The part of this no one (at least that I've seen) talks about is what is the impact of sign stealing? Of course we have no real data whatsoever. No double-blind studies of how Jose Altuve would hit with and without knowing what's coming. We have no idea how often he got the signs. We have some apples-to-pears data from home/road games, but home/road splits are going to be different anyway. And the data is mixed; Altuve had a big home split last year, but an equally big away split in 2018.
It's like PEDs. No really good data on anything, so the assumption is that it takes an average dude and turns him into an MVP. But the reality is almost certainly much messier, much less clear cut. Some people did it all the time, some rarely, some never. The benefits were almost certainly all over the place from negative impacts from side effects to massive performance gains. But we're just guessing. Same thing with sign stealing. Some will assume that this is worth 25 wins to the Astros, but we have no idea if it's even a significant thing. For all we know it's like corking your bat; the benefits of that over legal bats are usually zero or worse.
Sign stealing has been so prevalent over the years we've all heard the stories of batters who didn't want to know. It messes with their approach and their heads if they're tipped off to what's probably coming.
In the end we can probably make the assumption that stealing signs helps the average batter somewhat. But we have no idea of the actual impact.
I think “otherworldly” is a huge overstatement of what he’d need to be offensively to compensate for his defense. Last year he was worth 0.1 rWAR, -0.2 fWAR, so basically replacement level. He was 48th of 68 catchers who had at least 100 plate appearances in fWAR, so that places him solidly in the middle of second string catchers in overall value. With a decent improvement in his offense, he’d be above average overall for a backup catcher. Somewhere between .750-.775 OPS would take him off the cusp, IMO. I don’t consider that “otherworldly.”
By the way, I’m using WAR because it’s available, but I don’t completely trust it for catchers.
This one slipped by me until Roch mentioned it today in his blog. He was signed on Jan 10th.
This looks like a Wojo signing to me. Long time minor league starter, who has had a cup of coffee in the majors. From the Dominican.
Between AAA and the winter league his stats this past season are:
19-3, 2.01 ERA, 29 S, 188.1 IP, 171 H, 162 SO, 1.019 WHIP
He played with Houston at AAA in 2016 going 12-1, 3.12 ERA in the PCL. So Elias knows him well.
Valdez doesn't look like someone that is ticketed for the AAA rotation that already has 6 starters in it. If he shows something in ST he could be in the O's rotation or long relief. If he doesn't show enough in ST he is probably gone.