Mauer, Sizemore, Fielder and the 20% Club

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The excellent blog Jorge Says No! has an interesting post up this morning looking at those players who make 20% or more of their team’s total payroll.

By JSN’s count, there are only four members of that club: Michael Young, Barry Zito, Brian Giles and Todd Helton.  Giles back-doored into that club via the Padres’ payroll slashing. Young, Zito and Helton all represent wild to near-wild over-payments by their teams.  The implication here is that having a 20% guy probably means that a low-to mid payroll team made a business mistake.

This is important, JSN notes, because there are three guys who play for such teams who could very easily become 20% guys if they’re retained and if the teams don’t make a commitment to substantially increase overall payroll: Prince Fielder (2012), Grady Sizemore (2012) and Joe Mauer (2011).  JSN breaks each of them down in an effort to see if their teams would make that kind of commitment to them.

I’m going to make you click through for JSN’s results and analysis, but my view is that the Brewers will trade Fielder because (a) he stands to decline a lot as he ages due to his size; (b) Milwaukee can get some pitching for him now, I’d wager; and (c) and they can slot Gamel or Braun in at first base to take up the slack once he’s gone.

I think the Indians will try hard to keep Sizemore because in addition to him being very, very hard to replace, he’s popular with fans in Cleveland in a way that CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez never were.

Aaron certainly has more insight into this than I do, but it strikes me that if the Twins don’t lock up Mauer, they may as well ask for relegation to AAA.  Hometown stud catchers who entering their prime as a new ballpark opens are kinda hard to come by.  If the Twins let him dangle, their fans will never forgive them and it will be awful hard for anyone to take the organization seriously.

And yes, you absolutely go over 20% for him.  

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.

Yadier Molina will not enter contract negotiations during the 2017 season

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.

Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:

I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.

The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.

The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.