It’s been a painfully slow MLB offseason, but these ten moves could spice things up.
In the midst of one of the slowest offseasons in MLB history, very little has been sorted out as pitchers and catchers get set to report in about a month. The market has not dragged like this since the bygone days of the late 1980s when the owners were colluding to prevent movement of free agents. That’s not what’s going on this year. Teams are just being extremely careful with their money as the analytical movement strikes back against seven-year deals for players in their thirties.
There have been a few signs of life for the market since the New Year, but not much. Rebuilding teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins still hold some sway over the development of the offseason’s development. Scott Boras also holds outsized power over the rest of the winter as he holds the bargaining power for top free agents like J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. He won’t budge on what he feels is the right price for his players.
While we’re left waiting for someone to preheat the Hot Stove, all that’s left to do is speculate about potential moves that make sense. Things have been played so close to the vest this winter that it’s very difficult to know exactly where the big players will spend their money. So many pieces still need to fall into place before Opening Day, but these ten moves could all impact next season and beyond if they get done.
10. Orioles extend Jonathan Schoop
The Baltimore Orioles are staring down Manny Machado’s impending date with free agency and cannot seem to figure out what to do with him. There has been no serious effort to sign him to a long-term extension, and no point trying now other than to save face. Potential trading partners are also not falling all over themselves to give up the farm to rent Machado for a single season before he looks for his $300-million contract next winter.
Whatever the Orioles do with Machado, it could have been avoided by having a concrete plan in place. But hey — who am I to tell Peter Angelos how to run his team?
All-Star second baseman Jonathan Schoop is only two years away from hitting the open market, and now is the time to lock him up if the Orioles are serious about keeping him. Schoop made his first trip to the All-Star Game last year and has hit .280/.316/.479 over the past three years with 90 doubles, 72 home runs and 226 RBI in 408 games. He topped 30 home runs and 100 RBI for the first time last season and was actually the Orioles best player for long stretches of the year while Machado struggled.
If the Orioles are going to remain steadfast in their refusal to begin a rebuild while the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are in an arms race, their best bet to stay remotely competitive is to find a way to keep Schoop and build a lineup around him beyond 2019. For once, the Orioles have to be proactive with a young superstar.