5 Biggest MLB Offseason Questions
Even though the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers surprisingly swapped Ian Kinsler and Prince Fielder, most of the high-ranking free-agent talent is still available.
Not including the San Francisco Giants re-signing Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum prior to the offseason, Jason Vargas has been the biggest free-agent signing. The Kansas City Royals inked him to a four-year, $32 million contract.
Between now and the start of the 2014 season, it’s possible Robinson Cano will not be a member of the New York Yankees. Further, the New York Mets might sign a player of notable talents. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka will garner a record-breaking posting fee.
Read on to see the five biggest MLB offseason questions.
Will the New York Mets Actually Make a Big Splash?
The New York Mets officially threw their hat into the free-agent ring, inking outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million deal.
The deal on its own is hard to hate.
Young has been a productive hitter as recently as 2011, with a park-adjusted 103 OPS+. He has long been a noted defender as well, registering a career 3.0 UZR/150 in mostly center field.
But considering the Mets have about $30 million to spend this offseason, fans are wondering if allocating 25 percent of the team’s payroll to Young will make him their “big” offseason acquisition by default.
Fans aren’t expecting the Mets to sign Robinson Cano—despite the team meeting with his agents earlier this week—but Sandy Alderson’s promise of making a strong offseason push seems unlikely given the Chris Young move.
Will Robinson Cano Receive a $310 Million Contract?
According to the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand, the Jay Z-run Roc Nation Sports enterprise is attempting to sell Robinson Cano as “the next Michael Jordan.”
Perhaps the Jordan comparison is why Cano’s agents are demanding a historic 10-year, $310 million contract.
The 31-year-old has certainly been a uniquely valuable player in his career. In 2013, he posted a .314 batting average, 27 home runs, 107 RBI, seven stolen bases and a 6 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved).
Even if Cano is worth $310 million, it will be difficult to find an organization willing to make such a grand commitment to a single player. Considering the Yankees aren't hurting financially, most expect the two sides to eventually hammer out a deal.
Will the Next Blockbuster Trade Feature David Price?
The baseball nation was thrown a curveball on Wednesday evening when the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers hooked up for an Ian Kinsler/Prince Fielder (plus $30 million) swap. Needless to say, few expected either player to be dealt this offseason—and certainly not for each other.
But alas, that is what makes the baseball offseason so exciting.
The Kinsler/Fielder trade shouldn’t be the last blockbuster this offseason, however. With David Price set to make a fortune in arbitration over the next few seasons, the small-market Tampa Bay Rays are rumored to be listening to offers.
Like the James Shields trade last offseason, Price would fetch the Rays a ton of cheap, blue-chip talent. And in order to stay competitive in 2014, the Rays might feel compelled to deal Price before the season starts.
Which Team Will Win the Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes?
With the success of Yu Darvish, teams are on the hunt for the next great pitcher to come out of Japan. And that guy might be Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka posted a 1.27 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 5.72 K/BB over 212 innings last year, positioning himself for a move to the major leagues. The 25-year-old also owns a career 2.30 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 4.50 K/BB in seven seasons, making him one of the more successful pitchers in recent memory from Japan.
Based on Tanaka’s accolades, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan thinks that the right-hander could break Darvish’s $51.7 million posting fee.
Given the possible fees and contract Tanaka could garner, it’s possible only the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers have pockets deep enough to ink the import.
Will the Los Angeles Dodgers Extend Clayton Kershaw?
Before Robinson Cano became a free agent, Clayton Kershaw almost became the first $300 million man.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Los Angeles Dodgers offered their homegrown stud an extension worth around $300 million.
But negotiations fell apart, putting the Dodgers in a vulnerable position this offseason to lock up the 2013 Cy Young Award-winning pitcher.
Already saddled with a plethora of big-salaried contracts, the Dodgers might need to clear salary (i.e. by trading Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier). But considering Kershaw is set to become a free agent after the 2014 season, the window for an extension has only become narrower.