Winter Meetings Recap, Day 1: Yes, this is still (virtually) happening

Like everything else this year, MLB’s winter meetings are much different this year. COVID-19 has halted the typical big name hotel gathering, and instead, this year’s meeting are going to be held virtually. How much that affects the amount of free agent and trade activity this week remains to be seen, but the safe bet is that things will be much quieter than usual. Nonetheless, there are a few newsworthy items to share today. Let’s get to them.

Yomiuri Giants post Tomoyuki Sugano

Add another starting pitcher to the free agent list. I don’t know anything about him, so rather than aggregate a bunch of information on him, I’ll leave FanGraphs’ scouting report on him here:

Sugano has a 2.34 career ERA in seven NPB seasons, all as a starter. In 2020 (at age-31), his fastball velo gained a tick on average, and now sits parked at 93 mph. It is one of five offerings in Sugano’s arsenal, the best of which are his splitter (which he threw more of this season) and a slider that’s a 45-grade pitch in a vacuum but plays because Sugano locates it so consistently. He has sort of an odd windup. His torso rotates clockwise while his hips and lower half remain stationary, almost like the two halves of a twisted Oreo coming apart, before things normalize and look like a typical delivery. It’s a little deceptive and, along with fantastic command, helps Sugano’s average stuff play. He’ll likely plug into the middle of a major league rotation immediately.

So, Sugano is more of a command-over-stuff pitcher from the sounds of it. Based on the write up, I definitely wouldn’t expect him to dominate MLB hitters in the way he shut down his NPB opponents, but he certainly seems like he’d help the Yankees rotation.

Angels acquire Raisel Iglesias

The Reds have made its offseason strategy clear: cut costs. After the team non-tendered Archie Bradley and Brian Goodwin last week, the Reds dealt reliever Raisel Iglesias to the Angels for Noé Ramirez and a player to be named later. Cincinnati even kicked in an undisclosed amount of cash too. This is a headscratcher.

Iglesias, 31 next month, is due just over $9 million next year and will be a free agent thereafter. He’s got a stellar 3.15 ERA and 28.4 percent strikeout rate in over 400 big league innings. He’s also recorded 106 saves in 122 opportunities (86.9 percent). Meanwhile, Ramirez is a pretty mediocre reliever albeit with three seasons of control. The righty did have a 3.00 ERA in 21 innings this season, albeit with not so great peripherals (16.5 percent strikeout rate and 10.6 percent walk rate).

It’s a nice pickup for the Angels who desperately need to figure out how to win with Mike Trout still in his prime. In the meantime, the Yankees should be in touch with the Reds to see who else they’re looking to salary dump. Sonny Gray reunion, anyone? I’m serious.

Dodgers, among others, eyeing DJ LeMahieu

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on DJ LeMahieu’s strong market, which now includes in the Dodgers in the running. He’d presumably become the team’s third baseman and replace Justin Turner. The defending champs aren’t the only other suitors for LeMahieu, of course. Passan also relays the Mets and Blue Jays as other teams involved.

It’s a tad concerning to see the Dodgers thrown into the ring, but on the bright side, Passan also says that retaining LeMahieu is the Yankees’ top priority this winter. We already know that DJLM likes playing here and wants to stay. Now it’s just a matter of the Yankees meeting his market.

No universal DH in 2021

There won’t be a designated hitter in the National League in 2021, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Perhaps that changes in the coming weeks, but for now, it’s not very good news for a number of free agents on the market. Players like Nelson Cruz, Marcell Ozuna, and Kyle Schwarber will see their markets shrink as a result. On the flipside, this could help out the Yankees should they go after Schwarber.

Dick Allen passes away

Last but not least, some sad news to pass along. Former NL Rookie of the Year (1964), AL MVP (1972), and seven-time All Star Dick Allen passed away at the age of 78. He played most of his career with the Phillies, though he won his MVP award with the White Sox in ’72.

Though I know the name, Allen played well before my time and I can’t say I’m totally familiar with him. But there are a couple of good pieces I’ll point to to help get you up to speed if you’re also in my shoes: Shakeia Taylor’s piece a couple of years back at FanGraphs and an excerpt from Jay Jaffe’s Cooperstown Casebook.

What quickly becomes clear from reading more about Allen: he’s one of the best players not to make it to the Hall. It’s a shame that he did not live to be enshrined, because it seems like he will sooner or later. He came up just one vote short in Golden Era Committee voting in 2014.


Non-Tender Contenders: Bradley and Dahl


Brett Gardner pulled us back in [2020 Season Review]


  1. DZB

    In other news, Lance Lynn is off the board, so there goes one of the really attractive options for a win-now NYY

  2. Mungo

    A potential issue with bringing DJLM back is there are at least two high-revenue teams (Dodgers and Mets), if not three (toss in the Blue Jays, who have cash to burn this offseason), are interested in his services, which will absolutely increase his price. The Blue Jays, who seem connected to every free agent this winter, would love to take him away from the Yankees since they play in the same division, and certainly the Cohen-led Mets would view it as a win to steal a player from the Yankees in the New York market. The Yankees can go toe-to-toe with any team when they want, but there is a point where you have to walk away because it will impact their ability to make moves. We can pretend all we want that the Yankees have the financial ability to outbid any team, but the reality is they operated within the CBA framework and clearly seem intent on getting under the luxury tax threshold. Sucks, but DJLM going elsewhere is a strong possibility.

    Sugano? I am curious how the Yankees are going to fill three rotation spots, and that ties into DJLM. It won’t be cheap. Are they going to go with two rookies? I’d suggest they slot Garcia and Schmidt for the 6th and 7th rotation spots, meaning Scranton, but not sure that’s their plan. They likely are planning on Garcia to take one of the open rotation spots. Recent history says the Yankees will sidestep someone like Sugano. He’s not enough high end for them to risk it, but this might be a year they have to be more creative.

    • DZB

      I hope the NYY get a little edge with DJ in that I suspect he likes being on the team and doesn’t necessarily want to move again right away. This is obviously his last big contract opportunity, so he will also want to maximize his value, but he strikes me as a guy who won’t take an offer elsewhere unless it comes with a decent sized premium (either way he will be insanely wealthy).

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