When we look back at season’s end, maybe some of these early adds will wind up being game-changers. I know the community is split on whether that is a good or bad thing—but it’s a good thing for me to focus on right now. And I didn’t even participate in this week’s waiver wire run. It’s simply enjoyable to follow along, read all the news about my roster, and consider where I can make it stronger.
If that’s not you and your league, then maybe some of these updates can aid you in yours when you do decide to draft—or when you open up waivers again. Through our first couple of runs, we’ve covered guys like Hunter Harvey, Jordan Montgomery, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ke’Bryan Hayes, to name a few.
Today is brief, with only three transactions in Fake Teams and Friends last night. So I’ll get to dig into each scenario.
The Money Add
cut Deivi Garcia (NYY - P), add Daniel Hudson (Was - P) for $1 — Zack Waxman
Zack cut Matt Manning for Garcia a week ago, and has now cut Garcia for Hudson. And it reads like a savvy couple of churn-and-burn moves, as Garcia appears to be on the outside looking in with regard to this Yankees Opening Day rotation. Gerrit Cole is a lock, and the aggressive projection of a mid-May Opening Day favors the return of James Paxton, too. Any further delay to the season, and that’s only more time for Paxton to work his way back. Add in Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery, and Jonathan Loaisiga, and that’s six men for five spots. Loaisiga looks like reason enough for Garcia to begin the year in Triple-A, as Jonny Lasagna boasts mid-90s heat and a quality curveball. His changeup has had promising swinging strike rates in his two abbreviated seasons, too—27.3% and 21.1%. He could fill the void as a fifth starter until Paxton returns, and then switch to being a long relief option out of the bullpen. If Garcia cracks this team in 2020, I’d think it’s as a reliever...
Hudson is what he is—a really shiny handcuff to Sean Doolittle. And sure, I can see it. Doolittle isn’t renowned for his ability to stay healthy. It’s a fine dart to take. But I’m more interested in why Waxman made this move.
Waxman has Alex Colome, Jose Leclerc, and Keone Kela as his primary saves men. Making a move for Hudson (and cutting Garcia) might have been aided by Waxman’s good news on Spencer Howard, who appears to have the inside track for the fifth starter’s role in Philadelphia. I probably haven’t considered this enough as of yet, but in an abbreviated season MLB teams may have more of a luxury to put their best guys in sooner. Think about it. Say the season was only 81 games...every win will be at a premium. In the case of Howard, the Phillies would have likely limited his innings in 2020, and called him up as an impact arm for the stretch run. However, with a shortened season on tap, they’ll probably have the option of flinging Howard out there as soon as they think he’s ready. Howard pitched 99 1⁄3 innings last season, so he’d likely be able to handle a full workload in a shortened season. That’s a thought I may explore this week. What other guys are there that may get an early call due to a shortened season?
The $0 Adds
cut Shun Yamaguchi (Tor - P), add Yusei Kikuchi (Sea - P) — Ghoji Blackburn
Kikuchi absolutely trashed the back end of my TGFBI rotation in 2019, and I still haven’t forgiven him. But who can say how quickly Yamaguchi will adjust to the MLB game? Kikuchi’s 2019 debacle (5.46 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 6.46 K/9) is a relevant case study. In Kikuchi, though, we get a guy who is only 28 (Yamaguchi is 32) and who theoretically learned some things in his first MLB season. As Yamaguchi is currently projected to begin the year in Toronto’s bullpen, making this switch seems savvy on multiple levels. And as much as I hate to admit it, Kikuchi appears to have a bit of upside heading into 2020...
We always like to point to something specific when searching for a breakout, and Kikuchi’s simplified delivery (and increased velocity) this spring could be what we look back at when the dust finally settles on 2020. I’ll direct you to an intriguing read at SB Nation’s own Lookout Landing, where Jake Mailhot discusses Kikuchi’s spring performance in depth. Long story short, Kikuchi averaged 92.5 mph on his fastball last season, but the adjustments in the spring mean he’s been up around 95 mph with the pitch—and his slider velocity has increased to about 90 mph after sitting around 86 mph last year. It’s something to monitor, at least. I still view Kikuchi as more of a streaming option, but these changes can sometimes stick.
cut Andres Munoz (SD - P), add Orlando Arcia (Mil - SS) — The Last of Us
Last but not least (really) is Orlando Arcia. I really considered this as a depth move initially, as felsenraster (The Last of Us) only has Bo Bichette and part-timer Jon Berti to cover his shortstop position. But apparently Arcia has enjoyed a hot spring, too. I’d say “I can’t believe I missed it,” but the truth is that Arcia hasn’t been on my radar in years. But right now I’ve got nothin’ but time, so it’s time to dig into Orlando Arcia...
In the not too distant past, Arcia was once a top 10 MLB prospect. Still just 25 years old, perhaps the career .243/.292/.360 hitter has finally figured things out? Arcia’s five spring training homers absolutely qualifies as a home run binge, as Arcia has a pint-sized .117 career ISO. So let’s explore. Here’s a quote from Arcia himself, which he shared with Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“It’s part of the work I’ve been doing with the hitting coaches, staying back on my back leg,” Arcia said. “Thankfully, the results have shown that. The main thing I’ve been focusing on is just staying back and finishing high on the swing and just getting into the ball.”
If staying back a bit more helps Arcia drive the ball more, perhaps we’ll see less grounders (career 52.7% rate) and more line drives (read: more hard contact). Arcia already quietly made a few adjustments in 2019, apparently. Generally noted as a free-swinger, Arcia trimmed his swing rate to an average 47.6% rate in 2019. That was accompanied by a career-best 10.6% swinging strike rate and career-high 77.5% contact rate. For reference, the average MLB contact rate in 2019 was 76.2%. Arcia was also exactly average with an 84.9% zone contact rate. Add in last year’s career-best 7.9% walk rate, and maybe there’s some hope he fends off Luis Urias and puts it all together? Maybe? At the very least, driving the ball more alongside being more judicious when he swings sounds like a good recipe.
The obvious caveat is that shortstop is stupid-deep and you’d need to be in dire straits to take a dart on him. But if you’re a Brewers fan, maybe you can be just a tad bit excited about the prospects of Arcia turning into an adequate MLB hitter. After all, if last year’s career-worst .253 BABIP normalizes and the walk rate holds, maybe he bats .250 with double-digit homers and steals. I could see it.
Okay ladies and gents...any further down the Orlando Arcia rabbit-hole and I might go a little bit crazy. It’s time to wrap this thing up. Let me know what you think of the adds, and whether or not your league is still running waivers—or still drafting at all. For me, I say let the good times roll. What else are we doing right now?