Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Chew on this while you chew on a turkey leg.
We know you're not supposed to bring up politics or religion at Thanksgiving Dinner. But what about predictions for Major League Baseball free agency?
Even your eccentric uncle likes those tasty morsels.
So here are a few as we hope a busy MLB Wednesday is a harbinger of things to come. We hate the winter slowdown as much as we hate the too-sweet marshmallow crust Auntie puts on the sweet potatoes.
We know you'll kick the, ahem, "stuffing" out of these prognostications on social media, especially if -- when? -- we end up being wrong.
But will you save us a piece of pumpkin pie if we nail a few?
Enough Thanksgiving humor. We couldn't think of a fresh Black Friday joke, anyway.
1. Gerrit Cole, RHP
Last winter was all about position player contract records, thanks to Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. This year, Cole could -- and should -- break both the average annual value mark for pitchers and total contract.
He timed the best year of his life impeccably and then dominated the October stage. Max Scherzer is slated to make $35.9 million in 2020, according to Spotrac.com, the most by a pitcher. But Cole might pass him and he'll certainly shatter David Price's record Boston deal of $217 million over seven years.
Cole, who's only 29, reportedly feels the pull of his native SoCal, but the Dodgers and Angels will be disappointed to hear that Cole's time in pinstripes has finally come.
Prediction: Yankees, eight years, $290 million.
2. Anthony Rendon, 3B
Let's face it: The Dodgers are great and they already own some mega-talent. But they could use a jolt, right?
Justin Turner has reportedly said he'd switch positions for a big acquisition, so that opens up a run at Rendon, who is coming off a nifty postseason (1.003 OPS, 15 RBI in 17 games) and is one of the best all-around players in baseball. Texas might want a big splash for its new ballpark and the Nationals likely want to keep Rendon, but the Dodgers drown them out by repeating "LA-LA-LA" while delivering a whopper of a payout.
Prediction: Dodgers, seven years, $230 million.
3. Stephen Strasburg, RHP
Yeah, he opted out of the remaining four years, $100 million left on his deal with the Nationals, but that doesn't mean he wants out of the capital. It's just business. Good business, too, considering that the 31-year-old Strasburg gets rewarded for his World Series MVP and more great pitching to come by the team that's always had him.
Prediction: Nationals, six years, $185 million.
4. Zack Wheeler, RHP
Wheeler might not project at the level of the top tier free agents pitchers, but he's in a very nice neighborhood and he's going to get paid. He's always had crazy raw stuff and now he's better at harnessing it -- he had a career-best 3.90 K/BB ratio in 2019, his second straight strong season.
And he and Cole are the only big-time starters under 30 in this market, which should jack up his price tag.
Prediction: Phillies, five years, $100 million.
5. Josh Donaldson, 3B
Donaldson was the poster child for rebuilding value off a one-year pillow contract. He had a .900 OPS and 37 homers for the Braves in 2019, positioning him perfectly to be the guy who replaces Rendon for the defending champs.
Prediction: Nationals, three years, $80 million
6. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
Bumgarner might not be the lion who dominated all those Giants postseason runs, but he's only 30 years old and delivered 207.2 innings last year. He's got plenty left. Unlike with Cole, geography wins here and the Hickory, North Carolina native gets as close to home as he can.
Prediction: Braves, four years, $80 million.
7. Nicholas Castellanos, OF
He nearly became just the seventh player ever with 60-plus doubles in a season, but finished with 58 in stints with Detroit and the Cubs, setting himself up nicely for 2020. He really produced in Chicago and he turns 28 in spring training, so he could be a nice retain by the Cubs.
Prediction: Cubs, four years, $64 million.
8. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP
If the Angels miss out on Cole or Strasburg, they'll turn to the NL ERA leader (2.32), who also paced the circuit in ERA-plus (179). Ryu might've beaten out Jacob deGrom for the NL Cy Young Award without a late-summer lull; he'll have to settle for a solid contract on the free agent market.
Prediction: Angels, three years, $57 million.
9. Didi Gregorius, SS
He might do well going back to the Bronx for a one-year value rebuild, something that would work for both sides since Gregorius is a better defensive shortstop than Gleyber Torres, the Yanks' ready replacement.
"He's steady, makes all the plays," an opposing scout said of Torres. "But it's two different levels with Didi."
But what if Gregorius' market is more robust than a pillow?
Prediction: Phillies, two years, $27 million.
10. Cole Hamels, LHP
Last winter, the Yankees gave J.A. Happ a two-year, $34-million deal with an option for another $17 million if it vests. They won't repeat that with this Cole unless they miss out on another Cole (Gerrit).
But someone will and maybe geography wins again and a San Diego native heads home to join his very active hometown team.
Prediction: Padres, two years, $34 million.
11. Mike Moustakas, INF
The free agent market hasn't been kind to Moustakas over the past few years, but he keeps hitting home runs (63 total in 2018-19). Is he now in the perfect spot to collect a more representative contract, considering the elite third basemen on the move?
Prediction: Braves, two years, $30 million.