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A reminder: don’t listen to front office people during the offseason

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There are a lot of people out there who spend a lot of time tracking every hot stove season rumor and parsing every offseason utterance in an effort to guess what a given team plans to do. It’s kinda fun to do that. There aren’t any games being played, so what else is there to do?

We do it less on this site now than we did, say, seven or eight years ago, however. Mostly because, over time, we’ve sort of figured out that what teams and team spokesmen say about potential free agent signings is rather pointless and oftentimes actively misleading.

The latest example comes courtesy of the San Diego Padres.

This was in The Athletic nine days ago:

“If there’s another Hosmer contract or Machado contract that really makes sense, the answer from our organization is going to be, ‘Tell me more,’” Padres general partner Peter Seidler said after last week’s press conference for new manager Jayce Tingler. “If it lines up and it’s big money, we’re going to consider it.”

That comes amidst widespread speculation that the team would be interested in signing San Diego product Stephen Strasburg or, possibly, Los Angeles product Gerrit Cole.

This came from the San Diego Union-Tribune yesterday, in reference to the possibility of signing either Cole or Strasburg:

That is too rich and too long for the Padres, which makes it exceedingly unlikely, too, that Cole will end up wearing brown in 2020 . . . While at this point last year the Padres did not expect to be in on Manny Machado, who they ended up signing in February to a 10-year, $300 million contract, the reality this offseason is that they don’t see a way to fit another mega contract.

Sure, there’s a lot of wiggle room in what “big money” means in that first quote. And sure the second quote could merely be bluffing as the Padres play the long game with Scott Boras or manage fan expectations or whatever, but that’s sort of the point, right? No one ever defines their terms sufficiently well or says the actually important things out loud when it comes to these kinds of things. Why would they? At best it ratchets up fan expectations. At worst it could screw you in negotiations if, in fact, you’re interested in one of those players.

The upshot: we can read tea leaves if we want to — and when the news is painfully slow in, like January, we may be more willing to do it than we are now — but it’s kind of a pointless exercise. Until one of the few truly connected transactions reporters Like Rosenthal, Passan, or, if it involves a Scott Boras client, Jon Heyman, start talking about actual talks reaching a critical juncture, it’s all just disguising ignorance as knowingness.

 

Blake Snell becomes client of Boras Corporation

Blake Snell
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Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino of The Athletic report that Rays starter Blake Snell has switched agencies, going from Apex Baseball to Boras Corporation. Snell is currently signed to a five-year, $50 million contract and will be under contract through 2023.

Snell found himself in hot water two weeks ago when he said on his Twitch stream that he wouldn’t risk his life to play baseball during a pandemic while receiving significantly reduced pay. Some described Snell as tone deaf for saying, “I gotta get my money. I’m not playing unless I get mine, okay?”

Boras represents many of baseball’s highest-paid players, including Gerrit Cole and Bryce Harper. Snell is not likely to win over any of the people he recently irritated by appearing to go after more money by hiring the highest-profile agent. What often goes unsaid is that players have a very limited window in which to use their elite athletic skills to make money.

Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young Award, going 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a 221/64 K/BB ratio over 180 2/3 innings. He did not have nearly the same success last year, going 6-8 with a 4.29 ERA and a 147/40 K/BB ratio in 107 innings.