It’s April 18. We should be about 30 games into the MLB season. We aren’t. Instead, we are here with no baseball in the present nor in the for foreseeable future. Of course, it’s for the best, but it has completely altered what people such as myself, who love writing about this game so much, can write about. Beyond that, it has been tough for just about every baseball fan in existence.
I’m happy to say, though, that I think the site has a lot of fun content ahead to fill the void. But let’s be honest, it won’t be the same until players are back on the diamond. As Michael Kay once said, baseball is like your dog. It’s always with you, every day, no matter what. It feels wrong that it isn’t with us today, but we can only wait it out and look towards a brighter future and deeper appreciation of the game that so many people, especially everyone at Pinstriped Prospects, loves so much.
Looking Ahead to Avoid the Past
So what better way to write my second article of April by talking about the upcoming free agents. Yes, on April 18th I am writing a list-piece on the next class of free agents. Crazy. Of course, this isn’t meant to be a piece on who the Yankees should target. Rather, I think its a fun way of getting to know how the next offseason will look. After all, it’s hard to forecast the Yankees’ needs when not a single pitch has been thrown in 2020. Without further ado, some notables from what will be the 2021 MLB Free Agent Class, barring extensions. It’s time to forget about what’s happening and look ahead for a few minutes.
The Red Sox traded 2018 MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Alex Verdugo and righty pitcher Brusdar Gaterol. For a Dodgers team that has been on the cusp of a World Series Ring for 4 years, it seemed like a solid effort towards finally winning it all. Given the current circumstances, however, the Dodgers have to be a bit worried. Yes, they acquired a player who has been no worse than a 6-WAR player the last five years and has been as good as an 11-WAR player in 2018, but now the one season that they got him for is in jeopardy.
Luckily for the Dodgers, they were probably going to be Mookie’s best suitor following the 2020 season regardless of what team he was on. Nonetheless, though, it must hurt that the season is being cut short and likely altered in serious ways, the Dodgers can’t seem to catch a break as an organization. Mookie will command a lot of money, as he should, but they are currently paying him a record-breaking $27 million arbitration salary in a year that may just be a wash. Even if there is some sort of reorganization towards playing baseball again, will it still feel the same to win it all? I’m not so sure.
Not only is Trevor Bauer a free agent after the 2020 season. He is also probably the loudest when it came to voicing his opinions to the Commissioner. And good on him for speaking his mind. Beyond that, he has some interesting requests when it comes to pitching. It would appear, based on what he has said that Bauer wants to pitch every fourth day.
Bauer is quoted as saying, “I think when people actually sit down and look at the information that I have and look at the case that I can make that I would actually be better pitching on four days than I am on five days when they see that information and then look at the potential WAR benefits, potential wins that could add to a team, the way it helps, especially, other members of the rotation to keep them fresh. If teams actually take me seriously and sit down and look at the merits of it, I think they’ll start seeing some of those things and it won’t seem so crazy.”
Bauer has also said that he is devoted to one-year contracts, isn’t motivated by money, and wants to be with a team that values technology and experimentation. We’ll have to see if that holds true when he’s a free agent.
Springer and the Astros agreed to a one-year $21 million contract prior to the 2020 season, a season after the Astros lost the World Series and entered into months-long scrutiny over their well-known cheating scandal. Now, as the 2021 off-season looms, Springer is set to be a free agent and a sought after one at that.
He is fresh off his best season as a Major Leaguer. He slashed .292/.383/.591 with a career-high .400 wOBA and career-high 156 wRC+. He also posted a career-best 6.5 WAR. He’s set to be 31 years old but hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down.
As for what Springer has said, it hasn’t been much but classic upcoming free agent talk, “the city has been great to me, I’ve pretty much grown up as an adult there. I’ve been in this organization since I was 21 years old, so this has been a very, very special to me. And again, time will have to tell, and I’ll see what happens.”
The Phillies have made it clear that they would like to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market. They, along with many others, believe he is the best catcher in baseball. Because of that, he will likely command a multi-year deal. A deal for him will likely have an average annual value of more than $23 million. That would break the previous record for money given to a catcher.
The Phillies and Realmuto had been in talks about an extension prior to the season’s suspension. But the MLB has issued an indefinite freeze on transactions and negotiations. This suspension then begs the question of whether or not Realmuto will be more open to playing the market.
On the flip side, he may not be able to get the money that he wants due to lowered revenues. This goes for any player, but especially for Realmuto because he was in extension talks before it all shut down.
Wrapping It Up
Set to be on the market are some other quality names. Marcus Semien, Marcus Stroman and Marcell Ozuna for example. But as far as who will be the most sought after, the four listed above take the cake. Will the Yankees be in play for any of these players? Unlikely.
But it’s still worth thinking about the upcoming free agent class given the current situation. For everyone, it’s two-pronged. On one hand, upcoming free agents don’t need to worry about nagging injuries as much. On the other hand, = that revenues will shrink as a result of this suspension, likely lowering AAV for players. It’s yet to be seen how this will play out. But all we can do is see how it unfolds.