In the latest edition of his 10 Degrees column, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan looks at what some of the offseason’s top free agents are likely to fetch on the open market after conversations with two GMs, two agents and two front office personnel executives. All agree that David Price is a lock to receive more than $200MM though contract predictions fluctuate with other players. Chris Davis, for instance, inspired guesses that ranged from a $60MM deal to a $150MM deal. I agree with Passan that guessing on the high side is the better option, since power bats are at a premium; nine figures seems the minimum for Davis’ next contract. Here’s some more from Passan’s column and elsewhere around baseball…
- Jason Heyward “will be the bellwether of this market,” as his unique case as a player who brings youth (26 years old) and elite defense to free agency rather than an elite bat will set the tone for other signings. His youth could play a different role in the contract, as one GM thinks Heyward could sign an eight-year, $175MM deal with an opt-out clause after four years. This way Heyward could hit free agency again when he’s only 30 years old and in good position for another major contract. Passan notes that Heyward is represented by Excel Sports Management, and Excel’s Casey Close has negotiated high-profile opt-out clauses in recent contracts for clients Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (though it’s worth mentioning that Heyward isn’t represented by Close himself).
- Two free agents who were dealt at the trade deadline have greatly harmed (Johnny Cueto) and helped (Yoenis Cespedes) their chances at a major deal this winter due to their performances with their new clubs. Passan notes that Mets ownership finds itself in a Catch-22 with Cespedes. Letting him leave would enrage a fanbase that already feels the club doesn’t spend enough, yet Cespedes has enough flaws in his game that the Mets could easily find themselves burned by giving him a massive long-term contract. All six of Passan’s sources feel Cespedes’ market will begin at $125MM and perhaps go as high as $160MM.
- Zack Greinke‘s age will keep him from getting a seven- or eight-year commitment when he opts out of his Dodgers contract, though Passan feels Greinke could look to set a new record for highest average annual value in the form of a five-year, $175MM deal.
- In his ranking of the five open GM positions in baseball, Joel Sherman of the New York Post lists the Red Sox job as the most appealing given the team’s financial resources, passionate fanbase and existing talent in both the majors and minors. The downside is that the Boston job carries a particular amount of pressure, and a new GM may not have autonomy with Dave Dombrowski leading the baseball operations department. Sherman lists the pros and cons of the Red Sox, Phillies, Mariners, Angels and Brewers openings, though as one executive puts it, “There is no perfect job. If you wait for the perfect one, you will wait forever….You have to figure out how to accentuate the positives and fix or navigate around the warts.”
- Former Royals hurler Brian Bannister is the first Red Sox director of pitching analysis and development, a position specifically created by Dombrowski to match Bannister’s unique skill-set. Peter Gammons, in his latest piece for GammonsDailycom, looks at the work Bannister has already done with Boston’s pitchers in his former capacity as a pro scout, and how Bannister is blending mound experience with knowledge gleaned from analytical data.
- Matt Harvey is scheduled to make his next start against the Yankees on Sunday, a Mets team source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Harvey was only supposed to start once more after that, though manager Terry Collins told Ackert and other reporters that workload wouldn’t do enough to keep the ace sharp for the playoffs. “We got to get him on the mound a little more consistently,” Collins said. “Every 12 days is not a good scenario….We have to have Matt Harvey ready to pitch. He doesn’t need to have 15 days off. We got to have him ready.” The Mets could use Harvey on regular turns in the rotation but just on limited innings and pitch counts in each outing, with a reliever ready to “piggyback” the rest of the outing.