Archive for the ‘Kansas City Royals’ category

Lop-Sided Wins

April 8, 2018

As I write this the Phillies are beating up on the Marlins 20-1 in the late innings.  The game is being played in Philadelphia, and when I saw the box score, I was reminded of the quote attributed to famous Yankees’ owner and beer baron Col. Ruppert, who said that his favorite day at the ballpark was when the Yankees scored 10 runs in the first inning “and then slowly pulled away.”  Other internet sources state that Ruppert said either 8 runs or 5 runs in the first inning, but I first heard it as 10 runs and my own personal preference is for the 10 runs.

I’m sure any of you who are long-time baseball fans rooting for a specific team have attended at least a couple of total blow-outs by the home nine, and I, for one, always found these games extremely enjoyable.  There’s nothing like seeing all of your home-town heroes pound out one hit after another to the point of complete massacre. The high-drama games are great, but only if your team wins at the end.

It’s also fun when your pitcher is pitching well in these games.  He’s full of confidence, because, lord knows, he won’t give up ten runs, so the moundsman, if he’s worth his salt, pounds the zone and challenges the losers to hit it.  Even if they do, it’s always right at a fielder in these games.  That keeps the game moving along, even while the home team is busy running around the bases in their half of each inning.

As a Giants fan entering his 41st season of active fandom (I attended a game or two in 1977 and rooted for the Giants, because at that age I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t root for the home team, but I didn’t really become a serious fan until 1978, when a Jack ClarkVida BlueBob Knepper team held first place into August), I have come to learn that 16-3 victories are typically followed by 3-2 losses.

For what it’s worth, two teams have scored ten runs in the first inning and gone on to lose the game.  On June 8, 1989, the Pirates put up ten runs in the first inning, but the Phillies put up crooked numbers in the bottom half of the first and four subsequent innings and won 15-11.  On August 23, 2006, the Royals scored 10 runs in the bottom of the first to go up 10-1, but the Indians scored in six of the following nine innings to pull out a 15-13 win.  I don’t think it’s happened again since 2006, but I didn’t look very hard.

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Baltimore Orioles to Sign Alex Cobb for a Reported $57 Million

March 21, 2018

In a deal that I find shocking given everything that came before in this off-season, the Orioles signed Alex Cobb at the last minute for four years at a total guarantee of $57M.  There is apparently a lot of deferred money in the contract, but even so it’s a lot of money for a lot of years this late into Spring Training.

The signing invites the question if Baltimore was willing to shell out this much, why did it take so long to get this deal done?  Wouldn’t Cobb have accepted a $57M guarantee on March 1st or February 1st or January 1st this off-season once the obvious down market trend had been set?  Did Baltimore think that Cobb’s price was going to come down eventually and finally just caved in completely when it became apparent that Cobb would not sign unless he got top dollar and the season was about to start with Baltimore still in need of pitching?

For the life of me, I can’t imagine what the circumstances could have been that caused a deal this big to happen this soon before the real 2018 games start.  Maybe the O’s just decided at the last minute that with many of their best players becoming free agents next off-season, they’d have to make one last push for the post-season in 2018.  Still, they’re going to have a hard time keeping up with the Yankees and Red Sox, Alex Cobb or no.

I was thinking that at this point, Cobb was holding out for two years and $25M.  He even beat the four years and $48M that mlbtraderumors.com predicted.  My goodness!

As mlb trade rumors points out, the O’s back out of more deals at the last minute than most teams if they see anything questionable in the player’s pre-signing physical exam.  Cobb better hopes he looks good to the doctors in that exam.

Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and apparently now Alex Cobb were big free agent winners this off-season.  There weren’t many others.  At least it gives next off-season’s class of free agents hope that a few more of them will pull rabbits out of their free agent hats even if the market has changed for the worse overall.

Philadelphia Phillies To Sign Jake Arrieta for Three Years at $75 Million

March 12, 2018

The Phillies and Jake Arrieta have reportedly reached a deal that guarantees Arrieta $75 million over three seasons.  This is perhaps the contract for Arrieta that could have been predicted much earlier this off-season, as teams showed a strong preference for shelling out big bucks but for fewer seasons during the first half of this free agency period.  Arrietta receives well less than expected, but he certainly didn’t take a beating like Mike Moustakas.

Aside from the term and the guarantee, Arietta’s contract is interesting and full of the kind of crafty, creative terms we’ve come to expect from Steve Boras.  The deal is heavily front loaded, with Arietta receiving $30M in 2018, $25M in 2019 and $20M in 2020.  More evidence of many teams’ new preference for paying players the most when they reasonably predict the player’s performance value will be highest and paying less for the anticipated decline seasons.  This makes budgeting in future seasons easier, but loses the time value of money of the traditional back-loaded multi-year deals.

After two seasons, Arrieta has an opt-out, except that the Phils can void the opt-out by guaranteeing two additional years (2021-2022) at $20 million per.  The $20M per can be elevated up to $25M per based on games started or up to $30M per based on Cy Young Award finishes in 2018-2019, meaning, I suppose, that Arrieta could earn as much as $60M or $70M more than the $75M guarantee if he wins the Cy Young Award in either 2018 or 2019.

Arrieta and Boras didn’t get what they were expecting, but it’s still hard to have much sympathy for either.  Arrieta is still guaranteed a pile of money, which could nearly double if Arrieta is as good going forward as Boras claims he will be.

For a team that lost 96 games last off-season, the Phillies sure spent a lot of money on free agents this off-season.  None of the deals is longer than three years, so the Phillies must think they can be competitive by 2019, or the deals don’t appear to make much sense.

However, the Phillies play in a big and potentially lucrative market, and I definitely think it’s easier to develop young players on a good team than a terrible one.  It’s nice to see at least one MLB team this off-season — and you also have to give credit to both the Twins and the Brewers for doing the same — really trying to make itself better for 2018 this off-season.

Minnesota Twins Now Cherry Pick Lance Lynn

March 11, 2018

The Twins have reportedly reached a one-year deal with Lance Lynn that guarantees Lynn $12 million and comes with an additional $2 million in performance incentives.  It’s the latest of the Twins’ cost-effective off-season moves that should give the Twins a real chance to challenge the Indians for the 2018 AL Central flag.

While Lynn’s one-year deal isn’t nearly as much of a shocker as Mike Moustakas’ one-year $6.5 million contract with the Royals, Lynn will ultimately receive more than $5 million less guaranteed than the qualifying offer from the Cardinals Lynn rejected earlier in the off-season.  More evidence that more free agents receiving qualifying offers next off-season will accept them than did this off-season.  It’s one-and-done for qualifying offers now, meaning that any free agent who has ever previously received a qualifying offer can’t receive another one in the future.

There’s clearly a fight brewing over the next collective bargaining agreement (CBA), particularly because I am doubtful that owners will agree to eliminate the qualifying offer/compensation system in the next CBA.  The owners have agreed to limit to one qualifying offer per player per career, but it looks like they have found a way (maybe as a result of collusion, but can it be proven?) to effectively force a significant percentage of the free agents receiving qualifying offers to accept them.  I don’t see owners giving that up without a fight.

One thing worth noting, however, is that fewer free agents may receive qualifying offers next season precisely because more free agents are likely to accept them.  The qualifying offer is high enough that acceptance limits a team’s ability to find the funds to add other free agents the off-season a qualifying offer is accepted, at least unless any other free agent deals are heavily back-loaded.  If players are more likely to accept qualifying offers, teams will be less likely to offer them unless they really believe the player is worth the qualifying offer amount for the additional year of control.

Kansas City Royals to Re-Sign Mike Moustakas for only $6.5 Million

March 9, 2018

Sometimes I call them right.  Only yesterday, I wrote that Moustakas should sign a one-year deal and hope for another big year in 2018, so he could try his luck as a free agent again next off-season.

Even so, the actual reported deal between Moustakas and Royals is little short of shocking.  The Royals had given him a $17.4 million qualifying offer at the beginning of the off-season, which Moustakas obviously rejected.  Now, the Royals bring him back for only about 40% of the qualifying offer amount.

It’s a huge fail for Moustakas and his agent Scott Boras.  The deal comes with $2.2 million in 2018 performance bonuses and a mutual option for 2019 at $15 million.  If Moustakas had accepted the original $17.4 million qualifying offer, the Royals could not have extended another qualifying offer next off-season under the current collective bargaining (CBA) rules, and Moustakas would have been a truly free free agent with no associated draft pick losses attached to his signing.

You can bet a lot more free agents are going to accept the qualifying offer next off-season than did this time around.

The fact that Moustakas was essentially forced to take a one-year $6.5 million pillow contract after mlbtraderumors.com had predicted he’d get five years and $85 million is perhaps the strongest evidence yet that something isn’t right with this off-season free agent market and that it’s more than just a change in market conditions driven by analytics or new CBA terms.  It smells strongly of collusion.

mlbtraderumors.com’s predictions are based on a thorough and thoughtful comparison with past free agent deals received by similar free agents in years past.  That Moustakas would have to settle for a guarantee less than 10% of that prediction, even taking into account that this is a strategic pillow contract with the only major league team he has played for, only makes sense to me if teams have collectively decided to take a hard line this off-season.

Of course, we don’t know if Moustakas received any multi-year offers that he turned down earlier in the off-season.  However, rumors of interest in Moustakas were few and far between this off-season  It’s also possible that Boras and Moustakas simply made a bad gamble that by waiting as long as they did they’d eventually get a better offer.

It still seems shocking to me that no team was apparently willing to offer Moustakas, say, three years at $36 million given his age, his abilities and his 2017 season.

Is the Atlantic League an Option for Free Agents Tied to Draft Pick Compensation?

March 8, 2018

I read a post on mlbtraderumors.com today stating that Scott Boras and Mike Moustakas might be comfortable waiting until after the June Draft to sign a contract so that Moustakas will no longer be tied to loss of draft picks and international bonus money by any team that signs him.  I don’t really believe that’s true, because missing 60+ games is going to cause Moustakas’ value to drop more than it will be increased by de-coupling him from draft pick compensation.

I also well remember Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew were both pretty dreadful in 2014 when they waited until June of that season to sign contracts after not receiving the free agent contracts they wanted.  In fact, it arguably sent Drew’s career into a fatal tailspin.  I can’t believe that teams and agents haven’t reached the obvious conclusion that it’s extremely difficult to start the season two months after all the other major leaguers have begun playing every day.

For that reason, if any of the remaining free agents tied to draft pick compensation fail to sign contracts before well into the 2018 MLB season, I wonder if it would make sense for them to sign to play with Atlantic League teams until a major league deal comes along.  At least they’d be playing baseball and getting up to speed for MLB, even if the level of play is substantially lower.

Obviously, Atlantic League teams would love the idea and would certainly allow MLB players to leave as soon as an MLB deal along, even if it means the MLBer only plays for few weeks or less.  Nothing would boost the Atlantic League’s profile and attendance better than being to play MLB stars, even if only briefly.

Problems here, of course, are that the Atlantic League season doesn’t begin until late April, which is already more than three weeks into the MLB season.  Also, MLB free agents probably aren’t going to be willing to risk injury playing baseball for at most $3,000 a month, particularly if they are over 30 and thus more prone to possible injury.  Still, playing in the Atlantic League would at least allow them to stay sharp and show off their talents until an MLB team comes calling.

At the end of the day, the best possible option is for these free agents to sign a major league contract for only one season like Nelson Cruz did in late February 2014 for $8M after turning down a $14M qualifying offer earlier in the off-season.  He had a great season in 2014, and signed a four-year $57M deal which turned out to be a bargain for the signing Mariners.

In Moustakas’ case, another 30+ home run season might well get him the pay day next off-season he was hoping for this off-season.

Minnesota Twins Sign Logan Morrison Cheap

February 26, 2018

The Twins have reportedly reached a deal for Logan Morrison that guarantees him $6.5 million with a possibility of $16.5 million over two seasons if Morrison plays as well in 2018 and 2019 as he did in 2017.  That is a real bargain, at least compared to the three years at $36 million guarantee mlbtraderumors.com predicted.

Logan Morrison is expected to mainly DH for the Twins, since Joe Mauer, the better fielder, will be playing almost every game in the field he’s healthy enough to do so.  Looking at their roster, it’s doesn’t look like the Twins really needed Morrison, but at this price, why not?

Paid as a well-paid veteran platoon player, Morrison surely makes the Twins stronger against right-handed pitching this year.  If Morrison plays well and the Twins go deep in the post-season, the Twins will likely execute his option even if he doesn’t get to the 600 plate appearances he needs for the second year at $8 million guaranteed plus escalator clauses and plate appearance bonuses that could bring the second year amount up to $10 million.  The Twins are loyal by MLB standards to players who have played well for them and helped them win, particularly if they are of Morrison’s complexion.

I’m surprised the Royals didn’t sign Morrison.  He was born in Kansas City, although his family then traveled around a lot, and the Royals were certainly in need of a 1Bman once Eric Hosmer committed to the Padres.

Apparently, the Royals are so committed to “rebuilding” that both Frank Schwindel and Ryan O’Hearn have serious shots at making the major league club out of Spring Training.  It hadn’t even registered until now that the Royals had traded Brandon Moss and $4 million of his 2018 salary to the A’s along with LHP Ryan Buchter for RHPs Jesse Hahn and Heath Fillmyer.

If the Royals don’t surprise everyone and sign one of the remaining top free agents, it’s pretty clear that going into the 2018 season, they are determined to be as bad as possible as fast as possible, so that they can start getting top draft picks again.  That’s basically the formula that got them all the top draft picks that were the core of the 2015 World Series Champs.