Since the Baseball Winter Meetings concluded in
December, it’s been mostly quiet on the baseball free agent front. There have a
few deals mostly minor in scope and certainly pale in comparison to the Albert
Pujols and C.J. Wilson deals with the Angels.
Since those contracts were signed and those two
players came off the market the baseball hot stove has cooled off. That doesn’t
mean to say there still aren’t some deals to be made but there aren’t very many
plums, save for one, still left on the tree.
A report from Washington has the Nats as the current
frontrunners to sign Prince Fielder, one of the last remaining crown
jewels of the current free agent class. Fielder’s agent Scott Boras also
represents prized Nationals youngsters Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, as
well as outfielder Jayson Werth, whom the Nats signed last offseason. If
Fielder does, in fact, get a contract from Washington—it would likely take in
excess of the $25.4 million a year that Albert Pujols got from the Angels, Fielder is five years younger than Pujols who signed
that massive contract with the Angels. But any team considering
signing Fielder has to weigh (no pun intended) the health factor and the risk
of signing a player who is 5-11 and 275. He’s also not fleet of foot nor is he
much to speak of defensively. There wouldn’t be too many tears shed if Boras
didn’t get a massive deal done for Fielder. With the start of the exhibition
season just around the corner that’s a distinct possibility. There are very few impact players remaining on the
market and most of them are overpriced. Here are the best of a very weak crop.
Every player on the list without fail is overpriced.
What they want, what they’re worth and what they’ll get will be far
different numbers. Take pitcher Yu Darvish who has never worked an inning in
the majors but yet the Rangers put up a posting fee of $51 million dollars just
to have the right to negotiate with him. If they can’t get a deal done then the
Japanese league returns the money. If Texas does sign him add $51.7 million
dollars to the cost of the contract and you wind up with a very risky
investment. It’s that kind of crazy spending that put the Texas Rangers in bankruptcy
in the first place.
Closer Ryan Madson is the best reliever available
but he’s looking for a three to four years deal a $10 million per and there’s
not a team desperate enough to pay that kind of money for a guy who is 31 and
has a recent history of arm trouble. Baseball experts say Madson's true value
is closer to $7 to $8 million but the longer he waits to sign, the shorter the
list of would be suitors gets.
Edwin Jackson is another pitcher, a career .500
pitcher no less, who hopes to get $10 million dollars a year. At last count
he’s worked for the Dodgers, Tigers, Diamondbacks, White Sox and Cardinals.
He’s not an ace but he wants ace kind of money.
Cuban defector Yoennis Céspedes is widely
expected to sign with an MLB team this winter and while no buyers have emerged
yet, the Miami Marlins are reportedly interested.
Finally it’s the best remaining FA in my opinion,
former Dodgers ace Hiroki Kuroda. The Red Sox are rumored to be close to a deal
with him and this one would make sense. Kuroda has made at least 30 starts for
the Dodgers in four of the last five seasons, including the last two. He
pitched a career-high 202 innings in 2011 with a career-best 3.07 ERA and 161
strikeouts. The negative is that Kuroda is 36 years old and might want to
finish his career in his native Japan. If so the Boston Red Sox are out of luck, if
not Boston might get him with a one year deal.
Although there is still one Major League
Baseball free agent plum left on the
market, the tree was picked nearly clean by the Anaheim Angels and Miami
Marlins who made the biggest headlines and spent the most money at the Baseball
Winter Meetings in Dallas.
Most observers had the Albert Pujols derby
capped as a two horse field. However while Miami and St. Louis took the
forefront in their flirtations with Prince Albert, the Los Angeles Angels of
Anaheim quietly came out of nowhere to secure the services of the games top
hitter with a 10 year, $254 million dollar contract.
In fact it was a ‘sweep’ for the Halos who
also signed the top FA pitcher getting C.J. Wilson to agree to terms on a
five-year, $77M dollar deal. He joins an already strong starting rotation (Jeff
Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana) and with Pujols in the middle of the
batting order the Angels rise to the top of the betting futures has been swift.
With the two new additions the Angels went
from 10/1 to 5/1 in most sportsbooks and are now co-favorites with the Phillies to
win the World Series.
The Marlins made a splash in the free agent
pond signing pitchers shortstop Jose Reyes along with pitchers Mark Buerhle and
Heath Bell. Bell got three years and $27
million, Buerhle, the long-time White Sox ace, signed for $58 million over four
years while Reyes got the biggest deal of the bunch getting a six-year, $106M
Miami opened at 60/1 to win the World Series
but have since taken on 10/1 MLB odds. While Miami arguably improved the most of
any National League team, Philadelphia with its superior pitching is still the
team to beat in the National League East. The Phillies were busy early on in the off-season picking up
Jonathan Papelbon and Jim Thome not quite on par with the Pujols signing but
Surprisingly the Cubs have received the most
action of any MLB team. After opening at 35/1 they’ve been bet down to 7/1 and
this is without making any on field changes. Call it the Theo Epstein factor
with Chicago fans buying into the team’s new front office headed by Epstein the
new head of President of Baseball Operations.
The Angels may not be done dealing. The
addition of Pujols and Wilson give them added depth and increase trade
flexibility. They could move either Haren or Santana for a top notch left-handed
hitter or they could stay put and hope that Kendry Morales returns to form
after a broken ankle. Pujols will be plugged into either the No. 3 or 4 spot
giving Manager Mike Scioscia a big bat something that’s been missed since
Vladimir Guerrero was around. Consider that last Pujols hit .299 and had 99
RBIs making it the first time in his career in which he batted less than .300
or had fewer than 100 RBIs in a season.
of the Rest’
Fielder is the one big ticket item remaining
in the MLB supermarket. With the market now established for Pujols, super-agent
Scott Boras will go to work trying to get his client a similar deal as the one
Pujols signed with Anaheim. There had been talk about Fielder going to Texas
but team president Nolan Ryan has nixed that rumor. That leaves the Mariners,
Blue Jays and Cubs as possibilities. Milwaukee, in the wake of Ryan Braun’s PED
suspension may have no choice but to re-enter the Fielder sweepstakes.
Hiroki Kuroda and Roy Oswalt are the top free
agent pitchers on the market but there doesn’t figure to be heavy demand for
their services. Kuroda may return to Japan to finish up his career while
Oswalt’s value has dropped because of his bad back.
Bottom line; the Angels are the big winners
this offseason and so are you if you made a futures bet on them before the winter meetings.
This is the time of year that baseball fans
and roto players alike love. Trades will be made and free agents will be signed
as clubs signal the unofficial start of the 2012 season. For our purposes any
past or present signings are going to have a huge opportunity for our MLB
betting futures. You can bet that the numbers will change once we’ve got a better
idea where the big four will land.
Where are the prime free agents headed and
what deals have been done already?
Here’s a brief look at the headlines as the
Hot Stove league shifts into high gear.
He’s already met with the Marlins who are meeting with everyone. He want’s
A-Rod pre-recession money but he won’t get it. Some team will overpay for him
and my guess is it will be the Cardinals.
I keep hearing Seattle as a landing spot for the big slugger who is reportedly
more interested in $$$$ then being in a winning situation. By process of
elimination it won’t be the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies or Cardinals who are set
at 1B (providing Pujols re-signs). The Angels or Dodgers have been mentioned
but neither team has the budget. He’s the toughest one of the marquee guys to
figure out. Maybe Texas?
He had dinner Thanksgiving week with the Angels and their new GM Jerry Dipoto.
Wilson is from Newport Beach which is within walking distance of the Big A. The
Rangers would like him but the deal for Joe Nathan tells me they’re expecting
Wilson to sign elsewhere. I say he signs with the Angels who will trade Ervin
Santana to get a quality reliever and/or another big stick.
Sorry. The guys an ingrate and I don’t care where he signs. He wimped out in
winning the batting title and is another injury prone, me-me-me kind of guy. It
could be the Marlins for Reyes but wouldn’t it be something if the Yankees
signed him and moved Jeter to the outfield? I’m just thinking out loud.
Phillies get Papelbon
The Phillies inked Jonathan
Papelbon to a four-year, $50,000,058 deal and yes the money is outrageous.
Philadelphia could have done better had they waited for the market on closers to
settle, but they did get one of the game’s best late inning specialist.
Nathan to close for the Rangers
The Texas Rangers signed
veteran closer Joe Nathan to a two-year, $14.5-milllion contract at a
first glance it seems a bit pricey.
It appeared as though Nathan’s career might be
over after he underwent Tommy John surgery. Amazingly he bounced back for a
strong second-half and it was enough to secure a nice contract from Texas. Besides, who am I to argue with Nolan Ryan?
catches on with Twins
Doumit gets $3 million dollars which tells
you all you need to know about the wafer thin catching position. He’ll catch
when Joe Mauer needs a breather and can play first base when Justin Morneau
needs a breather.
Thome resigns with Philadelphia.
The likeable Thome gets a one-year, $1.25
million dollar contract with the Phillies but has anyone told the club he’s a
DH? He’s a great guy and I’m glad he got some money at the tail end of his
career but honestly when’s the last time he played in the field?
bucks for new Buc Clint Barmes
This is why Pittsburgh is always at the
bottom. It’s signings like these that leave Pirate fans longing for the return
of Bill Mazeroski. Barmes hit 12 homers in 2011 and is hitting .242 over the
past three years. For that he gets $10 million dollars over two years.
see how close we get on some of these predicted landing spots. And let’s hurry
up, there are futures waiting to be wagered on.