Dodgers agree to new deal with David Freese
The big news we’re all waiting for out of Dodgerland is what is going to happen with Clayton Kershaw. We should know by Friday afternoon, and there is an assumption that he’ll agree to an extension, but we don’t know until we know, ya know? Meanwhile, when they extended the deadline on Kershaw’s option, they did the same with David Freese’s. As it turns out, they did agree to a new deal with Freese. They will pay the right-handed platoon corner infielder $5 million in 2019. This is a telling deal, and it may tell us something about the market as a whole. Or, at least, it may show us how veterans feel heading into free agency. Freese is not a superstar, but he is coming off a year in which he posted a 126 wRC+, albeit in a part-time role. He’s always been a good platoon bat who can not embarrass himself without the platoon advantage, too. It seems like guys like this would at least test the market before settling for this type of deal, but he doesn’t even want to try. Or maybe I’m overreacting to this one piece of news. Either is possible!
Anyway, it’s also worth noting that Freese fills a very similar role as Steve Pearce, so I’ll be very interested to see what the latter gets. I think Pearce is a better overall player and he certainly has more momentum heading into the offseason, but I think some may be surprised by how little he’s going to get in free agency. My preliminary thought — and I reserve the right to change my mind on this — is that he’s back with the Red Sox.
Mariners agree to extension with Marco Gonzales
This is an interesting piece of news that I hope others find as interesting as I do. The Mariners agreed to a two-year, $1.9 million extension with pitcher Marco Gonzales on Thursday. On the surface, this is nothing. It’s a tiny extension for a nice pitcher, but not a superstar. What’s beneath makes it so interesting. Gonzales isn’t even arb-eligible yet, so him getting a two-year deal worth that much kind of comes out of nowhere. However, things start to make a lot more sense when you realize that Gonzales had filed a grievance against the Cardinals (his former team) for service time manipulation. In the scenario in which Gonzales wins said grievance, he was set to pick up an extra year of service time and hit free agency a year early. The Mariners obviously didn’t want that to happen, so they paid up a little extra in the short-term to give them big value later on. I’m happy for Gonzales that he got his money and I can’t blame him for taking it, but it’s a little disheartening to me that it’s so easy for these teams to worm their way out of grievances like this. Until/unless the CBA changes — and we’re a few years from that — this is the only way we can stop service time manipulation.
Astros decline Will Harris’ option
Add another solid but unspectacular bullpen option to the list. On Thursday, the Astros declined Will Harris’ team option. This one is a little different than most options, however, because Harris is not going to be a free agent. This is a bit of a bummer for the Red Sox, because Harris could be a cheap and interesting option. However, the righty is not yet at six years of service time, so rather than getting to test free agency he will go into arbitration for a final year. After a relatively down year, at least by ERA, and making just $2.8 million last year, he is not going to make more than the $5.5 million he could have made with his team option.
Cubs pick up Pedro Strop’s team option
Expect to hear a lot about relievers in this space over the next few months, because that is what matters the most to the Red Sox on the market. Most of us expect that to be the main area of focus. Pedro Strop would have been a very interesting option, but the Cubs made sure that wouldn’t happen by picking up his $6.25 million team option. Honestly, this isn’t much of a surprise. Strop is coming off a down year for him, but he’s still a really good setup guy and is worth more than what Chicago is paying him.