The free agent signings are gaining steam, and it’s time for some comments.
I still don’t understand why teams are so willing to give opt-out clauses. The Red Sox just signed David Price for seven years and $217M, the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher, but he still gets to opt out three years and $90M into the deal.
This contract might make sense if the deal were more heavily back-loaded like Clayton Kershaw‘s deal with the Dodgers, but Price’s deal gives all the up-side to the player by far. The Red Sox are probably figuring that at age 33, Price won’t be able to command more than four years and $127M, but that is no sure thing given the way salaries escalate every season and with the U.S. economy slowly but steadily growing again.
At the end of the day, don’t ever feel sorry for teams who dish out contracts like this. The Red Sox wouldn’t give Price a contract like this unless they thought he was worth it to their bottom line if things go as they anticipate. No one put a gun to the owner’s and general manager’s head and made them give Price this deal.
Meanwhile, the Twins played hard ball with Byung-ho Park, giving him only a guaranteed $12M over four seasons with an option for a fifth year at a very affordable $6.5M. It is rare for a foreign player to get a contract less than the posting fee. A $15M guarantee would have been more appropriate.
However, the Twins gave Park exactly the least they could give him, given his options. In South Korea’s KBO, the best deal Park likely would have received is four years and $10M — in a year or so when he becomes a KBO free agent. If Park went to Japan’s NPB, a two-year $8M deal would be likely.
The Twins gave Park exactly what they could give him and still get him signed. Even if Park turns out to be an MLB star, he won’t get a chance to earn an MLB star’s money until he’s 34, which is asking a lot from a player who will likely be a lead-footed slugger by then. No one ever said life is fair, but at least Park won’t be going hungry any time in the next five or ten years.
Jordan Zimmerman‘s five-year $110M deal with the Tigers sounds just about right, given his past success but the drop in his strikeout rate in 2015. Meanwhile, J.A. Happ‘s 3-year $36M deal seams like wonderful news for any pitcher who can make a legitimate claim to being a starter. Yes, Happ had a good year in 2015, but he’ll be 33 years old next season, and he’s never thrown more than 172 innings (last year’s total) in a season.
Johnny Cueto turned down a six-year $120M offer from the Diamondbacks, and I’m kind of hoping it will come back to bite Cueto in the ass. Yeah, he’s talented, but is any team really going to get more than another three good seasons out of him?
I’m still waiting to see what Jhoulis Chacin gets after the D’Backs non-tendered him because he was projected to get $1.8M in arbitration. Rich Hill signed a one-year $6M deal with the A’s, and I’d rather have Chacin, who is eight years younger. I really think Chacin could suddenly become a stud pitching in a pitcher’s park like AT&T.