Plenty of big names have been signed but there are still choice free agents ripe for the plucking. Each week SBR discusses the rumors, gossip and innuendo that will allow us to get a jump on our MLB picks when the Boys of Summer return in the spring.
Rumors continue to swirl about the ultimate landing spot for top free agent hurler Max Scherzer. But as we turn the page on another year and Scherzer is still amongst the unemployed, there is speculation that his super agent Scott Boras may have overplayed his hand. Earlier this month Boras compared Scherzer to future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning in that he was a once-in-a-lifetime player who can change the fortunes of an entire organization with just his arm. Boras elaborated on why his client eschewed a generous offer from the Tigers in order to embark on free agency (short answer - money):
"Last year he turned down a deal (with Detroit) for seven years and $160 million. He looked at the markets. We have a new revenue structure in the game. We're well over $9 billion (in revenues) and he really wanted to have the opportunity for choice -- to see what teams were interested in him. Going into this, we knew there really wasn't going to be any other pitcher who would impact his free-agent pursuit."
It is clear that Boras is shooting for the stars and gunning for a megadeal in the range of Clayton Kershaw ($215 Million), Justin Verlander ($180 million) or Felix Hernandez ($175 million). Those are the three biggest deals ever signed for pitchers in MLB history and Boras believes Scherzer to be among that ilk. The teams initially in the running were rumored to be his former club the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals and the LA Dodgers (what a one-two punch with Kershaw and Scherzer, wow!).
However, Boras's high stakes gambit to extract close to, or north of, $200 million has quelled the enthusiasm for his client's services. There is almost a kind of collective insouciance regarding Scherzer's contract demands. Before the free agency sweepstakes began many pundits proclaimed that Jon Lester and Max Scherzer were in the same general ballpark with Scherzer getting a few more bucks due to his stats and pitching odometer. However, the $155 million that Lester got from the Cubs over a six-year term is a hemisphere removed from the seven-year $30-$35 million per annum that Boras is reportedly seeking for Mad Max.
Regardless which team ultimately ends up signing Scherzer they are certainly poised to be a major player for World Series contention. This kind of money is not reserved for teams in the midst of a rebuilding project through blue chip prospects and a Money Ball approach. As of this writing the MLB odds on the Tigers being offered is 12-1 to win the World Series. If they can reach an agreement with their former ace and woo him back to Motown then perhaps those odds plummet. My advice is to include Detroit in your MLB picks and futures if you believe the Tigers have the inside track in retaining his services.
Phillies and Howard to Part Ways?
It was not long ago that Ryan Howard was considered the Big Hurt of the new millennium. But then he got hurt and all that changed. Over the last three years Howard has seen his production drop precipitously and at 35 years-old is more suited to the DH role in an American League city rather than trying to grind it out at first base on a daily basis in Philadelphia.
The Phillies will most certainly have to eat $60 plus million dollars but it could allow Howard a new start and give Philadelphia an open spot in their infield and save money over the long haul when Howard ultimately reaches a deal with a new team.
As always, Swinger and SBR will keep you updated on the MLB odds and which teams add value to your MLB picks for the 2015 season.