Last offseason, 14 players received free agent contracts of four or more years, excluding international signings. Some of the borderline guys, like Ben Zobrist and Darren O’Day, successfully obtained the guaranteed fourth year. Others, such as Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy, were not able to get there, at least at an acceptable salary. This winter, Cespedes and elite relievers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen seem locks for four-plus years. Everyone else, not so much. Here are 13 cases to consider, and vote on:
- Edwin Encarnacion, 34 years old in January. Encarnacion is having a great season, sitting second in MLB with 36 home runs. He’s hit 34+ home runs in each of the last five seasons. His market will likely be limited to the American League, though there is precedent with Nelson Cruz’s four-year, $57MM deal. Encarnacion is facing a lawsuit alleging he knowingly infected a woman with multiple STDs in February.
- Ian Desmond, 31 in September. Desmond has reinvented himself as the Rangers’ center fielder, though he has struggled offensively this month.
- Jose Bautista, 36 in October. Bautista recently finished his second DL stint of the year, and his production has been down this season. He’s the oldest player in this poll.
- Mark Trumbo, 31 in January. Trumbo leads MLB with 40 home runs, but he also sports a .317 on-base percentage and has struggled on defense.
- Wilson Ramos, turned 29 this month. The Nationals’ catcher has age on his side, and is in the midst of a breakout season.
- Justin Turner, 32 in November. Zobrist signed his deal heading into his age-35 season, so surely his contract will be considered a precedent by Turner’s agent. Turner has set a career-high with 24 home runs already, and is headed toward a career best in games played.
- Neil Walker, 31 in September. After being traded to the Mets in December, Walker is having the best season of his career. Chase Headley’s four-year, $52MM deal with the Yankees in December 2014 suggests Walker can reach the same term.
- Dexter Fowler, 31 in March. Fowler ranks eighth in the NL with a .389 OBP, though a June hamstring injury may keep him shy of 130 games played for the third time in the last four years.
- Michael Saunders, 30 in November. Like Desmond, Saunders has re-established himself but scuffled in August. As with a few others on this list, Saunders’ injury history will give teams pause.
- Josh Reddick, 30 in February. Reddick once seemed like a lock for four years, but he missed time earlier this year due to a broken thumb and has been terrible since joining the Dodgers in a deadline deal. It’s fair to question whether four years will be on the table for him.
- Mark Melancon, 32 in March. Though not as dominant with strikeouts as Chapman and Jansen, Melancon has a 1.75 ERA in 272 innings since 2013, and he’s been great for the Nationals. His agent will at least aim for four years.
- Jeremy Hellickson, 30 in April. Hellickson is one of the best free agent starters available this winter, and the weak market and his relative youth could theoretically push him to a four-year deal.
- Ivan Nova, 30 in January. Nova is a long shot for four years, but he’s been great since coming over to the Pirates, and teams can act irrationally in free agency.
Your turn: which of these free agents will get four or more years? Check all that apply, and click here to view the results. Those using our app or Safari on their cell phone can click here for the poll.
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Everyone except Bautista (too old), Saunders (injured too often), and Reddick (I have feeling that he will overestimate his value and end up signing 1 year deal) will get 4 year deals in my opinion.
He only wanted 4/60M from the A’s in extension talks. I think that is well with in reason for what he brings to the table. Especially seeing what some other players are getting paid. I’m sure FA will boost that number a little bit, but still.
But then he’ll have the QO
Reddick was traded so he won’t get a QO
I agree with this and would also add Melancon who I think will get 3 years.
Kershawshank Redemption 2
Man, that Walker-for-Niese trade really was a disaster.
I can’t see Saunders, Bautista or Nova getting four year deals, but everyone else is a possibility.
I would only feel comfortable with giving four year deals to Encarnacion, Ramos, Turner and Fowler though. Maybe Melancon too.
That fourth year when you’re turning 35, 36 or 37 is such a killer!
Walker may get 4 years but not going to be worth it as time goes. He has had back issues in the past and spent 1 stint on the DL due to his back, I believe. That is the reason why the Pirates traded him as no way were they going to risk long term, large money with his back. The Niese deal was not a bad deal when it was made. He was pitching fairly well after is 1st start where he gave up a bunch of runs. He hurt his knee in June either in the New York start or the next one after that. Was horrible after that. Had surgery a week or so back. Niese, with his prior numbers looked like a good fit for Pittsburgh. when the deal was made.
the pirates got robbed in that deal. walker was at least top 5 2nd baseman. they got an at best a 4th man in the rotation. pirates never get what other teams do in there trades. they need to fire some people.
I completely agree with you that the Pirates got fleeced in the walker trade because Niece pitched like at best a 7th man in a rotation for the Pirates. With that being said, Neil walker never was, is not now, and will not be moving forward a top 5 2B: Altuve, Cano, Kinsler, Zobrist, Carpenter, Pedroia were and are all now definitively better than him. Not to mention moving forward I would much rather have any of those guys or Odor, Kipnis, Rendon, lemahieu, segura, and schoop more than walker. Still walkers a nice player, not a difference maker, and certainly not one of the top 8 reasons why the Pirates arent doing as well as the last couple years.
pirates robbed themselves in that deal last year. top 5 2nd baseman for an at best 4th man in the rotation. there management is terrible. they never get a good return in trades.
pirates robbed themselves in that deal last year. top 5 2nd baseman for an at best 4th man in the rotation. their management is terrible. they never get a good return in trades.
Hellickson will get at least 5
Ramos, turner, hellickson and melancon are the only ones I think. Bautista, encarnacion are to old, fowler and Saunders have injury concerns, walker, reddick and Desmond could easily fall off since they’re only good not great. Nova lol
pirates robbed themselves.top 5 2nd baseman for an at best 4th man in the rotation. they never get good returns on there trades. need new management.
Rather than posting the same thing 5 times, can you please back up your statement that Neil Walker’s a top 5 second baseman? He’s a nice player, but Idk if I’d even have him top 10
Wilson Ramos. You can see someone going 5 years on him given his position (catcher) and age. Another Russell Martin scenario.
Edwin- not likely
Desmond-will get a 4yr
Bautista- no way
Trumbo-Ramos- yes definitely
Turner-Walker-Fowler- should unless they take less years more money from there clubs they r with
Saunders-Reddick- highly doubtful but alittle youth on there side may help
Melancon-Nova- not gunna happen
That leaves Hellickson- I think he does, he will go to a team in great need of a 4/5 starter like the Cubs, Marlins, Astros, etc who have some nice top guys and have struggled to eat innings in the back end, or r getting old in the back end like the Cubs
Desmond and Ramos are locks. Ramos could theoretically get a 5th year if the bidding is contentious.
Encarnacion=VMart so yes. Ramos yes. Walker yes. All others no.
EE= Nelson Cruz
Encarnacion would be Great for White Sox but the Sox are too cheap to Sign him to 4year 60million dollar deal ……. Instead they’ll sign an Adam Laroche type player from NL for 2years 30mill and He’ll complain that he doesn’t like Playing DH he needs to play the Field and he’ll end up hitting around 210 with 200ks
I voted trumbo just because there is no way a 31 yo who hits over 45 hrs doesn’t get at least a 4 year deal right? I woulda never thought he would have a year like this. Crazy.
What about Brandon Moss? I could certainly see someone giving him four years.
I don’t think any of them deserve 4
I think Ramos gets 5/75, Encarnacion gets 4/60, Desmond gets 4/58, Reddick gets 4/46, and Melancon gets 4/32. Everyone else gets 3 due to a shaky injury history despite good production when healthy (Fowler/Saunders/Turner), age (Bautista), or average results until a good year this year (Walker, Hellickson, Trumbo). Nova I can’t see eclipsing 2/18