One thing I learned from our survey a few weeks ago is that some MLBTR readers are not clear on what is actually being offered in our Trade Rumors Front Office subscription service.
Aside from the eradication of ads from the website and the app, a paid subscription includes exclusive articles delivered to your inbox every week from Steve Adams and Anthony Franco. Maybe you’re just here for the headlines or the comment section, in which case this subscription service isn’t for you. But if you’re into high quality analysis of MLB trades and free agency, no one on the planet does it better than Steve and Anthony. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because the subscription service also offers top-notch fantasy baseball advice from Brad Johnson, my MLB mailbag, and a weekly live chat with Anthony.
Here’s a taste of some of the content we sent to subscribers’ inboxes in April. If you feel that this sort of analysis might be worthwhile, please consider trying out Trade Rumors Front Office for a month for $2.99.
Recently from Steve Adams
The Strangest Thing About the Athletics
Why on Earth have the Athletics completely eschewed long-term extensions for any of their young players?
The pressing issue is one of why the A’s aren’t regularly making efforts to sign players with less than a year of service, or one to two years of service, to long-term contracts that buy out their arbitration seasons and a free-agent year or two at an affordable rate. Contracts of that nature have been a hallmark of the Indians/Guardians franchise since the 1990s and have been the primary reason Cleveland has maintained a competitive presence in the American League Central despite routinely running payrolls south of $100MM. It’s the reason the Pirates were able to hang onto Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and now, Hayes, as long as they were. The Rays, another small-market, low-payroll club are also perennially active in this regard. Ditto the Marlins, who, even setting aside the Giancarlo Stanton mega-deal, have been active in this market.
Recently from Anthony Franco
It’s Time For The Royals To Bring Up Two More Top Prospects (from April 13)
A lot has to go right for K.C. to contend in 2022, as mentioned. Much of that involves young players stepping up and playing towards the higher end of their possible outcomes. There’s more variance with prospects, but with the odds against them anyhow, the Royals should be willing to gamble on upside. In addition to perhaps making them better in 2022, getting an extended look at Pratto and Melendez now gives the front office a stronger indication of whether they can be relied upon as important pieces in 2023 — a year when the Royals will absolutely expect to contend.
At some point, Pratto and Melendez are sure to make their major league debuts. It’s not as if the Royals have tanked their chances by playing Santana and Dozier for a week. Calling them up and bumping the veterans to the bench (and O’Hearn off the roster, in all likelihood) just feels like a move that’s overdue.
Recently from Brad Johnson
Fantasy Baseball: 10 Widely Available Hot Performers
Miles Mikolas, SP, STL (44% owned in fantasy leagues)
The five pitchers I’ve identified share several characteristics. Mikolas was a reliable core performer during his 2018-19 peak. Injuries cancelled his 2020 campaign and interrupted his 2021 season. The right-hander has produced strong results in three starts despite a couple red flags. In particular, he has a career-worst swinging strike rate, and he isn’t inducing enough ground balls. On the plus side, he remains one of the best pitchers in the league at generating called strikes. Among qualified pitchers, he ranks ninth in the league in called strike rate – and this is typical of him. If you see analysts predicting a complete collapse, this is the point of data they’re probably missing. That said, we should definitely expect closer to a 3.50-4.00 ERA going forward. He benefits from soft competition in the NL Central.
Recently from Tim Dierkes
MLB Mailbag: deGrom, Yankees, Jays Catching, Dalbec, Mets
What’s the chance the Mets don’t re-sign DeGrom after he opts out? Assuming they do sign him, what does that contract look like?
At this moment, I assume that deGrom expects to return in late May or early June and still plans to opt out. He signed his contract three years ago, and so much has changed since then: the Mets’ ownership, the new CBA, other pitchers’ contracts, his abilities, and his injury record.
The Mets’ CBT payroll goes down to $202MM for 2023 and about $128MM for ‘24, though that doesn’t include arbitration eligible players like Pete Alonso. I think Steve Cohen will make a serious effort to sign deGrom and has the inside track, but I also think there are scenarios where he decides to spend that money differently.
It’s difficult to compare Max Scherzer and deGrom, because Scherzer did not sign with deGrom’s health question marks. And even if deGrom returns in late May and doesn’t miss a start after that, it’d be a stretch to say that all concern about his future ability to stay healthy is gone. On the other hand, Scherzer signed for his age 37-39 seasons, which is inherently a health risk of its own.
If deGrom returns around June and stays healthy for the rest of the season, as his agent I’m setting out looking for a new AAV record and as many years as possible. Best pitcher in baseball, five months of good health, that’s the expectation. So we’re talking an AAV north of $43.3MM.
The new contract would start with deGrom’s age-35 season. We haven’t really seen a comparable contract start at that age. Even Hyun Jin Ryu starting at 33 was an outlier; it’s often 30-31. Then we have kind of the “old ace” contracts, like Scherzer’s deal or Justin Verlander getting a deal for age 37-38 and another one at age 39 (and 40 under certain conditions). DeGrom isn’t old like them, either.
Bottom line: something like $180MM over four years makes sense to me, if deGrom returns within six weeks or so and stays healthy and dominant. If his return from injury does not go perfectly, then the details and timing will determine the contract.
I’ll leave you with a real quote from a subscriber named Jason (you can read more here):
“The subscription service is well worth the price. The content and depth of analysis the writers provide on a plethora of issues is fascinating and eye opening. Adding the fantasy component too is a godsend for us fantasy junkies. It’s also wonderful to get to participate in the private chats and more often than not get my questions answered with responses that demonstrate great attention to detail and insight. I highly recommend the subscription. If you like baseball, you’ll love this service!”