This time of year in baseball isn’t the free agent frenzy. It’s not the trading frenzy. It’s simply a frenzy. A frenzy of signings, extensions, trades, and a bunch of rumors. It’s partly why I’m not sure when this column is going up, but it’s up right now, so…
Anyways, these past week few weeks in baseball has been nuts. NUTS! I’m sitting in Geometry class on a day during this frenzy, and I see that Jason Heyward had been traded.
“Whoa, that’s actually a shocker.”
15 minutes later.
Phone vibrates. Russell Martin signs with the Blue Jays.
BIG SHOCKER! WHOA!
And that’s how this column started.
I’m actually going to start with Giancarlo Stanton’s new extension:
The money didn’t shock me. Truly. I knew that the contract would be more than A-Rod’s record breaking deal. It was the amount of years that I was surprised by.
Earlier in November, the Marlins and superstar Giancarlo Stanton agreed to a 13 year, $325 million extension. It’s the largest contract ever handed out to any athlete in the four major professional sports in the U.S.A.
The details though, are really interesting. The main highlight of the deal is an early opt-out after six years, which if Stanton wasn’t happy, he could leave. The catch though, and where the Marlins got smart, was the portion after the opt-out. The numbers after the contract rise rapidly. Stanton would leave $218 million on the table if he opts-out. That’s a lot of money, by the way.
So why would Stanton leave that, at all?
First, this is a long ways away. This opt-out doesn’t come up until six years INTO the extension, not six years from now.
But lets go glass half-empty. Stanton hasn’t been thrilled with some of the Marlins moves over the past couple years. If they keep goofing things up, it won’t make him happy, and that’s the last thing you want.
This is now, though. These next couple years gives the Marlins some cap room and time to sign some people. It also gives Miami time to lock up other young stars on their team, like Jose Fernandez.
Stanton expects the Marlins to be competitive by the time the opt-out comes around. Competitive being playoffs. It’s not inconceivable, but the Marlins have to be smart.
There isn’t any salary cap in baseball. It’s about what a guy does for you, and how much you pay him to do it. You build your team through trades and free agents, with the draft as a farm. It’s why we see blockbusters in the MLB. Guys are easy to trade. Have you seen Moneyball?
He made it look pretty easy, at least.
Giancarlo Stanton is going to get paid over these next couple years. Miami was smart with this contract and it’s structure. If Stanton leaves during the opt-out, fine. Nothing they can do about it, beucase it’s not like he’s opting out to sign an even bigger deal with them.
Now, if the time leading up to opt-out is awful, like Stanton is unhappy awful, he may leave, and bolt. He probably won’t sign a contract as big as this, as his age will be creeping up by then, but he will go somewhere he can win, and that’s if he doesn’t in Miami.
I was positive that Russell Martin was going to sign with the Chicago Cubs. He had the most discussions with them, and the fit seemed ideal. Though, he shocked us, and ultimately, made himself happy.
Martin was born in Toronto, and played baseball for a small college in Florida.
Martin had been with the Dodgers for the first five years of his career, and then signed with the Yankees in 2011. After two years there, he signed a two year, $17 million contract with Pittsburgh.
In Pittsburgh, Martin arguably had his best season(s) of his career, finish 24th and 13th this pasts year in MVP voting. His power in 2014 went down, as he hit 11 home runs, but his production didn’t shy at the plate. With 67 RBI’s and 20 doubles, he’s going to get on base.
Martin played 111 games this past year, which is shocking when considering the numbers. He is a catcher, and the move on the defensive side of things is a little strange by the Blue Jays, but they seem to looking to add more leadership. The Jays are in a “win now” phase. With Mark Buhrele, Jose Reyes and Bautista, they have some star players who will produce. The age factor is a little concerning, as most of these guys are exiting their prime, but talent usually gets things done.
That “win now” phrase will be used a lot when talking about the Jays-A’s trade later on.
The Braves-Cardinals trade that occurred on November 17th wasn’t a huge shocker. The Cardinals needed an outfielder due to Oscar Taveras’s tragic death in October.
Jason Heyward is only 25. He seems older, aye? The huge expectations for him haven’t payed off. He had so much hype around him. Everyone expected him to be star.
It hasn’t quite worked out, but changes of scenery help. Since 2010, his debut, he has won two Gold Gloves, and that’s it. The Braves have been super sketchy over his career. One season they’re contenders, then next they win 70 games. It’s totally up and down.
The Cardinals though, don’t play that way. They’ve been one of the better teams in baseball this decade. Playing for a better team has famously shaped guys careers.
In St. Louis, he will be starting in right field. There won’t be any competition, and should be happy with wherever he winds up batting. That’s been his main problem over the course of his career. In five seasons, he’s batted .262. His on-base percentage isn’t great, at .351.
Overall, the Cardinals got a decent replacement for Taveras. For now, at least.
The return of this trade was super interesting. Shelby Miller was dealt in return for Heyward. I’ve loved Miller over the past years, plus he’s young. Debuting in 2012, he’s averaged 3.33 ERA over his career, and 13 wins a year. Miller isn’t much of a KO guy. He feeds off ground balls.
Miller has had a great career so far with St. Louis. I kinda feel bad for him, just because he enjoys playing there, and going to Atlanta, who may be blowing things up, won’t be fun. If I’m Atlanta, I can’t believe I got Miller in return.
Two other players were moved in this trade, and only one of them I had heard of.
Jordan Walden was sent from the Braves to the Cardinals along with Heyward. Walden is a very nice reliever, and has been great over the course of his career. Walden strikes guys out, and will give you a great outing. It adds even more depth to a stacked Cardinals bullpen.
Tyrell Jenkins was shipped from St. Louis to Atlanta.
One of the odder deals of these past weeks came from the South Side of Chicago, where the White Sox signed Adam LaRoche to a 2 yr/$25 million contract.
Coming off a great season, LaRoche was going to get a nice deal. Batting .259, with 92 RBI’s and 26 HR’s this past season, it was arguably the best of his career.
The weirdest part of the deal is the location. LaRoche is 35. Two years was smart, but why would you want to go to the White Sox? They have potential, yea, but not in two years! It was very confusing for someone who probably just signed his last MLB contract.
He’ll contribute to the White Sox, giving them another bat. He’s very good defensively, too. Chicago can do want they want, but I’m more confused about LaRoche’s decision, not the team’s.
I was really confused when the A’s signed Billy Butler. I didn’t see it coming, and really, I don’t think anyone did.
When I thought about it, I considered the A’s pitcher friendly ballpark, and how that does Butler no good, since his power has visibly decreased in the past two years. The O.co Coliseum in Oakland plays massive, and even though it’s characteristics aren’t as drastic as other stadiums, it’s pretty funky.
Butler’s numbers since 2012 have decreased substantially. In 2012, he hit .373, with 29 HR’s and 107 RBI’s. Close to every category has decreased since that year, and for a 28 year old, it’s a little odd.
He signed a 3 year, $30 million contract with the A’s. Some say it’s a little much. I think it’s a little much.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, though. Butler’s numbers probably won’t be massive anymore, especially playing in Oakland for half the year.
It’s not like Butler is outstanding on defense either. He’s nothing special. So it’s a very interesting contract. He will DH, but again, expect the numbers to go down.
It’s more of a depth move. He’ll play 1B and DH, won’t put up huge numbers, and won’t do anything outstanding on defense. He will play, but $30 million seems a little to much for how the A’s are going to use him.
After this signing, the A’s went out and traded for Ike Davis.
The trade with Pittsburgh included Davis for a couple of international bonus slots. That shows you right there how much Davis’s value has declined.
After being traded at the beginning of this season from the Mets to the Pirates, he couldn’t get anything going. Nothing. He hit 10 HR’s, that’s it.
Again, the A’s are building depth, and this is another example of it. It’s no guarantee though Davis will remain with the A’s.
A very minor news bit from last week included Royals outfielder Josh Willingham retiring from baseball at age 35. Willingham debuted for the Marlins in 2004, and had played with the Nationals, A’s, Twins and Royals.
Now, despite being on good teams, Willingham was never a star. He’s your average player who would contribute. His best season came in 2012, where he did win a Silver Slugger award.
Last week, the Mariners and Kyle Seager agreed to a seven year, $100 million extension.
At first, it seemed like a gaudy number for someone so young, but overreactions tend to lean you the wrong way.
The contract is a team-friendly deal and it’s giving Seager a massive raise. He was making just above minimum last season.
Seager is a great player. He’ll give you 22 HR’s a year and will play great defense at 3B. Seager missed three games last year, and has played in at least 150 games the past three years. Being super consistent, the Mariners felt like they had to lock him up , giving he’d be a free agent in a couple years.
Baseball teams hold on to feelings about guys that they’ve drafted and developed, especially if they became a star. They hold that privilege of developing some one. We’ve seen this before.
The Mariners have feelings for Seager. They made him. They drafted and developed him. That’s why they want him to be with the team for his entire career, and giving him $100 million will help.
After acquiring Yonies Cespedes from Oakland in July, and adding Allen Craig, I was already pretty high in this Boston Red Sox team next year. Now, they just capitalized it.
The only problem is, they didn’t have to take my favorite player in the league from one of my favorite teams.
The Red Sox pulled off a massive double play, signing free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to large contracts. I guess we knew they were going to spend money, but the guys they landed are stunning.
Lets start with the Panda: (As I shed a tear of the departure of the Giants most beloved player).
Anyways, the Giants had tried at the beginning of 2014 and during the Summer to lock up Sandoval. According to the Giants, his starting price for a contract was absolutely ridiculous. It started out as rocky, and supposedly never bounced upward.
In the end, the Giants and Red Sox had offered Panda the exact same contract. It was truly a matter of where he wanted to go.
It ended up being Boston after winning three World Series in five years with the Giants. Usually, you don’t leave after winning a championship, but baseball is weird. Guys are so focused on money in this sport.
After agents declining comments and fusses about the number of years and dollars, it was officially announced as a five year, $95 million contract. Being the exact same amount the Giants offered him in prior days.
So why’d he leave? Well, he “wanted a new challenge.” He wanted to go somewhere that had potential as soon as next year, which is very evident with the Red Sox. Too evident, almost.
He’s going to fit in perfectly. Boston wanted anyone who could bat better than their third basemen last year, who put up horrible numbers.
As we’ve seen: Sandoval isn’t a big time regular season stud. His numbers are never great during the regular season, and can really dip at some points. Panda makes his money in the postseason, and that’s something the Red Sox have their eye on.
Now, to continue the Red Sox talk, we have to touch on Part 2 of their double play.
Right after the Sandoval signing, the Red Sox announced they had signed Hanley Ramirez to a four year, $88 million contract.
I’m still a little confused about this deal. Ramirez has been a great player over his career, when heathly. That’s his problem. I swear he plays only 2/3’s of the year. He’s so valuable when healthy. You get a great bat, which is almost in-replaceable if your the Dodgers, and a solid shortstop.
And that’s where the second problem comes up. Ramirez is a shortstop. Guess who plays shortstop for the Red Sox currently? Xander Bogarets. The hyped kid who the Red Sox made. He hasn’t worked out so far, but still!
Here’s (I guess), what the Red Sox plan to do: Start Panda at 3B (duh), play Bogarets at shortstop, and put Hanley Ramirez in left field.
Ramirez has played LF before, but it’s not his specialty. In no way is it his speciality.
I want to really love what Boston is doing, but with a clutter of outfielders, and a sub-par shortstop, I’m not sure yet. I will say this: In no way are the Red Sox done making moves this offseason.
Now, I think they’re done spending money, unless they sign a starting pitcher (Cough, Jon Lester, Cough). Boston is going to be wheeling and dealing these next couple weeks. The Yonies Cespedes trade has turned out to be one where one team gets screwed over and the other gets no use out of it.
It was a total disaster, really. I’m done talking about it.
Anyways, expect to Cespedes shipped out and another outfielder cut They aren’t moving Mookie Betts, I can guarantee you that.
Allen Craig is someone I expect to stay, whether he plays outfield or first base.
Again, it’s a total cluster in the Boston outfield right now. In three weeks, this should be a lot easier to talk about. They’re on the way to getting some recognition for next year.
This next big free agent signing got me excited. So, as always, homerism possible.
The Arizona Diamondbacks last Wednesday signed Cuban free agent Yasmany Tomas to a six year, $68.5 million contract.
I didn’t know a ton about Tomas. I knew he was a hot commodity, and there would be competition for him. I did know that my DBacks were one of the frontrunners, but why would a Cuban slugger want to go to the league’s worst team?
Many think the deal is a bargain. Tomas was such a hot commodity that it took a bidding war to get him. The Cubs and Giants were the main teams in the chase, with Arizona and Atlanta following.
Tomas is a slugger. He will hit 20 HR’s a year, and will play great outfield.
Teams were reluctant to give Tomas really big money, giving that he is foriegn and has a transition to make, even outside of baseball.
The DBacks are stacking guys. It’s going to take a couple years. And that’s ok. I trust Tony LaRussa, and that’s what matters.
Toronto, as said above, made one big move already this Winter.
Friday morning, they made another one. One I and many people were probably shocked by.
In a blockbuster, the A’s sent Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie.
At first, when I saw this trade, my immediate overreaction was “Oh my god, are the A’s really blowing things up?”
Well, not particularly, yet.
See, I’ve talked about the A’s acquiring depth this offseason. They want to be a deep team for next season, so sudden collapses that plagued them in 2014 don’t happen again. Oakland, in acquiring that depth, wants to get younger.
So that’s what they did. They got younger, even though Donaldson was only 28. Donaldson, arguably, was the team’s best overall player. That’s where things get confusing. It’s also what really does make this a blockbuster deal.
In return, the A’s got one of the Blue Jays best players, in Brett Lawrie. Lawrie is only 24, and is budding star in the Show.
I want to say “hopefully, he is a budding star”. Concerns about Lawrie are common. He’s injured every year. Something is always hurt with him. In his four seasons, his maximum amount of game in a season is 125. That’s not great. This past year, he only played in 70.
Due to the limited games, it’s hard to judge Lawrie’s stats. He’s a great defensive player, that we know. His offensive capability though, is still unknown.
Oakland’s swing will turn out one way or the other. It’s going to help, majorly, or will be a complete disaster. It’s the same possible scenarios as the Yoenis Cespedes trade, because it’s such a big risk.
On Monday morning, I’m walking through the hallway, filled with kids who aren’t paying attention, filled with smelly people and everything else you see in high school. I’m on my phone, as usual, trying to get you notified on the up-to-the-minute news.
Walking to science class, I get my multiple notifications that Nelson Cruz has signed with the Mariners.
Overreactions have been very common this Winter from me. My first reaction was: Man, that’s a lot for a DH.
Well, you know what? Baseball is crazy. GM’s are crazy. It’s a money filled sport. Everyone has money, and their supposed to spend it.
Cruz had a monster year in 2014 with 40 HR’s and 108 RBI’s. It’s exactly want you want out of a DH, and seasons like that don’t come around that often. That’s why it’s a shame for the Orioles to lose him.
Again, he’s a DH. He hits the ball, that’s it. Seattle definitely could have used another bat, and they got it. There isn’t much to say though. Nelson Cruz will hit the ball.
Cruz though, has said he wants to play another position, perhaps OF is a possibly. The Mariners would have to be willing to train him for it, and have him ready for Opening Day.
The money they gave him suggests that. I’m not sure it’s the correct way to use him, but I’m not the one spending the money. Go ahead M’s. Go ahead.
On Wednesday, December 3rd, the Braves signed Nick Markakis to a four year, $44 million contract.
Markakis is one of the most underrated players in the big leagues. He’s been playing for nine years, and has no All-Star selections.
All nine of those seasons were played with the Baltimore Orioles, who decided to let him walk. The O’s do have good outfielders, but Markakis’ bat is a gem. He has a good amount of power, hitting over 10 HR’s in every season of his career.
Markakis though, has lots of speed, and frequently ends up on second base. His OPS the past few years has been outstanding.
Too add, he fielded no errors last year, playing outfield.
The signing itself though, is kinda of an odd one. This offseason, the Braves have established themselves as sellers. Trading away Jason Heyward was the start of it, and now outfielder Justin Upton is being shopped. This team acts like they want to rebuild, but then are spending money on good players.
However, Atlanta does have talent. I don’t expect them to crash and burn next year, nor do I expect them to great. It’s an average team that’s shaping up, but with help, they’ll get better.
I’m not worried about Markakis’ success. He’s a great player. He’ll be fine. I’m worried about his happiness, and that’s something a team doesn’t like dealing with. Having one of your best players unhappy leads to riffs, and as we’ve seen with the A’s.
Part 2 coming whenever I decide.