The 2013 MLB season is underway, and Yu Darvish almost gave us something memorable last night. I guess it’s still memorable to have a perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth, but, against the Astros, that’s like throwing a six-inning, two-run, quality start. That hit, by the way? It came courtesy of Marwin Gonzalez, a Rule 5 pick from the Cubs last year.
- From oh-that’s-not-a-Saturday-Night-Live-sketch-that’s-a-real-thing department, Robinson Cano has dumped Scott Boras as his agent in favor of a joint venture between rapper Jay-Z’s entertainment company Roc Nation and sports agency CAA called Roc Nation Sports. Once you get past the jokes, this kind of relationship actually makes a whole lot of sense given the close relationship between entertainment and sports, at least at the highest player level. Jay-Z is apparently going to be involved in extension talks with the Yankees, though Cano will have a CAA agent. The more important baseball news here is that Cano has left an agent who loves to take his clients to the market for an agency that has seen many of its stars sign extensions. Jay-Z is obviously a New York guy, so there’s a connection there, too. In other words, it’s suddenly become a very fair bet that a Yankees/Cano extension gets done before Cano reaches free agency this November. How they’ll do that while still getting under the luxury tax cap in 2014 (remember: contracts are treated at their average annual value for luxury tax purposes) remains to be seen.
- (Also: I’m aware that the lyrics to Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” apparently reference spending “G’s,” as opposed to “cheese,” but, I mean, how could I not write cheese?)
- Speaking of huge extensions, the Rangers have locked up shortstop Elvis Andrus through 2022, when he’ll be 35. Andrus is an elite, young shortstop, but the deal seems to be overwhelmingly in his favor. First of all, the Rangers already had Andrus through 2014 at just a touch over $11 million total. So, the extension is an eight-year deal, covering all free agent years, at $15 million per year. That’s not an outrageous sum, but it’s certainly a very long deal that doesn’t even kick in for two more years. That, alone, makes it fraught with risks, especially for a player whose offensive ability is highly suspect (that is to say, if his very elite defense falls – and it almost certainly will as he ages – the deal could quickly become an albatross). But the real downside for the Rangers comes in the form of TWO opt-out clauses Andrus has reportedly been given. According to Ken Rosenthal, Andrus can opt out of the deal in 2018 or 2019 if he feels like he could do better on the open market. That means, when Andrus is 30, if he’s still performing at an elite level, he can ditch the Rangers in favor of a better deal. But if he’s fallen off and wants to stay, the Rangers are left holding the bag for five more ugly years. You may recall that the Zack Greinke deal included this kind of opt-out language, and I railed on that one, too. It leaves the team holding all of the risk with none of the upside. I very much hope the Cubs do not entertain these kind of opt-out deals except in the most extreme and most rare circumstances.
- (You’re already thinking it, so I’ll confirm: yes, this deal makes the seven-year, $60 million Starlin Castro extension (plus an option year) look incredible. Keep in mind, though, the Castro extension covered four arbitration years. It isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison.)
- FanGraphs is doing work this week. Dave Cameron on the evolution of free agency – it’s very much worth a read in light of the extension bonanza of the past week. Wendy Thurm on MLB’s lawsuit against Biogenesis – it’s also very much a read in light of Wendy’s conclusion that the suit isn’t as ineffectual as we may have thought.
- The Marlins surprised everyone by calling up top pitching prospect Jose Fernandez, 20, to start the season with the big club. He’s started just 11 times at High-A – never higher – and this is a huge leap. Baseball Prospectus has a write-up, and it’s interesting to consider how quickly a tip-top prospect can leap to the big leagues. Especially if your organization is in the toilet and you’re looking for something – anything – to get your fans to come to the park.
- Ben Badler has been exploring the extreme and absurd overuse of 16-year-old Japanese pitcher Tomohiro Anraku, who has been allowed (forced?) to throw 232 pitches in a single game last week, and then to throw 159 pitches on Saturday, 138 pitches on Monday, 134 pitches yesterday, and another 109 pitches today. Higher pitch totals as part of the development process can be explained, but this is absurd.
- An absolutely insanely large and detailed picture from Nationals’ Opening Day – you can zoom in on virtually every person in the park. Technology is crazy. And scary. And awesome.