ESPN is way off with its early free agent calls

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By division, here’s a list of teams I can see opening up the wallets for a $10 million-plus-per-year pitcher this winter:

Blue Jays, Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees
Royals, Tigers, White Sox
Angels, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers
Marlins, Mets, Nationals, Phillies
Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Pirates
Dodgers

And here’s a list of the elite pitching free agents available this winter:

Zack Greinke

I think it should go without saying that demand is going to exceed supply in a big way.

And that’s why ESPN’s Jim Bowden and Dan Szymborski look kind of foolish for a couple of their early calls.

Edwin Jackson is, in my mind, pretty obviously the No. 2 pitching free agent available this winter. He’s 29, he has practically the same ERA as Greinke the last three years (Greinke has a 104 ERA+, Jackson is at 102) and he seems to be on the upswing, if K/BB ratio and WHIP count for anything. I’ll be stunned if he has to settle for less than $48 million over four years this winter and my guess is that he gets something closer to $70 million over five years.

ESPN’s insiders aren’t thinking that far ahead, though. Bowden, in his column, says Jackson has only “proved himself to be a solid No. 3 or No. 4 starter.” He labels the Royals as the best fit for him, putting the Indians and Marlins as alternatives. He obviously doesn’t think the bigger spenders will go after him. But then, that’s the typical lack of insight one gets from Bowden.

(Bowden also has Fernando Rodney going back to the Angels or maybe the Giants or Dodgers in his column, not realizing that the Rays are just going to exercise their $2.5 million option on his services.)

I expect a lot more from Szymborski, and it’s rare that he disappoints. However, he lists Jackson and B.J. Upton among his five free agent bargains, ones “that won’t break the wallet.” And while I agree that those two look like better values than several other top free agents, there’s no way, no how that either goes off at a bargain price.

This winter is going to reveal that there’s a lot more money to be spent than quality players to spend it on. It’s going to take a lot more digging to find any bargains

Report: Twins sign Martín Pérez to one-year deal

Martin Perez
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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Twins have picked up free agent left-hander Martín Pérez on a one-year deal. Financial terms of the deal have yet to be announced, but it looks like a club option is included for the 2020 season. The Twins have not officially confirmed the signing.

Pérez, 27, missed 85 days of the Rangers’ 2018 campaign after undergoing elbow surgery on his non-throwing arm. He sustained the injury partway through the 2017 offseason; as the story goes, he was charged by a bull at his ranch in Venezuela and fell on his right arm as he was trying to get out of the animal’s path. (He later killed and ate said bull.) When he finally returned to the mound, he cobbled together a 2-7 record in 15 starts with a 6.22 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 5.5 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR through 85 1/3 innings out of the rotation and bullpen.

As they approach the start of the 2019 season, the Twins will be looking for something a little more, well, bullish from Pérez. Prior to his injury, he turned in two solid seasons with the Rangers in 2016 and 2017, nearing the 200-inning threshold in both campaigns and providing a combined value of 4.2 fWAR at a time when Texas’ starters collectively ranked sixth-worst in the league.