There’s already buzz about what could be a brilliant 2018-19 free agent class, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. That year’s market could include Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen, Dallas Keuchel, Jose Fernandez, Matt Harvey and Manny Machado. Also, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Jason Heyward will have opt-out clauses. Of course, some of that first group of players could sign extensions, and there’s no telling if they’ll be as valuable then as they are now, but that looks like a stunning amount of talent. Harper notes that many of the Yankees’ bigger contracts will have expired by then, and he quotes an executive suggesting the Yanks could potentially use the intervening years to get under the luxury tax threshold and throw their weight around in 2018-19. Here’s more from around baseball.
- A number of key free agents remain unsigned, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal cites a number of reasons why. The qualifying offer is one factor, but another is that some traditionally free-spending teams (including the Yankees, Angels, Dodgers and Rangers) have not spent heavily. The trade market is another element, particularly on the outfield and starting pitching markets. Of course, top free agents like Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton are highly unlikely to remain unsigned in a couple months, and Rosenthal points out that, for example, Max Scherzer and James Shields signed fairly late in last winter’s offseason. But he also proposes a couple of outside-the-box ideas to get unexpected teams involved in the market, including teams with protected draft picks signing top free agents and then trading them to teams without protected picks, thus somewhat circumventing the qualifying offer system.
- Opt-out clauses have become increasingly trendy in contracts for top free agents, notes Jamal Collier of Sports On Earth. Price’s contract contains an opt-out after 2018, and Heyward’s allows him to opt out that year or (under certain circumstances) after 2019. Johnny Cueto’s deal allows him to opt out after two years. Zack Greinke, of course, entered free agency after exercising an opt-out in his previous deal. Most players who have received out clauses in recent years (including Greinke, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, and several others) have exercised them, reflecting the degree to which revenues have grown within baseball.