When Will The Big Pieces Fall
As reports surfaced Sunday that the markets for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado were heating up, the painfully slow market will hopefully be picking up here sooner than later. Still, as I write this, the two still have not signed. Nor have players like Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Gio Gonzalez, Evan Gattis, Clay Buchholz, or a slew of other free agents.
While there is no clear answer how to eliminate the issue of slow free agency—a problem that has seemed to grow over the last couple off-seasons—it is certainly not helping the relationship between players and owners. That could be a big issue moving forward as the end of the current collective bargaining agreement is approaching. What is the problem, though? Some argue that players are becoming too greedy, while others argue that teams are becoming cheap. Some argue that teams are learning from mistakes of past contracts (most notably mega-contracts like that of Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, etc.) while others argue that analytics have teams wanting to spend less on aging veterans who are passing their prime. Regardless of the argument, it is a major concern as a work stoppage could do the same damage to the game as it did in the ’90s.
Hopefully, when the dust settles, the players will find a home and be paid fairly. It does sound like Machado and Harper will come out with lucrative contracts (for instance, Jon Heyman reported that Manny Machado is believed to have an offer of roughly 8 years and $250 million, while Harper might have an even higher offer). And hopefully, when these two sign, you will see a true ripple effect that finds the others signed quickly. Still, it is something worth monitoring because players are growing frustrated with owners with words like collusion being thrown around. If it doesn’t get better, it may ultimately be fans that pay the largest price.
20 Second Rule?
In what seems like MLB’s never-ending battle to try to shorten the length of games, it appears that commissioner Rob Manfred is prepared to toy with the idea of a 20-second pitch clock in 2019. While no official decision has been made on whether it will be used during the regular season or not, it does appear that they at least want to try it out for spring training. Manfred is planning on getting players used to it just in case he does implement it, a power that he has, although the preferred method for Manfred would be to negotiate and reach an agreement with the MLBPA before implementing it. For those pitchers coming from the minors since 2015, they are probably used to it. Since 2015, Double-A and Triple-A have implemented a 20-second pitch clock with the consequence of a ball added to the count if not met. Whether this ultimately makes its way into the MLB regular season remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, pitchers are going to have to hurry it up during the preseason.
Moose Re-signs With Brew Crew
Mike Moustakas has finally agreed to a deal to return to the Milwaukee Brewers. Moustakas has signed for a $10 million deal, which includes a mutual option for 2020, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. For the entire season last year, Moustakas hit .251/.459/.774 with 28 home runs, 95 runs batted in and 66 runs scored. He accounted for a WAR (wins above replacement) of 2.5 according to baseball-reference.
Moustakas has certainly been a prime example of when betting on yourself doesn’t always work out. Last year, Moose turned down a qualifying offer from the Kansas City Royals (in the neighborhood of $17 million) only to resign with them for $6.5 million. Traded at the deadline to Milwaukee, Moustakas held down third base for the Brewers while incumbent third baseman Travis Shaw moved to second. With the return of Moose, the Brewers will likely deploy the same infield with Moustakas at third, Orlando Arcia at short, Shaw at second, and Jesus Aguilar at first. With the addition of Yasmani Grandal to catch and Christian Yellich, Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun in the outfield, the Brewers will once again have a strong lineup on a nightly basis. Just like last year, the main question for the Brewers will be whether their starting rotation can get the ball to their solid bullpen.
Yankees Extend Luis Severino
Luis Severino was about to go through the sometimes-painstaking process of an arbitration hearing—where you argue with your employer for why you are worth X amount of dollars and they argue why you aren’t. Thankfully for Severino, he will never have to go through that process. Last week, Severino and the Yankees agreed to a four year, $40 million dollar contract that essentially buys out his arbitration years. The agreement also includes a fifth-year team option of $15 million dollars. For Severino, it is guaranteed money for the young starter while for the Yankees, the contract could end up being a steal if he continues to progress into the club ace that he has certainly shown flashes of for a couple of seasons now. Regardless, it a day and age where contract negotiations are tumultuous between players and teams, it has to feel good for Severino not to have to worry about it for a while.
Small Signings Around The League
While some of the big names are waiting to sign their John Hancock on a new contract, several teams have begun filling their rosters with smaller signings of veteran pitchers and position players. For some teams, these are players that will fill out 25-man roster spots, and for others, it is a way to get veteran backups at minor league deals. Here are a few of the more notable small signings from around the league in the last week:
Marlins sign Sergio Romo
Cubs sign Xavier Cedeno
Athletics sign Cliff Pennington
Giants sign Craig Gentry, Gerardo Parra, Yangervis Solarte and Cameron Maybin
Angels sign Dan Jennings
Royals sign Drew Storen
Orioles sign Alcides Escobar
Rangers sign Ben Revere
Padres sign Aaron Loup
Mets sign Adeiny Hechavarria
Reds sign Derek Dietrich