Buy or Sell: Free agent Frenzy
The World Series is over, but as all baseball fans know, baseball season never truly ends. From spring training, to the season, and onto the playoffs, we have games to keep us entertained. However, now comes the off-season, a different type of game. It is a waiting game and a risky game that has huge implications on the future of the MLB. It is soon time for free agency; a multitude of teams scuffling for the best talent at the cheapest price. It’s at this stage of the year where teams can make vast improvements to their upcoming seasons. It also can have the reverse effect as well, as we have seen all too often in the past. This year will surely have teams who get burnt and teams that make stellar improvements. Star players are sparse after Evan Longoria, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, and many others were locked up by their teams. So who should and shouldn’t be signed by your team this winter? In this article I will boldly attempt to predict the “buys” and “sells” of this important off-season.
Buy: Max Scherzer
By far, Max Scherzer is the best pitcher available this off-season. Although it may take a great deal of money to acquire the righty, it should be well worth it. He is only 30 years of age, and his last two years have been otherworldly. Combining his 2013 and 2014 seasons, he boasts an impressive 39-8 record with a 3.02 ERA and a Cy Young award. There are a good number of solid starting pitchers available this winter, like Jon Lester and James Shields, but in comparison with Scherzer, their numbers in recent years are weak. (Shields is 27-16 and Lester is 31-19 in the last two seasons.) In my opinion, there aren’t many pitchers in the game like Max Scherzer, and he is worth the money to have a shot at the World Series in future years.
The eye of the Tiger
Sell: Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz has power like no other free agent available this winter. Cruz led all of MLB this year, jacking 40 homeruns during the course of the season. So why do I say sell this powerful heart-of-the-order hitter? We can start with his age. Being 34 years old is a bit frightening for front offices around the MLB. Thirty four isn’t super old at all, but Cruz will seek to be signed for at least three years, if not four, which means by the end of his potential contract he would be 38 years old. Both Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols were signed long-term, and both of them have tapered off. I would be thoroughly surprised if Nelson Cruz hit 30 homers in merely two years, let alone four. In addition, Cruz played in Baltimore which is a hitter’s park, surely inflating his numbers. Another thing against him is his less than par defense; imagine how under-average he will be in a few more years. MLB teams should stay away from the aging former PED user, and go after a younger outfielder like Colby Rasmus or Nick Markakis.
Cruzin for Trouble
Buy: David Robertson
After following in the footsteps of the greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera, David Robertson stepped right in to one of the toughest roles in sports like it was nothing. As a closer for the New York Yankees, he successfully saved 35 of 38 games in his first season in the closer role. The 30 year old may be the best closer on the market this winter (Jason Grilli, Sergio Romo, Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez, and Casey Janssen are the others). Even if Robertson isn’t the best, he is the youngest and certainly has a bright future. He avoids injury and stays focused on baseball. David Robertson is unequivocally someone worth signing this winter.
Highest MLB Salaries Ever
Which closer would you rather have on your team?
Buy: Yasmani Tomas
Yasmani Tomas. Sure, you don’t know the name yet, but you will. Following in the footsteps of young sluggers Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes, Tomas is defecting from Cuba to the United States. The youthful 24-year-old outfielder went 6-for-16 with two bombs in the World Baseball Classic. The Cuban defects traditionally have a reputation for being able to “play with the big boys” right away. It may take some cash to sway Tomas to come to your team, especially after Rusney Castillo was signed for a jaw-dropping $72.5 million over seven years. However, I believe Tomas will pan out to be well worth the money and perhaps even the wait as he develops into an even better player. I am definitely going out on a limb, but Yasmani Tomas has many people believing he is just like Cuban defects in recent years. Don’t be surprised if he is signed for high figures by the Philadelphia Phillies or another big-spending team this upcoming winter.
Tomas Defects to Majors
Sell: Alex Rios
Alex Rios is still a solid player, but the 34 year old doesn’t have the pop he had two years ago. In 2012, he hit a remarkably high 25 home runs. In 2013 and 2014 added together, his total only reached 24, with only four coming in this past season. Rios could potentially be a more economical outfielder than some of the others out there, but he should not be signed long-term or for a lot of money. He doesn’t get hurt often and he can still hit for average, but he has become a relatively mediocre player. My advice on Rios is sign him for a two-year deal at a minimal price, or sign Nick Markakis for a little more money and a lot more talent.
Buyer Beware, or Roll he Dice
When it comes down to it, free agency is a guessing game. It is definitely a fun one to play as a fan and writer, but it is also risky for these teams. What happens in these next winter months will determine the outcomes of many seasons still to come. It is pivotal that these teams make good decisions, but sometimes it is impossible to know if they were good or not until years later. Someday I will look back on these projections and either be proud or embarrassed, but either way this free agency season will be sure to be exciting and full of surprises.