Having a good team is the sexiest way to kick off baseball’s winter season. Your team and your fans have visions of pennants dancing in your heads, and the free-agent market looks like a buffet of awesomeness as you think about what big-name signings and acquisitions would make your good team into a great one.
But when you’re an also-ran, the options are less exhilarating. A big signing may just make your non-contending team more expensive. A rebuild job may be a smart decision, but the moment you decide to start tearing up your team can be heart-rending and won’t sell tickets for next season.
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Arizona probably had a worse season than you’d have expected from their talent, but even if the team had gone 82-80 and missed the playoffs by a less nauseating margin, the same fundamental problem would have remained.
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One of the most athletic pitchers in baseball, Buchholz can show an above-average to plus cutter and has long had a plus or better changeup, but his command wavers from adequate to awful, especially of his fastball, which was the pitch behind 70 percent of the homers he gave up in 2016.
Front offices are smarter now. They focus less on home runs and power and more on OBP and defense. Trumbo had a .316 OBP. He should play first base but always finds himself on a team that wants to put him in right field. Thatâ€™s not his fault, and itâ€™s nice that he can play right field, but he doesnâ€™t play it very well.
Other big-market teams that could have made a run — the Cardinals, Red Sox (after trading Yoan Moncada), Giants and Yankees — werenâ€™t so desperate for a third baseman that they couldnâ€™t wait for the Machado plunge.