In Tuesday’s AL wild-card game Nathan Iovaldi was discussing through the Yankees, he provided an example of how a free-agent contract can get out of date.
Eovaldi starred in the 2018 postseason for the champion Red Sox and was rewarded with a four-year, $68 million deal – the fourth highest for any player and the second highest for any pitcher. In Season 1 of his six-year $140 million deal, Patrick Corbin was crucial to the Nationals winning their first World Series in 2019.
The sentiment was at the time of Corbin’s signing – I know I had – that the Yankees blew it away by not making a big bid on the left-hander who became a fan of the team. But since then, out of 94 pitchers who made at least 30 starts between 2020-21, Corbyn’s ERA of 5.50 is the sixth worst among the majors. Washington probably won’t change the decision to sign Corbin, because the championship is forever. But the countrymen may be expecting another twist in the final three years of that deal.
Eovaldi has experienced such a turning point since a 2019 season filled with injury and failure (5.79 ERA). Eovaldi was good in the short 2020 season and was the Red Sox’s best starter this year even before helping out the Yankees. And if Boston puts him on the business market now with a year and $17 million remaining, there will be a long line of suitors.
So remember that this review of the top 10 contracts in the free-agent category last off-season — before we get into a deeper group this year — is a one-year snapshot:
1. George Springer (Six Years, $150 million)
Even after Springer’s three stints on the injured list in 2021, the Blue Jays will not undo the deal. In the 78 games Springer played, he was exceptional as ever: He had 22 homers, a .904 Ops and familiarly reached big moments. None of his leg injuries seem old. Springer’s career is similar to that of Bernie Williams.
JT Realmuto (five years, $115 million)
We can view Steve Cohen’s first offseason as Mets owner as a missed opportunity. The Mets didn’t go for Springer or Realmuto, but instead traded the property to Francisco Lindor, then gave them a 10-year, $341 million extension, and signed James McCann for four years for $40 million. It’s interesting to wonder what would have happened with the 2021 Mets had they used enough of Cohen’s money to top the market.
Instead, the Phillies retained Realmuto, who had a great season with NL MVP (Bryce Harper) and Cy Young (Jack Wheeler) winning players, and yet Philadelphia only finished 82–80 and for a 10th straight year. was knocked out of the playoffs. .
3. Trevor Bauer (three years, $102 million)
It could have been much worse for the Mets – they had a higher offer here. But Bauer preferred to return to his Southern Cal roots with a certain winner. Bauer, who has been accused of sexual assault, was first placed on administrative leave on July 2 and has not entered majors since then. His legal issues are still unresolved, and there’s a slight chance that he won’t pitch for the Dodgers again and probably won’t appear at the majors again.
4. DJ LeMahieu (Six Years, $90 million)
He was the Yankees’ only major chase last season. The sides eventually agreed to an amount that would satisfy LeMahieu, initially trying to exceed $100 million, and spread over six years to help the Yankees with the luxury tax in the short term. LeMahieu was nearly AL MVP in his first two Yankees seasons, but his OPS dropped from .922 (2019-20) to .711. Some more important hopes for the organization are that the sports hernia that has sidelined Lemahieu of late was a factor that got him banned throughout the year.
5. Marcel Ozuna (Four Years, $65 million)
It doesn’t bode well for the sport that two of the five biggest free agents of the past have mostly disappeared this season after allegations of domestic abuse. Ozuna was arrested on May 29 for the alleged assault on his wife. In homer and RBI, the Braves brought back Ozuna after leading the NL in the short 2020 season. He was underperforming in 2021, then suffered a finger injury before being arrested. His legal matter is not fully resolved, plus he still faces a possible suspension by MLB.
6. Liam Hendrix (three years, $54 million)
If you eliminate the Yankees, who scored seven runs (six earned) with three homers in a 1/₃ innings in three outings against Hendrix, Wright is in for arguably one of the best relief seasons ever. will be in Including even numbers versus the Yankees, Hendrix was third among majors in relief strike percentage (43.3) and second in lowest run percentage (2.6), while hitting hitters averaged .174. had gone. He was worth every penny for the White Sox.
7. James McCann (Four Years, $40 million)
The White Sox didn’t keep their backup catcher, who was paid by the Mets like a frontline receiver, and could show with a full workload that he was a backup catcher. His offense, which peaked in Chicago’s two seasons, returned to the below average range of his Tigers years. McCann was good defensively. The Mets spent the last off season brilliantly on the starting catcher and may still need a starting catcher.
8. Justin Turner (Two Years, $34 million)
The Dodgers were determined not to give up such an important player and clubhouse voice, and Turner didn’t want to leave. His eighth year as the Dodgers was familiar: he was productive and the team made the playoffs. I wonder if this year’s success of hitters like Turner, Brandon Crawford, Yuli Gurrill, Buster Posey and Joey Votto helps people in their mid-30s and older, who have helped a besieged class over the years. Does – Older free-agent position player.
9. Michael Brantley (Two Years, $32 million)
The 34-year-old Brantley was another old hitter who remained elite despite his power dwindling. Here is a list of eligible players who have scored .300 or more in each of the last four seasons: Michael Brantley. end of list.
10. Didi Gregoires (Two Years, $28 million)
This year there was a huge group of fans who would email or tweet me how much the Yankees missed Didi Gregorius or how they should have signed her last season. Here’s what I wondered every time: did any of them actually see Gregorius play this year? He was tied for the seventh-worst Ops-plus among players with 400 plate appearances, and his defensive metrics were among the worst among the majors – briefly worse than Gleber Torres.
It’s so bad that Phillies president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, didn’t guarantee him a starting job, despite Gregorius having $14 million left over the next season. Philadelphia needs him – like another former Yankee – for an Iovaldi-esque rebound.