Another free agent domino fell earlier today as outfielder Shin-Soo Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Rangers. With Choo gone, Nelson Cruz is the last remaining elite free agent hitter left on the board while Stephen Drew, Matt Garza, and Bronson Arroyo are some of the top remaining players beyond Cruz.
With lots of talent accounted for, let’s have some fun with free agent numbers as of right now, December 21 at 6 PM. All data originally taken from MLB Trade Rumors and played around with in Excel.
Highest-Spending Teams (percentage of total spending in parentheses):
New York Yankees: $328,000,000 (18%)
Seattle Mariners: $261,800,000 (14%)
San Francisco Giants: $172,000,000 (9%)
Lowest-Spending Teams (percentage of total spending in parentheses):
Milwaukee Brewers: $1,950,000 (1%)
Atlanta Braves: $4,000,000 (2%)
Baltimore Orioles: $4,500,000 (2.5%)
Divisions ranked by spending (rank among 6 divisions in parentheses):
AL East: $463,750,000 (2)
AL Central: $290,750,000 (4)
AL West: $487,850,000 (1)
NL East: $182,475,000 (5)
NL Central: $97,900,000 (6)
NL West: $305,250,000 (3)
Spending by league:
American League: $1,242,350,000 (68%)
National League: $585,625,000 (32%)
Most players signed by a team:
New York Yankees: 9
Chicago White Sox: 6
San Francisco Giants: 6
Tampa Bay Rays: 6
Fewest players signed by a team:
Atlanta Braves: 1
Milwaukee Brewers: 1
Cleveland Indians: 1
Washington Nationals: 1
Baltimore Orioles: 1
Divisions ranked by most players signed (rank among 6 divisions in parentheses):
AL East: 23 (1)
AL Central: 18 (2)
AL West: 16 (4)
NL East: 13 (5)
NL Central: 11 (6)
NL West: 17 (3)
Total players signed by league:
American League: 57 (58%)
National League: 41 (42%)
Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners: 10 years
Jacoby Ellsbury, New York Yankees: 7 years
Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers: 7 years
Percentage of multi-year deals by length:
10 years: 1 (1%)
7 years: 2 (2%)
6 years: 1 (1%)
5 years: 2 (2%)
4 years: 6 (6%)
3 years: 9 (9%)
2 years: 28 (29%)
1 year: 49 (50%)
Most multi-year deals given by team:
New York Yankees: 5
San Francisco Giants: 4
Tampa Bay Rays: 3
Cincinnati Reds: 3
Minnesota Twins: 3
Total amount earned by position on multi-year deals:
Starting Pitcher: $333,000,000 (19.5%)
Relief Pitcher: $154,625,000 (9%)
Catcher: $164,250,000 (9.5%)
Infield: $523,300,000 (30.5%)
Outfield: $576,200,000 (31.5%)
Multi-year deals earned by position:
Starting Pitcher: 9 (18%)
Relief Pitcher: 10 (20%)
Catcher: 6 (12%)
Infield: 13 (26.5%)
Outfield: 11 (22.5%)
If you notice any errors or omissions, let me know in the comments and I’ll make the necessary edits.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.
After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.
The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:
Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.
However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.
There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”
Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:
And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:
UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.
After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.