Overheard this morning in the lobby at the Winter Meetings: Scott Boras didn’t even do the “thank you for your offer; let us assess it and get back with you thing” with the Nationals when they went to seven years, $126 million. It was just — bam — “where do we sign?!”
That was all said in a half-joking way — I’m sure Boras played it cool — but the sense among the chattering insiders here was clear: even the agent who likes to take his time and work everyone against everyone in negotiations was surprised that the Nats gave Werth as many years and as many dollars as he got.
It’s such a crazy deal that I’m starting to come off the notion that everyone has about how much Carl Crawford will demand or ultimately will get. I mean, yes, baseball free agency is a market, but it’s a less than perfect market with hardly an infinite amount of bidders. Just because the Nats are nuts doesn’t mean there are other nuts out there waiting to overpay people. If Crawford says he wants ten years and $190 million or something, wouldn’t the proper response for suitors be “sorry, the only insane team has already signed its big fish this winter. We’re not insane.”
I think Werth’s deal will ultimately mean that Crawford gets paid well, but the sheer lunacy of his contract may actually cause negotiations to drag on longer than they otherwise would have due to just how far out of a rational frame of reference it is. There will be push back from teams, I bet. At least a bit, and at least for a little while.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.