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Author Archives: Tim Dierkes
Earn your share of a $100K prize pool in tonight’s MLB Medium Midsummer Classic at DraftKings! The contest has a $20 entry fee, and first place will take home $20K with the top 1,125 finishers getting paid. The deadline for entry is tonight at 6:05pm central time. You can sign up here.
The rules are simple. Each entrant is assigned a fixed salary cap of $50,000 that they can use to draft their entire 10 player roster. Click here to see the stats used and their values. Here’s a look at my team, which steers clear of the Marlins-Braves contest because of the threat of a rainout.
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The trade deadline will be upon us next week, but the 2014-15 free agent class still warrants an early look. My June edition of the 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings can be found here, and the full list of 2015 free agents is here.
1. Max Scherzer. Scherzer overcame a midseason hiccup by posting a 1.87 ERA over his last five starts, bringing him back down to 3.34 on the season. He even picked up the win for the American League in the All-Star Game. It’s been a long time since agent Scott Boras has had a starting pitcher of this caliber as a free agent.
2. Jon Lester. Lester isn’t far behind Scherzer, having allowed three earned runs in 38 2/3 innings since our last set of rankings. Lester owns a 2.50 ERA as well as superb timing, and he’s been better than Scherzer this year. Lester hasn’t whiffed this many batters since 2010, and he’s never shown this level of control. Accounting for performance prior to this year, I still give Scherzer the overall edge. Around late June the Red Sox looked to reignite extension talks with Lester, but the pitcher did not receive a new offer and continues to prefer to table discussions until after the season. The Red Sox have won five in a row and retain some shot at the playoffs, so it seems Lester will at least be staying in Boston through the end of the season.
3. Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez’s shoulder and calf have been bothering him, and he’s been hit by pitches three times this month. The 30-year-old avoided the DL and continues to hit well. On the other hand, he’s giving back some runs in the field, and defensive question marks are enough to push him down a few spots in the rankings.
4. James Shields. With a 4.39 ERA since May, Shields has failed to keep pace with Lester. Still, Shields’ 2014 peripheral stats are mostly better than last year’s, which led to a 3.15 ERA. The Royals also seem to be hanging around contention enough that they won’t give serious consideration to trading the big righty. With a new contract that will begin with his age-33 season, Shields will be difficult to price in free agency.
5. Pablo Sandoval. As of May 13th, Sandoval’s OPS was down to .554. He’s at .903 since then, with a .335/.370/.533 line in 230 plate appearances. Just 28 in August, Sandoval has age on his side relative to most free agents.
6. Nelson Cruz. Cruz has stumbled since our last set of rankings, hitting .229/.282/.422 in 117 plate appearances. He still ranks second in all of baseball in home runs and RBI, and could top his career-high of 33 longballs at some point in August. Cruz is another tough free agent to price, as teams will be buying into his age 34-36 seasons (and perhaps age 37, if things go well for the slugger).
7. Victor Martinez. V-Mart’s resurgent contract year has continued unabated. Though he’ll be 36 in December, Martinez’s goal might be a three-year pact. On June 29th, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that while there have been no extension discussions, Martinez would love to remain in Detroit. One complication for the Tigers is that Miguel Cabrera is signed through 2023 and will probably need to move to DH at some point.
8. Yasmani Tomas. A new entrant to this list, Tomas is a different kind of potential free agent. As Ben Badler of Baseball America explained on June 20th, Tomas left Cuba to pursue an MLB contract but still has to clear the usual hurdles before he’s free to sign. A 23-year-old corner outfielder, Badler pegs Tomas’ raw power as a 70. It seems possible Tomas’ actual free agency will coincide with the MLB offseason. Jose Abreu‘s dazzling debut has made his $68MM contract look like a bargain, which should help Tomas score big. It’s worth noting that Tomas isn’t said to be as polished as Abreu and likely doesn’t have the same ceiling. He is younger, however, which helps his cause.
9. Melky Cabrera. Cabrera, 29, is hitting .305/.352/.463 on the season. His ties to Biogenesis cloud the picture, but his injury-shortened 2013 might end up being Cabrera’s only poor season in his last four.
10. Russell Martin. Perhaps Martin can’t maintain his .271 batting average, but he’s in the midst of another solid campaign and doesn’t turn 32 until February. Teams are also placing more and more emphasis on catching defense, and Martin has gunned down 37 percent of attempted base-stealers while ranking sixth in extra strikes added via pitch framing, per Baseball Prospectus.
This month’s Kenta Maeda watch: the 26-year-old Japanese righty is down to a 2.08 ERA in 15 starts. Ervin Santana has been decent of late. Jason Hammel was traded to Oakland and has seen his ERA rise from 2.98 to 3.35 after two starts. Josh Beckett returns from a DL stint for a hip injury tonight.
You likely won’t find a reliever cracking the top 10, but closers David Robertson, Francisco Rodriguez, Casey Janssen and Rafael Soriano have been excellent, while Luke Gregerson and Andrew Miller have been lights out in a setup capacity.
Among position players, Chase Headley, who earlier today was traded to the Yankees, is still not showing any power (though perhaps a move to the hitter-friendly parks of the AL East can change that). Colby Rasmus was placed in something of a platoon role earlier this month. Nick Markakis leads MLB in plate appearances and has been useful this year. Aramis Ramirez, who like Markakis has a mutual option on his deal, is having a nice year at the plate as well. Stephen Drew‘s bat has started to come alive this month after his late start to the season, while Kendrys Morales is hitting .295/.319/.432 over an 11-game hitting streak. Neither Boras client has very appealing overall numbers. Both Asdrubal Cabrera and Mike Morse have dropped off the list after sluggish performances since our last edition of the rankings. A strong finish could put either back onto the map.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Earn your share of a $60,000 prize pool in this week’s Survivor League at DraftStreet! The entry fee is just $22, with a maximum of 3,000 entrants. The top 375 finishers get paid, with first place taking home a cool $15,000.
The Survivor League is a four-day tournament beginning Tuesday, July 8th. The deadline for entry is Tuesday at 6:05pm central time. The top 1,500 advance after Day 1, the top 750 after Day 2, and the top 375 advance after Day 3. Those final 375 play for the $60K in prizes.
This Survivor League uses a simple Pick’Em style. You just have to pick one player from each of eight tiers, based on which player you think will perform best in the stat categories listed here under the MLB section. Here’s a look at my team:
Don’t hesitate! Sign up for this week’s Survivor League at DraftStreet and you may be the one taking home $15,000!
Last summer, catchers Steve Clevenger and Drew Butera were traded in July, while Kurt Suzuki and John Buck were dealt in August. The Orioles, Blue Jays, and Dodgers could consider adding a starting catcher, while clubs such as the Royals and Giants could seek a backup. Here’s a look at this summer’s trade market for catchers. The roles listed below could differ based on the acquiring team.
Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks), Carlos Ruiz (Phillies), Kurt Suzuki (Twins), Jason Castro (Astros), Welington Castillo (Cubs), Wilin Rosario (Rockies), Yasmani Grandal (Padres), A.J. Pierzynski (Red Sox)
- Montero, 30, has been the most productive of the group. He’s having a resurgent campaign after a lost 2013, and at the trade deadline he’ll have roughly $43MM left on his contract through 2017. However, the D’Backs are not looking to dump salary, and aim to contend in 2015. To that end, trading Montero doesn’t make sense, but GM Kevin Towers is known as the Gunslinger for a reason.
- The Phillies made a three-year commitment to Ruiz last offseason, so he’s not the most likely candidate to be dealt. Plus, he’s currently on the seven-day concussion DL.
- Suzuki, a free agent after the season, seems a reasonable trade candidate. He’s having his best season in years and will be owed less than a million bucks by the deadline. The Twins could look to extend him instead, though.
- Castro’s performance has taken a tumble since his breakout 2013 season. Certainly the Astros would consider trading the 27-year-old, who is under team control through 2016 as an arbitration eligible player. However, the club will probably be disinclined to sell low.
- Castillo is a speculative name here, in that the Cubs would likely at least listen. He’s 27 years old and under team control through 2017, and the Cubs don’t have much catching in their farm system. But if they manage to acquire a better “Catcher of the Future” candidate in another trade, moving Castillo becomes more palatable.
- Would the Rockies trade Rosario? They made an offer to Ruiz in the offseason, suggesting they weren’t thrilled with Rosario’s defensive chops. Rosario, just 25, is under team control through 2017. He hit 49 home runs from 2012-13.
- Grandal is a player who could be considered more by a non-contending team, if the Padres decide to cut bait with the former top prospect.
- At 6.5 games out, the Red Sox are currently on the bubble of contention. The meager return they could get for Pierzynski may not be worth shaking up their catching situation, with the veteran having the worst offensive season of his career.
Robinson Chirinos (Rangers), Ryan Hanigan (Rays), Rene Rivera (Padres), Carlos Corporan (Astros), Chris Gimenez (Rangers), John Ryan Murphy (Yankees), Austin Romine (Yankees), Tony Sanchez (Pirates), David Ross (Red Sox), J.P. Arencibia (Rangers), John Baker (Cubs), Jose Molina (Rays), Geovany Soto (Rangers), Gerald Laird (Braves)
It should be noted that Soto is currently on the 60-day DL, recovering from March knee surgery. This group presents a wide range of options, with a few players who are able to play regularly as well as some young players who have yet to establish themselves. Hanigan would be the most complicated one to move, with nearly $12MM coming to him through 2016.
4:30pm: The Astros have issued the following statement regarding the leaked notes:
“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.
“It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information. While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated.”
2:29pm: Extensive trade discussion notes, apparently logged by Astros executives about their talks with other teams, have been leaked onto the site AnonBin here and here, with Deadspin breaking the story and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan verifying the authenticity of the logs. The earliest notes are from June 2013, and the latest are from March of this year. The Astros have yet to comment on the leak, which provides unprecedented detail into how the team values players and approaches trade discussions. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros have been reaching out to people around baseball apologizing for the leaks, and plan to issue a statement soon.
A March feature by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle outlines Ground Control, the Astros’ confidential internal database from which the trade discussion notes were likely taken. At this time, it’s unclear whether the information reached the Internet via a rogue employee of the team, or by some kind of security vulnerability in Ground Control. The trade discussion information, mostly from last summer and offseason, is somewhat dated in the fast-moving baseball hot stove world. The larger ramification is the breach of trust experienced by the many non-Astros executives cited in the notes. It’s unlikely any team would rule out the Astros as a trading partner based on this breach, but some teams could approach talks with added caution. Additionally, I imagine the many other teams with such highly sensitive material online are doubling down on security right now.
The Astros’ trade notes from last summer and offseason range from the blockbuster to the mundane; here are some highlights.
- On November 15th, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow expressed interest with Marlins GM Dan Jennings in slugger Giancarlo Stanton. From the notes: “[Jennings] said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. [Luhnow] said that would not work. [Luhnow] posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] DeShields.” It’s not a big surprise that Luhnow rejected Jennings’ proposal out of hand, as Correa and Springer were ranked #4 and #19 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and are major building blocks for Houston. That Luhnow didn’t appear to offer either player suggests he was mostly gauging Stanton’s price after an off-year with three years of control remaining. UPDATE: Jennings has commented to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, saying it’s fabricated that they ever offered Stanton to the Astros or any other team, also using the word “laughable.”
- Interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro was strong last offseason, with a few surprising suitors. The Blue Jays and Rangers reached out in mid-October to gauge Castro’s price, the White Sox had “definite high interest,” and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Luhnow in November that he was getting calls from other teams asking if he could get Castro from the Astros for those teams. Zduriencik offered Dustin Ackley and was turned down.
- Notes for the Astros’ summer trade discussions begin at June 17th, 2013. The team ultimately went on to acquire Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in June, and also dealt veterans Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Justin Maxwell near the July deadline. The Astros did not end up acquiring any top 100-type prospects, but they sure did ask for the moon. For Norris, the Astros sought Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn from the Giants, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, Marcus Stroman and more from the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox, and Tyler Glasnow plus Luis Heredia or Nick Kingham from the Pirates. The Red Sox offered Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero for Norris and were turned down. In the end, the Astros traded Norris and an international draft slot to the Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
- When Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called to express interest in middling Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell, who had a 5.17 ERA at the time and nearly as many walks as strikeouts, “[Luhnow] told him we would still need a headliner like [Lucas] Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.”
Harrell was designated for assignment, outrighted, and traded for a pittance nine months later, so the Astros might have overplayed their hand.
- “Untouchable” players from other teams were revealed through conversations with their executives. White Sox GM Rick Hahn wouldn’t consider trading Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, or Avisail Garcia. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos considered Brett Lawrie off-limits. Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco came up as well, in that GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t include him in any Norris deal. In December talks regarding Harrell, the Giants said they would not discuss Brandon Belt.
- More random notes: Mets executive Paul DePodesta asked Luhnow if the Astros would consider trading shortstop Jonathan Villar in a Daniel Murphy deal in December…the Marlins expressed interest in Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, and others in December.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Bud Norris | Carlos Correa | Chicago White Sox | Daniel Murphy | Delino DeShields Jr. | Deven Marrero | Dustin Ackley | Dylan Bundy | Garin Cecchini | George Springer | Giancarlo Stanton | Houston Astros | Jackie Bradley Jr. | Jarred Cosart | Jason Castro | Jonathan Villar | Jose Altuve | Kevin Gausman | Lucas Giolito | Lucas Harrell | Luis Heredia | Marcus Stroman | Matt Dominguez | Miami Marlins | New York Mets | Nick Kingham | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ryan Lavarnway | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals | Xander Bogaerts
1. Hanley Ramirez. A strong showing over the last month elevates Ramirez back to #1 status. All is quiet on the extension front, with the 30-year-old shortstop telling Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports on June 3rd that there are no ongoing talks.
2. Max Scherzer. Scherzer led the AL with a 1.83 ERA at the time of our last rankings, but since then he’s posted a 6.86 ERA in six starts, even though one of those outings was a shutout. There’s no reason to think the righty won’t get back on track, but some of the shine will come off if he finishes the season with an ERA in the high 3s.
3. Jon Lester. Things are going fine for Lester, who is looking for his first sub-3.50 ERA since 2011. Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino said on WEEI in late May that he expects to engage in further extension talks, and GM Ben Cherington said something similar on June 10th.
4. James Shields. Lester and Shields were unlikely to uphold their matching 2.67 ERAs from our last rankings, but a hittable five-start run has brought the Royals’ ace up to 3.50. Nonetheless, his team has won ten straight and sits in first place in the AL Central. At the least, the Royals’ success shuts down the speculation from a few weeks ago that Shields could be a trade candidate. That means he’s likely to come with a qualifying offer attached.
5. Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval has been crushing the ball over his last 35 games, and I’ve moved the 27-year-old up to his best spot yet. If he can stay healthy, Sandoval seems a good bet for his first 20 home run season since 2011. The Giants have the best record in the NL and a track record of keeping their own, so it’s quite possible Sandoval never reaches the open market.
6. Nelson Cruz. With 10 home runs since our last rankings and an MLB-best 22 overall, I can’t keep denying Cruz his spot on this list. A 40 home run, 120 RBI season gets a guy paid, even if Cruz is lacking on defense, turns 35 next summer, and endured a Biogenesis suspension last year. Barring injury, Carlos Beltran‘s three-year, $45MM deal could be Cruz’s floor this winter even with a qualifying offer.
7. Victor Martinez. V-Mart is another aging bat-first player who continues to crush the ball. With good health, he seems likely to fly past his career high of 25 home runs, which happened eight seasons ago. Martinez is primed for his first All-Star appearance since 2010, as well as another multiyear contract.
8. Mike Morse. Morse rounds out our trio of bats newly joining these rankings. The 32-year-old is hitting .289/.343/.533 in 265 plate appearances and is looking like one of the offseason’s best bargains with a $6MM salary. Morse hasn’t exceeded 102 games in a season since 2011, so he must continue to avoid the DL to improve his earning power.
9. Asdrubal Cabrera. Another new entrant to the list, Cabrera has been solid but unspectacular with a .255/.323/.409 line on the season. He has age on his side, as he turns 29 in November. However, Cabrera’s defense at shortstop is generally considered below-average.
10. Russell Martin. Martin leads all starting catchers with a .418 OBP, though he missed nearly a month with a hamstring strain. His .272 batting average may not last, but he’s also posting a career-best 14.6% walk rate. Still only 31, Martin could be a popular free agent this winter.
These rankings have seen plenty of turnover since last month, with Ervin Santana, Justin Masterson, Chase Headley, Colby Rasmus, and Jed Lowrie dropping out of the top ten due to lackluster performance or injury. Meanwhile, Josh Beckett is making a push, including a May 25th no-hitter, 26-year-old Japanese righty Kenta Maeda has a 2.68 ERA through 11 starts, and Jason Hammel has become excellent trade bait for the Cubs. Melky Cabrera, Nick Markakis, Adam LaRoche, and Seth Smith are position players worth a mention.
Looking to show off your fantasy baseball skills and get your share of a $2500 prize pool? Check out DraftStreet’s latest Pick’Em League for MLBTR readers. This one-day fantasy contest covers Friday’s games only and has an $11 buy-in.
The Pick’Em draft room contains eight tiers of players, and you simply have to pick one player from each tier. Click here to see the stats that will be used. The Pick’Em League begins is for Friday night’s games, so sign up by 6:55pm eastern time. The top 40 finishers will be paid, with the top spot earning $500.
Here’s a look at my team:
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We’re always looking ahead at MLBTR, and it’s time for another entry in our 2015 Free Agent Power Rankings series. Steve Adams’ April edition can be found here, and the full list of 2015 free agents is here.
1. Max Scherzer. Scherzer has allowed six runs in the 39 innings he’s pitched since our last edition of these rankings, driving his ERA down to an AL-best 1.83 and earning him our top spot. His decision to turn down a six-year, $144MM offer from the Tigers before the season is looking wise. A new deal will begin with Scherzer’s age-30 season. I have to think agent Scott Boras will seek something in the range of Clayton Kershaw‘s seven-year, $215MM deal. That contract includes an opt-out clause after the fifth year. Key differences, aside from performance: Kershaw’s contract began with his age 26 season, but it was not negotiated on the open market.
2. Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez’s .251/.333/.450 line on the young season qualifies as good but not great. Among shortstops, his weighted on-base average places him sixth among qualifiers. Last Thursday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports described extension talks with the Dodgers, writing, “there’s still a significant enough gap that it may take a while to do a deal, assuming one will get done.” Heyman threw out a $130MM figure in the article, drawing Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo comparisons. Those players received seven-year deals on the open market, but Heyman feels the length of a Ramirez contract could be a big question in these negotiations. If the Dodgers succeed in preventing Ramirez from reaching free agency, we could be in line for the first offseason without a $100MM position player since 2005-06 (the first offseason covered by this website).
3. Jon Lester. Lester and James Shields have been keeping pace this year, with each hurler sporting a 2.67 ERA. In the time since our last rankings, Lester added to his resume with a career-best 15 strikeout performance against the A’s on May 3rd. We haven’t heard much on the extension front, save for an April comment from Red Sox manager John Farrell about the team’s intention to make every effort to retain their ace.
4. James Shields. Shields is the workhorse of this free agent class, as he’s on pace to exceed 220 innings for the fourth year in a row. A five-year deal, however, would be buying into his age 33-37 seasons. In a March assessment of Shields’ upcoming free agency, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd suggested $100MM as a ceiling, proposing the interesting idea of an opt-out clause.
5. Ervin Santana. Last month, MLBTR’s Steve Adams made the bold choice of ranking Santana over Justin Masterson. That call is looking correct, as Santana continues to miss bats above his career rate, partially due to his new change-up. Having signed on March 12th, however, Santana will be subject to a qualifying offer from the Braves after the season. Dragging around a QO again will hurt, but he should be able to find a strong four-year deal this time. One potential solution would be to just sign a midseason extension with the Braves.
6. Justin Masterson. With a 4.78 ERA and 3.9 BB/9 in his last seven starts, Masterson hasn’t done anything to justify moving up the rankings. Still, he’s shown enough overall to suggest he’ll pitch at a sub-4.00 ERA moving forward, and he doesn’t turn 30 until March. Last year’s velocity hasn’t returned, but he’s made some recent progress in that regard.
7. Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval has 13 hits in his last eight games, perhaps suggesting he’s getting on track to reach his typical level of offense. Sandoval won’t turn 28 until August, and the third baseman could greatly benefit from the weak free agent class for position players with a strong four and a half months. The Giants and Sandoval broke off extension talks in late April, with Jon Heyman reporting the player sought at least $100MM on a five-year deal, with the team open to four years.
8. Chase Headley. Headley falls from the #6 spot last month. He missed a few weeks with a calf strain, and has at least shown some pop and patience in the eight games since his return. However, the 30-year-old ranks just 18th among third basemen in wOBA over the last year, with a .309 mark. That’s actually better than Sandoval during that time, so I won’t argue if you prefer Headley to Panda. Regardless, good defense and a league average bat won’t result in a big contract for Headley, so he needs to start hitting.
9. Colby Rasmus. Rasmus is currently on the DL with hamstring tightness. The center fielder doesn’t turn 28 until August, and he’s shown 30 home run power when on the field. Steve Adams’ comparison to B.J. Upton in last month’s rankings was apt. Despite a qualifying offer, Upton snagged his five-year, $75MM deal coming off a .246/.298/.454 batting line. Rasmus sits at .222/.266/.489 this year.
10. Jed Lowrie. This marks Lowrie’s first appearance on these Power Rankings. He just turned 30, and his wOBA is only a touch below Hanley Ramirez’s among shortstops this year. He’s upped his walk rate to career-best 11.5%. Lowrie seems to be settling in as a 3-4 win infielder, shaking off early injury concerns. Omar Infante‘s deal could be a starting point.
Melky Cabrera, 30 in August, is close to cracking the top ten. The Jays left fielder is off to a .310/.350/.481 start in 200 plate appearances. However, his defense drags his value down.
Nelson Cruz, Mike Morse, and Victor Martinez are also at the top of various offensive leaderboards in the early going. However, they’re older than the players in the top ten and offer no value defensively, and could come with qualifying offers. Cabrera, Cruz, Morse, and Martinez will have to stay healthy and continue raking to overcome their defensive limitations.
Plenty of 2015 free agent hurlers are off to strong starts, as Josh Beckett, Aaron Harang, Jason Hammel, A.J. Burnett, Dan Haren, and Chris Young sport ERAs under 3.50. On the international front, 26-year-old righty Kenta Maeda has a 2.33 ERA after eight starts for the Hiroshima Carp.
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12:20pm: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter) that Johnson is guaranteed $23.5MM over the life of the deal, and the 2018 club option is valued at $10MM.
12:02pm: The Braves have suddenly become Major League Baseball’s most active team on the extension front, and they continued their rash of long-term deals on Friday by officially announcing a three-year deal for third baseman Chris Johnson. The contract will buy out two arbitration years and one free agent season, and the Braves hold a club option on a fourth year. Johnson, 29, is represented by Excel Sports Management.
Johnson, a fourth-round draft pick of the Astros in 2006, was dealt to the Diamondbacks near the 2012 trade deadline. He later joined the Braves in January 2013 along with Justin Upton, with Arizona receiving Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury. So far Johnson has compiled a .307/.344/.438 batting line in 643 plate appearances spanning 167 games for Atlanta. He was worth 2.8 wins above replacement last season, according to FanGraphs.
Johnson had three years and 144 days of Major League service prior to this season, so he’s already been arbitration eligible twice (the first time as a Super Two player). Johnson is earning $4.75MM this year, and the Braves previously had him under team control through 2016.
As MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, Johnson stands to become the sixth Braves player to sign a multiyear extension since February, after the team committed 27 years and $280.7MM to Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel, and Andrelton Simmons. Only Heyward’s two-year deal failed to extend team control. Excel Sports Management represents Freeman, Heyward, and Johnson.
MLBTR was the first to report that the two sides were finalizing an extension. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported (via Twitter) that it was a three-year deal with a club option.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.