By: Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder
Outfielders! Get your outfielders here!
There are plenty of outfield choices left out on the market for teams to choose from, at all levels. There are a few so-called “high dollar” options, some mid-level talent as well as guys you can get on the cheap.
But what’s the hold up? Teams are certainly waiting on something before they make their moves. What’s up Holly? What’s up Kurt?
1. What is going on with the large number of outfielders still available in the middle of January?
It’s natural that non-pitchers are the last to be signed but there is some talk that the market is also self-correcting when it comes to outfielders. Analysts are saying they see signs that teams are increasingly uncomfortable paying those high prices from previous years.
It also appears that most teams no longer have the money for those big contracts. Combine that with the sheer number of outfielders still available, and that’s one reason why they’re still not moving.
But there’s also talk that agents have greatly overestimated the value of their clients. Some former GMs believe they have overreached on the dollars and years attached to potential contracts.
The Jason Heyward contract made many gasp and it’s likely that many teams backed away after it was signed, waiting for the next contract to bring down prices and expectations. Alex Gordon’s signing did just that. But now it’s likely that agents are waiting for the price to go back up before they allow their clients to sign.
The next contract will be telling and I don’t think it will be one of the bigger names. Players like Upton, Cespedes and Davis will try to wait it out a little longer in order to drive up demand and the contract price.
If you ask me, Jason Heyward’s contract was ridiculous and an unnecessary error by the Cubs to spend so much money on a grossly-overrated player.
I felt Gordon was an outfielder who would have fit nicely in St. Louis but the tactic Alex and his agent may have been using was to see who would bite on a contract over $100 million. He had to know the Royals couldn’t pay that and then settled to stay at “home” in familiar territory for less money. I’m not sure how serious he was about departing KC.
So you had 2 high-profile free agents that maybe were signed at scales not anticipated.
So the wait continues for Yoenis Cespedes to more accurately establish the market for outfielders from here on out. But it feels different this year. The waiting game is unusual. I think there are so many different outfield options that teams can afford to wait. And it makes me wonder why the Cubs weren’t more patient.
Teams like the Tigers who still have an interest in outfield help can easily wait it out because they have solid pieces in place to begin the season. But why not wait for a potential opportunity?
2. Do you think the Tigers will sign another outfielder?
Never say never with Mr. I but the days of overspending by Dave Dombrowski, who has continued his free-spending ways in Boston, are over. From this off-season’s acquisitions, it’s clear that Al Avila, for the most part, is spending more wisely.
I don’t think the Tigers are actively pursuing free agents, nor do I think they’ve closed the door to them either. I think they are lurking just in case – not showing their hand or any interest in a player for fear of driving up the price and creating a bidding war.
In what now appears to be lowered expectations for outfielder contracts, it could be they are waiting for the agent to blink first. But then there’s also the impending arbitration meetings for JD Martinez which may determine whether the Tigers can pursue either or both.
Rumors are linking Chris Davis with the Tigers but I think that is a typical Scott Boras move to drive up prices and create bidders who are not there. Boras turned down a $150+ million offer by Baltimore and it’s unlikely the Tigers will bite and pay more.
If Cespedes comes down significantly from the 7 year/ $150 million contract he wants, the Tigers may jump in. But I think it’s more likely they will be interested in someone who is more under-the-radar and would go for a relatively good price.
I think they will eventually, yes. However, it’s just a matter of when. It could be prior to spring training, during the spring or prior to the trade deadline if they are in a contending position within the division.
The longer Cespedes stays on the market, the better the chances are for the Tigers to get an opportunity. But the Cespedes camp knows where the Tigers and probably many other teams stand. They just can’t afford another mega contract.
Detroit can sit back and wait to see if the demands go down. Cespedes was a great fit in the D. The Tigers know exactly what they would be getting in the clubhouse and on the field. So, he is really the only high-profile outfielder to consider, but for no more than 2 years, and that’s a long shot.