That was a fun break. It’s been over three months since I’ve last posted, and it certainly comes as a surprise that we’re now a few days past Valentine’s Day, a month away from Easter, and one day away from pitchers and catchers arriving to camp. I love Spring Training. It really is the best time of the baseball year next to the postseason. Anything is possible. Every player feels like he is in the best shape of his life, and this is the year when Player X finally breaks through and fulfills all that promise.
Oh, and the Cubs will win the Series this year.
I don’t believe that. I don’t think it’s the Cubs year, but after an offseason of Cubs love in the MLB awards and everyone considering this team a not so secret juggernaut in hibernation, be prepared for every writer with a prediction article to pick the Cubs this year. If not the Cubs, the Blue Jays will be a trendy pick.
I don’t want to discuss those things. Not yet. What broke me out of my own personal slumber is a pair of articles that I read over on ESPN that discussed Matt Harvey open to signing an extension with the NL pennant winning New York Mets and Stephen Strasburg not discussing a long term deal with the Washington Nationals, a team that surprisingly is being largely overlooked by the media this year. Losing your centerfielder, shortstop, number two starter, and a pair of relievers will do that I suppose.
Both players are represented by agent Scott Boras. Boras, of course, is rather notorious for representing players that rarely sign early (according to this post, which oddly enough is a Cubs lover discussing Kris Bryant, a handful of players that have signed early are Elvis Andrus, Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Varitek, and Jered Weaver) and like to test the open market and secure as much money as the market will allow. This is commendable actually. I’m all for a free market. When you have a skill that is in high demand with limited availability, you should be rewarded for that skill. Loyalty to a club is only something fans discuss because we’re dumb enough to spend 25 bucks on a fitted hat.
In short, Boras gets a bad rap, his players are greedy, and high dollar free agents rarely work out.
That being said, I can’t see a scenario where the Mets or the Nationals keep either pitcher, and if there’s a chance that one of those teams keeps their wunderkind I figure it’s the Nationals that free up the $25M it will take to get Strasburg’s cleats back in the clubhouse. Consider that an almost certainty that the Nationals keep Strasburg if he pitches like he did at season’s end and finally stops being afraid to dominate with that fastball. Dear God, man, stop trying to fool people with the offspeed and throw the heater.
Strasburg is 27, and while he hasn’t exactly lived up to all the hoopla that’s surrounded his career so far, he can still be dominant. It’s that potential for dominance that will cause some owner to fall in love with the idea of foregoing a first-round draft pick and about $150M dollars in cash, but someone will. Strasburg would essentially have to lose his right arm in a grilling accident to not see a deal in that range, and I still think someone would offer him $5M to see if his left arm has any life in it. Will the Nationals be that team? 2017 has a few big money contracts still on it (namely the $22M owed to Max Scherzer, the $21.5M owed to Jayson Werth, and the combined $38M owed to Ryan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, and Daniel Murphy), but Werth is a free agent in 2018 and Gonzalez becomes a free agent the year after.
Of course, none of that considers the Brinks truck it will take to sign Bryce Harper or how much Anthony Rendon will make through his arbitration years. It’s the Harper deal that would stop any chance of keeping Strasburg. Oh, and there’s Lucas Giolito waiting for 2017 and beyond. Giolito came is as Keith Law’s third ranked prospect in the minors, and if there’s one thing the Nationals have waiting is pitching.
There’s a lot to consider. I don’t think he re-signs with the Nationals. Take your first round pick and move along.
I also can’t see a scenario where the Mets re-sign Harvey. This sort of breaks my heart a little. My very first post discussed Harvey leaving, so I won’t get all tearful now. I’ve stated my admiration for Harvey so many times that it’s becoming a bit stalkerish, even when all those fools were calling for the Mets to trade him, and he didn’t do anything but pitch like the ace he is throughout the entire season. There was the whole innings limit nonsense, but whatever. The guy was protecting his career.
I can appreciate that.
Harvey is 26, and he’ll be a free agent in 2019. That means the Mets have his ages 27-29 seasons, and Harvey will be entering the market as a soon to be 30-year old. Eh. I don’t see that happening. Some team will take that risk, but does anyone believe the Mets will offer $30M or more a year to Harvey at that point? By 2019 the Mets will have Zack Wheeler entering his final year of arbitration, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard entering their respective second years of arbitration, and Michael Conforto, Kevin Plawecki, and Steven Matz in their first years of arbitration. Other than David Wright and Juan Lagares, there aren’t really any salaries on the books. All of this sounds great, right? I mean, with all these guys being cheap and affordable, won’t the Mets have lots of cash?
The Mets window is basically the next three years. This pitching staff is the kind old men discuss with crazed eyes and wild hand gestures with their grandchildren. It’s what happens when some crazed scientist implants velociraptors with cannons and sets these things loose in Central Park. If Jurassic Park taught us anything it’s that whatever entertainment can be had always comes with a cost.
The one guy who will be extended is Syndergaard (he’ll play 2016 as a 23-year old), and I think there’s a chance the team tries to buy out some arbitration years from Matz. If Wheeler comes back healthy, maybe they do the same there. I don’t think they re-sign deGrom, and I think Harvey won’t be a Met in 2019.
Should he be?
If it were up to me, I’d walk into Boras’ office and hand Harvey an extension for six years and $175M dollars. That buys out his remaining two arbitration years, and then works out to somewhere in the neighborhood of $36-37M a year for the next four. That eclipses all but three deals signed this offseason, and the other deals were for Jason Heyward’s eight-year deal, Zack Greinke’s, six years, and David Price’s seven years. It’s not my money. Bump it up to a $200M dollar contract. Match the $210M that Scherzer signed for last offseason. It’s not my money. Hand them a blank check.
See, that’s how important Harvey is to this rotation. That’s how good he is. Offer $35M a year and see who blinks first.