MLB: Kicking off the offseason mailbag

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 24: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers on August 24, 2020. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 24: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers on August 24, 2020. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Now that the MLB season is over and free agency is beginning, let’s take a look at our mailbag and answer some questions.

We’re here, we made it, it’s all said and done and the dust has settled. It was a whirlwind 60 games, a sprint to the finish line and boy did that sprint have some bumps in the road. We knew a COVID-19 shortened MLB season wasn’t going to be easy but when there were two separate outbreaks on two different teams, which then, of course, affected other teams, there was some serious doubt about whether we would even make it to the playoffs, let alone complete the entire season.

But MLB pulled it together and the Los Angeles Dodgers ended up as World Series champions, finally clearing the hump they had been struggling to get over for the past five years.

So now we head into the offseason, one that will surely be as weird as the season itself was, and because of lost revenue there are going to be some moves (or lack thereof) that make fans angry or upset but in the end, it will all play out, just like the games did.

So all that being said we gathered some questions to kick off the offseason and get you primed for the next few weeks ahead. So let’s get into it.

This is arguably the biggest question of the MLB offseason. Trevor Bauer was one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in all of baseball this season and he was rewarded by being named a Cy Young finalist, along with Yu Darvish and  Jacob DeGrom. The 29-year-old is probably the favorite too, after posting a league-leading 1.73 ERA and 0.795 WHIP while also setting a career high in strikeouts per nine innings.

Not too bad of a year to have before hitting free agency. Now it just depends on who the suitors are. It also depends on if Bauer will stay true to his word and only take one year deals. But regardless, first on the list is probably the Chicago White Sox, after they saw what not having a third reliable pitcher can do to team when the Oakland A’s bounced them from the playoffs in three games. The White Sox have the need, and thanks to already extending guys like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert to team-friendly deals the White Sox also have the cash.

But if not the White Sox second best option is probably the Atlanta Braves. The Braves took the Dodgers to seven games in the NLCS and just barely fell short, although they did blow a sizable lead in the series. The Braves had to rely on a lot of unproven arms, and while Ian Anderson and others were able to come through, Atlanta can’t count on that again, and teaming Bauer up with Max Fried and a healthy Mike Soroka would make a deadly trio. Like Chicago, the Braves have guys like Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies locked into team friendly extensions so money shouldn’t be an issue. Bauer could push them from playoff contenders to World Series contenders very quickly.

How do the Padres keep up with the Dodgers? This is another one that is gonna be talked about a lot. Obviously, we just talked about how the Dodgers are now MLB champions, so that’s a tough team to compete with.

But it’s not impossible. The Padres did have one MVP finalist in Manny Machado, and another who will likely be in the top five or six in Fernando Tatis Jr. So that’s a good start. Don’t forget Jake Croneworth who is a ROY candidate.

Next, you need to have another good season from Eric Hosmer (who finally stopped hitting the ball exclusively on the ground in 2020 ) and Wil Myers. If Hosmer keeps the ball in the air again he should be fine, and maybe Myers’ performance was real too since he didn’t have to be the guy.

But the biggest thing is health. Losing Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet right before going into the playoffs didn’t help, but that means next year the Padres are getting an immediate boost out of the gate. Now if Chris Paddack can just figure out how to keep the ball in the park then you’re golden.

Another step forward from Trent Grisham will make sure that the lineup stays balanced from top to bottom while also keeping his plus defense in the field.

Let’s! Once again we had the same old people coming around claiming that Bryce Harper doesn’t deserve his contract and is overrated and he’s going to be the reason the Phillies fail. Allow some numbers to hit your brain for a moment.

Most people are going to look at Harper’s .268 batting average and yell about how that’s not good enough while completely ignoring his .420 on base percentage and .542 slugging percentage, good for an OPS of .962 which is very, very good. But maybe that’s not enough. Okay.

In 2020, Bryce Harper had a WRC+ of 151, meaning he was 51% better than average. That ranked ninth among all outfielders. ALL outfielders. Ahead of guys like Mookie Betts, George Springer and Eloy Jimenez. Let’s continue.

In 2020 when Harper hit the ball on average it left the bat at 93.5 MPH. Guess what? That ranks second among right fielders and sixth among all MLB outfielders. Hard contact leads to hits more often than not, and big hits, like homers and doubles.

Let’s leave you with this, in innings 7-9 of the 2020 season Bryce Harper hit .282/.463/.487 driving in six runs and scoring 12 himself. So he shows up when it matters as well.

The Yankees obviously have options going forward. They’re the new Dodgers, the team that’s good enough to win a championship and has gotten close to the biggest stage but has failed to get over the hump (or cheated out of, depending on your viewpoint). The Yankees do need another pitcher to pair with Gerrit Cole. Now to answer the question, the obvious answer is Trevor Bauer, and while it’s probably unlikely because of the money they owe Cole and Stanton (among others) it’s not impossible, especially if Bauer does end up taking a one year deal like he’s promised before.

Trade wise there isn’t a whole lot to like, the best of the guys going into the final years of their deals are Noah Syndergaard and Lance Lynn, who the Yankees would probably wait until the deadline to add anyway. The Mariners and Marco Gonzales are probably your most likely candidate to be traded for, and we know Cashman likes dealing with Dipoto.

It’s always hard to say what the Mariners will do. This year is no different, Kyle Lewis broke out and is a ROY finalist, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s real. Obviously, the Mariners and Dipoto would love for Mitch Haniger to come back fully healthy and pair those two together but we’ll have to wait and see. Dylan Moore was a nice surprise but can you believe in a breakout at 27-years-old? Will Evan White turn it around after failing to live up to the contract he got prior to the season? Then there’s the pitching, Marco Gonzales was great again while Justus Sheffield actually showed some flashes of the top prospect he used to be. They’ll probably be fourth in the division again and as always the O/U on DiPoto deals is anywhere from 5 to 50.

Next. Potential landing spots for Tanaka. dark

The chance is certainly there. It’s just a matter of where the Giants think they’re at. They could be aggressive for someone like Marcell Ozuna, or they might just decide to keep chugging along at the rebuild. Remember, the last time the Giant’s tried to do a retool and compete quickly, they got Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen (among others) and look where that got them. You should probably buckle in for a lengthy rebuild.