PT TODAY: Moreno, Gurriel head to Arizona



NEWS: Arizona traded catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays for catcher Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.


BHQ SPIN: Moreno is one of the top catching prospects in baseball and Gurriel Jr. has been one of the more solid outfield options since his debut in 2018. Moreno has a shot at beginning the year on the major league roster and should quickly relieve Carson Kelly of his starting role. The 22-year-old features a very promising bat that produced a 120 wRC+ (267 PA) at Triple-A and a 113 wRC+ (73 PA) in his cup of coffee in 2022. His defensive capabilities are also impressive, giving him an All-Star caliber ceiling. The Dbacks employ a glut of outfielders, but Gurriel Jr. will add to that by playing every day in left field. He will feature prominently in the lineup having produced an above-average 115 wRC+ during his five-year career. The move likely pushes Ketel Marte back to second base, leaving Corbin Carroll and Jake McCarthy to patrol the other outfield slots.



NEWS: Philadelphia agreed to terms with veteran closer Craig Kimbrel.

IMPACT: Medium

BHQ SPIN: Kimbrel gives the Phillies another late inning option. For now, we’re penciling him in for 50% of the team’s saves with Seranthony Domínguez and Jose Alvarado also projected to get some. Kimbrel has been up and down the last couple of seasons. In 2021, he had a 2.80 xERA and a 204 BPV. Last season, his xERA jumped over a run and his BPV was a much more mundane 109. In addition, his K-BB% of 17% in 2022 was a career low and was barely half of his 2021 number. If those trends continue, Kimbrel’s contributions as a late-inning reliever may suffer considerably.



NEWS: Chicago signed LHP Drew Smyly to a two-year contract, including an opt-out after the first year and a mutual option for a third year, and agreed to terms with C Tucker Barnhart on a two-year contract.

IMPACT: Medium

BHQ SPIN: Smyly should slot into the back end of the Cubs rotation when he is healthy. However, it is fair to question the left-hander’s durability given his extensive injury history, which most recently included missed time due to shoulder and oblique ailments in 2022. Smyly’s return to Chicago significantly decreases the chance that Hayden Wesneski, Adrian Sampson, Keegan Thompson, or Javier Assad can crack Chicago’s opening-day rotation. With Smyly in tow, the most likely path to one of the aforementioned pitchers opening the year in the rotation is if Kyle Hendricks is not fully recovered from the shoulder surgery that ended his 2022 season.

After struggling mightily in his only season as a Tiger in 2022 (.554 OPS compared to a .680 career OPS), Barnhart will have an opportunity to bounce back in Chicago while likely entering a timeshare at the catcher position with Yan Gomes. The Cubs’ willingness to sign Barnhart to a multi-year deal despite his offensive struggles in 2022 could signify how highly they believe in his ability as a game-caller and defender, which would bode well for his chances to have at least half of the timeshare. The switch-hitting Barnhart has hit righties better during his career, while the right-handed Gomes has been a better hitter against lefties, making the pair a possible fit as platoon partners. For now, we’ve projected the Cubs’ catcher position as a near split between Barnhart and Gomes, with Barnhart getting a slight edge in projected plate appearances due to the possibility of being on the strong side of a platoon.



NEWS: San Francisco reportedly signed reliever Taylor Rogers to a three-year, $33M deal and reportedly agreed to terms with outfielder Michael Conforto on a two-year, $36M contract with an opt-out after the first season.


BHQ SPIN: Making up for missed opportunities so far this offseason, the Giants brought aboard the top left-handed reliever and the best remaining bat. Rogers will join his twin brother in SF where he will factor into the saves conversation. His chief competition will be incumbent closer Camilo Doval. At this time, it’s difficult to tell whether the younger, more electric right-hander will split opportunities with Rogers, but for now, the left-hander likely has the upper hand because of his experience in the role. However, it will be pertinent that he pitches to his first-half form (2.84 ERA, 31.2 IP through June) instead of his second-half form (6.61 ERA, 32.2 IP through the end of the season) if he wants to maintain his grasp on the ninth inning.

Conforto missed all of 2022 after he failed to sign a contract in free agency and instead underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. After the extended absence, he should be healthy enough to be a corner outfielder on the Opening Day roster. With his lack of fielding prowess, he will shuffle through the designated hitter role as well and is at risk of being platooned against left-handed starters. The Giants’ offense isn’t deep, so expect to see him in the middle of the lineup on a nearly everyday basis as he looks to return to producing at the 127 wRC+ level at which he played from 2017-21.



NEWS: Cincinnati signed OF Wil Myers and C Curt Casaili to one-year contracts.  

IMPACT: Medium

BHQ SPIN: Myers, 32, comes over from the Padres and likely slots into the lineup as a full-timer in Cincinnati, mostly in right field but also could see some occasional starts at first base. He’s not logged more than 500 PA since 2017 due to injuries (has a “D” Health grade), but still has some power (120 xPX) that should play in Great American Ballpark. He’s a low-cost, low-risk end-of-roster fantasy filler at this point. Casaili will compete for backup catcher time with Luke Maile behind starter Tyler Stephenson and has very limited fantasy value.




Blue Jays

NEWS: Toronto acquired OF Daulton Varsho from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for OF Lourdes Gurriel and C Gabriel Moreno.


BHQ SPIN: In a single move the Blue Jays accomplished two of their off season goals. Varsho adds a much needed left-handed bat to the lineup, while dealing away the highly regarded prospect Moreno frees up the playing time log jam at the catcher position.  Expect Varsho to spend most of his time in the outfield where he will team with Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer.  He may still see a few starts behind the plate, but Danny Jansen will own the majority of the ABs as a catcher with Alejandro Kirk splitting between C and DH duties.    


Red Sox

NEWS: Boston agrees to a two-year contract with Justin Turner.


BHQ SPIN: Turner stands to inherit most of the playing time created with the departure in free agency of J.D. Martinez (DH, LA), though Turner brings a bit more defensive versatility to the table and could be used to spell either Rafael Devers at third base or allow Triston Casas to dodge a particularly difficult lefty at first. As noted in the Baseball Forecaster, Turner’s bat-to-ball skills are holding up just fine, despite his advanced age, and he should lose next to nothing in the power department in the move from Dodger Stadium (+22% RHB HR) to Fenway (+23% RHB HR).



NEWS: Baltimore acquired C James McCann from the Mets.

IMPACT: Medium

BHQ SPIN: McCann was acquired to serve as the primary backup for Adley Rutschman, who will likely move to the designated hitter spot in a fair amount of games that McCann catches. McCann will try to rebound from the worst offensive season of his career in 2022, an injury-riddled season in which he missed time for a broken hamate bone and oblique strain. Despite the down year in 2022, McCann has a career .258/.325/.452 slash line against lefties, giving him a chance to see some designated hitter at-bats if a left-hander is on the mound. Depending on which hitters the team opts to keep on the bench, McCann could also become the primary backup at first base as well. As such, we’ve given him an additional allocation of projected at-bats at both designated hitter and first base.



NEWS: Texas again bolsters their rotation, agreeing to terms with veteran Nathan Eovaldi on a multi-year deal.


BHQ SPIN: The Rangers continued their drastic rotation overhaul, and this signing likely affects the bullpen, too. Assuming health—a large assumption with Eovaldi—the 34-year-old righty will slide into the middle of the TEX rotation. Thus, recent trade acquisition Jake Odorizzi will likely move into a swingman/bullpen role of some sort, and others, including Dane Dunning, Cole Ragans, and Glenn Otto, appear to be pushed further down the depth chart. The consistent Eovaldi has posted ERAs in the high 3s for three straight seasons and four of the last five, but he’s also missed time to injury in four of those last five seasons, including a 2-month-plus stretch last year with back and shoulder woes. That makes the Rangers’ newfound SP depth all the more important, as most of their currently penciled-in rotation carries a similar injury risk. You can all but count on the likes of Odorizzi and Dunning making starts for TEX this year.



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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.