MLB Week in Review (September 21-27)

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The Postseason race is just about over with the American League all sewed up and the National League quickly losing spots, despite a still exciting race.

As the postseason approaches so does the offseason for the majority of teams in the league who didn’t make the postseason.

For some, it was a rough season and could be the beginning of a few rough years as they begin their rebuilds now.

Many will be evaluating talent to see what they have in their farm system in order to plan for the years to come.

Not all suffered terrible seasons though and farm systems aren’t the only way to built contenders.

The free agency market was a hot topic last offseason for the fact that many free agents struggled to find teams.

Not many franchises were willing to shell out big money contracts to the players available in free agency.

Aside from a few big names, it took a long time for a lot of players to sign contracts this year and it became a problem.

The players and the MLBPA began throwing out their theory that teams were purposefully refusing to sign big contracts.

In an attempt to reduce the price of players, the MLBPA claimed that teams had got together to drive prices down forcing players to sign smaller contracts if they wanted to play.

It was a popular theory and one that might have made sense with the state of contracts but there was a much better explanation for the lack of signings.

That explanation was the 2018-19 free agent class that had the potential to include multiple MVPs and Cy Young Award winners.

Heading into the offseason a number of teams will be looking at the potential that exists in the market this year.

As more teams fall out of the postseason the research will only increase as many of the teams who avoided the big contract signings this offseason seemed to be preparing for 2018-19.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees both decided to save some money and get under the luxury tax this year.

They did it in the name of spending smarter but the more likely reason was to save money for the upcoming free agency class.

The Yankees are headed to the playoffs and the Dodgers are still fighting for a spot in the National League.

They have two of the largest budgets in the MLB and both are not shy in signing big names in order to compete.

If both make the playoffs but don’t win a title they are sure to head into the free agency market looking to load up even more.

Other teams are sure to be involved, especially postseason teams who couldn’t quite get there this time around.

They could have a lot to choose from as well with some big names available and some that could come at a discount.

The leading candidates will be Manny Machado and Bryce Harper who are both without a contract after this year.

Harper seems ready to leave Washington and if he wanted to stay it doesn’t seem like the Nationals are ready to shell out the money he could get from a team like the Yankees.

Machado could be headed to the postseason with the Dodgers and might want to stay depending on how the team does or if the Dodgers like him and offer him a big deal.baseball-sidebar

Both will be the most popular free agents this year and could see some monster contracts come there way with a lot of options.

Clayton Kershaw and David Price could also be available as both have opt-out clauses after this year.

If they would prefer to test the market they could opt-out and see what they can get but neither have been as overpowering as they used to be.

The biggest questions, and what could make this the most interesting class are those great players that have struggled.

Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen, Dallas Keuchel, Andrew Miller and Craig Kimbrel are all available this offseason.

Non have been as impressive as they used to be but the talent for all of them is clearly there.

Teams will have to make some pretty important decisions as they could shell out big money with the hope that all can return to form in 2019.

They may also be able to get those players at smaller contracts than they would have a year ago giving them potential MVP and Cy Young talent at a discount.

Then again they could sign these players and see that all of them are beyond their best years locking in players that aren’t going to help them for multiple years.

Despite the fact that the supposed talent level might not be the same the potential in this class is massive and as the free agency market approaches there could be some big changes and shifts of power in the league.

 

Extra Innings

Missing the Bonus

Contracts in every major sport are loaded with incentive bonuses designed to encourage players to reach certain goals. Some are determined by performance like earning a certain amount of home runs or strikeouts. Others are based on staying healthy by reaching a certain amount of games or innings during a season. It can be a massive boost to contracts that are already big for many players. CC Sabathia had one of those bonuses coming up as he needed to reach the seventh inning in his final start of the season to activate a $500,000 bonus for innings pitched. Instead, Sabathia got into a heated exchange with the Tampa Bay Rays and after one of his teammates was thrown at he threw at one of their players getting tossed before the bonus.

New Era in Toronto

In 2012 the Toronto Blue Jays went back to the well when they hired John Gibbons to manage a team that had just seen their manager head to in-division rival. It was a bad spot for the team but only a few years after the franchise committed to competing signing big names. It worked out and Gibbons was the head of a team that broke a 20+ postseason drought heading to the postseason for two straight years. After six seasons with the team, the Blue Jays will be moving on with a new manager in 2019 parting ways with Gibbons at the end of the season. That manager will likely have a lot of young talent to deal with as the Jays go through a rebuilding period with some talented young players.

Ohtani’s Surgery

The legend of Shohei Ohtani was built long before he came to the MLB with the Los Angeles Angels. He was supposed to be the Japanese Babe Ruth with the ability to hit home runs and strike people out. He did just that but like so many Japanese players he began to break down in the MLB. After hurting his pitching arm he was forced to become a batter only and now to get back to his dual-threat ability he will need to undergo surgery. This offseason will see Ohtani go under the knife for Tommy John surgery that will put his 2019 season in jeopardy after only spending a single season in the league.

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