over 30 games at three different positions. With the Royals, he hit .304 while helping Kansas City to a World Series ring. The following year, Zobrist was World Series MVP after hitting .357 in the Fall Classic and delivering a series-winning double. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Starting pitcher: Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw owned his decade on the mound like few pitchers have before him. In addition to picking up three Cy Young Awards, in 2011, 2013 and 2014 – and adding in the NL MVP in 2014, he became the first pitcher in history to lead his league in ERA for four consecutive seasons. Overall, he finished in the top five in NL Cy Young Award voting in seven consecutive seasons. Kershaw was the only pitcher who worked over 1,000 innings to win 70 percent of his games for the decade. Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Bench: Yadier Molina
An All-Star in nine seasons, Molina remained the standard behind the plate for the St. Louis Cardinals, picking up six Gold Glove Awards during the decade. He also led the Cardinals to two World Series appearances, including a win in 2011. He finished in the top five in NL MVP voting in both 2012 and 2013 and capped the decade by setting the all-time (respective) records for both regular and postseason games caught with one team. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Bench: Joey Votto
Votto’s 52.1 WAR was tops among all MLB first basemen for the decade. He won NL MVP in 2010, hitting a career-best 37 home runs and led the NL in on-base percentage for the first of seven different occasions. A master of strike zone judgement, Votto walked 102 more times than any other player in past 10 seasons, and his .421 career on-base percentage is 11th best all time. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Bench: Jose Altuve
Altuve evolved into the game’s greatest spark plug by mid-decade, becoming the most relentless hitter in the game. Altuve led the American League in hits annually between 2014 and 2017, becoming the fifth player since 1947 to reach 200 hits in four consecutive years. He also was the first player ever to lead his league in hits, outright, for four straight years. Altuve led the AL with a .346 batting average in 2017, the same year he won AL MVP, and he helped to bring the first World Series title to Houston. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Bench: Nolan Arenado
Arenado spent the decade becoming the standard bearer for the hot corner. Since debuting in 2013, he has reached 40 home runs three times, not connecting for fewer than 37 since 2015. Overall Arenado, has five seasons of at least 30 home runs, 30 doubles and 100 RBI — no other third baseman has more than two. Despite his offensive presence, it could be argued he is even more brilliant with the glove than the bat. Arenado is only infielder in history to win a Gold Glove Award in his first seven seasons. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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Bench: Josh Donaldson
Donaldson started the decade as a backup catcher and within five seasons turned himself into a leading All-Star vote recipient and AL MVP. Donaldson produced four of the top 10 WAR seasons among third basemen, including the top year in 2015, at 8.5. A three-time All-Star who received top 10 AL MVP votes in four straight seasons, Donaldson finished the decade producing the fifth-most overall win shares in the game, at 44.5. Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB via Getty Images
Bench: Francisco Lindor
After finishing as AL Rookie of the Year runner-up in just 99 games in 2015, Lindor has gone on to be named to each AL All-Star team since. He has three consecutive 30 homers, 20 stolen bases and 40 doubles seasons, along with regularly being one of the top defensive players in the game. At just 25, ( he turns 26 later this month) the next decade could be the one where he truly fixes himself in history. Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Bench: Bryce Harper
Harper was the anticipated player of the decade…and also one of the most controversial. At his best, he was one of the most rightfully feared players in the game — such as when he won Rookie of the Year at 19 in 2012, and in 2015 when he hit 42 home runs en route to becoming the third-youngest MVP in history. However, he often ran cold (2016, 2018), leading to questions about his talent vs. his hype debate that continues on for the six-time All-Star. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bench: Jose Bautista
After arriving in Toronto in 2009, Bautista transformed himself into one of the most dangerous power hitters in the game. He led the American League in home runs in 2010 (54) and 2011 (43), the beginning of run where he hit 227 during a stretch of making six consecutive All-Star Games. "Joey Bats" also had a memorable moment via an emphatic bat flip vs. the Texas Rangers in the Blue Jays’ first playoff series in 22 years in 2015. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Bench: Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton was responsible for many of the most awe-inspiring feats of power for the era. He was at his best in 2017 when he erupted for 59 home runs in route to NL MVP honors. Overall, Stanton topped 30 home runs in five different seasons and hit the third-most homers of the decade. Without the constant cloud of injuries that followed his career, Stanton could realistically have approached 100 long balls this decade. Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Max Scherzer
Scherzer picked up a Cy Young Award in both leagues, first with the Detroit Tigers in 2013, then with the Washington Nationals in both 2016 and 2017. Scherzer’s 161 wins were the most of the decade. His 2,452 strikeouts were the best by nearly 200, with him averaging 262 per year between 2012-2019. Scherzer pitched two no-hitters during the 2015 season and tied an MLB single-game record with 20 strikeouts in 2016. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Justin Verlander
Verlander led the American League in strikeouts in four different seasons, topping over 250 on each occurrence. In 2011 he became the first AL starting pitcher to double as both MVP and Cy Young Award winner since Roger Clemens in 1986. Verlander threw the second and third no-hitters of his career in 2011 and 2019. En route to winning the 2017 World Series with the Astros, Verlander was named MVP of the 2017 ALCS and was the winningest postseason pitcher of the decade. Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Zack Greinke
The era’s premier hired gun on the mound, Greinke suited up for six different teams during the 2010s. But regardless of what uniform he wore, his success on the mound remained constant. Greinke finished in the top five of wins, games started and innings pitched during the decade, with only Clayton Kershaw having a better win percentage. His 1.66 ERA over 222.2 innings in 2015 was the lowest of the decade by a player who started at least 20 games. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Chris Sale
Sale became a starting pitcher in 2012 and immediately became one of the most dominant strikeout artists of all time. His 5.37 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best all time, and he reached 1,500 career strikeouts in the second-fewest innings all time. In 2017, Sale joined Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in history to strike out 200 batters in their first 20 starts of the year, en route to finishing with 308 strikeouts. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Madison Bumgarner
Bumgarner was one of the most consistent pitchers of the decade, reaching double digits in wins in six consecutive seasons and finishing in the top 10 in NL Cy Young Award voting four straight times. However his greatest impact came in October, where he played a pivotal role in three Giants World Series wins. His 2014 effort ranks among the greatest in postseason history, as in over 52.1 heroic innings, Bumgarner allowed just six earned runs, winning MVP of both the NLCS and World Series. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Jon Lester
Lester played a vital role for a pair of championship teams, first with the Red Sox and later the Chicago Cubs. Overall, Lester won seven postseason games and the fifth-most regular-season games (148) during the decade, highlighted by a 2.10 ERA over 30 World Series innings. Lester also made five All-Star Games and won 15 or more games in six seasons. Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Corey Kluber
Following an 18-win breakout season in 2014, Kluber became one of the most surprising Cy Young Award winners in history. He proved to be no fluke afterward, winning the honor again in 2017, a season where he led or tied for the American League lead in 10 different categories. Kluber won 18 games or more four times, and he never finished lower than ninth in voting between 2014 and 2018. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom won NL Rookie of the Year in 2014 and was a top 10 Cy Young Award finalist in 2015 and 2017 before winning the award in 2018 when he produced the most dominant season of the decade, striking out 269 and going 25 straight games allowing three or fewer runs. His 1.70 ERA was the third-lowest since 1968. He put himself into position to repeat as Cy Young winner after posting a 1.44 ERA in the second half of 2019. Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Andrew Miller
After moving to the bullpen full time in 2012, Miller revolutionized the "fireman" role, capable of making a closer-like impact earlier in games and often working multiple innings. As a reliever, Miller averaged 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings, with a 0.98 WHIP and opponents hitting just .209 against him. In the postseason, Miller owned a 0.95 ERA over 38 innings, with 54 strikeouts. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: David Robertson
One of the most prolific strikeout pitchers of the decade, Robertson excelled as both a setup man and closer. Robertson’s 15.2 WAR for the decade was the highest by a reliever who did not exclusively work as a closer. Working at least 60 innings in nine of 10 years, he notched 147 holds and 137 saves, making Robertson the only reliever in the decade to total 100 in both categories. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Wade Davis
Another converted starter who made a far greater impact out of the bullpen, Davis twice finished in the top 10 of AL Cy Young Award voting as a relief ace. Initially working as a setup man behind Greg Holland, from 2014-2017, Davis produced a 1.45 ERA while opponents hit just .172 against him. Over two consecutive postseasons with Kansas City, in 2014-15, Davis allowed one run over 25 innings (0.36 ERA), with the Royals going 18-2 in games he appeared in. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Dellin Betances
Although he saved only 36 games, Betances was arguably the best reliever of the decade who spent least amount of time as a closer. A four-time All-Star, Betances struck out 44 percent of all batters he faced, the third-best ratio of any reliever to appear in at least 200 games. In 2018, he became the only reliever in history to strike out 100 batters in five consecutive seasons. Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Aroldis Chapman
Between stints with the Reds, Cubs and Yankees (twice), Chapman converted the third-most saves of the decade (273) and did so in often overwhelming fashion. His 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings is the highest ratio in MLB history, and Chapman also owns four of the top 10 per nine inning seasons of all time, highlighted by his 17.6 showing in 2016. In 2014, Chapman struck out 52.5 percent of batters he faced, an all-time record, and he also set a record for the most consecutive games with a K, with 49. David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Kenley Jansen
Jansen was the reliable back end force for the Dodgers who closed out many of their NL-leading 919 wins during the decade. Jansen was responsible for converting saves in 301 of those victories, the second-highest total of the decade. Durability was also a strength of his, as no reliever with 150 saves worked more than his 611.2 innings. Between 2013 and 2017, Jansen converted 91.6 percent of his save chances with a 2.01 ERA while adding an additional 13 saves in the postseason. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel was an elite closer upon arrival to the big leagues, setting an MLB record with 46 saves during his rookie campaign in 2011. He led the National League in saves over his first four seasons and set records for being the youngest pitcher to reach both 200 and 300 saves. An All-Star in seven of his 10 seasons and World Series champion in 2018, Kimbrel posted a sub-2.00 ERA in four seasons while leading the decade in saves (346), save percentage (90.3), relief ERA (2.08), lowest batting average against (.158) and strikeout percentage (41.1 percent). Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
How each NL team addressed its weakest position this offseason .
There has been a flurry of activity already in the MLB offseason. Did the teams in the National Leauge do enough to improve their clubs where they struggled the most in 2019?In this post, we’ll look at what each of the 15 National League teams have done so far to upgrade their weakest positions from the 2019 season (as determined by bWAR). As you might expect, we ignore the DH category while dealing with NL clubs.