UPDATE: Mets sign Rod Barajas

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Barajas headshot.jpgUpdate: Omar Minaya’s offseason catching cavalcade has finally come to an end. The Mets have come to terms with Rod Barajas to a one-year, $1 million contract. He can take home an additional $1 million in “easily-attainable” incentives.

3:11 PM:
Heyman says Texas has increased their offer to more than $1.5 million, but Barajas is still leaning towards accepting the Mets’ current offer of $1 million guaranteed.

8:41 AM: According to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, the Mets have offered free agent catcher Rod Barajas a guaranteed major league contract. Ken Rosenthal first hinted at this possibility late last night.

The game likely changed on the Mets’ side for two reasons:

1) As Rosenthal reported on Friday, the Rangers were offering Barajas $1.5 million if he makes the team out of spring training while the Mets were only offering $1 million, so this would at least guarantee him a roster spot and at least part of his salary for this season, while Barajas would only be a contingency plan in Texas.

2) Jose Molina agreed to a guaranteed contract with the Blue Jays on Friday, which includes a club option for 2011. He’ll either make $1 million or $2 million with the contract. The Mets lost some leverage there.

Barajas would have been a near-lock to make the Mets anyway, almost certainly as the starter, but this would at least take the suspense out of the situation. I have a hard time seeing him turn the deal down.

*By the way, Andrew made an excellent point in our comment section, wondering out loud if the Jays “overpaid” Molina so that the Mets, or someone else, would have to sign Barajas to a major league contract, insuring the Blue Jays will receive draft pick compensation. The Jays did only have one catcher (John Buck) on their 40-man roster before yesterday, so they certainly needed another backstop, but it’s an interesting thought, anyway. 
 

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.