Over the weekend Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported that Carlos Gonzalez was close to signing a long-term contract extension with the Rockies worth as much as $80 million.
Initially the Colorado-based media was pretty quiet about the possibility, but Troy Renck of the Denver Post just tweeted that he “would be surprised if deal doesn’t get done” and pegged the details as $80 million for seven years.
Gonzalez won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2012, so a seven-year contract would cover his final season of pre-arbitration, all three seasons of arbitration, and his first three seasons of free agency. By comparison the six-year, $119 million extension teammate Troy Tulowitzki signed recently covers only free agent seasons, which is why Gonzalez’s deal is so much cheaper.
Acquired from the A’s in 2008 as part of the Matt Holliday package, Gonzalez won the batting title as a 24-year-old last season, hitting .336 with 34 homers, 117 RBIs, 26 steals, and a .974 OPS. Coors Field inflated his raw numbers significantly, as Gonzalez hit .289 with a .775 OPS on the road compared to .380 with a 1.161 OPS at home, but he’s an elite all-around outfielder and one of baseball’s premier young players.
Colorado now has two young superstars locked up through at least 2017, but their previous long-term commitments to Todd Helton and Mike Hampton turned sour well before the end of those massive contracts and there’s plenty of risked involved in committing $200 million to Gonzalez and Tulowitzki when they were both already under team control through 2014 anyway.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.