Scott Boras is right to compare Prince Fielder to Mark Teixeira


Yesterday agent Scott Boras compared impending free agent Prince Fielder to Mark Teixeira, a fellow client and slugging first baseman who got an eight-year, $180 million contract from the Yankees as a free agent two offseasons ago.
Boras did his usual hyperbolic thing, talking up Fielder as a future Hall of Famer and suggesting 20 teams would be willing to take Teixeira’s contract off the Yankees’ hands. He also once compared Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax, so clearly anything he says should be taken with Fielder-sized grains of salt.
However, the Teixeira-Fielder comparison is actually a pretty reasonable one. First, here’s a look at how Fielder’s career numbers right now compare to Teixeira’s career numbers at the time of his free agency:

CAREER           G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       904     3931     .290     .378     .541     134
Fielder        764     3201     .281     .383     .544     141

Fielder has played fewer games, but he’ll close that gap somewhat during the second half and in terms of all-around offensive production he has a slight edge over Teixeira in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and adjusted OPS+. Also of note is that Fielder will be 27 years old when he hits the open market, whereas Teixeira was 29.
Of course, career numbers don’t necessarily tell an accurate story, so let’s focus on what Fielder has done in the past three seasons compared to what Teixeira did in the three seasons before his free agency:

THREE YEARS      G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       451     1987     .298     .393     .541     141
Fielder        410     1810     .283     .394     .542     148

Basically identical numbers, with Fielder holding a very slight edge. And finally, here’s a look at what Fielder has done this season compared to what Teixeira did in the season before his free agency:

PAST YEAR        G       PA      AVG      OBP      SLG     OPS+
Teixeira       157      685     .308     .410     .552     152
Fielder         89      397     .265     .401     .494     142

Teixeira finally tops Fielder here, although it’s worth noting that since getting off to a very slow start Fielder has hit .278/.413/.557 with 18 homers in the past 64 games.
Based strictly on their hitting Fielder has been slightly better than Teixeira was prior to his free agency and he’s also two years younger, which is significant. On the other hand, the scale tips back in Teixeira’s favor when it comes to defense and body type. Teixeira’s edge defensively is at least as big as Fielder’s edge offensively, and obviously there are all kinds of questions about how well Fielder will age at his weight.
I don’t think Fielder will come close to getting $180 million on the open market, in part because the baseball economy has changed since Teixeira signed his deal and in part because he likely won’t have the Yankees bidding for his services. With that said, for once a Boras comparison is actually pretty reasonable.

The Red Sox get their ace! Boston signs David Price to a 7-year, $217 million deal


Multiple reports circulated in the past week that the Red Sox would need to unload the money truck in order to sign David Price. Well, the truck just got unloaded: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract.

This is, by far, the largest free agent contract the Red Sox have ever given a pitcher. It beats Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210 million deal signed last offseason as the largest ever free agent pitcher contract. Clayton Kershaw‘s contract extension with the Dodgers was for $215 million.

Price went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA pitching in the AL East while with the Tampa Bay Rays. After being traded to the Tigers just before the 2014 trade deadline he went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. He returned to the AL East with the Blue Jays this year, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. He also pitched in the playoffs for the Jays starting three times in four overall appearances.

The Red Sox were in dire need of pitching and they were said to be gunning for Price to fill that need. Target: acquired.

Major League Baseball’s annual drug testing report has been released

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MLB and the MLBPA just released the annual public report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator. It’s the annual report, mandated by the JDA, which says how many positive drug tests there were, what the drugs were, etc.

The notable numbers, which cover the period starting when the 2014 World Series ended until the 2015 World Series ended:

  • Total number of tests administered: 8,158. 6,536 of them were urine tests, 1,622 of them were blood tests for HGH;
  • 10 tests resulted in positives which led to discipline: 7 for PEDs, 2 for stimulants, one for DHEA;
  • The previous year there were 7,929 total tests with 12 which resulted in discipline;
  • There were the same number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted this year as last: 113. All but two were for attention deficit disorder. One was for gynecomastia, which is the swelling of the breast tissue in men due to a hormone imbalance, one was for a stress fracture in someone’s elbow.

A use exemption line item which had appeared on the list for the previous several years — hypogonadism — was not there, so congratulations to the anonymous player who was either cured or who retired.

As we always note, the number of players who got exemptions for ADD drugs is a bit higher than the occurrence of ADD in the population at large and, once you eliminate kids from ADHD occurrences, it’s likely considerably higher. But that’s none of my business.

Kendrys Morales wins the Edgar Martinez DH of the Year Award

Kansas City Royals' Kendrys Morales watches his solo home run during the fourth inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Houston Astros, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Only seven hitters in the American League got enough plate appearances while primarily serving time as DH to qualify for the batting title in 2015. And of those some of them — most notably Edwin Encarnacion — played a fair bit of defense, meaning that there weren’t too many guys who could really be called true DHs in the game. Still they give out an award for being the best DH, you only need 100 plate appearances as a DH to be eligible and Kendrys Morales just won it:

Morales received 50 of the 88 first-place votes cast to garner the honor for the first time in his nine-year career . . . Boston’s David Ortiz, a seven-time winner of the ODH Award, finished second with 34 second-place votes after batting .267 (132-for-495) with 35 doubles, 32 homers and 99 RBI in 134 games as DH for the Red Sox this past season . . . Kendrys batted .295 (156-for-529) with 39 doubles, 21 home runs, 104 RBI and 78 runs scored in 141 games as DH for the Royals.

Defense — which for this award has to be thought of as a demerit, right? — couldn’t have separated these two as they both slummed it at first base for nine games. Overall I’d rather have had Ortiz, who walked more, hit for greater power and, batting average notwithstanding, got on base at almost exactly the same clip as Morales did. Similar arguments could be made for A-Rod and Prince Fielder, but no one asks me about such things. They do ask club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments, however, who vote on the award.

It’s an award that has been around a while — this was the 42nd year for it — but it’s just been known as the Edgar Martinez Award since 2004. It would’ve been really weird if it had been called that in 1978. Martinez was just 15 then.

Twins sign Korean slugger Byung-ho Park to four-year contract

Byung-ho Park
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With a week remaining in their exclusive negotiating window to sign Byung-ho Park the Twins have agreed to a deal with the Korean slugger. Ken Rosenthal of reports that it’s a four-year, $12 million contract, on top of which the Twins will pay Park’s old team a $12.85 million posting fee for those negotiating rights.

Four years and a total commitment of $24.85 million is certainly a sizable investment, but it’s significantly less than most projections had the Twins spending to get Park under contract.

Last offseason the Pirates bid $5 million to negotiate with Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang and then signed him to a four-year, $11 million deal. His success in MLB raised the level of interest in Park, who posted similarly spectacular numbers in Korean, but in the end the price tag wasn’t significantly higher. Based on reports from Korea, it sounds like the Twins low-balled him in negotiations and Park basically just accepted it because he wants to play in MLB.

Three weeks ago I wrote a lengthy breakdown of how Park could fit into the Twins’ plans when they secured the high bid, but the short version is that he’ll slot into the lineup as the starting designated hitter and look to prove that his exceptional production in Korean can carry over to MLB. Park hit .343 with 53 homers, 146 RBIs, and a 1.150 OPS in 140 games for Nexen this past season and has topped a 1.000 OPS in each of the past three years.