The Lo Down: Baseball Spring Preview
Months have passed since the transactions of the early winter, and much can be forgotten during the lull post holidays up until spring training. With exhibitions about to begin I thought I would spend my first baseball write-up recapping story lines across the league.
As baseball approaches anticipate a more specific report, but right now its time to catch up, dust off the “mental” cleats and refresh our baseball IQ.
Big names in new places
Free agency saw its share of movement, headlined by Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano. In a savvy move by the New York Yankees, the New York team paid a premium to directly hurt their rivals in Boston; acquiring Ellsbury as their new centerfielder.
Cano, leaving for the west coast; won the Yankees game of chicken and landed himself an additional 65 million dollars by joining the Seattle Mariners (Or the Mariners overpaid to be seen as a legitimate contender and FA landing spot, however you choose to see it).
Finally, Mashiro Tanaka entered the American league in a BIG way; receiving the 5th largest contract historically for a pitcher and plenty of leg-room on the flight over.
The New/Old Yankees
Reports of the Yankees’ death (or at least their spending ways) have been greatly exaggerated.
Instead they blew past that $189 million dollar mark en route to committing to over $471 million in player contracts this off-season (and that total doesn't include the fresh-ink on Brett Gardner’s extension). So this off-season has the Yankees about to enter spring training with a bunch of “new” faces, acquired through the old-deep pocket ways the New York Yankees know how to do best.
Despite concerns about age (has that ever stopped the Yankees from spending?) they welcome Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, aforementioned Masahiro Tanaka, and Jacoby Ellsbury as major additions to the roster.
They bolstered depth in the infield with the smaller signings of Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson; and as a sleeper Michael Pineda (could be considered as another acquisition) who missed the entirety of last season is entering camp with promising expectations.
The Yankees are back to their ways of free-agent spending and they hope that it results in a return to their old post-season habits as well. It is because of these transactions that the New York Yankees get my highest grade for a successful off-season.
Draft Compensation to be revisited in 2016
With exhibitions about to start we have veteran free agents still unsigned, and players accepting lower-contract offers due to the draft pick compensation attached to their free-agent status.
Using the contracts accepted by Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Matt Garza, and comparing them with what they were originally quoting to teams at the start of the off-season; I believe teams are evaluating a first-round draft pick at approximately $4 million to $5 million dollars, which isn't tough to believe when you consider the MLB minimum salary is $500,000 and a drafted rookie has six years of club control (three of those are arbitration years).
Not only have these draft picks affected contract values of free-agents but they've kept productive, above average-replacement players without a team contract going into spring training.
There’s even speculation of some players considering of waiting until after June to sign, a practice unheard of in years past. Stephen Drew, Ervin Santana and Kendry Morales all without teams, all well above the average replacement player for their respective positions; expect for this to be addressed in 2016 the next time the owners and players meet to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Tim Lo is a Bangor based entrepreneur, marketing and advertising professional, and sports fan; fair and objective, in-depth analysis for the educated sports fan with a dash of opinion.
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