On ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, the Braves wasted a strong effort by starter Julio Teheran and a seventh-inning, go-ahead two-run home run by Dan Uggla to fall to the Mets 4-2. The Braves ended their eight-game winning streak and in so doing, also ended the Mets’ five-game losing streak. The two teams, still, are heading in opposite directions in the NL East standings. The Braves remain 4.5 games ahead of the Nationals, 6.5 ahead of the Phillies, and 11 ahead of the Mets.
Mets starter Shaun Marcum had struggled through his first six starts of the season after returning from a neck injury in late April. He brought a 6.59 ERA into tonight’s outing, but stymied the Braves for the most part over his seven innings of work, yielding just the two runs on four hits and no walks while striking out 12. Teheran, Marcum’s counterpart, allowed one run on five hits and three walks while striking out five in 6.2 innings.
The Mets went ahead in the bottom of the eighth against Braves reliever Cory Gearrin thanks to an RBI single to left by John Buck which tied the game, and a two-run, tie-breaking single to right field by Ike Davis. Closer Bobby Parnell made short work of the Braves in the top of the ninth to nail down the victory.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.