Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:04
Travis Sawchik: Greetings and salutations

12:04
Travis Sawchik: And happy Ohtani season

12:04
Hank: What kind of moves to you expect Anthopoulos to make in his first offseason with the Braves?

12:05
Travis Sawchik: AA has a reputation as an aggressive trader but I wonder if he will be a little more conservative early on as he does some inventory and gets acquainted with the Braves …. So maybe some smaller-type transactions

12:05
Creg: Where do you put the odds that Otani signs with an NL team? It seems like the teams, Otani’s agent and probably he himself will recognize that it’s better if he just DHs.

12:06
Travis Sawchik: I’d be surprised if he lands in the NL … unless he really wants to play in the field on days he’s not pitching. But i think he’s going to land with an AL club

12:07
Greg: The argument in favor of Otani going to the AL West is interesting, though he’d fit in just as well with the Astros, but what do those teams do with Cruz, Choo and (especially) Pujols?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Ohtani would fit well with the Astros or Yankees (or anywhere) but I think MLB — and the legend of Ohtani — benefits most by making a so-so team relevant. The more teams that are interesting, the better. Ohtani making a super team an uber team doesn’t do much for me. That’s like Durant joining a 73-win Warriors team in the NBA

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Maybe I’m wrong, and I understand that we judge athletes to an extent (moreso in the NBA and NFL) by how many rings they have, but I think Ohtani provides greatest impact on a big-market, bubble team …. at least in the near term

12:10
Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave: Will Stanton be traded this week?

12:10
Travis Sawchik: I’m not even certain Stanton will be traded … but I’d assume it would happen later on

12:11
Dave53: What if an athletic equipment maker (Nike?) offered Ohtani a massive endorsement deal ($50M?) conditioned on Ohtani playing in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles?   Does MLB have a right to disallow the deal?  Would MLB investigate the six clubs in those markets for possible collusion?  Or would MLB just shrug?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: I’m not 100 percent certain on this, endorsement deals are not an area I have much knowledge in, but I imagine MLB would just shrug.

12:12
Travis Sawchik: This issue doesn’t arise often … so I’m not even sure MLB would have rise to written some sort of law pertaining to it

12:13
Ned Yost: Steamer has the Astros as the clear cut best team in baseball (3 more than the Dodgers). Should a team in their position, having just won the World Series, be more aggressive to maximize their current window, or less aggressive to prolong their window?

12:14
Travis Sawchik: I’m usually in the camp of prolonging a window. I don’t think the Astros have to worry about their window closing soon

12:15
He Hate Me: Is MLB going to pay closer attention to the way the Dodgers abused the new 10-day DL to keep their rotation fresh or is this going to become a more widespread thing?

12:16
Travis Sawchik: In 2018, I suspect it’s going to become more of a widespread thing. Is the 10-day DL a bad thing if it keeps arms fresher and healthier? I wonder what the MLBPA’s thoughts are

12:16
Justin: What are the chances the Pirates trade Cole or Cutch this offseason? What could a return look like for either one?

12:16
Blackburn: What are the Pirates going to do this offseason? I’m not too excited about this team and the direction they’re headed….

12:16
Big Hoss: Give me some positives for the Pirates moving forward…..don’t see much here….

12:17
Travis Sawchik: According to our projections, the Pirates are an 82-80 team right now and I think that’s about right. Just about everything went wrong last season and I expect some positive regression to the mean in 2018

12:17
Travis Sawchik: My guess is they keep Cole and Cutch and try and compete in 2018, and if things go sour in the first three months then they start exploring deadline deals

12:20
Travis Sawchik: The Pirates are one of only six clubs we project to have winning records in the NL at the moment, so I think it makes sense to try and compete. The positives? The staff may not have an ace but it has six arms projected at 2 wins or better, Rivero is back, Josh Bell showed growth, Marte and Polanco cannot be worse, McCutchen was a star-level bat in the second half …

12:20
Outta my way, Gyorkass: Local rumors are that the Brewers are targeting Jake Arrieta and they’re estimating roughly a 4/$100M contract.

Does this feel like a wild overpay, and a bad move for a budding contender to you too?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Dave and the crowd believe that’s right about what Arrieta should be paid https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2018-top-50-free-agents/

12:22
Travis Sawchik: I think such a contract would be a worthwhile risk, especially for a club that could be on the contention bubble like the Brewers.

12:23
Jay: Saw someone mention this today – Neil Walker as a potential FA to Cleveland to play 1B if they do not re-sign Carlos Santana. Your thoughts?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: I’d rather take a flier on Morrison or Alonso

12:23
Bucn: Is Mitch Keller the next pitching stud for the Bucs?

12:24
Travis Sawchik: Keller looks pretty legit. I guess his changeup is showing strides this fall.

12:24
Blob Saget: This winter’s random Orioles signing is…

12:24
Travis Sawchik: Who is the top DH on the market?

12:25
Sonny: To take the Braves GM job you would presumably have to know at least the broad strokes of the penalties coming right?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Well, you know something is going to happen

12:25
He Hate Me: Final playoff pitching strategy thought for 2017: If managers are going to yank their starters after two times through the order, would it be useful to start the game with a reliever (call him the “opener”) to get through the first 5-6 batters? The logic here is that when that’s done, you bring in your starter, who starts his outing facing the bottom of the order. That way, when he reaches the 3rd time through the order, it’s against the 7-8-9 guys (or pinch-hitter, who by definition is up for the first time and wasn’t in the lineup because he didn’t match up well with your starter) and you might get an extra inning out of him. Yes, you burn one reliever early but you’re going to use most of your bullpen anyway, so why not put your starter in a position to face more than 18 hitters?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: I’m all for next-level bullpenning … at least in the playoffs

12:26
Babe Lincoln: Big-market bubble team like the Mets???

12:26
Travis Sawchik: If only the Mets had a DH spot …

12:26
Tristan: Personal question: if you had the choice to start a major league career anywhere, where would you choose, Travis?

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Progressive Field is 13 miles from my home so ….

12:27
Travis Sawchik: But I love what the Astros and Dodgers have done in extracting more value out of in-house talent

12:28
Guest: What would the teams mentioned in your Ohtani post do with their current DH’s? (Pujols, Cruz, Morales)

12:28
Travis Sawchik: I understand the concern, but it’s something I’d worry about after landing Ohtani

12:28
Dunkin’ Donuts: I can not see Ohtani being signed by an NL team.  Pitching, hitting, and, playing the field would be way too much wear and tear.

12:29
Travis Sawchik: I generally agree … I wonder if the Giants could be an exception given the Bay Area has the greatest percent of Asian-American population in the country. But I’m not sure how much that matters to Ohtani

12:29
Pat: I think the idea that Ohtani is going to be a 2-way player is really flawed. Who was the last guy to do that? I bet it doesn’t happen

12:29
Travis Sawchik: He’s already proven he can do it at the second highest level of pro ball outside of the majors … So I think it’s worth a shot

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Heck, put Ohtani in a six-man rotation if you’re really concerned about stress

12:30
Connor: Does anyone have an actual insight into where Ohtani is going or is it just speculation at this point?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: I think it’s all fun speculation. I’d guess the Yankees are the favorite

12:31
Michael K Woods: Here is a hypothetical trade that has zero chance but will you indulge me anyway? Grandal and Verdugo for Victor Robles.

12:32
Travis Sawchik: Michael, I kind of want this happen but there’s probably no chance it happens

12:32
Travis Sawchik: What I do know is the Nationals could really use help at catcher

12:33
He Hate Me: The Red Sox added Eduardo Nunez and Addison Reed at this year’s deadline by trading two college relievers drafted in the previous year. It seems a lot like they drafted those close-to-ready, high-floor, medium-ceiling guys specifically as deadline trade-bait (and they drafted a couple more this year). Is this a thing or am I imagining it?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Do teams draft with the primary intention of trading the selections? No….But maybe the Red Sox are different

12:34
He Hate Me: December 25, 2017: Shohei Otani signs with the Angels; also signs huge endorsement deal with Nike. West Coast team with Japanese community, makes middling, big-market team with uber-star playoff-relevant. There, that was easy (and I’m not even a Halos fan).

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Personally, I find the Angels to be the most intriguing fit. Ohtani gets LA’s No. 2 team into the postseason AND he gets Mike Trout into the postseason

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Moreover, they would be the ultimate stars-and-scrubs experience

12:35
Mike: Do you expect AA to wheel and deal like he did in Toronto, or do you think he may now have a more similar philosophy to Friedman and Zaidi of building depth throughout the organization?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: I’m sure he’ll take some lessons from the Toronto experience and be a little less aggressive

12:36
Pudge Poison: Has anyone written on 1) Japanese culture’s appraisal of MLB clubs, cities, and cultures; 2) the Japanese experience as major league players and what that’s like culturally or personally; and 3) the nature of the interaction between Asian population/culture in an American baseball city and the Japanese players who play there?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: I’m not aware of much written on this subject but if I’m a team trying to recruit Ohtani I am putting a team on this

12:37
Travis Sawchik: I would imagine the West Coast cities, New York and Toronto are some of the preferred spots to visit and play in

12:38
P: Thoughts on the Jays going forward?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Jays are kind of in a tough transition spot in the short term … unless they land Ohtani! I would be looking to dismantle to a degree and build around some of the top prospects that are getting close

12:40
Pudge Poison: I mean, let’s say 15% of Hanshin is made up of people from the US, and no other town has more than 10%; Mike Trout wants to go play ball in Japan because the competition is better and there is more money to be made ultimately.  Does Mike Trout care about the 5%?

12:41
Travis Sawchik: It’s probably more about culture/options said city has to offer in ways of dining and lifestyle, I would imagine

12:41
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Travis! The Sacre Bleu’s fanbase is getting restless. Perhaps a rebrand is in order? Might I suggest the name and logo of former hockey team the Montreal Wanderers? The simple white W logo placed in the red shield is awesome.

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Montreal’s fan base is suffering from winning fatigue !?! Might be time to move to DC

12:42
Pudge Poison: What’s the r-squared value on the crowdsourced/FG predictions for free agents and the market’s valuation of the same players over the past 3 years?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: That

12:42
Travis Sawchik: ‘s a good project for someone

12:43
Pudge Poison: Why has the splitter become less common in MLB?

12:43
Travis Sawchik: What’s tough about that question is there are quite a few split changeups in the game now … like Salazar and Cobb, etc

12:43
Jack: Would Ohtani, Darvish and an Odor turnaround put the Rangers in contention?

12:43
Travis Sawchik: For sure

12:43
Marcus Banks: so….Ohtani to Orioles then?

12:44
Travis Sawchik: Yes!

12:44
Dave: Suppose a team makes Ohtani the exact sort of offer they’re specifically not allowed to: Sign with us and we’ll give you a huge extension the moment we can. He does, and then is shockingly terrible. Inability to adjust to MLB, TJ surgery, whatever. The team quietly withdraws its extension offer. Ohtani complains to MLB. Would the punishment for the team be minor or major?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: I’m not sure how MLB — if at all — would deal with a club breaking an illegal verbal agreement

12:46
mg: Will Otani create a more complicated dynamic around ownership-coaching dialogue about his usage as a player for whatever team he ends up with?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Ohtani is already the most complicated FA case in history and there are going to be issues like this that arise that we hadn’t really considered

12:47
Old timer: How could the A’s package their offer to entice Otani to sign with them?  I know; likely fantasy but we can always hope.

12:48
Travis Sawchik: Hey, the A’s have surprised us before … and I would think Ohtani would enjoy living in the Bay Area

12:48
Christian: Enough of the Ohtani talk! What are the Cardinals going to do with all those OFs? They have O’Neill, Martinez and Sierra waiting there for cheap. Trade Grichuk and Piscotty plus a pitching prospect for Stanton?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: I saw Jerry Crasnick poll a number of executives about the landing spot for Stanton if he is traded and the Cardinals topped the list.

12:49
Travis Sawchik: It makes sense. Cardinals have a crowded 40-man and could use some star talent

12:49
Jeff: What if Otani goes to the Astros? At what point do they become like the Golden State Warriors of baseball?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: What if the Yankees’ plan is to make Ohtani a Pitcher-DH-Manager

12:49
Matt E G: Could the Yanks lack of a manager hurt their chances of signing Ohtani?

12:50
Travis Sawchik: Yes, Ohtani could make the Astros Golden State-like … which is why I don’t think it’s great for MLB

12:50
Aaron : Surely whether or not Ohtani goes to the NL depends on whether *he* wants to play the field – not what the team wants/what makes most sense. At least one NL team will agree to him being an OF if that’s what he has set his heart on.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Right

12:51
Jstodola : Seems possible a team may give up a lot to get Stanton and he may still op out after 2020! Worth the risk?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, it’s pretty complicated

12:52
I am the walrus: Happ for Honeywell?  Make sense both?  Who would have to add to this trade Cubs/Rays to make it happen?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: I would think the Rays would value Honeywell more than Happ

12:52
Josh: Could you see Ohtani on a team like the Giants, where he can pitch and play LF? That would be pretty fun to watch

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Ohtani in SF would be pretty cool

12:53
Travis Sawchik: And the Giants need Ohtani

12:53
Richie: I’m a fan of an NL team, and do prefer baseball where pitchers have to hit, double switches, etc.; however, this Ohtani business seems like reason #247 why the NL needs the DH.

12:53
Travis Sawchik: Or why the AL should rid itself of the DH. I prefer the NL game

12:53
a different matt: Ohtani really makes a 6 man rotation more possible by taking up DH at bats you probably wouldn’t want a DH only player

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Good point! Challenge is teams already struggle to find five competent starters

12:56
Kosch: Stros fan here…since Ohtani is knowingly forfeiting serious money by coming over early, he clearly wants to win.  He’s going to a good young franchise that has a championship window open and budget to spend down the line.  That limits your SEA, OAK, KC, White Sox etc

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Well, I don’t think KC is going to be on the list… but if Ohtani is looking three years down the road the White Sox could be of interest

12:57
Ghost Chili Davis: Is base stealing only really valuable when a) your chance of success is over 80%, b) when the game is very close, c) when home runs are not as likely, or d) all of the above?  (there could be other combo answers of course).  Where did stealing bases go?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: 2017 was not a great environment for base-stealing … but if you have an 80 percent success rate you should have a green light

12:58
Nick Morris: assuming Ron Acuna plays a full season… over or under 5.0 WAR?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Only 18 position players reached 5 WAR, so I’d go under

12:58
Jstodola : Are we done talking about juiced baseballs or will that come up again?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: It’s going to be an early-season story line, for sure

12:59
Travis Sawchik: And y’all — at least those that voted in Jeff’s poll — actually liked the juiced ball https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/how-you-felt-about-the-2017-season/

1:00
Travis Sawchik: So why would MLB/Rawlings change the ball?

1:00
legeisc: When do the “juiced balls” just become the “balls”.

1:00
Travis Sawchik: 2019

1:00
Ghost Chili Davis: I forgot to list risk of injury in the basestealing question.  Is the headfirst slide and hand injury another reason we see less stealing from player with the potential to steal more bases (say, Trout or Goldschmidt).

1:01
Travis Sawchik: In Hardball Dynasty I usually have my manager settings on baserunning set at “never”

1:01
Ghost Chili Davis: What percentage of steals of second (or any base but home) are foot first slides?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: No idea. We need a study!

1:02
mike: clearly ohtani should go to cleveland

1:03
Travis Sawchik: I would be all for that. I could even show him some cool spots to live in Bay Village and Rocky River

1:03
Ben: If Ohtani goes to an AL team, will they just forfeit their DH on days that Ohtani pitches and pinch-hit late in the game when RPs come up to bat?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: If he’s really a 900 OPS bat, that’s an option

1:05
Matt E G: Are we going to see Vlad Jr. a lot next season? Im ready

1:05
Travis Sawchik: Probably a bit aggressive

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Let’s see him dominate 2A … then we’ll talk

1:06
John Coppolella: As a Braves fan, I’m looking forward to (hopefully) full seasons from Acuna, Albies, Swanson, and Gohara next year. AA seems like he will have some talented young players to build on. Am I wrong to be slightly optimistic for next season

1:07
Travis Sawchik: I’m bullish on the Braves long term

1:07
A cat: Speaking of Grandal, he seems a good fit for the Red Sox as a C/1B/ DH. Teamed with Swihardt, who appears to have regained his swing in winter league play, he gives the RS a power bat and reduces Hanley’s PAs to keep his option from vesting. Dodgers could take Kelly to replace Morrow and Leon to back up Barnes.

1:07
Travis Sawchik: If I’m the Dodgers I listen on Grandal this winter, but I have to be blown away

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Grandal/Barnes was a 9-win BWARP combo last year

1:08
Zonk: I like the Ohtani-Angels possibility, but isn’t Pujols’ presence at DH a potential barrier?  Or is it possible that Albert isn’t even worth a roster spot anymore?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: I’d figure out what to do with Pujols later

1:08
He Hate Me: What gives a team a better chance of landing Otani: signing Darvish or signing Ichiro? I know there are “reports” re: the former but wouldn’t the latter also be compelling to a young Japanese star?

1:09
Travis Sawchik: Ichiro is inspired but I think Ohtani is friends with Darvish

1:10
Mike: So Bumgarner was worth like 1.0 WAR with his bat with a sub-100 wRC+ in a partial season.   The baseline for a DH is really high.   

Its really not impossible that Ohtani is more VALUABLE to a team in the NL providing a 110-120-130 wRC+ from the #9 spot every 5th day.   It’d be like playing 20% of your games with the DH when no one else in your league does so.   In a full season’s worth of PAs, if he’s an above-average bat he could easily be worth 2-3 wins in a pitchers’ number of PAs (and if he’s really that strong a hitter, he might not hit 9th, either).

If he got to PH regularly and play the field occaisionally its quite reasonable he could be a more valuable asset to an NL team than an AL team.

1:10
Travis Sawchik: Interesting … but I think the bat warrants 400 plate appearances somewhere

1:10
LegallyEagle: % chance the Dodgers trade Grandal this off-season?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: 23

1:10
Guest: What do you think about Cargo as a possible fit in Houston on a similar 1 yr 15ish mil deal to the one Beltran got?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I could see CarGo having a bounce-back

1:11
This Reader: Travis, any particular reason you use “this author” so frequently in your pieces when referring to your own opinions/past work?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Carson’s style preference

1:11
Jstodola : Where will Martinez go?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I love J.D. Kong

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Where will he go>

1:12
Travis Sawchik: ?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: I worry about his glove in the NL

1:13
Travis Sawchik: I think he’d be great in NYY, but I wonder if they have plans for a 2018-19 splash

1:14
Travis Sawchik: I’d guess Red Sox at the moment

1:14
Gavin: Is it possible that Ohtani could make more of an impact as a relief ace and full-time bat than as a starting pitcher and part-time bat?

1:14
Travis Sawchik: [Thinking face emoji]

1:14
Travis Sawchik: Bullpening with Ohtani would blow everyone’s mind

1:15
Travis Sawchik: And with that thought, I must conclude today’s Ohtani chat

1:15
Travis Sawchik: From here on out, every chat will focus on Ohtani

1:15
Travis Sawchik: For all time

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Thanks for stopping by!

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Until next time, be good and do good

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A Cleveland native, FanGraphs writer Travis Sawchik is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Big Data Baseball. He also contributes to The Athletic Cleveland, and has written for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Sawchik.

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goyo70
Member
goyo70

I enjoyed this chat, despite the Ohtani orgy. Thanks Travis. I wanted to ask here, because I don’t know where else to ask: who is the best utility player of all time, and will this be recognized by the Hall one day as a player mold worth celebrating? Zobrist sort of has his name attached to the idea of a high quality player that can be played at many positions and best peak season (8.6WAR 2009), but Tony Phillips may have had a better career (46WAR). Thoughts?