A 29-year-old Jonny Gomes was a free agent two winters ago after hitting .267/.338/.541 with 20 homers and 51 RBI in 281 at-bats for the Reds. He re-signed with the Reds for $800,000.
A 33-year-old Andruw Jones was a free agent last winter after hitting .230/.341/.486 with 19 homers and 48 RBI in 278 at-bats for the White Sox. He signed with the Yankees for $2 million.
A 34-year-old Marcus Thames was a free agent last winter after hitting .288/.350/.491 with 12 homers and 33 RBI in 212 at-bats with the Yankees. He signed for the Dodgers for $1 million.
A 34-year-old Pat Burrell was a free agent last winter after hitting .252/.348/.469 with 20 homers and 64 RBI in 373 at-bats with the Rays and Giants. He re-signed with the Giants for $1 million.
A 33-year-old Juan Rivera was a free agent this winter after hitting .258/.319/.382 with 11 homers and 74 RBI in 466 at-bats for the Blue Jays and Dodgers. He re-signed with the Dodgers for $4.5 million.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti simply couldn’t wait to lock up Rivera this winter, clearly overpaying him in order to do so.
I’d put Rivera’s free agent credentials ahead of those of Thames and Burrell, but I’d say he’s a worse bet than Gomes was two years ago or Jones was last year. Rivera also disappointed in 2010, coming in at .252/.312/.409. He’s now three years removed from his last quality season, he hasn’t had an OPS better than .730 against righties since 2006 and he’s a below average defender in left field. He has his uses as a guy who can smack left-handers around and not embarrass himself against righties, but that kind of player isn’t hard to find and the going rate is $2 million or less. If the Dodgers had waited, they almost certainly would have been able to sign him for less.
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.