Within the 5 days between the World Collection and the beginning of free company, there’s loads of paperwork to do — exercising or declining choices, checking out 40-man roster spots, that form of factor — earlier than a workforce begins the offseason in earnest. Typically, that shuffling reveals a touchdown spot for a participant who was going to be turned unfastened anyway, and we get a commerce.
Mark Canha, your pleasant neighborhood on-base machine, is headed from Milwaukee to Detroit, with 25-year-old Double-A reliever Blake Holub headed in the wrong way.
Canha is moving into his mid-30s, however he’s nonetheless an excellent participant. He hit .262/.355/.400 final season (a 111 wRC+), together with .287/.373/.427 (120 wRC+) in 50 video games after being traded to the Brewers on the deadline. He doesn’t have superb energy for a nook outfielder, however he can take a stroll and wears a pitch in addition to anybody within the league. Canha bought plunked 17 occasions this previous 12 months, and has been hit 72 occasions previously three seasons, which is second-most in baseball. That works out to a .360 OBP since 2021, which is within the prime 10% of certified hitters.
Milwaukee parted with minor league pitcher Justin Jarvis in an effort to purchase Canha, however apparently didn’t discover his $11.5 million workforce choice to be value choosing up. Even with Canha’s age, unremarkable energy and protection, he does an important factor a hitter can do — get on base — very nicely, sufficient to make him kind of a mean huge leaguer total. And at the present time, $11.5 million over one 12 months shouldn’t be that a lot to pay for a participant of his abilities.
However, the Brewers had been about to let him go, for 2 causes. The primary is that outfield is a place of relative energy for Milwaukee, not less than comparatively talking. This comparability is extra amusing than probative, however right here’s how Canha stacks up in opposition to Christian Yelich the previous three seasons:
We Have Mark Canha at Residence
The Brewers additionally need to give at-bats to their youthful outfielders in 2024: Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer, and Garrett Mitchell. Is Canha higher than not less than a few of these guys? Sure. Ought to there nonetheless be a spot for him on Milwaukee’s roster, on condition that he may play first base, and Rowdy Tellez is a left-handed hitter with a giant platoon cut up? Additionally sure. For that matter, it wouldn’t be an enormous shock if the Brewers non-tendered Tellez within the subsequent couple weeks, which would depart first base kind of open.
However whereas $11.5 million isn’t that a lot cash for a standard contender, it represents about 9% of what the Brewers spent on payroll final 12 months. That’s so much for a fairly good participant at a place the place youthful, cheaper choices can be found internally.
Holub, who is certainly a participant you heard of earlier than this commerce, was an honorable point out on Eric Longenhagen’s Tigers prospect checklist again in Could. The Tigers made him a fifteenth spherical in decide in 2021 out of St. Edward’s College, a Division II college in Texas, and like most Texan pitchers, Holub is massive (6-foot-6, 230 kilos), right-handed, and has an intriguing fastball. Eric experiences Holub’s heater at 93-96 mph with plus-plus life, with a vertically oriented slider that pairs nicely with the fastball in idea however underwhelms when thought of in insolation. Holub may also not require a 40-man roster spot till subsequent 12 months.
This isn’t a ok return to offset dropping Jarvis to accumulate Canha within the first place, but when Holub can enhance his slider, he might be a helpful huge league reliever. The Brewers have monitor file of creating pitchers over the previous few years, particularly relievers.
Greater than that, getting Holub again is healthier than letting Canha stroll for nothing, which was apparently the choice. When information of this commerce broke, the primary place my thoughts went was to an analogous deal Detroit made in the summertime of 2022. Not the Tigers, to be clear, Detroit.
It’s been some time since I shoehorned a hockey reference right into a column, so please think about Ville Husso. Within the 2021-22 season, Husso was a 26-year-old second-year backup goalie with the St. Louis Blues. Husso received the beginning job midway by the 12 months and managed to get into 40 video games, however because of the NHL’s far superior free agent guidelines, he was due for unrestricted free company at season’s finish. St. Louis, with longstanding starter Jordan Binnington locked all the way down to a long-term contract, couldn’t afford to maintain Husso as nicely, so that they traded him to the Purple Wings on the draft (which kicks off the NHL offseason) for a third-round decide.
St. Louis bought one thing again for a participant who was about to stroll for nothing, and the Purple Wings had been capable of land an unique negotiating window with a coveted free agent, and positive sufficient they signed Husso to a three-year extension the identical day. This sort of factor occurs on a regular basis in hockey, the commerce of token draft picks for would-be free brokers, and Canha’s workforce possibility put him in the identical scenario, considerably unusually for a baseball participant.
Why would the Tigers hand over a prospect, even a fringy one, in an effort to safe Canha’s companies once they might’ve waited per week and signed him without cost after Milwaukee declined his possibility? Effectively, there’s all that stuff I mentioned earlier than about him being a worthwhile hitter on an inexpensive deal. And in distinction to Milwaukee, the Tigers are a greater match.
With the retirement of Miguel Cabrera, Detroit mainly had no ironclad contract commitments for 2024 other than Javier Báez. Riley Greene and Kerry Carpenter had been vivid spots for Detroit final 12 months, however after that the outfield depth chart will get actually bleak actually shortly. The one participant I’d fear about Canha blocking or changing is Matt Vierling, however to start with, Vierling can play everywhere. And second — and I say this as a giant Matt Vierling fan — he’s not the sort of participant you are worried about blocking if you happen to care about successful.
Not a number of what the Tigers have performed over the previous few years is smart to me, and their lineup nonetheless has as many holes as solutions. However imagine it or not, Detroit completed second within the AL Central this previous season, because of a season-ending 19-10 run. Spencer Torkelson hit 19 second-half house runs. Casey Mize might be again from Tommy John surgical procedure initially of 2024. Tarik Skubal is lastly wholesome and pitching nicely. Matt Manning had a promising 2023 as nicely, offered he can cease taking line drives off the foot. If that long-hyped trio can lastly put all of it collectively on the identical time, that makes the lack of Eduardo Rodriguez, who opted out of his deal over the weekend, simpler to swallow. Moreover, the Tigers might put the three years and $49 million they now not owe E-Rod to make use of patching the outlet he leaves within the rotation.
Plus — and maybe you inferred this from the truth that 78-84 was ok for second place, however I’ll state it immediately simply in case — the AL Central is there for the taking. You can begin to see a path for the Tigers, in order for you it.
Does including Canha make Detroit an computerized contender? In fact not. However he’s a respectable leadoff hitter on an inexpensive one-year deal, and the Tigers had been capable of get him for mainly nothing. That’s a stable day on the workplace.