Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mat Latos the 2016 Version of Kyle Davies?

When the Miami Marlins decided to go "all-in" in the winter before the 2015 season the team made various deals including signing Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich to extensions and acquiring the likes of Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Mat Latos and others in various deals. While the Stanton and Yelich extensions look good on paper and the middle infield including Gordon looks to be set for a long time the team has not received the best returns from Haren or Latos. Haren has pitched much better than Latos, and essentially for free mind you as the Dodgers sent Haren's $10 million in salary along with the right-hander in the deal, which led Jeffrey Loria's club to trade Latos to the Los Angeles Dodgers before the trading deadline. Latos did not pitch much better in the pennant race and has recently been designated for assignment and ultimately released by Los Angeles, could he be a minor league option for teams, especially the New York Yankees who love these sorts of deals, for the 2016 season?

The New York Yankees sign a veteran to a minor league deal virtually every offseason with relief pitcher Jared Burton and starting pitcher Kyle Davies the most recent examples of this strategy. Burton was not long for the team but Davies led the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders to the postseason as their "ace" after Luis Severino's promotion. Does Latos fit the mold and would the Yankees even want him?

The second question is much easier to answer than the first, of course the Yankees would want him if we're talking about a minor league deal. There is no such thing as a bad minor league deal, Hal Steinbrenner probably spends more on booze in a month than a MiLB free agent makes in a full season, and if Latos is willing to accept one then the Yankees, or any team, should pounce. At 27-years old I think Latos is far from done, even with a combined 4.95 ERA this season between the Marlins and the Dodgers. Latos is one season removed from an injury riddles 2014 season and two seasons from removed from his second consecutive 14-win season. 

It is not uncommon to see certain injuries carrying over the next season despite being fully healed, see Mark Teixeira's wrist injury from 2013, and it's not common for Latos to see his BABip above the .300 mark like it is in 2015. Latos strikes out enough batters to survives and contains the walks enough to be competitive while keeping the ball in the ballpark while keeping the ball on the ground enough to win ball games. If he wants to throw those strikes and ground ball outs in Scranton with an opt-out clause to come to the majors then sign me up, if not I think some team is going to get a ton of value on a relatively small MLB contract with Latos in 2016. Just a hunch. Plus I like his tattoos. 

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