Would-Be Free Agents

The upcoming free agent class has its share of big names, including Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford.  Lee's free agency was delayed by one year because of the extension he signed with the Indians four years ago.  Crawford's chance at a huge payday was pushed back two years because of a deal he signed with the Rays more than five years ago.  Imagine if all players took the riskier but more potentially lucrative approach, forsaking multiyear extensions.  These players would be hitting the market:

  • Catchers: Yadier Molina, Chris Snyder.  Molina lost money by choosing the security of a long-term deal, though Snyder was smart to sign one.
  • First basemen: Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau.  I doubt they have regrets about signing, but both players would be primed for huge free agent contracts this winter.  Then again Morneau hasn't played since July 7th due to a concussion and Youkilis' season ended on August 2nd with a thumb injury.  Maybe teams would have been cautious of major commitments.
  • Second basemen: Brandon Phillips.  He would've scored big on the open market; there's not much at this position and he's only 29. 
  • Shortstops: Maicer Izturis, Ramon Santiago.
  • Third basemen: David Wright.  Wright's had his ups and downs this year but as a 28-year-old he would have done well.
  • Outfielders: Grady Sizemore, David DeJesus, Jason Kubel, Alex Rios, Nick Swisher.  DeJesus and Kubel have club options that will probably be exercised.  Sizemore's contract was once considered a massive bargain, but now his 2012 option is in question.  Rios and Swisher would be entering free agency off strong seasons.
  • Starting pitchers: Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, Scott Kazmir, Joe Blanton.  Greinke might be wishing he didn't have another two years on his contract, while Haren could probably beat the two years and $29MM he has remaining.  Kazmir and Blanton, though, are likely glad they have security.
  • Relievers: Huston Street, Matt Thornton.  Contrasting would-be contract years.  Street didn't debut until June 23rd this year due to a shoulder injury.  Thornton continues to dominate, making his 2011 club option an easy decision.


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20 Responses to Would-Be Free Agents Leave a Reply

  1. fishfan4life 5 years ago

    Might as well not even use the SS position as an example if those would be the marquee names there.

  2. basemonkey 5 years ago

    Pretty interesting list, Tim.

    They are all good players but come with a mixed bag of results. The names that pop out are Sizemore, Wright, Kazmir, Rios, and Street who were all seen as young perennial All-Stars at the time of their extensions, but since, have had not quite lived up to their potential. Players like Greinke are examples of these extensions working out, but it also shows him to be the rare case. Buying out arb years and the first few years of free agency will keep costs low in the longrun, but you’re making a hedged bet that these players will be majorleaguers. They don’t necessarily have to be All-Stars to save your team money, just legit majorleaguers.

    • nymets4581 5 years ago

      I can’t believe you just put David Wright in the same league as Sizemore, Kazmir, Rios and Huston Street. The kid is clearly pressing because the rest of his team can’t produce, and that’s not really his fault. Sure, he needs to make some adjustments, but he is still an All-Star, .300-25-110 caliber player. If the Mets were playing well and the other hitters were performing, Wright would be one of the best players in the league. Just look at the stretch where the Mets got hot. Wright was easily the best 3rd baseman in baseball during that stretch.

      • Ferrariman 5 years ago

        call me crazy but i think that was a homeristic comment

        • nymets4581 5 years ago

          It may seem like it. But honestly if you look at the period where all the Mets hitters were getting on base and producing, Wright had ridiculous numbers.

          • paorta2 5 years ago

            Right. So naturally we should assume that he could sustain that, or something close to it, over the whole season.

      • I don’t think you can call Wright the best 3B in baseball. Sure when any good player gets on a hot streak they can play the the best at their position. But IMO there are quite a few 3B I would take over him like A-Rod, Longoria, Beltre, Prado, Zimmerman, Youkilis(if he played third consistently), and there may be a few others I would consider over him. When those players go on hot streaks they put up better numbers than Wright when he goes on a hot streak maybe except for Prado but he has been consistently better than Wright. And you can’t completely blame a hitters production on the hitters around them, even though it can have an effect. There are several good players hitting in really bad offenses, even worse than the Met’s offense, that still put up monstrous numbers.

      • alphabet_soup5 5 years ago

        2005-2008: .311/.394/.534 141 OPS+2009-2010: .298/.377/.463 124 OPS+

      • btwalker 5 years ago

        how do you say David Wright is or could be one of the best players in baseball? You didnt say one of the best third baseman in baseball, you said one of the best PLAYERS in baseball. He strikes out 125-150 times a year and although he has won a gold glove he makes way too many errors to be considered a great defensive player. The National league has atleast 2 3rd basemen that are clearly superior defensive players (Zimmerman, Rolen) and probably a few others. Also, I personally believe him to be a middle of the road offensive player…more in the mold of another former Met (Howard Johnson). Wright has some upside but he is clearly not a premier player that should even be mentioned in the same breath with Albert….Carlos Gonzales….Josh Hamilton…..and others.

  3. stl_cards16 5 years ago

    This article is not a bad idea….This is a site purely about baseball, and the articles that do not interest you are pretty easy to scroll past.

    I think it is not said enough how much a “garaunteed contract” benefits a player. All you ever hear about it how the teams got such a great deal, and how a player is so underpaid. Which alot of times ends up being the case by the time the last year of arbitration, or first year of what would be free agency gets here. But those contracts secure the player for their life. That is the advantage of signing a deal. The player gains a huge advantage by knowing he will have a very good income for the next 3,4,5 years whatever the case may be. In exchange for that, they usually have to give up some money. The players/agents know that if they play up to their potential and stay healthy, they would be making more by the end of the contract. I just think that we too often just see the end result of the contract and do not think about why the player would do it.

    • basemonkey 5 years ago

      Agreed.

      In hindsight a lot of these deals can be argued one way or the other, but we lose sight of the context. Oftentimes these are young guys, who are in search of their fist major contract that will set their family up for life. Considering the amount of dollars we’re talking about, even a low end contract would be life-changing. So, yes, maybe in the hindsight, in any given case, the player may get short-changed, but in the longrun, at the time of the extension, it’s a matter of getting the “bird in the hand” deal done.

      There are so many examples of players who will gamble on reaching free agency healthy but gets burned. Offhand, Mark Prior comes to mind.

      • basemonkey 5 years ago

        ..and, those players who gambled on reaching Free Agency healthy and lose will oftentimes never get that huge payday.

  4. Wildcat10 5 years ago

    Carlos Quentin might be one of those who lose the gamble. As of now John Danks gamble looks like it might pay off.

  5. AmericanMovieFan 5 years ago

    If Swisher had had this run of seasons leading up to Free Agency he would’ve picked up at least 4 years/$50MM, but I think Swish plays for the love of the game so I doubt he’s kicking himself for signing that deal, because it was the cheapness of this deal that got him onto the Yankees and is giving him the two greatest seasons of his career.

  6. Wrek305 5 years ago

    Morneau will stay with the Twins although.. This year they are clearly the best team in the league Lineup wise.. and Morneau is their best hitter.. Its a shame that Delmon Young has nearly 100 rbi and he will be screwed over in MVP votes.. Paul Konarko is the MVP right now.. if it wasn’t for Josh Hamilton getting hurt he would be the clear cut winner.. but since he’s out and the White Sox are done and will not make the playoffs.. Pauly and Josh are gonna get the shaft because Robinson Cano will win the AL MVP..
    We all know whose the NL MVP is as long as Pujols is playing and active he will be the MVP every year for the NL and St. Louis.

  7. if the yanks don’t resign nick swisher, it would be the worst mistake of the offseason for them. it is amazing what he has done for the team both on and off the field.

    • reedhopps 5 years ago

      swish isn’t a free agent until at least after next year and the team has an option for 2012.

  8. reedhopps 5 years ago

    Swish isn’t even a free agent until 2012 and that is only if the Yanks do not pick up his 2012 Option.

  9. Pat_M 5 years ago

    I like it because it lets you know how players/teams benefited or lost by signing long term contracts before hitting free agency. The Reds have to be ecstatic that they have Brandon Phillips under contract for cheap and David Wright has to be wondering how much money he could be making this offseason had he not extended with the Mets. Conversely, I bet the Angels are not too happy about all the money they still owe to Scott Kazmir.

  10. jimboslice9 5 years ago

    Wright may have made a lot of money if he had hit the market, but it would more likely be with the Mets with Omar overpaying. Not only has Wright grown up a Mets fan, living just miles from their AAA affiliate, but Minaya would probably see how fans would be devastated by Wright’s departure, and try to resign him anyway possible. Knowing Minaya, he would probably use the Mauer signing as a benchmark before Wright’s agent would.

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