My Favorite "Small but Mighty" Moves
Big names like Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, and Sonny Gray have changed clubs for the 2024 season, but what not-so-big names have a shot at emerging as solid pickups?
If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s the MLB hot stove. And while the stove has been more lukewarm than hot this winter, I’m still enjoying every move big or small. After all, the offseason stinks and the stove’s all we’ve got.
Sure, Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, Sonny Gray, Tyler Glasnow, Chris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel have all packed their bags to head elsewhere, and it’ll be cool to see how those stars impact their new clubs.
But I’ll happily be the odd man out shedding light on sneaky moves you may or may not have even heard about this winter.
Rays acquire Richie Palacios
You’d think the Cardinals would be weary of trading any more outfield prospects to the Rays after Randy Arozarena emerged as a postseason hero and All-Star with Tampa immediately. Nevertheless, St. Louis dealt Richie Palacios for Andrew Kittredge last week.
Kittredge has been a proven relief pitcher at the Major League level for some time now, hurling 214 career frames with a favorable 3.65 ERA—a player who should positively impact the Cardinals bullpen.
However, I like this deal for the Rays a lot more.
Palacios will act as a sparkplug outfielder in Tampa, as he can efficiently play all three positions. Whether Arozarena, Lowe, or Siri need a rest, Kevin Cash can plug Palacios right in their place. He can even provide some needed depth at second base.
At 26 years old, Palacios is on the older side for the time he’s gotten in the Bigs, but he’s made the most of it. After a short stint in Cleveland, Palacios completely broke out with the Redbirds in 2023, clubbing 6 HR and grabbing a stout 120 OPS+, 20 points above the MLB average. He also struck out just 10% of the time, and slugged .516, proving that he can put the ball in play, and drive it.
The native from Brooklyn, New York has been working with the popular baseball development center “Driveline” this winter and will tap into the minds of some of baseball’s best coaches in Tampa Bay. He’ll fit in like a glove.
Reds sign Brent Suter
Fresh off the press as of Thursday afternoon, the Cincinnati Reds signed Brent Suter to a 1 year, $2.5M contract, with a 2025 club option.
Suter, better known as the Velociraptor, is a longtime left-handed reliever who’s found tons of success. The Harvard product boasted a career 3.49 ERA and has a funky delivery to throw off batters.
Although Great American Ballpark isn’t a “great” spot for pitchers, I’m still a fan of this move a lot. Suter is used to an unfriendly pitching environment; he spent all of 2023 with Coors Field as his home park - and was very good.
Suter produced a 3.38 ERA over 69 innings with the Rockies last year and was in the top 97th (or better) percentiles for average exit velocity, barrel%, hard-hit%, and extension per Baseball Savant. His great metrics should follow, as he gets tons of protection in a stellar Reds pen led by Alexis Diaz, Tejay Antone, Emilio Pagan, and Nick Martinez.
Not to mention the NL Central is particularly weak in terms of lineup talent. Cincinnati is building something special, and Suter will be a part of it.
Giants tab Tom Murphy
I owe Tom Murphy an apology, I was not familiar with his game last season. The Mariners backstop was terrific at the plate in 2023, hitting 8 HR with a 1.2 rWAR and a 142 OPS+ in just 145 at-bats.
Murphy signed a 2-year, $8.25M contract with San Francisco earlier this winter, solidifying him as the club’s future backup.
Is it boring I’m talking about a second-string catcher? Hear me out. The fit for Murphy in San Francisco is perfect. Not only does it open up possibilities for him, he will help out other players.
The Buffalo product may be below-average defensively, but he won’t have to worry about catching much. Patrick Bailey is elite behind the plate and broke out with the Giants last season. He will carry the load, and Murphy will only have to focus on what he does best. Mashing.
This opens up space for Blake Sabol to move toward first base, and the outfield, where I think he is best suited for success.
If anything, Murphy will be a solid platoon, matchup-based bat, much like Austin Slater, and is an incredibly cheap option.