Two more big-name extensions
Extension season continues to roll along as some players seem afraid of the free agency process and are signing on to under-market deals to guarantee money now while it’s offered. One such player is Blake Snell, who to be fair only had one season of free agency bought out. Still, it was a bit of a shock after the Rays insulted the 2018 Cy Young winner with a tiny raise in pre-arbitration salary, a move that led Snell have some natural animosity. Apparently that is out the window now, as Tampa Bay and their ace pitcher have agreed to a five-year deal worth $50 million. This is a huge steal for the Rays, because while Snell has only had one season of this caliber his stuff last year certainly would lead one to believe he is no fluke. Snell, meanwhile, does get some financial security in case of injury or just implosion of performance. It’s also bad news for the rest of the division, because while a trade is certainly still possible at some point it’s not as likely as it was when you looked at what he was likely to be paid through arbitration.
Meanwhile, out in St. Louis, the biggest move the Cardinals made this offseason was to acquire Paul Goldschmidt. Getting one of the game’s top and most consistent first basemen is a huge move, of course, but it was also a rental as he was set to hit free agency after this season. Not anymore! Goldschmidt agreed to a five-year, $130 million deal with the Cardinals on Thursday. At first glance, this is way under market value. It’s Paul Goldschmidt! I still think that’s true, to be clear, but he is 31 and saw some key numbers trending in the wrong direction. He’s still certainly worth more than this on the open market, but after seeing the trends of free agency I’m not super surprised he jumped at this particular deal.
Ichiro says goodbye
Some may not have noticed because it was happening pretty early in the morning, but the regular season kicked off this week with the Mariners and Athletics playing a couple of games in Japan before waiting a week to start the rest of their year with everyone else. The games were kind of ugly but both exciting, though they are going to be remembered for one specific moment. On Thursday, in the middle of the game it was reported that Ichiro would be retiring after that game. Some figured that was somewhat likely to happen regardless, but it was never known for a fact. Then, with about five innings left, it suddenly hit us that it was the last day we’d have with Ichiro as a player. He got raucous cheers every time he was on the field, and then he had the field to himself as he walked off to deafening cheers from the Japanese crowd. Ichiro is, of course, a hero over there as well as a fan favorite here. One of the best pure hitters to ever play the game, his hitting style was iconic and is going to be imitated by fans of my generation for years to come. See you in Cooperstown, Ichiro.