Stephen Strasburg is going into his last pre-free agency season and the right-hander has avoided arbitration with the Nationals for $10.4 million.
That represents a $3 million raise from last year’s $7.4 million salary, for which Strasburg logged 127 innings with a 3.46 ERA and 155/26 K/BB ratio in 23 starts.
Durability has been an issue for Strasburg, but through age 26 he’s got a 3.09 ERA and 901 strikeouts in 777 innings and the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft is 175 good innings away from a massive free agent deal.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com and Jon Heyman of MLB Network are both reporting that the Orioles have made Yoenis Cespedes a five-year offer thought to be in the $90 million range and now Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that Cespedes is “believed to be weighing” that offer vs. a one-year offer to return to the Mets.
Cespedes might be disappointed in the lack of $100 million-plus offers he’s received as a free agent, but returning to the Mets would still be placing a very big bet on a) his having a strong 2016 season, and b) the market for him being a lot more robust next offseason. And considering he’s already coming off a career-best year–including a big second half with the Mets–that seems like an iffy assumption.
From the Orioles’ point of view they apparently see Cespedes as an alternative to Chris Davis, who’s taking his sweet time deciding on a long-term home despite Baltimore already offering him $150 million at the beginning of the offseason.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Padres are “closing in on a deal” with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney.
Rodney posted a 5.68 ERA in 51 innings for the Mariners to begin last season, but then turned things around following a late-August trade to the Cubs. He logged 12 innings for Chicago down the stretch with a 0.75 ERA and 15/4 K/BB ratio, which was enough to convince the Padres he’s still a viable late-inning option at age 39.
San Diego traded away closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Joaquin Benoit while also shifting Brandon Maurer to the rotation, so Rodney has a chance to claim the closer role with a strong spring training performance. He saved a league-leading 48 games for the Mariners in 2014 and calling Petco Park home should help with his occasional struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark.
UPDATE: Done deal. Ramirez and the Padres have agreed to a one-year contract, per Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that the Padres “are targeting” Alexei Ramirez and “could be closing in on a deal” with the free agent shortstop.
San Diego has previously been linked to free agent shortstop Ian Desmond, but apparently decided his price tag is too high and/or it wasn’t worth parting with a draft pick to sign him.
Ramirez will be much cheaper and doesn’t have draft pick compensation attached, but he’s also 34 years old and coming off a rough season in which he hit just .249 with 10 homers and a .642 OPS in 154 games for the White Sox.
Ramirez became a free agent when the White Sox declined his $10 million option for 2016. He was Chicago’s starting shortstop from 2008-2015, making one All-Star team and hitting .273 with a .709 OPS while averaging 14 homers per 160 games.
Baltimore knew Mark Trumbo would command a big salary when they acquired him from Seattle and now the Orioles have signed the first baseman/outfielder to a one-year, $9.15 million deal to avoid arbitration.
Trumbo didn’t cost much to acquire because he was a quasi-salary dump, as the Mariners didn’t feel like paying him $9 million for 2016. In their search for power the Orioles felt he was worth that salary following a season in which Trumbo hit .262 with 22 homers and a .759 OPS in 142 games.
Entering his final season prior to free agency, the 30-year-old Trumbo is penciled in at first base but could end up shifting elsewhere depending on whether the Orioles re-sign Chris Davis.