MLB Storylines: Tanaka domino finally falls, signs with Yankees
In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.
Here are the stories from Wednesday, January 22nd.
- Finally, the Masahiro Tanaka drama has come to an end. The Japanese ace agreed to a seven-year, $155 million deal with the Yankees. The contract also includes an opt-out after four years and a full no-trade clause. Tanaka's deal is the largest ever open-market deal for a right handed free agent pitcher.
- After reporting just days ago that Grady Sizemore was in advanced talks with the Reds, Cincinnati general manager Walt Jocketty stated in a radio appearance on Wednesday that "things have changed" and the club would not sign Sizemore. Later in the day, Sizemore agreed to a one-year Major League deal with the Red Sox. The deal will only guarantee Sizemore $750K, but he has a chance to earn up to $6 million in performance bonuses. To make room for Sizemore on the 40-man roster, Boston designated former Tigers reliever Brayan Villarreal.
Other News and Notes
- The A's continued to add to their bullpen, signing lefty Eric O'Flaherty to a two-year, $7 million deal. O'Flaherty is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and likely won't be able to pitch for the A's until July. From 2009-2013, O'Flaherty posted a 1.99 ERA.
- To make room for the newly signed Tanaka, the Yankees designated former Indian David Huff for assignment.
- The Dodgers signed Chone Figgins to a Minor League deal. Figgins will come into Spring Training with a chance to compete for a utility role with Los Angeles.
- Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago reported that the Cubs continue to look for pitching depth after missing out on Tanaka. Rogers says the team will not look to re-sign veteran Scott Baker.
- Baltimore once again is having issues with a recently signed player not passing his team physical. Tyler Colvin's Minor League deal with the Orioles is up in the air after issues with his physical.
- The Angels signed third baseman Ian Stewart to a Minor League deal.
- The Mariners agreed to re-sign outfielder Endy Chavez to a Minor League contract.
- Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Southwest reported that Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said the team will still look to add a top-of-the-rotation starter and he believes the Tanaka signing could open up the trade market more.
Reading back over the thread some more, I take it that you don't like the salary cap because there would be a salary floor? Well, as you pointed out later, that wouldn't be such a bad thing, but there still should be a salary cap to go with it.
My thinking is along these lines:
-Have a salary floor of $65M and a salary cap of $130M.
-Any team that is under or over the two thresholds gets penalized the first time with a loss of their first fond-draft pick AND a penalty tax increase on the salary for the player.
-That penalty tax goes into a pool for all ML teams. For those who underspend, the allocation of that tax will go toward the teams, with the highest percentage going to the team with the highest budget WITHIN the salary limits above (I.e. $130M and below); for those who overspend, the highest allocation of that tax will go toward the team with the lowest budget WITHIN the salary limits above ($65M and above).
ONE ALTERNATIVE: When a team goes over the salary cap, the money allocated goes toward the team with the highest payroll within the salary limits, as this would help their closest rivals, something the offending team wouldn't want. Likewise the team that underspends the salary floor, the highest allocation of that penalty tax would go toward the team with the lowest budget within the salary limits, as this would help their closest rivals, something the offending team wouldn't want.
I'm not sure which option would be better for competitive balance and fairness.
-Those who break the salary limits each subsequent time lose another draft pick Zane pay a higher percentage toward the other teams.
-This way, for those who only sign free agents to bolster their team (I.e. Like the Yankees), they too get penalized for violating the salary cap. Likewise, if teams like the Marlins and Astros underspend, they too will be penalized via draft picks and helping to make their competition stronger. Therefore, all would be wise to stay within the boundary limits- if the entire league was forced to stay within such limits, the salaries wouldn't escalate as quickly, especially for marginal talent, as no one would go wild with inflated salaries for these players.
Granted, it's not a perfect system, and there would be some bugs, issues, and details to work out, but I think it would be a solid blueprint to start from. The rate baseball is going, it will be virtually every big market team that can realistically compete and no small to mid-market teams can. Although, some would argue we're at that point now, though, we might get to a point that even smart drafting, shrewd trading, and wise signings (which will be even harder with marginal starters getting around $10M a year) won't be enough to realistically compete without some major issues or really down years from the large-market teams, which might happen once in a blue moon, less often than it does now.
Let alone the fact if you want to upgrade your team with, say, a 1-3 starter. And, the trade route isn't that easy either. Even if you can build a strong farm system (harder for small- to medium-market teams with that draft pool allotment, essentially a salary cap of sorts, to do this, especially quickly), you have to pay astronomical prices for marginal upgrades- like Jeff Samardzjia, hardly a proven difference-maker, who only started to live up to some of the hype last year. Yet, it's virtually a certainty the Cubs would want at least two premium prospects and another solid prospect or two, yet, is he anything more than a three starter? Plus, he wouldn't agree to an average $11M salary with the Cubs, a guy who is probably not a frontline starter, almost certainly not in the AL. Yet, a mid-rotation starter is going to cost $12-15M/year- these salaries continue to escalate, further proving that the luxury tax is having little to no effect in curtailing or significantly slowing salaries, something that a pure salary cap might accomplish to a greater degree.
Therefore how does a salary cap not help to at least inhibit these salaries, better than the luxury tax is doing? After all, that didn't stop the Yankees from splurging, again, even after all of the early offseason talk they were going to be fiscally conservative. Please explain- thank you.
Hermie, there is zero downside to a cap vs what we now have. Which is nothing. Just a worthless tax. You lost me there.
I'd love to see a version of the "Franchise Tag" in baseball as well. It definitely can't work the same way it does in football as top players won't want to get stuck on 1-year deals. But if you made it 5 or 6 years at a salary equal to the average of the top 10 at a position I think you could maybe get that to fly (still a loooooooooong shot, but not impossible I wouldn't think). Doubt we ever see such a thing, but would love it. Though even with a Franchise Tag, no sure thing teams can afford to use it...
I do think the luxury tax line should be lowered...and lowered a LOT. $135M should be the tax line IMO....I also think that there should be a $40M minimum payroll required though to get any competitive balance money though too. This allows teams to spend big if they choose (just get taxed) and this also allows small market/rebuilding teams lower payroll to whatever level they feel is best for the rebuild...but keeps teams from lowering payroll so low to completely take advantage of the system (ie, what the Astros did).
I really feel all big market/big payroll teams should be paying luxury taxes, not just the Yankees (and now Dodgers) conitunually paying money out. Boston, Philly, Texas, Detroit, etc....teams with payrolls approaching or exceeding $140M need to be paying a luxury tax.
Agree the union won't allow a salary cap (thank God), but they may agree to a lower luxury tax line, especially if you include a sort of tax floor line preventing teams from taking advantage of the system. Still will be loads of money in baseball and players will still get tons of money.
You don't have to wear it on your sleve to get it stomped, you just have to show up.
I agree that a salary cap is all wrong. What I want to see is more along what has already happened via the last labor agreement - only I want it now - not in 4 or 5 years.
I think they did a good job making the bonus pool and -unlike what's happening via the Japanese market with Tanaka ect - which was all about the pretense of competitive bidding rather than actual competitive bidding - what's happening in Latin America countries - cracking down on payola & the bogus age peddling - making about smart competiveness.
We can do the same with small market teams getting a franchise player like the NFL - one pitcher and one position player for example.
An addition like that and we never would have had the humiliating experience of being the only franchise in history to trade Cy Young winners in back to back years.
I don't think it takes an obsessed fan like you or me to sort this all out either - not considering how so much money is made on and off the field.
It's not really that complicated and there is no good reason small market fans should suffer.
Selig the Brewmaster is about to step down, and is supposedly picking an heir. Well I hope it isn't a turd like they got in the NFL. The first rule of order needed isn't some dress code or expanding the wild card or tweaking how writers vote on the Hall.
It should be bringing relief to the small market fan via helping level the playing field for the small market club.
The small market teams did revolt in controlling costs and it led to baseball strike in 94. Only way prices would fall is when major league baseball starts losing major market share.
In mean time just deal with it and enjoy baseball !!!
The truth is baseball was better before the free agent era. Another thing that is needed is a universal draft of all countries in the world.
As much as people like to point out the "success" of Tampa Bay, they reached the WS once and were swept by the big money Phillies. Tampa has a history of being one and done in the playoffs. Like Oakland, they don't get past the first round and who do they lose to-big money teams like Boston, NYY, Texas.
The problem with a salary cap is that it comes with a salary floor.
Let's say MLB has a $120M salary cap. Reasonable I'd say? The Floor is usually 70-75% of the cap....let's say it's only 70%, that means the salary floor is $84M.
The Tribe has only once had an opening day payroll of $84M....back in 2001. Hell, even last year we didn't have an opening day payroll that high, and as of now it won't be that high in 2014.
And what about those years we were rebuilding and only spending around $40-50M? If there was a salary cap the Indians would have been forced to sign a couple David Delluci, Travis Buck, Shelley Duncan types and pay them $5-10M each just to meet the salary floor. The team would still have stunk and on top of that the team would lose even more money. Indians just can't maintain a $85-90M payroll with attendance as is, nor can most small market teams (TB, KC, Cincy, Oakland, etc). You know what tends to happen in other sports when teams struggle financially? Relocation....but not in baseball, at least not much of late.
One thing I think gets overlooked with baseball....the lack of team movement in recent years.
It's been over 40 years now since a US-based MLB team switched cities. One reason for this is no salary cap. Teams struggled and they can lower payroll. Can't do that in other sports as their a salary cap/floor. Sure there's talk of the A's moving....to San Jose...a market that used to be in their TV market (so not much of a move at all really).
Since 1972 the only team that moved was Montreal.
Since 1972 the NFL has seen 7 franchises relocate, and since 1995 alone we've seen 4 NFL teams relocate (Raiders, Rams, Oilers/Texans, and of course Browns/Ravens). Wouldn't be surprised if we see at least one of Jacksonville, Buffalo, St. Louis moving to LA (or hell, London) in the next 5 years.
Since 1972 we've seen 9 franchises relocate...and that's not counting the Nets moving twice within the NY/NJ Metro area). Since 2001 alone we've seen 3 (again not counting the Nets).
Since 1972 we've seen 9 relocations...5 since 1993.
I know some disagree, but I still say I'd rather have a bad baseball team in Cleveland than no baseball team in Cleveland. I remember how much it sucked losing the Browns....and the Browns sold out, had a great team in 1994, and were playing in a league with a salary cap.
Again, MLB's system is far from perfect...but way better than the NBA. NBA is probably better than the WWE...maybe. If the NBA system was so good you'd have seen more than 9 teams win NBA titles in the last 30+ years. Again, since 2001 alone baseball has seen 9 different teams win the World Series...9 in 13 seasons....NBA 9 in 33 seasons.....
I think "broken" is just too strong a word for baseball. It's not perfect but to me it's far from broken. the NBA is broken and has been for 30+ years. Baseball's TV deals have gotten ridiculously out of hand, but still see small market teams in the playoffs every year and competing for World Series titles. At least we don't have teams relocating as often as the other sports either (something I think gets vastly overlooked by people that want a salary cap).
Unfortunately we haven't found a perfect system in American sports. Even the NFL's system has many flaws. Is baseball perfect? Definitely not. Is it broken? Maybe, but still think that's a bit harsh, lots work with it. Does it need fixing? Absolutely.
I sort of get what you're saying about baseball being "personal". Baseball is my sport too and if I could only root for one team it'd be the Indians. I don't see what that has to do with how broken baseball is though??
And all players around the globe are in the draft. The posting system in baseball is dumb. And horribly unfair
No u can't control where free agents go in the nba, but you have no control in baseball either. Actually u have less control in baseball because u can outbid anyone on your own free agents in the nba as I said.
I'll take the nba system any day
Inexcusable attendance last year in clev. Was there for the Balt. Game in early sept when about 6k actually showed up. I go to 4 to 7 a year and take 5 of us. I do my part.
Well, baseball needs it again, and not because of doping. It's beyond 'not perfect.' It's broken. Again, I believe your being genuine, ok.
But. I watch the Suns here, and they are a great story. But I am not just a baseball 'fan.' It's my sport, sparky. It's personal. It's not the same with the Suns nor was it ever with the Cavs when I still lived in Cleveland.
So when you try and tell me why baseball isn't broken, and I believe it is, and you start telling me about the NBA, well then all I want to do is get a match and light up that straw man.
And no I don't think that because it is personal to me I'm blinded and blikered about it. To the contrary, I'm more INFORMED as a result.
I agree on the TV money being an issue and have said so for years. Dolon pointed this out back when he bought the team (his brother owned the Network that had rights to the Yankees games at the time no?). Nothing will change in baseball until the TV money is fixed. You will still see small markets being competitive, making the playoffs and making the World Series but hard to sustain that success with the economics of baseball. It's not impossible (as St. Louis has shown) but tough. Definitely not a perfect system but really much better than the NBA...which has TV issues and a salary floor that hurts small market rebuilds.
So to clarify, I'm not saying baseball's system is perfect...FAR from it. But it's way better than the NBA. NFL definitely has it right (which makes it even more frustrating the Browns can't win) with no individual team TV money. Take that out...and the playing field gets leveled in a hurry. Don't bring a salary cap in (worst thing that could happen to the Tribe)....but these multi-billion dollar team TV deals are what's hurting baseball's competitive balance.
Look at the acts of not so quiet desperation that have just tanked any hope for fans of clubs like Miami and Toronto. It's a pretty good bet you can add Seattle this year to the list.
The same is true in both KC and Minnesota. The Twins completely botched the launch of their new stadium because they committed competive market value contracts to Mauer and Morneau and they got burned via injuries.
Why did they spiral down so quickly - just as the Tribe after '07?
Because there is ZERO margin for error for the small market clubs. ShapAnt had five years of dismal draft and development. The Twins had what - three? And then boom, free fall and collapse.
Most of the teams mentioned as being able to buy into the post season, most NOT ALL, can simply in the TV Rights Money era just buy their way out of any bad contracts or lack of development.
And it's an era, like any other, that can't last forever. But it is one the small market fan must suffer now.
There are many many reasons why St. Louis is such a great organization. It's baseball utopia. Committed stable ownership, who not surprisingly (Hope the Browns and Haslem are watching) reap the benefits of running a successful sports organization for decades by attracting AND KEEPING the best people.
But they also enjoy legacy advantages unique to their franchise. They are legendary for drawing fans from far distances out of state - and likewise a throw back to the pre-post WWII era of intergenerational fan loyalty - father to son and mother to daughter - you name it.
And there isn't a single franchise out there that doesn't try and emulate what St. Louis has perfected. And in no small way has that steady cash flow delievered via sold out stadiums contributed to their being a model to player development.
Tampa is totally a different story. Andrew Friedman is a genius. End of story. What really ticks me off is hearing about how small market teams need to do what the genius pulls off year after year.
And the reason it ticks me off is because it provides comfort and an excuse for your kind of position Hermie13.
YOURTRIBE & LEAGUEPARK may not have answers on this, but they are right on identifying real problems about how there is too much competitive advantage for the big spenders to bully their way into the post season year after year.
And there are solutions that can produce more competitive equality for small market clubs like the Tribe. But you know what, every body is making a huge amount of money - with rare exception.
So. Money rules. And BASEBALL IS A MONEY GAME.
We have had many years of labor peace and the game is more prosperous than ever. What that means for fans of small market clubs is simple; be happy for the small tweaks you get with each new competitive agreement.
And. Don't expect ANYTHING until you have the attendance to show you even deserve a team.
In other words - shut up and go see a game.
Why don't we ever hear the regular argument over attendance regarding Tampa Hermie13? How many regions wouldn't literally Kill to get that franchise?
Could it possibly be that Tampa is the perfect excuse to do nothing? Look all you whinny small market losers who complain it's the same ol bully boys in the post season year after year.
Why can't you be more like....?
Dodgers, Cardinals, Washington, Texas, Detroit, Boston."
The Giants have won recently and could easily again this year. Yankees could easily win it this year too. Definitely would say more than those 6 teams have a shot at the World Series. Hell, at this time last winter people were predicting the Red Sox to finish in last in the AL East...now they are one of only 6 teams that can win the World Series?
And while the Cardinals may spend, that doesn't change the fact that they are not a big market team.
Predictably, they had to start a rookie at Fenway Park in a game they had to win and he got smoked.
Dodgers, Cardinals, Washington, Texas, Detroit, Boston.
Baseball clearly isn't perfect but the Cardinals are not a large market team and they've won a couple World Series (and been to a few others) so it's not impossible for a small/mid market team to win in baseball.
The problem is a small market team can win like we did in the 90s and the twins of late, but once the core gets older and more expensive the team gets broken up. Then its pray another great young core comes along. Which it rarely ever does. Whereas the big markets just buy what they want when they want. Not a lot of down time.
The NFL has the best system. Even the nba system is much better. Maybe one day mlb will even things out?
Who are the 6?
As much as everyone was talking about how the market has been out of control, there haven't really been any absurd pitcher contracts. Two of the low-end contracts, the Feldman and Hughes deals, would be the two that seem most like overpays. Spending $175 million on Tanaka's also a bit crazy, but not surprising. The Yankees probably could've signed Ubaldo, Garza and Santana for 4 years each for the same amount of money though.
The Indians' lowballing Masterson is interesting. I wonder if the thought process is that it increases Masterson's risk and would make him more likely to sign an extension. Offering him something like 4/56 now would look more attractive if there's a decent chance he'll only be making $8 million this year otherwise.
5 years...if he has a great year in 2014 then maybe someone gives it to him, but while Masterson isn't old, next winter he will be the exact same age that Ubaldo is this winter and what Edwin Jackson was last winter (both just finished there age 29 season, heading into age 30 season).
Even 5 year deals for pitchers aren't easy to come by. Anibal Sanchez got one last winter. He too was the same age as what Masterson will be. Sanchez is the guy I'm sure Masterson will want to be compared too as Sanchez only had 3 good years under his belt before signing for 5yrs/$85M. Granted his 3 good years came in a row leading up to free agency but still, his fWAR the previous 4 seasons was 12.2 ("worth" $52.7M)....
Clearly, this will impact Jimenez, and maybe Masterson. And yes, this is going to put a whole lot of pressure on Justin, as the difference between 2 WAR and 4 WAR could literally mean 10's of millions. I do think that Masterson has some things going for him that that may have kept the value down on Nolasco, Jackson and Garza (relative youth, a perception of still more upside, and no major health questions) that could still (if he has a 'great' season) push him into the 5/6 year, $70/80m range.
As for Jimenez, it could play out in favor of the Tribe. His price could be falling in terms of $ and yrs. I think 4/$52 may set the standard for Santana and Jimenez now. It could get interesting if the Tribe jumps in on Jimenez with a similar deal or maybe $4/49 like Nolasco got.
I wouldn't rule out the Tribe going after Jimenez on that type deal, in particular if it seems unlikely that any progress will be made with Masterson. I would suggest they could jump at the chance to get Jimenez at a less than perceived mkt deal and then look to flip Masterson for a controllable player or two. The Dbax would seem a likely trade partner IF something like that were to go down.
What a job by the Brewers to nab Garza and Lohse last yr. Obviously, waiting late to get the best deal. That gives them a pretty solid rotation, IMO.
If Masterson were to only have a 2.4 WAR (what ZiPS projects)..that would put Masterson on par with Ricky Nolasco heading into free agency....likely with a draft pick attached....
fWAR by season the 4 years prior to signing free agent deal:
Matt Garza: 1.6, 4.9, 1.1, 2.2....9.8 total
Ricky Nolacsco: 2.3, 3.1, 2.5, 3.0....10.9 total
Edwin Jackson: 3.7, 3.5, 3.5, 2.2....12.9 total
Garza's fWAR total made him "worth" $44.9M...he got 4yr/$52M
Nolasco's fWAR total made him "worth" $49.8M...he got 4yr/$49M
Jackson's fWAR total made him "worth" $56.3M...he got 4yr/$52M
Justin Masterson's last 4 years: 2.2, 4.3, 1.9, 3.4...total 11.8
He's not at free agency yet so let's look at just his last 3 years: 4.3, 1.9, 3.4...total 9.6
If he has another 3.4 WAR season like he did in 2013 (fair guess I'd say), that's 13.0 total....essentially making him Edwin Jackson....
And worth noting, none of Garza, Nolasco, and Jackson got QO's....whereas Masterson with another solid year is all but certain to get one.
I know Tribe fans (myself included) like calling Masterson a front of the rotation starter...but is he really? And more importantly, will other teams view him as one? Again, I know fWAR isn't the only stat to look at, but I do think it's pretty telling when 3 similar guys to Masterson have gotten similar value amounts the last two yeasr in free agency....and all for a lot less than what people (again myself included) are saying we need to give Masterson....
The more I think about it...the more I think the Tribe may be best off not extending Masterson, giving him a QO and waiting to see just how far his price drops next winter....
I know many thought he'd get $80M+ but think even this may be a tad high for him, though very reasonable. Wouldn't have minded him at that salary for 1 year less in Cleveland...
Angels are another team you would at least think would get involved. They can't win that division IMO with the pitching they have.
Wouldn't count Seattle out either if they don't trade for Price (which doesn't sound likely at this point). Even Houston wouldn't completely shock me as they did offer Tanaka $100M reportedly.
Do think the Tribe could still end up with a FA SP. Lots of guys left and not an endless supply of teams looking to spend on pitching it seems.
Also worth noting, Tribe just signed David Ardasma to a minor league deal. Like the signing. Has closers experience, solid depth signing for the pen.
Per Heyman, Indians still looking at Luis Ayala as well.
Personally, I'm a little surprised at the quality of FA remaining. Garza, Jimenez, Santana, Cruz, Arroyo, Rodney, Drew, Morales, Balfour, Maholm to name a few. I think there's a reasonable chance the Tribe may land another FA.
I'm not sure what to make of the Indians stance on Justin Masterson. They seem fairly willing to go to arb with Masterson, maybe it's to establish a mkt with him. But that seems the hard way to do it, and like an opportunity to cause some disdain between he and the club. I think Masterson's request is high and the Tribes offer seems fairly low. Mlbtraderumors.com suggests $9.7/9.8 would seem fair, I'd agree, which leads me to believe they might settle at $10 M to get a one yr deal done. But long term it seems the club and Masterson might be a long ways apart. If that is the case I'd prefer to see them trade him for big league talent, and offset that by either bringing in Garza, Jimenez or Samardzija prior to making that type of move.
And thank God Tanaka finally signed. Can get this pitching market going!