In the days leading up to Friday’s podcast interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, I asked team members what questions they could ask the infectious disease expert, and one team member seemed hesitant about the 31 trade deadline. Juli to get help.
When, the team asked, does Dr. Fauci foresee the moment when fans will once again gather in crowds of 30,000 or 40,000 in the ballparks and the crowds neck and neck in the food stalls on their way to the food stalls?
The answer to this question, a team leader added, could help determine how aggressive the contenders are in adding salary this summer. If there are more fans in the stands, there will be more revenue, and perhaps for some front offices, owner-imposed financial restrictions will be relaxed or lifted after so many teams have faced pay cuts this winter.
Dr. Fauci reluctantly answered that question. After more than a year of declining revenues, some owners are no less cautious about spending big on new acquisitions in the offseason. Some owners may be more aggressive, knowing that in either case there will be a new collective agreement after the current collective agreement expires in December. In the past, revenues and expenses have increased after owners and players sign a contract.
For teams that finished their group before the 31st. July, here is a list of players who might be available:
1. Kevin Gausman, San Francisco Giants
San Francisco made the right-handed player a one-year, $18.9 million winter qualifying offer, a deal that makes sense for both parties. Gausman will be well paid in 2021, and the Giants – who are not expected to compete with the Dodgers and Padres for the NL West title – have a valuable starting pitcher they can trade for assets on the trade market. San Francisco could be a great shopping destination this summer.
2. (и 3). Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants
Two veterans adorned with championship rings are entering the final season of their multi-year contracts. If they operate efficiently, the Giants could get rid of the last dollars of their contracts or, more likely, San Francisco could get a salary and prospects in return. For any competitor looking for help at the shortstop post, lefty hitter Crawford (hello, Yankees) might be of interest. If Belt continues to make fastballs as efficiently as he did last year, there will be competitors for a hitter with a long history of patience and power; his cut line in 2020 was .309/.425/.591, with the best percentage cut of his career to date.
By the way: I looked at the possibility of Buster Posey accepting a deal with a rival in the middle of what could be his last season to win another championship, and whether Posey would rather end up with the Giants. The fact that he cited family reasons for his departure last season may be an indication of how he is thinking about giving up his non-intervention clause).
4. Trevor Story, Colorado Rockies
Colorado remains baffled by the management of the All-Star shortstop by other teams, suggesting that ownership of the Rockies will eventually prove the market right for Story before he leaves as a free agent. When Colorado withdrew its high-profile trade of third baseman Nolan Arenado, the explanation from owner Dick Montfort – for drily borrowing $50 million in exchange for a bundle of Cardinals prospects – was that the team didn’t want Arenado to leave as a free agent in the fall of 2021 and receive only a draft pick in return.
So why would Storey treat her differently? (To date, there is no indication that History and the Rockies will reach a long-term agreement.)
5. Massive Redundancies Under the major wage cuts suffered by free agents this winter, no group has suffered more than the bullfighters, many of whom have had to settle for one-year contracts. Of course, that means they’re free to move around this summer. Of the dozens of sluggers who signed contracts this season, only nine have multi-year deals. So assume that many of the same replacements (Archie Bradley? Sean Doolittle? Joakim Soria?) who signed one-year – and maybe even two-year – contracts will be replaced in June and July.
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6. Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto office was happy to add a respected insider to their burgeoning core of young players for 2021, but Semien is on a one-year contract. The Blue Jays think they will be competitive again. If they don’t – and their chances could suffer if the expanded playoff lineup isn’t approved in 2021 – then midfielders could be a bargaining chip.
7. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Of the handful of free agents ready, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Javier Baez, Bryant is probably the least likely to sign a long-term contract. The Cubs have been willing to talk about a sale for a few years now. At some point, they’ll probably make a deal with another team.
8. Andrew McCutchen, Philadelphia Phillies
NL East is arguably the best baseball division; all five teams are trying to win it in 2021. Philadelphia is facing a major challenge. With David Dombrowski in his first year at the helm of baseball, he’s in a good political position to wave the white flag in July when the Phillies find themselves behind the Braves, Mets, Nationals and Marlins; after all, it’s not his team for the most part. Someone else built it. With his plate discipline and experience, McCutchen, if healthy, would be attractive to opponents.
9. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays
It made sense for Archer to return to Tampa Bay to try and rehabilitate his career. He’s a malleable asset for the Rays because he’s under contract for $6.5 million a year whether they compete or not.
10. James Paxton, Seattle Mariners
Everything written about Archer applies to Paxton, a veteran rookie pitcher returning to his old team for a year.
11. (и 12). Jake Arrieta and Zach Davis, Chicago Cubs
Do you remember how the Cubs originally got Arrieta? The Cubs signed right-hander Scott Feldman, and when they fell out of favor in 2013, Feldman went to the Orioles for Arrieta, who figured out how to apply his unusual mechanics and became a competitor to Cy Young. If the Cubs fall behind in the Powerhouse, they could do the same with Arrieta and Davis, who are on a one-year contract in 2021.
13. Joc Pederson, Chicago Cubs
There are a lot of Cubs on this list, but it makes sense because Chicago and the Giants are the two clubs most likely to sell mid-season. Pederson, along with Arrieta, Davis and Bryant, will be able to play freely this fall, making it easier for them to move if the Cubs run into trouble.
14. Alex Wood, San Francisco Giants
He has a one-year contract and $3 million, a salary that could make him attractive if he’s productive and healthy.
Market depends on number of play-off points
The question of how many teams are aggressive buyers will also have to be asked if Major League Baseball and the players’ union agree on an expanded playoff system for 2021. The more pitches there are in the postseason, the more hope there is for strong contenders – like last summer, when the Cincinnati Reds took the initiative and made late deals on players like Archie Bradley and Brian Goodwin. It makes sense that with fewer spots available for the playoffs, teams will be inclined to sell before the trade deadline, and with more positions it will be a buyers market.
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Baseball experts believe that the National League playoff schedule is particularly well defined if the old playoff format is maintained. The Dodgers and Padres are far better than any team in western Ivory Coast; eastern Ivory Coast has the Braves, Mets, Nationals, Phillies and Marlins.
It would be a shock not to have two teams from the West and two from the East, a staff member said. Someone’s on their way to L.A. Central. Non-competition] may actually make it easier for teams to decide to sell.
Visit to San Diego, via Detroit
For the last decade of his life, Detroit Tigers owner Mike Illich seemed determined to do everything possible to give the team the best chance to win the World Series. Meanwhile, he gave the green light to Miguel Cabrera’s case, as well as a huge extension to the contract that is, incredibly, five years and $154 million old. As a landing point for agent Scott Boras and his clients, Ilitch agreed to sign the Maglio Ordonez and Prince Fielder miters. Ilitch has agreed to one of the most expensive contracts for DH, that of Victor Martinez, for a four-year term and worth $68 million. (More than Left Fielder/DH Marcell Ozuna signed with the Braves this winter).
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Year after year, Ilitch has set one of the highest salaries in baseball. At the same time, other team members have speculated that if he doesn’t lead the team, the payroll will drop dramatically. This is exactly what happened after his death in 2017, when his son Chris began leading the organization with a more traditional and less personal championship project. The Tigers are now operating on a budget that is more typical of medium and small teams.
The Tigers, Mr. Kotts said, with a clear distinction before and after the death of Mike Ilyich:
The Tigers have been very exciting for Mike Illich over the last decade. They reached the playoffs four years in a row and the World Series in 2012, when they were swept aside by the San Francisco Giants.
This is a roundabout way of addressing the problem of the San Diego Padres’ continued spending in recent winters, which rivals say exceeds the market’s resource capacity. Team owner Peter Seidler, 61, has survived two attempts at cancer. In the eyes of the other top guys, he has the same goal as Illich, which is to win a baseball team. Seidler spent $144 million on first baseman Eric Hosmer, was late on the Manny Machado deal, invested $300 million in a third baseman, and recently signed a historic $340 million contract with Fernando Tatis Jr. over 14 years – the third-largest contract in baseball history.
I don’t know why they didn’t just give him 20 years, said one rival with some sarcasm, surprised at the long-term risk the Padres took.
San Diego also traded expensive starter Yu Darvish, left-hander Blake Snell and right-hander Joe Musgrove to overtake the Dodgers at the top of the NL West.
Is all this sustainable? Probably not. It is likely that one day Mr. Padres’ salary will be reduced to be in line with his market. But for San Diego fans, there’s no reason to worry at this point. Now that Seidler has made the choice that former owners like Ray Kroc, Tom Werner and John Moores did not, the Padres have a fun and exciting team and will likely win a lot of games in the coming years.
Size of the open market
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The number of free agents is increasing every year as more and more players enter the market each fall. With only about 20 players signing multi-year contracts since the start of spring training, that means about 200 players will be competing on the open market again next year, and that volume will once again be gnawing at the shoulders of average players. Every once in a while, a government official noted, you see a deal like Tatis or George Springer, and the industry focuses on a big contract.
But it’s like a sniper game – if you get distracted [by the big exchanges], you don’t see what’s going on with all the other players.
What else happens in?
In the podcast, Dr. Fauci described what he would say to any player who inquired about vaccination against the coronavirus and gave his prediction about when fans might show up in the stands and how he would not risk upsetting Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer. In the same podcast, Dave Roberts, manager of the Dodgers, talks about Tatis and compares the rivalry between the Dodgers and the Padres to others he was involved in during his career. Rays manager Kevin Cash spoke about the message for his players following the departures of Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. Alden Gonzalez of ESPN talked about the steady growth of the Padres’ salaries in recent years.
When the Mets signed Tim Tebow, I told radio host Paul Finebaum that Tebow was more of a Philadelphia fan than a true major league contender. The problem of learning to pitch professionally as a twentysomething was always going to be an extremely difficult task for him, and it became immediately apparent that he did not have the pitching speed to be a Major Leaguer. But during his time with the Mets, Tebow never waited or asked for special treatment or important work. Overall, he was a good teammate – usually much younger teammates – and he caught the attention of the fans. During his four years of practice, he dedicated himself to the sport, posing for photos and signing autographs to improve the experience of paying clients. The idea that he’s blocking anyone else’s path to the big leagues is always greatly exaggerated – only a small percentage of drafted players ever make it to the big leagues, and Tebow is surrounded by many players who couldn’t make it out of the minors’ ranks. He’s living his dream of making it to the big leagues, and when he announced his retirement last week, Tebow had given more than he brought back to the game. Tim Tebow was a great baseball player. … As winter approaches, the money the Cubs own seems to be increasing, creating much-needed room to sign Arrieta and Pederson. … Speaking of sustainability: Recently, Trevor Bauer took on Noah Syndergaard of the Mets on social media, an exchange that drew a lot of attention and stunning responses from other organizations. Since Andrew Friedman took over baseball operations for the Dodgers, the team has moved away from the volatility of the clubhouse and become more cohesive, closer to Chase Utley than Yasiel Puig. So other organizations are very curious to see how Bauer’s social media machines and brand ambitions will play out for the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner.
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