Drew Pomeranz signs four-year deal with San Diego
Wednesday was a very busy day around the league as teams were trying to get as much work done as possible before the holiday. One of the biggest moves involved an old friend, with Drew Pomeranz signing a four-year deal worth $32 million in San Diego. The Padres continue to push little by little as they look to turn their roster into a contender. Pomeranz was among the most interesting free agents on the market this winter, as he had a miserable year as a starter but then was converted to relief for the final six weeks of the year and excelled. The Padres are betting on that success out of the bullpen continuing, and while the length of the deal was a bit surprising they aren’t paying all that much on a year-by-year basis, so if this contract goes bad they aren’t in too bad of a spot.
Sox Spin: There’s a very obvious connection here with the Red Sox having had Pomeranz in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Although I would argue he didn’t really get the credit he deserved in his first two seasons, he looked like he was toast by the time the 2018 season ended. In fact, he was on the only rostered pitcher not to appear in that World Series. There wasn’t much chance at a reunion, though. For one thing, I don’t think Boston will look for that kind of commitment on the relief market. Secondly, with Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez they don’t really need to prioritize left-handed pitching.
Padres and Brewers swing challenge deal
The Pomeranz signing wasn’t all San Diego got done on Wednesday. Before that was announced, we learned of a really interesting trade that would send Luis Urías and Eric Lauer to the Brewers in exchange for Trent Grisham and Zach Davies. This is one of those “challenge” trades you just don’t see too much of in baseball with two teams swapping highly-touted young players to fill different positional needs. Milwaukee gets Urías, who will presumably play shortstop for them. He has been a highly touted prospect with big numbers in the minors, but a slight change in his swing made those numbers drop off steeply in the highest levels. Grisham, meanwhile, will slide into San Diego’s outfield. He’s a talented player, but at this point is most well known for letting a ball get by him in this past year’s NL Wilcard Game. Both teams receive a starting pitcher in the deal as well.
Sox Spin: I’ve got nothing here.
Kyle Gibson signs three-year deal in Texas
A starting pitcher is off the board as former Twins righty Kyle Gibson has agreed to a three-year deal with the Rangers worth $30 million. It is worth pointing out this is the exact contract to which they signed Lance Lynn last year, and he turned into one of the most surprising pitchers in the game. Gibson has spent his entire career with the Twins to this point with inconsistent results. Over the last couple of years he has significantly increased his strikeout rate and continues to get a whole lot of ground balls, but he walks too many batters and his home run rate is just a touch too high to put up consistent results. The Rangers hope they can find the tweak to get him into a more steady zone. Texas is one of the most interesting teams of the winter as they look to build a contender for their new park.
Sox Spin: With the open spot in their rotation, Gibson is probably the tier of pitcher that makes the most sense for Boston this winter. A third year was more than I was expecting for him and I’m guessing that took the Red Sox out of this one, but it also means that’s one fewer name available for a team in desperate need of at least one starting pitcher.
Jonathan Villar placed on outright waivers
Here is where tanking goes too far. Jonathan Villar was easily the Orioles best player last year, putting up a four-win season (per FanGraphs) with good offense, good baserunning and solid defense up the middle. He’s been at least an average regular for three of the last four years and is not yet 30 years old. He was also just placed on outright waivers by the Orioles, presumably because he projected to make $10.4 million in arbitration in 2020. It’s an absurd move for a team that will also use it’s nonexistent place on the competitive timeline to justify not signing any free agents. If you aren’t going to sign players, at the very least you have to retain your best player. It will be an even bigger travesty if he goes unclaimed, meaning the whole league has somehow agreed a 28-year-old coming off a four-win season isn’t worth $10 million.
Sox Spin: They won’t be, but the Red Sox should absolutely be putting a claim in on Villar. We know the right side of the infield is a question for this team, and Villar is a second baseman who can fill in every day. That leaves Marco Hernández in a depth role where he belongs and would allow Michael Chavis to stick over at first base. They won’t spend this salary, which is infuriating, but this is a perfect fit on a reasonable contract where you don’t have to give up anything but money.
Mariners sign Carl Edwards Jr.
The Mariners have added a new reliever to their roster, signing former Cub Carl Edwards Jr. to a one-year deal worth $950,000 with an extra half-million available in incentives. Edwards is an interesting buy-low for a retooling team like Seattle. He had four straight years of very solid production in Chicago before totally falling off in 2019. The control and command are big issues and make him no sure thing to bounce back, but the cost here is minimal and he could, at the very least, be a midseason trade chip for the M’s this summer.
Sox Spin: Edwards is a guy I had identified as a nice buy-low, cheap option for the Red Sox. I’d like to see them shoot higher than this, but A) there isn’t a ton available in free agency this year and B) they don’t seem willing to do what’s necessary to shoot higher.
Yan Gomes signs two-year deal with Nationals
The catching market just continues to move along. Yan Gomes is the latest to come off the board, signing a two-year deal to head back to Washington where he’ll form a tandem with Kurt Suzuki. Gomes struggled a bit with the Nationals this past year with an OPS+ of just 78, but he’s shown the upside for more in the past and it’s just very hard to find catching help this year. Expect something close to a 50/50 split in Washington if both backstops remain healthy.
Sox Spin: The catching market continues to speed along as we await the team’s decision with Sandy León, which is due by December 2.