The Chicago Cubs and RHP Yu Darvish have agreed to a six-year deal, worth $126 million, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The contract includes incentives with the ability to make the deal worth $150 million. The deal is pending a physical.
In what is the quietest and slowest offseason in Major League Baseball history, Darvish signing with the Cubs could be the first of many dominos to fall. With the Cubs signing Darvish, it appears that free agent pitcher Jake Arrieta will not return to the Windy City.
Darvish will join a rotation filled with all-stars, including Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Kyle Hendricks. It is unclear who will be the ace in the Cubs' rotation, but it is likely Darvish will be considered the front-runner.
With General Manager Theo Epstein and company signing Darvish, it gives the Cubs a boost over the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, who both have become even stronger with several acquisitions this offseason. The Cubs will open the season as National League Central favorites.
Darvish, 31, split time between the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers last season. Darvish started the season quite shaky with the Rangers, then after he was dealt to LA during the trade deadline, Darvish finished the season with a 3.86 ERA in 31 games started. Darvish was tough to get a hit off of in the second half of the season, and finished the season with 7.7 H/9 and 10.1 K/9.
Since signing with the Rangers out of Japan in 2012, Darvish has a career ERA of 3.42. Darvish owns a career record of 56-42 and a total of 1021 strikeouts in five major league seasons. Darvish sat out the 2015 season and half of the 2016 season due to Tommy John Surgery.
The New York Mets and veteran infielder Todd Frazier have agreed to a two-year deal worth $17 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deal is pending a physical.
The Mets were in the hunt for a starting third baseman the entire offseason. With the team signing Frazier, it is clear that they have found what they were looking for. The Mets wanted another veteran presence in the clubhouse and Frazier is the perfect player for rookies Amed Rosario and Dom Smith to look up to.
Not only will Frazier be a key factor in the Mets' clubhouse, he looks to be the permanent starting third baseman entering the season, with David Wright's health concerns holding him back from returning to the playing field. Frazier also has the durability to play the first base position when Dom Smith needs a day of rest.
If the Mets find themselves a mile away from a playoff spot come the July 31st trade deadline, they could look to deal the two-time all-star to a contender for some mid-level prospects.
Frazier, who will be 32 years old next week, spent the 2017 season with the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. In 147 games, the righty hit .213 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs. The Mets can look for Frazier hitting 30 plus home runs and hit below .240 for them this upcoming season.
In his seven year career, the New Jersey resident has spent time with the Cincinnati Reds, White Sox, and Yankees. Frazier could possibly hit his 200th career home run later this season, as he currently has 175 long balls in his major league career.
The San Fransisco Giants have acquired veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Giants will send reliever Kyle Crick and prospects to the Pirates in return.
The Giants have spent their whole offseason looking for an all-star outfielder. The organization had a deal with the Miami Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton, but the deal was vetoed by Stanton, who had a no-trade clause. The acquisition of McCutchen will allow the Giants to be competitive next season after one of the team's worst seasons on record.
McCutchen, 31, has spent his whole career with the Pirates. The former first round pick will hit free agency after this season.
Last season, McCutchen hit .279, with 28 home runs and 88 RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP and five time all-star is also very good on the defensive side of things. He will play very well in the very spacious outfield at AT&T Park.
Robert Murray and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports were first to report the deal was the close and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was first to report the deal was done.
The Washington Nationals have resigned versatile infielder and outfielder Howie Kendrick to a two-year, $7 million deal, per Bob Nightendale of ESPN.
Kendrick, 34, impressed Nationals' executives after he had a strong second half of the season. He was acquired at the trade deadline from the Philadelphia Phillies. In the hopes of playing long into the postseason, the Nationals relied on Kendrick to be a boost for the team, which he certainly was.
After Bryce Harper spent a few weeks on the disabled list, Kendrick found himself playing a lot of nights in the outfield. For the next two seasons, the Nationals plan on using Kendrick as someone who can play in the outfield and on the diamond.
Also, the Nationals could look to use Kendrick as a trade chip in the future. If he has another standout season in his mid-30's, then he could be a valuable player at the trade deadline.
Kendrick, put together all-star numbers last season. He owned a slash line of .315/.368/.475 with the Phillies and Nationals. He also collected 9 home runs and drove in 41 runs in 305 at-bats.
Kendrick calling home on the east coast is a new thing for him, as he has played most of his career in California with the Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers prior to joining the Phillies' organization before the 2017 season.
There has been a common dilemma for team's front offices who are looking to add a star player to their organization through free agency. They hope to sign their next face of the franchise and it blows up in their faces. Front office executives need to realize that long-term deals are not good for their team, fanbase, or the sport.
This current offseason, there are multiple top-tier players available on the open market. All of these "top-tier" free agents want long-term deals, exceeding $20 million a year in annual value. Teams tend to get very competitive to fill a hole on their depth chart, but wind up over spending on a player. Teams have the same issue with their own players who demand a large contract extension or they will leave the organization when they hit free agency.
Front offices need to avoid signing players in their 30's to long-term deals, because of one frequent problem ...... REGRESSION. If and when a player hits their regression period, a team is unlikely able to trade that player because their contract can not be moved, which forces the organization to release or designate the player for assignment and eat the rest of their contract.
Let's take a look at several examples of players in their age 30 plus season being signed to a long-term deal, that was not beneficial for their team: Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Jacoby Ellsbury.
Alex Rodriguez, for example, signed a 10-year, $275 million deal with the New York Yankees during the 2007-2008 offseason, when he was entering his age 32 season. Rodriguez had just come off of another MVP season with the Yankees when he signed the deal.
Three years into the deal, Rodriguez would ultimately regress in his age 35 season due to injuries he had played with that season. Nearly three years after he hit .302 with 35 home runs and 103 RBIs, Rodriguez would struggle and hit .270 with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs. Then in his age 36 and 37 seasons, he would only play in a total of 164 games and hit .259 with only 25 home runs.
Seven years into his deal, Rodriguez was suspended the whole entire 2014 season because of his third PED suspension. When he returned in 2015, Rodriguez was able to regain his power but he could not longer hit for average. At the plate, Rodriguez became heavily impatient, causing his plate discipline to be similar to a rookies' and his defense was a liability forcing him to become a designated hitter full-time. He was such a big liability during the 2016 season, that the Yankees were forced to release him and had to eat at least $4o million in dead money.
As you can see, signing an older veteran to a long-term deal worth millions of dollars is a huge risk that does not end well for both sides. This offseason, there are multiple top-tier free agents in their early 30s who could possibly not be very good two years from now. Front offices need to avoid signing long-term deals, when two to three year deals can be more beneficial for the player and their organization.
The Houston Astros have acquired starter Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates, per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. The Pirates will receive outfield prospect Jason Martin, infield prospect Colin Moran, and pitchers Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz.
The reigning World Series champions have arguably now the strongest rotation in baseball, which features Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers. Not to mention, top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley will likely be joining the rotation some time this season. The Houston Astros just finished their best season in team history, and they needed Cole because of potential postseason runs by the Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels.
Cole, 27, has two years of control left before he hits free agency after the 2019 season. Last year, Cole went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 starts. Cole will give the Astros 200+ innings this upcoming season. This is why Cole is very durable for the Astros' organization.
The Colorado Rockies and relief pitcher Wade Davis have agreed to a deal, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The deal is for three seasons and worth a total of $52 million.
Davis, 32, put together another remarkable season last year for the Chicago Cubs. Before a disastrous second half of the season, Davis had a 1.46 ERA in 27 innings before the all-star break. In his third consecutive all-star season, Davis collected 32 saves in his first and only season in a Cubs' uniform.
Davis will join an already deep bullpen in Colorado that features top relievers Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee. Not only does the Rockies' bullpen include some of the best relievers in the game, the organization has over $106 million committed to relievers.
Davis will likely be the closer next season for the Rockies but there is a chance there may be some competition in spring training. Even though the Rockies made the playoffs as a wild-card team last season, they suddenly have become stronger and look to compete with the World Series runner-up Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West Division.
The New York Yankees and veteran LHP CC Sabathia have agreed to a one-year deal, worth $10 million, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The deal is pending a physical.
Sabathia, 37, will return to the Bronx for his 10th season with the Yankees, and his 18th season in the big leagues. Sabathia will return the Yankees' dominant pitching rotation, that features Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka. The southpaw adds great depth to the Yankees' rotation, and even though Sabathia will be returning to the rotation, the Yankees will still look to add another top-tier pitcher.
Sabathia put together a nice 2017 campaign with the Yankees. In 27 starts, Sabathia went 14-5 with a 3.69 ERA. In 148.2 innings pitched, the veteran winner struck out 120 batters. Sabathia will look to build off of his dominant season in 2018.
In his 18 year career, Sabathia has been selected to play in six all-star games. Sabathia has also finished in the top-5 for the CY Young award five times, including when he won the prestigious award in 2006 with the Cleveland Indians.
Sabathia will likely look to continue his hall-of-fame worthy career after the 2018 season.
As the whole entire baseball world knows - Giancarlo Stanton is now officially a member of the New York Yankees, after being traded from the Miami Marlins.
Many people critiqued the Marlins' organization for trading their generational star, including the team's CEO, Derek Jeter. Jeter, the former Yankees' superstar, is now receiving backlash by fans and members of the media for trading the team's star to the Yankees. Many believe this trade is considered to be "collusion", but what many critics are not aware of is that Jeter and Marlins had previously agreed to trade Stanton to the San Fransisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals. Stanton, who has a full no-trade clause, was not fond of going those two organizations and vetoed the trade.
You can say whatever you want about this trade, but there is some negatives and positives from the Yankees' side of things.
From the Yankees' stand point, they are gaining even more power to their lineup filled with superstars such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, and Greg Bird. Many are comparing Judge and Stanton to Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle of today's era. Not only does Stanton add power to the Yankees' lineup, he has been nominated as a gold glove outfielder multiple times. If manager Aaron Boone decides to put Stanton in the outfield, instead as a designated hitter, Stanton's athleticism and distant throwing range.
Even though the addition of Stanton is huge for the Yankees' organization, there is some negatives about this deal. Stanton has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season. If he does not opt out of this deal with the Yankees, he will be owed at least $208 million until after the 2027 season, when he will be 38-years-old. If you take a look at some long-term deals with players who are 35 years old or later, it did not work out with the player's organization. Take a look at Alex Rodriguez for an example:
Rodriguez was earning $27.5 million a year until after the 2017 season. He played with injuries during the 2011-2013 seasons, where he played like an average player during this time. He did not even play the 2014 due to his third PED suspension. He was able to rebound in 2015, but he was such a disaster in 2016, that he was released mid-season. Even though he was not on the roster for most of 2016 and all of 2017, the Yankees still had to pay him as if he played.
Now back to Stanton, if he plays like A-rod did in his later years, the Yankees will have a huge mess on their hands. Do not forget that Stanton has a no-trade clause, so he can basically hold the Yankees' hostage.
The Marlins should be very happy a decade from now if the Yankees are dealing A-rod 2.0. Also, regarding their return, the Marlins are getting back RHP Jorge Guzman, who has reached 103 mph with his fastball, SS Jose Devers, who has the potential to be like his cousin Rafael who is a young superstar, and 2B Starlin Castro, who is an all-star and is easy to flip for prospects.
The Los Angeles Angels have agreed to sign Japanese Phenom pitcher and outfielder Shohei Ohtani, per his agency CAA. The Angels have $2.135 million in their international spending money pool, and it is unclear on how much of that Ohtani will receive.
Ohtani was the most viewed free agent on the open market this offseason. Coming over from Japan, Ohtani will make a huge impact on the Angels' organization. The Angels plan to utilize Ohtani as a left-handed hitter and a right-handed pitcher.
As a pitcher, the 23-year-old can throw up to 102 mph and has other plus pitches, such as a slider and back door breaking ball. Ohtani immediately becomes the ace for the Angels.
As a hitter, Ohtani has above average power and bat for average. If Ohtani is the real deal in the MLB, look for Ohtani to possibly DH every game for the Angels, except the night he starts on the mound.
Ohtani played through 2017 with an injury, but he had a phenomenal season in 2016. The Japanese version of Babe Ruth hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs in 104 games. On the mound, Ohtani went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 104 innings pitched.