Rosenthal: Michael Wacha’s permanent free agency, GM’s search for Astros and Yankees options

Ask a major league executive at this time of year why he doesn’t sign a free agent, and the executive will invariably answer, “Because he wants a lot of money.”

Despite this, players sometimes have their own point of view. And that perspective often boils down to, “If this player gets X, why can’t I get Y?”

Consider Michael Wacha, who is perhaps the best unsigned rookie to work after teammate Zack Greinke, who I explained the situation in a recent column. Both shooters may simply want what they consider fair value in a rising market.

Coming into a 31-year-old season, Wacha produced a 3.32 ERA in 127 1/3 innings last season for Boston Red Sox, the last place holder in the most difficult teams of the game. Changing it is an elite move. Not surprisingly, he is seeking a multi-year deal.

It would be too much for Watcha to compare himself to the right-wingers Taeguan Walker (four years, $72 million) and Jameson Tellon (Four years, $68 million). Walker threw 30 more innings than Wacha Last season, Taillon threw 50 more than Wacha. Walker is also a year younger than him.

In addition, Wacha had a combined 5.11 ERA the previous three seasons basicsAnd mets And raysThe history of his injury is not trivial. He’s been on the injured list at least once in each of the past five seasons, and twice in 2022, due to left intercostal irritation and right shoulder inflammation.

On the other hand, Wacha is at least comparable to a proper fellow Ross Striplingwho is two years her senior, threw just seven more innings last season and had a nearly identical park-and-league-adjusted ERA.

the giants Stripling signed for two years and $25 million. Wacha would certainly be justified in asking for a deal in that range, and since his alter is such a weapon, he would probably argue that it deserves to be higher. Zack Evelyna pitcher two years younger than Wacha, earned three years and $40 million from the Rays even though he threw just 75 2/3 major league innings last season before excelling as a reliever in the playoffs.

Obviously, the market is different now than it was earlier in the off-season, when teams had to spend most or all of their money. Offers to Wacha are unknown. Nor his desires. If he wants, say, two years, $35 million, or three years, $50 million, that explains his persistent unemployment.

Perhaps Boacha will end up settling for a one-year deal – he could ask for more than that Noah Syndergaard ($13 million) and Kyle Gibson ($10 million). For now, the mystery continues. Still not signed.

The left is still there

Another curiosity in the free agent market is the constant availability of three accomplished left-handed relievers – Zach Britton, Andrew Chaffin and Matt Moore. From the perspective of one executive, the expectations of these shooters have yet to change Veles awarded Matt will see them a two-year, $15 million deal in early December.

“That deal destroyed the market,” the executive said.

Strahm, 31, threw just 44 2/3 innings last Red Sox season, hitting opponents with a 0.664 OPS. Chaffin, 32, pitched 57 1/3 innings and held opponents with a 0.619 OPS. Moore, 33, pitched 74 innings and struck out opponents with a 0.564 OPS.

Britton, 35, in a different category, has the longest and most impressive track record. He recovered from Tommy John surgery just in time to make three starts for the team Yankees Towards the end of the season, however, the team shut him out before the playoffs began, due to a shoulder strain. He’s healthy again, seeking a one-year deal.

According to sources familiar with the market but not authorized to speak publicly, teams with varying interest in left-hand relievers and varying amounts of spending include noticeAnd Angels And Astros in the AL West; Yankees and Red Sox f blue jays In the East, Brewers, Cardinals, and Cubs at NL Central.

The Mets have talked about adding a left-handed player as well, but they’re worried about signing a veteran who might leave their bases short on pitchers who can be selected to shortstop, reducing the team’s flexibility.

The latest in the Astros’ search for a GM

A familiar name has appeared in the Astros’ search for a new general manager – David Stearns, who was the assistant GM for the team from November 2012 to September 2015 before leaving to become Brewers General Manager and later President of Baseball Operations.

Stearns stepped down of a decision-making role in October, saying, “This is a job that requires a total and total commitment. When I started to hesitate about whether I could make that commitment, I knew it was really time to think about a change.”

With a year left on his contract, Stearns remained with the Brewers in an advisory role to ownership and baseball operations. Astros owner Jim Crane has sparked interest in the idea of ​​bringing him back to Houston, according to two major league sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Crane would ask the Brewers for permission to interview Stearns. It is not known whether or not he requested that permission. It is also not known if Stearns would be interested in the Astros so soon after he quit his role with the Brewers.

Brewers owner Mark Attanasio at least twice denied permission for Stearns to interview with other clubs – The Giants after the 2018 season and the Mets after 2021. Both of these instances occurred when Stearns was the Brewers’ chief decision maker, as opposed to his current advisory role. Attanasio could grant permission now, and require some form of compensation, most likely a player, if the Astros hired Stearns.

If Stearns is not available, Crane can turn to one of his other candidates. Brave Deputy Chief Scout Dana Brown, Guardians Assistant general manager James Harris and former GM Bobby Evans were among those interviewed by Crane, according to published sources and reports. Former Marlins chief of baseball operations Michael Hill, the league’s vice president of field operations, has withdrawn his name from consideration, the New York Post first reported.

Both Brown and Harris are black; the white stockingsKen Williams is the only black head of major league baseball operations or GM. Brown also has ties to Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who is a GM special assistant with the Astros. The two were teammates at Seton Hall in the late 1980s, along with former major league players Mo Vaughn and John Valentine.

“The Astros need residents,” said a rival executive, referring to the Browns. “He’s one of the best.”

Yankees glut

All is quiet with the Yankees for now, but something has to give with their pitches. With the exception of first base, they are currently looking for six players for the three outfield positions, including standout prospect Anthony Volpi, who is not yet included in their 40-man roster.

The easiest way to start the season would be to demote Volpe, who only played 22 games at Triple A. Jaliber Torresshortstop Isiah Keener Valeva or a third baseman Josh Donaldson Eventually it may be necessary to clear the impending impasse.


Anthony Volpe (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP)

DJ LimahieuAfter spraining his second right toe, he was practicing at the Yankees’ spring training facility in Tampa and “looking good,” according to general manager Brian Cashman. Kiner-Falefa will compete with Volpe and Oswald Peraza at shortstop.

Yankees slapped against The highest luxury tax threshold is $293 million. Their preference is almost certainly to transfer Donaldson, who owes $21 million this season and $6 million to his $16 million mutual option for 2024. Torres is perhaps of more interest to the clubs, however. He asked for $10.2 million in arbitration, and is under the club’s control through 2024. The Yankees offered him $9.7 million.

“We’ll only trade if something makes sense,” Cashman said. “We’re not going to do a deal just to make a place for a child. We’ll do a deal if we feel we’re getting some kind of value back.”

However, how long can the Yankees wait for Volpe and/or Peraza? The team has avoided short free agent stints over the past two winters, and Kenner Valeva was benched for both the Division Series and the American League Championship Series last season, starting with Oswaldo Cabrera Short three times and poop once.

Volpe, 21, is No. 14 on the list of the 100 Greatest Prospects in American Baseball. Peraza, 22, is No. 62. Last season’s top two rookies, W.J sailors Julio Rodriguez And brave Michael Harris IIHe was the same age as Volpe is now – 21.

Cashman said Volpe and Peraza “will get a legitimate shot,” but added that “veterans are ready to defend their positions.” There isn’t anything else he can say at this point. Not until he comes to a decision.

NL pennant race: over before it even started?

I have said my article On the unwise public comments he wrote reds President Phil Castellini, but at least when it comes to the National League, isn’t far behind when he bemoans the growing percentage of teams that will be out of contention by Opening Day.

Another NL executive said the league’s playoffs will likely feature the same six teams as last season — Phillies, Braves, Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers And Padres. For a different outcome, one of those clubs should slip up and another — maybe the Cubs, Brewers, diamondbacks Or the Giants – they should be enjoying a season where almost everything is going right.

reds, hackersCitizens Marlins And Rocky? They think they are from the outside looking in. but when Castellini said The seemingly probable fate of such clubs reflects an “industry in crisis”, ignoring the role played by uninspired team management in the process. With the Reds, it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Some of these are cyclical, too. The AL this season should be more competitive than the NL. The AL East will feature four and possibly five postseason contenders, and the AL Central and AL West at least three each.

around the century

Information from major league sources:

• the Orioles Continue to explore trades for the starting pitcher. They also spoke with Grienke at one point and investigated the possibility of signing free midfielder Jurickson Profar, although they are not particularly confident of any players being relegated.

Brovar, perhaps the best player in the residual free agent position, is best suited to a team with a more pressing need in left field—the Yankees, for example, or the Rangers. But after turning down a $7.5 million player option with the Padres, he almost certainly wants a multi-year deal with at least an annual average value. The Yankees have luxury tax concerns, and the Rangers’ estimated $196 million opening day payroll would be a club record of nearly $30 million.

• Without closer Liam Hendrix, who is recovering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is unlikely to trade the White Sox for a reliever. Rival clubs, intimidated by free agents’ rates, had previously inquired about various members of the Sox’s bullpen, knowing they had depth.

Hendrix’s loss cannot be underestimated, but the White Sox will still be around Kendall GrafmanAnd Reinaldo LopezAnd Joe Kelly And Jimmy Lambert From the right side and Aaron Boomer And Jake Dickman from the left. another left handed, Garrett Crochetis recovering from Tommy John surgery last March, and should return sometime in the first half.

• Finally, could this be the season when the rays drastically reduce their use of openers? If the team’s expected rotation of Shane McClanahanAnd Tyler GlasnowAnd Drew RasmussenAnd Zack Evelyn W Jeffrey Springs Remaining reasonably healthy, the need for painkillers like the occasional appetizer won’t be nearly as acute.

The Rays introduced the opener in 2018 and have used the concept over nearly an entire season of games since then. Including the postseason, they are 91-60 with the Openers. Last season they used one 21 times, and went 12-9.

(Top photo by Michael Wacha: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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