Jordan Lyles signs with the Rangers
Texas, as we’ve talked about before, is a really interesting team this winter. They aren’t necessarily super close to a championship on paper, but they are solid enough to start pushing and have the added motivation of a new ballpark opening in 2020. They signed Kyle Gibson earlier in the offseason, and now they’ve reportedly finished off their rotation with Jordan Lyles. The righty struggled mightily with Pittsburgh in the first half of 2019 before turning it around in Milwaukee, turning that second-half success into a two-year, $16 million deal. It’s not quite the Drew Pomeranz model, but it’s close. Lyles still has some command issues that need to be worked out and I’m not totally on board with him as a viable starter on a good team, but it should be mentioned he was average or better in whatever metric you prefer even when you include that time with the Pirates. Texas now has a rotation featuring Mike Minor, Lance Lynn, Gibson, Lyles and Koby Allard. You can do worse than that.
Sox Spin: We are seeing the market for this kind of mid-level starting pitcher in this year’s market. With Lyles now signing, we have seen him, Gibson and Michael Pineda sign two- or three-year deals worth between $7 and $10 million a year. That’s how much the Red Sox should be putting aside for that fifth rotation spot if they plan to fill it in free agency.
Howie Kendrick heads back to Washington
The Nationals in 2019 were not the 2018 Red Sox, but we are seeing that the temptation to bring the band back together is real. Now, the Red Sox didn’t have major names like Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg hitting the market, and Washington isn’t bringing both of them back. They are, however, bringing back one of the heroes from their postseason run. Howie Kendrick agreed to go back to the nation’s capital on a one-year deal worth $6.25 million. It’s easy to look at this deal and view it as a reward for his contributions in October. I’m sure there’s some element of that here, too. It’s also, however, easy to forget how good he was in the regular season. We’re only talking about 370 plate appearances, but he had a 146 wRC+. Even looking forward, the projections have him close to a 120 mark. This is a good player and he will help the Nationals in one role or another.
Sox Spin: Kendrick would have been a good fit for the Red Sox as a first base target, but if Boston decides they’d rather target a second baseman and keep Michael Chavis at first then Kendrick makes less sense. The veteran came up as a second baseman and still plays there in a pinch, but if you have him there anything close to every day then you are just asking for trouble.
Alex Avila signs with the Twins
Looking back at the regular season in 2019, Mitch Garver was arguably the most surprising player in baseball and a guy that probably wasn’t talked about enough. He emerged as a legitimately star-caliber bat behind the plate in Minnesota, although he did it splitting time nearly evenly with Jason Castro. The latter is now a free agent, and it was going to be interesting to see what kind of catcher they’d pair with Garver. On Friday, we got our answer as the Twins signed Alex Avila to a one-year deal worth $4.25 million. He has had some good years in the past and draws a ton of walks, but he is more of a true backup. In other words, Garver is going to get his chance in a bigger role in the coming year.
Sox Spin: You know the drill. The Red Sox need a backup catcher and that’s what Avila is. This $3-$5 million range has been where you’re looking at the better backup options this winter.
Brad Brach re-ups in New York
It wasn’t all that long ago that Brad Brach was one of the more undervalued relievers in the game with Baltimore. Things had fallen off pretty quickly over the last couple of years, though, including a rough 40+ appearances with the Cubs this past year. He finished off 2019 with the Mets, though, and looked much better over 16 appearances. Now, he is trying to see if he can keep that going in Queens. The righty has signed a one-year deal worth $850,000 in New York.
Sox Spin: It’s easy to say the Red Sox should have been all over this deal, and if that was an option they should have. That said, I think the connection from last season clearly played a role here.