The New York Mets have agreed to sign two-time All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier to a two-year, $17 million contract. Frazier, 32, is a career .245 hitter who makes up for his middling average with big production when he does connect. He has 175 home runs over six-plus seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. He hit .213 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI last year, a season where he was traded near the deadline from the White Sox to the Yankees. He also made the National League All-Star team with the Reds in 2014 and 2015. The Mets will have a new look on both corners after signing aging free agent slugger Adrian Gonzalez to man first base in January.
The Houston Astros and outfielder George Springer avoided arbitration, agreeing to a two-year, $24 million contract. Springer will be paid $12 million each of the next two seasons. Springer, 28, had asked for a $10.5 million salary for the 2018 season. The Astros offered $8.5 million, setting up a potential showdown with an arbitrator. A $12 million salary is a substantial bump for 2018 but prevents a second arbitration meeting next winter, in which Springer could have commanded another major increase in salary—thus costing the Astros more money in the long term. Springer hit .283/.367/.522 with 34 home runs and 85 runs batted in last season. He saved the best stretch of his career for the postseason, belting five home runs and driving in seven runs on his way to winning MVP honors during the Astros’ World Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Astros now boast the regular-season (Jose Altuve) and World Series (Springer) MVPs as they head into 2018 season. The Astros in all likelihood would prefer to lock him up before competing with teams on the open market. Springer is arbitration-eligible again in 2020, but it would probably behoove the Astros to ink a long-term deal with him as well. This move bumps up Springer’s salary to keep him satisfied for now while the team figures out its plans for the future.
There have been plenty of rumors about which teams are pursuing Yu Darvish, but less about what his suitors are willing to pay. Though perhaps most telling on that front, that the right-hander has “at least one five-year offer on the table.” This is perfectly fair since Darvish is 31 and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015. But given his ceiling, he deserves better; this is, after all, a guy with a 3.42 career ERA and an 11.0 K/9 that ranks as the best among all active starters. To boot, Darvish was barred from receiving a qualifying offer when the Texas Rangers traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July. Signing him will only cost a team money. So at this juncture, it sure seems like a lucky team will get a good deal on an ace.
Martinez and agent Scott Boras began with an asking price of seven years and $210 million. It appears the best offer they’ve received is the five-year, $125 million offer from the Boston Red Sox. Of course, this reflects how negotiations typically go. Players aim high. Teams aim low. The two sides then figure it out from there. However, it also reflects Martinez’s questionable marketability: He’s a 30-year-old with iffy durability and a rapidly declining glove, and he’s trying to sell a power bat at a time when everyone and their uncle already has one. Despite these concerns, he did just put up a 1.066 OPS and slugged 45 homers in only 119 games last season. From 2014-2017, his 149 OPS+ places behind only Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto and Mike Trout. And like Darvish, Martinez isn’t tied to draft-pick compensation. As things stand now, somebody’s going to get one of baseball’s elite hitters for well less than his asking price.
The best player the Marlins have left is J.T. Realmuto, and he wants out. Agent Jeff Berry told: “J.T.’s preference remains the same. He would like to be traded to another organization before spring training so he has an opportunity to compete for a championship”. Christian Yelich’s agent made similar remarks to Crasnick before the Marlins dealt him to the Milwaukee Brewers. Since they received a huge haul of prospects in that trade, it’s apparent the Marlins aren’t about to let trade requests diminish their leverage. This is a different situation, however. Whereas the Marlins had Yelich signed at cheap rates for five more seasons, they control Realmuto for only three more years. That equates to a tad more urgency to deal him. And because there are fewer job openings for catchers than there are for outfielders, the Marlins have fewer teams to barter with. The result could be a team getting Realmuto for something less than a Yelich-like haul. Considering that he’s a 26-year-old catcher who’s improving both on offense and defense (see: his upward-trending OPSand career-high fielding runs above average from 2017), that’s an opportunity that a catching-needy team should seize.