Jeff Passan’s MLB offseason preview — Answering 20 uniquely 2020 hot stove questions

10:40 A.M. ET


Jeff Passanpen

Shut up.

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Technically, the free agency in major league baseball started Sunday night. There is no flow of activities such as the NBA or NFL proposal, no dopamine strike, and no activity or opportunity to launch the MLB off-season. Then nothing. Nothing’s happened since then. And, say team managers, agents and players, nothing special in the near future.

It may be a strange signature from free agents or a contract made out of necessity, but it is a veritable storm of crippling transactions. It’s all there, ready as a lump. The march to the place of destination began long ago, before the pandemic reached its climax, even though it got worse. Let’s think of the next one.

– An attractive relationship between players and owners.

– Teams find success in wage compression and are waiting for freelancers.

– A consistent (but unconfirmed) claim that homeowners will have lost billions of dollars in the games by 2020.

– An unknown financial future caused by the coronavirus…

– last week

What happened last week?

This is the part where you have to say that there are 20 questions about everything you need to know about the start of this off-season. Did you really miss that part?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Okay. Okay. Okay, okay. So, last week. In hindsight this should not have been so surprising, but was noted at the time as a further warning that this is not normal out of season. It all started when the Cleveland Indians rejected Brad Hand.

Hand 30. This season, he has gone 22 runs with a 29-4 ratio and hasn’t allowed any homeruns. His ERA was 2.05. Hands went back, but his 2020, in statistics and traditional measures isolating the performance of the launcher, was impressive. The Indians held $10 million for him. When they turned him down, not only did they say they wanted to let him go, but they didn’t want to pay the ransom of $1 million.

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And in the bullshit sport, in the sport with the collective communiqué ERA 4.44, nobody raised a hand. Any of the other 29 teams could have taken it without giving it to anyone. None of them wanted to spend $10 million a year on first-class aid.

There were others. The Tampa Bay Rays have waived a $15 million option for Charlie Morton, a $12.5 million option for St. Mary’s Cardinals, and a $12.5 million option for St. Louis Colten Wong, a $11 million option for Pittsburgh hacker Chris Archer, a $10.5 million option for Washington National Adam Eaton, a $10.5 million option for New York Yankees Brett Gardner. John Lester and Cory Cluber: Didn’t accept it, went to a free desk. Even Mitch Moreland, whose $3 million option in recent years would have been a penny for a veteran of his disease, was rejected.

Only nine players had club options. Nearly 40 options were rejected.

What does that mean?

Well, that depends. Players and agents were immediately skeptical. It was just another round, like the World Series interview with Superintendent Rob Manfred, in which he said the MLB owners would take a lot of the blame. Businessmen building up debt to create wealth is certainly nothing new, but Manfred has tried to formalise this as another reason why the teams won’t spend much time in a free agency this winter. Between that and the teams that fired hundreds of people, and the questions about next year – much more about that later – it was like a word that is constantly thrown at managers and players.


It’s spectacular, isn’t it? And hyperbolic. But some players are scared. They fear that in 2020 the teams will clearly be willing to reach inexperienced players and send them directly to the top leagues. They are afraid that they are the ones who can stay in the game on the musical chairs. They are afraid that if they don’t come to an agreement – even an agreement that is of no value to them – there may not be an agreement at all.

Welcome to the winter of 2020-21. If you ask the owners, their financial situation is terrible. If you ask the players, it’s not as bad as what the hosts say. The market will not be an ideal arbiter closer to the truth, but it should certainly offer some data points, especially at the top.

Why stop at 50? We have evaluated all free resources available on the off-season market in 2020. Ranking of free agents MLB

Full coating of the interseasonal MLB

While the teams tell their agents that they still don’t have their own budget, one of the GMs tells them what it was like last year, and that scares the players. Before the pandemic, the landlord said he had to be willing to pay his salary of $170 million. By July, when it became clear that revenue would not be close to the team’s forecast, the figure had dropped by about $50 million. Today, it’s more like $100 million.

Some managers look at freelancers through this lens. What if Trevor Bauer was looking for a one-year contract in a normal year? He can get between 40 and 45 million dollars from a GM. In this world? Probably more like $30 to $35 million, if that’s the case.

Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Is Trevor Bauer really going to sign a one-year contract?

Not so fast. Bauer does what Bauer likes to do: examine the system, identify its weaknesses and repair them. This applies to the information about his free agency – he instructed all those for whom it was important to follow the right information through the social channels of his agent Rachel Luba, as well as his approach to the market.

Fault! The file name is not specified. – set


Following Kevin Cash’s controversial decision to remove Blake Snell, Mark Teixeira and Tim Kurkjian are investigating whether such decisions will affect shooters such as Trevor Bauer.

Bauer’s idea to go year after year as soon as he joined a free agency started as a bet with his best friend, which he made shortly after he was founded. If he signs a multi-year contract, Bauer said the boyfriend can stand with a three meter paint ball gun and shoot in the worst possible spot.

But there was also a deeper moment. Bauer believed in the concept of maximizing its value, and theoretically that works best in mercenary mode. Sign a contract for a year, insure yourself of enormous value and start again, with more and more large contracts that are much more than a long-term contract would deliver.

The problem is that Bauer will probably win the National Junior League Sai prize. A 30-year-old girl who has never suffered under the Sai Yung season is the recipe for the biggest long-term contracts. And no matter how stubborn Bauer is, there are a lot of people who are worried about what his actions will mean for his teammates. His desire to advance the game of baseball is real. His intentions to get other actors to do the right thing are legitimate.

Luba tweeted that Bauer was open to all professions. This may take some time.

Why doesn’t Metam sign it now?

Absolutely! The Mets all have to sign. Steve Cohen is worth $14 billion, and since Mets has fans so long ago, he will spend $14 billion to win the World Series!


For the idea that Steve Cohen, whose genius in finding and exploiting undervalued assets made him a billionaire, suddenly wanders into a free agency that front officers believe offers the only worst return for every dollar spent in the entire system of baseball operations is absolutely ridiculous.

It’s true: Cohen, who is expected to close his deal to buy the Willpon family Mets in about a week, could invest hundreds of millions in trapper JT Realmuto, outfielders George Springer and Bauer, who are undoubtedly the top three free agents on the market this winter, and immediately make the Mets a much better team. A cop thinks Cohen might be the only antidote for the off-season turtle movement: He can just jump over the line and let her go, an officer said.

In any case, Mr Cohen has already stated that he will restore the wages of Mets employees who have reduced their salary – a down payment he has estimated at $7 million – and that he will provide an additional $2.5 million to seasonal workers who will receive $500 a month on the opening day.

Okay. Okay. Okay, okay. What would the Mets do?

Cohen’s clearly going to spend money. But the idea of concentrating this money on a free desk is just incredibly outdated. Just as the Boston Red Sox were mocked at the World Series when Mookie Betts was traded in for financial flexibility, and at a time when perhaps a third of baseball teams think of themselves as donors, financial flexibility is actually a huge advantage.

There are limits to what the Mets can do in terms of design, what they can do internationally, what they can do to build a system of farms with the best teams. When the Mets get creative, they can take a player with a bad contract – and there are many teams that want to overthrow him – but the price they pay is to demand good young talent in return.

Of course, the 2020 season has only just ended. No, we have no idea how it’s gonna go out of season. We always play against all 30 teams.
To an early performance appraisal

If the owners’ financial situation is as bad as they say it is – and if it gives the team a chance to use the money better than they put it in their pockets – then they can jump on the chance. There is no shortage of terrible things, or at least no shortage of great prices.

Maybe there’s an aversion to the idea because the Mets once ate a Robinson Cano contract with Edwin Diaz, maybe in the worst way imaginable… and the job of Jarred Kelenick, the top 10 in the game, and right-handed Justin Dunn.

So there are teams that can spend money. Who’s that?

The Mets for sure. The Toronto Blue Jays want to be ranked more than eight times in the playoffs. The San Francisco Giants are beginning to make a shift in their renovation and have a very creative front office. The Detroit Tigers want to give the new manager A.J. Hinch more chances for a job. To keep the Minnesota Gemini’s place at the top of the AL, there are a few places where they can pay their salaries. The Yankees and the Tampa Bay Flight each made big profits with their books and managed the money ingeniously.

There could be others. Budgets are a real problem, especially if the season doesn’t start on time. (Seriously, at least more information about this).

What happens then?

Until the 11th. In November at 5 p.m., six players who have received a one-year qualifying bid of $18.9 million must accept or decline it.

Realmuto, Springer, Bauer and the outfielder of the Yankees, DJ LeMahieu, are ready to repel him. Two pitchers – Kevin Gaussman of the Giants and Marcus Stroman of the Mets – have received it and may consider accepting it. Gaussman is more the kind of person who wants to make a long-term deal. Most teams consider Stroman to be the best pitcher in this category, apart from Bauer, although it has been 18 months since he left the field for a Major League game at the beginning of next season.

Agent Brody Scofield, who represents Gaussman and Stroman, has perhaps the most difficult task of all: finding the market for both when the teams seem completely reluctant to create any kind of market. The risk: So in the weaker class of free agents, two potential assault weapons have disappeared.

When is she moving?

Probably after Thanksgiving. Especially teams don’t like to play because they don’t know how many players will still be available outside the tenders. Until the second. By 31 December at the latest, each team must decide whether or not to offer players a contract for their first six years of service. Those who have not concluded a contract – because of production, the expected price or both – are free agents. The market is already flooded and the situation will only get worse.

Oh, and there’s usually a few transactions before the auction closes, so it’s true.

What will the market for free agents look like in a month’s time, when the winter sessions should have started?

It is agreed that the mid-level players will disappear completely from the face of the earth. This is a terrible reality that has manifested itself to others in recent years. Very few people can leave baseball alone. The Free Agency is sending her back.

Whether Tony La Russa can work at the age of 76 has nothing to do with what makes his work so difficult. Jeff Pasan

Even with this change in reality in recent years, the leadership of the upper class still seems to be doing well. Remember last year Gerrit Cole signed a $324 million contract and Stephen Strasbourg and Anthony Randon each received $224 million? Zack Wheeler received $118 million, Josh Donaldson $92 million and Madison Bamgarner $85 million.

This year the meetings are cancelled (or reduced to virtual diversity), and the more owners protest, the more the most beautiful Realmuto or Springer or Bauer sit and wait. You’ve got talent. Teams need to convince them to join. And if that means going through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, then sometimes that’s what it takes to get the real value.

LeMahieu and the little chief Marcus Semien were among those who could join Stroman and Gausman on the quickest side of the election.

What’s the best position?

Short stop in 2021: Javier Baez, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Cory Seeger and Trevor Story.

The year is 2020.

Don’t remind me.

Answer the question.

That’s not a good answer.

The choice of snacks is decent. Besides the guys who have a qualifying bid, there’s a plot. Morton has shown in low season that he can still be good in the big games. Jake Odorizzi was injured for most of 2020, but he was strong and quite effective in previous seasons – and even saw his business ticking as he got older. He’s playing with Taijuana Walker for the promotion. There’s another one: Archer, who never showed up in Pittsburgh and wants to resume his career. Finally the elderly: Adam Wainright, Rich Hill, Cory Club, Mike Minor and John Lester, the last of whom bought $47,000 worth of beer for Chicago fans last weekend and who probably deserves to be included in the Hall of Fame now.

Two more positions: Second base (LeMahieu, Wong, Tommy La Stella, Cesar Hernandez, Jonathan Schoop and Kiké Hernandez) and designated drummer (Nelson Cruz and Michael Brantley). The second one has a good depth. DH’s are just two incredible successes.

Will the Central Bank even be in the Netherlands next year?

It’s not clear yet. The players want this, according to some sources, but in return the owners want the players to accept an overtime in the playoff for the 2021 season. Clearly, the players don’t think it’s particularly fair. The problem is that most front officers would be happy. Returning to pitchers who have not registered properly after a full season, especially if the problem is definitively solved in a new collective agreement after the 2021 season.

Some managers believe that the universal DH will be maintained even if the MLBPA does not accept extended playoffs. I don’t understand what the MLB would trade in for that.

Did you say trade?

You’re so lame.

Who wants to move this winter? Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor or Chris Bryant?

Ah, yes, the good old man who gets his grades fast, as you can see from the 20 questions asked in the low season 2019-20. Including Betts, and it turned out he was the right answer.

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Playback round, calendar and other

This time there’s no clear and obvious choice, there isn’t… at least not yet. So the answer is probably the connection between Lindor and Bryant. And this is as important as anything else because of the time pressure. Lindor and Bryant are free agents after the 2021 season. Both will win over $20 million in arbitration. Lindor plays for the Indian team, which almost always tries to maximize the value of the player, and if Lindor has not signed an overtime deal, it usually means that he will be sold. Bryant’s playing for the Cubs, who think they need a push. And sending him could be such a step.

The rocks are in the position that they are with Rando. He comes out of the toughest offensive season of his career, and although 2021 should give players a chance to show that a baseball pandemic can be a deviation, no team will give up anything for Arenado at this stage. Over the next six years, the 29-year-old Arenados will owe $199 million. That’s a lot of money for a player who’s had a big year. For someone who doesn’t…and for someone who has a rejection after 21 years, which he probably won’t accept, but still bears a risk…it doesn’t start.

You’re a baseball nerd. What’s the most boring off-season story I’ve ever heard?

You’re incredibly rude, and at the same time, I’m not even angry. It’s because I’m completely fascinated by what’s going on with arbitration this winter. Fast arbitration thanks to CliffsNotes : Each player who has at least three years but less than six years of experience in the top league receives his own salary, which is determined by the arbitration process. He demands what kind of salary he wants. The team offers the salary itself. If they can agree on an intermediate position, they will. If not, they will go to an audition with all the winners, based on statistics and comparable players.

You know what? In a compilation-based system, it is extremely difficult to get one of the playing times with only 60 games. That’s barely a third of the time it takes to start in a regular season game or to score a home run in a regular season game. And these are the stats you should use?

Is it as twisted as it sounds?

Yeah, mostly. And this happened because the disputes between the MLB and the MLBPA, which had been going on for months, could not be settled amicably after the pandemic.

Do you remember that? Players claim to be entitled to their full salary on a pro rata basis. The MLB says otherwise. Players who own the company, even though the potentially more advantageous deal is made for them at a slightly lower proportional price. The competition makes the same game in three different ways. It was a total waste. And the real compensation system for the shortened season could take the form of a contract. One was never surprised. Manfred won the 60-game season and the parties returned to their March agreement stating that (T)the parties will discuss in good faith the possibility of developing an alternative system or method for determining the salaries of players eligible for arbitration in 2021.

Is your team out of MLB season? He’s on the off-season to-do list. American League



According to some sources, the parties have spoken to each other. There is no alternative system, and since a trade union meeting is scheduled for Thursday to discuss mediation with officials, some conclude that there will be no alternative system either.

The consequences are unclear. Maybe players will find a way to discuss deteriorating goals. If they can’t, they collectively lose tens of millions of dollars in arbitration compared to what they would get if there were a statistical multiplier agreement or some other form of shortened seasonal presentation. Another chaos in 2020.

Some kind of an angel?

That’s really rude. …and justified.

I just want you to do a favor for Mike Trout.

First they need a manager. Los Angeles fired Billy Eppler and then let the contracts of his employees Jonathan Stranjo and Steve Marton expire. In an independent office, three officials asked the same question: Who exactly runs the company? The answer seems to be baseball company director Andrew Ball, but former GM Angels general manager Bill Stoneman is close by, as is team chairman John Carpino. And manager Joe Maddon never goes far enough to give information about what he needs.

The angels showed interest in the ten candidates, and those who are honest will say that a clear answer to their questions is Bauer. Bauer and a second starter with a free medium and Dylan Bundy, Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning would be even better. With the exception of Trout, Randon, Albert Pujols and Justin Upton, the salary of the Angels is $120 million, and if you add Bauer, one or two other free agents and the players eligible for arbitration, you can easily come up with $200 million. And given the way he emptied the operational department of the baseball team, the idea of owner Arte Moreno to lower his salary at this level is far-fetched.

I think that’s the answer: Either Moreno goes beyond what he normally does, or, no, they won’t please Mike Trout anyway.

What are the players doing this winter?

While the big leagues are preparing as if there were 162 games because it is pragmatic.

Will they really play 162?

Opinions differ widely. Optimists say: Yes, of course. Pessimists fear that if fans are not admitted to the 30 stadiums, financial problems will force the owners to do the same next year. And pragmatists admit that tying a needle here, with a collective agreement expiring in October, with players angry about the miserable off-season, with owners willing to lock them up, with everything they can afford, requires a working relationship that the union and the union have not been able to resolve.

What could save the season?

It is not yet known whether the year 2021 can be completely saved, but the Covid-19 vaccine will make an important contribution. The league and teams spent tens of millions of dollars on testing in 2020 – only 37% of the entire regular season on track.

Remember, the vaccine is not necessarily a panacea. There are two problems. One: Will the supply be large enough to enable the MLB to deliver thousands of doses without disrupting the flow of distribution to those who need them most? Baseball players are generally healthy males in their 20s to 40s – generally not the demographic group most affected by the coronavirus. Second: Even if the MLB can receive the doses ethically, what percentage of players (and team members in close contact with them) agree to receive the vaccine? Is there a level that gives baseball enough comfort to move forward, knowing that the kind of epidemics that wreaked havoc in Miami and St. Louis just won’t happen?

These are difficult questions – about health, about personal well-being, about choice. And even if vaccines are bought and baseball can walk comfortably without fear of an epidemic, it may still not be enough, as the rules of mass meetings in different communities sterilize the concept of stadium crowds.

Maybe the MLB wants 120 games instead of 162. Or 100. Or 80. Or 60.

So we could be in the same place as last year?

That’s right. It’s unlikely that the season will be so short, but the entire baseball game, from the free agency to the 2021 season, is on ice with no end in sight. Today and in the near future the pandemic is a baseball house. It’s a terrible feeling not knowing when the game will turn back to the way it was, but in some ways it may never be.

All jobs will be lost. All scouts are gone. All development workers train without a junior league team. All players in the junior league are wondering if they will still have matches. All the anger of winter, all the uncertainty of spring, all the spirit of another season lost not for KOVID-19 but for the workers.

The coming year is exciting for an infinite number of reasons, and it starts here and now, in those weeks when any action that creates a sense of true off-season is more than welcome.

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