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jay-z canoThe 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.
  • Tyler31

    This is probably the best title to any article ever on here

  • Featherstone

    I couldn’t believe Andrus’s contract. I suppose you could argue that his OPS has been trending upwards every year he’s been in the league, but most of his value has to derive off his defense. I just dont see the value there especially with top prospect Profar knocking on the door.

  • http://Bleachernation Loyal100more

    I called the cano extension yesterday when he left Nora’s for ” mr NY”

  • Kyle

    So for 2013-14, a bunch of new money kicks in to every team in the league and this is your free-agent class (assuming a Cano extension):

    Josh Johnson
    Matt Garza
    Jacoby Ellsbury
    Shin-Soo Choo

    And that’s about it before you get into the massive question-marks. Not that those guys themselves aren’t question marks.

    I’m not going to be able to rail on Epstein for not improving the team with FAs because there pretty much won’t be any.

    • Featherstone

      Wow, you’re right. That is a meager looking FA class.

  • http://Bleachernation Loyal100more

    Profar is probably gonna be traded for a top picking prospect now…

    • gocatsgo2003

      Or he just slides over to second base and they’ve got themselves one heck of a (relatively) young infield core in Kinsler, Profar, Andrus, and Olt.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Or Profar is the main item in a trade for David Price. There are a lot of ways that this could play out.

  • EB

    I agree, Brett. These opt-out clauses seem to be lose-lose situations for the organization.

  • http://Bleachernation Loyal100more

    The rays would also seemingly make a good trade partner for the soon to be free agent David price. With profar as the center piece, the rays would have to consider this if they believe they can’t extend price. I’d hate to see the rangers land another great player that the cubs may have a shot at next offseason

  • BluBlud

    I was reading on the Cano deal with RocNation yesterday and found it to be very interesting. Jay-Z does not sign individual deals with his company. RocNation, which is actually ran through LiveNation, will guarantee their artist a certain amount of money over a period of time. It is then up to Roc/LiveNation to make the money back that they guarantee, and anything over that amount is theirs to keep. If the company does recoup their money, the artist is still paid what is guaranteed. Also, the artist then has very little say so over the deals that are negotiated.

    I don’t know if Cano’s deal is similar, but if it is, this would be an interesting to watch player/agent relationships going foward. Jay-Z has a way of “Changing the Game” in everything he gets involved with.

    • BluBlud

      *edit* If the company doesn’t recoup their money, the artist is still paid what was guaranteed.

    • hansman1982

      That would be a DRAMATIC shift in the free agency landscape.

      Odds are, Cano gets a regular MLB deal from the team but royalties and other marketing items (cologne, post-career, etc…) would be ran through the way you are describing.

  • ETS

    Given Jay Z’s personality and his history of not being risk adverse, I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t as easy of an extension as people are assuming.

  • MichiganGoat

    “I very much hope the Cubs do not entertain these kind of opt-out deals except in the most extreme and most rare circumstances.”

    Sadly I think this is going to become the norm now that multiple teams are agreeing to those terms EVERY player is going to want the same same. “Yes sign me for 10 years but if I’m still good in 5 I can get larger contract or force you to renegotiate with me” – who doesn’t want this contract?

    Even more important that you develop talent and try and lock them in early so you can avoid these albatrosses that everyone is signing.

    • hansman1982

      Looks like my free agency project is a day late…

  • kgd

    The scene at home plate in that Nats opener pic is rather humorous. Gotta love the little anomalies that creep in when splicing together that many images.

  • North Side Irish

    Sappelt is hitting leadoff tonight? Interesting…

    • Kyle

      You look down the list, and I really like our anti-lefty lineup. The platoon strategy could really work. We’ve got seven righties plus Rizzo tonight.

      Even Alberto Gonzalez has a .705 career OPS against lefties.

      I’m really questioning why I thought Pittsburgh was better than us. Their lineup isn’t particularly impressive and Wandy Rodriguez is their No. 2 starting pitcher. Our No. 3 is going tonight due to injury and we still have the matchup advantage there.

    • Jp3

      Stupid question but where is the lineup for tonight?

      • North Side Irish

        Cubs Twitter feed…

        Chicago Cubs ‏@Cubs 22m
        #Cubs lineup @Pirates 4/3: Sappelt CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Hairston RF, Castillo C, Lillibridge 3B, Gonzalez 2B, Jackson P

        • Jp3

          Thanks North Side Irish

  • Eric

    While it is not apples-to-apples I still thought that was a horrendous contract for Andrus, especially when compared to Castro’s. He’s been durable and is good defensively but I’d be stunned if he ever hits for any kind of power. He also only stole 21 bases last year and was caught 10 times.

    This goes to show how valuable a good shortstop is and why you keep Baez there as long as possible. Additionally, maybe if Alcantara has a breakout year he could be a very valuable trade chip.

  • hansman1982

    Reading the FanGraphs article:

    “…We’re in for another winter of three to five year contracts for the best players on the market. And I think that’s going to become the new normal. You acquire stars through the farm system or through trade, and you fill out your roster with aging role players on short term deals.”

    Isn’t that what Theo has been building for 2 years now?

    • Kyle

      Being the new normal is a great way to stand out from your peers.

      • King Jeff

        Or by doing it before everyone else?

    • Rebuilding

      *Cue broken record* Eh, this isn’t really what we’ve been doing. Outside of Jackson the contracts he’s describing arent what we’ve been doing. We’ve been signing guys on 1 year deals as flippable assets. I wish it’s what we would have been doing.

      • hansman1982

        Maybe not to a T but it is possible that Theo is to the new CBA what Beane was to Moneyball.

        (Caveated by: There is still a metric shit-ton of baseball and moves before we can claim success)

        • Rebuilding

          Yep. Maybe they have determined its the new market inefficiency. Getting Vizcaino and Villanueva on flips is a pretty good start

          • Rebuilding

            Expanding on that thought – It’s probably a market inefficiency that competitive teams can never really close. Take Scott Baker for example. Even if the Rangers would have liked to have him there is no way they could go into the season guaranteeing him a rotation spot when he’s healthy. The Cubs can. To Baker having a guaranteed opportunity is probably more important than 1-2 million bucks because he’s looking for his next contract. Most teams looking to compete have their rotations fairly set going into the season and have to wait until an injury/ineffectiveness opens a spot. Obviously we are exploiting that. There, I just gave our FO a ton of credit

  • North Side Irish

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 2m
    #Indians claim RHP Robert Whitenack, who was DFA to make room for Gonzalez on #Cubs 40-man

    Ugh…thought he’d make it through.

  • Jp3

    We can snatch him back right?

    • hansman1982

      Just would have to waive someone else.

      If his velocity is down as much as reported (as late as this spring), do we want him taking up a 40-man spot for 2 years on the hope that he regains that velocity?

      • Kyle

        Yeah, it’s funny. I don’t really care about losing him after the reports this spring. Sucks that he didn’t come back from TJS, but he didn’t and that’s that.

        Lose 101 games? Barely anyone cares.
        Lose a sore-armed, 86-mph-fastball-throwing prospect? Get out the pitchforks! :)

        • college_of_coaches

          Who’s passing out the pitchforks! I haven’t been this mad since we gave up Vance Lovelace!

  • gocatsgo2003

    And to the surprise of absolutely nobody… Anraku gets crushed in the final after throwing 772 pitches in 9 days.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/tomohiro-anraku-772-pitches-koshien-fina/

  • Timmy

    Great, so the best thing Theo has done with our big league team is rip-off our star player…

  • Tommy

    Anytime Boras gets dumped, it’s a good day for baseball.

  • bbmoney

    I thought that Cameron article was outstanding.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Funniest line of the day came from Twins closer Glen Perkins.
    “It’s been a good run SFXBaseball, but I’m gonna switch my representation to Dwight Yoakam!”

  • Die hard

    Watching Yanks-Boston and believe Cubs could beat both at this stage of season

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