As sparring continues over the ongoing free agent freeze — see Boras v. Halem, Clark v. Manfred — Bob Nightengale of USA Today takes an interesting look at how he believes the market might shake out for the top available players. His overall analysis and predictions are well worth a look, but a few items of information bear highlighting as part of the market landscape.
- Slugger J.D. Martinez was the focus of a skirmish yesterday in the war of words, with some sparring over the fact that the Red Sox have not upped their longstanding offer — which evidently still stands at a previously reported five-year, $125MM level. Per Nightengale, the only other offer on the table right now is from the Diamondbacks, but it’s just a one-year deal. Clearly, all involved have reason to anticipate that there’d be greater interest than that from other organizations, but it’s a notable point in relation to Martinez’s hopes for generating pressure on the Sox.
- Notably, too, the Red Sox are perhaps still aware of other means of fulfilling their desire for right-handed power. Nightengale says the organization spoke with the Indians earlier in the offseason about a potential deal that would have brought Edwin Encarnacion to Boston. Whether or not there’s any plausible hope of reviving those discussions isn’t clear, though, and the Sox are said not to have been willing to send Jackie Bradley Jr. to Cleveland. Clearly, that’s no surprise, as Bradley is a much younger and more affordable player who still offers plenty of value to the Sox. Indeed, it’s amply arguable that Bradley is a more valuable overall performer than is Encarnacion.
- Top free agent starter Yu Darvish is sitting on multiple five-year offers, per Nightengale. At the moment, he’s still hoping an organization will decide to give him an extra year — or, in a longer-shot scenario, that the Dodgers or Yankees will find a way to move other contracts to open the door to a Darvish signing. For the most part, this seems to represent a continuation of the status quo, as is the case for the other top starters.
- As for Jake Arrieta, we have not heard a ton of public chatter. There isn’t much new, it seems, but Nightengale does suggest that one hypothetical possibility isn’t likely: the incumbent Cubs have “barely even engaged in contract talks” with their former staff ace, per the report. That is not very surprising, of course. The sides already know one another (and their respective bargaining positions) quite well. And it’s clear that, while a reunion has always remained hypothetically possible, both team and player intended to explore alternatives during the winter. Still, it’s notable that they have evidently not circled back around to one another to this point.