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Sports Data APIs for Individuals!
The San Francisco Giants are interested in free-agent left-hander Jon Lester as they look to add one more starting pitcher this offseason. Lester seriously considered signing with the Giants before joining the Cubs in 2014. San Francisco general manager Scott Harris worked in the Cubs front office during Lester's time in Chicago, and pitching on the West Coast isn't a deal-breaker for the 36-year-old southpaw. The Giants are looking for a replacement after lefty Drew Smyly signed with the Braves. Lester has been durable in his career, but he has a 4.64 ERA (94 ERA+) the last two years, including a 5.16 ERA with a 5.14 FIP during the shortened 2020 season. At this point, the veteran is a low-upside, matchup-based arm, although a move to pitcher-friend San Francisco could prolong his career.
Left-handed starting pitcher Jon Lester agreed to a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals on Monday, according to sources familiar with the contract. Financial terms of the deal, which includes a mutual option, were not disclosed. Lester is no longer an ace, but he brings with him a wealth of playoff experience and will fit nicely in a rotation that already includes Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. The veteran southpaw finished with a 5.16 ERA in 2020, but three of his final four starts produced a 1.06 ERA. The 37-year-old was 3-3 in 61 innings (12 starts) in his final season with Chicago, striking out 42 and walking 17. Lester has 193 career wins and a 2.51 career playoff ERA. He's in the last years of his career and won't strike out a ton, but he could be a nice low-priced DFS play in the right matchups with the Nats.
Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa was the most notable player to exchange salary arbitration numbers with his team on Friday, with Correa filing for $12.5 million and the Astros countering at $9.75 million. The $2.75 million spread between the sides is the largest of the 13 exchanges between unsigned players and their teams this year. The other 12 players that remain unsigned are Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes (asking for $2 million), Dodgers starter Walker Buehler ($4.15 million), Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi (2.45 million), Mets third baseman J.D. Davis ($2.475 million), Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty ($3.9 million), Cubs outfielder Ian Happ ($4.1 million), Angels pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani ($3.3 million), Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander ($2.475 million), Giants infielder Donovan Solano ($3.9 million), Braves starter Mike Soroka ($2.8 million), Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson ($6.7 million)and Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough ($3.1 million).
The Baltimore Orioles agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Trey Mancini on Friday to avoid salary arbitration. Outfielder Anthony Santander hasn't come to terms, with the Orioles offering $2.1 million and Santander asking for $2.475 million. Mancini missed all of 2020 while recovering from Stage 3 colon cancer. He was voted team MVP and hit .291 with 35 home runs and 97 RBI in 2019. The 28-year-old has been working out and expects to play a full season in 2021. He averaged 28 home runs in his three full seasons before being sidelined last year. Santander was limited to 37 games last year because of injuries, and he hit 11 home runs and 13 doubles in just 153 at-bats while driving in 32. He should see a significant raise after hitting .261 with 20 homers and 59 RBI in 93 games during his 2019 breakout.
The St. Louis Cardinals and ace starting pitcher Jack Flaherty haven't agreed to terms on a 2021 contract and exchanged salary arbitration figures on Friday. The 25-year-old asked for $3.9 million and the team offered $3 million. An arbitrator will hear their cases and make a decision next month. Flaherty finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting in 2019 and he went 4-3 with a 4.91 ERA over nine starts in the shortened 2020 season. It's his first season being eligible for arbitration and won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season. Flaherty allowed one run in six innings in a loss to the Padres to lose the first-round playoff series. He'll enter 2021 drafts as a low-end SP1/high-end SP2 for fantasy managers.
The New York Mets are in talks with free-agent relief pitcher Brad Hand, but the two sides are "not close" to completing a deal, according to a source. The three-time All-Star has a very nice 2.70 ERA in the last five seasons with the Padres and Cleveland. The left-handed reliever had a sparkling 2.05 ERA and an MLB-leading 16 saves for Cleveland in the shortened 2020 season before they waived him this offseason in order to cut costs. The Astros, Dodgers and Blue Jays are also interested in the 30-year-old. If he were to sign with New York, Hand would give the Mets another ninth-inning option alongside Edwin Diaz, who blew his fair share of save chances in the last two seasons. Hand would certainly have some low-end closing appeal in fantasy leagues with the Mets and their vastly improved roster.
The San Diego Padres were one of a dozen teams interested in free-agent relief pitcher Kirby Yates, but he's now in the final stages of considering offers from five teams, and a source says that the Padres are not one of them. San Diego would have to substantially increase their offer for him to reconsider, and that's not expected to happen. The former All-Star closer has something to prove in 2021 after an elbow injury that needed season-ending surgery limited him to six outings. Yates is a low-cost, high-ceiling fantasy reliever, but he'll need to settle into the right situation and may need to prove his health before another team commits to him in the ninth inning. The right-hander had a 1.67 ERA and 53 saves over 2018-19 with the Friars.
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson, the team's top prospect, struggled in his first big-league action in 2020, but the 22-year-old switch-hitter earned a spot as the cleanup hitter in the playoffs and could break out in 2021. Carlson's hard-hit rate and sweet-spot rate last year were both over 40 percent, both above league average. He also had both hard-hit and sweet-spot contact on almost 30 percent of the balls he hit, which was in the top five in all of baseball. Strikeouts and offspeed pitches were an issue for the young outfielder, but the tools are there for him to rise quickly. He also hit .289/.389/.578 with a .967 OPS from Sept. 18 through the playoffs and had top-tier expected stats across the board. Carlson has a strong minor league track record and should have a prominent lineup spot in St. Louis next season. He was also one of the fastest Cardinals in 2020. You'll want to own him at least somewhere.
With the New York Yankees signing right-hander Corey Kluber to a one-year, $11 million deal on Friday, it could shut the door on the team re-signing starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Luis Severino (elbow) is due back from Tommy John surgery in 2021 at some point, Domingo German will return from a suspension and the club has young arms in Deivi Garcia, Michael King and Clarke Schmidt ready for more opportunities. Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery and Kluber should fill the top three rotation spots. The Yankees are also re-signing second baseman DJ LeMahieu, with his and Kluber's contracts putting the Yanks around $10 million away from the first competitive balance tax threshold of $210 million. If Tanaka's market outside of New York isn't very robust, there's a chance that he could return to Japan. He had a decent 3.56 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with a 22.3 percent strikeout rate and a 4.1 percent walk rate in 48 innings in 2020.
The Philadelphia Phillies made free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto a five-year offer worth slightly north of $100 million on Friday. The figure is well below Realmuto's asking price at the end of last spring training -- he was hoping to get $200 million -- and is possibly below the record average annual value for a backstop. Joe Mauer has the record for catchers at $23 million per season from 2011-18. Realmuto's market has been slow after the Mets signed James McCann at catcher earlier in the offseason. And the Yankees re-signing DJ LeMahieu likely takes them out of the running for Realmuto. Unless another team (maybe the Blue Jays?) becomes serious about the All-Star catcher, the Phillies have a good shot at re-signing him at a decent price. Wherever Realmuto is playing in 2021 and beyond, he will be the top fantasy catcher off the board in drafts.
The New York Mets reached one-year deals with seven players on Friday to avoid salary arbitration, including shortstop Francisco Lindor ($22.3 million), outfielder Michael Conforto ($12.25 million) and first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith ($2.55 million). Lindor, a four-time All-Star, said he's not opposed to a long-term contract after being acquired from Cleveland in a blockbuster trade. The 27-year-old hit .258 with eight home runs, 27 RBI and a .750 OPS in 60 games in his final season with the Indians and will remain an elite fantasy shortstop in his new home. Outfielder Brandon Nimmo ($4.7 million) and right-handers Edwin Diaz ($7 million), Seth Lugo ($2.925 million) and Robert Gsellman ($1.3 million) also agreed to one-year deals to avoid arbitration on Friday. The Mets exchange arbitration salaries with right-hander Miguel Castro and third baseman/outfielder J.D. Davis.