This year’s offseason has moved much more slowly than last year’s did, possibly suggesting that teams are becoming more cautious in free agency, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman suggests. There are other possible explanations, he notes, including that the strong free agent market has teams concerned about jumping to sign one free agent only to find a similar player willing to sign for less at a later date. Another possibility is that many teams’ new presidents of baseball operations are pulling back on the reins a bit. But there’s also the fact that many deals that were consummated by this point last year — including big contracts for Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Victor Martinez, Michael Cuddyer and Adam LaRoche — now look like potential busts. Here are more quick notes from around the game.
- After their signing of J.A. Happ (as well as their re-signing of Marco Estrada and trade for Jesse Chavez), the Blue Jays will continue pursuing starting pitching, interim GM Tony LaCava says, according to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter links). LaCava declined to comment on free agent starter David Price.
- Former Blue Jay Liam Hendriks, who headed to the Athletics for Chavez, says he anticipates a bigger role in Oakland, Jeff Simmons of Sportsnet notes. “I think it’ll be a good stepping stone to become a set-up, closer type and as a reliever that’s where you want to be,” Hendriks said last week on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “With (Roberto) Osuna, (Aaron) Sanchez and (Brett) Cecil it would’ve been tough to get there with Toronto because they got three guys that can do both of those roles.” Hendriks, incidentally, says better health was one reason he improved in Toronto, blossoming from the struggling starter he was in Minnesota to a top-notch reliever. (He also credits Jays catchers Russell Martin and Dioner Navarro.) “I was never unhealthy per se. But I ate a bit cleaner and stopped drinking,” he says. “I never drank too much to begin with but I stopped completely… I did a lot my lower-body and shoulders work in the gym. Everything played a part.”
How bad the A’s bullpen was last year he would be the set up man. I don’t see any other reliever on the team being a better set up man than Hendriks. Things could change with Benae trading for more bullpen arms.
In my opinion, Hendricks deserves a shot at higher leverage situations in 2016 after his performance last year. I’m not saying the A’s should make him a closer, but he was very good for the Jays last year and will be sorely missed. I could see him thriving in a set up capacity and wish him lots of luck.
It’s probably a little early to call the early signings busts for the duration of their contracts. V-Mart was really a surprise–while you didn’t expect a repeat of 2014, and while you knew the contract was an overpay, that steep a decline that fast was shocking. Panda was never a great hitter, but he was also never this bad. Ramirez did have a couple of similar years, particularly 2011. All three could recover somewhat this year. Cuddy and LaRoche, it’s harder to predict, but LaRoche is only in for one more year.
But, there’s quantity in pitching, and it’s pretty clearly tiered in quality. This could cause people to wait to see how the market begins to set.
I can’t call V-Mart a bust yet. Relatively cheap contract, tough time with injuries. I’d look for him to have a bounce back year, especially if Al Avila goes out and gets another bat for that lineup and take the pressure off of Martinez a little bit.
Except that when you hand out long term contracts, you are expecting that a player is going to provide surplus value in the early years and then regress as they continue to age. When you start out being a negative war player in your first year, you’ve dug yourself a huge hole in terms of providing any type of surplus value on the contract you signed.
I wouldn’t argue with that. And it’s possible the signings could just end up being real disasters–that none of the five come back to even 80% of expectations of the teams that signed them. My point was that it’s possible that at least three of them will have reasonably productive years in 2016. Not superstar level, but productive
It’ll be interesting to see what Toronto does if they’re still in the market for starters. I wouldn’t be against them signing one of the Tier 2/3 guys if theirs price drops later in the winter. A rotation of Stroman, Estrada, FA, Dickey, Happ with Chavez as a long man and Hutch in the minors would be more than serviceable.