Buster Olney wrote an article on Monday that I wanted to share, talking about the slow free agent market. I thought the article was interesting, because this was the second time in the last few weeks that I read a national article talking about the entire market being slow. Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the assumption is that the off-season is over because moves haven’t been made yet, and that all of the free agents are off the board.
I took a pretty big look on Sunday at what the Pirates need from this point in the off-season. The biggest need would be in the rotation, and they’ve been connected to guys like Scott Kazmir and Mat Latos, even after signing Ryan Vogelsong to fill out their rotation. But we’re about to turn the calendar to 2016, and no moves have been made yet. Normally, this would be cause for concern, but this year’s market is a bit different.
Olney points out how many free agents are still available, noting that Justin Upton, Scott Kazmir, Ian Desmond, and several other good players might end up in a situation where a one-year deal in a favorable place would be a smart move. He also mentions Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy as guys who might be better off signing after the 2016 season starts, which allows a team to sign them without losing a draft pick, and makes them ineligible for draft pick compensation next off-season.
One of the reasons there are so many free agents remaining is because there are several big spenders who aren’t expected to spend, due to a rebuilding process or other factors. Olney mentions the Yankees, Phillies, and Angels as some of those teams. He also mentions the Giants, Cubs, and Red Sox as teams who have filled their primary needs.
Eventually, the top guys will sign. But it’s kind of interesting how much talent is out there right now. Even if you just look at the pitchers, you’ve got Wei-Yin Chen, Gallardo, Kazmir, Kennedy, Latos, and Japanese pitcher Kenta Madea. That doesn’t include potential reclamation projects like Justin Masterson or Doug Fister, to give two examples.
My prediction is that the Pirates will add another starter. That’s just based on the rumors that still have them connected to starters, along with the fact that they’ve got payroll space and a glaring need. I don’t know if they’re waiting out the market to get a deal on one of the remaining guys, but that approach would make sense, as the market is slow right now, and the prices and contract years seem to be heading toward a decline.
In most years, if you don’t have a big signing done by the end of December, you don’t have the best players to choose from in January or February. This looks like it could be one of those years where really good players can be had into late January and early February. Whether the Pirates add one of those guys remains to be seen. But if the market plays out as Olney expects, and if the Pirates still have the payroll space they currently have, then it would only make sense for them to add a starter and take advantage of this rare situation.
**Tomorrow I will hold a Q&A about the 2016 Prospect Guide, and any other prospect related questions. I’ll post a thread for early questions in the morning, and will probably start answering questions around 10 AM. If you’d like to get in on the conversation, but you haven’t purchased the Prospect Guide yet, you can get the eBook version for just $15. Annual and Top Prospect subscribers can get the eBook for just $5, using the code “EBOOK”. Check out the products page to get the book.
**I’ll also be working on a year-end article, similar to the year-end articles from previous years, with a look at the key storylines to focus on in 2016. Expect that to go up early Thursday morning.
**This is usually the time of year where I’d take some time off. The baseball season is a long grind, and combining that with all of the roles I have on this site makes it even more exhausting. Following that with the Prospect Guide, and then the off-season moves usually leaves the need for a recharging period. Add in the fact that January is always slow, and that’s when I usually plan my vacation far in advance. This year, however, I don’t have a vacation planned, since I’m moving to a new place down here in early February. So instead of going somewhere on vacation in the next week, I’ll be packing up all of my stuff for a cross-town move, which is the most annoying type of move.
Just like previous years, we’ll still have all of the latest news and rumors covered on the site. We’ll also have our top 30 prospect countdown from the Prospect Guide, with one prospect each weekday. That is expected to start next week. Mini-camp will also be held the second week of January, and I’ll be covering that. As far as First Pitch articles, expect a reduced schedule until mini-camp. There aren’t many topics to write about this time of year, and if I have an article idea, I’ll just write it when I think of it, rather than saving it for this column. I may end up turning First Pitch into a daily discussion thread, at least until mini-camp and then Spring Training rolls around.