The high-end crop of starting pitchers will have no shortage of bidders/press, but how deep are the pitfalls for that next group?
Jason Heyward is the cream of this free-agent crop, but David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann are sure to grab a lot of the headlines this winter. It’s been a while since so many very strong starting pitchers hit the market during one offseason. At least two of those four guys will get nine-figure multi-year deals, and it could be all four. That’s sure to raise the hackles and the red flags of columnists everywhere. Every winter (even when there are only one or two major pitching prizes on the market, as there were last year), we get articles like this one and this one, which detail the dangers and the historical pitfalls of the $100-million contract for pitchers. This is as conventional as baseball wisdom gets: big free-agent deals are traps. They’re sucker’s bets. They’re bad, bad, bad.
Here’s the thing, though: any team needs to foray into free agency in order to thrive. It’s damn near impossible to draft and develop an entire team with a chance of winning anything, let alone to do so on an ongoing basis, repeating the feat. Trade is necessary for the growth of any economy, and outside talent is necessary for the growth and improvement of any organization. So the question isn’t whether large or long-term free-agent deals for pitchers fit the guidelines we use to define and identify financially savvy moves, but rather, whether those big commitments are really worse for a team than smaller ones. And the answer, as it turns out, is no. In fact, hooking the biggest fish (even at the biggest price) might just be the most successful strategy there is for supplementing organizational pitching depth with outside talent.
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Today's undercard pits everyone's favorite Cy Young candidate mop up reliever against everyone's second favorite diminutive starter.
Behind six shutout innings from Edinson Volquez, the Royals quieted the powerful Blue Jays lineup and took the ALCS opener by a 5-0 final. Toronto will try to salvage a split in Kansas City before heading home for the next three games.
Texas deals David Price another postseason defeat, but was this a pyrrhic victory for the Rangers?
Game One of the American League Division Series between the Rangers and the Blue Jays was about losses. The Blue Jays lost home-field advantage, the Rangers lost one of their best players, and the postseason lost its streak of one-sided affairs.
Judging by research Baseball Prospectus published in January, we know what internet commenters are willing to trade for David Price: not much, because that’s what many of them think it would take to get a deal done. Of course, it’s much easier to mock the uninformed, biased evaluations that lead to proposals like “Price for Ivan Nova and Zoilo Almonte” than it is to put together a package that might make professional trade partners perk up. As BP commenter mblthd quite reasonably observed at the time:
Tampa Bay's skid reaches nine games and Garrett Richards notches an immaculate inning, plus more from Wednesday and previews for Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
On the eve of the 2014 MLB amateur draft, two former no. 1 overall picks took the hill, with Stephen Strasburg facing the scuffling Phillies and David Price seeking to end the Rays’ eight-game losing streak.
Out at Tropicana Field, the home team jumped to an early 3-1 lead in the first inning after back-to-back jacks by Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria, marking the first time in seven games that the Rays scored more than two runs.
Doug's attachment to arms shines through as he nabs David Price and Felix Hernandez to anchor his dream Roto staff.
I tend to go with something resembling the stars-and-scrubs approach, mostly because I think that it's possible to identify “scrubs” who will be productive. It's no secret that I have an attachment to arms, and I always make a point to secure a pair of aces in my fantasy leagues, whether draft or auction.
The knock against pitchers is that they always get hurt, which tends to depress their value, and the injury-risk makes it all the more important to have two top-end guys at the top of my fantasy rotation—if one gets hurt then my season is not necessarily down the drain, because ace no. 2 can carry the weight. So my staff is top-heavy, after which it's time to go dumpster-diving, and I take great joy each fantasy season in identifying the cheap pitchers who will ascend to the next level. Oh, and sucks to closers—they are way too volatile to trust in a league where rosters are locked on Opening Day, so I'll just go ahead and aim for victories in the counting stats of Ks and Ws while sacrificing saves. My calculator says that two 15s and a 1 supersede the worth of a sixth-place finish in three categories, and the draft-and-lock setup changes the game in this case.