As the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas come to a close, fans have been disappointed by the lack of action that has occurred this offseason. This will be the ongoing trend with the new philosophies GM’s are imposing. They are patiently waiting out the market and will not overpay like they would in the past. In baseball, it used to be that you got paid for what you’ve done. Now, its what you do in the future will determine how much you’ll be paid. Advanced analytics have allowed clubs to project the future value of players and GMs have been stern on not handing out excessive contracts. Here are the latest rumors and signings that have occurred on the hot stove.
Free Agent Starter Market Begins to Move
The New York Yankees have filled their last rotation spot by reportedly signing veteran lefty J.A. Happ to a 2-year deal worth $34 million with a $17 million option based on incentives for the third year. A lot of people were saying that the Yankees whiffed on guys like Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi but apparently the Yankees never even made Corbin an offer. They were never going to go past 5 years for Corbin and for Eovaldi they were not going to go past 3 years so they were only going to sign those guys at their price. Happ is not exactly the number one guy Yankees fans were looking for but he is still a good addition to the staff. He was arguably the Yankees best pitcher when he was acquired at last season’s trade deadline. In 11 games with the Yanks, Happ was 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. It should be noted that he is 36 but he has an effortless delivery that doesn’t put much stress on is body. And by not trading for a pitcher now, they can hold onto their prospects and wait and see if they need to acquire another starter at this season’s deadline.
Former Astros pitcher Charlie Morton reportedly agreed to a 2-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. The contract is worth $30 million and will be passed once Morton passes his physical. Morton is 35 and has found success late in his career with the Houston Astros. In 2018 he posted a 3.13 ERA in 30 starts with a 1.16 WHIP and a 10.8 k/9. His strikeout rate was tied for 10th in the American League with James Paxton. The Rays were a surprise to everyone including themselves probably last season. Now they have a third starter to join Tyler Glasnow and the AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell. Manager Kevin Cash stated he will still use the “opener” strategy that they employed last season.
Lance Lynn reportedly landed a 3-year deal worth roughly $30 million with the Texas Rangers. This will be Lynn’s fourth team in three years. He signed with the Minnesota Twins at the beginning of 2018 and was traded to the Yankees at the deadline. He had a few good starts for the Yanks but then he turned back into Lance Lynn. For both teams, Lynn posted a 4.77 ERA in 29 starts with a 1.6 WHIP. The Rangers won’t be competitive anytime soon but Lynn will add a nice veteran presence to the Ranger’s staff.
The top starters left on the market are Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Matt Harvey, and Anibal Sanchez. The 27-year old lefty Yusei Kikuchi was posted by his Japanese League team earlier this month and has until January 2nd to sign with an MLB team.
Reliever Market Moving as Well
Jeurys Familia is returning to the Mets after being traded to Oakland at last season’s deadline. The deal is reportedly worth $30 million over 30 years. The Mets are going all in on 2019 as neophyte GM Brodie Van Wagenen has promised and they are surely not done yet as they still have work to do for their bullpen and offense.
Joe Kelly is signing with the team he mowed down in the World Series. The Dodgers certainly need the bullpen help and Joe Kelly was great in the postseason. In 9 games he only gave up 2 runs including his 0.00 ERA in the World Series. Kelly’s deal is worth $25 million over 3 years.
There are still several big name relievers out there. Adam Ottavino, Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, David Robertson, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen are all still available. Kimbrel is reportedly looking for a 9-figure deal. A bold ask for someone who was shelled in the playoffs but he is still one of the best to ever do it. Bet the under on him getting 9 figures.
The standoff between Manny Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, and Bryce Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, will be a dragged out process. Lozano and Boras have beef due to Lozano “stealing” clients from Boras like Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado. Each agent wants to be the one who signs the largest contract of all time in professional sports. Whether any of them are able to accomplish that is still yet to be determined. Reports came out that Machado’s preferred destination is the Yankees. He has always wanted to be a Yankee but they are reportedly not willing to pay him the alleged asking price of $300 million plus. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has spoken with Lozano multiple times this offseason and they look like the favorites to land him. The Phillies are still in play even with the trade for Jean Segura but the White Sox also are a team to look out for. They have the payroll to toss two $300 million contracts at both Machado and Harper.
As previously stated, Boras will try and wait-out Lozano before allowing Bryce Harper to sign. The Phillies remain the favorites to land Harper because of their willingness to spend and need for another outfielder. Although Harper reportedly doesn’t like the city of Philadelphia, he may be tempted to suck it up if they are the highest bidder. The White Sox are another team to look out for as they are looking for a superstar to build around and they like the Phillies are flushed with cash. The Dodgers are reportedly trying to move around assets in order to make room for a possible go at Harper and he has had a meeting with people in the Dodgers organization. The Yankees have insisted they are good on outfielders and don’t need Harper but Boras has told the media he won’t rule them out until they tell him they’re out, which they have not. Will Harper go for the money or a team that’s ready to win now?
The Mets have been aggressively pursuing the Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. There were reports the other night that a 3-team deal was discussed between the Mets, Marlins, and Yankees that would send Noah Syndegaard to the Yankees, Realmuto to the Mets, and either Yankees prospects or Miguel Andújar to the Marlins. However that rumor quickly lost steam but the Mets still want Realmuto badly. Either Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, or Amed Rosario are expected to be dealt for Realmuto but the All-Star catcher has several other suitors like the Rays, Braves, Padres, Reds, and Dodgers.
Other Notable Moves
The former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen has agreed to a 3-year deal with the Phillies. Its an end loaded contract worth $10 million in 2019, $17 million in 2020, $20 million in 2021, plus a $15 million club option or $3 million buyout for 2022. McCutchen spent last season with the Giants and the Yankees. He slashed .255/.368/.424 on the year with 145 hits, 20 home runs, and 65 RBIs in 569 at bats. Also a 3-team trade occurred between the Rays, Indians, and Mariners. The Rays are getting 3B Yandy Diaz (CLE) and RHRP Cole Sulser (CLE). The Indians are getting 1B Jake Bauers (TB), 1B Carlos Santana (SEA) and cash considerations from Seattle. The Mariners are getting DH Edwin Encarnacion (CLE), a competitive balance draft pick from Cleveland, and cash considerations from Tampa Bay.
You got all of that? Not exactly a blockbuster trade or anything saucy but this is what we have to work with so far.