The season’s first game was played on Wednesday, a 9-7 victory by the Seattle Mariners over the Oakland A’s, and the rest of major league baseball will open up in a week. With baseball right around the corner, let’s look at some stories around the league.
Trout Gets Paid
The best player in baseball just got paid like the best player in baseball. On Wednesday, the Angels announced an extension with Mike Trout that will keep him with the organization for the next 12 years. In that 12 years, Trout will be earning $426.5 million dollars. In essence, this keeps Trout with the team until he is 39 and while this makes his the richest contract in baseball, it is for good reason. After seeing the contracts of elite players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper hit the $300 million mark, the Angels knew that they were going to have to pay up. While he technically would not have been a free agent for two more years, the Angels got ahead of the constant rumors and concerns and locked their man up early. Trout, who has been historically good in his career, had another great season in 2018. During that time, he hit .312/.460/.628 with a 1.088 OPS. He also had 39 home runs, 79 runs batted in, 101 runs and 24 stolen bases. According to Baseball-Reference, his WAR (wins above replacement) was a whopping 10.2.
Bregman Gets Massive Extension With Astros
In addition to Trout, another budding superstar got a massive contract extension. Alex Bregman of the Astros signed a five-year, $100 million extension. In addition to his 2019 contract, this will guarantee he stays in an Astros uniform for six more years. In terms of service time, this buys out his arbitration-eligible years while also keeping him through what would have been his first two free agent seasons. After being frustrated with just having his contract renewed last week, Bregman does get a $10 million signing bonus as part of the deal according to Jon Heyman. Last season, Bregman hit .286/.394/.532 with a .926 OPS. He also hit 31 home runs, 103 runs batted in, scored 105 runs and even swiped 10 bags. According to Baseball-Reference, he finished the season with a 6.9 WAR.
Alex Bregman wasn’t the only player that the Astros extended. They also extended reliever Ryan Pressly for an additional two years and $17.5 million. There is also a vesting option for a third season. After being traded by the Minnesota Twins, Pressly continued his dominance with the Astros and has been a lockdown setup man for closer Roberto Osuna. Last season, between the Twins and the Astros, Pressly was 2-1 with a 2.54 ERA and 1.113 WHIP. He had 2 saves and struck out 101 in just 71 innings pitched.
White Sox and Eloy Jimenez Sign Record Contract
In what has been a week of historic extensions, Eloy Jimenez received one with the White Sox. He received a 6-year extension worth $43 million. The contract also holds a pair of option years that could be worth another $32 million with other incentives attached to the contract as well. Why is this historic? Simply put, he received this deal without ever taking a major league at bat. The only other players that agreed to extensions before debuting in the major leagues was Jon Singleton of the Astros and Scott Kingery of the Phillies. Of the two, Kingery’s had been the previous highest at $24 million. Still, for one of the best prospects in the game, Eloy comes out of this in pretty good shape. For the White Sox, if Eloy turns out to be what they hope, it may end up being a good deal for them as well. At the very least, we at least may get to see Jimenez break with the White Sox if they deem he is ready as opposed to finding a reason to keep him down for service time issues. In what has not been an ideal offseason for the South Siders (they did miss out on Machado), this is at least one positive they can give to their fan base.
Yankees Agree To Deal With Gio Gonzalez
After learning that starter Luis Severino will likely miss some time with an injury, the New York Yankees plucked away one of the remaining solid starters when they signed lefty Gio Gonzalez. While Gio is not quite the top of the rotation type pitcher he used to be, he is still very serviceable. Last year, with both Washington and Milwaukee, Gio was 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA and a 1.444 WHIP. In 171 innings, he has 148 strikeouts and according to Baseball-Reference, had a 1.8 WAR. Again, while this is a far stretch from his career numbers, it does give the Yankees a veteran option as they try to balance a weaker starting rotation with a dynamic offense and bullpen. To the Yankees credit, though, they got a great deal with Gio. He actually signed a minor league deal with the Yankees that will pay him $3 million if he makes the big league club. The big thing for Gonzalez, though, is that he gets an additional $300 thousand per start that would top out at $12 million. While this is not the deal that Gonzalez had hoped for at the beginning of the offseason, his market remained quiet most of the offseason, and this at least gives him an opportunity to compete for a rotation spot with a contender.
Is Interest Peaking In Kimbrel?
According to multiple sources, the Milwaukee Brewers have shown some interest in free agent closer Craig Kimbrel and, according to Jon Heyman on Wednesday, discussions might be getting pretty serious. Kimbrel is one of the last remaining big-name free agents (along with Dallas Keuchel), but the buzz around him has been surprisingly low throughout the entire offseason. Last season, Kimbrel went 5-1 with 42 saves for the Boston Red Sox. He also had a 2.74 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 96 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. While the ERA is higher than his major league average (1.91), Kimbrel has still shown that he can be an elite closer. For the Brewers, who already have some amazing relievers in Josh Hader and Corey Knebel, this would just be one more addition to a vaunted bullpen as they try to compete with the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. While nothing is finalized, this is certainly the most news we have heard out of Kimbrel’s camp in quite some time so it will be interesting to see if the two sides can work something out.