Last month Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki became a free agent and held a press conference announcing that the only MLB team he was interested in signing with was the Mariners.
It sounds like Kawasaki will get his wish, although publicly ruling out the other 29 teams might have wrecked his leverage, as Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports that he’s close to signing a minor-league contract with the Mariners.
Kawasaki projects as a utility man and even that might prove to be a stretch after the 30-year-old hit just .267 with one homer and a .647 OPS in 603 at-bats for the Softbank Hawks in 2011. He’s posted much higher batting averages in previous seasons, but has never hit more than four homers and doesn’t draw enough walks to be a strong on-base threat.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that there is a “one million percent” chance Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman will opt out once the season ends.
Just going by the math this makes perfect sense, of course.
Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees before the 2017 season. Pursuant to the terms of the deal he’ll make $15 million a year in 2020 and 2021 (he was given an $11 million signing bonus that was finished being paid out last year). This past season the qualifying offer was $17.9 million. Craig Kimbrel of the Cubs just signed a deal that will pay him $16 million in 2020, 2021, and 2022 (he’s making a prorated $16 million this year). Other top closer salaries at the moment include Kenley Jansen ($19,333,334); and Wade Davis ($18 million).
It’s fair to say that Chapman fits into that group and, I think it’s safe to say, more teams would take him than those guys if they were all freely available. As such, Chapman opting out to get more money makes all kinds of sense. Heck, opting out, getting slapped with a qualifying offer, accepting it and then hitting the market unencumbered after the 2020 season would stand him in better financial stead than if he didn’t opt-out in the first place.
The question is whether the Yankees will let it get that far or whether they’ll approach him to renegotiate the final couple of years on the deal or to add some years onto the back of it. If they’re smart they will.