We know that when it comes to sports, you love to hear words like a�?arbitrationa�? and a�?settlementsa�?. Over the weekend, you got to hear plenty of each. So what does it mean ahead of the 2017 season? What follows will attempt to answer the following questions:
- How big of a raise did that overrated Bryce Harper get from Washington?
- And, are we sure he’s not a Yankee yet?
- Did the Rockies do a good thing?
- Should the Padres be extending Wil Myers for six seasons?
- What could end up being the best one-year deal from the weekend? And…
We’ll come up with other stuff. Possibly.
Harper Gets Massive Raise, Remains Underpaid
Before you start, underpaid is relative to Bryce Harper’s value on the diamond. Sure, we’d all love to make tens of millions of dollars to play a game, but that’s just it: none of us play this game as well as Bryce Harper does. Hell, none of us play this game as well as Scooter Gennett does, and he’s just an adult person named Scooter.
Coming off a historic 2015 campaign which saw Harper slash .330/.460/.649 (1.109 OPS) while leading the league in runs scored (118) and home runs (42), 2016 was a bit of a let down. His 9.5 fWAR from ’15 would fall to 3.5 this past season, while his triple-slash fell to .243/.373/.441. Still a great on-base percentage. Still a very good OPS (.814). Simply put: still productive. And, he even eclipsed 20 stolen bases for the first time in his careera��following two seasons in which he combined for only eight.
Look, $13.625 million for one year of Bryce Harpera��who is still just 24 years olda��is a steal no matter how you look at it. He made $2.5 million while running away with the MVP award in 2015, and just double that this past season. Plus, I’d be willing to bet there will be much more of ’15 Bryce than 2016 Bryce in the years to come. Still, ’16 Bryce ain’t too shabby either. If you were starting a franchise tomorrow, Harper is probably one of two (maybe three) position players you’d take. We all know who the other one is.
Now the only question that remains to be answered is: will the Nationals get a long-term extension done over the next year or so?
A Bargain In Colorado
In case you haven’t noticed, Nolan Arenado is very good at baseball. The Colorado Rockies have noticed, so they decided to lock him up for the next two seasons (at $29.5 million) before his final arbitration year in 2019. And before you say ‘Coors‘a��we’ll get to that, by the waya��don’t. Just don’t say it. I know I put it in your head, but this was a test. You need to fight it now, because…
Nolan Arenado truly put it all together away from home this past season. His career home/away splits didn’t paint a pretty picture ahead of 2016 (and they still don’t overall), yet things appear to be heading in the right direction. But first, let’s include the most recent campaign.
Arenado has slashed .261/.305/.457 (.762 OPS) with 45 home runs over roughly 1,200 plate appearances on the road compared to .308/.355/.581 (.937 OPS) with 66 home runs in just 44 more plate appearances at home. This past season, though, Arenado became better than ever on the road, slashing .277/.340/.492 (.832 OPS) with 16 home runs along the way. In general, he increased his walk rate (5.3 percent from 2014-15) to 9.8 percent in ’16. And, took nearly a couple ticks off his strikeout rate (16.5 percent in ’15) with a 14.8 percent rate this time around.
Fangraphs puts him at 4.9 fWAR over the past two years, and at just 25 years old, there’s no reason to believe this type of production won’t continue. On top of all that, he’s led the NL in home runs and total bases in each of the past two seasons. Arenado doesn’t need Coors, but the Rockies would do well to make him the cornerstone of their franchise.
Speaking Of Franchise Cornerstones
It looks like the San Diego Padres have decided on their own, as they close in on signing first baseman Wil Myers to a six-year extension totaling $83 million. Is this a good deal? Yes. Is this is a great deal? Possibly. First off, the Padres will have Myers through his age-32 season. That’s ideal from a team’s perspective. And at just over $13 million per year annually, seems like fairly solid value as well.
The key, of course, will be keeping him on the field. Excluding his rookie season, Myers has started each year in the majors. Before tallying 157 games in 2016, he would combine to play in just 147 between 2014-15 due to various injuries. But when he’s healthy, he’s productive, as evidenced by his second season in San Diego.
Slashing an unspectacular but solid .259/.336/.461 (.797 OPS), Myers slugged more home runs (28) over those 157 games than he did in his previous 235 contests (27) combined. Same goes for stolen bases. Myers swiped 28 this past year, but only 16 total from 2013-15. And according to defensive metrics, which we’ve warned you about numerous times, we can at least say that they’re all in agreement on this one: Wil Myers is a solid defensive first baseman.
The Padres only won 68 games last season, but if they’re going to start getting better, keeping Myers was an important step. He just needs to keep himself healthy while the Padres build around him.
My Favorite One-Year Deal From The Weekend
Alternately titled: a�?Who I’m Rooting For The Most, Probably.a�?
When it comes to avoiding arbitration, the trend is the same: very young, good-to-great players are vastly underpaid. Again, relative to the job they do, you fanatics. Take Jake Arrieta ($15.6 million), for example. We already talked about Bryce Harper. Manny Machado will receive $11.5 million in 2017 and he’s been an MVP-caliber talent the past two seasons. Oh, he’s only 24 years old, too.
Then you see a name and the attached deal, and think, ‘This is perfect.’ And for multiple reasons. First off, the potential still remains. Secondly, the ability has produced great results in the past, and quite recently. Lastly, we’re always looking for a good bounce-back story. For that, look no further than Sonny Gray, who will be making a cool $3.6 million in 2017.
Gray, who just turned 27 in November, would be making significantly more money heading into 2017 if not for an unfortunate 2016. Not too long agoa��as recently as before last season, in facta��Gray was regarded as one of the best young arms in baseball. An ideal trade candidate for contenders and Oakland alike, as the latter could have demanded plenty in return. But injuries would rear their ugly head, and Gray would slip.
Between the 2014-15 seasons, Fangraphs put him at a 3.4 fWAR per year. In just 10 starts the year before (12 overall appearances), that number finished at 1.5. 2016 would not only see Gray struggle, it would also see him post career-worst marks across the board in ERA (5.69), FIP (4.63) and DRA (3.92). In his previous 491 innings of work, those numbers sat at 2.83, 3.21 and 2.90, respectively.
It’s not as though Gray’s strikeout rate declined or even that his walk rate spiked, but he was significantly more hittable. Through 2015, his H/9 stood at 7.4 while his HR/9 was a minuscule 0.6. In 2016 his H/9 rose to 10.2 while the HR/9 climbed to 1.4. Again, injuries didn’t help.
But at $3.6 million for a year, there’s plenty to love (potentially) about a 27-year-old Sonny Gray. If healthy, he’s a borderline ace. He may need to build up his value ever-so-slightly, but there’s a good chance he doesn’t make it through the year as an Athletic. Of all the one-year, arbitration-avoiding deals this past weekend, this one is the most fun for me. This one may have the most potential.
What was your favorite deal of the weekend?