Getty Images

Justin Upton likely to opt-out, become a free agent

16 Comments

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that “it’s increasingly likely” Justin Upton will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract and test free agency.

Upton posted career-highs in home runs (35), RBI (109), and OPS (.901) this season between the Tigers and Angels, batting .273/.361/.540. He has four years and $88.5 million remaining on his contract, so by saying goodbye to the Angels, he’s banking on doing better than that on the market. Last year the biggest free agent deals for hitters went to Yoenis Cespedes at four years, $110 million, Dexter Fowler at five years and $82.5 million, Ian Desmond at five years and $70 million, Justin Turner at four years, $64 million and Edwin Encarnacion at three years and $60 million.

The other big free agent bats with whom Upton will be competing will be fellow former Tiger J.D. Martinez and soon-to-be-ex-Royals Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Hosmer will be 28 next season, Moustakas is 29 and Martinez and Upton are both 30. Neither Upton nor Martinez will be subject to qualifying offers given that they were traded mid-season. It remains to be seen if the Royals will put qualifying offers on their departing free agents, thereby limiting their market, but at least Hosmer should get one and possibly both of them will.

 

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
1 Comment

If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.