Burnes becomes the ace in Baltimore

AMERICAN LEAGUE

 

Baltimore Orioles
NEWS: Baltimore acquired RHP Corbin Burnes from Milwaukee in exchange for LHP DL Hall and IF Joey Ortiz.
IMPACT: High
BHQ SPIN: Baltimore fortified its rotation with the addition of Burnes, who figures to slot in as the team’s ace. Before the trade, Baltimore had been set to enter camp with a competition for its fifth rotation spot with Tyler Wells, Cole Irvin, and the departing Hall as the top candidates. While Wells and Irvin are still likely to enter camp stretched out as starters with an outside shot of pushing Dean Kremer for the team’s final rotation spot, both are now far more likely to begin the year in the team’s bullpen. Wells, who pitched well out of the bullpen to close out the 2023 season after being moved from the starting rotation, could figure into the late-inning mix and see hold opportunities, while Irvin is more likely to pitch as a long reliever. In addition to Hall, Baltimore also traded Ortiz, who was set to enter camp with an outside chance of winning a job at one of Baltimore’s two open infield spots (second base and either third base or shortstop depending on where Gunnar Henderson plays). We had only been projecting Ortiz for a small chunk of at-bats, so his departure had a minimal effect on Baltimore’s hitters’ PT projections.
–Williams

Seattle Mariners
NEWS: Seattle acquired RHP Gregory Santos from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for RHP Prelander Berroa and OF Zach DeLoach
IMPACT: High
BHQ SPIN: After earlier this week moving RHP Justin Topa as part of the deal to acquire 2B Jorge Polanco, the Mariners have found another quality bullpen arm in Santos. Before Santos ended his 2023 season with right elbow inflammation, he was considered the closer with the White Sox. Santos keeps the ball on the ground well (53% ground ball rate in 2023) and doesn’t allow many free passes (6% walk rate). His 23% strikeout percentage is average, so he is likely going to slot behind both RHP Andrés Muñoz and RHP Matt Brash for save opportunities. But with health, Santos should be able to procure 20+ holds. With Santos on board, this pushes LHP Gabe Speier and RHP Trent Thornton farther down the bullpen pecking order.  Neither Berroa or DeLoach were expected to have large roles at the major league level for the Mariners and may see a quicker and easier path to playing time with the White Sox.
–Davison

Chicago White Sox
NEWS: Chicago acquired OF Dominic Fletcher from Arizona, signed OF Kevin Pillar to a minor league deal and acquired OF Zach DeLoach, RP Prelander Berroa and a draft pick for reliever Gregory Santos.
IMPACT: High
BHQ SPIN: With Santos gone, the team has a hole at closer. For now, we’ll project John Brebbia in that role with 50% of the saves, but it’s an early read of the tea leaves and things are far from settled. Jimmy Lambert and Tim Hill will each get 20% of the saves in our early projections, while newly acquired Prelander Berroa will get 10%. Berroa is one to keep an eye on. The 23-year-old has a 2.89 ERA and 13.9 K/9 in 65.1 innings with the Mariners' Double-A affiliate in 2023. Fletcher projects as Chicago’s starter in RF and could spell Luis Robert in CF. The 26-year-old appeared in 28 games with ARI in 2023 with a .301/.350/.441 slash to go with two home runs and 14 RBI. Against right-handers, he slashed .369/.423/.523. He gets a healthy 40% bump in PT with the move to Chicago. While we’re waiting for the outfield picture to sort itself out, the moves made by Chicago will leave Gavin Sheets (-30%) and Oscar Colás (-30%) fighting for PT.. DeLoach, 25, slashed .286/.387/.481 with 23 homers and 88 RBI for Triple-A Tacoma last season. He could make the team in a reserve role but will likely be an in-season call-up. At 35 years old, Pillar is a depth piece/clubhouse presence guy at this stage of his career. He hit 9 HR with a .228 BA in 206 AB in 2023 with Atlanta.
Green

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE 

 

Milwaukee Brewers
NEWS: Milwaukee traded RHP Corbin Burnes to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for LHP DL Hall and IF Joey Ortiz
IMPACT: High
BHQ SPIN: After last season’s arbitration hearing, Burnes’ relationship between the Brewers was strained and he was unlikely to re-sign with the team and it was expected he would be traded. Hall could slide into the newly vacated rotation spot. The Brewers likely view Hall as a long-term starter, as he is the highest rated prospect they received in the trade. Hall saw time in the major league bullpen last year and had a 3.26/1.19 ERA/WHIP along with improved control, which has been an issue for him. RHP Colin Rea and RHP Joe Ross are now more likely to be in the Opening Day rotation and Hall, RHP Robert Gasser, RHP Carlos Rodriguez and RHP Jacob Misiorowski will all be competing for the final spot. If Hall doesn’t win a spot, he could slide into high-leverage work in the bullpen. Ortiz is a good defender at multiple infield positions and he could compete this spring at third base. He is more likely a bench bat who can control the strike zone with below average power and speed.
–Davison

San Diego Padres
NEWS: The Padres signed LHP Wandy Peralta to a 4-year, $16.5 million contract.
IMPACT: Medium
BHQ SPIN: While Peralta led the Yankees with 18 holds and pitched to a 2.83 ERA in 54 IP (a second consecutive year with a sub-3.00 ERA), there are reasons to doubt his ability to duplicate this success with the Padres in 2024. A 2023 xERA of 4.06, a low H% (22%), and just a 9% K-BB% (as a result of a 13% BB%), all contribute to some level of concern heading into 2024. Peralta joins fellow lefties Yuki Matsui and Tom Cosgrove, as well as right-handers Robert Suarez, Enyel De Los Santos, Woo-suk Go and Steven Wilson in the crowded back end of a largely overhauled Padres bullpen. We expect all of these pitchers to see matchup-based high leverage opportunities, but for Peralta to solidify a late-inning role he will likely need to improve on a BB% that has averaged 11% over the course of his career, particularly with both the highly touted Matsui and second-year reliever Cosgrove (who earned 7 holds for the Padres in 2023) also both being southpaws.
Gannon

St. Louis Cardinals
NEWS: St. Louis signed RHP Keynan Middleton to bolster their middle relief.
IMPACT: Low
BHQ SPIN: Middleton spent time between the Yankees and White Sox last season while providing his largest volume of innings since 2017. While he’s a longshot for save chances at this point, he could be a valuable piece as part of the bridge to RHP Ryan Helsley if he can repeat last year’s numbers (50.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP).
—Larson

New York Mets
NEWS: The Mets signed Jake Diekman and Shintaro Fujinami each to one-year contracts.
IMPACT: Low
BHQ SPIN: New York filled out the back of its bullpen by signing two pitchers who struggled for most of 2023. Diekman’s first half of 2023 featured a 4.50 ERA and 4.37 xERA. The second half, which included a trade to Tampa, appeared much better—2.20 ERA—but his xERA was actually worse (4.59). Nevertheless, he’s expected to be a source of a considerable number of holds. Early in his career in Japan, Fujinami was quite successful, but his control has been a sore spot for much of his career. In 2023, his season couldn’t have started worse, as he compiled a 9.57 ERA and 5.84 xERA over the first half. His performance improved when Oakland moved him to the bullpen, and that led to a trade to Baltimore. Overall, he wound up with a 4.67 xERA, a 14% BB% and a 25% K rate. Like Diekman, Fujinami does not figure to get saves, but he could pick up holds.
Hertz

Pittsburgh Pirates
NEWS: Pittsburgh signed RHP Wily Peralta to a minor league deal.
IMPACT: Low
BHQ SPIN: Peralta is hoping to find a spot at the end of the Pirates rotation or as a long reliever out of the pen. It’s probably too much to expect Peralta to replicate what he did in 2021 and 2022 with DET (132 IP 2.93 ERA). In 2023 he was with the WAS organization where he had a 6.31 ERA in 102.2 IP with Triple-A Rochester. As far as a rotation spot, two are likely considered “open” at this point with the battle between Luis Ortiz, Bailey Falter, Roansy Contreras and Quinn Priester. In addition, Paul Skenes should arrive at some point in 2024. 
Green

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