ESPN is way off with its early free agent calls


By division, here’s a list of teams I can see opening up the wallets for a $10 million-plus-per-year pitcher this winter:

Blue Jays, Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees
Royals, Tigers, White Sox
Angels, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers
Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Phillies
Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates

And here’s a list of the elite pitching free agents available this winter:

Zack Greinke

I think it should go without saying that demand is going to exceed supply in a big way.

And that’s why ESPN’s Jim Bowden and Dan Szymborski look kind of foolish for a couple of their early calls.

Edwin Jackson is, in my mind, pretty obviously the No. 2 pitching free agent available this winter. He’s 29, he has practically the same ERA as Greinke the last three years (Greinke has a 104 ERA+, Jackson is at 102) and he seems to be on the upswing, if K/BB ratio and WHIP count for anything. I’ll be stunned if he has to settle for less than $48 million over four years this winter and my guess is that he gets something closer to $70 million over five years.

ESPN’s insiders aren’t thinking that far ahead, though. Bowden, in his column, says Jackson has only “proved himself to be a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter.” He labels the Royals as the best fit for him, putting the Indians and Marlins as alternatives. He obviously doesn’t think the bigger spenders will go after him. But then, that’s the typical lack of insight one gets from Bowden.

(Bowden also has Fernando Rodney going back to the Angels or maybe the Giants or Dodgers in his column, not realizing that the Rays are just going to exercise their $2.5 million option on his services.)

I expect a lot more from Szymborski, and it’s rare that he disappoints. However, he lists Jackson and B.J. Upton among his five free agent bargains, ones “that won’t break the wallet.” And while I agree that those two look like better values than several other top free agents, there’s no way, no how that either goes off at a bargain price.

This winter is going to reveal that there’s a lot more money to be spent than quality players to spend it on. It’s going to take a lot more digging to find any bargains

Wade Miley exits spring start with groin strain

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Attempting to make a play on a bunt during Wednesday’s split-squad game against the Athletics, Brewers starter Wade Miley suffered a strained left groin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Miley will undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. On the afternoon, he gave up two runs on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts in four innings.

Miley, 31, signed a minor league contract with the Brewers last month. He had been having a solid spring until last Friday, when he served up seven runs in three innings against the Reds. The lefty had been battling for a spot in the Brewers’ rotation but this injury may take him out of the running.

Last season with the Orioles, Miley made 32 starts spanning 157 1/3 innings, posting a 5.61 ERA with a 142/93 K/BB ratio.

With the Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb signings recently, many wondered why the Brewers didn’t make a move. They may regret not having done more.

In related news, reliever Boone Logan also left with an injury on Wednesday, per Haudricourt. The Brewers should have more on both players’ statuses later.