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.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.