Just as the robin is the harbinger of spring, Scott Boras overselling his free agent clients in a distracting manner during the playoffs is the first sign of hot stove season:
Scott Boras threw out the ceremonial first pitch in free agency
today, comparing Matt Holliday to Mark Teixeira in the impact the agent
believes each player can have on a club.
“These guys are blue-collar superstars,” Boras said. “They don’t hit
50 home runs, but they’re complete players. They can give you something
without swinging a bat. . . .There are differences between hitters and complete players,” Boras said. “Matt Holliday is a complete player. “There is, frankly, no one like him in the market.”
Holliday is a nice player. He’s going to help whoever signs him. He is not, however, some unique thing in the world and certainly not a player worthy of the Full Boras Treatment.
Jason Bay doesn’t have Holliday’s glove, but he’s kind of like him. Johnny Damon isn’t going to produce near his level, but he’ll probably cost a fraction of Matt Holliday this year. Matt Holliday is not the kind of player a team is going to want to be paying eight figures to six or seven years from now like Boras is going to demand that they do. I’d argue that that goes for almost any corner player.
If you don’t believe me, ask the Cubs, who will be paying Alfonso Soriano until my kids are in grad school.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.