Now that James Shields is off the board, signing a four-year deal with the Padres said to be worth around $75 million, we have a clear picture of all the major free agent spending that went on this offseason.
First, here’s how our own Matthew Pouliot ranked this offseason’s free agents in terms of how much he expected them to be desired by teams way back on October 31:
1. Max Scherzer
2. Jon Lester
3. Yasmany Tomas
4. Hanley Ramirez
5. James Shields
6. Pablo Sandoval
7. Russell Martin
8. Victor Martinez
9. Nelson Cruz
10. Chase Headley
11. Ervin Santana
And here’s how this offseason’s free agents rank in terms of actual contract values received:
1. Max Scherzer, $210 million
2. Jon Lester, $155 million
3. Pablo Sandoval, $95 million
4. Hanley Ramirez, $88 million
5. Russell Martin, $82 million
6. James Shields, ~$75 million
7. Yasmany Tomas, $68 million
8. Victor Martinez, $68 million
9. Nelson Cruz, $57 million
10. Ervin Santana, $55 million
11. Chase Headley, $52 million
Those are the 11 free agents who topped $50 million. Pouliot’s top 11 ended up being the same as the actual top 11, although there were some minor changes in the order.
Still, despite having to wait until February 8 and despite all kinds of reports about teams not valuing him as much as everyone expected, Shields ended up more or less where Poulipt predicted and got significantly more money than every other free agent pitcher except for Scherzer and Lester.
The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.
There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.
Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.
In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.