Examining Greg Holland’s Market

Free agent closer Greg Holland enters the market coming off of a solid season in which he racked up 41 saves to go along with a 3.61 ERA in 57.1 IP in a Rockies uniform. He will now try to turn that production into a lucrative multi-year contract with a new team(or if the Rockies are to re-sign him).

It’s easy to see why teams will want to lineup for a player like Holland, as he’s just about always shown he is a reliable option in the 9th inning his entire career to this point. Even pitching in the tough Coors Field in Colorado didn’t do much to decrease his performance. Before signing with the Rockies in the 2016-17 offseason, Holland had just been coming off of a year that was wiped out due to Tommy John surgery, which caused him to sign a 1-year deal with a player option(which he then declined) so no one knew what to expect out of the former Kansas City Royal. He silenced any critics however, and proved he’s the same pitcher he was before, once again pitching brilliantly.

While it’s easy to point to the success he’s had, it’s also easy to point to the blemishes that may impact his market. Holland’s Tommy John surgery history alone will always at least make some teams a little concerned at what to expect going forward in his career and whether that will affect him down the road at some point. It’s also worth noting that despite the fact that he recorded 41 saves, he faded down the stretch for Colorado after pitching amazingly in the first half of the season.

With all of that being said, exactly who will be vying for Holland’s services? The St. Louis Cardinals are the first team to mention, due in part to the gaping hole in the back of their bullpen. The Cardinals are willing to do whatever it takes to land an elite closer and prefer to sign Holland over anyone else that is available. It’s not known exactly how much they are willing to offer Holland, but they will surely be one of the top bidders.

Next is the Rockies, the team he just wrapped up his contract with. While he declined his player option with the team, there is interest between the two sides in a reunion. Colorado will have to cough up a pretty penny to get their closer back though. However, despite Holland’s potentially big asking price, the Rockies are reportedly going to make a play to retain their closer on a long-term deal.

The Minnesota Twins will be in the market for a closer and are plenty familiar with Holland from his time with the Royals. Holland would be a huge boost to the Minnesota relief corps and for a Twins team that is looking poised to contend on top of the fact that they have plenty of money to spend going forward, they could easily make the biggest bid if they are interested enough in Holland.

Other teams that could be linked to Holland this offseason could be the Astros, Cubs, D-Backs, Rangers, and Phillies. Even though he endured a rough second half of the 2017 season, most teams will probably look past that as Holland has always shown he is a capable and elite closer.

Blockbuster Moves Cardinals Could Make At Winter Meetings

The St. Louis Cardinals have been the most frequently mentioned team since the offseason began. Giancarlo Stanton has been the most frequently mentioned name since the offseason began(other than Shohei Ohtani). With that being said we will kick off Stanton and the Cardinals in this post. Before we do that though, it’s worth mentioning that there are other moves that we will be speculating on other than Stanton and the Cardinals, as St. Louis could perhaps be the most active team once the winter meetings begin in a couple of weeks. We will take a look at some moves St. Louis could make that could dominate the transactions front this winter. Lets begin with the aforementioned Stanton/Cardinals potential move.

Cardinals acquiring Giancarlo Stanton:

They have reportedly submitted an early offer to the Marlins for Stanton, but that doesn’t mean much right now as both teams will continue to go back and forth over the coming weeks as Marlins management continues to look for what they will be the perfect offer for their MVP slugger. St. Louis and San Francisco are the top two teams vying for Stanton at the moment, and it’s beginning to look likely that it could come down to those two teams in the Stanton sweepstakes.

The Marlins want both prospects and the acquiring team to pay down a significant portion of Stanton’s contract, which will obviously be the main sticking point in negotiations. Unlike the Giants, the Cardinals have the payroll space to take on more money from Stanton’s contract. I believe St. Louis will get him, as they have the most enticing collection of players and the space to acquire him. Money however, will obviously play the biggest role.

Now here’s one sort of deal I thought of would be both interesting, but difficult to envision. It would be an expanded deal between the two teams. The deal would send Stanton, Dee Gordon, Dan Straily, Kyle Barraclough, and Miami would pay down $150MM total between the Stanton and Gordon contracts to St. Louis. In exchange in the deal, the Marlins would receive outfielder Stephen Piscotty, 2nd baseman Kolten Wong, starter Michael Wacha, and two of the Cardinals top 10 prospects.

The Cardinals in the deal would finally land Stanton, and would also fill two other needs in the rotation with Straily and the bullpen in Barraclough. While the Cards probably don’t need Gordon, they could take him on as a way of being able to trade Wong, who has sort of fallen out of favor at times by the Cards. Money does play a huge role in how much St. Louis would take on in the Stanton/Gordon deals, however.

For the Marlins, they would receive the salary relief they are desperately looking for plus they would get Piscotty who has plenty of upside at a much lesser of a cost(though he will never replace Stanton’s production). They would also fill a need in the rotation by getting Wacha, plus Wong could fill the void left by Gordon at a lesser cost as well. A couple of prospects could also head the Marlins way.

While that type of deal has plenty of flaws(and plenty of people that will call me crazy), some of the players in that speculated trade(not including Stanton) could realistically be in the discussions between the two teams.

Nonetheless, I expect the Cardinals and Marlins to eventually work something out to send Stanton to St. Louis, even if it takes plenty of convincing to get Stanton to waive that no-trade clause. Speaking of their payroll space..

-Cardinals Signing Jake Arrieta

They would like to add a frontline starter, whether through trade or free agency, but I can see them making a real play for Arrieta. Stanton drama aside, Arrieta would fill that frontline starter role, giving the Cards another top rotation piece to what president of Baseball Operations John Moezliak hopes to be a World Series contender. Not to mention they have plenty of familiarity with Arrieta when he was pitching with the Cubs.

-Cardinals signing Greg Holland and/or Wade Davis

Another need and pretty much the biggest need for the Cardinals is a closer. They will be in the market for the top relievers available, and they have already been linked to Holland. But would it be crazy to see them sign Holland then make a bid at another top reliever in Wade Davis? Signing those two would make the St. Louis bullpen as scary as any pen in baseball.

It’s also worth mentioning Shohei Ohtani, as every team in baseball will be linked to him, but it’s a lot less likely St. Louis would land the Japanese phenom due to their logjam in the outfield(where Ohtani has interest in playing on days when he doesn’t pitch) and smaller international bonus pool.

The Cardinals are guaranteed to make at least one big splash at the winter meetings and whether it’s move(s) that involve any of these players, or moves that could involve any other free agents(Yu Darvish) or trade candidates(Brad Hand, Gerrit Cole), President of Baseball Ops John Mozeliak is all but guaranteed to help make this team a World Series contender in 2018.

Braves Set To Lose Kevin Maitan, Others As Part Of International Violations Punishment

While not confirmed as of yet, an announcement from Major League Baseball is set to come soon on the exact punishments the Braves will receive as a result of the team violating international signing rules. The Braves look very likely to lose one of their top prospects, Kevin Maitan, among others as part of the severe punishment that will be handed down by the league.

The 17-year old Maitan was the top ranked international prospect at the time of his signing with the Braves in 2016, and he signed for a $4.25MM bonus. He is currently the 38th best prospect in the game according to MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list.

Meanwhile, it is not known what other prospects that are rumored to be taken away from the Braves as part of the scandal.

Last month, now-former Braves GM John Coppolella was forced to resign along with now-former international scouting director Gordon Blakely due to their heavy involvement in the violations by the team. No other Braves executives were reportedly involved in violating the rules. Stay tuned for more.

Orioles Starting Pitching Targets

Plain and simple, The Baltimore Orioles need starting pitching. One of the worst starting rotations last year was one of the main reasons the team couldn’t sustain a winning record and a shot at the postseason. Now, the Orioles head into the offseason with their sights set on adding some starters who can provide the team with quality innings at an affordable price.

Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette has stated that his team will not break the bank for a starter, but that they will hunt for multiple pitchers who can provide innings at a lower cost.

That means the team will surely be out of the race for Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. However, they may make a play for second tier starters Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Problem with that is both Lynn and Cobb, while won’t cost as much as Darvish and Arrieta, will be looking for lucrative long-term deals themselves. Which brings us to the next wave of free agent starters.

If the team wants to hunt for low-cost, short-term starters as expected, the most notable names would be Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia, and Tyler Chatwood, among others. All of those would check the box for the Orioles, but wouldn’t be much of a guaranteed upgrade.

Orioles starters combined for one of the worst ERAs in baseball(4.97) and the second worst in the American League(only the Tigers were worse with a 5.36 team ERA). This team will need to address their rotation problem in a big way if they want to give it one more run with the current core they have in place.

Orioles, Brewers Interested In Lance Lynn

As Lance Lynn begins his first foray into the free agent market, several teams will begin to start showing interest in the right-hander. Among those to this point to show some interest are the Orioles and Brewers. Both teams have varying needs for rotation upgrades, with the Orioles in dire need of at least two starting pitchers and the Brewers looking for another starter to help offset the loss of Jimmy Nelson to injury.

The Orioles interest may only be to a certain point, as the team doesn’t want to dole out too much money and years to a starter if they prove to be a non-contender within the next couple of years due to the fact that several players are expected to depart from the team after next year.

The Brewers meanwhile, are going to be linked to several starters this offseason, as the team will have some money to spend due to the fact that the team will have plenty of payroll space to work with over the next few years. The team has already reportedly shown interest in Jake Arrieta as well.

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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