MLB's End-of-Postseason Stock Watch for Upcoming Free Agents
Of the free agents who will be able to negotiate and sign with new teams beginning on Tuesday, November 5, several of them had an extended opportunity to increase (or decrease) their value in the postseason.
While only a handful of innings pitched or a small sample size of at-bats normally wouldn't move the needle very much on a veteran player's perceived value, a player's ability to produce in the playoffs certainly can.
Here are 10 players whose asking price has likely risen or fallen since the end of the regular season.
Carlos Beltran, OF
At age 36 and with a history of knee problems, the best thing Carlos Beltran could do to prove his worth is to stay on the field and produce as late into the season as possible. He played in 162 total games between April and October. Check. He had an .852 OPS in 17 playoff games. Check.
A three-year, $60 million deal isn't out of the question after Beltran reminded the baseball world that he's one of the best postseason hitters of all time (1.128 OPS, 16 HR in 51 career playoff games), and his knee problems are all but behind him.
Just in case, though, any three-year offers would likely come from American League teams that can utilize the designated hitter spot to keep him fresh as he approaches 40 years old.
A.J. Burnett, SP
A.J. Burnett is still undecided on whether he wants to continue his playing career. He has made it known, however, that he would like to remain in Pittsburgh if he doesn't retire.
The 36-year-old has found a comfort zone in Pittsburgh, away from the spotlight of the Big Apple, where he struggled in his last two seasons with the Yankees. But when he pitched the most important game of his Pirates career, Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, he was at his worst, once again, (2 IP, 7 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 0 K).
Even if he'd like to resume his career with the Pirates, it would've been nice to have some of the big-market teams in on the bidding to boost up his price. But a poorly pitched playoff game, which raised his ERA to 6.37 in eight career postseason starts, could have those teams shying away from the right-hander.
Marlon Byrd, OF
Last October, Marlon Byrd was out of baseball. He had been traded to the Red Sox after a 3-for-43 start with the Cubs. He wasn't much better with Boston, and the Sox released him in June. Then he was hit with a 50-game PED suspension, which he was able to serve despite being unemployed.
This might've been the biggest break of his career.
A looming suspension and he probably wouldn't have landed a minor league deal with the Mets last offseason, which he turned into a career season and his first postseason appearance ever after he was traded to Pittsburgh in August. The 36-year-old took full advantage by going 8-for-22 with a homer and two doubles.
Now, he'll be rewarded with a two-year deal for the highest salary-per-season average of his career.
Stephen Drew, SS
Not only did Stephen Drew's homer in the Game 6 clincher of the World Series extend the Sox's lead to 4-0, it was the redemption he needed in his last game before reaching free agency.
Coming into that at-bat, the 30-year-old shortstop was only 4-for-51 in the playoffs with two walks and 19 strikeouts. He also singled later in the game, although his two-hit performance didn't completely erase the fact that he was awful at the plate in October.
While a great playoff performance could've pushed his asking price to five years and $70 million, he'll probably end up somewhere closer to four years and $48 million.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
No other player raised their stock more in the playoffs than Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox's catalyst during their World Series run.
Ellsbury's regular-season performance put him in a line for a five-year deal in the $75 million range, which is right around what the top center field free agent, B.J. Upton, received last season. But a month later, it wouldn't be a surprise if he can get six years and $100 million.
How is this possible? With the entire baseball world is watching, Ellsbury proved that he was one of the best players on the best team in baseball.
In 16 postseason games, the 30-year-old posted an .846 OPS with 14 runs scored, four doubles, one triple, seven walks and six stolen bases. He also picked up his second Gold Glove award on the day he won his second World Series ring.
Omar Infante, 2B
Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro used an impressive postseason performance in 2012 that included an NLCS MVP award to boost his value and land a three-year, $20 million deal to stay in San Francisco for his ages 37-39 seasons.
Omar Infante would have no such luck as he struggled throughout the playoffs with only eight hits in 39 at-bats.
The 31-year-old could still surpass Scutaro's deal, although he could've gotten much more as the top second baseman available not named Robinson Cano had he been more productive in October.
Justin Morneau, 1B
While his solid season in Minnesota (.771 OPS, 17 HR, 32 2B, 74 RBI) was going widely unnoticed, Justin Morneau got the opportunity he needed when the Twins sent him to the playoff-bound Pirates in late August.
Unfortunately, he did nothing to boost his value. His .370 on-base percentage in 25 regular-season games in Pittsburgh was impressive, but he failed to hit a homer. The 32-year-old hit .290 (7-for-24) in the playoffs but with only one extra-base hit—a double.
First basemen are expected to hit homers. At least the one's who are going to get paid a lot of money. Going homerless in over 100 at-bats with a team that was playing their most important games in 21 years isn't going to go over well on the free-agent market.
Mike Napoli, 1B
It wasn't just Mike Napoli's beard that people will remember most about the Red Sox's playoff run and World Series title.
They'll remember his homer off Justin Verlander in the team's 1-0 victory over the Tigers in Game 3 of the ALCS, his homer to open the scoring off Anibal Sanchez in the Game 5 victory of the same series and his three-run double to give the Sox a 3-0 lead in Game 1 of the World Series.
The 31-year-old didn't do much else in October, but those big hits will stand out for teams hoping to land the right-handed hitting first baseman this winter as he tries to secure a three-year deal.
Juan Uribe, 3B
In a weak third-base market, a .769 OPS and 12 homers for a Gold Glove finalist is a good way to head into the offseason. Juan Uribe wasn't done, though.
His overall numbers were ugly (9-for-39, 0 BB, 11 K), but the 34-year-old made his presence felt early in the postseason. Through his first five games, Uribe was 8-for-22 with two big homers and six runs batted in.
Uribe won't land another three-year deal, but he could get two years and $12-15 million. This time last year, it wouldn't have been a surprise if the Dodgers released him outright and ate the final $8 million on his current deal.
Brian Wilson, RP
The free-agent market for closers this offseason is as deep as any year in recent history. So if Brian Wilson's season would've ended after his short 13.2 inning regular-season stint with the Dodgers, it would've been difficult for the 31-year-old to convince a team he was ready to dominate again in a ninth inning role.
Fortunately for him, the Dodgers made it to the postseason and Wilson had worked his way into the primary setup role for closer Kenley Jansen just in time.
After racking up six scoreless innings with two walks and eight strikeouts in six playoff appearances, the right-hander, who has 171 career saves, has likely done enough to find a nice-paying closing job.