Michael Taylor signs with the Royals
Before Monday, only starting pitchers had been signed to major-league deals in this slow-moving offseason. That trend changed yesterday morning, though, as Kansas City signed the first position player of the offseason, inking former National outfielder Michael Taylor to a one-year deal.
This is certainly not any sort of blockbuster signing, as Taylor carries almost all of his value at this point in his glove and his legs. While he did have one above-average season at the plate when he posted a 104 wRC+ in 2017, but in the other five seasons in his six-year career (not counting a cup of coffee in 2014) his highest mark is 75. In terms of fWAR, 3.1 wins out of his career total of 3.8 are from that 2017 season.
That said, this deal does have some implications for the Red Sox. For one thing, Taylor could have been a cheap signing to fill the hole in center field. Given everything I said above, though, I would have lost my mind if that was the plan, and there’s no indication it ever was. More important is that Kansas City could now be out of the center field market. They were one of the teams who could have been in competition for a Jackie Bradley Jr. or a Kevin Pillar, and any time one of your competitors drops out of a free agent sweepstakes, it’s a good thing.
Marlins trade for Adam Cimber
There was also a very minor trade made on Monday with Cleveland sending the Marlins right-handed reliever Adam Cimber in exchange for cash. Cimber is a submarine pitcher who has had some bright spots in this league but doesn’t have a huge ceiling. At his best he is a ground ball machine who can be death against right-handed bats, but the results have been mediocre over his three-year career. Last season he tossed only 11 1⁄3 innings and pitched to a 3.97 ERA with a 3.99 FIP.
Theoretically, this could have been a Red Sox target, but as with Taylor it would have been underwhelming. More interesting to the Red Sox here may be that Miami designated José Ureña for assignment to make room for Cimber. Ureña has made a couple of Opening Day starts over his career for Miami, and while that has everything to do with the team for which he was pitching, there has been some perceived upside here. I certainly wouldn’t be guaranteeing a roster spot to the righty, but there would appear to be a good chance he’ll have to settle for a minor-league deal with a camp invite, and that’s something Boston should very much consider.
New MLB Draft League formed
The biggest news of Monday was probably involving the minor-league reshuffling. As MLB gets rid of the short-season leagues, such as the New York-Penn league that was home to the Spinners, they are replacing them with amateur summer leagues. They announced plans for one of those with the MLB Draft League. This league, which features five teams as of now and with a sixth apparently being negotiated with, will feature the top draft prospects in a 68-game season.
I have a lot of questions about this even beyond the simple rage that fills me when I think about what MLB is doing to the minors. But even just with this league in particular, there is so much that is unclear to me. The league is supposed to run from June through August. I’m not sure what that means for top college prospects whose teams are in the College World Series. They are having their own All-Star break to coincide with the MLB All-Star break. As you may recall, MLB moved their draft back to All-Star week, so these two events will now be at the same time. I’m also not clear what happens to players once they’re drafted. Do they keep playing in this league rather than joining their new organization? It seems like that’s the plan, but I can’t imagine teams loving that idea.
Anyway, this is better than nothing but still much worse than affiliated baseball. It’s worth mentioning that a few of these teams were part of the former New York-Penn League. It’s still not clear what is happening with the Spinners — there are numerous complications that would seemingly prevent them from becoming a full-season affiliate for any team, but that’s still a possibility — but keep an eye on this. This is total speculation, but there’s a chance that could be the aforementioned sixth team.