Blue Jays Among Teams Interested In J.D. Martinez

As the hot stove season starts to ramp up in baseball, more rumors are beginning to swirl. The latest on one of the top bats available in free agency, outfielder J.D. Martinez, has another team added to the mix of interested parties, the Toronto Blue Jays.

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The Jays are looking for outfielders, however, aren’t expected by many to pursue an outfielder at the top of the market such as Martinez. If Toronto is indeed showing enough interest it would be sort of a surprise for the team to spend the money it will take to add Martinez, seeing as it would significantly raise an already big payroll.

Martinez is expected to sign a big long-term deal and has already gotten interest from teams such as the Red Sox, who are the top on paper fit for Martinez to sign. It is worth noting as well that Martinez’s Agent Scott Boras is seeking a $210MM deal for his client, which may not happen as several teams will be wary of adding a player on such a huge salary.

Brewers Interested In Jake Arrieta

As expected by many, the Milwaukee Brewers are expressing interest in one of the top starters on the open market, Jake Arrieta. As Jon Morosi is reporting, the Brewers are interested in bringing in the veteran hurler.

Arrieta, 31, is one of the top 2 starting Pitchers on the Free Agent market(the other being Yu Darvish) and will be looking for a long-term deal. Arrieta has been rumored to be looking for a six-year contract, although many expect him to land a contract of less than 6 years.

The Brewers have money to spend this offseason and over the next few years guaranteed payroll is expected to drop even more, which gives Milwaukee plenty of space to work with. On top of that, Jimmy Nelson is expected to miss a portion of the 2018 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, which opens a spot in the Milwaukee rotation to start next year.

Arrieta has generally posted very good to outstanding numbers in his 4 years as a Chicago Cub, when the team acquired him from the Orioles back during 2013 season, including winning the NL Cy Young award in 2015. However, he had somewhat of a drop off in performance this past year, posting a 3.53 ERA in 168.1 IP(1.9 WAR).

The 2018-19 Free Agent Class; Josh Donaldson

By now we all know what the 2018-19 MLB Free Agent class is going to look like. Plenty of stars are going to be available and signing just one could be the difference between having a good offense and having an amazing offense. In this series we are going to take a really early look at what each star players’ market could look like heading into the 18’-19’ offseason.

Entering the 2018 season in the last year of his contract, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has more than proved he is one of the best in the game. He’ll look to help lead a Blue Jays team that will continue to try and contend heading into next year.

Donaldson’s Resume:

Since debuting with the Oakland Athletics in 2010(he was sent back to the minor leagues before resurfacing for good in 2012) before eventually being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2014-15 offseason, Donaldson has become one of the premier offensive threats in baseball, hitting a combined .277, .368OBP, .510SLG, .878OPS, with 174 HRs, and 528 RBIs in 7 years between the two teams. He’s also had 4 top 10 finishes in the AL MVP voting along the way, including winning the award in 2015. He’s been worth a very good 37.3 WAR to this point in his career(34th among all active players). He plays his position very well as he has also been generally regarded as a strong defender at third base throughout his career. This is the type of player teams will pay tons of money for, and Donaldson can only help his case with yet another elite season in 2018.

Donaldson and The Blue Jays:

Despite entering the last year of his contract in 2018, the Blue Jays have expressed interest in keeping Donaldson around for the long haul, and Donaldson himself has suggested he would like to keep playing with Toronto. One thing we do know, don’t expect the star third baseman to be traded, as the Jays plan on going for the division title and a playoff run after falling short in the 2017 season.

Donaldson’s Outlook:

He will have plenty of competition if and when he hits the open market next year, with other elite offensive players looking for massive paydays from teams that will be vying for their services. Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, and fellow third baseman Manny Machado are among the notables joining him in that stacked market. The only thing perhaps that will impact Donaldson is the fact that he will be the oldest amongst these players in his class, but nonetheless, it won’t hurt to the point where he will lose money. As long as he can continue his stellar play and typical form throughout the 2018 season, Josh Donaldson will surely make a pretty penny when the time comes for a new contract, whether that be with the Blue Jays or another team.

The 2018-19 Free Agent Class; Manny Machado

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By now we all know what the 2018-19 MLB Free Agent class is going to look like. Plenty of stars are going to be available and signing just one could be the difference between having a good offense and having an amazing offense. In this series we are going to take a really early look at what each star players’ market could look like heading into the 18’-19’ offseason.

Manny Machado‘s time with the Baltimore Orioles could very well be ending sooner rather than later. The star third baseman for the Orioles has been a mainstay in the Baltimore lineup since his debut year back in 2012 at 19 years old. Since then, he has been one of the top hitters in all of baseball and one of the game’s top young stars. He heads into next year with free agency lurking as he continues to build his resume for when he hits the open market in 2019. Just how much money could he make after next year? Where will he go? Will the Orioles trade or extend him before next year?

So many questions will swirl as this winter goes on and throughout the 2018 season on what will happen with Machado. What we do know is, right now he’s an Oriole and all we can do is speculate until then.

Machado’s Resume:

To this point in his 6 year career, Machado has smacked 138 home runs and has racked up 27.9 WAR as the starting third baseman for the O’s. His defense has been highlighted by 2 gold glove awards and 2 top-5 finishes in the AL MVP voting. His best year came in the 2015 season when he was worth 7.1 WAR, hit .286 with a .359 OBP, along with one of the two mentioned top 5 finishes in the MVP voting. He’s easily good for 30+ homers per year and that alone can help a lineup big time.

Despite Machado’s somewhat down year in 2017(hampered by a terrible first half of the season), he was still worth 3.5 WAR and surpassed the 30 homer mark(33). Machado still has another year to put up more superstar caliber numbers to build up his resume, but as it is, teams will be more than fine with what he has done to this point in his career. Not to mention he’s only going to be 26 when free agency comes.

The Orioles and Machado:

We’ve briefly heard in the past that Dan Duquette was rumored to have spoken to Machado’s reps about an extension, but nothing that ever got serious. It now looks very likely that Machado won’t receive an extension and he will indeed hit the open market when the time comes, which has led many to speculate on whether or not the Orioles should trade him now to recoup some value instead of losing him for nothing next year. However, that’s not the thinking that the Baltimore front office has, as they want to give it one more shot with Machado at contending next year before he leaves. Things could easily change though, if the team doesn’t perform well out of the gates next year they could trade Machado then and still get value in return. If they are to deal him, it would be wise to bolster a pitching staff that looks absolutely horrible.

Machado’s Outlook:

Due to how strong the 2018-19 Free Agent class is overall, a lot of teams that normally spend big are keeping their wallets closed this offseason. Which means next year we can expect just about everyone looking to spend a lot of money on free agents such as Machado, Josh Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, and others.

Speaking of Josh Donaldson, he is going to be Machado’s direct competition due to the fact that both are third basemen. Despite that, if teams like the Yankees, Phillies, Cardinals, and other big market teams are going to have plenty of money to spend, Machado should expect a pretty healthy payday regardless next winter. Machado will easily top $200MM and approach the $250MM mark when the time comes.

Extending Jose Altuve; How Much Will It Take?

The Houston Astros are World Champions, and thanks in part to the best offense in baseball, this team was able to capture their first World Series in franchise history. Perhaps the leader of their offense, Jose Altuve, was a big reason this team was able to have so much success in their lineup.

Altuve has been a staple in the Astros lineup for years, and with free agency looming in a couple of years, Houston GM Jeff Luhnow will have a big decision on his hands in trying to keep the cornerstone of this franchise around for the long haul. While the Astros at the current time aren’t in a rush to extend any of their core pieces in their lineup, exploring an extension with Altuve should be a consideration.

It’s without a doubt that Altuve, who led the league in batting average for the 3rd time in the last 4 years this past season, will score a massive contract, whether that’s through free agency(2019-20 offseason) or through an extension. He also led the entire league with an 8.3 WAR, once again proving he is one of the best in the game. He should win the AL MVP this year(Aaron Judge will give him a run for his money).

When taking this into account, Altuve has also been a huge bargain for the Astros. Due in part to signing an early career extension, Altuve is making just $6MM in 2018 and will make $6.5MM in 2019 due to a club option that the team will surely pickup.

When he becomes a free agent in the 2019-20 offseason, Altuve will turn 30 years old and if he continues the pace he’s on, along with the fact that salaries continue to increase in the league for star players signing big contracts, Altuve could be in for one of the biggest contracts in MLB history.

Needless to say, locking up Jose Altuve would be a smart decision by the Houston front office, but at the same time, it will cost a pretty penny to keep him around. It’s a bold prediction, but I would say an 8-year deal worth between $210-$220MM would seal the deal. Potentially more if he hits the open market in a few years.

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