Omar Narváez traded from Seattle to Milwaukee
One of the first major moves of the offseason was catcher Yasmani Grandal heading to Chicago to play for the White Sox, which in turn left the Brewers without a catcher. Milwaukee is presumably still trying to contend in an up-for-grabs NL Central, so obviously a replacement was needed. They found him on Thursday, trading minor league pitcher Adam Hill and a competitive balance draft pick to the Mariners for Omar Narváez. The first thing you’ll hear about Narváez is his defense, and not for good reason. Milwaukee has had good framers behind the plate for a long time between Grandal and Jonathan Lucroy before that, but Narváez has a reputation and statistics indicating he is among the worst in the game. On the other hand, he is one of the best offensive catchers in the game, and even with the framing metrics worked in he was worth two wins above replacement on Baseball Prospectus, the site with the most comprehensive defensive stats for catchers. This is obviously a downgrade on Grandal and a change of pace for the Brewers organization, but they didn’t give up too much and added legitimate thump to the lineup.
Sox Spin: Narváez was someone I was actually kind of intrigued with for the Red Sox. He has minimal experience at first base, and it’s easier said than done playing there with no experience (tell ‘em, Wash). If that was a possibility, though, pairing him with Vázquez and getting him at bats elsewhere when possible would have been intriguing. It was never realistic, but it was fun in the abstract, at least.
Rays trade Tommy Pham to Padres
Well, this is kind of a weird deal while also being a very Rays one. Tampa Bay is close to sending Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth to San Diego in exchange for Hunter Renfroe and shortstop prospect Xavier Edwards. In the short-term, Tampa Bay clearly gets worse. Renfore is fine and the power is clearly there, but Tommy Pham is a better player right now, full stop. Obviously no move is done in a vacuum and the rest of their offseason plays into this now, but among the two major-league outfielders changing teams Pham is the better player. The Rays, however, get a top prospect in Edwards. He does play middle infield and is at a similar development point as top prospect Wander Franco, but having too many good up-the-middle prospects isn’t really a problem. Again, it’s hard to really judge this without knowing the rest of the offseason, but for now it looks like they are getting a little bit worse and a little bit cheaper.
As for the Padres, they are getting a little bit better and a little bit more expensive. San Diego has been slowly pushing in for a couple of years now, and they look to be continuing that here. Pham, at 31 years old, is not exactly a win-later kind of player. Cronenworth put up a .949 OPS at Triple-A while playing shortstop and also pitched to a 2.45 ERA over 7 1⁄3 innings. As I said above, the offseason is not done and more needs to be done if the Padres want to be a real contender, but it’s nice to see this kind of push from a team that has been mostly irrelevant for 20 years.
Also, Blake Snell had some immediate reaction to the deal.
Sox Spin: This is mainly just what this means for the Red Sox in the AL East, and I think it helps. Obviously this doesn’t move the needle all that much in either direction, but if you have to pick one direction for 2020 only, the Rays move closer to Boston.
Michael Pineda re-signs with the Twins
The Twins were supposed to be players for the top pitchers on the free agent market after losing Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda from their rotation, but they were not even a finalist in the Zack Wheeler sweepstakes. They have made a secondary move, though, bringing Pineda back on a two-year deal worth $20 million. The former Yankee was a big part of Minnesota’s regular season success, putting together arguably his best year of his career — he was much better in 2015, but in half the starts — after missing all of 2018. However, he missed the postseason after being suspended for failing a PED test. He did get that suspension reduced after proving he was not using the drug as a masking agent, but he will still miss the first 39 games of the 2020 season. The Twins are looking to stay on top in the AL Central, and Pineda will help that rotation. That said, they need someone else, and someone better.
Sox Spin: Pineda, like the aforementioned Gibson, was a guy who presumably fits around the tier the Red Sox will be looking for to fill their final rotation spot. The health issues are spotty enough that I’d be wary of adding him to this rotation specifically, but this is another example of what kind of market they’re likely to be involved with.
Jake Marisnick traded to the Mets
There was another trade on Thursday as well, with the Astros trading center fielder Jake Marisnick to the Mets in exchange for a couple of minor leaguers. The Mets have seemingly been on the lookout for a center fielder for decades (not really, obviously, but seriously this has been a thing every year for a long time) and Marisnick is the latest half-hearted effort in this. He’s a very, very good defensive player who runs the bases well and provides some pop, but his on-base skills are nonexistent. He’s probably not going to fill an everyday role, instead starting against most lefties and filling in as a defensive replacement for Brandon Nimmo against righties.
Sox Spin: There’s two angels to look at here. For one thing, the Mets were one of the rumored landing spots for Jackie Bradley Jr. Perhaps there’s still a way for that to still happen and move Nimmo to a corner, creating a platoon in center field, but at the very least this hampers the possibility of a deal significantly. The other part was, if Boston did trade Bradley, Marisnick was a logical replacement candidate. Obviously that is not happening anymore.