MLB winter meetings met with free agent spending spree
SAN DIEGO — It’s an absolute dream market for free agents this winter, with teams throwing money around like they’re playing monopoly, and everyone acting like they have the same bank account as the New York Mets owner Steve Cohen.
You know life is good when the San Diego Padres, a small market with a mentality the size of New York, are poised to make baseball history with a three-man infield earning at least $300.
It’s a free spending spree at this year’s winter meetings with $1.1 billion already spent, and Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa expected to receive at least $300 million each, Xander Bogaerts and Carlos Rodon potentially eclipsing $200 million.
“As a fan, it’s great,” San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “It’s really exciting for baseball. Considering some of these players in new uniforms, and obviously the names we’re all talking about, is getting really excited about the possibility that some of them might be giants. …
“I’ve been coming to winter meetings for many years, but this is the most exciting time I can remember. It feels like there’s a lot at stake for the game…with the big names like shortstops and all the players we’re talking about, it looks like there’s a lot at stake for Major League Baseball. ”
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That’s enough to make agents salivate, and Major League Baseball officials cringe, trying to decide whether the expense is significant for the game to show its financial strength, or a monumental concern given that the disparity between teams rich and poor may never be greater. .
“The free agent market is going to be what it is, isn’t it?” commissioner Rob Manfred said. “It’s the product of a whole bunch of economic forces, of individual club decisions as to what they want to do. On the plus side, a week in December where the focus is on the players and where they’re going to be for baseball is a good thing in terms of marketing the game.
“On the other hand, I think everyone understands that we have a level of income disparity in this sport that makes it impossible for some of our markets to compete with some of the numbers we’ve seen. Like anything else in life , there is good and bad.
The biggest deals handed out this winter have been on big-market teams with Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Trea Turner (11, $300 million), Texas Rangers signing starter Jacob deGrom (five, 185 million), the New York Mets signing three-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander (two years, $86 million that could turn into three years, $121 million), and first baseman Jose Abreu will to World Series champion Houston Astros (three years, $58.5 million).
What caught everyone’s attention was the money being offered, but not yet accepted. Judge has two offers of at least $300 million, possibly up to $350 million, but not one yet to convince him to sign. The teams are told Correa’s deal has to top $300 million or they’re wasting their time. Bogaerts, who rejected the Boston Red Sox’s four-year, $90 million offer to stay instead of stepping down, is now eyeing a $200 million deal with several clubs in play.
There was no offer more telling than the Padres, who already have two shortstops in Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ha-Seong Kim, but still offered Turner a $342 million deal. , who rejected it in favor of the Phillies.
“We tried,” Padres GM AJ Preller said. “We will remain active. »
And if a team like the Padres, who play in the 27th largest market in the nation, can be willing to have a payroll over $250 million, hey, no excuses for anyone else, right ?
“You can see that players, all 5-WAR-plus players – there’s only about six – are in high demand,” veteran agent Scott Boras said. “Elite pitchers, that high-level group, are also in high demand. So we’ve seen a market adjustment for revenue, big revenue in our game, where we’re at, what we’re doing, and certainly the GMs are buzzing the economic tower to help them get their best guns.’ ‘
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale.