This offseason has been moving a lot quicker than the last. Today I'd like to do a brief catch up on all the big deals (non of which involving the Cubs) after a lot went down at the winter meetings on December 9th-12th. It's time to press pause and look at some of the deals being made, and how it shapes the market in the off season going forward.
The Big 3
-Gerrit Cole: $324M 9 years, $36 AAV. The Yankees were not going to be denied, and gave Gerrit Cole the biggest contract ever for a pitcher. His $36 per year is tops in baseball. I can't believe the Yankees gave out that big of a deal. Too long, too much. Good for the Yankees for not being stopped, but yikes. I don't see this contract working out for the Yankees long term. They had better win a title or two in the next couple years or some front off heads will rolll.
-Anthony Rendon: $245M 7 years $35 AAV. Another massive deal for the Angels. That AAV is tough to swallow for most teams. Rendon plugs an immediate gap for the pitching light Angels, even though it cost them a pretty penny.
-Stephen Stratsburg: $245M 7 years $35 AAV. Good for him for essentially using his opt out to squeeze an extra 3 years and $145 million out of the Nationals. The Nats weren't about to chance losing him, and paid up big.
At these prices, I'm glad the Cubs didn't go after this big 3. Each of these players are just too old and got too much money where I'd worry it'd hamper payroll flexibility for years to come. Rendon's 7/245 also sets a new standard for Kris Bryant to clear when he reaches free agency in an anticipated 2 years.
Other Deals of note
-Didi Gregorius: $14M 1 year $14 AAV. If the Cubs were in spend mode, A deal like this might have made sense to put him at 2B. Didi had a down year, 87 OPS+ in an injury shortened 82 games. He'll be 30, and this gives hima chance to rebound into 124 OPS+ from the year before.
-Tanner Roark: $24M 2 years $12 AAV. Roark was a target I think the Cubs might have gone for if in spend mode. Roark would have fit in nicely as a 5th starter, if you think Chatwood is going to stay in the bullpen. At 10-10, 4.35 ERA, and a 1.397 WHIP, he wasn't particularly inspiring, but he can eat innings. There's a standard being set with his $12 per year here.
-Blake Treinen: $10M 1 year $10 AAV. This was one player I could see the Cubs in on if throwing big money at the pen. I'm glad they didn't. He had a down 2019, and $10 is very pricey for an RP. It's just a one year deal, but I'd rather the Cubs throw 1 million at 10 dice rolls or 3 million at 3 reasonable RPs than bet that big on a rebound.
-Brett Gardner: $12.5M 1 Year $12.5 AAV. This is an interesting move in the outfield market standards. Garner is 36 now, did have a good 2019, with 28 HRs, an .829 OPS good for a 117 OPS+. It's another market setting deal, where you can judge how much Nicholas Castellanos (121 OPS+ last year) might make.
Based off how much Gregorious, Roark, Treinen, and Gardner are making, I can see why the Cubs aren't wanting to dip into free agency. The market has shifted back towards players in a big way, and there's just a lot of money going towards a lot of risky players. In the past, the Cubs could throw money at players like these, but They'll have to be a bit more creative going forward. I'm fine with missing out on all of the above.
Post Meeting Deals
-Madison Bumgarner: $85M 5 years $17 AAV. Signed a few days after, Madbum becomes a Diamondback. He hasn't been great for 3 years, with 2 injury filled half seasons, and then an iffy 9-9 3.90 ERA campaign last year. He'll be 30, and has a ton of experience. He may be a shell of what he once was, but if healthy, can be a solid 2-3 in a rotation. This is a good deal for both sides.
-Dallas Keuchel: $55 3 years $18.5 AAV. A decent deal for both sides. One outlet called this deal similar to the Cubs signing Lester before '15. It isn't. But the White Sox get a decent player for reasonable dollars, someone who should be able to be an anchor in the rotation. Not a bad risk considering it's just a 3 year deal.
-Martin Maldonado: $7M 2 years $3.5 AAV. This player does not belong int he same tier as others. I mention it because the Astro's picked him up, so I think that means they are moving on from Chirinos. It shows how much a decent backup catcher costs, and leaves Chirinos as the only starting caliber catcher left on the market. Teams may get desperate for Willson Contreras, stay tuned.
-Hyun-Jin Ryu: $80M 4 years $20 AAV. Ryu goes tot he Blue Jays on decent money. Much like Keuchel's and Bumgarner's deals, it seems to be a good one for both sides. Player gets decent money, and the team isn't on the hook for a ton if performance tanks. If Ryu repeats his '19 form going forward, the Jays have a steal. If Ryu reverts back to his injury prone history, then he made out financially.
In other years, I would have liked to see the Cubs sign Madbum, Keuchel and Ryu to the above deals and put them in the middle of the rotation. There isn't much opening in the rotation at the moment, so I'm not upset they missed out on any of those. The Cubs rotations tacks up like this: Darvish $22, Lester $20, Hendricks $12, Quintana, $10.5, Chatwood $13. Not bad deals in hindsight considering the way the market has moved this offseason. I think we can all be thankful Darvish didn't opt out, because he might have been able to finagle a few more years and $25 AAV from somewhere.