Toolshed: What latest deals mean for prospects
There's always a trickle-down effect. Don't worry, this isn't another column about the state of the economy. But the statement is true about baseball's free-agent market. Sticking with the typical Hot Stove metaphor, the dial on that specific appliance was turned up from low to medium-high in the past week
There's always a trickle-down effect. Don't worry, this isn't another column about the state of the economy. But the statement is true about baseball's free-agent market.
Sticking with the typical Hot Stove metaphor, the dial on that specific appliance was turned up from low to medium-high in the past week with free agents inking contracts left and right. Some were previously known deals that only became official in the past few days. Others were new moves that came across the wire just before the calendar flips from January to February, the month in which players are meant to report to Spring Training.
While it is good to have free-agent deals grab headlines in an offseason previously known for trades (like those for
George Springer, OF, Blue Jays (8.4 fWAR)
Overview: Coming off their playoff-bound 2020 campaign, the Jays were known players on the free-agent market this offseason, hoping to add to the core of
Major prospect(s) affected: Austin Martin -- We know what you might be saying at home. Martin was the fifth overall pick out of Vanderbilt last year, and despite an advanced college pedigree, he was highly unlikely to make a Major League debut in 2021. With that in mind, the Springer signing likely doesn't have an immediate effect on his development. Fair enough. But given the length of the deal, it is worth wondering what it could mean for Martin in the short and long term. One of the biggest questions facing the 21-year-old is his defensive home. Martin played multiple spots in college -- in fact, everywhere but right field, catcher and pitcher -- and there are some who believe he'll move to center long term. For now, the Jays are calling him a shortstop, where he will play in
Marcus Semien, 2B/SS, Blue Jays (8.8 fWAR)
Overview: We said this would be organized by fWAR in the 2019 and '20 seasons, but it felt odd to put Springer below Semien, who signed on for one year at $18 million from the same club. Once again in a need to add whatever talent they could this offseason, the Blue Jays were willing to make a big-money, short-term investment on a player who was one year removed from being an AL MVP finalist. Toronto is betting Semien can be closer to his 2019 self, when he hit 33 homers and posted a 138 wRC+, than his 2020 self with a 92 wRC+ in the shortened season. The 30-year-old is expected to move over from shortstop to second base in deference to
Major prospect(s) affected: Martin -- Even more so than the Springer situation, this only affects Martin in the short term if he had any shot of getting Major League time in 2021. That was always highly unlikely. Instead, the Semien signing on a one-year deal likely indicates Toronto is willing to reevaluate the second-base job a year from now when Martin will be closer to the Majors. Given his skill set as a potentially plus-plus hitter with good speed, it's not out of the question that the former Commodore ends his first full Minor League season at Double-A or even Triple-A. With Springer in center and Bichette at short, the Jays might start to think about getting Martin more reps at second base the closer he gets to Toronto. It's not the act of Semien signing that could affect Martin. It's the length of the deal that does, and it specifically could affect his long-term defensive home.
DJ LeMahieu, INF, Yankees (7.8 fWAR)
Overview: It didn't take long for LeMahieu to feel like a steal when he first signed with the Yankees prior to the 2019 season, and after hitting .336/.386/.536 with 36 homers over his two seasons in the Bronx, the right-handed slugger became virtually indispensable to the Bombers as he entered free agency. New York made sure the 2020 MLB batting champ was going nowhere by officially signing him to a six-year, $90-million deal Wednesday. LeMahieu remains the club's starting second baseman for now, but could slide over to first base over the length of that deal. Either way, his bat is back at Yankee Stadium, and those in pinstripes are better off for it.
Major prospect(s) affected: None -- Right now, the Yankees farm system's strengths are in right-handed pitching and ... well, Jasson Dominguez. The top infield prospect is 20-year-old shortstop
J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies (7.5 fWAR)
Overview: A match made in cheesesteak heaven. The Phillies pushed in a lot of chips (including
Major prospect(s) affected:
Michael Brantley, OF, Astros (5.5 fWAR)
Overview: It was a dramatic couple of minutes there when it seemed like Brantley might be joining Springer on the way from Houston to Toronto, but the 33-year-old outfielder ended up staying put on a two-year, $32-million contract. With wRC+'s of 134 and 135 in two seasons with the Astros, the left-handed hitter brings back a consistently good bat to the center of the Houston lineup. He'll again assume left-field duties and could get plenty of looks at DH over the course of the deal.
Major prospect(s) affected: None -- The Astros aren't deep when it comes to Brantley's position on the farm system.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Twins (2.2 fWAR)
Overview: Think Minnesota seemed settled with
Major prospect(s) affected:
Corey Kluber, RHP, Yankees (0.6 fWAR)
Major prospect(s) affected:
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.