BY MICK TIDROW AND JOHN GORDON | BALL STATE SPORTS LINK
Teams all across Major Leauge Baseball prepare to open their checkbooks during the mysterious free-agency filled offseason.
It raises the two ultimate questions. Who spends the most money and what player cashes in on the biggest payday?
Yoenis Cespedes already opted out of his deal with the New York Mets after one season. The Mets were set to pay the slugger upwards of $26 million in 2017 after handing him $27.5 million in 2016. The Mets will continue to pursue him, but he is on the open market and can field offers from any team he wishes.
Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey are both over the 40 year-old mark, but each received just one year deals with the Atlanta Braves. Not the big splash signing some were expecting early on in free-agency, but these moves pave the way for the rest of the market to shape up.
The market relies heavily on average starting pitching, dominant relievers and power bats. Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen are set to be the most desired arms out of the bullpen. Mark Trumbo, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are three names who seek the big bucks this offseason with heavy bats.
It is expected all three will get the contracts they want, but the main question at this point is which teams will be willing to throw money and long terms deals at players who are already in their prime or at the end of their prime.
The Los Angles Angels are a team who has not been afraid of dishing out the money. Trumbo started his career with the Halo’s, and a return is not out of the question.
Bautista has already rejected the Blue Jays $17.2 million qualifying offer and is seeking a long-term deal at the age of 36. Teams have learned from others’ wild pasts that long deals after the age of 32 does not end up working out. Yet Bautista is resilient in the money search.
One underrated name to keep an eye on is Carlos Beltran, who is 39 years old. The switch-hitter finished 2016 with a .295 batting average and slugged 29 homers. Any team looking for a one year boost (a la Texas who should re-sign him) could benefit from his bat, especially in the American League as a DH. If fresh, he is more than an above average bat.
MLB free-agency is unpredictable. Trades, signings and drama. But one thing is certain: there will be winners and there will be losers when it comes to how many zero’s are in the contract.
This week, The Hot Corner recaps the World Series and looks forward to free-agency with nysportsday.com’s Wallace Mathews.