Here’s the latest from around baseball as we wrap up the weekend…
- Will the 2016-17 offseason feature “the worst baseball free agent class in decades”? Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan thinks so, and the thin number of upper-tier talents available opens the door for the likes of Yoenis Cespedes or Josh Reddick to greatly increase their asking prices if they can build on their hot starts. Jose Bautista’s slow start shouldn’t hurt his chances of a nine-figure contract given how teams value his “old-man game” built around plate discipline, even if Bautista could end up getting closer to $100MM than his desired $150MM contract. Even in the thin market, Passan feels Edwin Encarnacion and particularly Carlos Gomez have thus far hurt their value thanks to slow starts.
- The qualifying offer as we know it may not exist if a new collective bargaining agreement is settled before the offseason begins, though if it remains similar, Passan figures Dexter Fowler, Francisco Cervelli, Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos could be in position to receive a QO from their respective teams.
- Rich Hill could even get a qualifying offer if he keeps up his strong season, which speaks to the weakness of the free agent pitching class is with Stephen Strasburg off the board. Passan thinks Hill could ultimately have a better chance of being traded than issued a QO, however. The relief pitching market is much stronger than the starting pitching market, as Passan feels Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman could both top Mariano Rivera’s $15MM average annual value from earlier this decade.
- The thin free agent pitching market could lead to more trades for arms this summer, as ESPN’s Jim Bowden (subscription required) notes in his listing of eight contenders who could deal for pitching and 10 starters who could be shopped. Bowden’s list of starters including two Athletics (Hill and Sonny Gray) and three Padres (James Shields, Drew Pomeranz and Andrew Cashner). The A’s have been adamant about keeping Gray, though with his rough start, Bowden wonders if the club could decide to move him while he still has value. As for the Padres, a scout tells Bowden that of the three San Diego pichers, he would prefer to have Pomeranz, which is a sign of just how much Pomeranz has upped his trade value with his impressive start — a 1.80 ERA and 51 strikeouts through 40 innings.
- In another subscriber-only piece from Bowden, he gets input from various executives around the league about what improvements could be made to the amateur draft.