While baseball is focused on the postseason, players who had been sent outright from a 40-man roster throughout the last year have begun to elect minor-league free agency. With the developing minor-league free agent market comes a pair of minor-league depth signings, each bringing a reasonably high level of intrigue.
The San Francisco Giants brought in super utility player Drew Robinson on a minor-league contract. While the initial report doesn’t say anything about an invitation to spring training, I would imagine that he makes the trip out to Arizona this spring to fight for a job off the Giants bench. This is an excellent signing for the Giants. First of all, Robinson has rather significant experience at all three outfield and all four infield positions, while posting positive range factor marks for all of them minus left field. Offensively, he may not be very exciting, but he comes with double-digit home run and stolen base potential, while maintaining a walk rate at around 12 percent. My projections have him slashing .214/.312/.398 (.711) with 162-game rates of 22 doubles, 19 home runs, and 11 stolen bases.
My expectation for the 27-year-old utility player is that he begins the season in Triple A but earns a call-up within the first two months of the season and sticks around as the utility guy for at least a month. While he’s out of minor-league options, he comes with team control, which is exceptionally valuable to a team early on in their rebuild. Robinson represents this offseason’s first candidate to be this season’s Max Muncy-type Cinderella Story, which was made even more interesting as Farhan Zaidi was among those who helped uncover Muncy.
At the very least, the Giants brought in a very capable defensive replacement who can hold his own offensively.
The New York Mets brought in left-handed reliever Peter Tago on a minor-league contract. Tago had once been a Compensation A pick by the Colorado Rockies, but poor performance in the low minor leagues clouded his prospect status, resulting in his selection in the minor-league portion of the Rule Five draft and a previous stint on the free agent market. While people were so quick to write Tago off, I’m not so sure that the ship has sailed on his career. When looking at Tago’s low minor-league numbers, it’s not hard to imagine why this signing brought no fanfare. That being said, however, here are his bottom line stats by level since the 2015 season:
- 2015 (A): 12 IP, 3.75 ERA, 3.90 FIP
- 2015 (A+): 35.1 IP, 2.80 ERA, 2.66 FIP
- 2015 (AA): 19 IP, 1.89 ERA, 3.36 FIP
- 2016 (AA): 59.2 IP, 4.37 ERA, 3.37 FIP
- 2017 (AA): 39 IP, 2.54 ERA, 3.19 FIP
These numbers are actually stellar and could suggest that the Mets came away with a bargain here. Tago had been retired prior to signing his new minor-league contract with the Mets. My assumption is that he begins the minor-league season in Double-A and could reach the majors late in the season, as something of a September call-up. I’d consider his ceiling to be that of a possible high upside setup man, with the most likely scenario being that of a very reliable middle relief arm. His most likely poor outcome would simply be that of not reaching the majors.
Based on his sizable gap of time since his last game, I weighed his projection up 20 percent, resulting in a 4.36 ERA, a 1.49 HR/9, a 2.91 BB/9, and an 8.65 K/9. While it’s too early to inquire whether it’s a good landing spot, as free agency is yet to actually begin, if he’s able to pick up where he left off in 2017, there should be no reason why Tago shouldn’t reach the majors in 2020.