Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Greetings!

12:06
Travis Sawchik: I understand pitchers and catchers are reporting …

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Well, at those who have signed contracts for 2018 …

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Spring is creeping closer. Rejoice.

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Let’s chat …

12:06
Desperate, confused Marlins fan: Darvish contract? great right?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: I think it’s pretty good for both parties. Cubs land Darvish at what I think is a slight discount, but Darvish has that opt out after 2019 …

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Cubs needed Darvish. They got him. They look more like a super team with him,

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Darvish didn’t really have the NYY and LAD market in play, so he, perhaps, needed Chicago

12:08
Erik: When the offseason ends, will the deals signed by free agents look just like they did in the last several years? Or are contracts really going to be smaller in addition to being signed later?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: They’re going to be discounted in years and dollars. I think we saw that with the Frazier deal

12:09
Connor: Why do projections seem to always be low on Cubs SP Kyle Hendricks. He has consistently over-performed these estimations and I am wondering if there are any specific trait(s) that are leading to these low projections

12:10
Travis Sawchik: The projections don’t believe Hendricks can sustain his opponent BABIP, .274 for career ….. But I think we’re learning this is more of a skill that a pitcher can control

12:11
Matty P: Would an Indians deal for a pitcher like Raisel Iglesias make sense. Allen and Miller contract ends at the end of the season and they need a successor to keep the window open. They could start the talks with Yu Cheng and go from there?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: Indians are likely going to have two significant bullpen voids to fill after 2018. Raisel Iglesias would be a great fit for about any team. Makes some sense

12:12
Slapshot: After the Darvish signing with the Cubs, what kind of chances do you put on Boras sweet talking the Nats into signing Arrieta to a 3- or 4- year deal?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: When in doubt with a Boras client, keep an eye on Washington  … I don’t know how much of an upgrade he’d actually be, but I could see Boras selling the name brand and the Nats’ window

12:13
Erik: One solution that I haven’t seen discussed nearly enough as an antidote to the slow offseason: expansion. Expansion doesn’t cut into owners revenues (as far as I know) but it adds another $250 million or so to the players’ pockets as a whole. What better way to find jobs for the unremarkable but perfectly adequate veterans who remain unsigned than to create 50 new jobs out of thin air? What do you think?

12:15
Travis Sawchik: A team like this?

12:15
Travis Sawchik:

You could build a playoff contender from scratch, from remaining free agents, but it would be expensive fangraphs.com/blogs/could-a-…
8 Feb 2018
12:16
Travis Sawchik: I think expansion would benefit the game and the players … and it will happen in the not too distant future

12:16
Travis Sawchik: Looks like Tampa might have found a spot for Rays in Ybor City, which is an inspired location

12:16
Travis Sawchik: Expansion=Job creation

12:16
Mike: When do you think Ohtani will make his first start? The Angels have four games in Oakland to start the season before going home – do you think they’ll save him for a home start?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: Assuming you sell out the home opener, you could have Ohtani start in Game 1 and the second home game, right?

12:17
CamdenWarehouse: Pitchers and catcher reporting is not as much fun when your favorite team only has two pitchers.

12:18
Travis Sawchik: Ugh. Sorry, Baltimore

12:19
Erik: I’ve noticed a ton of writers siding very strongly with the players this offseason. Do you think this will rally public support around the players in the next CBA? Do you think you guys have the power to actually change things, or do you view what you’re doing simply as reporting the facts of the baseball world as you see them? Either way, I’m rooting for you.

12:21
Travis Sawchik: I think having the media craft a player-favorable narrative doesn’t hurt. Having the public in your corner is important … And I think the media has generally been reporting/stating facts and that is that free agency is broken and it’s a great time to be an owner. I think that’s objectively true

12:21
Erik: What’s your favorite winter olympic sport so far? I’m loving the short track speed skating.

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Downhill skiing. So insane

12:22
Ronnie: Did the MLBPA completely drop the ball during the last round of CBA negotiations?

12:22
Travis Sawchik: yes

12:22
tb.25: How far into spring training will top FA like JD wait before taking some sort of small deal or the longer deals at a discount? Where is the equilibrium day, and how does it change for lesser FA like Arrieta?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: I think signing earlier is more important so they are ready for the start of the season … otherwise they will be taking a further discount in regard to their expected innngs

12:23
Travis Sawchik: JD has a standing five-year offer, right? He could take that at some point and maybe he should. I also think the Red Sox ought not to let him get away .

12:25
Outta my way, Gyorkass: How do you see the Brewers OF logjam playing out? Santana moved for pitching? Some of the lower rung guys (Broxton and/or Phillips) moved for something? Everyone stays, and they mix Braun in at 1B, possibly with Thames being packaged into a deal? Something else entirely?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Something has to give, right? I’d keep Broxton as a fourth outfielder and try and move Phillips

12:26
Prince, Fielder of Nachos: Hey Travis, how many AB’s do you see Ryan McMahon getting with the Rockies this year? Mark Reynolds hasn’t been re-signed, and McMahon raked in the minors.

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Rockies need help at every corner outside of 3B (more on this later today at FanGraphs). McMahon deserves a long look

12:28
ATL: Should the braves be looking to pick up another prospect bat w/ all the pitching they have? Or should they wait to trade for an experienced bat when they are competing?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: They could sign 29-year-old Mike Moustakas for a massive discount later this spring

12:28
jmaas14: If Jake Arrieta thinks he can do better than the Darvish deal, how much is he looking for and who out there would actually give it to him?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: He can’t and no one (Well, maybe the Nats)

12:29
CarrotJuice: (Some) Cubs fans flipping out at a contract that pays Darvish $21 mil/year after just paying the corpse of Lackey $16 mi/year is kind of funny.

12:30
Travis Sawchik: This is happening? Pretty good deal for Cubs who needed another impact arm

12:30
David: Who says no?
Twins trade: Kepler, Gordon, Romero
Rays trade: Archer, Span

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Rays

12:32
Lazzaro Da Fietta: Has the Central passed the West as the strongest NL Division?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: No, but gap has closed. Dodgers are still class of the league, imo, which swings balance

12:33
Jack’s Inflamed Bile Duct: If you were at the helm for the Cardinals, would you be trying to make another off-season move to keep up with the Cubs/Brewers, or would you wait and see what the first half of the 2018 season brings?

12:33
adub: Win difference too great now for the Cardinals to close the gap on the Cubs?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Cubs have a significant edge (6 games by our projections) and Brewers are closing in … I’d be looking for another upgrade

12:34
David: If the contract is equal, who do you prefer: Lynn or Cobb?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Cobb. I want to see where he is another year removed from surgery, and I think he could still get that split-change back. I think he has more upside where Lynn is what he is and outperformed his true skillset last year

12:36
Billy Beane: Meg Rowley should probably get a chat.

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Meg would be a great chat host

12:37
Travis Sawchik: hostess!

12:37
JIm: why haven’t the yankees moved Clint Frazier yet? No interest?

12:37
Travis Sawchik: They would have flipped him for Gerrit Cole, they can wait for the right fit

12:38
Andy: I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I like STL’s position.  Glove-first C to replace Molina, youth in the infield, Weaver/Reyes/Flaherty and a bullpen full of fire… They’re not Astros good, but they’re young and talented.

12:38
Travis Sawchik: Cards are in pretty good long-term shape, I think. But perhaps not looking like a super team

12:39
Tom T.: Who says no? Cardinals trade: Flaherty, Bader, Kelly, and Hudson. Rays trade Archer.

12:40
Travis Sawchik: Cards? But I’d love Archer on the Cards

12:42
Bravesy McBravesface: If tanking were to become an untenable solution to rebuilding and players get paid what they’re worth, then how can small market teams compete?  If they are unable or unwilling to spend more than they have historically, then what avenue would they have to building a competitive roster?

12:43
Travis Sawchik: They can still draft and develop well, though there would usually be longer down cycles … A cap-and-floor system might help

12:43
Travis Sawchik: small-market owners are doing just fine

12:45
Erik: Why is Lance Lynn being discussed as something close to an elite starting pitcher this year? His FIP (4.82) was even worse than Andrew Cashner’s (4.61). Cashner is rightly being treated like a backend starter, yet people keep saying things like, “If they can get Lance Lynn they’ll be a contender.” Am I missing something, or does Lance Lynn have the league’s greatest PR department?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think any team seems to believe Lynn is elite … Probably one of the more over-rated free agents out there

12:45
Travis Called It: The Cards did make a big move – apparently they added Bud Norris.

12:45
Travis Sawchik: !!!!

12:46
Jordan: If the Jays or O’s finally get the itch to move Donaldon or Machado, what do you think the return is and who do you think is worth more in talent return? (assuming the Jays would take money back to bring down Donaldson salary to match Machado)

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Orioles should have moved Machado a while back … Blue Jays are in a tougher spot. But I’d lean toward keeping Donaldson given he has just one year remaining and they could contend

12:47
caesar_solid: how likely is it the Cubs go with a 6 man rotation considering the injury proneness and age of some of their starters?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Seems unlikely

12:48
Justin: The Pirates’ projection has dropped from like 78 to 70 without any additional subtractions.  What changed?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Good question. And a better one for Jeff Sullivan who is now playing God with the depth charts

12:49
Lunar verLander: What if the owners aren’t colluding against the free agents, but against Scott Boras? None of his clients have signed, but (relatively) plenty of others have signed.

12:49
Travis Sawchik: I think that’s pretty unlikely … Boras believes in the waiting game but I think he misread the landscape

12:49
wadz: Travis, people like Lynn because he is only 30 and the last 5 years, discounting the one he was out for TJ, he has given you 175+ innings and a sub 4 ERA each year…. His peripherals took a turn for the worst last season, but it was his first post TJ and he still performed.

12:50
Travis Sawchik: I still wouldn’t be investing nine figures

12:50
John: Has the Cubs’ inability to develop starters been overblown? Hendricks spent about two thirds of his minor league career with the Cubs, so it seems strange that Texas gets the credit for him. And the front office has made a conscious decision to prioritize bats early in the draft, which has really limited their shot at finding an impact starter through the draft.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Development doesn’t get enough credit for prospect success … but the Cubs have enjoyed only 30 homegrown innings from pitchers in Epstein era. That’s kind of alarming.

12:51
Andy: Im getting nervous about Jonathan Lucroy.   I don’t see how his market was dependent on any other player, and I perceive that it’s more difficult for catchers who miss these early days of ST for the value of ‘learning’ a staff.    I personally don’t see either BAL or WAS as likely solutions.   What happens to Lucroy?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: It doesn’t help that has framing numbers have fallen off a cliff … He’s in a tough spot but WAS could talk themselves into him. Nats have a glaring void at catcher but I don’t think Lucroy is the answer

12:53
kevinthecomic: Uh oh.  Boras is running the owner end-around again.  Reports saying he met with D-backs owner Ken Kendrick last week.

12:53
Travis Sawchik: I hope every club president has briefed their owner on this practice

12:53
Matt: Why can’t the Orioles afford Machado?  They are a top 10 or so payroll.

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Even if O’s offered equal money why would Machado want to stay?

12:54
CamdenWarehouse: Boras didn’t misread the landscape.  Maybe the navigation charts.

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Fair enough. Boras has been sounding the warning bells for a couple years now

12:54
AdamZ: Seems to me a big issues is that the ‘best’ free agents this year are all good, but not great players who think they should be paid like a ‘great’ player because they are the best available.

12:55
Travis Sawchik: I think this is part of the issue and part of the reason all the Boras guys are unsigned

12:55
Travis Sawchik: JDM is a great hitter, though. Boston should get that done

12:55
Mike: re: Cubs and pitching development, what the Cubs haven’t done is compensate for their bat-first focus with some kind of strategy, the way that the Dodgers targeted guys who would be 1st-round talents but were currently injured (Walker Buehler in the 4th round because he required TJS, top-half 1st round talent if he came with an elbow ligament).

The failure to figure out how to compensate is a reasonable critique.

12:56
Travis Sawchik: I think even Cubs’ leadership has admitted they haven’t done a great job in this area

12:56
Lou : If you were Cody Bellinger or Corey Seager, would you sign a “team friendly” extension?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: If “team-friendly” is nine figures, yeah, I’d have a tough time turning that down regardless of my earning potential

12:57
Sonny: Do you have any insight on Hosmer letting long contracts linger? Is that Boras blowing smoke or is Hosmer just the biggest Hosmer fan and himself holding out hope some owner will do something incredible and give him his 8 year contract?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: I could see Hosmer/Boras misreading the market, or the perception of his value

12:59
Travis Sawchik: I think an opt-out for Hosmer would make some sense, if he can prove he can make some changes to his bated ball profile

1:00
E: Why don’t vegetables taste as good as cheeseburgers?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: That is a question, isn’t it?

1:01
scottz: Do you ever think these “who says no” posts are from MLB front offices looking to ground-truth their own analyses of offers with an objective source (i.e., you)?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Ha. Wasn’t there a strange possible instance of this in a Sullivan chat earlier this offseason?

1:02
E: How unfair is it that teams are evaluating and offering contracts based on data that the players and agents don’t have access to?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: The public data is pretty good … some of Statcast is public … players know their biometric, data, right? FOs have an information edge, for sure, but players  arent’ in the dark

1:03
A Random Dude: Think the Cubs are going to be out on guys like Cobb now that they have Darvish? He gives them what they needed at the top of the rotation; but what about at the back? Teams need more than just 5 starters and Montgomery…

1:03
Travis Sawchik: I would think so

1:03
Jordan: MLBPA really needs to consider having some agents on the negotiating team for the next CBA, I’m thinking talking heads from all classes of players to help get the players agenda to the table. Boras is a lawyer and an extraordinarily intelligent man, he can see a lot of angles others don’t see right away, if only he would STFU!

1:04
Travis Sawchik: I think there will be an expanded number of voices in the process

1:04
Travis Sawchik: The MLBPA might need some quants, too

1:05
Endy Chavez: “WAR ranks [Archer] at 156 among pitchers (1.2)” What? Is any of that true?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: None of that was true. Archer projected to be a 4-win pitcher

1:05
Matt: Now that the low-hanging fruit of analytics has been plucked by all teams, is it more difficult/impossible for small-market teams to consistently compete? Will we see a salary cap or vastly increased revenue sharing in the next CBA?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Much more difficult but adapting more quickly to new areas of insight can still be powerful

1:06
kevinthecomic: i could see a low-level front office employee using these chats to get some feedback on their ideas before presenting them to the GM — sound career move

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Maybe we need to be verifying identities and usernames

1:06
Matt: Shouldn’t more teams be trying to win?  If 10-12 are not trying to win/tanking, that only leaves 18 for 10 playoff spots.  Seems like there is room for avg/below avg teams to spend a bit & go for a wild card spot.

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Right?

1:06
CamdenWarehouse: Archer had 1.2 bWAR last year.  Poster probably doesn’t grasp projections vs. what he did last year.  or the difference between bWAR and fWAR.

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Ahhh. Maybe that was the reference

1:07
Rockie Dangerfield: Couldn’t a team have their outfield grass slope downward, so that their outfielders would have more time to get to the ball?  We could call it the Warning Trench.

1:08
Travis Sawchik: Some stadiums once had sloped outfield. I think Crosley Field in Cincy did. I assume their are more stringent standards today

1:08
asymmetric warfare: If I had 25 2-win players, would my team be better than the Cubs?

1:09
Travis Sawchik: We have the Cubs at 50.1 projected WAR … so almost

1:10
Erik: Terrible idea to address tanking: expand the playoffs to 30 teams. Can’t aim to miss the playoffs if no one misses the playoffs.

1:10
Travis Sawchik: Everyone’s job is secure!

1:10
Mountie Votto: Reds have gotta be one of the highest variance teams coming into the year, right? The young pitching has a huge range of outcomes, plus some underperforming young position players like Peraza could take the next step (or continue to royally suck)

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Reds are becoming much more interesting which is good

1:11
Travis Sawchik: NL Central is trending up

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, thanks for the great questions

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Until next week … 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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madmanjay
Member
madmanjay

Travis Sawchik: I think expansion would benefit the game and the players … and it will happen in the not too distant future

The pitching sucks enough as it is, screw expansion — they need to contract 2 teams