Seattle Acquires Speedy Dee Gordon
The MLB Winter Meetings don’t begin for a couple of days, but the Marlins have made the first major move, dealing second baseman Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners for three minor league prospects – right-handed pitchers Robert Dugger and Nick Neidert, and infielder Chris Torres. In addition to Gordon, the Mariners received $1M of international prospect slot money. More on that later!
Since the Mariners already have elite hitter Robinson Cano to play second base, Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto indicated that Gordon will play centerfield, a position he last played four years ago when he manned the position during the Dominican Winter Leagues. Gordon played just 13 games in the outfield, nine of them in center. When he first came up for the Dodgers in 2011, Gordon was a shortstop. After three seasons at short, he switched to second base in 2014.
The 29-year-old Gordon batted .308 with 114 runs scored, 20 doubles, nine triples, two home runs, 33 RBI, 60 stolen bases and a .341 on-base percentage in 158 games with the Marlins in 2017. He led the National League in steals last season while also tying for the second most hits and fourth most runs scored.
Since 2014, Gordon leads all MLB players in triples with 35, while totaling the second-most stolen bases with 212. During that span, only he and Billy Hamilton (230) have tallied at least 200 stolen bases. He is the only active player to bat at least .300 while stealing at least 50 bases in multiple seasons (2015 and 2017).
Aside from the change of position, little else will change for Gordon. He is expected to hit atop the Seattle lineup in front of Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager, with Mitch Haniger likely batting second. That trio combined for 89 home runs and 295 runs batted in last season. With the Marlins, Gordon hit in front of the trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcel Ozuna and Christian Yelich who combined for 107 home runs and 337 runs batted in. Last season, Gordon scored 114 runs. It was the first time in his career that he scored more than 100 runs.
In three of the last four seasons, Gordon has led the Major Leagues in stolen basis. He stole 60 bases last season, 58 in 2015, and 64 in 2014. In 2016, he served an 80-game suspension for violating the league’s PED regulations and finished with 30 steals in 79 games played.
As the leadoff man for the Mariners, Gordon will likely steal close to 60 bases again. As a team, the Mariners were in the bottom quarter of the AL in 2016. Last season, the acquisition of SS Jean Segura bolstered the team to just above the league average. The addition of Gordon should boost the Mariners up closer to the top quarter of the AL, assuming Segura and Gordon steal close to their career norms.
The dimensions of Safeco Field, long thought to work against power hitters, should actually help Gordon maintain his .293 career batting average. His career BABIP of .305 indicates that he does not rely on a high BABIP to prop up his average, so he should be able to continue hitting at a high level just by keeping the ball in play at about the league average. Of course, he will now have a whole cadre of pitchers to get used to in the AL, but that can cut both ways and give either the hitter or the pitcher an advantage. The bottom line is that Gordon’s Fantasy value will remain about the same with the trade to the Mariners.
While the Mariners hitters get an exciting table-setter for the top of their lineup, the Marlins will lose the same. However, since the team is expected to be “blown up,” it may not matter that Gordon is gone.
Ohtani Picks the Angels
The wait for Shohei Ohtani’s choice of MLB team turned out to be rather short. His representatives announced today the Ohtani chose the LA Angels as the team to acquire his services. His statement said that the Angels are the team that he feels can best help him reach his goals.
From the start, Ohtani maintained that he wants to both pitch and hit in the major leagues. The 23-year-old can throw pitches at 100 mph and hit for both power and average. In the Japanese Leagues, Ohtani has a record of 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA while hitting .286 with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs in 1,140 PA.
When the Mariners acquired $1M in international prospect money from the Marlins, there was some speculation that they were building up money to spend on a signing bonus for Ohtani. As it turned out, the Mariners were one of seven teams given the opportunity to make an in-person pitch to Otani. The Angels, Rangers, Padres, Giants, Dodgers and Cubs rounded out the rest of the list.
It will be quite interesting to see how the Fantasy Baseball community values Ohtani in drafts come spring. His two-way play makes him unique and adds an element to his Fantasy value that has never been part of the game since its inception during the 1980s. Players from Japan have had various degrees of success. Some, like Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui made major impressions with their MLB teams and fans. Others, like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Irabu struggled with the American game and just didn’t make much of their time in MLB. Where Ohtani falls on that spectrum will be closely watched in both the United States and in Japan.