Evaluating the 2017 Off Season: The NL Central

It is fair to say that this off season has been less eventful than previous ones. That does not mean that there have not been impact moves made by teams. Some of these moves have been made by powerhouses making themselves even more dangerous, while others have been made by middling teams trying to put themselves over the top. In this post, I will be evaluating the notable moves made by each team in the National League Central over the past few months.

St. Louis Cardinals

Notable Moves:

Traded SS Aledmys Diaz (.582 REV) to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league OF J.B. Woodman (.385 Potential REV).

Signed free agent RHP Miles Mikolas (.669 REV) to a two year, $15.5 million deal.

Traded OF Magneuris Sierra (.419 REV, .470 Potential REV), RHP Sandy Alcantara (.556 REV, .639 Potential REV), minor league LHP Daniel Castano (.568 Potential REV), and minor league RHP Zac Gallen (.682 Potential REV) to the Miami Marlins in exchange for OF Marcell Ozuna (.677 REV).

Signed free agent RHP Luke Gregerson (.544 REV) to a two year, $11 million deal.

Traded OF Stephen Piscotty (.600 REV) to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor league 2B Max Schrock (.452 Potential REV) and SS Yairo Munoz (.456 REV, .469 Potential REV).

Traded OF Randal Grichuk (.636 REV) to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Dominic Leone (.395 REV) and RHP Conner Greene (.426 REV, .474 Potential REV).


The Cardinals have traded from major league depth to acquire more minor league depth, in addition to making one of the biggest impact moves of the winter.

The first of these trades came when the Cardinals sent 2017 disappointment, Aledmys Diaz to the Blue Jays for 2016 second round pick, J.B. Woodman. REV expects Diaz to return to his 2016 and minor league form, while it expects Woodman, who has not done too much in the lower minors, to not make it in the majors. It seems like the Cardinals may regret this one, but Diaz will probably get more of an opportunity in Toronto than he would in the near future with the Cardinals.

Miles Mikolas is one of the more interesting signings of the off season so far. After not having much success in the majors, Mikolas went to Japan and excelled for three seasons. As I have said before, projecting numbers from overseas to the major league level is difficult and not too reliable, but REV thinks his stats show that he will be a productive major league pitcher for the Cardinals in 2018. He does not get too many strikeouts, but he has elite strike throwing ability (83rd percentile Walk rating) and his average home run rate should be improved in a good ballpark to pitch in. Another thing going Mikolas’ way in the REV model is his 6.86 weighted innings per game, which puts him in the 97th percentile. He will round out what looks like a very strong Cardinals rotation.

The Cardinals made a power move, acquiring one of the best hitting outfielders from 2017 in Marcell Ozuna. Not fitting in the Marlins’ future plans because of salary commitments, the Cardinals were able to get two years of the power hitting left fielder for some good looking minor league talent. They were able to do this by trading three pitchers and an outfielder without depleting their organization too much, as they have seven starting pitchers ready to impact the major league team this year. Ozuna excels at the plate, with Contact and Power ratings over the 80th percentile. The biggest improvement to Ozuna’s game in 2017 was his approach. His walk rate increased from just 6.1% in 2015 to 9.4% in 2017. He has done a great job staying on the field, with 94th percentile Durability. This looks like it will be a good trade for both sides, and it will help the Cardinals compete in the National League for the next couple years.

After electing to allow former closers, Seung Hwan Oh and Trevor Rosenthal to become free agents, the Cardinals signed former Houston Astros closer, Luke Gregerson. With 93rd percentile Strikeout rating and 89th percentile Walk rating, expect Gregerson to bring his long time major league production to the team that drafted him in 2006.

The next two trades involve the Cardinals trading very talented outfielders because of the surplus of major league talent that they have at the position. The trade of Stephen Piscotty goes way beyond baseball operations, though. The Cardinals made a classy move by trading the 27 year old to the A’s to get him closer to home, where his mother is battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). From a baseball operations standpoint, the Cardinals were not likely to use Piscotty very much because the outfield spots will be filled by Tommy Pham, Marcell Ozuna, and Dexter Fowler, so he was expendable. The two middle infield prospects they got back look like they could be future major league bench pieces, with Yairo Munoz possibly getting a chance this season.

The Randal Grichuk trade has me shaking my head a little. Grichuk has not shown a very good approach or bat to ball skills, with Contact and Plate Discipline ratings in the 17th and 36th percentiles respectively, but he is a very toolsy outfielder. When he is able to make contact, he has 97th percentile power, in addition to him being a very good runner and fielder. Those tools would make him a very nice fourth outfielder, but the Cardinals decided to part ways with him to get some pitching depth. Dominic Leone has shown slightly above average strikeout stuff, but he does not throw enough strikes and he gives up too many long balls. Conner Greene has been a top 100 Baseball America prospect because of his stuff, but REV does not project him to strike very many guys out and he also walks too many hitters. I think his ceiling is as an average to below average major league relief pitcher. This seems like another trade that the Blue Jays may have won over the Cardinals.

Despite a couple questionable trades, I think the Cardinals have gotten better this off season and have positioned themselves back in the NL Central race.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Notable Moves:

Traded RHP Gerrit Cole (.846 REV) to the Houston Astros in exchange for RHP Michael Feliz (.420 REV, .435 Potential REV), 3B Colin Moran (.354 REV, .491 Potential REV), RHP Joe Musgrove (.630 REV), and minor league OF Jason Martin (.441 Potential REV).

Traded OF Andrew McCutchen (.704 REV) to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for RHP Kyle Crick (.355 REV, .403 Potential REV) and minor league OF Bryan Reynolds (.397 Potential REV).


The Pirates have had a relatively quiet off season in terms of quantity of notable transactions, but the moves they have made have been loud in terms of organizational impact. As a life long Pirates fan, I have seen a lot of negative comments about these two trades and the organization in general, so I am going to try to frame these trades in a more positive light, while remaining objective.

With just two years of control left, the Pirates felt that this off season was the best time to part ways with their former first overall pick, Gerrit Cole. I would say the majority of fans and the national baseball media would say that the return was very underwhelming for the Pirates’ ace. I will take a look at the two players most likely to make a significant impact on the team for the next few years.

Joe Musgrove is the best player the Pirates got in this deal and the one with the most major league playing time. If you take a look at how he compares to Gerrit Cole (see below), the pitcher he is replacing, you can see that despite the REV discrepancy, he is actually somewhat similar. The Pirates should expect the same kind of strikeout and walk output that Cole gave them, which are both over the 70th percentile. For the most part, the REV discrepancy comes from Home Run rating and the difference in weighted innings per game. I weigh innings more heavily toward this past season, so Musgrove takes a bit of a hit there because he pitched out of the Astros’ bullpen for the most part last year. However, in 16 starts between AAA and MLB last year, Musgrove averaged 5.3 innings per start and 5.56 innings per start over the past three years. Both of these are above the average innings per game (5.16) of starting pitchers. There is no reason to think that Musgrove is incapable of being a starting pitcher in the major leagues, but even as a one inning relief pitcher, he would be well average. The concerning part about Musgrove is his 12th percentile Home Run rating. While Minute Maid Park has consistently been one of the better pitcher ballparks according to park factor, the rate of home runs at the stadium has ranked in the top half in two out of the last three years. In the past two seasons, PNC Park has ranked in the bottom third, making it a very pitcher friendly park when it comes to home runs. This could mean that Musgrove will outplay his poor Home Run rating. REV thinks that Gerrit Cole will be a top ten pitcher in baseball this year, but while REV does not like Joe Musgrove nearly as much as Gerrit Cole, he has some pretty striking similarities that could lead to similar success.Cole vs. Musgrove

The next most interesting piece the Pirates got in this trade is Colin Moran. When the Marlins selected Moran with the sixth pick of the 2013 draft, I remember there being a debate among scouts about who was the best bat in the draft, Moran or Kris Bryant. It’s pretty safe to say that Kris Bryant was, but Moran still has the potential to be a productive hitter at the major league level. At the moment, REV does not rate Moran very favorably, but he does have the potential to get a high rating in the future. If you filter similar numbers to Moran’s potential Contact, Power, Plate Discipline, and Base Running ratings in the REV spreadsheet, the outputted players are Stephen Piscotty, Yonder Alonso, and Stephen Vogt (see below). Alonso and Vogt are probably more applicable players because they are left handed and they hit better against right handed pitching. This is probably a better indication of what type of offensive player Moran will be than his raw Potential REV. When Carlos Correa got injured for an extended period of time last year, the Astros planned on giving the bulk of the playing time to Colin Moran, who was hitting .308/.373/.573 at AAA Fresno. All he did with that playing time was go three for six with a home run and a triple, until he fouled a ball off his face, broke a bone in his face, and suffered a concussion. If Moran had not suffered a freak injury, and continued playing well in the majors, this trade would be viewed a whole lot differently. I would expect his performance to reflect the REV of his similar players more than his own. Moran Comps

With just one year left on his contract, the Pirates decided to get some future value for their long time face of the franchise, Andrew McCutchen. Sadly, the return does not look too great. Kyle Crick has a chance to provide some impact out of the bullpen, with an average Strikeout rating and elite Home Run rating in the Potential REV spreadsheet. His biggest problem that will likely hold him back is his walk rate. If he wants to be a successful big league relief pitcher, he needs to stop walking 15% of the batters he faces. He showed that he has some upside in his 30 games out of the Giants’ pen last year, so maybe he will continue that. Bryan Reynolds is an interesting piece. He was a second round pick in 2016 and has hit pretty well in his career in the lower minors. Despite that, he projects as an average hitter with below average power and on base skills. I see him as a bench player at the best.

The Pirates traded away their two best players, who did not have very much control, for some interesting, potential impact players. Joe Musgrove and Colin Moran look like solid starters at their positions, while Michael Feliz and Kyle Crick have a chance to be average contributors out of the bullpen.

Milwaukee Brewers

Notable Moves:

Signed free agent RHP Jhoulys Chacin (.640 REV) to a two year, $15.5 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP Yovani Gallardo (.465 REV) to a one year, $2 million deal.

Signed free agent LHP Boone Logan (.404 REV) to a one year, $2.5 million deal.

Traded OF Lewis Brinson (.522 REV, .686 Potential REV), minor league 2B Isan Diaz, minor league OF Monte Harrison, and minor league RHP Jordan Yamamoto to the Miami Marlins in exchange for OF Chritsian Yelich (.810 REV).

Signed free agent OF Lorenzo Cain (.709 REV) to a five year, $80 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP Matt Albers (.312 REV) to a two year, $5 million deal.


The Brewers have been one of the most active teams on the free agent market in this relatively slow year, in addition to making one of the biggest blockbuster trades of the off season.

Since the Brewers have made a splash on the relief pitcher market, I will attack all three in one paragraph. Based on his REV, Yovani Gallardo looks like a well below average starting pitcher, but an above average relief pitcher. However, if you dig deeper, you will notice that his weighted innings per game make up a whopping 37% of his REV. This is because 78 of his 84 games over the past three seasons have been starts. Whether the Brewers use him as a starter or a reliever, his below average rate stats make him a below average option. Despite Boone Logan’s 86th percentile Strikeout rating and 69th percentile Home Run rating, his frequent role as a left handed specialist brings his REV down. He should get the job done in left on left situations, as he has in the past, but there is not a ton of value in those kind of relief pitchers. Matt Albers had the best season of his career in 2017, but REV expects his home run rate to elevate in the hitter friendly Miller Park, and his strikeout rate to decrease. He is likely a well below average relief pitcher in terms of value.

Jhoulys Chacin is an interesting, relatively low risk signing for a Brewers team that needs some consistent starting pitching. His peripherals rate above average across the board, but I would expect his Home Run rating to get worse in Miller Park this year. He should give the Brewers a solid 170 innings and five innings just about every time out.

In perhaps the biggest blockbuster of the off season, the Brewers acquired four years of one of the best players in baseball, Christian Yelich. I like this trade a lot for both sides, but I am going to focus on Yelich in this piece, and focus on the prospects in my analysis of the Marlins in my next post. The Brewers will likely get the best years of an already top 15 player according to REV. He is a terrific offensive player, with Contact, Power, Plate Discipline, Speed, and Base Running ratings all ranking above the 65th percentile. There is still room for his power to grow, moving from the spacious Marlins Park to the launching pad that is Miller Park. It is scary to think about how good Yelich will be if he starts hitting more home runs, in addition to his other elite offensive tools. His 31st percentile Fielding rating fits much better in left field, where the Brewers will likely play him. This was a great acquisition for a Brewers team trying to get over the hump and win the NL Central.

The same night that the Brewers announced the Yelich trade, they also reportedly signed the player who REV thought was the best position player on the free agent market, Lorenzo Cain. Like Yelich, Cain rates above average in every offensive category, with his 95th percentile Contact and Speed ratings being his best tools. The signing of Cain is what allows the Brewers to move Yelich to left field because Cain rates as one of the best defenders in baseball, as he ranks in the 98th percentile in Fielding rating. His age puts him in the 9th percentile, which could mean he is due for some regression over the course of his five year deal, but his tools should be able to provide enough value to make this deal worthwhile.

While REV does not think the Brewers’ relief pitcher signings will pan out, they added plenty of value this off season with two of the splashiest moves. The signing of Cain and the trade for Yelich put the Brewers in a competition with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Angels for the best outfield in baseball. The may need to acquire another front line starting pitcher to pass the Chicago Cubs in the Central, but they have certainly improved their team this off season.

Cincinnati Reds

Notable Moves:

Signed free agent RHP Jared Hughes (.420 REV) to a two year, $4.5 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP David Hernandez (.478 REV) to a two year, $5 million deal.


Still rebuilding, the Reds did not make very many impactful moves, other than letting the likes of Zack Cozart, Scott Feldman, and Drew Storen become free agents.

In Jared Hughes, the Reds are getting a solid ground ball pitcher (97th percentile Home Run rating), who can perform well in high leverage situations (94th percentile Clutch rating). He rates as slightly below average, but he should stick around for the entire season and be effective.

David Hernandez is a little bit different. Unlike Hughes, Hernandez has the ability to get a high rate of strikeouts (86th percentile Strikeout rating). His 79th percentile Walk rating indicates that he will not allow too many runners to reach base via the base on balls, but he gives up a few too many home runs (42nd percentile Home Run rating), which is not a good sign in the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark. Hernandez will also provide a good amount of value out of the pen for the Reds.

I do not really fault the Reds for their lack of moves because they are sticking to their rebuilding plans. The signings of Jared Hughes and David Hernandez just fill in a couple spots in the bullpen for the next two years, while the Reds try to build their team back to relevancy.

Chicago Cubs

Notable Moves:

Signed free agent RHP Tyler Chatwood (.550 REV) to a three year, $38 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP Brandon Morrow (.443 REV) to a two year, $21 million deal.

Signed free agent LHP Drew Smyly (.611 REV) to a two year, $10 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP Steve Cishek (.537 REV) to a two year, $13 million deal.

Re-signed free agent LHP Brian Duensing (.487 REV) to a two year, $7 million deal.


When the free agent signing period began, the Cubs knew that they had to replace starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, closer Wade Davis, relief pitcher Brian Duensing, outfielder Jon Jay, starting pitcher John Lackey, and relief pitcher Koji Uehara. They added to this list when they non-tendered relief pitcher Hector Rondon. They have made quite a few signings. Let’s see if they have done enough to replace a good portion of the players that won them their second consecutive division title.

I am not sure if I would call spending over $12 million for three years of a guy coming off a poor season a “buy low.” Nonetheless, that is probably how the Cubs view Tyler Chatwood. After missing all of 2015, he has not topped the 160 innings plateau in either of the past two seasons. In addition to this, he has well below average Strikeout and Walk ratings. Being low in both of those categories is never a good sign for pitchers. That indicates that he does not throw enough strikes, but when he does, they get put in play. Starting pitchers have to have a pretty high REV of .590 to be considered average starters on a 40 man roster. Chatwood falls a ways below that. Maybe the Cubs’ staff sees something they can work on with him, but I do not see him being a viable replacement for either Jake Arrieta or John Lackey.

While the Cubs bought low on Tyler Chatwood, they definitely bought high on Brandon Morrow. Morrow is coming off an excellent season in which he struck out over 29% of the batters he faced and gave up zero home runs. Before giving him a high rating, REV would like to see him do it again for a full season. In the two seasons prior to 2017, Morrow pitched just 49 major league innings in which he struck out just 5.7 hitters per nine innings. This is the main reason why he sits in the 38th percentile in Strikeout rating. His elite Walk rating and his above average Home Run rating make him an above average relief pitcher, but I am not sure if he is the relief ace that the Cubs want him to be. He does rank in the 98th percentile in Clutch, so maybe he can be.

REV believes the Cubs’ best free agent signing so far this off season is Drew Smyly. Unfortunately, he is not likely to pitch much, if at all, this season. He had Tommy John Surgery in June of 2017, so he will be out until at least June of this year. Hopefully he is able to come back at some point this season because he has elite Strikeout and Walk ratings.

With elite Strikeout and Home Run ratings, Steve Cishek looks like a great signing for the Cubs and a possible option for the closer role. Cishek appears to be one of the better options in a decent Cubs bullpen.

The Cubs made a wise move to bring back the left handed Brian Duensing, who did a nice job out of the pen last year. While he usually does not strike out too many guys, Duensing limits his walks and rarely allows a home run (88th percentile Home Run rating). His 94th percentile Clutch score indicates that he is a good option in high leverage situations where you might need a ground ball.

The Cubs have focused on pitching on the free agent market so far. However, they do not appear to have replaced the two starting pitchers whom they lost to free agency, unless they believe in a combination of Alec Mills, Tyler Chatwood, and Jen Ho Tseng. They could probably use a replacement for Jon Jay, who produced in a bench outfielder role last year, but their team still looks just about as good as anybody in the National League.


The National League Central has had its share of impact moves so far this off season. The winner of the off season so far is a battle between the Cardinals and Brewers. While the Brewers have made two of the biggest moves of the off season, the Cardinals sold from positions of depth and addressed needs in the rotation and the back end of the bullpen, as well as gaining depth in their minor league system. While I do not agree with the decision to trade Randal Grichuk, they did not feel like he was a starting caliber outfielder, so they made a big move to acquire Marcell Ozuna, while retaining Jose Martinez, who is a .600 player with room to grow. While the Reds have not done much so far, they know where they stand and are sticking to their plan. This is a reason why I consider the Pirates’ as the worst off season so far. They traded their best position player and pitcher, but still sit in no man’s land. My early projections agree with Fangraphs in believing that the Pirates will win around 79 games. This means they should either try to sign a few players that will bring them closer to Wild Card contention, or commit to a full rebuild and trade assets like Josh Harrison, Ivan Nova, Francisco Cervelli, and Jordy Mercer for more interesting pieces that could help in the near future. There is not much time before Spring Training begins, but there is still a plentiful amount of free agents available.

Next up is the National League East!


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Evaluating the 2017 Off Season: The NL West

It is fair to say that this off season has been less eventful than previous ones. That does not mean that there have not been impact moves made by teams. Some of these moves have been made by powerhouses making themselves even more dangerous, while others have been made by middling teams trying to put themselves over the top. In this post, I will be evaluating the notable moves made by each team in the National League West over the past few months.

I will also be introducing Potential REV to evaluate the players that do not have a lot of playing time in the major leagues. The best way to think of Potential REV is the player’s ceiling or ‘best case scenario’ future performance. As my baserunning, clutch, and fielding metrics are not as accurate for minor league players, you should take Potential REV with a grain of salt. Potential REV can also be used to see how players may regress in the future as well.

San Francisco Giants

Notable Moves:

Re-signed C Nick Hundley (.412 REV) to a one year, $2.5 million deal.

Traded LHP Matt Moore (.603 REV) to the Texas Rangers in exchange for minor league RHP Sam Wolff (.253 Potential REV) and minor league RHP Israel Cruz (.408 Potential REV).

Traded 3B/SS Christian Arroyo (.302 REV), CF Denard Span (.661 REV), minor league LHP Matt Krook, and minor league RHP Stephen Woods to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for 3B Evan Longoria (.693 REV).

Traded RHP Kyle Crick (.337 REV) and minor league OF Bryan Reynolds to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for OF Andrew McCutchen (.704 REV).

Signed free agent OF Austin Jackson (.497 REV) to a two year, $6 million deal.


The Giants have been one of the more splashy teams this off season. They have taken a different approach than most teams, acquiring players over 30 years old, making them the oldest team on average in Major League Baseball.

While Nick Hundley may not seem like an impact move, keep in mind that the average catcher on a 40 man roster has a REV of just .366. This signing, along with Buster Posey, gives the Giants the best catching tandem in baseball, with a .525 average REV.

For trades in this post, I am going to try not to talk about the players that the teams gave up too much. I want to focus on who they acquired, so the prospects the Giants traded away will be analyzed in the Rays and Pirates sections. The Giants had a major need at third base, with Ryder Jones (.354 REV), Christian Arroyo (.302 REV), and Pablo Sandoval (.315 REV) as their best options. You definitely do not want to be starting below .400 players at 3B. The front office was aware of this need and got probably the best 3B available in Evan Longoria. The best player in Tampa Bay Rays franchise history is still one the best players at a very top heavy position. Entering his age 32 season, Longoria still has a great bat, ranking in the 78th and 86th percentiles in Contact rating and Power rating respectively. Longoria’s best attributes are his 91st percentile Fielding rating and his 97th percentile Durability. With just two years of control remaining, the Giants have likely captured the last couple productive years of Longoria’s career.

Less than a month after trading for one long time face of a franchise, the Giants traded for another in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. The Giants will be moving McCutchen to right field to get his 6th percentile Fielding rating out of center. In RF, McCutchen ranks as the 11th best at the position, with elite 81st percentile contact and 85th percentile power. McCutchen has long been praised for his approach at the plate, and it shows with his 94th percentile Plate Discipline rating. Like Longoria, one of McCutchen’s best attributes is his ability to stay on the field. His Durability ranks in the 96th percentile. Once the best player in the National League, McCutchen is still a great player and should have a productive year in San Francisco.

Despite adding McCutchen, the Giants still needed another outfielder. They made a move for the flashy Austin Jackson. I do not think this solves the Giants’ center field problem though. His .497 REV is just 40th among center fielders currently on a 40 man roster, and is just .004 better than his teammate, Gorkys Hernandez. Jackson can hit, but not for a ton of power, with his Power rating grading out just above average. Something really holding Jackson back is that he only has 336 weighted plate appearances per year, which puts him in the 15th percentile. This is because of a meniscus tear in 2016 and a bench role last year in Cleveland. If he could get back to his 527 PA from 2015, he would rank around the bottom end of the top 30 CF. The Giants do not want to spend too much more money to avoid going over the luxury tax threshold, but it would be wise for them to get a more sure bet for center field like Jarrod Dyson and use Austin Jackson as a solid backup outfielder.

San Diego Padres

Notable Moves:

Signed free agent RHP Colten Brewer (.374 REV, .481 Potential REV) to a one year contract.

Traded OF Jabari Blash (.516 REV) to the New York Yankees in exchange for 3B Chase Headley (.634 REV) and RHP Bryan Mitchell (.425 REV, .431 Potential REV).

Traded 3B Ryan Schimpf (.658 REV) to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for minor league SS Deion Tansel (.342 Potential REV).

Traded minor league RHP Enyel De Los Santos (.544 Potential REV) to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for SS Freddy Galvis (.628 REV).

Signed free agent RHP Craig Stammen (.394 REV) to a two year, $4.5 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP Kazuhisa Makita (.338 REV, .400 Potential REV) to a two year contract.

Traded 3B/2B Yangervis Solarte (.566 REV) to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league OF Edward Olivares (.375 Potential REV) and minor league RHP Jared Carkuff (.578 Potential REV).


The Padres have been pretty active this off season, but I am not sure how that activity applies to their plan.

The signing of minor leaguer Colten Brewer to a major league contract is an under the radar signing that the Padres could benefit from in the future. His best fit is in the bullpen and he has shown the potential to be an above average relief pitcher in the majors. Petco Park always helps.

The Chase Headley trade was simply a trade to get the Yankees under the luxury tax threshold, but he should provide the Padres with some solid production this season. He has slightly above average Contact and Power ratings, with great plate discipline. He is a good player, but for a rebuilding team, I would have to think that Bryan Mitchell was the guy that the Padres front office was excited about. If he is used as a multi-inning reliever, Mitchell will be an about average relief pitcher, with not very much room to get better. He does not strike out very many hitters and he walks too many. His best attribute is his ability to limit the home run. He should be even better at this, moving over from Yankee Stadium. This does not seem like a very smart trade for a rebuilding team to make. They gave up a good outfielder with five years of control for one year of a good third baseman and four years of either an average at best relief pitcher or a below average starter.

The Ryan Schimpf trade is one that I really do not understand. The Padres traded five years of a player who’s Power and Plate Discipline ratings are in the 95th and 96th percentiles respectively for Deion Tansel, who was a 32nd round pick in 2016. REV views the 24 year old Tansel as potentially having good contact ability, with relatively no power and no plate discipline. I do not know much about his defensive abilities, but it seems like a pretty safe bet to say that he will not make it as a major leaguer. I know that Schimpf is 30 years old, so he will likely regress in the not so distant future, and maybe he already has, but just take a look at how Schimpf compares to the Texas Rangers’ Joey Gallo. Across the board, their ratings are virtually identical. In just 158 fewer plate appearances in his MLB career, Schimpf has a 115 OPS+, compared to Gallo’s 110. Gallo definitely has more potential to get even better because he is younger and was a top prospect for a while, but imagine if the Rangers traded Gallo for who is likely a career minor leaguer. I think this will be a trade that the Padres will come to regret, especially after Chase Headley is gone next year and when they see what Schimpf can do with regular playing time in Tampa Bay. Schimpf vs. Gallo

The Freddy Galvis trade is another weird one. Galvis, like Headley, is due to be a free agent at the end of the season. Perhaps they expect Galvis to serve as a bridge to one of their top prospects, Luis Urias or Fernando Tatis Jr., but I do not think they should sacrifice a possible future starter in De Los Santos for a guy they are not going to win with anyways. The trade does make sense because of their lack of depth at the SS position in the upper minors, but they could have given Allen Cordoba another chance as a bridge.

I like the idea of the Yangervis Solarte trade. It will give Carlos Asuaje a chance to show what he can do with a full time major league job and they got a guy in Jared Carkuff, who despite being a 2016 35th round pick, has flown through the minors and has shown the potential to be an above average relief pitcher at the major league level.

Based on their moves so far this off season, I am a little confused about how the Padres front office sees the team in 2018. By the looks of it, the Padres are far from contention this year. Instead of trading non-controllable major leaguers for strong minor league talent, they seem to be trading controllable major league talent for non-controllable major leaguers or poor minor league talent, except in the case of the Yangervis Solarte trade. This current front office has made questionable moves in the recent past that have come back to bite them, so hopefully these have a minimal negative effect on their future. They have a really good farm system, so maybe these questionable moves will not matter too much.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Notable Moves:

Traded 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.506 REV), LHP Scott Kazmir (.640 REV), RHP Brandon McCarthy (.647 REV), and SS Charlie Culberson (.213 REV) to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for LF Matt Kemp (.522 REV).

Signed free agent RHP Tom Koehler (.495 REV) to a one year, $2 million dollar deal.

Acquired LHP Scott Alexander (.458 REV) and traded LHP Luis Avilan (.443 REV) in a three team trade with the Chicago White Sox and the Kansas City Royals.


After having the best regular season record and retaining most of the same roster, the Dodgers did not have to do much this off season to compete for the World Series again. They have made a few interesting moves that could benefit the team, though.

The Adrian Gonzalez trade is one of the weirder ones I have seen in a while. It seems like a trade that would have been made in 2011 because of the players involved. While the players the Dodgers traded should be valuable for their new teams, the Dodgers did not really need them because of how much depth they have at the major league level. It was just a way for them to dump the salaries of unneeded players, in an effort to get under the luxury tax threshold. The Dodgers have so much depth that they have five outfielders better than Matt Kemp, so they are doing everything they can to unload him too.

While on the surface Tom Koehler seems like an above average relief pitcher, a lot of his value comes from his ability to go multiple innings. If he is used as a single inning reliever, his value drops significantly. He has been good in his career as a reliever and the Dodgers have had success with pitchers like him in the bullpen, i.e. Brandon Morrow. He still has the ability to be a sort of swing man, rotating from the bullpen and starting rotation.

As an above average relief pitcher, Scott Alexander’s best attribute is his 91st percentile Home Run rating. He should be able to continue performing to that level in the spacious Dodger Stadium. On the down side, Alexander’s other rate stats are not as good, with a Strikeout rating in the 36th percentile and a Walk rating in the 45th percentile. It seems like a solid trade, with some potential, as Alexander rates better than fellow left hander Luis Avilan.

The Dodgers have not made a big splash yet this off season, but they do not really need to, as they have five starting pitchers in the top 100 pitchers and a lot of position player depth.

Colorado Rockies

Notable Moves:

Signed free agent C Chris Iannetta (.425 REV) to a two year, $8.5 million deal.

Re-signed free agent LHP Jake McGee (.432 REV) to a three year, $27 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP Bryan Shaw (.534 REV) to a three year, $27 million deal.

Signed free agent RHP Wade Davis (.561 REV) to a three year, $52 million deal.


The Rockies have made one of the biggest splashes in the free agent market this year, building the highest paid bullpen in baseball.

I feel the same way about the Chris Iannetta signing as I did about the Nick Hundley signing by the Giants. He is an under the radar catcher who gives a good amount of value at the position. To maximize performance, it seems like more teams are moving toward using catching tandems instead of just one for most of the season. I think that is what the Rockies are doing here with the signing of Iannetta. He and Tony Wolters will combine for one of the best catching tandems in baseball.

This will be Jake McGee’s third year in Colorado. He has tasted what it is like to pitch most of his games in Coors Field, as his home run rate has increased in his previous two years. Aside from his home run rate, McGee is able to strike guys out and he limits his walks, with 71st and 74th percentile rankings for the corresponding ratings. Despite being pretty high profile as far as relievers go, McGee only rates as an average RP.

Throughout his career, the submariner Bryan Shaw has done a good job limiting home runs for the most part. Being a ground ball pitcher is pretty crucial to being successful and Shaw’s ground ball rate of over 50% definitely puts him in that category. With rate numbers all in at least the 70th percentile, Shaw should be a great pickup for the Rockies for the next few years.

After giving up three home runs combined between 2015 and 2016, Wade Davis gave up six in his first and only season with the Chicago Cubs last year. His ground ball rate has never really reflected that of a ground ball pitcher and this past season his fly ball rate got up to fly ball pitcher territory. This could be a bad sign for the Rockies, but he still ranks in the 98th and 99th percentile in Strikeout rating and Home Run rating respectively. He will scare you from time to time with the walks, as his Walk rating only ranks in the 48th percentile. His three year, $52 million deal makes him the highest paid relief pitcher of all time in terms of average annual value. He may be worth that because he has shown himself to be among the best at getting high leverage outs. Getting up there in age, Davis could be due for some regression in the near future, as his Potential REV is just .506.

Playing their home games at a mile high, the Rockies know how difficult it is to limit runs and they know that starters do not last as long. Because of this, the Rockies made it a priority to solidify their bullpen with some of the most well regarded arms on the market. I like the idea and am curious to see if those pitchers can continue their success in a Rockies uniform.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Notable Moves:

Traded minor league RHP Curtis Taylor (.430 Potential REV) to the Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Brad Boxberger (.294 REV).

Re-signed free agent LHP T.J. McFarland (.308 REV) to a one year, $800,000 deal

Signed free agent RHP Yoshihisa Hirano (.278 REV) to a two year, $6 million deal.

Drafted RHP Albert Suarez (.433 REV) in the Rule 5 Draft.


The Diamondbacks have not been very active this off season, other than some small moves that they hope pan out.

In Brad Boxberger, the Diamondbacks are getting a well below average relief pitcher who struggles with his control (7th percentile Walk rating) and with the home run ball (14th percentile home run rating). He will get a fair amount of strikeouts, but I think the D-Backs should have held on to their 2016 fourth round pick.

T.J. McFarland is able to go multiple innings on occasion and he has above average Walk and Home Run ratings, but his 1st percentile strikeout rating indicates that the ball gets put in play too much for him to be successful, especially in Chase Field.

It is always difficult to predict how overseas success will translate to the major leagues, but REV does not think the signing of 34 year old Yoshihisa Hirano will pay off for Arizona.

It is not very often that players with as much major league playing time as Albert Suarez are selected in the Rule 5 Draft. I think he should be able to stay on the D-Backs’ roster for the entire season and be solid out of the bullpen and making a spot start every once in a while.

The Diamondbacks definitely have not done enough to replace guys like J.D. Martinez, Gregor Blanco, and Chris Iannetta who all became free agents in November. The market has been slow moving, so there is still time to tighten up their bullpen and bench.


The NL West has had a mix of impact moves that could put the team over the top and value moves that might work out. I think the clear winner of the off season so far in the NL West is the San Francisco Giants. They simply have done the most to improve their team. Adding two players around .700 in REV is pretty tough to beat. Despite being confused about the Padres direction, I think the Diamondbacks have had the worst off season so far. They have a good enough team to get away without doing much, but they have not done anything to make their team better. Next up is the National League Central!


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You can now take a look at the REV and Potential REV spreadsheets! Just go over to the REV Files page


REV Free Agent Pitchers

Rob Elzer

*Disclaimer: If you have not read my first blog post called About REV, you might want to before reading this post.

In this post, I will be examining the pitchers who Pre REV thinks are the top three free agents at starting pitcher and relief pitcher, as well as pointing out unsung players that teams should be able to get for cheap.

Some Reminders:

  • Pre REV only includes pitchers with at least 65 innings pitched since 2015.
  • An average starting pitcher has a REV of .590, while relief pitchers average a .420 REV.


The top three free agent starting pitchers:

Jake Arrieta (8th among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Chicago Cubs

Age in 2018: 32

Jake Arrieta

Arrieta dealt with some hamstring problems late in the 2017 season, which caused him to throw his fewest number of innings since 2014. Even with the injury, he has been one of baseball’s most reliable pitchers the past few seasons. His 188 weighted innings per year(weighted towards this past season) places him in the 98th percentile in Durability, 14th among all pitchers. With some of the most consistently good peripherals, 83rd percentile in Strikeout rating, 72nd percentile in Walk rating, and 90th percentile in Home Run rating, Arrieta is one of baseball’s elite pitchers. I would expect him to make the most money this offseason.

Yu Darvish (36th among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Age in 2018: 31

Yu Darvish

After undergoing Tommy John Surgery and missing all of 2015 and the first half of 2016, Darvish returned to form and looked like the pitcher that earned a 6 year, $60 million deal out of Japan. Darvish ranks 7th among starting pitchers in Strikeout rating, which lands him in the 93rd percentile among all pitchers. If Darvish has a problem, it would be the home run ball. In his 287 innings over the past two seasons, he has given up 1.2 HR/9, which places him in the 41st percentile in Home Run rating. With his 91st percentile Stamina rating and his arm issues seemingly in the past, Darvish is a safe bet for a multi-year deal.

John Lackey (40th among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Chicago Cubs

Age in 2018: 39

John Lackey

Coming off a poor 2017 season in which he posted a 4.59 ERA and a 5.30 FIP, this might seem like a surprise. Lackey’s problem in 2017 seemed to involve the home run ball. After giving up just 1.0 HR/9 in the previous two seasons, Lackey’s HR/9 skyrocketed to 1.9 in 2017. However, his other peripherals fell right in line with his career norms. He has posted above average strikeout numbers over the past few seasons and his 78.80 Walk rating lands him in the 83rd percentile. Despite his age, Lackey ranks in the 97th percentile in Durability and in the 93rd percentile in Stamina. As a dependable, older pitcher, Lackey should expect to get a one year deal for a good amount of money, for a team in a big ballpark.

Unsung starting pitchers:

Jhoulys Chacin (89th among all pitchers)

Previous Team: San Diego Padres

Age in 2018: 30

Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin proved in 2017 that he can be the solid Major League starting pitcher he once was in Colorado. While his Strikeout rating and Walk rating are slightly below average, he has been able to limit the home run ball. His Home Run rating of 72.87 ranks in the 73rd percentile of all pitchers. He is a guy who a team can trust to give five or six solid innings and turn it over to the bullpen. I would expect him to get a two or three year deal, with an AAV around $12 or $13 million.

Honorable Mentions:

Miguel Gonzalez (.609 REV)

Ricky Nolasco (.608 REV)

R.A. Dickey (.600 REV)

Drew Hutchison (.595 REV)


The top three free agent relief pitchers:

Addison Reed (96th among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Boston Red Sox

Age in 2018: 29

Addison Reed

Reed is one of just six relief pitchers to crack the top 100 in Pre Season Pitching REV. He did this by having outstanding peripherals across the board, with a Strikeout rating in the 86th percentile, a Walk rating in the 94th percentile, and a Home Run rating in the 89th percentile. There’s not much Reed can’t do, other than go multiple innings, which is why he is one of the best high leverage relief pitchers in baseball.

Pat Neshek (116th among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Colorado Rockies

Age in 2018: 37

Pat Neshek

Neshek has been one of MLB’s best relievers for quite a while now, and this past season may have been his best. The number that jumps out the most with Neshek is his walk total. He walked just 29 batters in the past three seasons combined. That total is good enough to place him in the 98th percentile in Walk rating. As one of the best strike throwers in baseball and a Clutch rating in the 94th percentile, Neshek is a very reliable guy in the late innings.

Tommy Hunter (148th among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Age in 2018: 31

Tommy Hunter

I don’t hear Tommy Hunter come up very often in the national media and I’m not really sure why. There’s not much he can’t do. Sure, he doesn’t get the flashy strikeout numbers like some relievers (70th percentile), but he is right among the game’s elite in Walk rating(92nd percentile) and Home Run rating(85th percentile). He only made $1.4 million last season, so I would expect that number to rise quite a bit this year.

Unsung relief pitchers:

Yusmeiro Petit (193rd among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Los Angeles Angels

Age in 2018: 33

Yusmeiro Petit

I haven’t heard about Petit much since he was an important part of the San Francisco Giants 2014 World Series winning pitching staff. I would describe him as a “swing man” type of relief pitcher. He is capable of giving you multiple innings and maybe even making a start every once in a while. An elite strike thrower, Petit has a 96th percentile Walk rating. His major flaw is the home run ball(36th percentile Home Run rating), but his HR/9 came down a little in a bigger ballpark in Anaheim. I would expect his salary to increase a little from last year’s $2.25 million, but he will still be very affordable for any team.

Steve Cishek (223rd among all pitchers)

Previous Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Age in 2018: 32

Steve Cishek

Cishek used to be a 30+ save guy for the Miami Marlins, but lost his closer job and was later traded away because of ineffectiveness. Since then, he has done a pretty great job. He strikes guys out(81st percentile) and limits home runs(85th percentile). Those are pretty much the prerequisites for being a solid relief pitcher. His only problem is that he walks a few too many guys(40th percentile), but his walk numbers have come back to normal since being elevated in 2015. He is reliable guy who any team could use.

Honorable Mentions:

Anthony Swarzak (.501 REV)

Brian Duensing (.493 REV)

Fernando Salas (.486 REV)

Jeff Manship (.464 REV)

There are quite a few perfectly serviceable Major League pitchers available for teams to bid on. Some posts to look forward to in the near future:

  • An examination of the top free agents at each position.
  • The top 100 position players and pitchers according to Pre REV.
  • Analysis on transactions.
  • And a lot more creative stuff!




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