Welcome to the year’s first edition of the 2023-24 MLB free agent power rankings! With this series we will attempt to rank players who are on track for free agency after the 2023 season, by measure of their estimated earning power.
MLBTR will take periodic looks at the top of the class from now through the remainder of the season. Season performance will start to influence these rankings, but 11 or 12 games into the season, it’s not much of a factor in the April edition. By the end of the season, 2023 results will matter quite a bit. A strong platform year can elevate any player’s status in free agency, just as a poor walk year can tank their stock.
For the full list of 2023-24 MLB free agents, click here.
Our power rankings are compiled collaboratively by myself and MLBTR writers Anthony Franco, Steve Adams, and Darragh McDonald. Players with opt-out clauses and player options are included, even if they’ve previously given indications they may forgo the opportunity to return to the market.
The 2023-24 MLB free agent class is an odd one. It’s headed up by Shohei Ohtani, the Angels’ incredible two-way superstar, but seems to fall short of last winter’s class that was led by Aaron Judge and four star shortstops.
As can often happen, the 2023-24 class has had some of its thunder stolen by extensions. Notably, Manny Machado and Rafael Devers inked extensions in excess of $300MM. Yu Darvish and Miles Mikolas came off the market this year as well. Other players who would have been free agents after ’23 had they not signed extensions include Matt Olson, Tyler Glasnow, Luis Castillo, Ozzie Albies, Yoan Moncada, Ryan McMahon, and Kyle Freeland. And just a few hours prior to the publishing of this list, the Cubs agreed to an odd three-year deal to retain Ian Happ, who had been ranked eighth. Additional players from the list below may also come off the board with extensions before free agency opens in November.
Let’s get to it!
1. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Angels: Ohtani signed with the Angels in December 2017, generating significant hype given his ability to serve as both a starting pitcher and regular designated hitter. He’d done so for five years as a member of NPB’s Nippon Ham Fighters. No one knew how this experiment would go, as even Babe Ruth quickly phased out pitching after he started setting home run records in 1919.
Scouts were skeptical, but Ohtani posted a huge 149 wRC+ in 367 plate appearances as a rookie, while also pitching to a 3.31 ERA in ten starts. The performance netted him the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2018. But aside from dealing with blisters that year, Ohtani came down with an elbow sprain in June. He got a platelet-rich plasma injection, stopped pitching for the season, and continued hitting. He returned to the mound for a brief outing in September that year, and then underwent Tommy John surgery after the season ended.
Ohtani was still able to hit in 2019, returning in May of that year and posting a 120 wRC+ on the season. That campaign ended early with surgery to address a bipartite patella in his left knee. The pandemic delayed the start of the 2020 season, resulting in a gap of nearly two years between Major League pitching appearances for Ohtani.
Based on where he went in my fantasy baseball drafts in March 2021, expectations were relatively low for Ohtani entering that season. Ohtani shattered those expectations, winning the AL MVP award in ’21 and finishing second in ’22. He posted a 146 wRC+ with 80 home runs in 1,305 plate appearances during that time. Ohtani also made 51 starts across 296 1/3 innings, posting a 2.70 ERA and 31.4 K%. His pitching performance netted a fourth place Cy Young finish in 2022.
Over the past two seasons, Ohtani accomplished what many thought simply could not be done in modern MLB. Ohtani, who turns 29 in July, is simultaneously one of the best hitters and pitchers in MLB. He was worth 17.5 WAR from 2021-22, edging out Aaron Judge for the best in the game. Ohtani is a once-in-a-lifetime sensation at the peak of his abilities.
Ohtani is earning an arbitration-record $30MM this year, and he’s on track for free agency after the season. Angels owner Arte Moreno was unwilling to part with Ohtani despite trade offers last summer, just as he was ultimately unwilling to sell his team this winter despite soliciting bids. Moreno hopes to retain his two-way star, but told reporters, “Ohtani has to want to be here too.” Moreno expressed willingness to go over the competitive balance tax threshold, but also admitted that the club has not had discussions with Ohtani.
The Angels have never had a winning season in Ohtani’s five years with the club, though that might change in 2023. Asked about the extension possibility in February, agent Nez Balelo said, “I’ve always been open to it. But there’s several layers to this one, and Shohei’s earned the right to play through the year, explore free agency, and we’ll see where it shakes out.”
So, what actually drives Shohei Ohtani? There’s evidence it’s not entirely money, since he chose to come to MLB at age 23. His age limited him to a $2.3MM signing bonus, when waiting two more years could’ve resulted in over $100MM more. Ohtani’s six other finalists in 2017 were the Mariners, Rangers, Cubs, Padres, Dodgers and Giants. At the time, Balelo said, “While there has been much speculation about what would drive Shohei’s decision, what mattered to him most wasn’t market size, time zone or league but that he felt a true bond with the Angels.”
Still, many have noted that most of Ohtani’s finalists were on the West Coast. And it’s certainly logical that after accomplishing so much as an individual, Ohtani will focus on joining a team he believes will be a perennial contender. The Dodgers and Padres are oft-cited potential matches, and most expect the Mets to be heavily involved. The Giants took two large swings at star players last winter, and the Yankees and Mariners shouldn’t be discounted. I’m sure you could name a half-dozen at least semi-reasonable fits. In terms of payroll commitments for 2024 and beyond, the Dodgers, Giants, and Mariners are much better-positioned than the Yankees, Padres, and Mets, though it’s difficult to picture Steve Cohen staying out of the fray.
The largest contract in MLB history remains Mookie Betts’ 12-year, $365MM extension in July 2020, though it included significant deferrals. Ohtani’s teammate Mike Trout received $360MM in new money back in 2019. So no one has even signed for $400MM yet, though the Padres reportedly offered Judge around $415MM and the Nationals offered Juan Soto $440MM.
No one doubts that Ohtani will become the first player to truly top the $400MM barrier, and common speculation is that he will reach $500MM. Where will the bidding stop for a generational talent and marketing bonanza such as Ohtani? I’m not willing to rule out a $600MM contract, though perhaps something in the $550MM range could represent a sweet spot.
The 2022-23 offseason included a trend toward extra-long contracts, with Machado, Trea Turner, and Xander Bogaerts all getting 11-year contracts paying through age 40. The goal of those was to reduce the average annual value and accompanying CBT hit. Going through age 40 would mean a 12-year contract for Ohtani, though I personally think a 14-year term has a chance of passing MLB’s scrutiny. It’s been suggested that the Padres’ concept of paying Judge through age 44 wouldn’t have passed muster, but that’s not to say going through age 42 is off the table.
If Ohtani aims for maximum dollars and the $40MM standard only Judge has achieved on a long-term deal, I think 14 years and $560MM could be an end point. There’s also an argument that since Ohtani is both an elite hitter and pitcher, he should land an average annual value in excess of $45MM or even $50MM. Max Scherzer currently holds the record at $43,333,333.33 per year, though only Judge received $40MM for more than three years.
I could also be wildly wrong and Ohtani could fall well short of the $560MM guess. Nor do I have any idea whether Ohtani will accept the largest deal proposed to him. Buckle up for what could be the most fascinating and frenzied free agency in MLBTR’s 17-year history. Our Ohtani page can be found here, which we’ll be beefing up with some additional quality content soon.
2. Julio Urias, SP, Dodgers: Urias may not generate the hype of Ohtani, but the lefty is a former prodigy in his own right and our clear #2 for earning power in this free agent class. After being handled carefully as a minor leaguer, Urias made his Major League debut for the Dodgers at the age of 19, way back in 2016. His pitch counts were kept low, and at the end of a successful season Urias made two playoff appearances for the Dodgers, including an NLCS start.
Unfortunately, Urias came down with a serious shoulder injury in June 2017, and anterior capsule surgery was required. He went nearly 16 months between MLB appearances. In 2019, Urias was again handled carefully, pitching out of the bullpen more often than the rotation. That year, he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, according to the LAPD. MLB ultimately issued a 20-game suspension.
Urias entered 2020 without restrictions, and wound up making ten starts in the pandemic-shortened season. He was utilized creatively in the postseason that year, making two starts and four multi-inning relief appearances. Urias memorably got the last seven outs in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series, freezing Willy Adames with a called strike for the last one and getting mobbed by his Dodgers teammates after winning it all.
Urias further turned a corner in 2021, topping 200 innings between the regular season and postseason – easily a career-high. He won 20 games with a 2.96 ERA and finished seventh in the NL Cy Young voting. He followed that up in 2022 with a third-place Cy Young finish and an NL-best 2.16 ERA.
Despite a 2.57 ERA from 2021-22 that ranked second among all qualified starters, Urias can’t quite be described as dominant. His 25.2 K% during that time was still above-average, ranking 21st among starters. His pinpoint control was even better, with a 5.5 BB% that ranked ninth. Much of Urias’ success can be attributed to his ability to limit hard contact. His BABIP was just .251 from 2021-22, third-lowest in MLB, and his Statcast hard-hit rate ranked second each year. Urias is not particularly adept at getting groundballs, but fewer of the flyballs he allows leave the yard.
So Urias’ case as one of the best pitchers in baseball is based more on great control and weak contact than it is punching out batters. His results are undeniable. But the factor that sends his earning power through the roof is his age: he does not turn 27 until August. Because players so rarely debut at the age of 19, it follows that a free agent ace entering his age-27 season is extremely uncommon. We have seen it on the position player side, such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hitting free agency in advance of their age-26 campaigns.
Pitchers are seen as greater risks than position players, so Harper’s 13-year term probably isn’t happening with Urias. On the other hand, last offseason’s trend for star free agents was all about reaching a specific total, with the years and average annual value being secondary. Agent Scott Boras likely has a clear target to attempt to top: Stephen Strasburg’s $245MM, a contract he brokered in December 2019. If getting there requires a term that would’ve previously been considered untenable, such as nine or ten years, that wouldn’t shock me.
It is worth noting that Strasburg’s contract has been a disaster due to injuries. Urias’ shoulder surgery will be more than six years behind him when he hits free agency, but a clean bill of health will be crucial to any monster long-term deal. There’s also the matter of Urias’ good-but-not-amazing strikeout rate in an age where some starters can whiff more than 30% of batters faced. Urias doesn’t have that, and his fastball averages 93 miles per hour rather than 97. So while I think Boras’ goal and expectation will be $250MM+, it remains to be seen whether Urias can secure the second-largest pitcher contract of all-time behind Gerrit Cole’s $324MM.
Where do the Dodgers stand on Urias? The club has been perfectly willing to let star free agents leave, while also retaining other long-time Dodgers or occasionally plucking a top free agent from another team. In other words, there’s no way to know their intentions with Urias based on their history. I will say that I could see the potential risk being too high for the Dodgers, and it’s possible they focus their efforts on Ohtani or other top free agent pitchers.
3. Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies: Nola and Urias will make for an interesting comparison, if both reach the open market after the season.
Nola turns 30 in June, so he’s about three years older than Urias. Nola was drafted seventh overall by the Phillies in 2014 out of Louisiana State, making his MLB debut the following year at the age of 22. He was seen as more of a high floor than a high ceiling pitcher at the time.
Nola experienced an early-career hiccup in August of 2016, when he hit the IL for an elbow strain. That injury ended Nola’s season after 20 starts. Nola was able to recover from the strain without surgery, and has not gone on the IL for an arm injury since. Furthermore, Nola has become the game’s preeminent workhorse, leading all pitchers in innings from 2018-22.
Nola is much more ace than innings guy, however, having turned a corner in 2018 with a third-place Cy Young finish. He also finished seventh in 2020, and fourth in ’22. Like Urias, Nola works around 93 miles per hour, but the Phillies’ righty has racked up strikeouts at an elite clip. From 2020-22, Nola whiffed 30% of batters faced, ninth in MLB among qualified starters. His control is even better than that of Urias, with a 4.9 BB% during that time that ranked fourth among starters.
Nola added his first playoff experience last year in the Phillies’ run to the World Series. A pair of excellent starts helped the Phillies advance, though he faltered in the NLCS and World Series.
Nola’s groundball rate has slipped in recent years, and his Statcast marks haven’t been consistently excellent the way Urias’ have. That means Nola’s home run rate and batting average on balls in play can fluctuate season-to-season. That’s how he was able to post a 2.37 ERA in 2018 but a 4.63 mark in 2021 despite arguably demonstrating better skills in the latter season.
Back when Nola had three years of MLB service, he inked a four-year extension with the Phillies that included a club option on a fifth year, which the Phillies gladly exercised. If he remains healthy and effective in 2023, a contract north of $200MM has to be in play if Nola reaches the open market.
Nola and the Phillies have shown mutual interest in a contract extension this year, with offers being exchanged in February. Talks were tabled when an agreement could not be reached prior to the season, but both Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and agent Joe Longo spoke positively of rekindling discussions after the season. That can be difficult when free agency is days rather than months or years away, but it has happened before and remains a possibility here.
4. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, SP, Orix Buffaloes: Back in February, Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that there is “strong belief among MLB teams” that Yamamoto will be posted by the Buffaloes after the season. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams wrote, “Yamamoto is already a four-time NPB All-Star and has taken home both the Pacific League MVP Award and the Sawamura Award (Japan’s equivalent to MLB’s Cy Young Award) in each of the past two seasons.”
Adams compiled stats and various scouting reports suggesting Yamamoto could profile as an ace or something close to it in MLB as well. But the kicker is that Yamamoto doesn’t turn 25 until August, so he’s two years younger than even Urias. Pitchers this good and this young can basically only come through international free agency, and Yamamoto will be right at the age that allows for the full bidding war that Ohtani passed on when he came over.
Masahiro Tanaka comes to mind as a someone who moved from NPB to MLB at the same age and at a time when there was open bidding on posted players. Tanaka’s deal with the Yankees was finalized in January 2014. That was a seven-year, $155MM contract plus a $20MM posting fee. That contract notably included an opt-out clause after the fourth season.
The current posting agreement calls for 20% of the first $25MM, 17.5% of the next $25MM, and 15% of the remainder. Using a $200MM contract as an example, the posting fee would be $31.875MM. The posting fee is not part of the competitive balance tax calculation, however, presenting a carrot to teams that carry payrolls high enough to be affected by the CBT.
Ten years after the Tanaka deal, I feel Yamamoto is indeed capable of reaching $200MM before accounting for a posting fee. However, in this age where teams try to stretch out contracts as long as possible, given his youth Yamamoto might prefer either the flexibility to opt out, the total expiration of the contract while he’s still young enough to be a desirable free agent again, or both. Though Ohtani will loom large over this offseason, Yamamoto getting posted would be a huge story in its own right.
5. Matt Chapman, 3B, Blue Jays: The conversation about Matt Chapman starts with his stellar defense at third base. Since breaking in with the A’s in 2017, Chapman has snagged three Gold Glove awards, most recently in 2021.
Statcast Outs Above Average backs up Chapman’s defensive excellence, as he’s ranked in the top four at third base in 2017, ’18, and ’19 and first in ’21. Pandemic-shortened season aside, the only interruption in Chapman’s run of top-shelf defense, at least according to the numbers, was in 2022. He graded out as more of an average defender last year. While Chapman’s reputation deservedly holds strong, a strong showing this year will only help his earning power in free agency.
From 2018-19 with the A’s, Chapman’s bat aligned with his glove to push him into 6-WAR superstar territory. Chapman posted a 132 wRC+ during that time, mashing 60 home runs. Chapman’s strikeout rate climbed to a dangerous level in the shortened 2020 season, and then he underwent surgery to repair a torn right hip labrum in September of that year. Chapman had his worst year with the bat in 2021, and the A’s shipped him to Toronto in March 2022 as part of their post-lockout fire sale.
Chapman’s strikeout rate climbed and his batting average plummeted since 2020, though he’s remained an above-average hitter. He posted a solid 117 wRC+ in 2022, with 90th percentile-range Statcast metrics suggesting room for more. That has indeed been the case in the early going of 2023, though it’s only been 48 plate appearances at the time of this writing.
Chapman’s 30th birthday is approaching this month, so he’ll play next year at 31. That could invite comparisons to the free agent contracts signed by Marcus Semien and George Springer, with seven and six-year terms respectively.
However, I keep harping on how the old free agency principles went out the window last winter, so Chapman and agent Scott Boras are hardly limited to a seven-year term. It’s not difficult to picture a return to the 6-WAR level for Chapman this year and a contract expectation north of $200MM.
Asked about free agency in February, Chapman said all the right things, but there’s no known momentum toward a long-term deal with the Blue Jays. With fellow third basemen Manny Machado and Rafael Devers staying put, Chapman has emerged as the top non-Ohtani free agent position player of the 2023-24 free agent class.
6. Lucas Giolito, SP, White Sox: Giolito was drafted 16th overall by the Nationals in 2012 out of Harvard-Westlake High School. He was a key piece on the trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Nats in December 2016.
Giolito struggled mightily in his first full season in the Majors in 2018, and then did a complete about-face in 2019 by making the All-Star team and finishing sixth in the AL Cy Young voting. He finished seventh and 11th in the years that followed, posting a 3.47 ERA with a 30.7 K% from 2019-21.
Giolito’s performance fell off quite a bit in 2022. His average fastball velocity dropped from 93.9 miles per hour to 92.6, and his strikeout and walk rates both went in the wrong direction. While Giolito’s spin rates did go down quite a bit with the June 2021 sticky stuff crackdown, that’s overly simplistic as a complete explanation for his decline. As John Foley of Pitcher List wrote, “Rather than it being one clear issue to blame, it seems Giolito dealt with a number of seemingly smaller things – perhaps the early season core injury, the COVID illness, the new bulk on his frame, or the changed ability to grip the ball, or some combination thereof – that resulted in subtle mechanical tweaks that decreased the quality of his stuff, reduced the deception in his delivery, and broke down how well his pitches tunneled together.”
It’s far too early to tell whether Giolito will right the ship in 2023. And even if Giolito doesn’t come all the way back to his 2019-21 levels, he reinvented himself once before, and there are teams that have had more success coaxing the most out of starting pitchers than the White Sox. For all the extensions the White Sox have worked out, a deal with Giolito doesn’t appear to be in the cards. Giolito, still only 29 in July, figures to secure an opt-out if his 2023 performance disappoints.
7. Teoscar Hernandez – RF, Mariners: Hernandez was signed by the Astros for $20K out of the Dominican Republic in 2011. The club shipped Hernandez and Nori Aoki to the Blue Jays for Francisco Liriano at the 2017 trade deadline. Prior to that season, Hernandez was considered a 55-grade prospect by Baseball America.
Jose Bautista’s departure opened up a spot for Hernandez in 2018, and he became a starter at the outfield corners for the Jays. After a couple years of slightly above-average offensive production, Hernandez turned a corner in 2020 with a 142 wRC+ and 16 homers in 207 plate appearances. That power was no fluke, as Hernandez posted a 131 wRC+ from 2021-22 with 57 home runs, cutting his strikeout rate a bit as an added bonus. He picked up Silver Slugger awards and MVP votes in both ’20 and ’21.
Overall as a hitter, Hernandez is known for big power, top of the chart Statcast metrics, a still-high strikeout rate, and a middling walk rate. Though he has a strong arm, Hernandez’s right field defense typically grades as below-average. Since 2020, the total package has resulted in about 4 WAR per 650 plate appearances. Hernandez has not actually reached that plate appearance plateau, however, as he’s had IL stints for multiple oblique strains. He’s set to turn 31 in October.
Seeking a controllable bullpen arm and perhaps some payroll flexibility, the Blue Jays traded Hernandez to the Mariners last November for setup man Erik Swanson as well as prospect Adam Macko. The Mariners have given no signal an extension is in the works for Hernandez, and they beat him in an arbitration hearing in February. He may wind up a one-year rental for Seattle.
As a free agent, Hernandez gives off some Nick Castellanos vibes, though we think he can top that player’s $100MM deal. Hernandez lost a key competitor in the market with Ian Happ signing a three-year extension with the Cubs.
8. Jordan Montgomery, SP – Cardinals: Montgomery, a 30-year-old lefty, was drafted by the Yankees in the fourth round out of the University of South Carolina back in 2014. He was able to land the team’s fifth starter job out of camp as a rookie in 2017, though he was not needed until April 12th.
Montgomery had a strong year for the 2017 Yankees despite getting pushed out of the rotation occasionally due to the team’s trades, putting up a 3.88 ERA in 29 starts and finishing sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
Montgomery opened 2018 as the Yankees’ fifth starter once again, but unfortunately went down for Tommy John surgery in June. His recovery resulted in a 16.5 month gap between MLB appearances, as the lefty got in a couple of brief September appearances in ’19. Pandemic year aside, Montgomery returned to his rookie-year level of performance with a solid 2021 season for New York.
At the trade deadline last year, the Yankees made the surprising choice to ship Montgomery to the Cardinals for center fielder Harrison Bader, who was on the IL at the time. The jury is still out on that trade, but thus far in 13 starts for the Cardinals running into this year, Montgomery has posted a 2.97 ERA. He also contributed a scoreless appearance for the Cards in last year’s Wild Card game.
Montgomery has bumped up his velocity post Tommy John, now working above 93 miles per hour on average. Last year he posted a 21.8 K% that improved when he joined the Cardinals, as well as a fine 5% walk rate that fits with his strong control. It’ll be interesting to see if Montgomery can continue to push his strikeout rate forward, which would only help his earning power.
MLBTR’s Anthony Franco and Steve Adams pushed for Montgomery to get a spot on this list, suggesting a strong season could vault him past the new Jameson Taillon–Taijuan Walker $70MM tier, perhaps to the $100MM range. He’s got upside to climb as high as sixth in our power rankings this year.
9. Josh Hader, RP – Padres: Hader was a 19th round draft pick by the Orioles out of Maryland’s Old Mill High School back in 2012. At the 2013 trade deadline, the Orioles sent Hader, L.J. Hoes, and a competitive balance round A pick to the Astros for Bud Norris. Two years later, however, the Astros sent Hader, Adrian Houser, Brett Phillips, and Domingo Santana to the Brewers for Mike Fiers, Carlos Gomez, and cash. So that makes two players on this list who were traded away as Astros prospects by Jeff Luhnow.
Hader made his MLB debut for the Brewers in 2017 as a reliever. At the time, he was still thought to be a starter long-term. However, as sometimes happens, Hader was so good in the bullpen that the Brewers were never willing or able to move him back into a starting role. He made his first All-Star team with a dominant 2018, posting an obscene 46.7 K% and finishing seventh in the Cy Young voting. Hader was used as a multi-inning weapon that year, getting more than three outs 33 times and averaging 1.47 innings per appearance.
The following year, Hader replicated his huge strikeout rate and made another All-Star team. It was also the last time he averaged more than an inning per appearance. He racked up 37 saves and inched closer to being used in a traditional stopper role. Hader made All-Star teams again in ’21 and ’22.
At last year’s trade deadline, three games up in the NL Central, the Brewers attempted to thread the needle by trading Hader to the Padres. In theory, they could shed some payroll in ’22 and ’23, replace Hader in the bullpen with Taylor Rogers, and pick up prospects Esteury Ruiz and Robert Gasser along the way. While that plan did not pan out for Milwaukee, Hader also had a rough entry to his Padres career. He’d already torched his ERA in two appearances prior to the trade, and then shortly after joining the Padres allowed 12 earned runs in three innings.
Hader then righted the ship for the Padres, closing out the regular season by allowing one run in 11 1/3 innings. He then dropped an additional 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a dominant postseason. The Padres had no problem paying Hader $14.1MM for his final arbitration year in ’23.
Hader is a lanky 29-year-old lefty who has generally worked in the 95-97 mile per hour range. He remains capable of striking out more than 40% of batters faced, allowing 10-11% to reach base via the free pass. The walks can be less than ideal, and Hader has also been burned by the longball at times. He’s a flyball pitcher, made worse by a 14% career home run per flyball rate. In a 60-inning season it would be normal for Hader to allow seven or eight home runs, and in 2019 he gave up 15 bombs.
Despite those flaws, Hader can still be one of baseball’s most dominant relievers, hugely valuable for teams with postseason expectations. Edwin Diaz’s record five-year, $102MM deal could be in play for Hader with a big year, or perhaps he could land in the $80-90MM range occupied by Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman in the 2016-17 offseason.
10. Blake Snell, SP – Padres: Snell, 31 in December, was drafted 52nd overall by the Rays in 2011 out of Shorewood High School in Washington. He was a supplemental draft pick the Rays received for the loss of free agent Brad Hawpe.
Prior to his 2016 Major League debut, Snell ascended to become a consensus top-15 prospect in the game. The lefty didn’t really settle into the Rays’ rotation until the end of 2017. 2018 was a special year for Snell, as he won the AL Cy Young award, also making the All-Star team and grabbing MVP votes. His 1.89 ERA topped the American League, and he won 21 games while pitching a career-high 180 2/3 innings. That was the year Snell’s strikeout rate shot upward past 30%, a level he’s maintained since. Snell’s dominant 2018 performance led to a five-year, $50MM contract extension prior to 2019.
In July of 2019, Snell underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery, knocking him out for nearly two months. He made it through the shortened 2020 season unscathed, famously getting pulled by manager Kevin Cash in Game 6 of the World Series after 73 pitches and 5 1/3 innings, having allowed one run on two hits.
Two months later, the Rays moved on from Snell, trading him to the Padres for four players. He tallied 256 2/3 innings from 2021-22, including time missed for gastroenteritis and multiple groin strains.
Snell received a cortisone shot for his elbow in February 2020, but technically he hasn’t been on the IL for an arm injury since his surgery nearly four years ago. The knock on Snell is less health and more that he’s never been one to go deep into games. He averaged over 5.8 innings per start in his Cy Young season, but has otherwise come in south of 5.4. And from 2019-21, he managed only 4.7 innings per start. Part of the issue is Snell’s walk rate, which sits north of 10% for his career and can climb above 12%. In 2022, the average starting pitcher worked 5.2 innings per start, walking 7.5% of batters.
As a lefty working at 95-96 miles per hour, Snell still has the ability to dominate, as evidenced by his high strikeout rates. And the game has been trending toward shorter starts, with teams increasingly reluctant to let their starter face a lineup a third time. Snell’s 5.33 innings per start in 2022 ranked 81st in MLB among those with at least 15 starts. While that’s not impressive, it also wasn’t far off from Charlie Morton (5.55), Jameson Taillon (5.53), Nathan Eovaldi (5.46), Taijuan Walker (5.42), Lucas Giolito and Luis Severino (5.37). It’s also ahead of several players who got $12MM+ per year in free agency, like Jose Quintana, Ross Stripling, and Mike Clevinger.
Perhaps Snell’s Cy Young season created unreasonable expectations, but he remains a very good pitcher with ample postseason experience. With a typical season, he should be able to top Taijuan Walker’s four-year, $72MM deal.
Other players considered for this list, or who have a chance to play their way onto it, include Max Scherzer, Luis Severino, Tyler Mahle, Sean Manaea, Harrison Bader, Michael Conforto, Amed Rosario, and Jung Hoo Lee. Of course, one of the best parts of baseball is surprising performances, and we’ll revisit the 2023-24 MLB Free Agent Power Rankings every month.
Great read, you have Teo as a Jay still though. Any chance any other guys get posted from Asia?
Yes! We’re hoping to have an article on that soon.
Think Shohei Ohtani will get $50+MM a year?
No. $43-45 million, yes
Depends on the terms. Offering him opt-outs can keep the commitment to AAV down somewhat. Given the enormity of the money that no doubt will be involved I’d be surprised if his contract didn’t include multiple opt-outs.
He’s going to set a new AAV high which is currently 43.5M$, so minimum 44M$ per. I’ll bet he gets close to 50M$ per.
I don’t doubt that he’ll set a record in terms if AAV and total contract value, maybe by a lot, but I believe the handful of teams that can afford to take on such a commitment will look to mitigate the cost as much as possible. And the best way to do that is with opt-outs. So I’m not going to predict dollar amounts but I will predict Ohtani gets at least one opt-out and possibly more.
Scherzer’s $43,333,333 is currently the highest AAV. $43.5 MM would set a new record. I would bet he gets close to $45 MM
So in your opinion 3 years of inflationary ramifications on salaries are going to have no effect. Get back to me when he signs his next contract.
@ mrkinsm Not sure if you’re replying to me. I’m not guessing numbers but one thing I can guarantee: no matter how much Ohtani gets, we’ll hear lots of comments from all the baseball economics experts here about how it’s a massive overpay.
I was replying to web.
If you add together his value as a starting pitcher and hitter, then subtract a little due to the fact that one injury essentially counts for two players… 50 million honestly seems reasonable.
Also, the number 3 and 4 SP on this list are Nola and Giolito? That’s not a great top end to the SP market, prepare for some overpays.
The way I looked at it is you start with a 5 WAR offensive player for $30M*10. Then add a 5 WAR pitcher for $30M * 5. I’d guess $450M/10 is the opening bid. But Cohen or Seidler could easily top by 10%, and then maybe add two more years. This could be close to $600M.
As fun as Ohtani is to watch, he also demonstates how plowing all your resources into one guy isn’t going to make your tram a winner. Having said that, the Dodgers and Padres wouldn’t be necessarily doing that. Both teams have spread their payroll around, and adding Ohtani to the mix would make him more than a sideshow piece.
I think Cohen or the Padres guy will offer Ohtani 50M/per. Maybe a hair more, since it will be a bidding war.
That $560 million offer over 14 years that is mentioned in the article. That is most likely from the Padres.
Old timer 78
I don’t think ot is COST effective to offer 50 MM for 1 player. You can get 2 or 3 VERY GOOD MLB Players . 50MM for 1 player is a BIG HIT if he Doest produce or Gets injured.
But Shohei Ohtani IS two very good MLB players.
Yes I think he’ll get $50 million per year or at least very close to it. Most analysis is completely ignoring the millions per year he brings in from the Japanese market. Think Michael Jordon and Tiger Woods instead of Mike Trout and Aaron Judge.
His value goes well beyond the playing field more so than any other player in the game.
Position player trades will be big this upcoming offseason. There’s nobody in FA due to the extension trend
Trust the Major League Owners to goof up their own product with the silly time clock. Trying to please the Bud Light drinking fans of the world with some shorter games because they don’t have the attention spans. Ohtani on the west coast is keeping his stature on the down low. So baseball changed the schedules to have him seen more on the east coast. Ohtani hits a ton out west, and everyone knows how hard that is
It all depends on him, but the Mets have no one that they have to slot into the D,H. slot going forward, and he’s got a lot of dough to spend. With these new clock rules it also appears that Cohen is well set up for it with those short year contracts to scherzer and Verlander. Having Sugoi Senga, and Ohtani pitching for years to come sounds like a good plan to me.
ohtani wanted to go to teams without a japanese star. active or retired.
We have too many hobbies to want to watch a 3 and a half hour mlb game. Brave new world.
Since 1960, adult attention spans have gone from 2 hours to 10-15 seconds. When I taught in the 80’s I could lecture to college students for 90 minutes without asking questions. Now they college teachers to ask a question every 2 minutes or risk losing the classes attention.
Hyperbole aside, the students didn’t change as much as the understanding of learning. changed Research in the 70s and 80s started showing that very few people were paying attention to the last hour of your lectures. Breaks and interaction are much more effective than boring the students into a semi comatose state.
A standard lecture you can use unchanged for every class is easier for the instructor; not the students. A dynamic interactive environment is more effective for the students.
Now they college teachers to ask a question every 2 minutes or risk losing the classes attention.
That might depend on which classes you teach. At a bare minimum, 25% of the classes are useless (probably closer to 50%). In my accounting classes, an A- was a weak grade for me. In my business classes, I ranged from a B+ or better.
The other classes were mostly sheer boredom. Olde English, Nutrition, Theater, Spanish, etc., were testaments to just how long I could stay awake. Nothing personal, but I have not made one iota of use from at least 25% of my classes.
Same with HS. I do okay as an accountant, but I still very much wish my three years of French were replaced by three years of electrical, plumbing, carpentry, minor auto maintenance, etc.
Attention spans have plummeted. I blame TV and screens in general.
Yea, I teach political science at a community college and it’s pretty easy to keep their attention (though they do get antsy the last 20 minutes). I remember some students complaining about some long boring anecdote in their astronomy class and I remember thinking yea, I have it so easy compared to say a math teacher.
Socratic method is incredibly useful because instead of passively listening they are suddenly asked to “exercise” their brains and think about the answer to my question (also great for memory retention). It’s also just nice to see them go from mildly interested and respectful to wide eyed and extra engaged.
Yesterday I was about to show a slide ranking countries by military expenditure and suddenly decided to just ask the students to guess the top 5 countries before I put up the slide. Hands shoot up, posture improves, and when the questions are more advanced I get to take a little break from constantly talking at them.
I taught lower division Business Administration classes. Mostly Business 120, 121, and 125. Accounting and Business Law. One of my best friends is now the department chair and his comments about students today is what kept me from going back to teaching part time after I retired. My wife is still hoping I reconsider.
The purpose of those elective classes was not to give you practical skills in that area, it was to teach you how to learn outside of your major.
Kapler's Coconut Oil
@websoulsurfer I think it’s funny that you use the 80’s as an example, as the baseball games now are about as long as they were in the early 80’s!
Best example of the game time being great—-a week ago Monday Cubs/Reds game started 5:40 (central)—ended 8:17….turned the channel to get the end of the starting lineups for the NCAA championship game. Perfect! Tip at 8:20. I had time to go to the restroom and enjoy the hoops game until it got out of hand and had five media times out each half!!!
I’ve watched baseball for 60 years. For most of those years, nobody sat through 3-1/2 hour games. The pitch clock merely does what umps used to do… Tell the players to quit pocking around and get after it.
The pitch clock has been a revelation. I love being able to watch a full game on a weeknight and still go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Games aren’t shorter historically. They’re simply back to the length they were during the mid-80s, which at that time was the longest they ever were. They had just gotten ridiculously bloated every year over the recent years.
Trust the Major League Owners to goof up their own product with the silly time clock.
I thought this was a thread about the 2023/24 FAs?
But nonetheless, the clock is one of the best things MLB has done in a long time.
I have it om good authority that Nola sucks so you can just cross him off the list.
Top heavy class and rather weak overall
Ohtani will get $50 MIllion yet unlike Judge needs a great team as Ohtani cant get his team to the postseason(without Judge the Yanks dont make the postseason and Ohtani hasnt even got his team above .500 and even if he was on the Yanks they dont win the division) as he doesnt pitch enough innings to win enough games for his team and the more he pitches the more it affects his hitting which is why he lost the MVP he went from 47HRs in 2021 to 34HR in 20222 and other stats from the year before.
Ohtani to be fair is more valuable in the postseason like the WBC. Let him hit and start once in awhile and use him as a long man reliever which h makes him better than a Judge. yet say what you want he cant help his team win anymore games in a bad league as he isnt that impactful. enough and Ruth dropped doing both because it affected his hitting and knew your body wont hold. I could see somebody giving him 10 years and overpaying yet I would give more upfront and less years.
Adriann, That’s a very simplistic take. Maybe it’s Mike Trout, and not Ohtani, that’s to blame for not getting the Angels to the PS. Why would SD pay all that money for Bogaerts since he couldn’t get the Red Sox to the playoffs. Same question about Rodon and the Yankees, since he couldn’t get the Giants a playoff slot. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Maybe it was injuries to their starting 1B, 2B, 3B, RF, and HOF CF combined with having absolutely no depth so they were forced to play below replacement level players when injuries hit that kept the Angels out of the playoffs.
Maybe the Yanks won their division more often because they did not have the Asterisks in it.
So, you are trying to say that the Yankees are a bad team without Judge? I don’t think so, but thanks for the comedy skit.
Are they letting Judge use the batting practice balls this year?
OFF TOPIC, but
THAT IS ALL
Watched every inning of those games….he hit about a half mile of homers in three swings. And that one today……I figure I’ve seen about 4,000 or more games there and only a handful or so have reached there. May have taken a while for him to “arrive” but that was very impressive.
Yeah man. That Homer today kind of sealed it in my mind; he has arrived. This is not a fluke. He is hitting in all counts. He is also laying off crap pitches, and because he’s proved that he can handle the breaking stuff; he’s now successfully fastball hunting. It’s beautiful.
Not many guys out there can take that pitch that far! He is beyond, “oh he looks pretty good looks like he’s developing.” He has made a massive, massive leap so far this year. Even with some expected regression, I’m so excited for this kid, man. He is a personal favorite of mine, a very high character, hard working kid.
That is the problem with Mariner fans they get all hyped up over the distance of one home run! Kelenic runs hot and cold! Two weeks from now he will be riding the pine hitting 175!
Seattle fans need a Kelenic colonic.
I need about 100 more at-bats to be sold, but with Diaz side-lined and cheater Cano’s money off-the-books. . . .
SSS. That is all.
Jared Kelenic approves this message
Small Sample Size? Yes, he does.
Let’s have fun with abbreviations!
“Low hanging fruit”
As in: “oh this guy is excited about a player. Let’s pour water on that, cause it’s easy to look like the voice of reason”
Am I wrong?
Build your farm and pay them early.
exactly opposite of moreno’s baseball.
I still remember a couple years ago when there were a few people on here that had already labeled Ohtani a bust, and went completely out of their way to argue with anyone and everyone who said otherwise…lol
I wonder if he’s done enough yet for those geniuses to change their minds??
Just like that one moron that called Acuña Jr. a bust, and was all butt hurt l, and saying The Braves wouldn’t win anything because Atlanta didn’t sign MadBum…
Gotta love the MLBTR comments section..lol Although, I will say that the ridiculous comments and absurd trade proposals have gotten alot more scarce over time…
Hopefully those morons found a different website to comment on, or better yet maybe just a different sport to follow…lol
Get a life, Dick.
Looks like we found one of those aforementioned morons…
Get lost, dick.
“I still remember a couple years ago when there were a few people on here that had already labeled Ohtani a bust,”
Ruminating about comments posted two years ago is the epitome of moronic behavior. Dick.
Sorry “my ruminating” clearly hurt your feelings.
The really funny part is someone trying to call out another’s “moronic behavior,” and then trying to repetitively insult them by ending every message with Dick.
Unlike yourself, my feelings aren’t hurt so easily. Must be a miserable existence to have such thin skin.
I don’t have to vall out your moronic behavior. It’s self evident, dick.
Actually, I thought I muted you.
Let me try again…
There. So long, dickless.
You better believe the Dodgers are going to bust out that check book. I’m thinking at least the top 2 pitchers available, to start off with.
And what if you don’t believe it? Does that make you a heathen?
Mr Henry… bringing in Ohtani is the quickest way to win your fan base back… with younger cheaper talent on the horizon this would seem possible… not signing Mookie/X man and Braiser long term has given you the capital to do so… Thank you for your consideration (Devers helped) but still not happy… RSN fans ( at least one of them)
I am no Ohtani hater but I’m also a realist. How long can he keep this up? Being an elite hitter and elite starter? The bottoms going to fall out of this eventually you’d have to imagine. Maybe not? Could just be that much of a freak of nature where he can keep it up for a long deal? We shall see.
Milwaukee-2208, Well, Babe Ruth was a great two-way player until the bottom fell out on the pitching side. I’d said he still okay despite that.
The bottom never fell out on the pitching side for Ruth. There was no DH. A choice had to be made. Ruth pitched enough to qualify for all time leaders. He’s 17th all time in ERA. It is likely he would have made the HOF as a pitcher if he’d not switched to outfielder.
Too bad there wasn’t a DH when Ruth played.
You are correct. George Herman actually pitched complete game wins in 1930 and 1933, with a teammate working on his arm between innings. I believe the Babe actually homered in one of them.
Shohei has yet to go nine innings in the big leagues.
CardsFan57, I have to disagree. A decision was made because his pitching was in decline. He had a 158 ERA+ in 1916, which lead the league that year. By 1919 it had declined to 102, It was 94 in 1920, and 49 in 1921 which marked the end for him as a regular pitcher.
The Red Sox had already been playing him as a position player since 1918. He played 59 games in the OF and 13 games at 1B despite 20 games at pitcher. He played 110 games in the OF, and 5 games at 1B in 1919, despite 17 games as a pitcher.
The workload pitchers were under led to the demise of a lot of pitcher’s careers during that time, and Ruth was no exception.
bronxmac77, A complete game was expected for all pitchers back then. In 1933 Dizzy Dean and Lon Warneke led the league with 26 complete games. 58 pitchers had 10 or more, so one complete game is not that amazing. Ruth gave up 12 hits and 5 runs and walked 3 in that game in 1933. But you are correct that Ruth hit a HR in the game in 1933.
If a complete game was ‘expected’ back then, then you have to evaluate players thusly… meaning that stats in 1933 (for example) could be adversely impacted by the fact that pitchers paced themselves, tried to go as deep as possible, and learned to pitch instead of just throw hard. As recently as the 1970s, guys like Catfish Hunter, Bert Blyleven, Seaver and Marichal often retired the side on 5 pitches because they threw strikes and got quick outs. A lot of their secondary stats were adversely effected, but they were able to log huge innings totals, spare their bullpens and help their teams.
I would submit that his pitching was in decline because of his frequent use as a position player – not the other way around. Ruth led the AL in several offensive categories as well as pitching full time on the mound – including the 1918 World Series.
tad, i have to mildly disagree with you… a complete game victory at the ages of 35 and 38 are amazing for anyone, let alone a player who hadn’t pitched regularly in 10 years. Were they masterful shutouts? of course not. But the physical toll had to be enormous.
He tried playing outfield and pitch in 1919. His pitching suffered thus a choice had to be made. One or the other; not both.
The grand total of three games he was the emergency pitcher in 2020 and 2021 were not significant to his pitching career. You can’t use them to demonstrate a decline.
bronxmac77, And I’ll mildly disagree with you. 2 starts over a 3 year period, one a not very good one, is a nice a achievement, but not overly stupendous.
Yeah, let’s make that 1920 and 1921.
Knew what you meant.
Ruth switching from pitching to hitting was a result of a phenomenon he himself created. The physical toll of doing both (including playing the outfield) is what led to his (and his team’s) decision to drop pitching.
The fact that he was able to do both at a high level in 1918-19, is still amazing, but also demonstrates the absolute limit one could carry that kind of load.
bronxmac77, In 1918 Ruth pitched in 20 games, (19 GS) and had an ERA+ of 122. That year he played 72 additional games as a position player and had a 192 OPS+.
Team’s had different a concept of players then. They weren’t regarded as valuable assets to be conserved. Players were generally regarded as replaceable.
In 1918 3 of his starts came on 2 days rest, 5 came on 3 days rest, and 4 came on 4 days rest. So 12 of his 19 GS came on 4 days rest or less. No team kept track of the pitch count.
His decline in pitching skills is more likely due to the reasons that a lot of pitchers had short careers in that era. Pitchers were typically overworked, teams had little or no training staff, and the level of knowledge about pitcher’s health, conditioning, treatment of injuries, and rehab/recovery were poor.
Even as recently as the 1960’s pitchers were routinely abused physically. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve read the Sandy Koufax biography by Jane Leavy. He could have had a much longer career had they known then what they know now. And the same can be said for Ruth, He could have been an effective pitcher for longer than he was. He was good enough to have a full career as a two-way player.
I agree with what you say. Ruth was worked like a pack mule. I agree he wasn’t as sharp as say, 1915-1916. But he was filling a need…a void if you will. The Red Sox had dumped Speaker in a salary dispute. Players were being scooped up for WW One. Red Sox Skipper Ed Barrow asked/demanded the Babe to both pitch and play OF. Ruth’s individual stats suffered somewhat. But the Sox won the World Series, in great part, because of Ruth’s contributions on both sides of the ball. The physical toll had to be enormous.
Another thing that is often overlooked… Fenway Park’s field was much larger in those days. 488 to dead center, and 400+ to straight away right. With the dead ball of 1918-19, Ruth’s achievements as a hitter were remarkable.
I’m also familiar with Sandy Koufax. Amazing what the Dodgers did to him. Also amazing that a guy retires after 25, 26 and 27 game winning seasons and three Cy Young titles in four years! According to Koufax himself, he was chewing on Vicodin and other painkillers like they were candy. Frightening.
But if you look at the careers of a lot of pitchers in that era, many had short careers. Look at Smoky Joe Wood. He made his debut at age 18, first full season at age 19. In the 3 years of his age 20, 21, and 22 seasons, he averaged a 166 ERA+, and had a 188 ERA+ at age 25.. But by age 27 he was toast.
IMO, the kind of treatment pitchers got in that era is going to be a much more likely reason for Ruth’s fall off as a pitcher, than him also playing a position in some games.
In 1918, starting 19 games at pitcher, and playing a position in 57% of their games, just doesn’t seem like it should be that detrimental to his ability to continue to pitch well. Their season was only 126 games. It’s not like someone today making 30 starts as a pitcher and trying to play a position in 150 games.
Good discourse. When you mentioned how Ruth was overworked, I immediately thought of Joe Wood.
But I am going to address a statement of yours; “In 1918, starting 19 games at pitcher, and playing a position in 57% of their games, just doesn’t seem like it should be that detrimental to his ability to continue to pitch well…”
You seem to be going back and forth on this. Maybe I’m misreading what you’re saying. But I’ll say this… As a regular listener to Angels games, the players (and broadcaster Mark Langston) all marvel at how sore a pitcher is the day after he starts… And how Shohei still picks up a bat the next day, and does what he does. I marvel as well. But imagine ALSO picking up a glove and trotting out to left field for several innings as well. The physical toll would be enormous. I read that Wes Ferrell attempted this in the 1930s, an it actually destroyed his career, and possibly, his entry into the Hall Of Fame. I believe he is still the all time AL HR leader amongst full-time pitchers.
Sorry for the long posts. I am a history buff and a baseball buff. The two collide quite often!
I disagreed with the idea that playing a position was the cause for the decline of Ruth as a pitcher. I was trying to show that he was still effective as a pitcher in 1918. And his playing a position in a little over half the games, could not have been the reason for him to be less effective in 1919. That making starts on 2, 3, and 4 days rest for the majority of his games was more likely the cause.
I also disagree that 59 games in the OF would have taken an enormous physical toll. In 1918 he played 505 innings in the OF, and had 136 chances. That averages to less than 2 1/2 chances per 9 inning game. The physical toll of pitching, especially in that time, would have been much greater.
Everything I’ve read on the subject indicates pitchers have greater risk of injury, and shorter careers, than position players. It makes no sense to me that playing a position would take a toll on a pitcher that is greater than what pitching itself takes.
“It makes no sense to me that playing a position would take a toll on a pitcher that is greater than what pitching itself takes.”
It doesn’t, tad. But Ed Barrow was asking the Babe to do BOTH. Even the Angels have the good sense to know that doing so to Ohtani would drive him into the ground
I agree it would not be smart to ask Ohtani to play a position. But, I don’t think that’s a good comp. So much is different between then and now. The season is 36 games longer now. The postseason can be much longer. Pitchers make more starts now. I think Ohtani could make 19 starts, play 72 games in the OF, and as long as he wouldn’t be making starts on 2, 3, and 4 days rest, he wouldn’t be driven into the ground.
The basic fact remains that Ruth became a full time hitter because he was becoming less and less effective as pitcher. Teams back then got what the could out of their players without much regard for the player. Had Ruth remained effective as a pitcher, it would have been consistent with how teams operated back then, to have him continue to pitch and play a position.
Little Stevie Janowsky
How in the world is teoscar Hernandez anywhere near this list? Literally the most mediocre player in baseball
2 x Silver Slugger. I don’t think they just give those to anyone
Marius, I agree, except, unlike the GG award which is given, silver sluggers have to be earned. If a guy isn’t statistically the best hitter at his position, he’s not getting a silver slugger.
It is an extremely weak free agent class. Really all there is to it
It’s good to see Urias ranking #2 on this list as it’s well-deserved, but I don’t believe his performance needs to be qualified as much as it has been. If some of the currently fashionable statical measurements don’t capture his ability to get batters out, then it isn’t the fault of the player, it’s the fault of the statistics. A little less number love makes sense here.
Obviously I disagree with that, or I wouldn’t have written his blurb the way I did.
I think his performance needs a lot of qualification, because the results don’t quite match the underlying skills. The skills being the repeatable things and not his ERA.
That potential disconnect is at the core of a Urias valuation, and this post is basically early valuations of potential free agents.
So far me, stopping at “His results are great, don’t need to go further” doesn’t make sense here.
That basic stats don’t really offer an explanation suggests a need for way more advanced stuff, at least if you’re one of the teams considering offering him a quarter billion dollars.
I would never suggest not going further, but going further can mean different things in different situations. If Urias has been defying gravity he’s been doing a pretty good job of it for quite awhile now. So just maybe he really isn’t. That possibly has to be at least considered.
The ability of statistics to represent and predict is limited and imperfect, by definition, because they are the product of assumptions that may or may not be correct. If statistical representations and ground truth aren’t matching up, it’s the statistical assumptions that should be questioned. That’s how going further works in science, and I don’t see why baseball should be any different.
Two words, Julio Teheran.
Not sure I get your point. Teheran has hardly ever been better than a journeyman, no matter how you look at him. The only point of comparison I can see he also came up very young.
Exactly the same ERA at age 22-23 as Urias at age 23-24. Over a 4 year stretch and 126 starts from 2013-2016 he had a 3.33 ERA while the rest of the starters in baseball were a 4.12 ERA. For starters with at least 150 IP per season, he was 15th overall in MLB in ERA. Right there with Strasburg, Price, Hamels, and Lackey. That is far better than journeyman.
Advanced stats didn’t like him then, just like they don’t think Urias is as good as his ERA today.
I think you both may be onto something. Urias may simply be a great fit for the Dodgers at this time, and at his current price. What the Dodgers seem to be doing, and doing quite well, is evaluating and allocating their resources across the team, as opposed to a couple of high-priced players. Whether Urias’ ‘secondary stats’ support him being a highly rated FA doesn’t concern the Dodgers. Good for them.
The Dodgers had the highest payroll in baseball over the last decade.
They did rank him at #2, so they obviously think highly of his earning potential even with the qualifications. His ability to limit hard contact is a repeatable skill, and one that could age well, but it’s also one that the public facing metrics don’t incorporate into stats such as FIP, and this WAR.
Well, yes. So I said. I am adding only that if the metrics don’t happen to capture what he’s doing to get batters out it that doesn’t mean that he isn’t doing it. The only theory I’ve got for why Urias gets the job done without raw “stuff” showing up in the stats is he throws a slider-curve. As far as I know, nobody else in the majors throws a pitch with this profile. Batters aren’t used to seeing this pitch, so it induces a lot of soft contact.
Do you think Ohtani will get two types of contracts : one as a posn player and one as a pitcher? I can see it happening as it covers the team if his arm blows a tire but he can still produce as a hitter
Rays and Braves won’t sign any of these guys…and they will still be better than the teams that do.
Appreciate the list. I would argue FOs don’t seem to value Teoscar that highly though. For example, Bader was traded for a significantly bigger haul than him.
When Giolito is #6, I may be embarrassed to be #7.
I agree with that, but also think that the Bader trade is an example of a team (Yankees) needing to overpay a bit to get the upgrade they need.
As a Yankee fan, I abhor that trade. Bader is a good defensive outfielder who seems to be injury prone. Jordan Montgomery is a good young lefty finally fully healed from TJ surgery. Look who the Yanks are rolling out to start besides Cole and Nestor. And look who’s on their IL. Stupid stupid deals by NYY brass.
Still cant believe the Montgomery trade. To give away one of the better starters in the league with a 1.09 WHIP at the time for a 94 ops+ CF
Some of these moves are baffling
Cashman is an ash hat.
Matt Chapman will be lucky to get a 4 year deal around 20 million per year. Defense is great but he really can’t hit and its only going to get worse from here on out. Some people like players that bat .220 with 25 hrs and 200 strikeouts, I don’t. Slugging and walking I could honestly care less. I’d rather have a thirdbaseman batting .290 with a .295 OBP and 25 hrs then a guy batting .220 with a .320 OBP and 25 hrs. Hits move runners and score in runs, not walks. You pay these sluggers to produce, not to keep the line moving
I don’t think you were trying to, but you’ve made a great case for the use of something like wRC+.
You’re saying a single is worth more than a walk. Yes, it definitely is! How much more? You need to be weighting walks, singles, doubles, triples, and home runs properly. Slugging percentage does not weight those properly, so yeah, it’s not amazing.
Not caring about walks at all is an odd choice, and something even the worst front office wouldn’t do.
Gio Urshela out-hit Chapman on a rate basis last year. They both out-hit Nico Hoerner and Rowdy Tellez. If you want to compare that, you need something like wRC+.
You need to be weighting walks, singles, doubles, triples, and home runs properly.
Also add in GDP. If you’re getting 20 more hits and I am getting 30 more walks, those 20 more hits might look more like 17-18 taking into account that you occasionally add an extra out AND eliminate an extra baserunner.
I agree with that.
wRC+ does not account for GDP, and I think it should.
It uses unintentional walks, HBP, singles, doubles, triples, and homers.
I think whoever makes these things could easily pack more into it. It’d probably only improve the accuracy by a little bit, but why not? In general, the way in which people make their outs should be valued differently.
Two flaws with walks to add as to why they’re not as valuable as hits.
1 – Walks are dependent on pitchers walking you…not so much of a hitters skill with the bat as being able to swing and get a hit.
2 – With men on base, hits extend rallies too and drive up pitch counts as do walks. However, with men on base, when there is a walk, runners move up one base, while with hits, they can move up multiple bases.
Also of note, when a team is trying to get out of an inning, they will intentionally walk a batter to get face what they feel is a batter that is more favorable to get an out against. The goal is to avoid the batter they walked from getting a hit. Hear that? They walk a batter in order to prevent him having a chance to get a hit.
Hits win more games than walks do…period.
LMAO. Of course, walks are a batter’s skill. It’s called PITCH RECOGNITION.
Walks drive up pitch counts MORE than hits. Walks extend rallies. With men on base 78.7% of singles result in baserunners moving up one base.
And how much does that pitch recognition help you with walks when you’re facing pitchers that pound the strikezone, and aren’t walking you?
What’s the percentage with men on base and walks resulting in baserunners moving up one base? I bet it’s a lot more…way more than when hitting the ball.
How about this? So, based on your info, 21.3% of singles result in baserunners moving up more than one base. What’s the percentage of baserunners moving up more than one base on walks?
And let’s go further. Since singles aren’t the only hits that can be achieved when a batter hits the ball, what are the percentages of baserunners moving up more than one base with doubles, triples and HRs versus walks? What’s the percentages of baserunners scoring on hits versus scoring on walks?
Yeah, keep thinking that walks are as valuable as hits. Just because your Rec League coach told you that to build your self-esteem when you couldn’t hit doesn’t mean that it’s true. Good teams have pitchers that throw strikes. Walks ain’t helping you there because they’re not happening much. The guys that hit work against good teams with pitchers who have control.
Walks have always been undervalued, except by smart teams.
John McGraw, the HOF skipper, also had the 3rd highest lifetime OBP. Miller Huggins drew lots of walks. Both men skippered teams that reflected that philosophy. The 1927 Yankees and 1998 Yankees had huge OBP players up and down the line-up… even the no-name role-players got on base.
Walks drive up pitch-counts, extend rallies, and get to the soft white underbellies of bullpens. They help win lots of ballgames.
Hits move runners and score in runs, not walks.
Yeah, last I looked, a walk moves a guy up one base just like a single does.
@JoeBrady A walk does abosulty nothing when you have runners on base. Runs arent scoring when you walk. Its ok for guys that are making 10 million dollars a year to walk a lot because they aren’t the ones you pay to score in big runs. When you got a guy making 30 million a year, he needs to be the one to get that big hit with guys on, not look for a walk. If I got a man on third and second, 2 outs, and say Matt Chapman comes up and gets a walk, next guy strikesout, no runs have scored. Waste of money at that point
It tells you a lot about an opinion when both me and @LFGMets (Metsin7) are in agreement.
473 baserunners were driven in by walks last season.
And how many driven in by singles? And what is the percentage of runs for the whole does 473 runs account for?
Give the whole picture if you want to argue this.
If the guy after Chapman strikes out, he’s the problem. Not Chapman.
“A walk does abosulty nothing when you have runners on base. ”
Obviously he is wrong. It scores runs. It passes the baton with MORE men on base and automatically puts a man in scoring position without making an out.
Absolutely correct. Walks invariably lead to runs. And this is not new. Look at every great scoring team in history. Walks and hits… Hits and walks.
@websoulsuffer the Mets have always had high obp guys spreadout throughout the lineup because thats how Sandy Alderson was taught in Oakland. During the past 10 years, they have been one of the worst hitting teams with runners in scoring position. Even this year they are walking a lot but other than one game, they really havent been scoring any runs. They aren’t getting that big hit that they need when it counts. Those walks are nice and all, they set up situations for scoring but they do not produce any runs. Once in a while you get lucky with bases loaded and get a run in through a walk. Just today, the Mets had a guy on third with 2 outs, the next two batters walked, and then the next guy got out, no runs scored in that situation
“the Mets have always had high obp guys spread out throughout the lineup”
Yeah, okay boss.
No they haven’t.
deGrom Texas Ranger
It’s almost like this is how much writers are hoping they get instead of how much they will get. I can’t even imagine this weak a class ending up with a 200 MM pitcher just because it’s Nola, Urias, and nobody. Darvish seems like a similar comp, and I don’t think the posting fee structure will get him that much. The Tanaka deal was a hug overpay in my view, and people should be weary of using minor league numbers to project out. Many hitters and pitchers have failed a lot after elite careers oversees.
Nah, there’s not a criteria here called “what MLBTR writers hope the player gets.”
Which Darvish contract are you referring to, and which 2023-24 free agent do you think is a comp for it?
Who used minor league numbers to project out, and what were they projecting, and for whom? Is that something you think happened in this post?
deGrom Texas Ranger
I was referring to the first contract Darvish got of 6 years 60 with an opt-out based on performance. This was with a posting fee of 56 million roughly. I am talking about Yamamoto. “Ten years after the Tanaka deal, I feel Yamamoto is indeed capable of reaching $200MM before accounting for a posting fee.”
As for the second part, I consider foreign players to be like AA guys, as many in the industry have suggested. I would list Corbin Carroll, Julio Rodriguez, Wander Franco as the true minor leaguers getting big contracts based on those numbers. Foreign guys include Rusney Castillo (bad contract), Tanaka (bad), Seiya Suzuki, Yoshida – ripped as an overpay by execs (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.reddit.com/r/redsox/comments/zggkco/i_have_no_words_what_mlb_evaluators_are_saying/&ved=2ahUKEwjYnNfFlKf-AhX4l2oFHcXSB3oQFnoECBsQAQ&usg=AOvVaw0SGwb7FxMuAgId57PhJJd4), Jung Ho Kang (bad), Kohei Arihara (bad), Yusei Kikuchi (first contact and his free agent contract), and many more as examples of guys teams’ valuations guys would have priced at that level. Those executives and analysts are the ones who projected out future success largely or entirely based on those minor league/foreign numbers and gave out bloated deals in my view. It did happen in this post, as mentioned by the quote. Yamamoto had similar numbers to Darvish and is a similar age to what Darvish was when he came over. Inflation in the top of the market from Nolan Ryan to Max Scherzer has averaged 9 percent per year (1.125 million salary for Ryan in 1980 to Scherzer making 43.3 million in 2022 is (43.3/1.125)^(1/42) – 1, or a tad bit over 9 percent). Going off that bloated player valuation system, 10 years would mean salaries at the top go up by a factor of 2.37, so 60*2.37 = 142.2. I don’t even like that inflation rate when regular inflation averages around 2-3 % a year, but even saying he is basically Darvish would not get him 200 million or even close to it. I would be reluctant to go over 6/100 or 110 personally.
More vaguely, I do like how this site isn’t quite like ESPN, but the coverage on the lockout over MLB minimum wages, free agent deals, Kris Bryant’s service manipulation, ill-advised mega extensions, etc. has certainly been overwhelmingly one-sided in siding with the players all the time. I can’t easily quantify it, but that’s another post.
Darvish’s Rangers deal is a terrible comp for Yamamoto, because the posting system at that time did not allow for open bidding. The Rangers won the bidding with the largest posting fee offer, and then had exclusive negotiating rights with Darvish where his only recourse was not playing in MLB. So, he had little leverage.
Tanaka is a much better comp, because it was open bidding. So, a $175MM outlay for a similar pitcher, but ten years ago.
deGrom Texas Ranger
What’s with the pending moderation thing? Is it temporary or permanent? The policy for commenting is very very vague and interpretive. I don’t mind, but I’d like to know more specifically what topics shouldn’t be discussed. Tbh, it seems like only the stuff MLBTR disagrees with is flagged and removed. MLBTR is otherwise good, but I want to know how long this will last or if there is an appeal. The email I got was 3 random comments that were flagged, but those seem unrelated to the commenting policy.
Wow really thin class after the first 5 or 6 guys
30 hr Hoskins is missing
Another useless list.
Pirates signing him would kill two birds with one roster spot. OF/DH and starter while being one of the best at both. If the pirates were to spend “big” money in the off season Seems like the way to go. Only way they could do it though is to have a large portion be deferrals like 10m/year over 20 years haha… If i were the pirates no way would i commit 40% of my franchise value to one player… the likely return though is so intoxicating.
But seriously If anyone is going to command a big payday, it is him. He and Trout are the players of their generation (so far). If he can sustain Ohtani will be in the running of the best player in history. Only thing I would really worry about is injury. Pitching and hitting at his level might take a toll. I’d carry more insurance on him than I would other star players thats for sure.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the pirates make a more serious run at Severino, Scherzer and Jung Hoo Lee. Severino will probably command too much. Of Scherzer has a pedestrian or poor year pirates have a better shot there. Jung Hoo Lee, pirates have had some decent success with Korean players in Kang and now Bae (so far)
Just like my opinion man.
Call me crazy, but Ohtani has an argument that he should be paid as both a top hitter and top pitcher. If I’m him, I’m of course looking for half a billion dollar contract. But the truth is, you can argue that really only worth six years of his service. If he was paid as a top hitter (40 mil) and a top pitcher (40+ mil) you most definitely can argue he’s worth anywhere from 75-80 mil a year. That’s kinda wild to think about and I don’t see anyone paying that unless it’s a stupid short contract. Like if im him, 1 year 80 mil I’d take lol
No way I’m signing him past age 34-35. No way am I paying a ‘top pitcher’ who isn’t going to pitch 200 innings, unless it’s as a reliever… in which case he gets reliever money. For $80 million per year I can get an entire good young infield or outfield.
“11 comments are hidden because you muted the comment authors”
That includes you, dick.
“12 comments are hidden because you muted the comment authors”
That includes you, dick.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
Me???? How’d you know my name was Richard? Are you a Genie?
That’s a sad list.
Marinararivera + Tony Plush
Man, it’s hard to believe McMahon and Albies would have had enough service time, it seems like just yesterday they made their debut. On the other hand it feels like Luis Castillo has been pitching forever!
The Angels habitually underachieve because Arte Moreno routinely overrules his GMs and pays tens of millions for aging or overpaid players, thus tying up payroll and stunting the development of their own young players.
Ohtani & Trout are great. Until recently, Shohei wasn’t even expensive. But the litany of LAA bad contracts, from Gary Matthews Jr, Vernon Wells, Josh Ham, Pujols… Moreno reminds me of George Steinbrenner, except occasionally George would hire a great GM and let him/them do their thing. Arte seems never to have found that formula.