World Series Stars About to Cash in with Big Paydays
The 2013 World Series has been an exciting one. Despite dropping Game 2 and 3 to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox have come roaring back, taking a 3-2 lead in the series.
But while players’ minds are certainly focused on capturing a ring, many of the series’ stars will either be free agents or in line for a salary boost in the offseason.
For instance, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will likely seek a monster seven-year deal in his first free agency. On the other end of the spectrum, the pre-arbitration Matt Carpenter could be rewarded for his regular season heroics with an extension.
Read on to see all of the World Series stars about to cash in with big paydays.
Most teams were put off by Mike Napoli’s hip condition this past offseason. Despite this, the Boston Red Sox took a chance on Napoli, signing the former catcher to a one-year, $13 million contract.
The low-risk flier paid off for the Red Sox, as Napoli collected 578 plate appearances, posting a park-adjusted 129 OPS+ with 23 home runs. But considering the first baseman collected a 4.1 bWAR in 2013, Napoli will now likely command at least a two-year, $30 million deal.
Even though Napoli has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance season with the Red Sox—and has become a fixture in the team’s clubhouse—general manager Ben Cherington will likely move on.
At age 36, Carlos Beltran has aged like a fine wine. In his second season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Beltran posted a .296 batting average, park-adjusted 128 OPS+ and 24 home runs.
And per usual, Beltran has helped propel the Cardinals in the playoffs. The October stud has collected two home runs, 14 RBI and an .878 OPS. He even injured himself preventing a for-sure David Ortiz grand slam in Game 1 of the World Series.
While teams might prefer to offer Beltran a one-year deal due to his age, the slugger will likely leverage his good regular-season and postseason play for a multi-year contract. Plus, once Shin-Soo Choo is off the market, Beltran instantly becomes the best right-field option for teams in need.
Over the past three seasons for the Boston Red Sox, Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been one of the more quietly productive catchers in baseball.
During that span, Salty has owned a park-adjusted 104 OPS+ while averaging around 18 home runs per season. And in 2013, the 28-year-old catcher truly blossomed. Salty hit .273 with a 118 OPS+, 14 home runs and a 21 percent caught-stealing rate.
Even though the backstop has posted a dismal .188 batting average through the 2013 playoffs, both he and Brian McCann will inevitably attract a wide variety of suitors in the offseason.
After missing most of 2012 with a barrage of injuries, the Boston Red Sox were unsure of what Jacoby Ellsbury would be able to contribute in 2013.
But the impending free agent proved to be both healthy and valuable for the Red Sox this season. Despite witnessing his home run total drop 71.8 percent from 2011, Ellsbury still posted a .298 batting average, park-adjusted 114 OPS+, 52 stolen bases and even fielded a Gold-Glove worthy 1.9 dWAR.
The 30-year-old hasn't slowed down in the playoffs either. Ellsbury has hit to the tune of a .333 batting average, .811 OPS and has swiped six stolen bases, too.
Given Ellsbury’s return as an elite producer—in both the regular and postseason—the Scott Boras client will likely be one of the more coveted free agents in the offseason. And considering Boras compared Ellsbury to Carl Crawford (in terms of contract length and value) and even an aircraft carrier in a September interview with CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, the outfielder’s services will not come cheaply.
Matt Carpenter is a bit of a late bloomer. The St. Louis Cardinals handed the 27-year-old his first starting job in spring training and he never looked back. The second baseman led the league in runs (126), hits (199) and doubles (55) while batting .318 with a park-adjusted 143 OPS+.
And while Carpenter has only posted a .188 batting average and .489 OPS during the playoffs, the infielder emerged as an integral part of the Cardinals’ offense during the regular season.
From a practical standpoint, the Cardinals do not need to extend Carpenter. With just 1.012 years of service time, Carpenter will not be arbitration eligible until 2015 or a free agent until 2018. But if the team feels confident in Carpenter’s abilities, it’s possible the Cardinals could offer the former 13th-round pick a deal that buys out his arbitration years and then some.
Ever since being selected 15th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004, critics expected Stephen Drew to lead the next generation of great shortstops. And after hitting 21 home runs in 2008, Drew’s lofty expectations seemed justified.
But Drew didn’t build much on his 2008 season, collecting just a park-adjusted 102 OPS+ (versus a 110 OPS+ in 2010) with 27 home runs over his next two seasons combined. And Drew’s knack for injuries only piled up in 2011 and 2012, which forced him to miss 76 and 83 games, respectively.
In his first taste of free agency this past offseason, few teams expressed interest in Drew’s services. The shortstop had compiled a mere .223 batting average, 81 OPS+ and seven home runs over 327 plate appearances in 2012, after all.
In need of a veteran shortstop, the Boston Red Sox signed Drew to a one-year, $9.5 million contract. While the price tag seemed like an overpay, the shortstop enjoyed a nice comeback season. Drew posted a 111 OPS+ with 13 home runs and gloved a 6.7 UZR/150.
Since the Red Sox have top shortstop prospect Xander Bogaerts eager and willing, Drew will likely play elsewhere in 2014. Unlike this past offseason, however, Drew should encounter more suitors.
ESPN’s Mark Simon seems to think that Drew would make a “formidable acquisition” for the New York Mets.
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