The fact that Boras — a dude who hardly ever has elite clients sign early — would talk to the Brewers about Prince Fielder two years before free agency was something of a head scratcher when we learned about it yesterday. But then I read Heyman’s column today (don’t think I enjoy it; I have to for professional reasons) and was reminded of a pretty darn salient fact I had forgotten:
The greatest positional class of free agents comes in two years, when star first basemen Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder are all eligible for agency.
Boras can be really annoying, but he’s not stupid. I don’t think Pujols is a legitimate bluff for any 1B-courting team come 2011 — he’ll be a Cardinal for life by then — but there’s a really good chance that Howard and Gonzalez are on the market along with Fielder. Given how much better shape Howard is in now than he was a few years ago, I’m not certain that Fielder isn’t the third choice among those guys, even if he is (a) younger; and (b) the better hitter right now.
In light of that, locking Fielder up in Milwaukee two years before he hits the market may be a very Boras move after all: it’s the play that makes his guy the most money.
The Nationals lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night, as the Indians overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Nationals 7-6. Closer Jonathan Papelbon faced five batters but was unable to record an out, yielding a leadoff walk, a double, a bunt that ended up very successful due to a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, an intentional walk, and a single. Oliver Perez came in and eventually allowed one of his inherited runners to score, saddling Papelbon with the loss.
Papelbon also served up four runs in the outing before Tuesday’s, on Saturday against the Padres. The two clubs entered the top of the ninth tied 6-6, but a walk followed by three two-out singles and a bases-clearing double off of Papelbon allowed the Padres to take a 10-6 lead.
On the season, Papelbon is 19-for-22 in save chances with a 4.18 ERA and a 30/12 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings. If the season were to end today, the right-hander’s 21.4 percent strikeout rate would be the lowest mark of his career and his 8.6 percent walk rate would be his highest mark since 2010.
Manager Dusty Baker didn’t indicate that he’s going to make a change at closer, but he sounded dissatisfied with Papelbon’s performance thus far. Via Mark Zuckerberg of MASN, Baker said, “He doesn’t have his command, which is evident when you walk the leadoff hitter. But it’s like, what do you say? How does he look? Right now he doesn’t look like Pap. He doesn’t look very good. Usually he doesn’t walk people like that.”
The non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, August 1. The Nationals, at 58-42, still have a four-game lead over the Marlins and a 4.5-game lead over the Mets. Tuesday’s loss has motivated the club to attempt to upgrade the bullpen, Jon Morosi reports. The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman before the Yankees sent him to the Cubs. Perhaps Andrew Miller could be next on the Nats’ wish list.
The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday night that the club traded reliever Drew Storen and some cash to the Mariners in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit.
Storen, 28, was designated for assignment by the Jays on Sunday after posting a 6.21 ERA with a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings. The Jays acquired him during the offseason from the Nationals in exchange for Ben Revere and a player to be named later.
Benoit, 38, struggled as well, putting up a 5.18 ERA with a 28/15 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners.