No products in the cart.
In the end, the pandemic didn’t really alter the winter all that dramatically. With Trevor Bauer signing with the Dodgers and Marcell Ozuna returning to the Braves, the market’s best pitcher and best hitter found homes with time to spare before spring training.
They’re both weird deals, but not necessarily because of the league’s economics. Bauer had talked before about signing one-year deals, but Bauer says a lot of things. He’s just … a lot … in general, in ways benign and not-so-benign, which is why I didn’t really care that the White Sox never seemed involved. The courtship of Bauer was exhausting to the end, as he pulled a rope-a-dope on the Mets to sign a three-year, $102 million contract with the Dodgers. He’ll make $40 million in 2021, $45 million in 2022, and $17 million in 2023. He has opt-outs after every season, but the one after 2022 looks like the one that matters.
Atlanta’s signing of Marcell Ozuna seemed like a bigger missed opportunity at four years and $64 million, which would be right in the neighborhood of the Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel deals that were supposed to maintain such flexibility.
Of course, Ozuna wasn’t a perfect fit. He can’t play right field, Eloy Jiménez is probably better in left, and both would block Andrew Vaughn at DH.
No. 1: Four years for a hitter who nearly won the Triple Crown, only paying him through his age-33 season? That’s hard to beat.
No. 2: Ozuna at DH would’ve justified the corner-cutting move of signing Adam Eaton right field, because all of a sudden his production becomes a bonus, rather than a necessity.
No. 3: I wouldn’t consider the blocking of Vaughn a problem in a go-for-it season. Hell, I considered it sort of a goal. The Dodgers make their top prospects earn it year after year, as we’re seeing with the Bauer signing knocking Dustin May out of the rotation. Whether Vaughn knocks down the door anyway, or whether the Sox engineer a trade that diversifies their talent, there are plenty of ways out of that situation.
The White Sox have a good rotation and a good lineup. They passed on the opportunity to make either great, or at least deeper. Vaughn is the offense reserves, and Michael Kopech the pitching version, with more volatility in his profile than anybody. It could be plenty if most things develop in even a mildly encouraging fashion, but if the postseason is restored to five teams, leaving wins on the table becomes a little more costly.
* * * * * * * * *
The offseason isn’t yet over. A number of free agents who can help a team remain available. However, if you assume Justin Turner is going to remain a Dodger and they’re just trying to arrange the books to avoid the next level of luxury tax, there aren’t much in the way of impact players. Here’s where they rank on MLB Trade Rumors’ top 50:
- Jake Odorizzi (11)
- Justin Turner (14)
- Jackie Bradley Jr. (21)
- James Paxton (22)
- Taijuan Walker (23)
- Trevor Rosenthal (27)
- Yadier Molina (32)
- Rick Porcello (46)
- Cole Hamels (47)
- Mark Melancon (48)
Individually, I’m most curious about Bradley’s market. The Mets seemed like a reasonable landing spot, and while it’s hard to believe Scott Boras still maintains these kinds of demands …
… the Mets just signed a different Junior (Albert Almora) to handle center field, so perhaps Bradley’s camp is holding out.
As a group, I’m wondering how the eventual signings of Odorizzi, Paxton and Walker stack up to the White Sox’s settling for Carlos Rodón. All of them have injuries in their past that make them less than locks, but they lack the number and severity of Rodón’s scars. If they wanted depth for depth’s sake, it seems like the Sox could’ve done better for a similar amount. They seem to want Rodón, for better or for worse.
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)