Per report, the Minnesota Twins could have the inside track to one of the biggest free agents by offering a fifth year on his deal.
The Minnesota Twins have reportedly pondered a five-year deal to prized free agent starter Yu Darvish, per a report from Jon Morosi of MLB.com.
According to the report by Morosi (and gleaned from other reports throughout the offseason), the Twins have discussed a five-year deal with Darvish.
That same report mentioned that the Chicago Cubs are still interested in Darvish, but that their limit is four years. The Los Angeles Dodgers may be willing to go to five years in a deal, but they will need to clear payroll space to avoid having to pay the luxury tax before signing Darvish, so multiple trades would need to happen before the Dodgers could move on Darvish.
Darvish was made an offer by the Milwaukee Brewers, but that was before the team added Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and Matt Albers, though they still have room to add another free agent, but with Cain and Yelich’s contracts getting larger the next four seasons, there may not be the room for a deal quite to Darvish’s level.
The Philadelphia Phillies have reached out to Darvish as they have to other prominent free agents, hoping to strike a deal with any prominent free agent this winter whose market doesn’t develop, and the interest that Darvish has been receiving likely precludes such a “deal”.
The Rangers have expressed some level of interest, but there have been reports throughout the winter that they do not want to get into the years or the annual dollar figures that are being discussed by Darvish’s camp at this point.
Other teams that have been mentioned have been the Yankees and Mariners, but other acquisitions this winter have likely removed them from the competition for Yu’s services.
So while the Minnesota Twins may not be willing to make the top of the market offer in annual value, their willingness to go to a fifth year could certainly get them into the final decision and shows how series the team is in their pursuit of a top starter this offseason!
New York Mets first-year manager Mickey Callaway won’t name a closer for the start of the season, opting instead to use a committee approach to close out games.
Callaway, in a recent interview with MLB.com, said he’s planning to rotate Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak and left-hander Jerry Blevins in save situations to start the season.
“I don’t think we’re going to name a closer to start the season,” Callaway told MLB.com. “If there are three left-handers coming up in a row, we can use Blevins. We want to make sure everyone is pitching when they have the best chance to be successful. I think we have four options to close games.”
Callaway did not indicate whether he would change his approach and name a full-time closer at any point later in the regular season.
Callaway also said that the Mets plan to have Familia throw multiple-inning relief outings in spring training in order to get him ready for extended outings in the regular season. Familia had a franchise single-season 51 saves in 2016 but missed most of last season because of a blood clot in his pitching shoulder.
Ramos, an All-Star closer with the Miami Marlins in 2016, has 99 saves over the past three seasons. He was expected to compete for the closer role with the Mets after New York acquired the right-hander in a trade with Miami last July.
Swarzak signed a two-year deal with the Mets last month after posting a career-best 2.33 ERA in 70 combined appearances last season with the White Sox and Brewers.
Blevins, an 11-year veteran with five career saves, went 6-0 with a 2.94 ERA in 75 appearances last season, his third with the Mets.
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• LeBron James may not be moving to Los Angeles after all.
My best advice when it comes to the looming third installment of the LeBron Sweepstakes: Don’t just assume he’s going to the Lakers in free agency … and don’t write off the Cavaliers yet. King James’ free agency choice is the story line that will lord over the whole league in 2018, but I tend to believe he’s still months away from knowing what he wants to do, despite the persistent chatter that he’s Hollywood-bound.
As his longtime business partner and confidante Maverick Carter stated rather clearly in a November radio interview with Rich Eisen: “When you win as an athlete, that matters the most.” Consider that a pretty decent hint that James is liable to take a long look around to see which franchise can offer him the best hope of challenging Golden State and adding to his three championship rings, whether that’s the Lakers, Houston, Philadelphia, Team X that hasn’t even been mentioned as a possible destination — or, yes, his hometown Cavs.
• Markelle Fultz won’t play another game in his rookie season.
This is the old reverse jinx trick sportswriters love. That’s right: I’m openly hoping I’m wrong here, that just writing this leads to a Fultz comeback after the All-Star break and a stream of I-told-you-sos from angry Philadelphians. But the reality is that it’s near impossible now to envision Fultz playing again before at least summer league, thanks to the mysterious evaporation of the shooting mechanics that helped make him the No. 1 overall pick last June.
Fultz’s teammates, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, missed their entire rookie seasons with the Sixers, yet Fultz’s case is so much scarier and sadder. With Embiid and Simmons, their injury issues were easy to pinpoint. When you hear Sixers Coach Brett Brown speak — “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Brown said this week — it only amplifies fears that what’s going on with Fultz is being caused by some sort of evil spell derived from whatever plagued the former Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Steve Sax on his throws to first base. (An oft-forgotten part of the story that offers some hope for the Sixers and their fans: Sax eventually got past his 1983 woes to win a World Series with the Dodgers in 1988 and thrive in the field for the Yankees in 1989.)
Fans began signing up Wednesday for free A’s tickets for the 50th anniversary game, and the team expects to accommodate everyone who’s interested in attending.
The game is April 17, exactly 50 years after the A’s played their first game in Oakland.
The A’s plan to take more reservations for freebies than the Coliseum can seat, to account for the expected no-show rate.
“We’re confident that everyone who wants to attend this game will get into the ballpark,” vice president of communications Catherine Aker said.
The average number of tickets per request has been six, though the team will communicate with fans in the coming weeks to confirm the numbers.
The A’s and White Sox will wear throwback uniforms. Lew Krausse, 74, who started the April 17, 1968, game for the A’s, will throw the ceremonial first pitch. Parking’s free, too.
“It will be like taking a time machine back 50 years,” team president Dave Kaval said. “It will be a great showcase and, really, gift to the community for the fans who have come for so many years and dedicated so much to this organization to have a free game.”
Fans going to athletics.com for free tickets for the April 17 game are given the opportunity to buy tickets for the opener, and Aker said more than 600 were sold Wednesday.
Individual-game tickets for the regular season will go on sale next Wednesday at 8 a.m.
Mothers, teach your children to grow up to be relief pitchers.
That has been the lesson of the 2017-18 MLB Hot Stove, where only bullpen arms have been getting paid in free agency so far. Position players like J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are still on the shelf, and starting pitchers like Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are still looking for a home.
This couldn’t be more pathetic than if they were all bouncing around a Petco storefront, begging potential shoppers to take them home and play with them.
So many of the top free agents on the market are still available, and there’s no sign that the hiring freeze is going to thaw. Carlos Santana and his three-year, $60 million deal is still the largest contract signed by any free agent this winter, and your Philadelphia Phillies are the ones who pulled the trigger. Not only that, the Phils have signed three of the top 11 free agents (Santana, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter) so far this off-season.
On this week’s episode of The Felske Files, MLB Editor for SB Nation Marc Normandin offers his potential reason for it all… collusion (18:06 mark).
No, we’re not talking collusion like in the 1980s, when MLB owners hatched a plan behind closed doors to band together and keep free agent contracts low. As Normandin pointed out, this is more of a legal form of collusion, one the owners snookered the players’ union into agreeing to in the latest collective bargaining agreement.
By agreeing to stricter penalties for going over the luxury tax, the owners have essentially created what the union has always been steadfastly against – a salary cap. Teams like the Dodgers and Yankees are divebombing below the $195 million number for this year so they don’t have to pay crippling penalties when they want to get involved in a better free agent class next year.
Of course, that screws over the players who are seeking big deals right now.
But calling this “collusion” may be taking it a step too far, just like calling rebuilding “tanking” is taking it a step too far. The players union agreed to these rules. They had to know what would happen. Sure, the owners sold them a bill of goods, telling them that the savings owners are getting in the international market would be spent on their own free agents, but that just hasn’t happened.
At least, not yet.
There are other factors at play, too. As Normandin pointed out, the Marlins’ fire sale, and the trade of Giancarlo Stanton, complicated things at the start of the Hot Stove season. Teams waited to see what happened on that front, as well as on the Shohei Ohtani front. However, those deals were finished a month ago and don’t really work as reasons why the market is stagnant right now.
It’s also true that MLB general managers have essentially agreed that acquiring players through free agency is essentially a bad deal unless that player is under 30. Massive contracts to stars leaving their prime (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, etc.) have proven to be boondoggles that teams are desperate to get out from under. GMs rightfully believe that players are worth a certain amount of money ($/WAR), and are unwilling to pay for past performance the way they used to.
Still, the almighty dollar is the main reason for the delay. Teams want to do more than just get good players — they want to get them at a discount. You don’t get your picture on the cover of GM Quarterly (no such publication actually exists, gang) by jumping the market and signing JD Martinez to an 8-year, $200 million deal anymore.
As for the Phillies, they seem, unlike most teams, ready to spend now. They are about $100 million under the luxury tax for this year (once pre-arb and arbitration contracts are signed) and are likely still looking to add more pieces to the 2018 roster. Are they overpaying for players like Arrieta, Lynn or Darvish? No, and they seem to be just as disciplined as everyone else in the league, which is good.
But they should be willing to slightly overpay the market for players they really like. Unlike many teams, they have the financial wherewithal to do it, and owner John Middleton does not seem like a guy afraid to spend on players. It just has to be the right player at the right time.
The free agent market will loosen up, but players and agents may have to accept the reality of the new CBA. Until the luxury tax penalties are made less severe, teams are going to avoid paying free agents what they feel they’re worth. Call it “collusion” if you like, but what’s clear is that this could all lead to a dreaded work stoppage when it’s time to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement after the 2021 season.