Phil Coke’s deal with Cubs worth at least $2.25 million if he makes the team


This morning much was made of left-hander Phil Coke bypassing major-league contract offers to sign a minor-league deal with the Cubs, but as we’ve seen numerous times this offseason more and more minor-league deals are being signed with significant Opening Day roster guarantees attached.

In other words, teams are looking to hand out minor-league deals to mediocre veterans like Coke because they want to avoid using up a 40-man roster spot until it’s necessary and want to avoid being locked into guaranteed money if the player looks awful during spring training.

But then, if the player cracks the Opening Day roster, he gets paid just like he would if it were a major-league contract. In this case, Chris Iott of reports that Coke’s deal is worth $2.25 million in upfront money if he makes the Opening Day roster and includes another $900,000 in appearance-based incentives.

So yes, it’s a minor-league deal. But it’s a minor-league deal with major-league money attached.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
Jason Miller/Getty Images

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.