Archive for the ‘Trades And Signings’ Category

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics

Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians signed outfielder Michael Brantley to a four-year contract extension, worth $25 million with an option for a fifth year at $11 million. It’s a fine deal for the first-year arbitration eligible player, buying up his three remaining arb years and possibly two of his free agent years.

It is a mostly unremarkable deal for a mostly unremarkable player. After a signing bonus of $3.5 million, MLBTR reports his annual salary will grow as follows: $1.5MM (2014), $5MM (2015), $6.5MM (2016), and $7.5MM (2017). Again – a wholly unremarkable deal.

We probably could credit Cleveland for inking their 26-year old outfielder now before his arb rewards grow or maybe we can simply wonder why?

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Division Series - Cincinnati Reds v San Francisco Giants - Game Two

It doesn’t take much to create a lasting legacy. We aren’t even talking about a first impression, just the kind of performance that lines but with the kind of snap judgements that we all use to streamline our lives.

Bronson Arroyo doesn’t throw hard and he sort of looks ridiculous when he pitches. He was never a great pitcher but was an especially bad pitcher in 2011. He gave up about a zillion home runs and was really, really bad. But one year does not a distinguished career as an innings eater make.

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MLB: Atlanta Braves at Chicago Cubs

Update: Peter Gammons reports the deal is for eight years and worth $135 million.

There is one key question when trying to decide if you like the Freddie Freeman extension or if you love it: how much better do you think he gets?

There is an old axiom regarding first baseman and long term deals – you only lock up the true elite. Is Freddie Freeman an elite first baseman? 23 home runs in 2013 doesn’t exactly scream elite. Maybe Freddie Freeman grows into 30 home run power. Maybe he doesn’t. But Freddie Freeman is young and, often, power develops a little later than the other hitting skills.

A little more power would be a nice luxury because Freeman’s other hitting skills are pretty darn elite. A 150 wRC+ is very elite, “lack” of home runs be damned. Since the work stoppage of 1995, only one first baseman claims the same level of production over through his age-23 season, which Freeman just completed.

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Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals

Brewers, Matt Garza agree on Four-Year, $52MM Contract

Such is the state of the baseball free agent market – four years and $52 million seems like a downright bargain. Like the Brewers are getting away with something, considering they just signed one of the top free agent pitchers — the only one who comes without draft pick compensation — to a deal that is very easy to like.

So easy to like, in fact, that it might be worth investigating why his deal is so reasonable. As in, there is a chance his medical records are as scary as we heard.

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Baseball: Japan at San Francisco Giants

Masahiro Tanaka became a New York Yankee today. As inevitable as it feels now, it was certainly in doubt for quite a while. The Cubs, the Dodgers, and even the Astros were in the running for the services for the Japanese workhorse. But in the end, it wasn’t ever close.

As it turns out, offering to pay much much much more money than the other teams works almost every time in the “player acquisition” game. Sweet as calling on an old horse like Hideki Matsui to extoll the virtues of the pinstripes is, the money was more than enough to get Tanaka’s name on a contract.

The money and the opt-out, leaving the former Rakuten Eagle with a chance to test free agency again before he turns 30 – a recent wrinkle to the FA process with that benefits each side if you look at the right angle.

So what do the Yankees get for their very large outlay of cash? They a lot, really. They get what they need more than nearly every other team in baseball – a chance to compete.

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Japan's pitcher Tanaka pitches against the Netherlands in the fifth inning at the WBC second round game in Tokyo

It was always going to be the Yankees, wasn’t it? The Yankees or the Dodgers were the only two real choices.

There were just too many things working in favor of the richest teams in baseball when it came down to a bidding war for a pitcher like Masahiro Tanaka. It is less of an indictment of the sport than a perfect storm that only the biggest supertankers could navigate.

25-year old pitchers simply don’t become free agents. A 25-year old with electric stuff hits the market just as the bidding process for such a player changes, bringing down the upfront costs and allowing pure payroll spending power to be the determining factor. A scenario tailor-made for the New York Yankees, who didn’t flinch when it came time to get the deal done.

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MLB: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics

Despite Spring Training getting under way in mere weeks, a whole mess of starting pitchers are still sitting out there on the free agent market. The pitchers – good, bad, and indifferent – all sit in a holding pattern because of Masahiro Tanaka.

Once Tanaka signs, his contract helps define the type of deal available to those at the top of the free agent heap. From there, there is some cash to spread around for the filler-types and then minor league invites for those living below the Zito line.

But if we take stock of the long list of names still out there, how do we group them? If your team has the money, who do you hope ends up in your jersey of choice? Let us lift and separate these players in order of desirability in the proud internet tradition.

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