23 years ago, the Dodgers signed righty Kevin Brown to a seven-year, $105MM deal in advance of his age-34 season. It was the first baseball contract to break the $100MM barrier. The deal famously included a charter jet to fly Brown’s family from Georgia to Los Angeles 12 times per season. Sandy Alderson, then working for the commissioner’s office, called the deal “an affront and an insult to the commissioner of baseball.” Rivals were also displeased with Dodgers GM Kevin Malone, believing other bidders were not close.
Due to inflation and increases in MLB revenue, $300MM is now the top of the market round number, and nine players have crossed that barrier. $100MM is the realm of the very good, not superstar territory. Still, that round number still holds some psychological significance. This winter Corey Seager signed for $325MM, while Marcus Semien, Javier Baez, Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, and Kevin Gausman have signed in the $110-175MM range.
That’s six $100MM contracts so far this winter, which we haven’t seen since seven players broke the barrier following the 2015 season. How many more $100M deals will be struck once the lockout ends, with 20 of our top 50 free agents still on the board?
There’s a general expectation that we’ll see a free agent frenzy of sorts when the lockout ends, with the possibility that most signings will have to occur in a period of less than one month. That pressure should make for an action-packed spring training/hot stove period. In theory, we could see increased spending once new competitive balance tax thresholds are known and 15 National League designated hitter jobs are potentially added. But for the most part, I think teams already have an idea of what they think each free agent is worth, and I don’t think that’s going to change much post-lockout.
I see a total of eight remaining free agents with at least some plausible chance to reach $100MM, if I’m generous. Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman are locks. Other candidates include Kris Bryant, Trevor Story, and Nick Castellanos, who were all projected by MLBTR in November to top the $100MM barrier. We’ll also throw Kyle Schwarber, Carlos Rodon, and Seiya Suzuki in the mix, even though they seem like long shots. In the poll below, vote for all the players you think will sign a contract worth $100MM or more before the season begins. Click here for a direct link to the poll, and here for the results.
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I found this poll interesting because if u dont think Correa is gettin over 100mil who do u think is? Like what did the less then .1% of people think?
All polls are going to have noise with enough participants.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
Now the number of people who doubt Correa is up to 3.5%. That always happens though. I know of people who always vote the exact opposite of what they truly think just to try and throw the polls off.
What surprises me the most is that more people believe Rodon will get a $100 million contract than Schwarber. I don’t think either of them will but I’m almost certain Schwarber will get more money than Rodon. I’m guessing Rodon gets somewhere between $20-80 million while Schwarber gets somewhere between $60-100 million. To me, Schwarber has a much better low end number and a much better high end number. The White Sox didn’t even think Rodon was worth $19 million and they know him more than any other team.
Cubs thought enough of Schwarber to non tender him just a year ago, and they knew more about him than anybody. But you sign him to the big money based on half a season. I suggest avoiding both.
I say 4. Could be 3 if Trevor Story takes a pillow contract, but there’s no need for him to do that. I don’t see Castellano’s breaking $100M. His contract demands seem the most out of line. So 4 it is.
@RobM I agree with you completely. 4 as well.
I selected None as I don’t see the season happening this year. Unfortunately, my vote doesn’t appear on the chart.
Old York has your answer. The only way Correa does not get $100 million is if the lockout is not resolved this calendar year at all. Unlikely but not a troll answer, not at all.
You honestly believe the entire season will be canceled?
No chance the season is canceled. That’s never happened in the history of the game, and the negotiating items on the table are minor compared to what prior MLBPA members faced.
I believe at best, the season will start around the time the ASG is usually held (think 2020 season). But I honestly don’t think there will be a season this year.
And the negotiating terms are far from minor. This is going to be a dog fight and it has been building for the last three years.
Yes, I do.
Correa, Freeman, Bryant, Story
I would go so far to say Bryant & Casty are locks for 100m+. Story is tricky because I could totally see him signing a short term deal in order to test the market again soon
And none of these signed this year are close to being Hall of Famers!
Only Scherzer, the rest that is correct.
Scherzer is a lock, but that kind of undermines what he’s suggesting. Most players are not HOFers when they sign out of free agency, unless they’re later in their careers. They’re still building their cases. Seager could very well build a HOF case. Correa hasn’t signed yet, but he’s already at about 34 career rWAR, which is about half of what’s needed to be a HOF lock. He’s only 27 in 2022. He is building a HOF case.
Scherzer is 100% a hall of famer. If Seager can stay healthy, he can definitely make a case for himself.
Saying Corey Seager is a hall of famer is silly. It is like calling a two year old the next Mozart. Then Tatis Jr., Soto, Vlad Jr., Harper are all hall of famers and yet one or more could become Garciaparras.
Harper has a solid case brewing. But yeah any can bust the rest of career. I think if seager stays healthy for 10 years and puts up consistent 3-4 WAR seasons he has a chance.
At this point, Harper just needs to not get injured. He already has 40.1 bWAR/43.3 fWAR, a .916 OPS, 142 wRC+, and has a fair chance of reaching 300 home runs before his age-30 season. He averages about 32 per 600 plate appearances. He only needs 33 more.
Interestingly Baseball Reference and Fangraphs have very different perceptions of Correa’s fielding ability. BRef is like 8 wins lower than FG. Savant’s fielding metric (OAA) is closer to BRef than FG.
I think you’re looking at FanGraphs’ defensive adjustment rather than actual defensive WAR. They’re two seperate things.
Ironically, the best defensive SS of this vaunted “deep” class of FA SS was signed to play 2B—Semien.
Seager is a future 2B, Story is dealing with physical limitations, and Correa has a great arm but either has poor instincts or poor positioning. All three of these are getting attention for their offensive skills, but up the middle they’re far from the best.
I think you’re way off on that assessment. Semien is the worst defender among the 4 FAs. Fangraphs gives him a total of 6 DRS for his career. Baseball Savant has him at -26 OAA.
By comparison Baez has 46 DRS, and 51 OAA,
Correa has 20 DRS, and 27 OAA.
Story has 69 DRS, and 18 OAA.
It’s not even close. Semien is much better suited to play 2B, than SS.
With respect to the likely Hall of Famers in this free agent crop, there are:
Scherzer (signed), Verlander (signed) and Kershaw (not yet signed).
Just to clarify, I meant to say that I think Scherzer, Kershaw and Verlander are in even if they never pitch another inning.
Freeman does seem likely but if he ended his career tomorrow then I would say no.
Correa and Seager to me are less likely that Soto, Tatis Jr. or Guerrero Jr. None of them have done enough so that I will bet 50-50 on them being hall of famers but the three youngsters are talented enough that I would not bet against them either. So I guess I must believe each of those three have about a 50-50 chance, with injuries the main thing that could stop any of them.
4 more great years by Freeman and he can make a case for the HOF. Correa is on track for the HOF too if he can stay healthy throughout his next contract. That’s a big IF in Correa’s case.
Correa is so far removed from HoF it is comical.
No he has a good case as of rn if (another big if) you discount the 2017 scandal
He’s only 27 years old, already has reached 30 bWAR and 25 fWAR in his career, and has a 127 OPS+/128 wRC+. When he’s healthy, he averages between 5 and 7 WAR. Health is the only real question for him. But if he has 5-8 more healthy seasons, he has a very good HOF case.
Correa, Freeman, Bryant, Castellanos, Story will all get $100+M in guaranteed money!
Guys like Schwarber, Rodon and Suzuki, I see them between $60 M to $100 M but not exceeding the 100 mark!
I have the least “faith” in Castellanos. A 30-year-old, poor-defensive OFer coming off his career year. It’s a career, though, where he has a 115 OPS+. All solid, but I think he’s getting less than he believes. Maybe a 5./90. Granted, I’m letting my own views impact here. Hard to say how MLB teams view his skillset.
Hot Corner IJ
His defensive issues are overstated in my opinion. My estimate is AAV of $20MM. The question to me is does he get 5 years.
Hot Corner IJ:
Not sure how you see Castellanos’ defensive issued as over-stated. He scores low on whichever advanced metric you look at.
Fangraphs has him at -48 DRS in the OF. I’m not a fan of UZR but they rate him at -9.1 UZR/150.
Baseball Savant, which most people seem to prefer these days, gives him a -43 OAA for the OF. That ranks 132nd, of the 133 that qualified. Only Matt kemp was worse. He scores worse than recognized bad defenders like Schwarber (-37), J. Upton (-29) and J.D. Martinez (-28)
BB Ref gives him a -10 dWAR. I think those defensive issues just might be understated.
Hot Corner IJ
The eye test. I have seen him play many games. Compared to others I have watched he does not look that bad. Also consider he had to learn it at the major league level instead of the minor leagues like most guys.
Well that explains a lot. The problem is the eye test is anecdotal unless you’ve seen the vast majority of his defensive plays. Even then, do you really know for certain when he doesn’t make a play, if a better fielder would have?
Teams will have scouted him, and they’ll base their opinions on the defensive metrics, as well as the scouting report. But scouts have a much more discerning eye than either you or me. I doubt teams think very highly of his defensive ability.
Hot Corner IJ:
Plus, where did you get the idea that he had to learn to field in the majors, and not the minors? Castellanos didn’t spend a lot of time in the minors, but played 181 games, 1,599 innings, in the OF there., with an additional 24 games, 209 innings, in the Rookie and AZ Fall League. He also played 250 games, 1,819 innings at 3B in the minors.
Besides most guys are in the minors to learn how to hit ML pitching. Usually guys get drafted already having the defensive tools.
Brandon Belt isn’t an OF, but he’s the only one I can think of that was asked to do on-the-job training. He had only 139 games at 1B in the minors, with another 22 in RK and AZFL. But he is still one of the best defensive 1B in MLB.
I understand your point about Castellanos, I just don’t think he’s developed into a good defensive player anywhere – the minors or majors, 3B or OF.
I don’t think most drafted guys already have the defensive tools. First, there’s still much more to learn as they move up the professional ranks. Second, many players are drafted as SS or CF and move off those positions as they move up the ranks. If they already had the defensive tools, that would not be the case.
Outs above average consistently ranks him as one of the worst defenders in baseball. There’s a defined way that it’s calcualted because they use statcast to track things such as the player’s positioning, how much time the fielder had to react, catch probability, etc. The eye test can say whatever it wants, but outs above average takes every measureable facet into consideration.
I admit to overstating players having the defensive skills when drafted, but I didn’t overstate it by much. Like I said the minors are mostly about hitting ML pitching. There’s a huge difference between the pitching high school or college players see and what they’ll see as pros.
But there isn’t a huge difference in fielding a ball hit in your direction in HS or college, and what they’ll see in the pros. I think the majority of defensive learning in the minors, is not how to field, but knowing what to do when a ball is fielded. Teaching guys what base to throw to, how to gauge if its reasonable to try for the lead runner, etc.
As you pointed out most guys played SS, or CF. So for an OF the experience of playing CF should serve. Where I mostly overstated my point was for the IF, and especially catcher. But I was talking about Castellanos and the OF, and was not including other positions..
Totally agree. If I had to bet on Castellanos getting $100M, I’d have to bet against it. It all depends, I guess, on how teams think his swing will age. But as a one-dimensional player, even if they think it will age well, he still might not get $100M.
Once Castellanos slows down a bit, his already below average defense is going to get worse. Long term home is a DH/1B/LF kind of players. Though I’d like to see what he can do in a more hitter-neutral enviroment. Comerica is notoriously pitcher friendly and GABP is notorisously hitter friendly.
While they aren’t perfect, park-adjusted stats are informative. His OPS+ in GABP (125) was much better than at Comerica (110). But he struggled a bit in his first 2+ seasons in Det. Once he broke out, he had three straight season, age 24-26, when he averaged a 120 OPS+, which is close to the 125 OPS+ in Cincy.
The 153 OPS+ he put up in Chicago is an outlier in my opinion. It’s a relatively small sample of 51 games. So I’d guess he’ll produce in that 120 to 125 OPS+ range.
Comerica is actually one of the more neutral parks in MLB, since the bullpens were added in the OF. Probably explains Nicks low 2 yrs there.
With the top-end FAs, I’ve generally guessed low on their deals for several years. Given that, I see Correa, Freeman, Bryant, Story, and Castellanos topping $100M.
Castellanos que bueno baila usted! 😛
It’s a salsa song people, look it up♂️ plus, he go or Hialeah roots, so he’s got Cuba background like me!
For Love of the Game
I have a hard time visualizing Castellanos dancing, despite his surname. He is as wooden as they come. But who cares if he can dance as long as he’s still hitting!
Save some for the little guys! Haha
The CBA should take care of them. If it doesn’t, the MLBPA will have failed yet again.
It is all about the AAV not the aggregate.
Next stop $50m/year.
It’s about both.
Old guys want the AAV (and Bauer) young guys want the aggregate
Such an interesting line: “Sandy Alderson, then working for the commissioner’s office, called the deal “an affront and an insult to the commissioner of baseball.”
What exactly does that mean? Sure, Kevin Brown was overpaid, but a lot of free agents were. Is it the 12 charter flights? Expensive, but not material given the total ticket. Or, is it the total ticket…but why is that an “affront and insult” to the Comish? What does Selig’s personal dignity have to do with it?
Yeah I was really put off by that line
Hot Corner IJ
The comment kind of insinuates that teams should check with the commish first before agreeing to a deal. That might cause one to claim collusion?
Does sound like that. None of us know how much informal information sharing goes on even now.
If Selig was insulted, great!
$100M contract for just a good player? Since they take zero financial risks, I think they should shut up and just be thankful they can play this beloved kid’s game for that kind of money. Most of these guys aren’t even good. Mediocracy like we now have will be the death of baseball. It is amazing to this old school guy that so many players have $100M contracts, and players want even more?
1. A mediocre MLB player is still the top 0.01% of the talent in the world.
2. Business owners pay out less than what they make. So if there’s money flowing into the game, I’d rather have it go to players.
That said, the facts most of that money comes from TV contracts and people are cutting the cord at record rates will someday soon change this game far more than most people are considering.
Your talent assessment is grossly overexaggerated, my friend. I assume that your 0.01% of talent is in reference to sports and not to people in general worldwide., And that, too, would still be a misrepresentation. Worldwide, I’d say doctors and musicians are more talented than baseball players, especially the mediocre types.
Business owners would not be in business if they paid out more than they make. Having half the profits (revenue sharing) go to the employees is what every non-business owner would prefer. The rich get richer in all successful businesses, not just baseball, get used to it. Baseball is just a business, like Ford Motor Company, Apple, or healthcare. Those employees are just as talented in their field as baseball players are in sports. You don’t see their employees taking half the profits out of the owners pocket, and not take the financial risks involved in running the business. Baseball players want more and more for less and less productivity. Home runs or strikeouts all game long is as boring as watching the outfield grass grow . Baseball talent is so poor right now, that if the current players were banned instead of locked out, the next level players would easily produce new favorites and mediocre talent for all of us to enjoy. The current “talent” would simply fall off the grid. It is in our nature to accept what talent is thrown out to us and to blindly follow in support.
I think Correa, Freeman, and Bryant are givens.
Story is the real wild card. Does he take a one year deal and re-enter free agency or not? It only takes one team to offer him a decent deal, though, and I think he’ll land it. I initially voted no for Story but I think I’m wrong.
I voted yes on him on the logic that if he wants the deal, it’ll be available to him. It’s his call whether to accept it.
Well said. I think you’re right.
And if one is offered, it would be pretty hard to turn down, IMO.
Story could opt for a pillow contract to rebuild value, but if he seeks a long-term deal, he’ll top $100M fairly easily. Castellanos is the most on-the-fence one for me. How much is a bat-only guy worth? On the one hand, the Red Sox paid JD Martinez handsomely, but the Twins were paying significantly less to Cruz for years. I think he gets around 4/$85, but I’m not sure he cracks the $100M mark.
Cruz’s age limited his contract length. He’s received “prove you can still hit” deals for a few years.
I want to know how about 9% of people think Rodon is going to get $100M. I’m a die-hard White Sox fan and I’ve been rooting for him to stay healthy since he got drafted. But last year was his first and only year without losing a significant chunk of the season to injury and even then, he showed arm fatigue the last couple months (understandable given how few innings he’s pitched). Now, he was phenomenal the first four months of the year, perhaps even the CYA favorite in the AL, so I can see him getting a high AAV, but he’d need at least 4 years on a deal to get to $100M. I can’t see any team giving him that long on a guaranteed deal. I’d go two years with a team option for a third that vests on IP. No more.
Do you think any team would go $25M AAV ($100M/4 yrs in your example) when the White Sox didn’t risk him accepting a $19M QO? I will be shocked if he gets AAV higher than $15M, regardless of the number of years (not including any incentives which might be baked in).
Correa, Freeman, and Bryant are all but certain. Castellanos and Story could honestly go either way. Suzuki probably doesn’t break $60 mil. And Schwarber and Rodon will come up short
How many 27-31 year olds seeking their first free agent contract are hall of famers? Correa is on a hall of fame track, but the big contracts have nothing to do with hall of fame worthiness. Ask Bobby Bonilla
Correa will never stay healthy enough to be a Hall of Famer unless they continue to drastically lower the standards
The percentage of players elected into the Hall of Fame continues to decrease over time. The standards seem to be diminishing because of occasional outliers like Harold Baines. It is simply more difficult to outpace the rest of the league significantly because the overall talent level continues to improve.
Hadn’t looked at Freeman’s stats recently. He’ll break $100M, but he’s a ways off from being HOF. Not a knock on him, he’s only played 11 seasons. (plus a cup of coffee when he was 20). He’s never been above 6.3 BWAR and is running behind in JAWS. He should be able to do it, but to get to 66WAR (avg) he’s going to need another 22. He should be able to do it, but it’s not a slam dunk.
A sport that can’t properly pay its minor league players during a pandemic, but giving one major leaguer hitting over .300 or a pitcher with a sub 3.00 ERA $40+ mil a year is what’s wrong with the game.
Ƭ̵̬̊ Player Formly Known As MousecopƬ̵̬̊
Frederick 145mil(option for a 7th year
KB same as Javy Baez plus 20mil(forgot Javy got)
Castellanos 105mil club option for a 5th and 6th year
Rodon 65-80 mil if it’s 5 years.
Suzuki 70mil 5 years.
Going to date myself a little with this post.
I really hated it when the Braves went up against Kevin Brown. He simply had the Braves number.
Or when he broke his hand punching a wall down the stretch with the Yankees. I was livid as a fan.
Nope it’s not Ashton Kutcher, it’s Kevin Malone. Equally handsome, equally smart.
Only Kyle is because he’s a _._._._._._._- _._._
Kevin Brown should be in the hall of fame. What happen there?
The brown contract also was a big success in hindsight, big risk to give that deal to a 34 year old but he produced 23.7 war during that span with just one “zero” year.
I remember Brown’s contact, but I didn’t think he was 34 when he signed it for 7 years. Pujols & Cabrera might be the last guys to have a long term deal run into their 40’s. Owners ain’t playing that anymore. They’d rather give a higher AAV versus running a contract into a player’s 40’s.