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Get in on the action with a huge fantasy baseball contest from DraftKings! Follow that link to take your chance at landing among the 25,930 top finishers who will share a $300K prize pool. If you really knock it out of the park, you could score the $100K top prize. It’s only $3 to enter, or you can take part for free if you make your first deposit. Click here to enter!
Putting together a daily lineup is always a great time. Take a shot at the cash by making the best possible use of $50K in salary cap space for eight position players and two pitchers. (Note that the daytime game is not part of the contest.)
The contest goes live Wednesday evening — that’s May 20th at 7:05pm EST — so get your selections made right now! Here’s the lineup I’m rolling with:
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The independent Atlantic League and MLB reached an agreement this offseason that established rules governing the transfer of player contracts to MLB organizations, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports. Cooper notes that, in practice, the agreement hasn’t had much of an effect on player transfers between the Atlantic League and affiliated ball — a number of players have gone from the former to the latter this season, like Trayvon Robinson (Diamondbacks) and P.J. Walters (Dodgers).
The agreement is significant for the Atlantic League, though, because it’s the first time it’s been officially acknowledged by Major League Baseball. “It signifies that we occupy a place within the professional baseball hierarchy. That’s meaningful to the league,” says Atlantic League’s Rick White.
“Since 1998 the Atlantic League has been a great resource for experienced players looking to extend their playing careers,” said MLB in a statement. “With our new agreement MLB is looking forward to continuing our relationship with the Atlantic League.”
Cooper notes that the Atlantic League has long sought to strengthen its ties to MLB. For example, it hired former Rangers, Indians and Tigers GM Joe Klein to be its executive director and former MLB Properties president White to be its president. MLB, meanwhile, follows the Atlantic League to see which types of rules changes it might be able to emulate — Cooper writes that MLB’s pace-of-game changes this season were based in large part on rules that had already been implemented in the Atlantic League.
The Atlantic League has, of course, featured any number of MLB luminaries, like Rickey Henderson, Roger Clemens, Tim Raines, Jose Canseco, Carlos Baerga and Edgardo Alfonzo. Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew briefly aligned themselves with the league after being drafted by MLB teams but before signing.
More commonly, the league serves as a springboard for marginal players to make it to the big leagues or make it back to the big leagues. Jerome Williams of the Phillies, who played with the Lancaster Barnstormers in 2011, is a prominent example. Some of the top players in the league this season include former MLB players like Lew Ford, Sean Burroughs, Mickey Storey and Sean Gallagher.
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It’s time for another exciting DraftKings event — this time, with a twist. The winner will receive a trip for two to Cincinnati for the MLB All-Star Fantasy Camp on July 12 through 16. If you win, you’ll get a $1,000 airfare credit, hotel accommodations in Cinci, two tickets to the festivities — including the Home Run Derby and the 86th MLB All-Star Game — and an official MLB Fantasy Camp uniform. All said, it’s a $10K value for the winner!
Head to DraftKings right now to enter for just $3 — or, for free with your first deposit! (Must be 21 or up to enter.) In addition to the first prize, the top 288 entrants will win cash.
The contest goes live tomorrow night — Saturday, May 9th, at 7:05pm EST. Just head to the entry page, choose your 8 position players and 2 pitchers while staying within the $50K salary cap, and follow the action to see if you are a winner!
Here’s the lineup I’m planning on rolling with for tomorrow night:
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Here’s the latest on some injury situations around the game, including several pitchers who will face 12-16 months of recovery time from Tommy John surgery…
- Alex Cobb discussed his injury situation with reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) and the Rays righty admitted that he is “still going back and forth on what to do.” Cobb received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow and will wait a few weeks before testing, though if the procedure doesn’t take, Cobb will have to undergo TJ surgery. If he waits and has to get the surgery anyway, however, Cobb risks missing all of 2016, whereas if he gets the surgery now, he believes he’ll be able to return late next season.
- Right-hander Matt Magill will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, according to the Reds‘ official Twitter feed. Magill’s Major League career consists of six starts for the Dodgers in 2013 that saw him post a 6.51 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 28 walks over 27 2/3 innings. A 31st-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2008 draft, Magill owns a 3.99 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 700 2/3 minor league innings. He was traded from Los Angeles to Cincinnati in December in exchange for outfielder Chris Heisey.
- From that same Reds tweet, Homer Bailey will also undergo his own Tommy John surgery tomorrow.
- Rockies closer Adam Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery this morning, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Ottavino was going to get a second opinion to be sure, yet was fully expecting to get the operation to repair his partially torn UCL.
Ryan Hanigan‘s injury pushed the Red Sox to throw Blake Swihart directly into the fire upon his big league promotion, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Learning on the fly is hardly ideal for a catcher, but Boston doesn’t have much choice and Swihart says he’s up for the task. “I feel ready,” he said. “I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t feel ready. I love a challenge. I’m ready.” A look at the AL and NL East..
- Ryan Howard earned his 10-and-5 rights on Saturday, but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro claims he isn’t concerned about how that could affect a potential trade. “I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Amaro said, according to Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s a big deal for him, for two reasons: I think he should be recognized for [having] the most games played at first base in our franchise. That’s a pretty awesome feat, No. 1. And No. 2, obviously he’s been a long-standing member of this club and has had a great deal to do with the success.” As Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News explained over the weekend, Howard essentially had full no-trade protection prior to Saturday thanks to a modification to Jimmy Rollins‘ contract before his trade.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald wonders how history would have been changed if Alex Rodriguez joined the Red Sox back in 2003. The player’s union shot down a deal that would have sent Rodriguez to the Rangers for Manny Ramirez and Jon Lester (then a prospect in Single-A) because A-Rod would have taken a $28MM pay cut to make the deal possible. If that marriage did take place, it might not have lasted long. Apparently, the Red Sox would have allowed Rodriguez to opt out of his contract after the 2007 season, multiple sources familiar with the team’s thinking at the time tell Lauber. And unlike the Yankees, who re-signed him to a 10-year, $275MM contract after allowing him to exercise the opt-out, they “definitely would have let him walk,” an NL exec said.
- As a Hall of Famer managing in the bigs after his induction, Phillies skipper Ryne Sandberg is part of a rare breed. Despite his resume, Sandberg didn’t feel like he was too good to work his way up through managing in the minors first, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I would say that just because you’re a Hall of Famer doesn’t mean managing is for you,” said Sandberg, whose team is in last place in the NL East. “I think the perception is that Hall of Famers don’t want to prove (themselves) and go the route that you have to go. I thought it was necessary and worthwhile for me.”
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Putting together a daily lineup is a blast. Challenge yourself to spread $50K in salary cap space over eight position players and two pitchers. (Note that the daytime tilts are not part of the contest.)
The contest goes live tomorrow evening — Friday, April 10th — at 7:05pm EST, so get your selections made right now! After two duds in my last two contests, I’m hoping for a turnaround tomorrow:
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The Nats have enjoyed plenty of success but also plenty of disappointment over the last three years. While the club remains set up to challenge for championships in the future, 2015 is probably the last year it can do so with its current core fully intact.
Major League Signings
- Max Scherzer: seven years, $210MM (subject to complicated bonus/deferral structure; see Cot’s on Contracts for full detail)
- Casey Janssen: one year, $5MM plus club option
- Denard Span: one year, $9MM (exercised club option)
- Total spend: $224MM
Notable Minor League Signings
- Tim Alderson, Heath Bell (since released), Bruce Billings, Emmanuel Burriss, Mike Carp, Manny Delcarmen, Tony Gwynn Jr., Rich Hill, Kila Ka’aihue, Steven Lerud, Mitch Lively, Evan Meek, Mark Minicozzi, Matt Purke, Clint Robinson, Ian Stewart, Dan Uggla
Trades And Claims
- Acquired OF Matt den Dekker from Mets in exchange for RP Jerry Blevins
- Acquired IF Yunel Escobar from Athletics in exchange for RP Tyler Clippard
- Acquired SP Joe Ross, PTBNL (reportedly SS Trea Turner) from Padres in exchange for OF Steven Souza, SP Travis Ott in three-team deal also involving Rays
- Acquired IF Chris Bostick, RP Abel De Los Santos from Rangers in exchange for SP Ross Detwiler
- Acquired C Dan Butler from Red Sox in exchange for SP Daniel Rosenbaum
- Claimed RP Eric Fornataro from Cardinals
- Blevins, Asdrubal Cabrera, Clippard, Kevin Frandsen, Scott Hairston, Reed Johnson, Jeff Kobernus, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Mattheus, Ross Ohlendorf, Nate Schierholtz, Jhonatan Solano, Rafael Soriano
This offseason was obviously dominated by the team’s signing of Max Scherzer, who was installed as the Opening Day starter. But it’s hard to say that the move functioned to fill a need, so we’ll take a closer look at it below in the “Deal of Note” section.
Topping off the MLB rotation is not all the club did to bolster its future pitching ranks this offseason. The organization is loaded with arms for the post-Zimmermann era. After dealing away pitchers like Cole, Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone, Alex Meyer, Robbie Ray, and Nate Karns over the last several offseasons, the Nats did not shed any prized young arms this winter. Instead, after signing high upside Tommy John patient Erick Fedde out of the amateur draft, the Nats added well-regarded righty Joe Ross in the Wil Myers trade.
Then again, if the wisdom of the Rays’ front office is to be trusted, perhaps that trade will ultimately become known as the Wil Myers–Steven Souza swap. Or, if Rizzo has his way, the Joe Ross–Trea Turner deal. That last piece, Turner, was the key to the gambit from the Nats’ perspective, even if he remains an as-yet unnamed part of the transaction. The speedy young shortstop figures to be the long-term replacement for Ian Desmond, though he’ll need to show a lot in 2015 at the Double-A level to enter the big league picture for the start of next season.
To bolster things up the middle in the meantime, the Nats shipped one of the game’s most consistent set-up men, Tyler Clippard — yet another organizational stalwart in his final year of control — in exchange for the mercurial Yunel Escobar. The early relationship with Escobar has already seen some rough patches, with some positional consternation and injuries clouding the picture. But things seem to be going smoothly now, with Escobar voluntarily stepping in at third to open the season, and Washington will hope that he can return to being a quality defender and good-enough hitter to occupy one middle infield spot over the next two seasons.
With Clippard gone, the Nats had an opening in the veteran late-inning department, and added former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen on a deal that reflected his difficulties last year. The Nats will hope there is some gas left in the tank for Janssen, who is currently out with shoulder issues that are hoped to be minor. There are some up-and-coming young arms (Treinen, Aaron Barrett) that could see big innings as well, particularly if Janssen is limited or ineffective.
From the left-handed side, Rizzo continued to tinker. The Nationals will rely upon August claimee Matt Thornton and former minor league signee Xavier Cedeno. Rizzo dealt away Ross Detwiler, who has been a plenty serviceable starter in the past but who did not turn into the dominant reliever the club hoped. And he parted ways with Jerry Blevins after one forgettable year, sending him to the division rival Mets in order to bolster the team’s outfield reserves with Matt den Dekker.
As for den Dekker, he looks to be a useful option with the outfield in need of bolstering early this year and a spot in center clearing after the season. Importantly, he has an option year remaining. While Michael Taylor is the player that the club hopes will become the long-term answer there, den Dekker could represent an affordable backup whose left-handed bat will pair nicely with the right-handed-swinging Taylor. He also looks to be a nice fit with the aging Jayson Werth in left to afford extra rest when matchups or game situations permit.
This is one of the most complete lineups in baseball — when healthy. But the Nationals have some injury concerns to start the year, with Werth, Denard Span, and Anthony Rendon all on the DL (along with reserve Nate McLouth). The club will fill the void with players like Taylor, den Dekker, Tyler Moore, Reed Johnson, Dan Uggla, and Danny Espinosa. That is probably fine for a short stretch, but could lead to some consternation if Werth, Span, or (especially) Rendon take longer than is hoped.
Elsewhere, the team will be taking on some risk by shifting players to new positions. Escobar has mostly played short, which he seems likely to do again next year, but will play third until Rendon returns and he is bumped back to second. And longtime hot corner stalwart Ryan Zimmerman will move across the diamond to first to account for his balky shoulder. He has looked comfortable there this spring, but will need to lock down the position defensively — and provide a bat to match — to deliver a return on his big contract.
It is not hard to foresee a need arising behind the plate, though that is hardly what the club expects. Wilson Ramos has dealt with various injury issues over the years, and neither he nor backup Jose Lobaton hit much last year. Most teams would be pleased with this arrangement, so it isn’t exactly a concern, but could be an area to watch. The organization lost some depth when it was forced to part with the out-of-options Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano this offseason, but did trade for Dan Butler and sign Steven Lerud to bolster the ranks at Triple-A.
The pitching staff has ample depth, particularly in terms of starters, so there is not much to discuss there. Then again, the ninth inning has been an area of some concern in the not-so-distant past, and Drew Storen is now without the safety net that Clippard once provided. Then there is the fact that there may have been at least some financial motivation behind the departures of Clippard and Blevins. While Rizzo and company probably feel just fine with the club’s options, don’t be surprised to see some hand-wringing if injury or short-term performance problems arise at the back of the pen in the season’s early going.
Deal of Note
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo does not seem to act out of sentimentality. And neither, apparently, do longtime key players Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann. The clock has likely run on the possibility of extensions for that pair, whose rise to become highly productive big leaguers played an enormous role in the organization’s turnaround. Last year was probably the time to get a deal done, but neither player bit at the sizable numbers being dangled. It is hard to blame them for doing so, or to blame the team for not going as high as might’ve been necessary, with potential nine-figure free agencies beckoning.
If it wasn’t already, the writing was scrawled on the wall when Max Scherzer signed his monster deal to join a loaded Nationals rotation. While deferrals reduce the total cost to the team, the investment in Scherzer is enormous, and made new contracts for Desmond and (especially) Zimmermann seem quite unlikely.
Bold as the Scherzer contract is in the long run, it is all the more stunning in the short. Effectively, Washington has taken baseball’s best rotation from 2014 — every piece of which returns — and added the best pitcher from the league’s second best rotation of last year. If all goes according to plan, the Nats’ pitching will be dominant.
Indeed, looking ahead, if all the arms remain healthy — or, perhaps, if the team completely falls apart — it is not impossible to imagine the Nats dealing Zimmermann or Doug Fister over the summer to address other needs. Washington could still maintain a powerful group of postseason starters while filling in the fifth slot with Tanner Roark (the game’s most eligible sixth starter), Blake Treinen, Taylor Jordan, or A.J. Cole. More likely, one or more of those pitchers will be installed in the rotation next year as the club waits for younger, even higher-ceiling arms (namely, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Fedde) to develop.
This is a win-now team, but not one that is structured to fall apart with its veterans. Washington has run its payroll up to over $160MM, near the top of the league (non-LA/NYC bracket). But its future commitments remain manageable even after signing Scherzer: $84MM next year and no greater than $59MM in the years that follow. The club’s top arb-eligible players for 2016 and beyond (Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Storen, Ramos, and, potentially, Rendon) have all seen their arbitration earning power suppressed to some extent, leaving additional room.
Likewise, plenty of young talent is filtering up and should soon be ready to plug into the MLB roster or deal away for more established players. By most accounts (including Baseball America) the Nats possess a top-ten farm system, representing a quick replenishing for a system that had lost a ton of well-regarded players to graduation and trade.
While the future still looks bright, it will be a tall order to meet or exceed the organization’s current situation. Not only are the club’s best young players and veterans alike at or near their primes — a difficult nexus to achieve — but the rest of the division seemingly features two still-advancing hopefuls (Mets, Marlins) and a pair of rebuilding outfits (Braves, Phillies). The window will still be open after this year, but probably not as wide.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
We have not seen much in the way of free agency-avoiding extensions this spring, through there are a few days left for that to happen (to say nothing of the possibility of mid-season transactions). But there have been a few pre-arb deals already, and it just so happens that young outfielders are the extension targets du jour.
Every extension situation is a little different, but finding comparable contracts plays an important role in both negotiating and evaluating deals. So, with three fairly similar players recently signing on the line for life-changing money, I thought it would be interest to see which of these deals MLBTR readers like best.
Christian Yelich, Marlins (1.069 years service): seven years, $49.57MM + club option. This deal is by far the largest of the three covered here and delivers club control all the way through 2022. Still just 23, Yelich may be expected to continue to progress over the life of the contract. Of course, unlike the other players, Yelich plays the corner outfield (albeit quite well). And though he looks to be a high batting average and OBP type, while contributing double-digit steals, Yelich currently has average power. Is that package worth roughly twice the commitment made to the names below?
Adam Eaton, White Sox (2.030 years service): five years, $23.5MM + two club options. Of the deals covered, this one might have the most contractual upside (bearing in mind that Eaton is one service class ahead of the other two) because it delivers lengthy control and flexibility through two option years. Depending upon how one views the 26-year-old Eaton’s injury risk, defensive capabilities, BABIP sustainability, and baserunning upside, this could be quite a bargain. If not, Chicago should have a solid player at a good price and can move on when the time is right.
Juan Lagares, Mets (1.160 years service): four years, $23MM + one club option***. Lagares, 26, is probably the best defensive center fielder in baseball. While this contract only puts one free agent year in the Mets’ control, it does allow the team to sit back and watch Lagares vacuum up balls that aging veterans Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer can’t reach without worrying about how much he will cost. It’s a nice price if Lagares can maintain his league-average batting line from last year. And if he can tap into some power, which some observers seem to think he looks capable of, then this deal could become a steal.
***Note that the Lagares contract starts in 2016, making for a total current commitment of five years and about $23.5MM.
So, which contract — not necessarily just which player — would you rather have?
Opening Day is less than a week away, so now is the time to enter the new season’s first fantasy baseball contest from Draft Kings! There is a $100K total pool to be distributed, with a $10K top prize and payouts going to the 7,850 highest point scorers. It costs just $3 to enter, but you can take a free shot at this contest if you are making your first deposit. Click here to enter!
The contest goes live on Opening Day: April 6th at 1:05pm EST. You’ll pick your team using a salary cap of $50K for ten players. Allocate your cash over these slots: 2 P, 1 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SS, 3 OF.
I set this lineup earlier in the winter and am sticking with it now as camp breaks:
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