One of my favorite articles of the off-season is Jon Heyman’s top free agent list with contract predictions. That list came out today, and while it didn’t have the previous format, where an executive and an agent gave their predictions, I feel that the same input was sought out to get the salary estimates they have. As with any prediction article, it shouldn’t be taken as gospel, but is fun to read and look at what players are projected to receive.
Heyman’s list is now the third of the three big off-season prediction articles of this type. He joins MLBTR and the FanGraphs crowdsource numbers, with the latter revolving around fan input, but still being pretty entertaining to see how baseball fans from all teams come together to collectively view these players.
Here is a look at some of the notable players for the Pirates this off-season, and what they’re expected to receive in free agency, based on these three projections.
The average values are about the same, with Nova getting $12-14 M over a 3-4 year span. Heyman and MLBTR have him at four years, which would be similar to the Francisco Liriano and J.A. Happ values from previous years, just with one extra guaranteed year. The current rumors have him getting offers in Happ’s range. I could see the fourth year if some team wanted to spend big to get him, considering he’s widely viewed as the second best starting pitcher on the market, behind Rich Hill.
There’s a bit of a divide here in terms of the commitment, but not so much in the price, with Volquez expected to get around $10 M per year. He’s not a bad bounce back candidate, as he is still capable of pitching close to 200 innings a year, still has good velocity, and can still get ground balls and strikeouts. He might also benefit from a move back to the NL, and back to the Pirates, where he posted some of the best numbers of his career.
There is a consensus here that Hill will receive three years and around $50 M. I don’t think he’d be an option for the Pirates, but I wanted to include him because he’s the top option on the market, and they had interest in him last year as a bounce back guy. The interesting thing here is that, one year ago today, the top two options on the market (Hill, Nova) would have been pretty low-key additions for any team. Now they’re getting estimates of $40-50 M over 3-4 years. It makes you think that the best approach for the Pirates would be finding the next breakout guy. Which brings me to…
The FanGraphs figure is way ahead of Heyman and MLBTR, and that could be due to the perception that Cashner is one of the best bounce back guys on the market. I really can’t see him getting three years, or taking three years. If he takes a one year deal, he has the chance to rebound, and turn his good season into a $40-50 M deal or more. Just like Volquez, he still has the velocity, and still has the ability for strikeouts and ground balls. The big concern here is health and the ability to pitch innings, as he’s thrown 132 innings or less in two of the last three years.
This is the guy who has been linked to the Pirates early in the off-season, and I wrote yesterday how I don’t see him as a good bounce back candidate, since his upside seems lower than the traditional Pirates reclamation project. If he’s projected to get $6-7 M for one year, then I’d rather go with Andrew Cashner for $1-2 M more, as there’s more upside with Cashner.
I’m not going to list all three values for the relievers, as there seems to be a pretty strong consensus on their values. I’m also not including top guys like Mark Melancon or Kenley Jansen, as the Pirates probably won’t be in the market for those pitchers. Greg Holland isn’t quite in that category, but he’s projected for $20 M over two years by Heyman, and I don’t see the Pirates spending that either.
A lot of the mid-tier relievers are projected for $6 M a year over multiple years. Heyman has Brett Cecil and Sergio Romo both getting $18 M over three years. Neftali Feliz is projected to get $12 M over two years. Joe Blanton is projected for $10 M over two years. Most of the stronger relievers will require a multi-year commitment and $5-6 M per year.
I think the Pirates would be more likely to go the value reliever route like they did last year when they added Feliz and Juan Nicasio for a combined $7 M. But the relief market is interesting in terms of trade candidates. Tony Watson is projected to make $5.9 M this year in his final year of arbitration, and could have a lot of value for a team that is either unwilling to go multiple years on a reliever, or for a team that misses out on all of the mid-tier relievers, especially the lefties.
Other Notable Players
Sean Rodriguez has been linked to the Pirates again. He’s projected for two years, $10 M from Heyman, and two years, $12 M from MLBTR. The only way I see that happening for the Pirates is if they either moved Andrew McCutchen or Josh Harrison.
Former Pirates Jon Niese and Clayton Richard are projected for one year and $6 M by Heyman.
Pedro Alvarez is projected for one year, $9 M. He’s not an option for the Pirates, but this shows how much value the DH spot gave him, as he didn’t have to worry about defense dragging him down.
**Almost Every Player on the Indianapolis Top 10 Prospects List Made the Majors in 2016. Wrapping up our season recaps with the Indianapolis top 10 prospect list, which featured a lot of players who reached the majors this year.
**Neal Huntington Discusses the Pirates Budget, Andrew McCutchen, Jung Ho Kang. Some good stuff here from an interview on David Todd’s show.
**AFL: Surprise Clinches Division on the Final Day with a 4-2 Win. The Pirates’ AFL affiliate will play in the championship game on Saturday.