Breaking down the offseason’s biggest free agent contracts

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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.

Hinch, Luhnow, will be eligible in 2021 even if there are no games in 2020

A.J. Hinch (left) and Jeff Luhnow (right)
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You no doubt recall that former Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and ex-Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow were given the one-year bans and were subsequently fired in January due to the Astros sign-stealing scandal. It’s possible, however, that each of them could be back in baseball without having missed a single game.

That’s the report from Buster Olney of ESPN, who has learned that Hinch and Luhnow will become eligible in 2021 even if there are no games played in the 2020 season. The reason: Hinch and Luhnow’s suspensions are tied to “the end of the 2020 postseason.” In contrast, players who are suspended for PED offenses for violations of the league’s domestic violence policies are suspended for a set number of games. Their suspensions will not begin until games begin and, if the number of games in the 2020 season ends up being fewer than the number of games in their suspension, it will carry over to 2021.

It would not shock me a bit if another team hired Hinch at some point down the road. And, despite the league’s finding that Luhnow fostered a “toxic” environment in the Astros’ front office, I would not be at all surprised if he were hired as some sort of advisor down the road and, potentially, found himself running a team again. His tenure in Houston was discovered to be objectively awful from an ethical perspective, but (a) he won; and (b) he cut costs, and those are the two biggest priorities for most teams. Not necessarily in that order.