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BCB Mailbag 37: Unwrapping the gift of free agency

Answering the burning questions from you, the reader.

Washington Nationals v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Hello everyone! I had a hell of a day navigating through northern Wisconsin while performing my machine repairs in Shawano and Marinette today, but I am now safely home for the long holiday weekend. That means it’s time to answer your questions:

joeybal56 asks:

Do you think the Brewers will sign Darvish or Arrieta? Personally I think that is a mistake.

I don’t expect the Brewers to sign either player, no. But I wouldn’t characterize bringing on either as a “mistake”, at least not before they would even get the chance to take the mound for Milwaukee. The Brewers raised the floor of their starting rotation this week with the signings of Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo, but they still are lacking that impact arm at the front end of their pitching staff. After their signings this week the Brewers still only project for about $67 mil in payroll in 2018, so even if they added another $25 mil for Darvish or Arrieta they wouldn’t even cross the $100 mil threshold. It’s important to remember, too, that in free agency the goal is to come out even in terms of $/WAR over the course of the deal, not necessarily in each individual season. So if the Brewers shell out, say, 4 years/$100 mil for Arrieta or Darvish and he puts up WAR totals of 5-3-2-1 over the course of the deal, the total amount of value generated (11 WAR) would still justify the total expenditure, even though the last two years weren’t as productive as the first two. It doesn’t sound as though David Stearns is willing to meet the current prices for either hurler, but if one or both continue to linger on the market and the asking rate drops as we near Spring Training, I wouldn’t be surprised to the Brewers get involved.

nanook1207 asks:

What do you think of the Chacin deal?

Jaymes took an excellent look at Chacin shortly after reports of the signing broke, and I wholeheartedly agree with the final sentiment from his post: “it has the makings of a really good deal.” The two-year deal is for the same guaranteed money as the Cardinals gave Miles Mikolas - $15.5 mil. But instead of taking a risk on someone returning from (an admittedly dominant run in) a foreign league, the Brewers got a soon-to-be 30 year old with a 3.93 ERA in parts of nine big league seasons and who has pitched 324.1 innings over the last two years with a 92 DRA- over the last two seasons. Chacin doesn’t have the highest ceiling and I don’t expect him to pitch like an All-Star, but he certainly looks like a good bet to provide useful innings for a reasonable rate.

minheo51 asks:

Will Domingo Santana sustain his growth from 2017 or regress like Villar did?

Personally, I feel pretty good about Domingo Santana’s offense going forward. His 2017 season was the actualization of all the “high-strikeout, 30+ home run power” profiles slapped on him as a prospect as he batted .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs and 15 steals across 607 plate appearances for a 126 wRC+. He did do that with a 29.3% strikeout rate and .363 BABIP, but if he can continue his high line drive rates (26.8% career) and hard contact rates (38.2%) he ought to be able to continue posting high BABIP totals in the coming seasons. Even if Santana does regress some, I wouldn’t expect him to be any worse than the 111 wRC+ and 17 home runs (with a .343 BABIP) that he compiled during his first 115 games as a Brewer in 2015-16.

icelandreliant asks:

What’s your favorite fast food restaurant little known in Wisconsin?

Pretty much every Army base has a Church’s Chicken and a Charley’s Grilled Subs and I grew to like both of those places quite a bit during my time in service. There’s only four Church’s locations and five Charley’s locations in the great state of Wisconsin, so I don’t have much opportunity to eat at either place anymore.

Jack Stern asks:

Do you think the Brewers will convert Yovani Gallardo to relief?

I don’t see him making a start in 2018.

Gallardo will be competing for a spot on the team come Spring Training, and if he does make it I expect it will be in a swingman sort of capacity. He struggled last season, but as we explored earlier this week there were some encouraging signs in Gallardo’s performance that help provide some reason for optimism in 2018. As things stand right now, Gallardo would be competing with the likes of Junior Guerra, Brent Suter, Aaron Wilkerson, Brandon Woodruff, and perhaps Taylor Jungmann for the final two spots in the starting rotation. If he doesn’t win that battle, I expect Gallardo would probably be one of the top candidates for spot-start duty when someone inevitably gets hurt at some point in 2018.

drezdn asks:

What's the best Christmas gift you ever received?

Growing up, my family didn’t take a lot of big trips. My dad is a police officer and my mom stayed at home with us for most of my childhood, and when they would take my three sisters and I on vacation it was usually a few day trip to the Wisconsin Dells. So it was pretty amazing when on Christmas Day in 2000, after I had just turned 9, the girls and I each unwrapped a rolling suitcase with a plane ticket to Orlando inside. It was our first time flying, and we spent a week at the Nickelodeon Hotel while visiting Disney World and Universal Studios. My cousin Matthew (who would later serve as best man in my wedding) and his brother and parents joined us on the trip, which made it even more fun for all us kids.

Thanks for all the great questions this time around, everyone! Thanks to you all for reading, participating, and contributing to our great site throughout an exciting 2017, and here’s hoping each of you can enjoy this holiday season with the ones you love the most.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus