Doomed: Can the Red Sox Develop Jay Groome?

Jay Groome looked like the real deal coming out of the 2016 MLB Draft, as the 12th overall pick by the Red Sox coming out of Barnegat High School in Barnegat Township, New Jersey. A blazing fastball that topped out in the high 90’s with solid control of his off-speed pitches. He fits the build of a future ace in a rotation; 6’ 6” right hander with a 220 lb. frame. For Red Sox, fans this seems all too familiar. Another promising young pitcher taken early in the draft to be the ‘Ace’ for years to come. Names that come to mind are 2011 36th overall pick Henry Owens, who, to say the least, has not been good, as he’s bounced between short stints in the majors and seems to have hit his ceiling in AAA. He’s now a free agent. Another name that comes to mind is 2013 7th overall pick Trey Ball III, who just did not pan out as a pitcher, and neither did the experiment to try to convert him to an outfielder because he showed he could hit in high school. Groome came back in 2019 from Tommy John surgery but only made four starts. It is still up in there as to what kind of pitcher he is. Is he the player after Tommy John, pitching to a 2.25 ERA? Or is he the player before, pitching to a 6.70 ERA in A ball? Sure, the Red Sox have had some success developing pitchers. However, they seem to never be the pitcher they believe in. Names include Matt Barnes, Michael Kopech (who seems to be the real deal now with the Chicago White Sox), Clay Buchholz, and international ‘phenom’ Daisuke Matsuzaka. With the track record that the Sox have in the development of young pitchers, there is serious doubt that Jay Groome will be anything more than another name with the Red Sox.

The talent of Jay Groome is undeniable. However, the development track record is not. There should not be concern with Groome, 22-years-old and not at the Major League level. Jacob deGrom made his debut for the Mets at 25 (almost 26) years old. The concern should be with the player development team within the Red Sox organization. I understand that this isn’t a video game, and that they are human people and yes, sometimes players do not pan out as well as you think they will, or they are more than you ever thought they’d be. However, what is the explanation for the continued lack of success in Boston. Bad luck? Maybe. Poor developmental system or poor scouting? I think that this is the issue.

I do not know what goes on in the Red Sox farm system in regards to player development. The Red Sox seem to be able to develop young position players, and develop them through the strengths that they already have, with names like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Mookie Betts, and Bobby Dalbec in recent years. But why not pitching? There needs to be an overhaul of the development system by the Red Sox. When you draft young pitchers this high, they need to pan out in some way. I am not talking about some sort of science experiment of turning a guy into a two-way player because they hit a little bit in High School. This is professional baseball, not MLB The Show, seeing where someone could fit on the roster.

We have seen flashes of what Groom could be with the Red Sox. In 2016 in seven starts, he pitched to around a 3.00 ERA. We’ve seen flashes of concern, when in 2017 he pitched to just about a 6.00 ERA in 28 starts. The Red Sox need to take a serious look at player development. This isn’t bad luck, these young pitchers are doomed from the start. The only way Jay Groome becomes the player that he can be with the Red Sox… sign him in free agency! You seem to be plenty good at paying for other teams’ talent… mainly because you can’t develop your own.

Will the Reds make a splash this offseason at SS?

CINCINNATI, OH.- After a strange up and down season for the Cincinnati Reds, they are now looking to continue to make moves. The team on paper does seem to be one of the stronger teams in the NL with aces Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, despite trade rumors, at the top of the rotation. The team has a ton of hitters in the lineup, including the likes of Joey Votto and Eugenio Suárez. The team does have some young and upcoming bats like Nick Senzel and promising catching prospect Tyler Stephenson. It’s been reported in the last 24 hours or so that Cincy is looking into making a splash, specifically at the SS position. Lindor, Trevor Story and a few other names have been mentioned. Let’s take a look into what it might take to get one of these guys and other options on the free agency landscape.

Francisco Lindor

The Reds have been reported to be looking into what it might take to get the 27-year-old superstar. Lindor, heading into a contract year, still would require the Reds to give up some younger pieces. If the Reds were to go out and grab a player like Lindor they would be considered one of the better teams in the NL. When thinking of a possible trade, one that comes to my mind would be:

SP Hunter Greene

SP Lyon Richardson

OF Nick Senzel

Obviously, Hunter Greene is the biggest piece in the deal. A top 50 prospect with all the tools to be the ace for the Cleveland Indians. Health has been a question but as a player that has been clocked at 103 MPH in high school, the Cleveland Indians should take a chance on this young starter.

Nick Senzel is also a pretty solid piece to add to this trade. The 25-year-old number 2 overall pick in 2016 has not lived up to expectations so far, as he batted .186 in 23 games this past season. Cleveland definitely could stand to benefit taking a chance on Senzel as they need outfield help. The Reds do have a crowded outfield, so they can afford to give up Senzel.

Finally, Lyon Richardson. He is rated as the number 11 prospect in the Reds’ organization. Many people project him to be a back-end starter. His fastball was clocked up to 97 MPH and has shown promise in two seasons since being drafted. Cleveland could use another starter with electric stuff and he could become that 4th or 5th starter in the rotation for them in 2-3 years.

Trevor Story

Trevor Story is a really interesting one, as the Rockies are looking to trade some of their biggest and brightest stars. They seemed poised to trade their 28-year-old all-star. He hit to a nice clip of .289 and 11 HR in a shortened 60-game season. He is one of the best SS in the game, to say the least, and could be a great addition to this Reds team. A possible trade package would look like:

SP Hunter Greene

2B/3B Tyler Callihan

INF Michel Triana

The Rockies simply need a starter and Hunter Greene could fit the team well. Colorado has struggled to find their number 1 starter and he could fill that role. In addition to that, there’s 8th ranked prospect Tyler Callihan, who has put up decent numbers since being drafted. He gives the Rockies a flexible option to play second base or third, depending on if they also trade Arenado this offseason. INF Michel Triana, a 6-3 230-pound INF, is projected to be a plus power hitter which is great for Coors Field.

Free agents:

If I am being honest, while the Reds do have a pretty promising team, these trades might seem a little unlikely given that these two stars are free agents after the season and if they do not agree to sign back, giving up big pieces might not be worth the risk. There are some really solid SS options in free agency that could really give the Reds a much needed boost.

Didi Gregorious:

Personally, I think Didi is the best option. He debuted with the Reds way back in 2012. After a strong season with the Phillies batting .284 with 10 homers and continuing to play an above average SS defensively, he makes for a safe veteran presence in the lineup as they wait for top prospect Jose Garcia to continue to develop his skills in the upper tiers of the minor leagues. Didi could hit anywhere they see fit and provide a safe glove. He would most likely be looking for a multi-year contract. 2 years-$30 million would be a really nice contract for both sides and hopefully, by the middle/end of the that second year Jose Garcia will be ready to take the job.

Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

Marcus Semien:

I think Semien also fits well with this Reds roster. The 30-year-old SS did have an underwhelming year after having a breakout 2019 campaign where he placed 3rd in the MVP voting. He slashed a .223 average with 7 homers while playing, at best, average in the field, as he is considered by many a “hit first” SS. Coming off of a down year, his price range wouldn’t be out of the conversation for the Reds and he could be in line for a solid bounce back season in 2021, one that the Reds ideally would take advantage of. I would say he takes a 3 years-$45 million deal as he is one year younger than Didi. This would not be a bad option for the Reds, and he has proven in the past he can hit.

In addition to that, there are players like Andrelton Simmons and others that could be available on the trade market as the offseason progresses. One thing is for sure: the Reds are looking into acquiring a SS, and they’re looking aggressively.

Free Agent Breakdown: Marcus Semien

Over the next month or so I am going to be doing free agent break downs. I believe this market is going to be extremely slow as teams re-evaluate their finances after a covid season, so we should have time to get plenty of these done before everyone signs.

Player Breakdown

Marcus Semien is a 30 year old shortstop who has played for the A’s since 2015. He was originally a 6th round pick by the White Sox and made his debut in Chicago, playing mostly 2B and 3B. He was traded to Oakland in the deal that sent Jeff Samardzja to Chicago. Semien struggled in Chicago but Billy Beane must have seen something in him as he traded one of his best pitching talents for him. Since the A’s acquired him, he has strictly played shortstop, where he’s proven to be a liability at times because of unforced errors. His bat is what people come to see, however. 2019 was his breakout season as he finished 3rd in MVP voting by slashing .285/.369/.522 with 33 homers and 92 RBI’s. He came back to Earth this year as he had a somewhat average year. I put a large asterisks on this season because of how weird it was. In 2019, Marcus Semien was by far the best hitter on the A’s and one of the best hitters on the planet and because of this, he will warrant a lot of eyes in free agency.

The Case to Bring him Back

Most of these free agent breakdown articles, I will give reasons for a team to bring their free agent back. For this one however, I am going to go out on a limb and guarantee the A’s let Semien go. They declined his qualifying offer of 1-year, $18 million and are the organization best known for not giving out big contracts. I think Semien’s 2019 earned him a large payday and the A’s are not going to be the ones giving it to him. Bringing him back would be a great move as they keep one of their main hitting pieces and Oakland is in playoff contention every year. With all that being said, I’d think he’s as good as gone.

The Perfect Fits

Reds

The Reds are reportedly in the market for a shortstop, as it was probably their biggest hole in 2020. I think Semien would slot in perfectly and fill the position at not too steep a price. The Reds would add to their power bat lineup and get a much more consistent hitting shortstop than they had last year.

Indians

The Indians are going to trade Lindor. It’s a given at this point. That does, however, leave a spot open in their lineup for a shortstop. The Indians still have a very good team on paper, they just simply can’t afford to pay Lindor. So they’d be bringing in a good bat to replace Lindor’s while paying a fraction of the price. They would also stay relevant and competitive, which would give the fans something to be happy about after trading the best player on the team.

Good Fits

Cardinals

The Cardinals are said to be in on the Lindor sweepstakes so clearly shortstop is not something they are fully happy with in their organization. Paul De Jong played shortstop for them mostly this year. I think Semien would fit perfectly in that lineup and they’d have the option to either use De Jong as a utility guy or trade him for other pieces. I think the Cardinals could really use a boost in their lineup and I think Semien could fit that bill extremely well.

Angels

The Angles main need is pitching but they could afford to bring in Semien as well as fix the holes at pitcher. This move makes sense if Andrelton Simmons leaves in free agency. The Angels would bring in a good shortstop to replace Andrelton and probably become a better all around lineup. Hitting behind or even in front of Trout and Rendon would make life a lot easier for Semien and I think Anaheim is a place he could really succeed.

Weird Fits

Yankees

The Yankees are one of the only teams that can really pay their utility players a lot of money and be perfectly fine. They have been reported to be interested in Andrelton Simmons to help defensively at shortstop. Semien is not much of an upgrade over Gleyber Torres in the field but the Yankees have had serious injury problems the past few years so bringing in an extra bat who they could move around and use in many different ways would make a lot of sense to me. I think Simmons makes more sense but I would not be shocked to see the Yankees bring in Semien.

Phillies

This move would only make sense if they lose Didi Gregorious in free agency. The Phillies may have money to spend as it is reported that they will likely not be bring back JT Realmuto. I think Semien is a good option for them as they will have a hole at shortstop and they’re lineup could really use some power. If JT does leave, their lineup will take a huge hit and Semien could be used to slightly help plug that hole at a much cheaper cost than JT is warranting.

Final Prediction

My final prediction for his contract is not one of the perfect fits but actually one of the Good Fits.

Prediction: Semien signs with the St. Louis Cardinals on a 2-year $35 million deal with a 3rd year club option.

Thank you for reading all of this. I will continue to write up these free agent previews throughout the offseason. If there is anyone specifically you want me to write about please comment below and I will get to them!

Toronto Blue Jays: Where Do You Go from Here?

The 2020 MLB season was, of course, highlighted by the coronavirus that was and still is running roughshod through the United States and much of the rest of the world. In this previous there were plenty of surprises. One of those was the success of the Toronto Blue Jays. I’m sure some of you reading this are wondering, how can a team with a handful of supremely talented young stars and a brand new $80 million ace could take people by surprise? Some help from a rollercoaster 2020 season and a productive season from unlikely sources is the answer. This begs a very important and potentially very expensive question, where do you go from here? Is the answer to get aggressive and sign a marquee free agent and/or trade for an impact bat or arm? Or is it to play the patient route and reap the benefits of seeing your talented farm system grow? The answer is yes. But analyzing the upside of both routes is important.

Be Aggressive:

The most difficult aspect of being the general manager of an up and coming team is knowing when to let your talent do the work and when you should try and get that last piece to get them over the hump. If there’s money to be spent, Toronto should undoubtedly thrown their name in the free agent hats, at the very least. With the marquee talents of JT Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, and George Springer essentially being up for grabs as of now, there is no reason Toronto shouldn’t at least try to get one of these guys. Bauer would fill the team’s biggest weakness, which is starting pitching. Pairing him with Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is coming off of a very good 2020 season, and potential ace of the future Nate Pearson gives Toronto a very strong top 3 in their pitching staff. Springer, albeit not entirely necessary, would provide much needed veteran presence in the lineup and in the outfield. And Realmuto, baseball’s best catcher, needs no explanation for why he’d be a good fit for this roster.

But should Toronto pursue any trades? We’ve heard about them being interested in Francisco Lindor, just like the rest of the MLB. Lindor is a premier talent, anyone who has seen him play would know that. But is he the right guy to focus on? With the second generation MLB superstars in Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette taking up 75% of the infield, their need isn’t at shortstop, a position Bichette has proven to be plenty good at. Not to mention that they have to sign Lindor long term if they trade for him, otherwise it’s seemingly pointless. There are some names in the trade market that might be attainable for the Blue Birds. Joe Musgrove is certainly a name they should look at, especially with their farm system depth and Pittsburgh’s dearth of minor league talent. They seem to make a natural match.

Patience is a Virtue:

With a roster that seems almost ready to be a legitimate contender, sometimes being patient is all there is to do. They’ll still have most of their core young players under team control for the next three to four seasons, meaning the clocking isn’t ticking just yet. And with plenty of young talent rising through the team’s system, maybe the waiting game is the answer. Toronto’s top prospect, and consensus top 10 prospect in the sport, Nate Pearson made his Major League debut this season, but it was short lived due to injury. The team just added a top tier draft talent in Austin Martin, the Vanderbilt utility man. Throw in Jordan Groshans (1st round, 2018), Alek Manoah (1st round, 2019), and Simeon Woods-Richardson (2nd round, 2018) whom they acquired in the Marcus Stroman trade, and this team seems to have the foundations for a very bright future on both sides of the ball.

But is it enough? It’s safe to assume the players I just mentioned are still years away from being consistent and productive players that the Blue Jays can reasonably rely on. Pearson seems about ready, just needs to be able to stay on the field. And even though Martin and Groshans are talented, neither has much minor league experience (or any, in Martin’s case). Patience might be the move this offseason, but it cannot be the answer long term.

Blowing money on the top free agents this offseason is not the most responsible move, though it might feel like the best option. In an offseason where a lot of money was lost, the best move might be to be frugal with the money the team does have and let their current pieces develop. If the Blue Jays play their cards right, they can make real improvements to their roster without blowing away the farm or their bank account.

Dark Horse Names in the Trade Market

This free agency is absolutely loaded with talent with the top 5 names being players that could completely change a franchise. With that being said, there are only 5 of those players which means, at the minimum, there will be 25 other teams who missed out and need to find other ways to bolster their lineups, rotations, and bullpens. One way to do this is to sign lower end free agents, but this strategy is not always the most successful (recent examples being Rich Porcello to the Mets or Todd Frazier to the Rangers). The other way to do this is to trade for guys that have upside. There are some big names on the trade market like Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado, but you’d have to give up the farm to get those two. Here are a few names that might be available this off season that wouldn’t break the bank for most teams.

Joe Musgrove: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are, for lack of a better term, a complete dumpster fire. They traded away nearly their entire farm system, Andrew McCutchen, and Gerrit Cole for washed up players who amounted to absolutely nothing in Pittsburgh. One name that is still kicking though is Joe Musgrove, who they acquired from Houston in the trade for Gerrit Cole. Musgrove was a highly touted prospect for the Astros who has shown signs of greatness but has struggled for much of his Major League Career. I think the Pirates may look into trading him because this is probably the highest his value will be as a 27 year old who can hold an ERA around 4. I think he would be a very enticing trade target because if you can put him in the right program with the right coaches and players, I think he can figure it out. The Pirates are not well known for developing talent so if I needed a back of the rotation starting pitcher, I would 100% take a flyer on Joe to see if we could develop him to his full talent.

Eduardo Escobar: Twins

Eduardo is coming off a rough 2020 Covid season, as many players are. However, if you’re judging him off the few years before and taking this season with a grain of salt, he looks to be a very valuable piece. The 31 year old utility infielder can be a good replacement for a team that wants someone like DJ LeMahieu in free agency but doesn’t have enough to pay for him. He’s obviously not as good at the plate as DJ but Escobar has proven he has the ability to be productive at the plate posting an OPS+of 119 and 110 in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He can also bring some surprising power to the table as he was able to hit 35 homeruns in 2019. I think the Diamondbacks will certainly look into dealing him, as they finished in last place in their division and Escobar is beginning to get up there in age. If a team is looking for a solid everyday infielder or even a player to come off the bench or platoon, I think Eduardo is a great lower cost target that could really help make a lineup better.

Jesse Hahn: Royals

This is not a common name in most baseball fans minds but Jesse Hahn is a very solid reliever in the Kansas City Royals bullpen. The 30 year old posted a 0.52 ERA in 17.1 innings in 2020 coming off an abysmal year in 2019. Hahn also racked up 3 saves for the Royals in 3 save appearances. I do not believe he is a closer on most teams but he is not a bad piece at all to bring in to help bolster a bullpen. I think the Royals know where they are as a franchise and can try to capitalize and get whatever value they can out of a 30 year old reliever that had a great 2020 campaign. Trading for guys like this is so important for a lot of teams because the more reliable arms you have in a bullpen the better off you are suited come playoff time. I think Hahn could be a great and extremely cheap bullpen option for teams that need help in that department.

German Márquez: Rockies

Márquez is definitely going to be the most expensive player of all the ones listed. Everyone is talking about the Rockies trading Arenado but I think Márquez goes a little under the radar as a potential trade piece for the Rockies. I don’t think it is an argument that Colorado is the hardest place to pitch in the MLB. The Rockies have essentially never had a true ace because of this. Márquez was able to keep an ERA of 3.75 as well as a K/9 rate of 8.0 while pitching in that horrible stadium. His ERA+ is off the charts at 140 partly due to the fact that he pitches there. You may read this and think why would the Rockies trade a pitcher who is actually having success in Colorado? My answer is that the Rockies are not a World Series team (especially if they trade Arenado), so why gamble having Márquez come back and get blown up and have his value go from extremely high to virtually nothing in the matter of one season. I think a lot of teams would be willing to trade for him being that there are some good arms in free agency, but a lot of them are on the riskier side (For example Tanaka and Kluber). I think a Márquez trade would make so much sense for both sides and I hope it is something we see during this offseason.

Christian Vázquez: Red Sox

Everyone is talking about JT Realmuto and James McCann when it comes to the Catcher Market. One name that was brought up a bunch at the trade deadline but never got traded is Christian Vázquez. The 29 year old hit .283 with 7 homers in 173 at bats during his 2020 Campaign. I think he is a great option for a team that needs a catcher and does not want to pay what the two aforementioned options are asking for. Vázquez has 1 year left on his deal with a team option for 2022. I don’t think the Red Sox are going to making a deep run in either of those years, and they also have Kevin Plawecki who had a quietly good year, so I see trading Boston trading Vázquez as realistic. Vázquez is solid behind the plate and is an above average hitter for a catcher, so I could see this being a great value pick up for a playoff team. JT Realmuto might get 6 years $200 mil+, so I think taking a flyer on Vázquez could be a much more efficient option for a smaller market team to fill their need at catcher without giving up too much of the farm.

I believe all of the names I listed are names that we may see in a lot of trade rumors this offseason. If you root for a smaller market team, or even a big market team who misses out on all of the top free agents, look at these names.

Miami Shocked Baseball in 2020. Can they do it again in 2021?

First and foremost, I would like to start by welcoming you to The WAR Room. We are going to try to give you the best baseball content we possibly can! The offseason is upon us. Plenty of MLB teams will be making moves to better their teams for 2021 and beyond. One of the teams I would like to focus on is the Miami Marlins. In a crazy and strange year for baseball in 2020, one of the craziest and most unusual outcomes was the Miami Marlins making the playoffs. Yes… you heard that correctly. The Miami Marlins, with 2020 NL Manager of the Year Don Mattingly, not only made the playoffs, but they swept the Cubs 2-0 in the Wild Card round, before losing to the Braves 3-0 in the NLDS. Let’s be real here, nobody thought the Marlins had a chance. Especially after going 57-105 the season prior. The Jeter regime has seen a lot of turnover and a lot of trades to lower salary. A team that once had promising stars in Giancarlo Stanton, J.T Realmuto, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna ended up fueling a rebuild that has been filled with uncertainty.

The 2020 season gave every team a real fair shot to make the playoffs in a 60-game season and the Marlins are definitely an example of this, but heading into 2021 fresh off a playoff appearance this team has some real bright spots to surprise people once again in the near future, albeit with some inevitable bumps along the way. Let’s take a look at what has to be done this offseason to continue to make that happen.

Top Prospects Need to Perform in a Full Season

The Marlins have plenty of top prospects in their system. According to MLB.com, they are the 5th ranked farm system in baseball and have plenty of top 100 prospects in their system. With the highest being future front-line starter Sixto Sánchez. With Sánchez looking like he has a bright future at the top of the rotation for the Fish heading into 2021 after recording a 3.46 ERA in 7 starts, the team needs more than just him to perform in 2021. While the Marlins have plenty of up and coming pitching prospects coming along, the hitting has left something to be desired. Jazz Chisholm, another one of their top prospects, struggled in limited action in 2020, but he does show promise with the glove and bat at SS for the Marlins.

Top prospect Sixto Sanchez

In addition to that, they need 2019 5th overall pick JJ Bleday to really be the cornerstone in the lineup for the Marlins towards the end of 2021. He profiles as a right fielder and was rated as one of the best pure hitters coming out of his draft class. I think Bleday is going to be one of those guys that is going to come up right away and help this team win games right away in 2021 and beyond.

Go get a Bat

The promise the Marlins have in their major league ready pitching and in their farm system is very encouraging. Sixto Sánchez, followed by Sandy Alcántara makes for a really nice 1 and 2 in the rotation with pitchers like Braxton Garrett, Max Meyer and so many more coming up through the system as the Marlins really went out of their way to get more starters. The hitting, however, has some improvements to be made. While they do have some decent bats like Miguel Rojas, who hit .304, and starling Marte, they need to go out and get someone that can help mold this young and upcoming lineup. I think Didi Gregorius would be an interesting fit. Here is why. At only 31, he hit a really solid .284 with 10 homers. He is a shortstop by trade and is still a really good fielder. If they choose to have Chisholm start the season with the big-league club, they could move him to second and have Rojas play third base, which would make for a really nice middle infield. Didi could be relatively cheap. If I would have to guess, maybe 2 years-$30 million. This would help the lineup immediately and provide a much needed veteran presence.

Bullpen Help

I think one of the other big pieces that the Marlins need to go out and get is the bullpen. They had a team ERA of 5.05 which was 13th in MLB in 2020. The good news is that this free agency class has a lot of decent bullpen arms. Just to name a few, Kirby Yates, Trevor Rosenthal, and Blake Treinen. One of the recommendations I would have is to try to get Yates or Brad Hand. The reason being that they could be good and relatively cheap bounce back candidates for 2021, after less than inspiring 2020 campaigns. In addition to that, they have been top closers in all of baseball at least once in recent years and do have that veteran leadership and experience to guide the Marlins if a postseason run were to happen for them in 2021 or in the near future.

One thing is for sure, the Marlins did shock a lot of people in 2020. Could a regression be in play? Absolutely. But Marlins fans, you need to know one thing. The future is bright and winning is attainable as soon as this next season.


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What Would a Potential Fernando Tatis Jr. Extension Look Like?

With all eyes on Trevor Bauer, DJ LeMahieu, and the rest of the 2020 MLB free agent class, this topic can very easily drift into the background. However, a possible contract extension for Fernando Tatis Jr. and the San Diego Padres could potentially be on the horizon. The sport’s most electric player and, by many accounts, the face of baseball, is just two seasons into the obligatory six years of team control. The fact that we can already have this discussion surrounding Tatis Jr, who turns 22 the day after the new year begins, speaks volumes to the level of talent that the Padres shortstop possesses.

Where the speculation really begins is not if Tatis is offered an extension, but rather when it gets offered and the details of the extension. With a lot of young players signing extensions that forgo their arbitration eligible years (years 4-6 of team control), and their first few years of free agency in some players’ cases, there will be plenty of recent cases to reference when the two parties enter negotiations. Chief among those recent cases would be Ronald Acuña Jr., the Atlanta Braves’ star centerfielder. Acuña Jr. and the Braves agreed to an 8-year, $100 million extension just days after the 2019 season commenced. At the time of signing, Acuña was just a few months past his 21st birthday and his NL Rookie of the Year winning 2018 campaign. In terms of service time, Tatis Jr. will have at least an entire full season more than Acuña by the time he signs any extension, and will likely be over a full year older than Acuña was.

Tatis Jr., however, presents a really fascinating and rather unique scenario. Where he is like other young and quickly rising superstars is that by signing an extension after just two seasons, you could potentially cap your longterm value (see: Ozzie Albies’ extension). However, what Tatis brings to the table is unlike anyone that’s been in his shoes before him. At the age of just 21, he became the sole focus of the MLB, even though he cooled off mightily after a scorching hot start to his 2020 campaign. He has rapidly become baseball’s most polarizing figure, and is the future of the sport, both on and off the field. The bilingual superstar shortstop carries more off-the-field value than a Mike Trout because of his dynamic and marketable persona. Should Tatis command more money because of that? Yes and no.

With a player this young, it is nearly impossible to give him the “right” amount of money. They could agree to a deal similar to Acuña’s, and many might say he is more grossly underpaid than Acuña already is. If he gets “too much” and has underperforming seasons, you have now overpaid for someone that was already under team control. Finding the middle ground may prove to be difficult for San Diego.

What is easily indisputable is Tatis Jr.’s value to the San Diego Padres and to the sport of baseball as a whole, both presently and in the future. The hundred-million dollar question is, will Tatis be properly compensated for that? Only time will tell.

Prediction: Fernando Tatis Jr. signs an extension with the San Diego Padres somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 years and $150 million.

Mets Coincidentally Choose Not to Hire GM

Two weeks ago, on November 10th, the Mets formally introduced Steve Cohen as the new owner of the team and Sandy Alderson as the new president. The two talked to the media of their plans to turn the franchise from lovable loser into perennial champion. Mets fans loved every single word they heard as Cohen and Alderson repeatedly said they were going to bring in the best baseball brains out there to ensure that the product on the field is one that can win the last game of the season. There were a lot of names rumored to be interested or that the Mets had interest in bringing in to be the GM and the President of Baseball Operations. Sandy made it very clear that their plan was to hire two people to run the operations and that they would be running interviews in what should be a rather quick process.

Fast forward one week, and Theo Epstein resigns from his role with the Cubs. Perhaps the greatest mind in baseball, Theo broke the curses of the Red Sox and Cubs, which hadn’t been done before. Epstein has said in the past that everyone should switch jobs after 10 years. This was his 9th year with the Cubs and things started going downhill after the 2016 World Series. It seemed the Cubs had suddenly become complacent because they broke the curse and no longer played with the same fire anymore. The Theo news shocked the baseball world, especially Mets fans as the seemingly perfect candidate to take over the team just became available. Theo released a statement saying he wanted to take a year off to spend time with his family but wanted to come back eventually. Interesting.

All of the sudden, Mets fans lowered their expectations, “Not EVERYTHING can go right for us this year” they thought as they read that Theo wasn’t going to be persuaded to come back for the 2021 season. Should they have thought this though? All of the sudden, the Mets search for a POBO and GM slowed as they were disallowed to interview the Brewers GM David Stearns and the favorite for the job, Mike Chernoff, suddenly dropped out. Today, Sandy is talking to the media and is expected to announce that he will be running the team’s operations for the year. The 73-year-old made it somewhat clear in his introductory presser that he did not want to do this, but it appears as though they could not find any matches to run the team. Hmmm. So, the Mets have a plan to hire two people with a long list of names to interview and none of them are good enough. 73-year-old Sandy believes he will do a better job than any other candidate? I think not.

I think what’s really going on is the Mets are going all in on Epstein. I think the Mets are the perfect team for Theo to come to. He loves control and running the process his way. New Mets owner, Steve Cohen, has said he is going to let the baseball people make the baseball decisions and not interfere. The Mets would allow Theo to do everything he wanted and to run a team with essentially unlimited salary. I think the Mets would have hired Mike Chernoff IF and only IF he agreed to work under Theo after this season. It is extremely strange that all of the sudden he pulled his hat out of the ring. I think he did this because he wanted his own team and did not want to work with Theo. I believe what is going to happen now is that Sandy will run the team year 1, setting it up perfectly for Theo to take over in 2022. Theo may even be contacted before the Mets make some moves for all we know. I think everything that the Mets are doing is calculated and I truly find it hard to believe that if Theo wasn’t available, the Mets wouldn’t be hiring a GM and POBO today.

Perhaps I’m wrong and Sandy really wants to run the team. If this is the case, I am excited to see what he does and how his strategy changes based on his last tenure with the team.

The Cincinnati Fireball: What is wrong with the Reds?

The Cincinnati Reds are in the worst place to be in all professional sports…the mid-ground. Not good enough to compete with the NL powerhouses like the Dodgers, Cubs, and Cardinals, and the up and coming Braves, Padres, and now the New York Mets. But the roster would suggest they’re not bad enough to end up in the realm of cellar-dwellers like the Giants, Pirates and Marlins, right? What is wrong with the Reds?

After several off-season and in-season moves which included adding now-Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, Nicholas Castellanos, and Yasiel Puig in the middle of 2019, this team should be ready for a playoff push, especially considering the big league roster with current and former All-Stars in Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suarez, Luis Castillo, Mike Moustakas, and the arrival of new young talent Aristides Aquino and Nick Senzel with a season under their belts. This Reds team looked ready to take the 2020 season by the horns and make a deep run into October. With a shortened 60 game season due to COVID-19, this Reds team was underwhelming. Sure, there were bright spots to look at, first and foremost being having the NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer at the top of your staff. But looking around the rest of the roster, the players you expect to produce, well… they didn’t. And I get it, ‘oh it’s a 60 game season’, sure, but you cannot have the three main bats in your lineup, Suarez, Castellanos, and Moustakas all lack production for 30+ games and still expect to make a run in October. Finishing just above .500 (31-29) was good enough to get a Wild Card appearance, but it leaves the Reds front office looking around like ‘now what?’.

Well, I can sit here and tell you it is time to hit the panic button. You went all in to try to win in 2020, and now with an aging core of veteran players like the homegrown kid Joey Votto (37), Nicholas Castellanos (28), Eugenio Suarez (29), and Mike Moustakas (32), where do you go from here?

Let’s look at the positives first. The roster really played well in the second half of 2020, and made a brief postseason appearance as a Wild Card team. There is some young talent that is ready to produce Aristides Aquino, Nick Senzel, Luis Castillo, with the anchors of the bullpen being Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen. You have a good enough roster to make another push into the playoffs with a rotation that features Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo. The main producers in the lineup still have good seasons ahead, but how open is this window?

Now for the not so pretty. Your farm system was ranked at 22nd in the middle of 2020, for a team that has had a draft pick in the top 15 the past five seasons, and four of them in the top 10, that is ugly to say the least. Let’s take a deeper dive. Three prospects in the MLB top 100, those being Nick Lodolo (51), Hunter Greene (54) and Austin Hendrick (88) (MLB.com). The Reds do not have enough in the pipeline to be competitive in the coming years, as the talent at the major league level ages, and with Trevor Bauer looking more and more likely to leave in free-agency this offseason as well as rumors swirling about trading Sonny Gray, are these the only moves that are going to be made?

I feel like there is only one answer to this, and that is no. If the Reds are n open to trading Sonny Gray, it means that they are realizing exactly what I am realizing, and what Reds fans may be upset to hear, you need to replenish and restart. It is going to be necessary to replenish that farm system in order to electrify the major league club for years to come. I also think that it is fair to say, that since The Big Red Machine, Cincinnati is not a free agent’s top five places to play, heck it may not be in the top 15 currently. Hunter Green looks like the real deal, Luis Castillo is established, you need to lock him up and move some players for prospects. One that comes to mind instantly is Mike Moustakas, an older player yes, but one that has some good years left and can be added to a playoff hopeful. The free agent market this year isn’t great, meaning deep, a couple of players who can really help a team and then some depth players. If I am the Reds, now is the time to sell on some talent at the major league level, you cannot be competitive after losing your Cy Young winner, it is time for a rebuild. But who knows, this is baseball, and the Reds could go either way, which is why they are in the worst spot in professional sports… in the middle.