Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m anywhere near the most knowledgeable dude on the planet when it comes to transactions, but I don’t get something that Buster Olney has been going on about for the past couple of days. Short version: his belief that Carlos Beltan’s contract clause that prevents teams from offering him arbitration after the season hurts his trade value.
On the one hand I totally understand that this forecloses teams from trading for him with the idea of offering him arb, letting him walk and getting draft pick compensation for their trouble. But wouldn’t such a gambit be outrageously risky here? Beltran is not in a situation where he can expect a raise in his annual salary once he signs as a free agent. Sure, he could get multiple years, but he’s not going to beat the $18.5 million he’s making right now on an annual basis.
Given what we’ve seen in the corner outfielder/DH market these past couple of years (i.e. low salaries or, in the case of Werth and Bay, high-dollar busts), isn’t it possible that Beltran would at least seriously consider accepting arbitration where, because of the nature of the beast, he’d make at least that $18.5 million and maybe a bit more?
And don’t tell me that Beltran is a Scott Boras client and he’d want to hit the market. The most famous arbitration burn of all time came when Greg Maddux — also a Boras client — unexpectedly accepted arbitration from the Braves before the 2003 season, gladly taking $14.75 million, knowing he’d never get that much on the open market.
So while it’s a moot point now because of that clause, ask yourself: how many teams would be willing to take the chance of having to pay Beltran more than $18.5 million in 2012 in order to get a pick or two? And if there aren’t many who would, how would the inability of those teams to do so negatively impact Beltran’s market? Maybe it’s a different story if he’s a $10-12 million player right now. But at $18.5 millions? Yikes.
He’s a rental player for almost every team. And he would be regardless of what his contract says about arbitration.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.