You didn’t really think the Padres were done, did you?
Even after already adding Yu Darvish and Blake Snell to their rotation, San Diego decided that more must be better, and acquired Joe Musgrove from the Pirates in a three-team deal between the Padres, Mets and Pittsburgh. In the deal, San Diego sends Joey Lucchesi to the Mets, New York moves catching prospect Endy Chavez to the Steel City, and the Pirates also get Hudson Head, David Bednar, Omar Cruz and Drake Fellows out of the Padres’ system.
Acquired in the deal that sent Gerrit Cole to Houston, Musgrove was one of the (very) few bright spots for the Pirates in 2020. His 1-5 record - as is often the case with W-L records - does not indicate how well he pitched, as the right-hander registered a 3.86 ERA, 55/16 K/BB ratio and 1.235 WHIP in his 39 2/3 innings. The year before was not as successful with a 4.44 ERA in 170 1/3 frames, but the 28-year-old has been a serviceable pitcher who has shown flashes of being more than that in his five years. Now, he’ll be going from a team that finished with the worst record in baseball to a club that looks like one of the best on paper -- and let’s keep in mind that San Diego was excellent in 2020 -- with a strong backing behind him. Stock up. Stock way up.
The same can be said for Lucchesi, as he goes from being a pitcher that looked like he didn’t have a role with San Diego even before the Musgrove trade. Once a former top prospect, Lucchesi has not quite lived up to lofty standards, and it was a lost 2020 season for the southpaw; making just three appearances and allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings (7.94 ERA). The two seasons before, however, Lucchesi made 56 starts and struck out 303 hitters in 293 2/3 innings with a 4.14 ERA. He should be a favorite to earn a spot in the Mets’ rotation to begin 2021, and considering he is still 27 until June, it’s safe to say there’s still some upside in his left arm.
The Pirates' return is more quantity than quantity, but there are some interesting prospects heading over. Head is a left-handed hitting outfielder who has the speed to steal bases and both the hit and average talents project close to average; possibly a tick higher. Bednar has made 17 appearances as a reliever in the majors with a 6.75 ERA, but he does have a fastball/splitter combo that could make him an effective bullpen option in the middle innings. Cruz turns 22 in January, and he’s a southpaw with a plus curve and well above-average command, but doesn’t have an elite fastball and profiles as a backend starter at best. The most intriguing prospect might be Rodriguez. He’s a catcher who hits from both sides with the makings of a 60-grade -- or plus -- hit tool, and there should be some power. If he can stick behind the plate, he’s a potential everyday backstop.
Lester heading to the Capitol
In addition to the trade -- which isn’t official as of publication, in case you were curious -- we saw some action on the free agent market. It’s understandable to be surprised considering how much of a slog that has been.
Multiple outlets are reporting that the Nationals signed Jon Lester to a one-year contract. There were initially reports that the deal contained an option for 2022, but it appears it will just be a one-year contract with financial terms not yet released.
Lester, 37, was once among the most consistent starters in baseball, but since 2018, we haven’t seen that version. After winning 18 games two years ago with a 3.32 ERA, Lester has registered a 4.64 mark over 43 starts, and he’s allowed 37 homers with a 207/69 K/BB ratio in just under 233 frames.
That doesn’t mean Lester can’t help the Nationals, but it does mean his days of being fantasy relevant -- at least in mixed leagues -- are likely over. He should pitch in the middle of the rotation with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg at the top for the 2019 World Series champions, but this is definitely the type of signing that provides more real-life value than (assumed) fantasy production.
Chatwood heading to Toronto to help bullpen, Blue Jays making push for Springer
Lester was not the only former member of the Cubs who (reportedly) picked a new team on Monday. Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Tyler Chatwood is signing a one-year, $3 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Shi Davidi reports that the deal is pending a physical, but will pay Chatwood $3 million in base salary with a chance to earn $2.5 million incentives. While the 31-year-old has been used as a starter in the past, the Blue Jays will reportedly be turning to Chatwood as a reliever for the 2021 campaign.
How much relevance Chatwood has in 2021 is going to depend on the role. The Blue Jays don’t have an obvious fit at closer, so it’s not entirely out of the question Toronto could use him as a stopper if he pitches well in the Grapefruit League. More than likely, however, Chatwood is going to be a multi-inning reliever, and while that can certainly help the team up north, it also will mean there isn’t much appeal in mixed leagues. You’ll have to take a wait-and-see approach before using a draft selection or salary cap space.
In more exciting but less tangible news, the Blue Jays are also “making a push” for George Springer according to Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith. It’s been reported that Springer wants to make a decision soon, possibly before the end of the week. One of the best center fielders in baseball, the only other team that has been linked to Springer is the Mets, and there are financial implications -- like it or not -- that make it seem that he’s more likely to land in the 306 instead of Queens. Wherever Springer ends up, he’s going to be a productive player. Obvious point is obvious.
Pedroia not planning a comeback, Sale to take things slow
There was a lot of Hot Stove news on Monday in terms of transactions, but it wasn’t all positive. According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Dustin Pedroia is “not planning a comeback,” and that a resolution with the Red Sox involving the infielder could come this month.
Without directly saying it, this essentially means that Pedroia’s time as a baseball player is over. While he was only able to play in nine games over the last three seasons because of knee issues, this is a player that will go down as one of the best Boston infielders of all time. He was the 2007 Rookie of the Year after hitting .317/.380/.442 in 139 games, and a year later he was the Most Valuable Player with a .326 average, 54 doubles, 17 homers and 20 stolen bases. He never approached those numbers again, but he ends his career with a .299/.365/.434 slash with 1,805 hits and 140 homers in 1,512 games. The Red Sox will now need to negotiate a buyout with Pedroia -- for lack of a better term -- as he’s owed $12.05 million in 2021.
While we won’t see Pedroia in a Boston uniform next year, we will see Chris Sale, but it might not be as soon as fans of the Red Sox want. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, The Red Sox plan to be conservative with Sale in his return from Tommy John surgery. This isn’t a huge surprise, as the southpaw still has four guaranteed years left on his contract that will pay him $145 million when all is said and done. He underwent the operation on March 30, but he appears to be on the long end of the projected 12-15 month timetable that comes with the procedure.
When Sale is healthy, he’s been as good as any pitcher in the sport, but considering his layoff and age, it can be argued that there’s more risk in Sale’s profile for 2021 than there is reward.
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Quick Hits: According to ESPN's Jeff Passan and Mina Kimes, new Mets general manager Jared Porter "sent explicit, unsolicited texts and images to a female reporter in 2016." Porter began sending the messages when he was serving as the Cubs' director of professional scouting … Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that "at least 10 teams have some level of interest" in free agent reliever Jeremy Jeffress. Feinsand names the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies and Nationals as possible landing spots … Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that Nelson Cruz has "ongoing interest" from multiple teams in both the American League and National League … Phillies signed RHP Archie Bradley to a one-year contract … Cubs signed RHP Shelby Miller to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Phillies acquired INF C.J. Chatham from the Red Sox for a player to be named later. Victor Arano was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.