Lowdown: M’s Go Fishing

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The Hot Stove has consisted of lots of talk and little action so far, but that all changed on Thursday, with one big trade and the biggest signing to date. We knew Dee Gordon was likely to be moved this offseason with the Marlins determined to shed payroll, but nobody saw the Mariners as a fit with Robinson Cano already in place at second base. Nobody except for Jerry Dipoto, anyway.

The Mariners acquired Gordon and $1 million in international pool money from the Marlins on Thursday in exchange for prospect right-handers Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger, and infielder Christopher Torres. Most importantly for the Marlins, the Mariners will cover all of Gordon’s remaining contract. He’s owed $38 million over the next three years, with a club option for a fourth year which could bring the total to $51 million.

As for the second base situation, it turns out that the Mariners acquired Gordon with the idea of using him in center field. It’s a bold move given that he has never played the position outside of a handful of games in the Dominican Winter League a couple of years ago, but the Mariners believe that he has the speed and athleticism to make the change.

The cloud of a PED suspension hung over Gordon’s disappointing 2016, but he led the majors with 60 steals this past season while batting .308/.341/.375 with two homers, 33 RBI, and 114 runs scored over 158 games. He’ll likely hit leadoff for Seattle and the potential for multi-position eligibility only adds to his appeal from a fantasy perspective. He’ll provide an infusion of speed to the American League. Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield led the AL with just 32 stolen bases this past season.

Don’t overlook the $1 million in international pool money involved in this deal. With two trades in the past two days, the Mariners now have $3.557 million available to offer to Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani. That puts them just ahead of the Rangers ($3.535 million) among the seven finalists.

As for the Marlins’ haul, Neidert is the most familiar name. The 2016 second-round pick posted a 2.76 ERA and 109/17 K/BB ratio across 104 1/3 innings over 19 starts with High-A Modesto this year before struggling with a 6.56 ERA and 13/5 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings over six starts with Double-A Arkansas. The 21-year-old was considered the Mariners’ top pitching prospect, but he gets by more on command than dominant stuff (he throws in the high 80s to low 90s with his fastball) and could max out as a back-end starter in the long run.

Chatwood Cashes In

The biggest free agent contract this offseason belongs to Tyler Chatwood. That’s more of a reflection of the lack of action than anything else, but the Cubs still raised some eyebrows when it was announced Thursday that the club signed the former Rockies right-hander to a three-year, $38 million contract.

Nothing about Chatwood stands out on the surface. He had a mediocre 4.69 ERA over 25 starts and eight relief appearances in 2017. He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters and walks have been a problem for him. He’s undergone Tommy John surgery twice in his career and hasn’t thrown more than 158 innings in a season. This hardly sounds like someone who should receive such a costly guarantee, but the Cubs are hoping that getting away from Coors Field full-time will lead to a breakout.

Chatwood has shown to be a different pitcher on the road, putting up 2.57 ERA over the past two seasons. Pitching outside of Coors Field is good. Who knew? We’re oversimplifying here, but Chatwood has limited hard contact in his road starts and induces grounders at a high clip regardless of venue. He added a couple of ticks to his average fastball velocity this past season and ranks among the league leaders in spin rate on multiple pitches, so there could be some untapped strikeout potential here. His curveball could be more of a weapon on that end.

This is a bigger contract than most would have expected coming into the offseason, but the Cubs likely had to be extra aggressive in order to get a deal done right now. Our own Matthew Pouliot had Chatwood ranked 18th on his recent Top 111 Free Agent List and wrote the following:

“Given the price of pitching, I think it would be a great gamble for some team to sign him to a three-year deal at $30 million-$40 million, if that’s possible.”

Are Theo Epstein and company reading Rotoworld? I’m going with yes.

Stanton Update

While the Marlins unloaded Dee Gordon on Thursday, the situation with Giancarlo Stanton remains a mystery. If anything, it’s getting more complicated.

According to Craig Mish of Sirius XM, Stanton would waive his no-trade clause to accept trades with the Dodgers, Yankees, Cubs, and Astros. The Marlins reportedly have the framework of a deal in place with the Giants and Cardinals, both of whom met with Stanton late last week, but they are noticeably absent from his approved list. It’s unclear whether this means that he has formally rejected anything.

It has been reported that Stanton would prefer the West Coast, so the Dodgers would appear to be an obvious fit for the Southern California native. However, the other teams on his approved list indicates that he cares more about winning than geography.

Catching Fiers

Another notable starting pitcher is off the board, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Tigers are close to signing free agent right-hander Mike Fiers. According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, it’s a one-year, $6 million deal.

Fiers was non-tendered by the Astros last week after struggling with a 5.22 ERA over 28 starts and one relief appearance this past season. He gave up a career-high 32 homers in 153 1/3 innings along with the worst walk rate of his career. Still, he struck out 146 batters in 2017 and isn’t far removed from better results. The deal the Tigers gave him essentially equaled what he would have made through arbitration.

Fiers should be assured of a rotation spot for rebuilding Detroit and will be asked to eat innings at the very least. He could become a useful trade chip with a strong first half.

Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports hears that Shohei Ohtani’s decision “could possibly come by early next week.” December 22 is the official deadline … The Athletics officially announced their two-year, $10 million contract with right-hander Yusmeiro Petit .. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports that the Tigers are pursuing Japanese closer Yoshihisa Hirano … Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that former Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario is close to signing a contract with a Japanese team …

Source : https://sports.yahoo.com/lowdown-ms-fishing-055800696–spt.html

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