Most position players have already crashed the pitchers and catchers party, which makes Jose Abreu’s two-day-early arrival to Camelback Ranch seem late.
Officially, though, there’s still one more day to go before spring training begins in earnest, which might be why two long-awaited moves finally came to fruition late Saturday night.
The Twins didn’t topple that by trading high-A shortstop Jermaine Polacios to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorizzi, but they probably made the podium. The Twins needed a starting pitcher with Ervin Santana‘s finger injury costing him the first couple months, and Anibal Sanchez doesn’t count.
Odorizzi does, although maybe not as much as he once did. He was a replacement-level starter in 2017, as he set a career high with 30 homers surrendered and 61 walks allowed while throwing a career-low 143⅓ innings. It’s hard to say he outpitched his 5.43 FIP, because his 4.14 ERA includes 14 unearned runs.
He missed time with a back strain, so maybe there’s a rebound. He’s probably worth a gamble if the price is Palacios and nothing else, especially if the Twins know Odorizzi:
He’s a definite step down from Yu Darvish, and not nearly the kind of move the Twins have reason and resources to pull off, but at least it’s improvement.
That’s more than can be said about the Rays, who randomly designated Corey Dickerson for assignment around the time the trade was broken. It wasn’t to accommodate the move, but instead prompt another one. He’ll probably get some interest as a guy who made the All-Star Game with a hot first half (.909 OPS), but the poor second half (.690 OPS, 28 percent strikeout rate) and a DH’s outfield defense might make him less appealing after giving it some thought.
He might be worth a shot since he’s only being paid $5.95 million in his second arbitration year, either by the White Sox or another team, although the Sox don’t exactly need another guy with a massive strikeout-to-walk disparity. The Rays are going to try to replace his production with C.J. Cron while saving $3.5 million, which is pretty depressing.
(They did re-sign Sergio Romo.)
The Rays have so many peers in dormancy that it’s refreshing to see a team make an effort to improve, even if it’s hard to figure out. Case in point:
San Diego was pitched as Hosmer’s most likely landing spot for the entire winter, even though the Padres already have a perfectly fine first baseman under a long-term contract in Wil Myers. The bigger question seemed to be how much the Padres could lower Hosmer’s asking price with only the financially limited Royals challenging.
The result: Eight years, $144 million. That sounds like a lot and it is, but the Padres gained some ground in negotiations by front-loading the deal:
Hosmer: $5M signing bonus, $20M per year from 2018-22, $13M per year from 2023-25. #Padres
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 18, 2018
Another way to look at it:
There’s no way 3/40 in twilight years for Hosmer cripples Pads. 5/100 not crazy. Just… spending that on non elite bat at bottom of defensive spectrum in market that’s DFAing similar bats… Guess SD needs someone to sign now before others might? About ‘18 FAs & building to ‘19?
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) February 18, 2018
If 2017 represents a new level of performance for Hosmer — at least for a couple more years — the Padres have a shot at getting fair value. The drop in pay after the opt-out is San Diego’s best attempt to limit the deal to five years and $100 million. Opt-outs always favor the player, and I wouldn’t count on Hosmer getting better than three years and $40 million as a 33-year-old first baseman, but one can see how that might be possible.
This contract might be another example of the Padres’ impetuous ownership, but at least they’re trying to make themselves more interesting. And hey, signing and bailing on James Shields worked out pretty well for Ron Fowler.
Conversely, with Hosmer heading to the West Coast, this seems to firmly plant the Royals in tear-it-down territory.