The 2022 Rotation

nvalvo

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Eduardo Rodriguez' departure to greener pastures in the Midwest — I, for one, will miss him — seems like an opportune moment to start a thread on future of the starting rotation, with more focus than the general off-season thread.

I thought I'd get us started with a look at the recent statistics of the healthy SP in the system who could potentially throw big league innings, starting with the five guys who would be our rotation if the season started tomorrow. As I get to it, I'll do shorter write-ups for our minor league pitching pipeline, potential free agent targets, and trade targets. And of course, I am gathering this all together because I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Incumbents

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Chris Sale's 2021 line may look better than his appearances felt to watch, but the fact of the matter is that he came back, made nine regular season starts, and seven of them were at least pretty good. The postseason added 7.1 IP of pretty poor pitching against excellent offenses, for an overall 4.14 ERA in 50 IP. Sometimes guys take a minute to come all the way back from TJS — his changeup, a "feel" pitch that is often the last to come back, was MIA at moments, leaving him precious little margin for error against righties — so I'm not sure he's quite in his final form, but I have to say I was encouraged after watching his late inning efforts. He may not be an ace ace again, but he was still missing bats in the strike zone. He should be a useful arm in 2022. But for how many innings? You'd have to imagine that 120 IP or so is the most we'd want to let this guy throw.

Sale is signed through 2024, with a vesting option for '25. He has an opt-out after the 2022 season. Right now, few expect him to exercise that option.

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Nathan Eovaldi was extraordinary in 2021, coming in 12th in IP and 27th in FIP, a combination that made him the most valuable pitcher in the American League by Fangraphs WAR, and third overall. When he came back from injury mid-2020, Eovaldi basically stopped walking people. Then in 2021, he sharply cut back on HR allowed. He still gives up base hits, but with so few walks and less than a HR every other start, they don't amount to much. We have one more season with Eovaldi, and I see no reason that it won't be a great one. The only caveat is the obvious one: Eovaldi is already the most accomplished pitcher to ever return from a second TJS. How much tread can possibly be left on those tires?

Eovaldi will be a FA in the 22-23 offseason.

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I feel like I know about how Pivetta struggled in Philadelphia and needed a change of scenery to unlock his obvious potential, but actually looking at the last few seasons worth of numbers really underscores how remarkable his turnaround at the 2020 alternate site was. He still walks plenty of guys and gives up his share of HR, but that just means he should be the fourth or fifth best pitcher on a good staff. With Rodriguez gone, Pivetta looks primed to play a crucial role in the rotation. In 2021, he provided reliable innings, averaging precisely 5 IP/start at a tic better than league average quality, which is better than it sounds when you consider that it came after what amounted to a lost season. That is wildly valuable in a arb-eligible player. As of today, we only have two starters with a realistic chance to throw 180 IP next season, and Pivetta is one of them.

Pivetta will be a FA in the 24-25 offseason.

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Tanner Houck is a great reminder of the adage about "not scouting the box score" in the minors. His combined minor league track record (270 IP, 4.17 ERA, 1.393 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9) does not scream "prospect." But after his call up, it comes out that the team was making him throw terrible changeups all the time, so he was walking guys and getting hit around. So he came up and was better in every respect: his regular season MLB career is now 86 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.081 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9. And I think this is why some of us — myself very much included — have trouble fully believing in Houck. How is this guy who was just getting shelled in high-A now posting a stat line comparable to some of the best young starters in the game? Normally, you have to throw well in the minors before you throw well in the majors. It's bizarre.

I will say that I am tentatively on board with Houck in the rotation now. It took me awhile to come around on that, but the splitter looks like it should help him keep the lefties at bay just enough to navigate a lineup two or even — dare I say — three times. He has a moderate platoon split, and it looks like it may have been a bit bigger without BABIP discrepancies that were likely caused by our asymmetrical infield defense and home ballpark. Something to watch.

In 2021, Houck threw 21 IP in AAA, 69 in the MLB regular season, and 10 more in the post season: exactly 100 IP. I would expect him to have a cap around 145 IP.

Houck will not be a FA until 27-28, because the team shamefully used the COVID double-header rules to monkey with his service time.

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Not quite so mystifying as Houck, Whitlock's 2018 was excellent across three levels (120 IP, 2.24 ERA, 122 K to 41 BB, 3 HR), and then his 2019 was good-not-great (fewer strikeouts) until he eventually was shut down for surgery. 2020 was a good year to be minor leaguer rehabbing from TJS.

I will say, I am a big believer in Whitlock as a starter. He has the build. He is stingy with walks. Unlike Houck, he has the minor league track record and the unambiguous full complement of pitches: 4-seam, 2-seam, changeup, slider. The changeup is so nasty He keeps the ball on the ground, which could help him be efficient (if we are able to improve our infield defense). He actually had a big platoon split in 2021, but it was mostly BABIP driven (.070 point difference in BABIP leading to a .300 point OPS difference). He seems like he could be good at it, and he would clearly be more valuable in that role. If we want to stash him for depth as a high-lev reliever, or if we want to get another year away from his surgery before stretching him out to a full starter's workload (perhaps as Eovaldi's replacement), that would be fine, but he should be a starter eventually. Really, my only concern is the innings buildup. He threw ~82 IP between the regular season and the postseason, so he shouldn't be counted on for more than 130 or so.

Whitlock will not be a FA until 26-27.

Which brings me to the real focus of the thread: these five guys could be a starting rotation. But best-case, before any injuries, we're looking at 750 innings. Our starting rotation in 2021 threw 810ish; the best starting rotations (Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Oakland, Houston, Chicago) threw more in the 850-900 range. So, we're probably going to see 50-150 IP innings thrown by a starter not mentioned here. If we retain Houck or Whitlock in the bullpen, that number goes up considerably.

Here's where Rodriguez would really have helped. We have a ton of upside in this group; what we need are reliable innings. So I expect us to add, potentially from the farm and outside the organization.
 

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The Raccoon

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Good write-up of the current available arms and needs for next season.
It should be "The 2022 Rotation" though, right?
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It seems like a high risk rotation - which 2021 was as well, but the Sox benefited from good health. The big concerns here are uncertainty around Houck and Whitlock, and the total lack of depth behind them. There’s some interesting pitchers in the system but not really anyone who is highly touted. Feels like the team needs a #3 type to slot in behind Sale and Eovaldi, which explains the supposed interest in guys like Matz.
 

PrometheusWakefield

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2021 is now the past fwiw.

If Chaim really didn't want Edro back at a pretty reasonable contract then I doubt we will be in on Matz or Stroman or Rodon either. I think the value in the market is in finding the next Pivetta, not paying big money to guys who have already fully established themselves. I don't know who that is but it seems to me that we have already replaced Edro internally and what we need to do now is replace Whitlock or Houck. And that the goal here is to build a staff of 8-9 guys who can go one or two spins down a batting order, not necessarily prioritizing just the top 5 rotation spots.
 

johnnywayback

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If Chaim really didn't want Edro back at a pretty reasonable contract then I doubt we will be in on Matz or Stroman or Rodon either. I think the value in the market is in finding the next Pivetta, not paying big money to guys who have already fully established themselves. I don't know who that is but it seems to me that we have already replaced Edro internally and what we need to do now is replace Whitlock or Houck. And that the goal here is to build a staff of 8-9 guys who can go one or two spins down a batting order, not necessarily prioritizing just the top 5 rotation spots.
I don't agree with this, necessarily.

First, I think it's insane to count on both Houck and Whitlock as starters going into next season:
a) Neither one is ready to pitch 180 innings in 2022.
b) Neither one is a sure thing to be any good as a starter, especially Houck.
c) With a) and b) in mind, there's no nearly enough reliable depth in the upper minors to justify taking that kind of risk.
d) As you note, we'd still have to replace two late-inning relievers, which won't be cheap.

Second, I think the reason they let Eddie go is that they believe they can and will get at least one better starter via trade or free agency.
a) They can now sign a top-level QO free agent like Verlander or Syndergaard or Ray knowing they're getting a compensation pick to replace the one they'd be losing.
b) Alternatively, they could count the pick they're getting as off-setting the prospect price for someone like Frankie Montas or John Means (I think a Duran+Dalbec package gets us most of the way there, as I said in another thread).
c) Given their financial flexibility this year, I even think it's reasonable to assume they will acquire two starters. I love the idea of Kevin Gausman, but if they acquire an ERod-level starter via a) or b), the other just has to slot in between the new guy and Pivetta as the #5, and there are a TON of pitchers who fit that description, Matz being my favorite. They could sign Dylan Bundy, or Jordan Lyles, or Michael Pineda, or Jon Gray, or....and any of these would be significantly cheaper than ERod, while also netting us that draft pick.

Third, I agree with your point that they want to find more multi-inning relievers, but based on where those have tended to come from in Tampa, I suspect that's where they'll go after PIvetta-type reclamation projects.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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They also did make offers to Rodriguez, so they apparently were interested at bringing him back at the right price which suggests they will be in the market for a starter. I’d guess the opt out was the differentiator here but it’s also quite possible that they didn’t feel the sense of urgency the Tigers did- if there are a bunch of starters that you are interested in but don’t see a lot of differentiation, there’s little benefit to acting fast, especially with the coming year in doubt.

Given the increasing importance of relievers and uncertainty of how many innings the young guys can throw, you could make an argument to add multiple starters and keep Houck and Whitlock in the pen, to start. Not sure it’s the best idea but the Sox current roster does allow them a good amount of flexibility and ability to sit back and see how the market develops.
 

chawson

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Good thread.

How do people feel about Sonny Gray? I’m gone from finding him overrated a few years ago to maybe underrated now. He’s 32 and moderately expensive (1 yr at $10.6m with a $12m club option in 2023). Fastball is declining a bit but he’s been terrific at inducing soft-contact, and is terrific against RHB. The Reds have publicly said they’re moving salary and in this case, you’d have to think the Yankees are not among would-be suitors.

That brings me to Mike Moustakas, the Reds’ primary albatross (2/$38m remaining; $16m aav). Moustakas was a dubious fit at second base even before his heel injury, but it wasn’t long ago he was a prolific slugger and a bad-but-playable 2B. I’d have no idea what we’d do with him. He’d be a tough roster fit with Schwarber, who is far preferable, but at 33 it’s not a terrible bet that his bat would rebound.

According to the Sim, Moustakas and Gray more or less negate each other’s value. Say the Reds offer Gray and Moustakas to us for nothing (or more likely, a fringe 40-man arm like Frank German). Acquiring them both would add $26.6 million AAV to the payroll in each of the next two years — or, it would essentially be like “signing” Sonny Gray to a 2/$53.3 million contract.

Sonny Gray is entering his age 33-34 seasons. He’s been worth 8.6 Fangraphs WAR in 2019-21 (18th in MLB). His 3.58 xFIP is 28th in MLB over that time. Put aside the question of getting anything from Moustakas — do you give Sonny Gray a 2/$53m deal?
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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do you give Sonny Gray a 2/$53m deal?
I don't. Maybe I'm putting too much credence in his performance for the Yankees, but he seems like one of those guys who does better out of the big market spotlight. Small sample size caveats apply, but some of his worst career number are against teams in the AL East. He's not a guy I want to bet on at that price.
 

johnnywayback

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I wouldn't take Gray at that money -- I'd rather pay it to Verlander -- but according to the Trade Simulator, Castillo+Moustakas for Duran+Dalbec+Rosario is dead even.
 

chawson

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I don't. Maybe I'm putting too much credence in his performance for the Yankees, but he seems like one of those guys who does better out of the big market spotlight. Small sample size caveats apply, but some of his worst career number are against teams in the AL East. He's not a guy I want to bet on at that price.
His 1.5 year-struggle in New York is a mystery. Lance Lynn had the same problem in New York and he rebounded into an ace too. Here’s Gray’s xStats. The NYY years are 17-18.
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I wouldn't take Gray at that money -- I'd rather pay it to Verlander -- but according to the Trade Simulator, Castillo+Moustakas for Duran+Dalbec+Rosario is dead even.
I’d probably prefer to give it to Verlander too, but I don’t know that I’d prefer, say, Matz at 3/$53 over Gray at 2/$53.

Either way, a trade means you don’t have to spend weeks/months hoping a worthy free agent starter accepts your offer over all the other big market teams who play in warmer climates with more pitcher-friendly ballparks. And in this case, it means not giving up a #60ish overall pick to sign a 39-year-old pitcher who’s thrown all of 7 innings in two years.
 

YTF

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I wouldn't take Gray at that money -- I'd rather pay it to Verlander -- but according to the Trade Simulator, Castillo+Moustakas for Duran+Dalbec+Rosario is dead even.
Castillo and Moustakas intrigues me. Moustakas is 16 mil per (Rodriguez money) for the next two season with a TEAM option for '24. And while he's in his arbitration years, Castillo's not a FA until '24

Edited as I try to continue my thought here...Since the thread is about the 2022 rotation what would those who have a better feel for this type of thing think might be a reasonable extension to offer Castillo? I mean it wasn't all that long ago that folks here were talking about taking on Will Meyers or Eric Hosmer as a means to getting into that San Diego pitching staff. Might this be a similar and possibly better move given that Castillo has a bit of an MLB track record?
 
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pdub

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I like Gray but I'd rather sign Verlander since it won't cost any prospects. He can pitch the big game and the early feedback is very positive regarding his return. If I'm taking on Gray and Moustakas in a salary dump, then I'm only fine with that depending on the prospect return.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Gray didn't get a QO (because the Rockies are dumb).

EDIT: Oh, Sonny Gray. Thought it was Jon Gray.
 

nvalvo

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Near-term Minor League Pitchers

This post will include discussion of in-house pitching options who are likely to pitch in Boston this year. So that means no Groome, who needs a full season in the high minors; no Wilkelman Gonzalez, whom I am very excited about but likely spends 2022 between A+ and AA; no Brandon Walter — ditto; no Brayan Bello, who should be Portland's ace; no Chris Murphy, who looks like he has a chance to be a decent future Brian Johnson-type — but not next year; no Noah Song, whom we haven't been hearing as much about recently, which feels ominous; no Brayan Mata and Thaddeus Ward, both of whom will still be recuperating from TJS.

The line had to be drawn somewhere, and this is where it was drawn. I would not be shocked if the team audibles and decides that — picking a name — Brandon Walter makes more sense in the bullpen, he could move fast as a lefty who throws 95 with a good changeup and a show-me slider. So, without further ado: the minor league depth options:

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First off is Connor Seabold, Pivetta's carpool partner in Chaim Bloom's 2020 pre-deadline heist — a trade so one-sided that it has already prompted a complete overhaul of the pitching side of the Philadelphia player development staff. The righty didn't look like anything special in his 3 IP in Boston. He's a vanishing breed: a righty who works the corners with a low-90s fastball. He complements that with a good slider and a changeup that SoxProspects suggests has been plus in the past, but looked like some feel was missing following his early-2021 elbow injury. And it is certainly notable that he started walking way more people in AAA on his return; a big part of the appeal of Phillies Seabold was that he walked no one. He also missed time in 2019 with an oblique, and of course lost the 2020 season to COVID. So it's hard to know what we're looking at. It's not hard to dream on the changeup clicking back into place, and returning Seabold to the deception and location that made him so intriguing. I've read that he solicits swinging strikes on all three pitches when he's right. Bottom line, though: if a 3.47 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP in AAA is what he's producing when he's off, I think we have a real prospect here.

He just finished (I think he's done, anyways) 20 IP in Scottsdale, where he was terrible, but I think that assignment was a sign that they are looking at him for a depth role in 2022, and want to build his innings base. I imagine he was just exhausted, and while pitching in Scottsdale isn't like pitching in Denver or Albuquerque altitude-wise, it's still warm, dry air and the ball flies.

Seabold has two options remaining — I think. I think he used one for 2021 and that's it.

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Crawford is something of an odd duck. Another well-timed 2019 TJS, Crawford is a right-handed fastball/cutter/curveball/change pitcher, but the cutter seems to be the plus offering, which is funny, because that's his name. It's an ergonym: a name that matches what something does, like the common surnames "Smith" or "Baker."

SoxProspects' writeup basically screams that his high-effort delivery means he's a reliever, and that might well be true. He split a very successful 2021 between Portland and Worcester, and there must be something going on — did all of his HR come with runners on? is it all 1-2-3 innings and crooked numbers? — because it's really hard to see how his excellent peripherals add up to his mediocre ERA. Somehow his opposition turned 102 baserunners into 45 runs, despite striking out in almost 40% of their PAs. Seems strangely... efficient. I think he's probably a reliever in the long term unless he has a breakthrough with one of the other secondaries, but if that cutter is as good as it seems, he could be a good one.

Crawford has been pitching for Estrellas Orientales down in La Liga Invernal Dominicana de Beisbol, and flat out kicking ass. 3 GS, 14 IP, 0 runs, 15 K against 5 BB and only 6 hits allowed.

Crawford has all three options remaining (so far as I can tell) because his cup of coffee was COVID-related.

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Winckowski was (so far) the best piece in the Benintendi trade, putting together a nice season of competent starting pitching, mostly in AA, before adding 11 terrible AFL innings in Scottsdale, in which the righty got hit around in more ways than one.

View: https://twitter.com/BaseballAmerica/status/1457137719088488449?s=20


Winckowski is 23 and more than held his own in two late-season starts AAA, so that is just tremendous to see. The concern, obviously, is the lack of strikeouts, which is puzzling given his complete starter's repertoire: High-90s fastball, sharp-breaking slider, and viable change-up. SoxProspects reports that he is adding a splitter. Looking through his game logs, it sure seems like he's conceding a lot of fly balls, which I would expect to become a problem in Worcester and Boston. At his age, Winckowski has some runway, but it sure looks like he's a guy who has everything (velocity, command, durability) except a legit out pitch. Maybe the split can become that pitch, or improved command helps the slider play up. I could see him being the big story of Spring Training the way Whitlock was in 2021, or I could see him stalling out in AAA.

Winckowski is rule 5 draft eligible and will have to be added to the 40-man. He has all three of his options remaining.

***

The bottom line here is that we are starting to have real starting pitching prospects again. Houck and Whitlock have graduated, and this next round all have big question marks and back-end starter ceilings — the higher-ceilinged guys are a step behind.

Are any of these guys we should bank on? No. But their optionable years will be super valuable. I expect that we will bring in one starting pitcher from outside the organization, and even so, with all the health and IP-limit issues we have, I would expect to see two or maybe all three of these guys for a start or five in 2021.
 

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Bosoxian

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Aug 17, 2021
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The new CBA will likely throw a new twist on this. I’m thinking that a salary floor will be added, forcing some teams to spend money that wouldn’t under today’s rules.

if that happens you could see guys like Verlander getting interest from more teams than usual. Would a team like the Twins or Rangers go after him to get themselves to the floor and also fill some seats every fifth day?

Granted, some of those teams might not be who the top players are looking at, but it could be additional competition in a few cases.

Given that does it make sense to strike now for a big time starter?
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Near-term Minor League Pitchers

This post will include discussion of in-house pitching options who are likely to pitch in Boston this year. So that means no Groome, who needs a full season in the high minors; no Wilkelman Gonzalez, whom I am very excited about but likely spends 2022 between A+ and AA; no Brandon Walter — ditto; no Brayan Bello, who should be Portland's ace; no Chris Murphy, who looks like he has a chance to be a decent future Brian Johnson-type — but not next year; no Noah Song, whom we haven't been hearing as much about recently, which feels ominous; no Brayan Mata and Thaddeus Ward, both of whom will still be recuperating from TJS.

The line had to be drawn somewhere, and this is where it was drawn. I would not be shocked if the team audibles and decides that — picking a name — Brandon Walter makes more sense in the bullpen, he could move fast as a lefty who throws 95 with a good changeup and a show-me slider. So, without further ado: the minor league depth options:

View attachment 46535

First off is Connor Seabold, Pivetta's carpool partner in Chaim Bloom's 2020 pre-deadline heist — a trade so one-sided that it has already prompted a complete overhaul of the pitching side of the Philadelphia player development staff. The righty didn't look like anything special in his 3 IP in Boston. He's a vanishing breed: a righty who works the corners with a low-90s fastball. He complements that with a good slider and a changeup that SoxProspects suggests has been plus in the past, but looked like some feel was missing following his early-2021 elbow injury. And it is certainly notable that he started walking way more people in AAA on his return; a big part of the appeal of Phillies Seabold was that he walked no one. He also missed time in 2019 with an oblique, and of course lost the 2020 season to COVID. So it's hard to know what we're looking at. It's not hard to dream on the changeup clicking back into place, and returning Seabold to the deception and location that made him so intriguing. I've read that he solicits swinging strikes on all three pitches when he's right. Bottom line, though: if a 3.47 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP in AAA is what he's producing when he's off, I think we have a real prospect here.

He just finished (I think he's done, anyways) 20 IP in Scottsdale, where he was terrible, but I think that assignment was a sign that they are looking at him for a depth role in 2022, and want to build his innings base. I imagine he was just exhausted, and while pitching in Scottsdale isn't like pitching in Denver or Albuquerque altitude-wise, it's still warm, dry air and the ball flies.

Seabold has two options remaining — I think. I think he used one for 2021 and that's it.

View attachment 46536

Crawford is something of an odd duck. Another well-timed 2019 TJS, Crawford is a right-handed fastball/cutter/curveball/change pitcher, but the cutter seems to be the plus offering, which is funny, because that's his name. It's an ergonym: a name that matches what something does, like the common surnames "Smith" or "Baker."

SoxProspects' writeup basically screams that his high-effort delivery means he's a reliever, and that might well be true. He split a very successful 2021 between Portland and Worcester, and there must be something going on — did all of his HR come with runners on? is it all 1-2-3 innings and crooked numbers? — because it's really hard to see how his excellent peripherals add up to his mediocre ERA. Somehow his opposition turned 102 baserunners into 45 runs, despite striking out in almost 40% of their PAs. Seems strangely... efficient. I think he's probably a reliever in the long term unless he has a breakthrough with one of the other secondaries, but if that cutter is as good as it seems, he could be a good one.

Crawford has been pitching for Estrellas Orientales down in La Liga Invernal Dominicana de Beisbol, and flat out kicking ass. 3 GS, 14 IP, 0 runs, 15 K against 5 BB and only 6 hits allowed.

Crawford has all three options remaining (so far as I can tell) because his cup of coffee was COVID-related.

View attachment 46537

Winckowski was (so far) the best piece in the Benintendi trade, putting together a nice season of competent starting pitching, mostly in AA, before adding 11 terrible AFL innings in Scottsdale, in which the righty got hit around in more ways than one.

View: https://twitter.com/BaseballAmerica/status/1457137719088488449?s=20


Winckowski is 23 and more than held his own in two late-season starts AAA, so that is just tremendous to see. The concern, obviously, is the lack of strikeouts, which is puzzling given his complete starter's repertoire: High-90s fastball, sharp-breaking slider, and viable change-up. SoxProspects reports that he is adding a splitter. Looking through his game logs, it sure seems like he's conceding a lot of fly balls, which I would expect to become a problem in Worcester and Boston. At his age, Winckowski has some runway, but it sure looks like he's a guy who has everything (velocity, command, durability) except a legit out pitch. Maybe the split can become that pitch, or improved command helps the slider play up. I could see him being the big story of Spring Training the way Whitlock was in 2021, or I could see him stalling out in AAA.

Winckowski is rule 5 draft eligible and will have to be added to the 40-man. He has all three of his options remaining.

***

The bottom line here is that we are starting to have real starting pitching prospects again. Houck and Whitlock have graduated, and this next round all have big question marks and back-end starter ceilings — the higher-ceilinged guys are a step behind.

Are any of these guys we should bank on? No. But their optionable years will be super valuable. I expect that we will bring in one starting pitcher from outside the organization, and even so, with all the health and IP-limit issues we have, I would expect to see two or maybe all three of these guys for a start or five in 2021.

Great post and thread in general.
I'm generally expecting some sort of trade to bring in a starter- whether it's dealing JDM (after signing Schwarber) or Dalbec/Duran or who knows. There's no way they're standing comfortable with Sale/Eovaldi/Pivetta/Houck/Whitlock. There will definitely be a new starting pitcher on the Sox for '21- But I think it'll be via trade.
Whitlock and Houck sharing a combo of 5th starter innings to ramp up to full starter mode for '23.

So I'm expecting a rotation of: Sale, Eovaldi, Pivetta, ???, Houck/Whitlock. I'd sure be a lot of fun to get 6-8 innings every time through the rotation with Houck starting 3-4 and Whitlock following for 3-4.
Seabold in the rotation as an old school (like... only 5+ years ago type of OS) "long-reliever/spot starter" also with an eye on moving him into the rotation in '23.
 

chawson

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https://nypost.com/2021/11/16/yankees-face-al-east-competition-in-justin-verlander-pursuit/

The Verlander situation looks nearly identical to Kluber last year. He’s said to prefer an East Coast team that trains in Florida, and works with Yankee coach Eric Cressey. The differences are that Verlander has a QO, is likelier than Kluber to land a multi-year deal and has at least some ties to this Sox team with Cora (and JDM, I suppose).

We’re apparently in and I guess you gotta try, but I am not optimistic it will work out and can only hope he decides quickly.
 
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Cesar Crespo

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Dec 22, 2002
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Re: Kutter Crawford, what you described is basically what happened. He had 2 awful back to back starts in August and his dud in Boston.

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=crawfo000kut&type=pgl&year=2021

Same thing with Brandon Walter, though with him it's even more extreme. Like, to the point if you remove 2 outings...

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=walter000bra&type=pgl&year=2021

Cherry picking and all, but they were good most of the time.
 

CaptainBergy

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Jan 17, 2021
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Max Scherzer or nothing. Id rather see Houck and Whitlock get their chances than watch pretty much any other FA starter. Teams not going to splurge for Ray.
 

PrometheusWakefield

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He's pretending otherwise but pretty clear to me from this quote that Chaim is looking for the next Pivetta and not buying at the top of the SP market:

“We certainly want to have more guys who are capable of starting games in the big leagues and doing it well,” Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday. “We’re not too focused on how famous they are. It’s more about what we think they can do. With that said, certainly a lot of the guys who could do the job well are also well-known. We’re focusing on those guys, too. We need to cover the whole map here and make sure we’re involved in everything that could help us.”
The MassLive article mentions Pablo Lopez as a potential trade target. That is exactly the kind of guy I would love to see us acquire this offseason. Long term contracts to top of market SPs are a huge risk for the franchise.
 

Daniel_Son

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He's pretending otherwise but pretty clear to me from this quote that Chaim is looking for the next Pivetta and not buying at the top of the SP market:



The MassLive article mentions Pablo Lopez as a potential trade target. That is exactly the kind of guy I would love to see us acquire this offseason. Long term contracts to top of market SPs are a huge risk for the franchise.
Lopez is going to be tough to acquire. I just posted this in the offseason thread - how about a trade for Sixto Sanchez? Dealt with a shoulder injury this season, but he should be good to go by spring training, had a great 2020, and the emergence of Alcantara, Rogers, and Lopez might make Miami more willing to move him. Marlins have big need in center field - packaging Duran + Dalbec for Sixto and Garrett Cooper (16th in OBP, 43rd in wOBA and wRC+, 46th in walk rate) seems to be pretty even in Trade Simulator. Cooper would also give them flexibility to sell high on Renfroe.
 

chawson

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Sixto would be nice but he’s still considered a top arm. Unheralded, Pivetta-like pitchers going into 2022 would be fellas like Kyle Freeland (COL), Eric Lauer and Aaron Ashby (MIL), Tyler Anderson (FA), Ross Stripling (TOR), Caleb Smith (ARI), Elieser Hernández and Zach Thompson (MIA), Reynaldo Lopez (CHW).

I’m less interested in the crafty lefty sorts because they tend to get mashed in Fenway, but I’m intrigued by Freeland for some reason. Elieser Hernández is a pretty close comparison to Pivetta in 2019 — a guy whose peripherals are more intriguing than his ERA who hasn’t fully rediscovered his stuff post-injury. The difference is that Elieser has a totally different arsenal and his fastball sits 90-91.

It’d be interesting to see what the Padres would want for Chris Paddack and Ha-Seong Kim. (The Sim suggests they have barely positive value as a package duo.) Paddack may be falling out of favor in San Diego, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Preller wanted to make a flurry of moves again this offseason. The Sox were in on both Kim and Profar last year, and both seem like salary dump candidates for them.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Lopez is going to be tough to acquire. I just posted this in the offseason thread - how about a trade for Sixto Sanchez? Dealt with a shoulder injury this season, but he should be good to go by spring training, had a great 2020, and the emergence of Alcantara, Rogers, and Lopez might make Miami more willing to move him. Marlins have big need in center field - packaging Duran + Dalbec for Sixto and Garrett Cooper (16th in OBP, 43rd in wOBA and wRC+, 46th in walk rate) seems to be pretty even in Trade Simulator. Cooper would also give them flexibility to sell high on Renfroe.
The simulator might say even value, but why are the Marlins doing that deal? Not seeing their motivation at all. In their shoes, I think I'd feel fine going with Bryan De La Cruz in CF (who started there the bulk of September) rather than trading for Duran. Cooper as an about to be 31-year-old arb2 guy is obviously someone they might try to move, but I don't know why he's a clear upgrade to Renfroe (other than being cheaper) coming off elbow surgery. If he's playing 1B in place of Dalbec, though, I could see it.
 

chrisfont9

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His 1.5 year-struggle in New York is a mystery. Lance Lynn had the same problem in New York and he rebounded into an ace too. Here’s Gray’s xStats. The NYY years are 17-18.
View attachment 46532



I’d probably prefer to give it to Verlander too, but I don’t know that I’d prefer, say, Matz at 3/$53 over Gray at 2/$53.

Either way, a trade means you don’t have to spend weeks/months hoping a worthy free agent starter accepts your offer over all the other big market teams who play in warmer climates with more pitcher-friendly ballparks. And in this case, it means not giving up a #60ish overall pick to sign a 39-year-old pitcher who’s thrown all of 7 innings in two years.
I'm trying to put my finger on what Gray does well and whether we can expect that thing to continue. One notable number is his GB%, which has always been above 50% and in a nice spot, but just dropped down to 48%. His hard hit numbers have been good. But his BABIP is low so I'm a little concerned there is some luck and/or good fielding that he won't be able to count on in Boston.
 

Daniel_Son

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The simulator might say even value, but why are the Marlins doing that deal? Not seeing their motivation at all. In their shoes, I think I'd feel fine going with Bryan De La Cruz in CF (who started there the bulk of September) rather than trading for Duran. Cooper as an about to be 31-year-old arb2 guy is obviously someone they might try to move, but I don't know why he's a clear upgrade to Renfroe (other than being cheaper) coming off elbow surgery. If he's playing 1B in place of Dalbec, though, I could see it.
It seems like De La Cruz doesn't have a ton of experience in CF, even in the minors. Scouting reports say he's good for RF and could stick in LF. Miami may be enticed by a true CF prospect.

The Renfroe comment was related to Dalbec + Cooper. I could see Cooper covering 1b primarily or right field if they decide to trade Renfroe and sign someone else at 1b. He provides comparable (arguably better) value to Renfroe at less cost. But the primary goal is getting one of Miami's starting pitchers, and any package for Lopez, Alcantara, or Rogers is going to be nuts.
 

Cesar Crespo

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It seems like De La Cruz doesn't have a ton of experience in CF, even in the minors. Scouting reports say he's good for RF and could stick in LF. Miami may be enticed by a true CF prospect.

The Renfroe comment was related to Dalbec + Cooper. I could see Cooper covering 1b primarily or right field if they decide to trade Renfroe and sign someone else at 1b. He provides comparable (arguably better) value to Renfroe at less cost. But the primary goal is getting one of Miami's starting pitchers, and any package for Lopez, Alcantara, or Rogers is going to be nuts.
Duran isn't a sure thing at CF himself though.
 

chawson

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I'm trying to put my finger on what Gray does well and whether we can expect that thing to continue. One notable number is his GB%, which has always been above 50% and in a nice spot, but just dropped down to 48%. His hard hit numbers have been good. But his BABIP is low so I'm a little concerned there is some luck and/or good fielding that he won't be able to count on in Boston.
Well, the 2021 Reds certainly aren’t known for their good fielding. Of course neither are the Red Sox.

Gray has had two major factors working against him — his team’s defense (remember this is a team that tried to get away with Eugenio Suarez at shortstop) and his home park. The Reds play in an extreme offensive environment, the 4th-most homer prone in baseball. Gray’s home run rate was almost doubled in Great American (1.67/9) compared with away (.83/9)

If I can cheat a little, look at Gray’s numbers away from Cincinnati the last three years, and he’s got a 3.43 FIP and held hitters to a .272 wOBA. Those rates would comfortably be a top 25 starter in baseball, roughly in the range of Berrios, Montas and Alcantara. He’s also elite, like top 5-10 in baseball, at inducing soft contact.

The Dodgers are reportedly interested, but I doubt even they would be able to absorb Moustakas’ contract given their payroll right now. I like Gray at essentially 2/$53 even if you get nothing from Moustakas, but there’s a chance he rebounds and puts up Moreland numbers, platooning with both Arroyo and Dalbec.
 
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Red(s)HawksFan

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Duran isn't a sure thing at CF himself though.
Exactly my point. Duran is a "true" CF prospect almost exclusively due to his foot speed. He's not exactly a natural there. If I'm the Marlins looking to fill CF, why not go with the younger guy who's shown a better bat in similar limited playing time in the big leagues, especially when he's in house already? Trading Sanchez is a high price to pay for what might not even be a lateral move in CF.

I don't think it's a bad idea to try prying one of Miami's young pitchers from them, but I don't think Duran and/or Dalbec are the key pieces that get it done.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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It seems that 2b in the minors is really the place to trade from- Downs or Yorke…. But Jeter will need to rebuild his value in ‘22 to bring anything valuable back….Or cash in now in Yorke’s rise in value and hope Downs can rebound to his potential when he was brought in.
 

chawson

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I see some talk about Sonny Gray, but what are your thoughts on Jon Gray?
After twice missing time this past season, with a flexor strain in his right elbow and later with forearm tightness, I’d be a little worried he’s a TJS candidate. Otherwise I like him fine, but you’d I don’t expect us to win the bidding at a salary that makes sense and ideally you’d want a better FA if you’re gonna give up a draft pick.

The upside of swinging a trade for a guy like Montas, Sonny Gray or Tyler Mahle (or more modestly, Freeland) is that they could be off the books in 2024 when it’s time to get back under the cap (if the CBA still works that way). That may be preferable to signing a guy like Matz to a 3/$39 deal or thereabouts.
 

Daniel_Son

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Exactly my point. Duran is a "true" CF prospect almost exclusively due to his foot speed. He's not exactly a natural there. If I'm the Marlins looking to fill CF, why not go with the younger guy who's shown a better bat in similar limited playing time in the big leagues, especially when he's in house already? Trading Sanchez is a high price to pay for what might not even be a lateral move in CF.

I don't think it's a bad idea to try prying one of Miami's young pitchers from them, but I don't think Duran and/or Dalbec are the key pieces that get it done.
Fair enough. What do you think a package might look like? Maybe Yorke if Miami wants to move Chisholm back to SS? Would Verdugo be worth moving if they can get one of Lopez or Alcantara?
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Why is everyone so interested in making trades now? At the deadline, wasn’t the argument that we didn’t want to move our top prospects and that the lower tier guys didn’t have much value, has that changed?

Granted there are a larger pool of available players in the off-season but there are also more suitors and also players available as free agents for just money.

If there’s a good match for a player that fills a long term foundational need, sure…but the Sox aren’t really locked up for very long at any position, so trading a Yorke, Houck, Duran or anyone else with any value just creates another hole.

I guess it just feels to me like with the current state of this team and the assets it has, free agency is the most likely way to build.
 

Daniel_Son

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Why is everyone so interested in making trades now? At the deadline, wasn’t the argument that we didn’t want to move our top prospects and that the lower tier guys didn’t have much value, has that changed?

Granted there are a larger pool of available players in the off-season but there are also more suitors and also players available as free agents for just money.

If there’s a good match for a player that fills a long term foundational need, sure…but the Sox aren’t really locked up for very long at any position, so trading a Yorke, Houck, Duran or anyone else with any value just creates another hole.

I guess it just feels to me like with the current state of this team and the assets it has, free agency is the most likely way to build.
It's the offseason, I'm bored!

More seriously, I think there are exceptions to every rule. I'm not advocating for Dombrowski-level wheeling and dealing this offseason, but if we could get a cheap, cost-controlled young starter to head our rotation for the next 3-4 years, I think that's worth parting with almost anyone in our system for. I don't think it's a good use of resources to buy that type of player in free agency.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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It's the offseason, I'm bored!

More seriously, I think there are exceptions to every rule. I'm not advocating for Dombrowski-level wheeling and dealing this offseason, but if we could get a cheap, cost-controlled young starter to head our rotation for the next 3-4 years, I think that's worth parting with almost anyone in our system for. I don't think it's a good use of resources to buy that type of player in free agency.
Mostly because that type of player definitionally isn't available in free agency.

Obviously getting a young, cheap, top of the rotation type pitcher is ideal, but I don't think there's much chance of getting one in trade without paying a price that by all measures will be viewed as an overpay. At least if the goal is to get someone who can step right into the rotation in 2022. I think the more likely avenue is finding another Whitlock type who for whatever reason is undervalued by his current organization.
 

cantor44

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Why is everyone so interested in making trades now? At the deadline, wasn’t the argument that we didn’t want to move our top prospects and that the lower tier guys didn’t have much value, has that changed?

Granted there are a larger pool of available players in the off-season but there are also more suitors and also players available as free agents for just money.

If there’s a good match for a player that fills a long term foundational need, sure…but the Sox aren’t really locked up for very long at any position, so trading a Yorke, Houck, Duran or anyone else with any value just creates another hole.

I guess it just feels to me like with the current state of this team and the assets it has, free agency is the most likely way to build.
I agree with this and hope Bloom et al, agree, too. Obviously, part of benefit of a bountiful farm is that you can have a regular flow of quality cost controlled players, which then enables getting aggressive with some choice free agents. The other benefit is reinforcing a potential championship team at the deadline. But in the off-season, and this off-season particularly? Seems Sox should hold on to their best assets and hit the FA market.

There might be some creative alternatives, though. Say, if the Sox signed Seiya Suzuki (wouldn't that be fun!), then maybe they could trade Renfroe.
 
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Yo La Tengo

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Why is everyone so interested in making trades now? At the deadline, wasn’t the argument that we didn’t want to move our top prospects and that the lower tier guys didn’t have much value, has that changed?

Granted there are a larger pool of available players in the off-season but there are also more suitors and also players available as free agents for just money.

If there’s a good match for a player that fills a long term foundational need, sure…but the Sox aren’t really locked up for very long at any position, so trading a Yorke, Houck, Duran or anyone else with any value just creates another hole.

I guess it just feels to me like with the current state of this team and the assets it has, free agency is the most likely way to build.
I think the interest in trades is related to the uncertain fit of the remaining free agent starters:

Scherzer, Ray, and Gausman will be too expensive.
Kershaw won't be an option.
Stroman (no qualifying offer) could be a good fit but I think he'll be too expensive. Plus the Sox terrible infield defense would be a bad match.
Rodon? He has a shaky health history.
DeSclafini? Maybe but I think he'll get paid elsewhere. Jon Gray? He missed games with elbow pain and forearm tightness paired with average stats. Zach Greinke? I think he's cooked.
So, we're looking at Alex Wood, Steven Matz, etc. I guess that's fine if the numbers make sense. But if the Sox wanted this kind of performance, it would have made more sense to just pay ERod.

I'm sure that if the right free agents fell in his lap, Bloom would be fine not making any trades. I'm guessing they may make a trade and will also look at somebody like Michael Pineda or Rich Hill and invest in multi-inning guys for the bullpen. This would also allow them to keep both Houck and Whitlock in the pen at least at the start of the season.

EDIT: the pickings get slimmer.
 
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nvalvo

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Why is everyone so interested in making trades now? At the deadline, wasn’t the argument that we didn’t want to move our top prospects and that the lower tier guys didn’t have much value, has that changed?

Granted there are a larger pool of available players in the off-season but there are also more suitors and also players available as free agents for just money.

If there’s a good match for a player that fills a long term foundational need, sure…but the Sox aren’t really locked up for very long at any position, so trading a Yorke, Houck, Duran or anyone else with any value just creates another hole.

I guess it just feels to me like with the current state of this team and the assets it has, free agency is the most likely way to build.
For me it would be because I don't think the team is good enough to win a title with the current defense, and that means improving the roster requires a more comprehensive shakeup — trades make sense there.

I know, I know: we made the ALCS. We also made the playoffs by the skin of our teeth with a roster that outperformed its Pythagorean and BaseRuns records by three and six wins, respectively, ahead of a Toronto club that massively underperformed by those metrics.

Maybe it makes more sense for that shakeup to happen after 2022, but I feel like our window here with a still-youngish Sale and Eovaldi at the top of the rotation shouldn't be ignored.
 

johnnywayback

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The 11 top remaining FA starters: Scherzer, Ray, Gausman, Stroman, Rodon, Kershaw // Gray, Matz, Greinke, Kikuchi, Duffy. The // is my attempt to draw a line between Better Than ERod and Better Than Perez. The hope would be that they get one of each.
 

Apisith

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Gausman would be a good pickup. One, he doesn’t have a QO attached. Two, he’s pitched in the AL East and has had success. Three, if the market breaks right, he could be had for 3/$55m, which would help us build a bridge towards when our next group of premium prospects graduate. Three years isn’t a long commitment and $18m/year is doable. We can dip under the CBT level again in a couple of years. He also eats innings (relatively), so with Eovaldi could provide stability and reduce the pressure on Houck and Whitlock. Stroman is a pitcher with a similar pedigree and also doesn’t have a QO attached.

Out of the guys without a QO attached (a condition that I think Bloom would prefer), Scherzer is obviously the best but by far the most expensive, and would eat up the entire budget. I’m assuming Bloom wants to pick up a position player like Baez or Marte who also doesn’t have a QO attached. Gausman and Marte for 3/$105m combined gives us projected 6 wins next year and we don’t lose picks or commit payroll space for long term.
 

Minneapolis Millers

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Gausman would be a good pickup. One, he doesn’t have a QO attached. Two, he’s pitched in the AL East and has had success. Three, if the market breaks right, he could be had for 3/$55m...
Wouldn't the market have to crash for that to happen? That's not even half, in years and total money, of what MLBTR predicts.

I'm interested in Rodon, although his health is a legit question. But he seems to be a guy Chaim could get on a 1+ year deal, with incentives, for less than guys like Verlander and Syndergaard, who would still offer serious upside.
 

Apisith

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Wouldn't the market have to crash for that to happen? That's not even half, in years and total money, of what MLBTR predicts.

I'm interested in Rodon, although his health is a legit question. But he seems to be a guy Chaim could get on a 1+ year deal, with incentives, for less than guys like Verlander and Syndergaard, who would still offer serious upside.
I used the median crowdsource on fangraphs, and lopped off a year (market breaking right).

Either way, this applies to Stroman as well. If the market breaks right and we can get either him or Gausman on 4 or less years and $20m per year or less, they would both fit our timeline and conditions (no QO, no long term deals).