Mariners Mini Morsels: January 8

GM awards for best trades, signings by Jim Bowden at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]

BOLDEST MOVE — Jack Zduriencik: Signing Robinson Cano 
By definition, “bold” aptly describes Zduriencik’s moves this offseason. Bestowing a 10-year, $240 million contract on a 31-year-old second baseman can only be described as “not afraid of danger or difficult situations; very confident in a way that may seem foolish and fearless before danger.” 

(Then there is also dumb: “Lacking intelligence or good judgement; stupid; dull-witted.” Your choice.)


Now that the Seattle Mariners have signed Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $14 million contract, pending a physical, there’s a sense that another big deal might be just around the corner. According to Bob Nightengale at USAToday, the Mariners say “they are all in” and are “cautiously optimistic” that they will also be able to sign slugger Nelson Cruz to a contract in the very near future. Jon Heyman at CBS Sports seconds this line of thinking, “There’s a belief Seattle is amenable to a multi-year deal for Cruz, perhaps two years, with maybe an option or possibly even a guaranteed third year.” Should the Mariners and Cruz reach an impasse, there’s still a chance that they might turn to Kendrys Morales in order to add another bat to their lineup, but Jim Bowden at ESPN thinks that Morales may end up being this season’s Kyle Lohse, “who didn’t sign last year until late March.” Source: AJ Mass at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]


AL West Commentary

The Angels might end up with Chris Capuano or Paul Maholm instead of Arroyo, which would be a mistake. Source: Jim Bowden at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]


The Athletics have agreed to terms with Coco Crisp on a two-year contract extension through the 2016 season with a vesting option for 2017, the club has announced. Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors points out that: His extension weakens what already looked to be a thin market for free agent position players next offseason — particularly outfielders. Brett Gardner and Colby Rasmus are among the top names in next year’s class, which also includes aging sluggers such as Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham. Rebound campaigns from Chris YoungGrady SizemoreMelky Cabrera and/or Nick Markakis could improve the outlook.”


So they said

“First-round picks are pretty significant,”[Diamondbacks’ GM Kevin Towers on signing Bronson Arroyo] said. “I can’t speak for the other 29 clubs, but it would take a special player for us to give up our first-round pick.” Source: Steve Gilbert at (Free agent signing compensation is probably going to be the main point of contention in the next CBA. PED issues, including penalties, are currently being reviewed separately from the CBA under the Joint Drug Agreement, which is reviewed annually.)


Baseball Best Practice

Instant replay will be a work in progress initially, and the timing will be closely watched and debated. The actual challenges shouldn’t take too long, as on-field umpires won’t retreat into the tunnel to review calls, but instead will communicate directly via headsets with an umpire crew monitoring television replays of games in a New York City studio.

Each umpire crew will take regular rotations in the NY headquarters, so we’re not talking about former or retired umps. These are guys used to making snap judgments on live plays, and I suspect they’ll be pretty quick in making calls with the replay system. What might slow games down is if managers and players frequently start stalling on the field in order to buy time to let their own video people view plays before deciding to challenge. If the pitcher and catcher start conversing or an infielder goes to talk to the pitcher every time a close play occurs, that could get tedious. So we’ll see how umpires — and managers — handle the new system. Source:Greg Johns at MLB



Japan’s largest TV network is going to live broadcast every game Masahiro Tanaka starts for the Yankees during the 2014 season. They will also broadcast any playoff game that is started by a Japanese pitcher, including Tanaka, Darvish, Iwakuma or Kuroda. Sources: Jsports via Yakyu Night Owl 


Baseball Biz

Dave Cameron at FanGraphs and Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors have both written interesting pieces about the ramifications of the eight-year $135-million extension that Freddie Freeman signed with the Braves. Cameron’s is entitled The Freddie Freeman Deal as a Market Correction, in which he states that, “the reality is that we haven’t seen a contract like this for a player like Freeman before. The guys who have landed $100+ million extensions while still early in their careers have almost exclusively been superstars (Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, and Buster Posey), and Freeman is not at that level. This is the first nine-figure commitment we’ve seen to a player this far from free agency who isn’t already one of the true elite players in the sport.”  He concludes with: “The Freeman deal might look like the outlier right now, but I think it is more of a market correction that is going to become more common. Good young players are worth far more than they’ve been settling for over the last few years. The extension prices of the past few years were simply too slanted in favor of the teams, making a fair deal like the Freeman one seem like an overpay in comparison. Given how much money MLB teams have now, though, I don’t think they’re going to be able to force the genie back into the bottle; the Freeman deal is probably more of a trend than an outlier.”

Todd’s article is titled Freddie Freeman And The Changing Extension Market in which he states, Players whose potential extension talks could be impacted include not only superstars like Giancarlo Stanton (3.118 years of service), but above-average players such as Pedro Alvarez (3.085). We knew already that Mike Trout (2.070) would command a massive deal, but will, say, Eric Hosmer (2.146) or Brandon Belt (2.128) command a Freeman-esque deal if they talk extension with their clubs next winter? Or might their clubs take a harder line, forcing the players either to wait for a big-dollar promise or take a smaller deal? Each of these outcomes is possible. Many other 2+ position players could have their extension situations impacted by the Freeman framework, led by names like Kyle Seager, Jason Kipnis, and Desmond Jennings.”

All of the new media money has clearly impacted what teams can allocate to payroll, and it has increased the cost of signing talented free agents (especially those without draft picks attached). The Freeman deal seems to confirm that even non-elite young players are going to cost teams more to retain for extended periods of time, in particular those that include their prime years. 2014 is going to seem a bit like 1969 when it is looked back on in the future.

1969 saw the introduction of four new teams, the designated hitter and the pitchers mound reduced from 15 to 10 inches high. This year we have seen prime player prices increase significantly, the current talks between the players union and MLB will almost surely see changes in the Joint Drug Agreement, plays on the field will be subjected to review by umpires in New York City, and catchers will be off-limits to runners trying to score. Not to mention that the opening game between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will be played in Australia. —Maqman