There isn’t a lot going on at the General Manager Meetings from a transaction perspective, but many teams are laying the groundwork for possible signings and trades down the road. With that in mind, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was told by a source that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has spoken with B.J. Upton’s agent, Larry Reynolds.
Frankly, it would probably be a bigger surprise if Amaro didn’t talk to Reynolds this week. Upton has been connected to the Phillies for awhile now and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently pegged the club as the favorites to land him. Salisbury is hearing similar things, as a number of executives expect the Phillies to be a major player while one said signing Upton is the team’s priority.
Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn figure to get more money among free agent outfielders, but Upton will still be quite pricey. In fact, Salisbury writes that one executive from a team “that has probed the outfield market” has predicted that Upton will start out by asking for a seven-year deal worth between $13-16 million per season. That would put him in the range of $91-112 million, which is obviously bonkers. The same executive believes he’ll eventually settle for five guaranteed years with an option for a sixth.
Upton, 28, is a .255/.336/.422 hitter over his first eight seasons in the big leagues. He clubbed a career-high 28 home runs this season and was 31-for-37 in stolen base attempts.
Earlier this week Tigers GM Al Avila said that his club was going to get “lean” and “efficient” and that their days of spending big money are over. Later in the week Avila said that they would not likely offer a long term contract to outfielder J.D. Martinez, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season.
None of those comments necessarily suggested that the Tigers would be conducting a fire sale or anything, and it’s certainly possible to get leaner while still competing. One would assume that the Tigers could cut fat in the middle but still head into battle with their superstars. But that may not be the plan. Buster Olney:
. . . the message being received from the rest of the industry is a dramatic shift for one of baseball’s oldest franchises: They will listen to trade offers on everybody.
Miguel Cabrera. Justin Verlander. Ian Kinsler.
Trading those guys would be a pretty big deal. In both senses of the term.
It would take a blockbuster-sized deal to move such players. Verlander is owed $28 million a year for the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 at $22 million. Cabrera just finished the first year of an eight-year, $248 million deal that will be paying him more than $30 million a year between 2018 and 2023, with an $8 million buyout for 2024. And that’s before the fact that both Verlander and Cabrera are 10/5 guys with full no-trade protection if they choose to exercise it. Beyond that Kinsler is a relative bargain at $11 million in 2017 and a $10 million club option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton are hanging around too.
But for as big a trade would have to be if any one of those guys were dealt, it’d be a bigger deal in terms of team philosophy and direction. Cabrera has confirmed his Hall of Fame credentials in his nine years in Detroit. He’s the best player to wear the English D since Al Kaline and has been the biggest star in the organization for most of a generation. Verlander is nearly as important and nearly as famous. I don’t think it’s likely the Tigers will move either of them because the logistics of such deals would be mind-boggling, but even entertaining deals for these guys would alter the course of the franchise for years and years to come. It happens to every franchise eventually, but I don’t think the Tigers fan base is prepared for it to happen to them yet.
Still: the free agent market is thinner that it has been at any time in years and years. Cabrera and Verlander, if they could be had, would be the biggest splashes any team looking to improve could possibly acquire. Kinselr would be a big get for anyone as well. Al Avila knows that. Even if he’s not ready to part with his superstars, he probably owes it to his organization to at least listen.
Major League Baseball just announced the broadcast schedule for both Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) of the NLCS and the entire World Series.
There are no surprises here. The World Series games are all on Fox. The pregame show starts at 7:30 and the games themselves start just after 8pm Eastern Daylight Time, regardless of whether it’s Chicago or Los Angeles representing the National League. For some reason Game five of the World Series, scheduled a week from Sunday if it comes to pass, starts seven minutes later than all of the other games. Maybe something super exciting will happen then.