By: Adam Pasternak
For an MLB offseason that started off as exciting as it did, the last few months have been relatively quiet…until this past weekend. Two of this years biggest free agent bats in Chris Davis and Justin Upton signed big contracts in the AL, while ex-Padre and D-Back starter Ian Kennedy found a new home with the reigning champs in Kansas City on a nice deal. With Spring Training getting closer and closer, the next few weeks will really be exciting to watch, as some high end free agents still have big decisions to make, and not much time to make them. Let’s break down these deals, and what’s left to watch out for this offseason.
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Contract Signed: $161 million over 7 years
Chris Davis is one of the MLB’s premiere power hitters. Fresh off a 47 home run 2015 season, Davis was asking for a lot of cash – and he got it. At first, it seemed like Baltimore wouldn’t budge and it looked like they had moved on, but out of nowhere, they came back into the picture and signed him to a lucrative $161 million contract. Davis hit the jackpot, and I think over time, the Orioles will look back and regret this investment. Davis is 29 years-old, and his days of hitting 40+ home runs may soon be behind him. As well, the Orioles have now added a huge salary to a budget that isn’t as big as powerhouses such as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers, two of which are in Baltimore’s division. It will be interesting to see what happens in a few years when other players contracts are up for new contracts, and to see how much budget space they have to sign those players. With Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Matt Weiters and Davis, they won’t have much spending room. For a team that struggles with it’s pitching, one could question the significant investment on a power hitter who grades as an average fielder at best, instead of going after a top-tier pitcher. Keep in mind, they lost a top three starter in Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins.
Team: Detroit Tigers
Contract Signed: $132.75 million over 6 years
The Detroit Tigers, who previously stated that they were done spending this offseason, signed former Padre outfielder Justin Upton to a massive $132.75 million contract over 6 years. Upton joins yearly MVP candidate, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and 2015 breakout sensation, J.D Martinez, to form a 2-3-4-5 that rivals only that of the Blue Jays. All players can hit for power, and you should see the Tigers run production improve dramatically this season. The Tigers are hoping it works out better then the contract they gave to Prince Fielder, and I think it will. They have also improved their pitching, adding Jordan Zimmerman, as well they improving their bullpen with the signing of Mark Lowe and trading for K-Rod. The Tigers are a more complete team this year and I think they will make a strong push to get back into the postseason. I think Upton will play a huge role in their success, being in probably the best playing situation he has been in, in his whole career. He has never been in a lineup surrounded by the quality of hitters as he is on now. Owner Mike Illitch just wants to win, no matter the cost, and he has a good chance now that he has the two best Uptons, Justin and Kate. Look for big things from Justin Upton and the Tigers this coming season.
Team: Kansas City Royals
Contract Signed: 70$ million over 5 years
Personally, I think the Royals made a bad decision here. While Kennedy is a good piece to add to their puzzle, he isn’t worth that money. As well, I am surprised they gave him 5 years, considering his age, 31, and his past. He has had a few really good years, but those days are well behind him. He’ll be able to eat up 5-6 innings a game for the Royals, but the offence is going to have to be good for them every time he pitches. His career ERA is 4.28, which isn’t exactly a good thing. The Royals have had great success the last two seasons, and maybe the pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium is the perfect place for Kennedy to succeed. Personally, I don’t agree with the contract and that is the only reason I don’t like the signing. If it was on a more team friendly deal, it would be a great move for the Royals. Kennedy really took advantage of a pitcher-crazy market, and this contract definitely benefits him. For the sake of Royals fans everywhere, I hope he lives up to the hefty sum he’ll be earning.
While we’re now closer to Spring Training than to the Winter Meetings, that means the last remaining crop of free agent players have only a few weeks to decide where they will play next. The one player that is still out there that comes to mind is NL MVP runner-up, Yoenis Cespedes. It’s pretty crazy to think that a guy who had such a strong second half, and a great postseason, is still looking for a team to play for. There were rumours that a bunch of different teams were close to signing him or had strong interest in him, but here we are and he is still without a team. I’ve recently heard that the Houston Astros may be interested in his services, and personally I think that would be an interesting fit. It would make them a really scary team to play against, and would only strengthen their chances to go deep in the postseason. To be honest, I don’t think he ends up there. I think come Opening Day, we will see him playing for the Mets once again, but on a one-year contract. I think he needs to have one more strong season to really justify his value, especially now entering his thirties. There’s no risk in signing a one-year pact with the Mets, a place he is comfortable and knows he can succeed and possibly win a title. Another strong season will get him the deal he truly wants, and it’s not like this one year deal would be a rip-off. He would get paid somewhere near $17 million for one year of baseball. Without an unexpected major injury or a season where Cespedes’ production tanks, he is in line to get a large raise.
Where do you think Cespedes will end up? What about the Upton and Davis signings – do you think they are good deals, and good fits on their respective new teams? Let us know in the comments section below!
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