Earlier this morning, the Detroit Tigers confirmed two early offseason rumors with their signing of free agent starter Eduardo Rodriguez.
First, I guess the Tigers really are going to open the checkbook this offseason. They’ve been something just short of a sleeping giant (financially) for a while now, with payrolls over $200M in 2016-2017, but figures between $97M-$130M the last three years. I wonder if they’ll actually go after one of those elite free agent shortstops, as many early rumors have suggested.*
*The Tigers are a lot like the Rangers in that respect — two previously-high-spending teams that haven’t spent in a while, both connected to the top-5 free agent shortstops. I wouldn’t be surprised if they each land one this winter.
And second, we were told that there could/would be at least some significant free agent movement before the CBA expires, which, here we are: Five years and $77 million (with an opt-out after two years, some type of no-trade clause, and up to $3M more in incentives) for Eduardo Rodriguez on November 15th, plus the Wade Miley claim, the Jhoulys Chacin deal, and the Andrew Heaney signing. All starting pitchers (well Chacin is a recent bullpen convert, but don’t slow my roll).
And we might not be done yet.
Other FA Starters Following?
According to Jon Morosi, the teams that tried but whiffed on Rodriguez (Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels) could “pivot and pursue other rotation options.” And we know those teams are more or less okay with the pitchers attached to a qualifying offer, which opens up the possibilities (and potential downstream impact).
Rodriguez, 29 in April, was roundly considered a top 15-20 free agent this winter and one of the top-7 or so free agent starters. So generally speaking, this is the Carlos Rodon, Jon Gray, Noah Syndergaard tier of free agents, most of whom could be in play for the Cubs. So just keep your guard up. The Cubs have already made one early addition to their rotation and I don’t think they should let an unknown CBA future deter them from making another, if their top target is pressing teams for a decision.
For what it’s worth, Kiley McDaniel was closer on the average annual value for Rodriguez (guess: $17M AAV, actual: $15M AAV), but Ben Clemens at FanGraphs was almost exactly right on the total value ($guess: $80M, actual $77M). McDaniel suspected just a three year deal and Clemens was at four years, but the Tigers were able to get Rodriguez on a five-year pact to lower the AAV, with an opt-out after two years. Just some context for your brain.
And to put a bow on the Tigers, here’s Morosi confirming that they do have a lot more on their shopping list, including additional free agent starting pitchers and shortstops, the Cubs top two priorities of the winter. Consider the Tigers your competition.
Al Avila told me the #Tigers will continue to stay in touch with agents for starting pitchers and shortstops — while also remaining open to adding an outfielder, despite the depth they’ve already built there. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 14, 2021
In 2018, the Padres had the highest payroll in organizational history ($130.2M). The same was true in 2019 ($142.9M), 2020 ($169.6M), and especially 2021 ($205.5M). According to Kevin Acee, their payroll for 2022 is already up to $185M before the offseason even begins. So with those numbers in mind and their efforts to move Eric Hosmer and/or Wil Meyers at the deadline (to the Cubs, as a matter of fact), it would be reasonable to assume a more conservative offseason. It would be reasonable. And it would be incorrect:
But multiple sources with knowledge of the Padres finances, including an influx of available money at the ownership level that occurred last year along with higher ’21 attendance and gate receipts than they budgeted for, said the team is capable of spending more this offseason.
This is A.J. Preller we’re talking about here. The Jerry DiPoto of the NL. He’s not going to sit on his hands. Not with Yu Darvish and Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis and Blake Snell making big bucks and with a brand new, pricey manager in place. Maybe he’ll have to clear some salary space just because – and maybe that does wind up being a prospect selling trade with a team like the Cubs – but that’s besides the point. The Padres figure to be active this offseason once again:
“No matter how unlikely (or even preposterous) something is, it can’t be ruled out when Preller is pulling levers. The surprise is when there is no surprise.
Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president of baseball operations said Tuesday that dealing with Preller “is a lot of fun. He never runs out of ideas. … He has hundreds of concepts.”
Odds and Ends:
• Everyone expects the Braves to re-sign free agent first baseman Freddie Freeman, with the Paul Goldschmidt deal as his floor, but IF it falls through for whatever reason, the Angels, Yankees, and Dodgers are waiting to pounce. Normally, I’d say there’s no chance it falls through, but, hey, Anthony Rizzo isn’t a Cub, so I guess anything is possible.
Yankees met with reps for all top lefthanded-hitting 1B, including Freddie Freeman. Of course the Braves would seem most likely to retain Freeman, while Rizzo and perhaps trade candidate Olson, among others, may be more realistic for NYY. But it’s worth investigating the great FF
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 15, 2021
• The Red Sox are going to try to re-sign Kyle Schwarber, but there are reportedly “a lot of teams” showing interest, according to Robert Murray’s sources. Good for Schwarber. I hope he gets paid, and I doubt it’ll be from the Cubs, despite their need for left-handed power and potentially help in the outfield and at designated hitter. In a lot of ways, he’s actually a really nice fit now that I think about it. But it just feels like that chapter is over.
Kyle Schwarber could play left field and hit in the middle of the lineup for the Phillies. However, they’ll face competition for him, including from two of his former teams.
— Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) November 15, 2021
The Cubs Really Need Left-Handed Power, Sammy Request, Breakout Prospects, and Other Cubs Bullets – https://t.co/Yx31j8ZbhD (via BN)
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 13, 2021
• A bunch of stray rumors over at FanSided: A’s, Reds, Pirates, Giants, Yankees want a shortstop, Brewers considering trading Josh Hader, Angels starting targets, etc.
• I keep forgetting about Starling Marte, but he’s coming off the best season of his career (133 wRC+, 5.4 WAR). The Marlins have been connected to him and other free agent outfielders, but at his age, Marte feels more like a finishing piece to a 2022 contender.
Astros met with the agents for free agent CF Starling Marte. Seems like a potential fit but there’s competition, including Phillies, Mets, Yanks, Marlins and others.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 13, 2021