All of the top free agents from last winter have found homes, and Opening Day 2017 is less than three weeks away. Here at MLBTR we like to keep an early eye on the next free agent class. The players referenced in this post are scheduled to become free agents after the 2017 season. These rankings are subject to change each month, as players drop off due to extensions, injuries, or poor performance, while others see their stock rise. A year ago, our rankings were led by Stephen Strasburg, who signed an extension in May, and Carlos Gomez, who wound up released in August and ultimately signed the 36th-largest contract of the 2016-17 offseason. Dexter Fowler, who ended up with the third-largest free agent contract, didn’t crack our top ten until May.
The goal here is to rank earning power. These rankings represent expected contract size, assuming each player reaches the open market and goes to the highest bidder. For the full list of 2017-18 MLB free agents, click here.
1. Jake Arrieta. You could reasonably put the first three pitchers on this list in any order. All three were born within a six-month span in 1986. Currently, Arrieta stands as our “top gun.” Since joining the Cubs in a legendary 2013 trade, the righty boasts a 2.52 ERA and 8.9 K/9 in 634 2/3 regular season innings. He peaked with the NL Cy Young Award in 2015, and also finished ninth in 2014 and ’16. Arrieta will pitch the 2018 season at age 32, which makes a six-year deal a long shot. Zack Greinke is an exception, though his contract is probably one most front offices do not want to emulate. As a player known to be in top physical condition, Arrieta at least has a case for six years (but almost certainly not seven). He’s been DL-free since a stint in early 2014 and has a relatively low pitching odometer, as agent Scott Boras likes to say. Before Arrieta can make the six-year argument, however, he must shake off a decidedly mediocre finish to his 2016 season, as he posted a 4.05 ERA and 3.75 BB/9 over his final 20 regular season starts. Aside from the term, there’s also the question of average annual value. That could push into the low-$30MM range, as achieved by David Price, Max Scherzer, and Greinke.
2. Yu Darvish. Darvish, the strikeout king of this free agent class, could ease concerns with a healthy 2017. The big blemish on Darvish’s record is his Tommy John surgery in March 2015. As a result of the surgery, Darvish went about 22 months between Major League starts. He made his 2016 debut in late May, and after three starts he missed another 37 days with shoulder discomfort. That injury was seemingly connected to his long recovery from Tommy John. Like Arrieta, Darvish may have difficulty finding teams willing to guarantee a six-year contract. Darvish should still be able to surpass the current free agent record contract for a Tommy John survivor, the five-year, $110MM deal Jordan Zimmermann received from the Tigers in November 2015. One point in Zimmermann’s favor: his surgery was further in the rearview mirror, as he had posted five full healthy seasons after the procedure. Darvish, of course, is a different kind of pitcher, one of the most dominant in the game. Another season like 2013, when he finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting, could send free agent bidding through the roof.
3. Johnny Cueto. Cueto’s case is just about as strong as that of Arrieta or Darvish. Cueto has pitched at least 212 regular season innings in each of the last three seasons, quieting mild concerns about his health. He was part of the fabled free agent pitching class of 2015-16, one of seven starting pitchers to receive at least $80MM that winter. Heading into his age-30 season, Cueto landed a six-year, $130MM deal with the Giants. He could have done even better, but instead wisely secured an opt-out clause after the second year of the contract. After the 2017 season, Cueto must decide whether he should opt out and try to top the four years and $84MM remaining on the contract. With another vintage Cueto season, a five-year contract at a high-$20MM range AAV would be expected. More than $50MM could hang in the balance. Alternately, the Giants could just extend Cueto’s contract an additional year at a strong salary, as the Yankees did under the threat of C.C. Sabathia opting out after the 2011 season.
4. Masahiro Tanaka. Though he’s every bit as talented as the pitchers listed above, and a couple years younger, I’ve got Tanaka in a slightly lower tier. Tanaka joined the Yankees from Japan for the 2014 season, but made only 44 regular season starts over his first two campaigns. You may recall that in July of 2014, Tanaka was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Tanaka chose a platelet-rich plasma injection and the rehab route. Two and a half months later, he was pain-free and back on a big league mound. The following season, a forearm strain knocked him out for over a month. Tanaka surprised many by making 31 starts in 2016, though his season ended early with a seemingly minor flexor mass strain. Like Darvish, Tanaka faces a crucial 2017 season in proving his health. If Tanaka does finish the season healthy, he could do much better than the three years and $67MM remaining on his contract, which could prompt him to opt out. Or, the Yankees could add a year or two to the deal. On a brand new contract, Tanaka could get a five-year deal despite his early MLB health history. It all depends on how his right elbow holds up this year.
5. Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy currently profiles as the best position player on the 2017-18 free agent market. The Rangers’ catcher, 31 in June, signed an early-career extension in 2012 as a member of the Brewers. Including an exercised club option, Lucroy ended up getting $17MM for what would have been four arbitration years and his first free agent year. He’s now approaching his best chance to cash in. Lucroy was arguably the best catcher in baseball last year, and in 2014 as well. With another strong year, he should be able to push the limits of what a free agent catcher can get, possibly surpassing the five-year, $82-85MM deals given to Russell Martin and Brian McCann.
6. J.D. Martinez. The bottom half of this list inspired the most debate among MLBTR writers. Martinez, 30 in August, has proven himself as a 30 home run bat since his career renaissance with the Tigers. After hitting 38 home runs in 2015, Martinez lost a month and a half last year with a non-displaced fracture of the radial neck at the right elbow last year. He crushed the ball in 55 games after his return. The concern with Martinez is his right field defense, which UZR suggested was above average in 2015 and well below-average in 2016. Kyle Yost and Brandon Day of Bless You Boys recently took an in-depth look at Martinez’s glovework, which the player acknowledges is an area of focus for him this year. With a reasonable rebound of his defensive metrics, Martinez is a candidate for a five-year deal worth $100MM or more. Since 2014, he’s been one of the dozen best hitters in baseball, on par with Edwin Encarnacion and Freddie Freeman.
7. Eric Hosmer. Hosmer may be the most polarizing 2017-18 free agent. The Royals’ first baseman, who turns 28 in October, has long been considered a candidate for a megadeal in free agency. Recently, many have been questioning that possibility. The Wins Above Replacement metric doesn’t do Hosmer any favors, as his career total of 5.9 was exceeded by 15 different players in 2016 alone. Traditionally a low-power first baseman, Hosmer just didn’t hit much in 2012, ’14, or ’16. In an attempt to rationalize Hosmer’s apparent earning power, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs noted that he’s been a much better hitter in high leverage situations, and that advanced metrics may underrate his defense. The question is whether MLB’s increasingly analytical front offices will be swayed by those points and whatever else makes it into Scott Boras’ binder for Hosmer. At this point, Hosmer is propped up by excellent marketing. For any of the knocks on him, there is a rebuttal. The Royals love Hosmer, and if a few more teams also buy in, he should be able to land five or more years.
8. Justin Upton. In my discussions with the MLBTR team, several of our writers recommended Upton be omitted. To even reach free agency, he’d have to opt out of the remaining four years and $88MM on his contract with the Tigers. I think that’s enough of a possibility to include him here, even after a disappointing first year with Detroit. Though Upton has never hit more than 31 home runs, the 29-year-old remains capable of bigger things. After a couple brutal months to start his 2016 season, Upton hit 28 bombs over his final 429 plate appearances. While 40 home runs doesn’t always lead to free agent riches (see Chris Carter and Mark Trumbo), Upton might be able to land a new five-year deal in excess of $100MM with a big season. The safe move is to stick with his Tigers contract, though.
9. Carlos Gonzalez. In CarGo, we have another player to whom WAR is not kind. Gonzalez, 31, has become a one-dimensional player, with power as his calling card. He’s not one to draw a walk, and he’s not known for his defense. That was a problem for Trumbo in free agency, but Gonzalez strikes out less often and doesn’t carry a reputation as a terrible defender. Gonzalez does bear a different burden, with extreme home/away splits. Taken out of Coors Field, Gonzalez may be of limited appeal to MLB teams. He may need another 40 home run season to keep his spot on this list.
10. Mike Moustakas. Moustakas, 28, had a breakout 2015 season for the Royals but missed most of last season with an ACL tear. Given positive contributions with both offense and third base defense, as well as his relative youth, Moose could push for a four or five-year contract with a full return to form.
A half-dozen players just missed making the list: Chris Tillman, Todd Frazier, Michael Pineda, Carlos Santana, Lorenzo Cain, and Wade Davis. We’ll be updating these rankings every month during the season.
JD Martinez 6/138M
JUp doesn’t opt out
I think Cain does better than Cargo and Moose
(In regards to Cain) Yeah in 2011. Despite all three having a current reputation as injury prone, CarGo gives a power boost in any lineup and is underrated defensively.
Gonzalez isn’t all that good away from Coors (105 OPS+, .744 OPS last season), and was roughly average in RF last year.
Cain on the other hand, Cain was borderline elite in CF last year (13.6 UZR/150, 8 DRS), and is also a year younger. Cain was an elite player in 2015, an all-star caliber guy the 2 years before that, and even last year was a league average hitter and still produced a higher WAR than CarGo
Can’t see jd Martinez making that much buy pretty good otherwise he’d be making over twice what Trumbo is making just don’t see that
I mean JD Martinez is significantly better and two years younger.
Trumbo’s last three years: 83 HR, .253/.309/.477, 110 OPS+, 2.1 bWAR, 1574 PA
J.D.’s last three years: 83 HR, .299/.357/.540, 145 OPS+, 11.1 bWAR, 1654 PA
I don’t think it’s unreasonable, given there’s also an age difference, that Martinez doubles Trumbo’s AAV. He’s the significantly better player.
i believe that jd martinez, if thats even his real name, will get signed by the san diego padres for 25 years at 10,543,548,389 a year. (and 34 cents)
Lucroy is not getting that much
but why? Hes been arguably the best non-Posey catcher offensively for like 5 years now with a 120 OPS+ and .353 OBP since 2012. McCann got 5/85M, and Lucroy is just better.
5/75 max, but my guess is 4/60. Russel Martin is the better overall catcher and didn’t hit those lofty demands.
Tanaka no way, let’s hope he makes it through this year. TJ just seems inevitable at some point, you can’t continue to defy those odds. I’m sure GMs will be reluctant to give him a long term contract.
Tanaka was perfectly heatlthy for years in Japan, and he’s the youngest of the top FA pitchers in this class. I agree that he’s had some health issues in the MLB, but any estimate that’s significantly under my 7 year/230 million projection needs to be explained.
His partially torn UCL and hes just not on the same level as Price, Kershaw and Scherzer that demanded 200M+ deals?
Even though your Being sarcastic. He’s not perfectly healthy now, he has a partially torn UCL and you have to assume it’s more likely than not that he requires TJS at some point in his near future.
He has a partially torn ACL????? That’s news to me. Where did you hear that?
google “Masahiro Tanaka UCL” and like a thousand articles come up. Hes had it for like 2 years now, and at some point, hes gonna have it be tended to.
Hmmm. Ok. I’ll revise my prediction of his contract. I’ll look into this issue more. I’m a Giants fan, so I don’t know much about the health of NYY pitchers lol.
Martin better than Lucroy? No way. Lucroy is the better hitter, better pitch framer, and he’s two years younger.
Tanaka’s torn UCL was a pretty big news story among baseball when it happened.
Yeah, that made me laugh. I assume patborders is a bluejays fan.
Martin is the better defender and handles a rotation better, but lucroys bat is better.
Ervin Santana has been pitching with a partially torn UCL for like 7 years now.
Lucroy is at or near the top in pitch framing. You can’t say martin is definitely better defensively.
How is he the better defender and what does “handles a rotation better” even mean? Lucroy was ~10 Def better than martin last year and has been better over a 3 year period. His framing is better too.
You, sir, are correct.
Russell Martin is at best Lucroy’s equal, Martin was slightly older (about four months), and Martin got 5/82 in the 2014/2015 offseason, which will be three years ago by the time Lucroy signs his deal. 5/90-95 is certainly within reach with another strong season.
Lucroy is considered among the game’s best at aspects of catcher defense which are more difficult to quantify, such as framing. Martin is/was an excellent catcher, but I’d take Lucroy. Lucroy has multiple seasons as the best catcher in the sport, including this past season. Martin never had a season like Lucroy’s 2014 where he was a legitimate MVP candidate.
Lucroy ranked 87 of 104 catchers in pitch framing last season.
Hmm. Interesting. I agree with some of this. I have exactly 100M more added to Tanaka’s projected deal and at 7 years. I think most of your projections look significantly low, especially with the craziness of the inflation rate of MLB salaries. I agree that Upton won’t opt out, and I personally think it’s a stretch to even put Upton this high on this list. I think your Lucroy projection is spot on.
And while contracts are becoming more outrageous, you gotta factor in that amount of big money deals that either end poorly or are looking bad right now. Heck, atleast half the teams have one bad big money deal on their books right now, and teams will become more cautious at some point.
As for the rest of my predictions, they are just in relation to players with similar track records, age and contracts. JD Martinez one upped Justin Upton/Cespedes, etc. Lucroy one upped McCann. CarGo got in the same range as Fowler and Alex Gordon
I can’t see Hos getting 100MM. He’s just been terrible on al parts of the diamond, and even wen he is good, he’s not that great. Way overrated.
No way Arrieta gets 6 years. He will be 32 and already showing signs of declining.
I doubt either Arrieta (32 in 2018) or Darvish (31 in 2018) get 6 year deals. High AAV deals yes, but not 6 years. 5/160 and 5/140-145 would be my guess for those two respectively.
I think both Cueto and Tanaka stay with their current teams with restructured deals, maybe a high dollar year at the end of the current contract like MLBTR was saying about Cueto.
Lucroy will be 31 and on the downhill side of 30 for a position player. I doubt he gets 5 years or $90 million. Maybe 4/75?
Martinez would need to see a repeat of his 2015 power along with .300 plus BA to get over $100 million. More likely something like 4/80 or 5/90-95.
Hosmer is simply not that good. He doesn’t contribute enough to wins to warrant a big contract. No real power to speak of and his defense is meh. Maybe a long contract because of his age, but nothing topping the QO in AAV. 6/96 would be a high-end figure.
Upton is not opting out. Lets get real.
Cargo is going to get paid, but not long term. He would have to have a monster year for some team to go beyond 4/80. I’m thinking he extends with the Rockies for 4/75
Moustakas is not a player I pay much attention to because he hits under .250 and doesn’t have great power. Really can’t see any team giving him more then $12 million AAV and that might be a stretch.
The problem I have with long term contracts for 30 plus year old free agent players is that position players peak at 26-29 and pitchers at 28-32. Beyond that teams are paying for players in decline. I would rather put that money in extending players when they are in their arbitration years and a year or two of FA years. Seems like a much better financial and production investment.
OMG that was a long post. Sorry.
I like the Arrieta and Darvish picks, but I think Arrieta reached 180 MM. Darvish I think is spot-on. Cueto I have at 5/140, Tanaka 5/130, Lucroy 5/95, JD 5/110, Hosmer 5/85, Upton 5/105 if he opts out, CarGo 3/50, Moustakas 4/52, so I’m mostly in agreement with you.
Lorenzo Cain I think gets 5/80-85. So, basically the BJ Upton/Adam Jones deal with a little inflation (Jones had 6 years, and I don’t think all FA years, Upton the lower end of the deal).
Lucroy at 5….that’s pretty high.
I think he is good, but he never won a World Series, much less a Championship Series.
Pretty close to the World Series in 2011. He at least has tasted playoffs a couple of times now. He’s worthy of five-year contract.
and that is relevant because? McCann got 5 and Lucroy is a lot better.
Winning a championship is meaningless in FA.. Ichiro, Thome, Halladay, etc never won a WS, and are all still HOFers.
Bonds is a top three player all-time but never won a WS
Lucroy is a lot better than 2017 McCann but 2006 to 2013 McCann was better than Lucroy is now and that’s why he got the contract. Comparing the 2 now is also irrelevant
Lucroy over the last 3 seasons has a .288/.355/.458, .812 OPS with a 119 OPS+. McCan’s last 3 seasons with ATL, was .252/.329/.441, .770 OPS with a 108 OPS+.
Lucroy is just as good as McCann ever was. Lucroy is a top-2 catcher in the sport and has been among the best catchers in baseball for several years now. With another strong year, Lucroy would certainly surpass McCann’s deal, IMO.
This isnt the NBA 1 player cant make a difference like that.
Agreed. Chris Sale is also trash since he’s never pitched in a playoff game./sarcasm
What awful logic.
Let’s see, how can I get through to an Oriole fan…Machado has never won a World Championship or a Championship series. He must not be worth the money either.
Please don’t lump me in with that guy.
What is your logic?
Strongly disagree, it has very little do with him if his team makes the playoffs. His offense alone is good enough to get him high in the list, and his catching skills like pitch framing solidify his #5 spot.
He had a chance to win a World Series but left the Tribe hanging.
Guesses on where each will end up? I saw a couple guesses..
My top rankings and salary projections:
1. Tanaka: 7/230 M (Despite some injuries, he is younger than the other top FA pitchers and just as good. Also note that he was perfectly healthy in Japan)
2. JD Martinez: 7/210 M (Also not sure why MLBTR has him this far down on their list. Age and stats speak for themselves)
3. Johnny Cueto: 5/160 (If he opts out, but personally I think Giants will extend him before that)
4. Yu Darvish: 3/90 (Teams will worry about his health, and personally I don’t see him doing better than Zimmerman did as a TJ survivor. I think he will get a high AAV, but just 3 years).
5. Jake Arrieta: 4/115M (Lots will happen between today and 2018. But Arritiea’s age will scare off some teams. If he can have a rebound 2015-ish season, you can add a few years and another 100M plus to this expectation.
No one is giving tanaka 230 million with his injury history
Wait & see.
I doubt cueto gets 32 mil aav.
That is absurd. Not going to happen. So Arrieta, Darvish,and Cueto, who are all better pitchers will get less then Tankaka? Also teams will question arrieta and Darvish but not Tanaka? He is an injury risk too.
Why is JD Martinez getting 30M per season for 7 years? Cespedes is every bit as good and got 4/110M lol.
Teams are worried about Darvish but not Tanaka’s health. Makes sense lol
No way Tanaka or Martinez get over 200mil.
There is absolutely no chance of Tanaka getting $32.8 million per year. In fact, there is no pitcher that will EVER see that kind of money. If I am resigning Tanaka, I would offer 4/$85m with team option for fifth year to make it a 5/$100m
Grienke got 34M per season last year, but thats besides the point
Yea and Kershaw could get to 35M if he he stays healthy.
Kershaw is already getting $35M right now.
Greinke is a great pitcher with a bad contract for his team, Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and his team has unlimited funds. It is difficult for most teams to pay one player that much and still be sucessful. The team with the biggest salary pitchers don.t win the series that much.
I love this: “No pitcher will EVER see that kind of money”
Well, actually pitchers have already gotten that much and more per year, see Zach Greinke.
Your estimate fo Tanaka is not realistic. 85-100 million only? That’s just pennies for MLB teams nowadays. Jeff Samardjia got 90M after a 5 ERA season. So you think Tanaka gets less?
I don’t think Tanaka is gonna get 100M, but I don’t think 230M is realistic for him either. As the standards of an “ace” change, you could make an argument hes not even a #1.
Tanaka wasn’t much better in the last 3 years than Jordan Zimmermann was in his 3 years leading up to his FA contract, and he got like 5/110M
If Tanaka has a good year he will probably get more then you would think just because of who he plays for. I don’t see him leaving New York.. Darvish will blow away Tanaka’s contract though if he stays healthy this year.. Lucroy is worth 5/90 easy.
This is probably the worst projections I have ever seen.
This is probably the worst post I’ve ever seen.
You haven’t seen many posts eh, mydu?
So declining defensive metrics, a mere 2 M bump in the threshold. Red Soxs, Yankees,
So declining defensive metrics, a mere 2 M bump in the threshold. Red Soxs, Yankees,
30 a year for JD Martinez??? Are you on drugs?? NO chance that happens. Lay off the crack friend
You might be right but if your giving Tanaka- ,230 I’ll take Areitta for 115.
Interestingly, just 3 of the top 10 were from the NL; including the also-rans, only 4 of 16 are NL players.
What about marco estrada and francisco liriano of the blue jays
Liriano wasn’t very good last year, and Estrada just isn’t a top 10 FA next year
i agree not top 10s, but they will probably provide the best value for your $
Thats not what this list is about though.
The list has honorable mention-type players at the bottom, though. With a third consecutive strong season, Marco Estrada would surely seem to merit being mentioned alongside the likes of Michael Pineda, Chris Tillman and Todd Frazier, IMO.
Kinsler should be on here
He has a team friendly 2018 team option. Hes prob not gonna be a FA
If the list is purely ranked on total earning power, then I’m not entirely convinced Kinsler should be here since he has a cheap option. Given his age, if the option is declined, he probably had a poor enough season that his earning power would be capped below Moustakas’ expected contract (think 3/45-50 vs. 4/52 for Moustakas).
Just my opinion but I don’t see any of the Top 4 FA starters getting 6 guaranteed years., 5 sure with maybe a vesting or option 6th year. Also I think is Tanaka pitches like he did in 2016 and stays healthy, I think you flip a coin the Top 4 will be around the same in years and dollars. IMO.
lol @ Hosmer in top ten of anything considered good
You can tell these guys around MLBTR are running out of baseball players when Hosmer and J. Upton are included with Tanaka. And still, somehow, these guys here seem to rate him are par level. SMH. Baseball writers can be wrong too. Don’t forget that.
Another fairly weak free agent class, particularly among position players. The starting pitching is light years ahead of the 2016-2017 group but has health concerns at the top. There is no guarantee that two of the elite four will opt-out following the 2017 season and there also remains the possibility of contract extensions for all of those pitchers. While the starting group looks to be much stronger next offseason, the level of top tier closers pales in comparison to last years class.
It’s the potential 2018-2019 FA group that has most fans and front office executives salivating.
Wade Davis is a free agent next year, and could have a very strong walk year if he can remain healthy. I could be wrong, but Britton might be too? Can’t remember if he’s over 5,000 service time yet, but I know he agreed to an 11 MM salary or so, so he’s got to at least have 4.000 service time.
Yes, this FA class is weak.
As a taxpayer I love it when athletes and celebrities make big money. They are taxpaying machines, funneling money into public treasuries. I never ever resent athletes who cash in…the alternative is the plutocrat owner keeping the money. My cable bill is higher…so what. I can cut the cord if it gets bad enough.
But the new CBA is a game changer. There’s no cap but the luxury tax stings the big market teams enough to deter them, which is the whole idea.
There’s downward pressure on payrolls. We saw that this winter.
We will definitely see it again next winter. These numbers are not happening, though it would be fine with me to see all of them get paid.
Idk if it hurts teams per se. Sure when it fully enforced following this year, and a team creeps into the 40 M range it does. It shrinks you’re draft allocation pool and pushes you back 10 spots. That may be the main deterrent with a new international cap. But I’m not sure there was any team even remotely contemplating that strategy past 17.
As a Dodgers fan I’d say they were responsible for the second tier penalties. But it was clear what the Dodgers were doing. Try and hit on a couple internationals to supplant a god awful system. They ate the Gonzo deal to desperately get fans back to the stadium. They also exchanged bad long term money for terrible short term money. But I’m not sure the plan was to always live above that line. It was a unique situation.
I just think execs and teams are getting smarter. I also think the winter was a terrible FA class, to many 1b/DH one dimensional players, and teams looking for 18-19. I don’t think teams will be willing to hit the 40M mark, but will for sure go over especially in contention. The tv money paid out for the CS and WS teams is to significant not to if you’re competitive. Also add revenue recovered from playoff games. I don’t think it affects much at all especially if you can reset the tax soon after.
Yep. I don’t think a lot of people (including many agents) fully understand that baseball basically has a salary cap now.
For the first time, the moves teams made reflected a luxury tax that was a deterrent, not just a nuisance.
A big market team or two might be willing to absorb the tax for a year or two to get a Harper or Machado, but teams aren’t going to pay the tax year in, year out as many have done to this point. Not when young players are cheaper AND better in a post steroid era.
I don;t think it is so much the amount per year that hurts, but the number of years of the contract. I think teams see that at the end of contracts players are just not worth near the money. I think GMs will structure contracts more with decending salaries and not more than 5 or six years.
Descending salaries are a bad idea and won’t happen for the same money. A backloaded 5/100 deal is more like a front-loaded 5/95 deal due to the depreciation of money. Payment structure matters a lot, and teams love deferring the payments to later dates because that’s the smart way.
As long as you properly valuate payments based on when they’re being made, front-loaded/back-loaded is meaningless. If Jake Arrieta, for example, signs for 6/180 and the deal is structured like 20/25/30/35/35/35, reversing that to pay more when the performance is better would make the deal considerably more valuable. You pay less today and more tomorrow. That’s the smart business model.
By a wide margin, I have Tanaka as the best of this group and the clear #1 free agent this off-season. He’s my early pick for the 2017 AL Cy Young and that’s based on an overall body of work; he is trending upward and looks better with every pitch.
And he knows this based on the fact that he’s watched a lot of baseball. Eye test for the win!
Tim, it seems like you’re letting bias and false narratives write some of these profiles for you.
The most egregious seems to be CarGo’s write up. For example you say that he’s ‘not one to take a walk’, and yet for his career he’s walked at a 7.8% clip, league average is 8%, so it’s not like he’s Schoop or Odor. You also say that he’s become a ‘one-dimensional player, with power as his calling card’, and yet, CarGo has consistently posted plus-plus averages over his career. You also talk about his extreme home/away splits, but it’s not like he’s a terrible player away from Coors, or that players don’t typically post better home numbers than away. For his career, CarGo has posted a 100 wRC+ away, which is exactly league average. Last year, he posted a 94 wRC+ away, but the league combined to post a 93 wRC+ away.
Cleveland, LAD, and KC are not exactly known as great hitters parks, and yet their home teams posted 85, 89, and 85 wRC+ respectively on the road, vs 150, 107, 91 wRC+ respectively at home. So let’s not chalk it all up to Coors Field.
No, I definitely wrote it from my own brain. This is a guy who hit an abysmal .240/.292/.417 on the road over the last three years (774 PA). How do you feel about the offensive production of Leonys Martin, Josh Harrison, and Travis Shaw in 2016? That’s how CarGo hits on the road. I understand it’s not that simple, but I also consider him an unappealing player. For statistical reasons, not narratives or bias. Why would I be biased against CarGo? He won me some fantasy leagues in 2010.
Speaking of which, his career numbers are irrelevant, he debuted in 2008. His walk rate over the last three years is 7.3%, same as Mark Trumbo and around 76th in MLB. I don’t see him as one to take a walk. But yes, he can hit for average. Overall, he’s an OK hitter now and not too exciting from 2018 onward.
Go back four years though, and CarGo has a 102 wRC+ on the road and a .254/.309/.446 triple slash not great, not bad. And while yes, his BB% has been below league average on the road over that span, it still sits at a healthy 8.2%. His 2014 wasn’t even half a season due to injuries and he’s played 150+ games over the last two seasons. A healthy (or at least not disastrously injured) CarGo has below average to average walk rates, roughly average K%, defense that gets dinged harshly in large part because of his home stadium, elite contact, and plus power. I bet a team like the Yankees would gladly give him 3/45-3/60 contract as he provides a valuable skill set and should be comfortable in Yankee Stadium.
Frankly, we don’t know how moving stadiums will effect him, but studies have shown a ~5% drop off IIRC, where home numbers drop 10%, and away numbers pick up 5% because the extreme differences in pitch movement between Coors and the road is no longer a factor.
His defense gets dinged because he isn’t a good defender. And I’m not sure going back to when Cargo was 27 is at all the best way to argue for anything dealing with his age 31 and on season(s). He’s at a point where the bat tends to slow and the legs start to go.
That said something like 3/45 isn’t unreasonable, but that’s also paying him to be a 2ish win player, which is a league average position player more or less.
“The Decline of Carlos Gonzalez: Star Player”
Cueto stays Arrietta signs extension around asg if he’s having a good year Yu Darvish signs with Braves
How on earth is Justin Upton only 29 years old?!
If I were to sign any of these guys, it would have to be Darvish. He has that weird mystique of someone who is really good but has also yet to hit his full potential. The injuries may have lowered his ceiling, but you can still see a Cy Young winner there.
Agreed. He’s probably the most tantalizing out of the three in terms of stuff.
One addition to these periodic rankings could be “potential free agent sleepers” who aren’t listed right now for good reason, but could, with a strong season, wind up on the charts. Maybe that would be the place to put Upton. I’m sure Jose Bautista considers himself one, too. If he hits .260/.380/.530 this year and plays 140+ games he could get a 3 yr $60MM deal I think. There’s undoubtedly others out there who could play themselves onto the list.