MLBits: Martinez Finally Signs (with *THREE* Opt-Outs), Morrison Signs, Changing Game, More

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MLBits: Martinez Finally Signs (with *THREE* Opt-Outs), Morrison Signs, Changing Game, More

Chicago Cubs

This afternoon, the Cubs will play their fourth game of the Spring (Albert Almora is leading off again, this time against the Mariners), and we can listen to the action on the radio, but it won’t be televised. HOWEVER, tomorrow’s game against will be.

And it’s against the White Sox. At home. With Jon Lester on the mound. Now *that* is a good way to kick off Cubs-broadcasted Spring Training games.

  • After an unusually long period of silence (with some wild speculation baked in for good measure), the Boston Red Sox have finally announced the signing of free agent slugger J.D. Martinez. The deal is five years in length and worth $110 million overall … but has an interesting (and increasingly common) structure:

  • Three opt-outs. Three. That’s absolutely insane, and also something Brett guessed might become the new normal for many big-time free agents. In theory, these front-loaded, multi-opt-out deals are supposed to be a benefit to both the team and the player: the team gets to sign a guy to a lower overall guarantee and, in return, the player has a chance to earn some cash, opt-out, and ultimately sign a larger free agent contract in the future. And yet, in my opinion … it’s really not all that great for the players. The nature of these contracts pits these players’ egos against themselves, so much so that they leave money on the table.
  • For example, if you were the agent of a 32-year-old Jake Arrieta (who just lost about 2 clicks on his fastball in his walk year), would you advise him to lop $10 million off his overall guarantee so that he can have a second (and/or third) op- out in three/four years? Or would you just tell him to take the cash? Now what do you think Arrieta – one of the most confident, competitive players out there – would do? He’s going to take the opt-out … and probably never be able to turn it into more overall dollars. (Just like Johnny Cueto and Masahiro Tanaka this offseason.)
  • Now, don’t get me wrong. If you’re a 26-to-28-year-old Jason Heyward/Eric Hosmer/Manny Machado/Bryce Harper type free agent, it’s probably the right move. There’s still plenty of time left in your career and people still give $200M+ deals to 3o year olds. But if you’re already 30 … I just think 9 times out of 10, that opt-out at age 34 isn’t going to do what you hope it’ll do. Just take the big guarantee. Don’t let teams off the hook.
  • Anyway, now that the Red Sox have Martinez in the fold, Mike Petriello ( points out that they’re projected to score the third most runs per game in baseball, just barely behind the Yankees and Astros. The Cubs, for what it’s worth, rank eighth in baseball, but first among National League teams (ahead of the Rockies and Nationals).
  • Surprisingly (at least, to me), the Minnesota Twins rank just ahead of the Cubs in projected runs per game for 2018, and they just made a signing of their own: Logan Morrison, one-year/$6.5M (plus a vesting option and performance bonuses that can bring it to $16.5M). Morrison, 30, might not have the longest track record of success, but he was a 3.3 WAR player last season, with a 130 wRC+. This has the potential to be a really good, really cheap deal for the Twins.
  • Let’s keep the free-agent train moving:

  • After a red flag in his medicals nixed a deal with the Rangers, the former Cardinals closer, Seung-hwan Oh, has agreed to a one-year/$2 million deal with the Blue Jays, including a 2019 vesting option.
  • When the Pirates traded Gerrit Cole to the Houston Astros earlier this winter, 25-year-old starter Joe Musgrove was a big part of the deal (indeed, he’s expected to immediately take Cole’s spot in the rotation). Unfortunately, earlier this Spring, he had some right shoulder discomfort and was forced to miss a bullpen session. But according to Adam Berry, he finally worked a bullpen session yesterday and felt good. He’s expected to throw again on Tuesday, and at that point, if it goes well, I think the Pirates will feel a whole lot more optimistic that the early soreness was just a shaking off the rust type of thing.
  • This isn’t much of a shock, but it’s still so crazy to see the degree of change:

  • We already knew that starters were being taken out earlier and earlier to protect their arms and lengthen their careers, but the recent bullpen-heavy trend has clearly played a role, too. How do I know? Well, consider this next graph together with the first:

  • At the same time starters are throwing fewer and fewer complete games (or, more simply, innings in general), strikeout totals are skyrocketing. Again, it’s not necessarily news to anyone, but the visual is so stark.
  • New Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas has one goal for the rest of his career … be good enough to get a framed picture of himself hanging on the wall of his favorite sub shop in Jupiter, Floria – where he’s from and where the Cardinals Spring Training camp is located. And strangely … I get it. I dislike so many Cardinals for so many reasons, but Mikolas, who is returning to MLB from Japan, has gotten off to a good start.
  • In other “Cardinals are finally trying to be human and have fun” news, Matt Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have started a season-long surprise scare contest, and it’s already pretty fun:

  • Just as the Tim Tebow train was gaining more and more steam (the Mets GM said he thinks he’ll play in the Major Leagues), he sprained his left ankle running over a sprinkler head in the outfield at Mets camp. You can’t make this stuff up.
  • Alex Rodriguez is returning to the New York Yankees as a special advisor. According to Bryant Hoch (, he’ll work alongside Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui, and Nick Swisher in his new role – which seems to be focused on working with the younger Yankees, in particular.
  • I can’t begin to express how much I loved the following in-game interview with Joey Votto. Not only is there some actually good information on hitting in here, Votto also unleashes a swell of hilarity, including the line “Is it a nipple thing?” Seriously, if you can’t listen/watch this right now, save it somewhere and watch it later. You won’t be disappointed:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami