Behold the Ides of January

As a friend of the blog, Old Pro, has been preaching for a while, January 15, 2021, is a potentially critical day in this year’s offseason. This is a date when two things will occur, one of which is mildly important and one of which is quite a bit more important….or could be.

Arbitration

The mildly important deadline on Friday is that it is the day when teams and players exchange arbitration figures for 2021.

Per MLB Trade Rumors, the guesstimates on the eventual salary for the three Astros eligible for arbitration is as follows:

  • Carlos Correa. Between $8 MM and 10.2 MM – Note Carlos was in line for $8 MM in 2020 and due to the reduced schedule made approx. $3 MM
  • Aledmys Diaz. Between $2.8 MM and 3.1 MM – Aledmys was due to make $2.6 MM in 2020 and due to the reduced schedule made approx. $1 MM
  • Lance McCullers Jr. Between $4.7 MM and 7 MM – Lance was due to make $4.1 MM in 2020 and due to the reduced schedule made approx. $1.5 MM

Correa and McCullers had healthy seasons where they played the whole 60 game schedule. And of course, that is the rub. Can you tell how durable guys are who have missed a lot of time when they are asked to play a short schedule? In Diaz’s case, he continued his trend of missing time due to injury. Correa and McCullers played OK, but not at their best during the short 2020, but of course, Carlos went bat guano crazy in the playoffs.

A totally unscientific guess at their salaries for 2021 is Correa ($9.5 MM), Diaz ($2.8 MM) and McCullers ($6 MM). But as can be seen, this is not a really critical situation. Likely these salaries will fall within a few million of what the team has planned for in 2021. The most interesting thing facing the teams and players is how the heck these numbers will be figured out. The record for most players going to arbitration, e.g. not settling with the teams, is 35. It is a good bet that that number will be threatened this year just due to uncertainty and different points of view on what the short season meant.

International Signings

The part of this day that is possibly more important is that it is the start of the “2020” International signing period. This was supposed to begin on July 2nd, but like most things this year, it was postponed. Now, if the Astros don’t sign anyone on the first day it does not mean it is all over since the signing period runs for 11 months until Dec. 15 of this year. There are six teams that have a pool of about $6.4 MM to spend, eight more that have about $5.9 MM and twelve that have about $5.3 MM including the Astros. There are four others that have reduced pools for various reasons including the Braves who had their pool cut because they were – gasp – cheating in their international signings.

The Astros have been long linked to Cuban OF Pedro Leon, but of course, they could go in another direction or bring in a number of different players from this pool. Here is one list of the top prospects out there.

Top Baseball International Prospects | MLB.com

Leon is shown as the 7th overall player on the list and the second outfielder. As a point of comparison, Leon was playing in the CNS (Cuban National Series) league, the same one Yuli Gurriel played in for many years. As 20-year-olds – here is how their numbers compared….

2019 – Leon (in 33 games) – 33 runs/ 15 HRs/ 36 RBIs/ .383 BA/ .467 OBP/ 1.256 OPS

2004-05 – Gurriel (in approx. 90 games) – 80 runs/ 23 HRs/ 86 RBIs/ .341 BA/ .398 OBP/ 1.006 OPS

So, both players put up excellent numbers and in a much smaller sample Leon’s results were a bit better than Gurriel’s.

What is interesting is that the #1 prospect on this list Yoelqui Cespedes (AKA Yoelkis), who has a better pedigree than Leon being the half brother of star Yoenis Cespedes has lesser numbers at the same age.

2018-2019 – Cespedes (21 games) – 4 runs/ 0 HRs/ 7 RBIs/ .315 BA/ .355 OBP/ . 744 OPS

It would be exciting if the Astros are able to reel in Leon and then put him out in their fairly empty outfield some time in 2021. That is the type of move that makes up for not having the 4 draft choices the Astros gave up a year ago.

So, tomorrow could be a very big day for the Astros or perhaps the precursor to some great international signing(s) in this off-season.

 

55 comments on “Behold the Ides of January

  1. I felt from last January that the Astros would try to find a way to get that first round pick back that Manfred took from them. A month later, the Astros held a private workout for Leon hours before the other teams were going to arrive for his public workout. The Astros had an agreement to give him a big bucks signing bonus and they got their guy who they saw as a first round pick.
    In May, Manfred did what he could to mess up their plans by putting off the international signing date.
    Friday morning we will find out if anything changes.
    I always thought the Astros would use Leon as one of the replacement outfielders for the three who were going to leave.
    Kyle Tucker’s burst of productivity would take the second spot, leaving the Astros to find a third outfielder to go with the rest of a really good veteran team for 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I’m wrong about them signing him I will probably be looking for an island somewhere to whither away my remaining days as a retired failed sports blogger. Might be getting back to you about this.
      I will add that I hope that Leon has spent the last 11 months doing productive stuff and that time wasn’t spent waiting to get sent to the minors.
      I have no contacts with the Astros. Only have the internet and a little bandaid on my arm from this afternoon’s vaccination. Feel pretty good about this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vaccine! It’s a start. Not perfect, has its detractors, but it is a game changer if distribution and acceptance happens. 1OP, we’ve presently got 2 (two) Covid cases in our tiny country of 60,000, apparently the lowest per capita infection rate in the Western Hemisphere. And if you want to get into the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, you’ve got to jump tough hoops, including a strict, 14 day quarantine once on the ground, with multiple tests before entering what is essentially a Covid free environment. We’re pretty damn fortunate here, although our tourism based economy is obviously at a standstill. So we need the vaccine too. I hope it comes soon. In the meantime, let’s get our man Leon inked.

        Liked by 1 person

    • When we got to the Fairgrounds there were hundreds of cars in line. We got there a half an hour ahead of our appointments. The cops and national guardsmen were all over keeping things moving and giving out information to us and the line moved fast. We parked our car five minutes after my appointment and 25 minutes before my wife’s. But we walked in and they had everything ready for us and we waited inside the building for 15 minutes and she went first and I went next and it worked like a fine tuned machine. We got our shots and were out of there in less than two hours and there were several thousand people getting their shots there today.

      Like

    • Baseball America also once called Yordan Alvarez one of the best athletes in our system HaHa!

      I will be surprised if he plays in HOU in 2021. Pleasantly, mind you.

      Being lazy, is it reporting that we are paying him the orig commitment?

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      • They are reportedly giving him $4 MM, which is the number I’ve seen reported before.
        Taking a different tack on Yordan, don’t you think you have to be a heck on an athlete to put up his 2019 numbers with bum knees?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Very Good point, Dan!

        I was thinking more one-sided in his general coordination in the field. Having watched him in AAA, he wasn’t much of a 1B, and his OF (on bum knees now we know!) looked more awkward than painful.

        Anyway, Baseball America and Ben Badler do a good job. Sad we have to pay to hear general info, but there it is.

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  2. I will wait to hear from Click about how they will use Leon.
    His workout last February was in the Dominican Republic. If he stayed there afterwards, I have a feeling the Astros were able to observe his work over the past 11 months. He is getting the biggest bonus so far. I’m pretty sure, at his age, that means the Astros are very happy with him.

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      • Ha, ha. Pleased to have Pedro in the mix. But now I’m going to temper my expectations. I was thinking the new Mickey Mantle in center, but I’m hoping Leon will be better defensively.

        GoStros1, how does Spencer Morris project Leon as a “volatile, streaky” ballplayer? Are there really deep stats that support this description, or dare I ask, could this more of an unfortunate presumption of a prototypical fiery, Latin disposition? Who knows, maybe there are some scouting reports that let Spencer off the hook. Any feedback?

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      • Oh, yes, Spencer is quite a guru.
        He’s more of a Marlins expert, too — that’s how impressive his Astros knowledge is. He covers the drafts very well and has an opinion on many prep players. He’d know more because B/A has published quite a lot, and there are scouts reporting on the comments Op brought up about what’s going on lately. Sometimes I can verify them: on De la Cruz nobody has gotten back on why he was shutdown; sometimes they comment.

        It’s kind of like the Jairo Solis question (big things expected). Some say he will start in 2022, and I say he is serious consideration later this year. It’s 50/50 on Leon being that far ahead for Sept call up.

        In 2021, Sugar Land has Chas McCormick, Stephen Wrenn, Bryan De la Cruz, Jake Meyers and Ronnie Dawson. Therefore, let’s see Pedro hit 96 mph in Corpus first, then we’ll talk.

        The Astros may however start to set a precedence and PLAY the big money quicker. That would signal to Korey Lee and Colin Barber they could also be in the picture sooner? It’s a good question right now.

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  3. Apparently LeMahieu gets $90M for 5 years to stay in NY. I think that’s further confirmation that all free agents are depressed about the state of offers this season. Furthermore, I always assumed rumblings that Springer was upset the team held him in the minors to extend their control were both true and something the team could overcome with legitimate extension or new contract offers given his affinity for his teammates, but he has to be really angry at the team and his misfortune for entering FA a year later than his minor league performance would have justified.

    I post the above mostly to complain, but also to point out that if Leon is legit then Click should make all efforts to get him into a productive role as soon as possible. There is no telling what the minor league season is going to look like at this point, anyhow.

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    • I wrote DJL was going to give Yanks a sweetheart deal all along. Shopping it for a brief period probably did confirm what we all suspected of the Dark Winter spending freeze.

      Springer for me never would have extended if all that lingered. My thoughts on order of his reasoning:

      1. Wifey.
      2. His family.
      3. GET OUT OF DODGE with cheating talk.
      4. Championships
      5. Money

      This is based on all the interviews I’ve read. Bottom line, like Cole, when no talks in Spring preceeding, his mind was already made up to test. If you’re going that far, and HOU offers QO, writing has LONG been on the wall.

      Let’s get some new blood in here?! Check out this comment/reply:

      Barber
      Read that they comp Barber to Bregman in terms of competitiveness/work ethic, thats gotta be a great sign, mayber he gets a shot late this season/september call up? He probably would have played AA sometime last season in a normal year and if he has the bregman drive then I bet he worked his ass off last year

      Maybe they just need a place holder this year, then trot out tucker/leon/barber in 2022…

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    • A slight raise from last year’s $2.6m.

      Here’s a guy that probably hasn’t had a fair shake from the original plans that he’d spell Correa’s “back issues,” etc. I believe this year he’ll fill more of that Marwin role, if we don’t add another OF.

      He must also be a great clubhouse guy, and one of the big reasons Luhnow chose him in order to trade what could potentially be a souring JD Davis riding the pine in 2019. I’d like to see Diaz put together a few weeks of starts for once.

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    • Boy, what deal LMJ had $4.1m to re-hab.

      I have mixed emotions about attempting to re-sign him. How about you?

      Sure seems like Astros would have at least inquired with Boras/McCullers about adding a year or two. But I suppose it would be crazy from the player to negotiate without a clear plan for fans in the seats (and the timing of having to make an immediate decision).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Negotiations with LMJ have always appeared to be very affable. I think it would be fair for both sides to se how he performs the first half of the year and then see if they can come up with a plan for the future.

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  4. Did you notice that the Yankees’ Judge and the Dodgers’ Bellinger get their own separate articles on MLBTR about their arb settlements. Everyone else gets grouped in an article together?
    Move along, no national bias to see there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And in more disrespect to fly over country – Josh Bell with the Nationals and Edwin Diaz with the Mets get their own arbitration settlement article on MLBTradeRumors

      Liked by 1 person

    • Always remember that MLBTraderumors is a fan site. It’s reached legitimacy, but expecting equal treatment for our club would be like expecting a Minnesota Twins fanblog to post weekly articles on Alex Bregman.

      Like

  5. Hot take coming….

    I’m grateful for what Springer did whilst here. That said…I’m not shedding any tears over him leaving (whenever he does sign with someone else). My thing is, if someone wants to leave that badly, and are that unhappy over money (never mind the legit gripe over cheating, for which I don’t blame him one bit…certainly a better reason than greed), let ‘em go and replace them with someone who actually wants to be there. Besides,the streakiness got old fast. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, if his decision to leave is based on money, then he has no gripe about the Astros getting that extra year of service out of him to try and increase his value to them. He made $50 million salary plus his signing bonus while with the Astros.
      What I think he does have a legit gripe about is that they moved him to RF for years after he arrived, while grooming him in CF for all the time he was in the minors. I always disliked that move and believe he did too.

      Liked by 3 people

    • As I said before, Luhnow could do what he does with any sports team.

      Also, I would do everything I can to let “See BS” know that I could care less about their disgraceful opinions from a news organization. Talk about inciting anger for the purpose of clickbait. It’s actually NOT OK to keep writing this drivel.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You know what I think could happen to the Astros outfield? I think they are going to bring Straw, McCormick, Leon, De La Cruz, and Siri to ST and let those 5 guys fight it out for the two starting outfield spots and the two outfield reserve spots.
    Siri just homered again for his team in the DOWL Championship series and his team is up 4-0 in the 5th inning.

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    • Serious contenders this Spring Training:
      De la Cruz, Dawson, Leon, Meyers while
      Tucker, Straw, Diaz, Siri/or McCormick make OD

      AAA: Siri, Dawson, De la Cruz, Wrenn
      (Soon Dawson and Wrenn fall off)
      AA: Meyers Leon Taylor Barber Julks
      (Meyers and Leon move up first)
      A+: McKenna Brewer Orr Adolph CJ Stubbs
      (End of the line McKenna and Adolph)

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  7. The Astros offered Correa $9.75 MM and Correa wanted $12.5 MM – I think that the team’s number is closer to reality – this will be interesting.
    Let’s face it – Correa made $8 MM and in the current financial situation a 20+% raise makes a lot more sense than a 50+% raise.

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    • He’s worth every penny. $12.5m was my guess too.
      Not getting this number right between parties is the first parting shot, imo.

      1. Either playing the season out with sour taste, QO and getting the pick; or
      2. trade is brewing under these skies.

      He may not win that arbitration, though.
      I know that players and Owners know this is a bit of a game, but it has the makings of sealing the eventual deal.

      We should seriously be shopping him for the 25m of value he portends in 2021 on top of that $10m or whatever they settle on. He’s easily a 5 WAR player.

      MIA Marlins are stocked so full of great prospects, we should be talking to them! Kim Ng and Jeter will attract Beltran bingo bango.

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  8. Why would you send a guy to AA when two years ago, as a 20 year old, he tore up a Cuban league that is rated at least a AAA league? Does a .383 BA and 15 HRs in 33 games in the highest Cuban league not say anything to you?
    I’m sorry, but why would he stick with the Astros for all this time if he thought they were going to demote him to Corpus Christi. To me that is a slap in his face.
    An insult!

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    • International is a little iffy, Op. Let’s see what we have first.
      As stated, he’s got to hit Tyler Ivey, Forrest Whitley and Jairo Solis first. Then we’ll know if he can start in Sugar Land. If he can prove better than Stephen Wrenn in Spring, then I give him a slot on the Skeeters, yes. I’d be willing to bet all my acorns though he won’t start Opening Day, and I’d be ecstatic if he gets called up this year. I’ve got a bottle of rum I’ll bet ya when dave makes it state side!

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      • He hit those kind of pitchers in Cuba.
        He’ll be 23 in May and I don’t want them to treat him like a kid. I don’t think you are giving his talent enough consideration.

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      • Remember that Yordan came out of that same league and was the ROY at 22.
        He did play in the minors some but that was due to his age when he left Cuba

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      • Yes, yes, I’ve considered these things.
        I suppose the difference is the talent I see in front of him, simple as that.
        And it really doesn’t matter the name on back of the jersey, as long as we get the production from the position.
        He got #4 btw! Astros have big plans for him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gurriel was much more polished, and Leon is not a big kid. Whether his 5th tool Power translates, and frankly his Hit tool, is yet to be determined. What is the issue here, fellas? It is generally agreed from many scouts that Pedro Leon is NOT ready to walk in and play MLB. If he is, then he will surprise a great many smart guys. More power to him and Astros.

        But ya know what? I say more power to Jake Meyers who will run through a wall. Let the Try-Outs begin! I’m on record saying Bryan De la Cruz will debut before Pedro Leon. Don’t blame me for rooting for the underdog — in the end I only care about winning and putting the best team on the field. Reality is, that’s not always possible, because juggling a roster demands that you don’t lose someone like Cionel Perez, even if Blake Taylor is better.

        Maybe we want to get some trade value for Dawson, so he comes up before anyone? We paid $1m for him as well as development. Do you just forget about him and call it a loss? The answer is wait-and-see where we are after Spring. I doubt Leon is presently as advanced as any projected AAA outfielder, but all he has to do is show out better than Stephen Wrenn to begin in Sugar land. If he’s better than McCormick and Siri, then he makes OD.

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    • Did you see the veil threat Manfred made on Gladstone’s son?! How is the lawsuit against the teams when it was the league that made the decision to cancel the sites? It’s like MLB left the teams to handle the lawsuits without any thought for the fans who invested time and loyalty. Shocking.

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      • Yes its repugnant – the owner of the team dies from Covid and Manfred sends the son condolences while also semi threatening them to not speak publicly about the contraction process or else. All heart

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  9. Click’s plan for Baez:

    Liked by 1 person

  10. For you Realmuto fans..

    The Phillies have made a five-year offer worth “slightly” more than $100MM to free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto.

    If we can’t afford one year of Castro, JTR was never a consideration!

    Like

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