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Friday, January 31, 2020

Way-Too-Early Ranking of Next Winter’s Top Free Agents

Most of the top free agents this offseason have already signed, a refreshing change after the last few stagnant winters. Now, with players reporting to spring training in just a few weeks, let’s turn our attention to the best players available on the open market after next season.

This list includes only unrestricted free agents, because we don’t know now if Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez or Dellin Betances will opt out of their current deals. The same is true with Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Santana and Corey Kluber, whose clubs have the option to keep them for another year.

Here are the top five free agents slated to hit the market next winter.

This is what happens when the hot stove moves quicker than you were expecting, isn’t it?

QLE Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: d.j. lemahieu, free agents, george springer, j.t. realmuto, mookie betts, trevor bauer

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   1. bfan Posted: January 31, 2020 at 08:12 AM (#5920708)
Most of the top free agents this offseason have already signed, a refreshing change after the last few stagnant winters


Why is that refreshing? Who cares whether Manny Machado and Bryce Harper signed in February or late December? Did they start the season in playing shape for their respective teams? Did they play full seasons?

Way too early my a**; way too wrong.
   2. Stevey Posted: January 31, 2020 at 09:28 AM (#5920721)
Why is that refreshing?


Because baseball is better when teams are more actively competing to be better than each other. Prioritizing extracting every last drop of value out of your transactions, and especially tanking, are not as enjoyable for fans. Baseball is better when more teams want to go add great players, and not so much when more teams go "The surplus value on [star player] is X, but we can sign [average player] and get X+1". No one comes to games to root for the accountants.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: January 31, 2020 at 09:38 AM (#5920724)
I don't necessarily see the correlation between teams actively competing to be better and stars signing early in the off-season as opposed to late.

I'd guess Harper/Boras were the driving factor in him not signing until when he did, not the teams.
   4. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 31, 2020 at 09:42 AM (#5920725)
Not much of a ranking if it only includes five guys.
   5. bfan Posted: January 31, 2020 at 10:04 AM (#5920734)
Because baseball is better when teams are more actively competing to be better than each other. Prioritizing extracting every last drop of value out of your transactions, and especially tanking, are not as enjoyable for fans. Baseball is better when more teams want to go add great players, and not so much when more teams go "The surplus value on [star player] is X, but we can sign [average player] and get X+1". No one comes to games to root for the accountants.


If that is the case then the point is a**-backwards. The FA's were signing later because there were more bidders for their services and thus longer duration of the bidding process. If a FA wants to get the most money he can, he shouldn't sign in December; he should let other teams try and beat the offer he has on the table. In fact, I was shocked Cole signed in December, unless he just really wanted to go with the Yankees. My thought would be he would take that offer and he whether the Astros/Angels/Dodgers/Padres what other teams might bid, and see if they could beat it in January and early February.
   6. Stevey Posted: January 31, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5920736)
I don't necessarily see the correlation between teams actively competing to be better and stars signing early in the off-season as opposed to late.


It's not always going to be the case, but we usually see the bigger players "set" the market early in the offseason. Boras has no problem pulling the trigger in early December (like he did with Cole this offseason) when the bid he wants comes in. There's nothing to suggest that Boras takes every team to the brink when there actually is healthy bidding going on.

And we saw that the percentage of revenue going to players fell in the previous two offseasons, and more teams than usual were looking to reign in costs, and downright tanking.
   7. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 31, 2020 at 10:13 AM (#5920739)
This list includes only unrestricted free agents, because we don’t know now if Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez or Dellin Betances will opt out of their current deals. The same is true with Anthony Rizzo, Carlos Santana and Corey Kluber, whose clubs have the option to keep them for another year.


Actually, I think we do know all of these...

   8. Stevey Posted: January 31, 2020 at 10:15 AM (#5920740)
The FA's were signing later because there were more bidders for their services and thus longer duration of the bidding process. If a FA wants to get the most money he can, he shouldn't sign in December; he should let other teams try and beat the offer he has on the table. In fact, I was shocked Cole signed in December, unless he just really wanted to go with the Yankees. My thought would be he would take that offer and he whether the Astros/Angels/Dodgers/Padres what other teams might bid, and see if they could beat it in January and early February.


This seems to ignore how the market has worked pretty much forever up until two seasons ago. The bigger names set the market. If Cole (for example) holds out too long, the Yankees (or whoever) are not going to risk leaving a hole in their rotation, they'll bid on the next guy(s), and not just leave $300M burning a hole in their pocket.

   9. Rally Posted: January 31, 2020 at 11:27 AM (#5920762)
Actually, I think we do know all of these...


I sure don't so please enlighten the rest of us.

Martinez seems very likely to opt out, since his salary drops 4 million. Rizzo seems very likely to be kept by the Cubs. But still a big injury could change things.

Stanton stays if he has another year like 2019, but if he's healthy and hits 50+ homers he'll opt out. Santana had a fine season last year, but even if he repeats it I don't know if the Indians will pick up the option. Any drop off, and he's gone.

For Kluber and Betances it all depends on how they pitch and how healthy they are.

If they return to previous dominance, Kluber stays and Betances leaves. If they are hurt/ineffective, then the opposite happens.
   10. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:10 PM (#5920770)
Fine, Kluber and Betances....

But if you think there is any scenario where Stanton opts out.... He'll be 31 entering 2021. You really think he'll get something better than ~7/210? You really think HE thinks he can?
   11. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:13 PM (#5920771)
Stanton stays if he has another year like 2019, but if he's healthy and hits 50+ homers he'll opt out.


I don't know, he'll be 31 and he would be guaranteed at least $218 million over 7 seasons, ($233/8 if his option gets picked up). Not so sure someone with his injury history beats that.

ETA:

Shoulda refreshed...
   12. Rally Posted: January 31, 2020 at 12:57 PM (#5920787)
Stanton will be 1.5 years older when hitting free agency than Anthony Rendon (7/245) was at the time of his free agency. That tells me the option is open. 1.5 years is important, but he doesn't have to beat or even fully match Rendon's value to make it something worth considering.

Stanton has played 10 years, and in half of those he played 145+ games. I'm counting 2010 in there, since he played 100 in the majors and 53 in the minors before his callup. If he can do that next year while hitting at his expected rate, an op-out will have to at least be considered.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: January 31, 2020 at 03:46 PM (#5920864)
Maybe Stanton opts out if he has another 2017 or better but nah. Even when healthy, he's put up 5.3 WAR/650 and that's gonna project to come down in his 30s. Hard to see him doing substantially better than what he's owed so it won't be worth the risk. I'd say there's a reasonable chance he gets the Yanks to guarantee the last year, partly using the argument they'll be getting $30 M from the Marlins anyway. That would make him 8/$233 but just $203 from the Yanks' perspective. (Only if he's healthy and productive of course.)

I will say that Rendon, Strasburg and Cole all did better by AAV than I was expecting given recent markets so maybe salary inflation is back. I'd still play it safe if I was Stanton. He'll be 2nd fiddle to Mookie, maybe even 3rd behind Springer ... maybe that helps if Mookie can push $40 or break $400 (12/$420 or something) but you don't kick $220 M to the curb in hopes of making $240.

It surprises me that Stanton and Springer are the same age (Stanton 50 days younger) given Stanton's been in the majors 4 years longer. Springer has had his own health issues the last few years and could use another big season like 2019. He's been at 4.8 WAR/650 for his career so if he does well this year while Stanton doesn't, he might be the preferred signing. And even while missing 20 games a season in 2017-18, he still got over 600 PA and he was at 550 last year so he's been more reliable than Stanton. And Springer seems to have been solid in CF while, just to keep him healthy, Stanton might be stuck at DH for the rest of his career (though obviously this could happen soon with Springer as well if he keeps missing time).

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