The 2019 offseason was one that saw a lot of money flying around. Sixteen teams handed out contract extensions. Another six teams handed out contracts in free agency that were long term, high average salaries, or both. More teams might be added to this list early in the season, as both Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel are still free agents. When all was said and done, this MLB offseason was one of the most exciting and expensive offseasons in history. Which begs the question – what if all 30 teams spent money this offseason?
In order to imagine a scenario where all 30 teams spend money, a few factors will be taken into account in an attempt to be as realistic as possible. This includes taking into account current contracts, projected WAR and thus value, and the teams expected results in 2019. The eight teams that barely spent money this offseason range from true contenders to teams in the midst of a total rebuild. For the contenders, spending money could mean signing that missing free agent, and the teams rebuilding it could mean extending top prospects, like the White Sox with Eloy Jimenez. The eight teams that didn’t spend money this offseason are the A’s, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Giants, Marlins, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Tigers.
A’s: It is no surprise that the A’s spent very little money this offseason, as the moneyball approach worked once again in carrying them to the playoffs in 2018. Much of the same is expected in 2019, as the offense and bullpen can very well carry them into the playoffs again. The obvious hole for the A’s is their starting rotation, so spending money in free agency on a starter would make the most sense. However, based on the past, the A’s would be more likely to extend a star than sign one in free agency. An easy comparison would be to Alex Bregman. About a year apart, both players are known for their highlight worthy defense and powerful bats only getting better. Chapman is even coming off a season where he had a higher WAR then Bregman. Bregman got five years for 100 million, and it is very possible that Chapman gets something similar.
Pirates: The NL Central is probably the most competitive division in baseball. The Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals may all make the playoffs, and nobody would bat an eye if the Pirates and Reds are in the thick of the playoff race in October. Starling Marte has been the face of the franchise the past couple of the years, even passing Andrew McCutchen at one point. Marte is currently under contract through this season, but has a club option through 2021. It makes more sense that the Pirates would bet on Marte staying, and instead try to sign someone who hits arbitration this year. Jameson Taillon is a sleeper pick to win the Cy Young after a strong second half in 2018, and he is expected to make a Blake Snell style leap forward. It makes sense that the Pirates would consider something along the lines of the 5 years/ 50 million that Snell got.
Diamondbacks: After competing for most of the 2018 season only to fall short of the postseason, the Diamondbacks became sellers this past offseason. They traded all-star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and lost AJ Pollock and Patrick Corbin to free agency. Still, the Diamondbacks have plenty of talented young bats and a couple of strong arms in Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray fronting the rotation. The NL West stayed competitive this offseason, and may have even gotten better as the Padres signed Manny Machado. The Diamondbacks also still owe Greinke a lot of money, so spending a lot on a free agent does not make sense at this time. However, the weakness of this team lies in the bullpen. Despite not being contenders, since Kimbrel remains unsigned, it wouldn’t be crazy for the D-backs to make a run at him, even if it was only for two years. At about a career 3.0 WAR/season, a 2 year, 30 million dollar contract would not be crazy and allow the Diamondbacks to set up for next year.
Giants: Would it be crazy for the Giants to let ace Madison Bumgarner test free agency? Not at all. Madbum, as he is often called, has been oft injured the past couple of seasons and did not look like himself when he did pitch last season. The postseason hero is still the face of this Giants franchise still looking to compete despite not having star power. Additionally, Madbum has looked much more like the machine he was when leading the Giants to two World Series over spring training and his first start. As this is his contract year, he will be pitching with an extra chip on his shoulder. Madbum will get his contract despite the injury history, and only time will tell how much he will get. At the very least, the crowd favorite deserves at least 3years/50 million, which if he does return to form, would be an absolute steal for the Giants.
Marlins: The Marlins have been rebuilding since the 2017 offseason, getting rid of two MVPs and several other stars. Expected to lose more than 100 games in 2019, it makes sense that the fish didn’t spend money this offseason. The Marlins pitching staff will surprise many this year, but with an unproven ace, extending one now is very risky. Even with the Eloy Jimenez deal coming before he stepped on the field, Sixto Sanchez, who is being called the next Pedro Martinez, is too far away for a real extension. If the Marlins were to extend someone, it makes sense that they extend their breakout star, Brian Anderson. Despite being years away from free agency, this new trend means younger players get extensions early. Anderson will only get better after a surprising season, and it wouldn’t be crazy to see him get a 3 year/ 30 million dollar contract.
Orioles: Projected by many to finish last in the majors, the Orioles are a ways away from being good. There are holes throughout all three parts of the team, as they lack a strong lineup, rotation, and bullpen. With no star and all their prospects a bit away, the O’s may not even spend money in next offseason. However, there is one player who has stood out the past couple of seasons and the first few games of this season. Trey Mancini has hit 24 home runs in back-to-back seasons, and should be a centerpiece for a while in Baltimore. Like Anderson for the Marlins, getting on this trend of signing extensions early could save the O’s money in the long run. Mancini is closer to arbitration than Anderson, but 3 years/30 million is not at all unrealistic.
Blue Jays: Is it too early to give Vlad Guerrero Jr. a contract extension? Probably not, considering Jimenez got his. The top prospect in baseball has high expectations, and the Blue Jays don’t. The Jays have some pieces, especially if Marcus Stroman returns to form. But, Vlad Jr. is too good to pass on. In order to maximize value, the Blue Jays may very well do what the White Sox did, only for a bit more money to compensate for the higher expectations. Guerrero could get extended in a similar sense to Jimenez in terms of 6 years, but would most likely get closer to 50 million in his contract.
Tigers: The Tigers are currently in a rebuild, and are most likely going to continue being sellers throughout 2019. Surprisingly, they did not trade Nicholas Castellanos in the offseason, but all indicators point to him being traded by the deadline. Michael Fulmer was looking promising, but injuries have derailed the promising start to his career. The Tigers have a couple of budding stars in Niko Goodrum and Jeimer Candelario. It wouldn’t be surprising if either or both get contracts for 3 years/25 million. Also, since a lot of the Tigers plans have been derailed by injury the past few seasons, it is not crazy to believe they would try to plan ahead and get a star on the cheap. With Keuchel unsigned, it is not the most unrealistic thing for them to offer him a contract while his value is down.
The 2019 offseason has opened the door to even more money being spent in the future. The contract extensions have been worth more money than ever, and they are coming earlier in contracts than ever before. While only hypothetical for the 2019 offseason, we might be getting closer to a time where all 30 teams spend big money, even on just one player.
“Featured Photo: ESPN.com”