Marty’s musings: pre-Christmas news in MLB

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With many players off the board, we still wait on the biggest stars to sign.

Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the happenings in the baseball world. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout the game.

In today’s Musings, the Astros may get the steal of the offseason, most of the top players available are still on the market, and we mark the 100-day mark until we kick off the 2019 MLB season.

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All this news and more in this week’s Musings.

News and Notes

2 – Top free agents who are still available, amidst swirling rumor. Bryce Harper has been connected to the Phillies, Dodgers, and even the White Sox, though that fun and interesting scenario seems less and less likely. Manny Machado met with the South Siders front office and he’s meeting with the Yankees and Phillies this week.

18 – Million dollars less the Astros spent on their two-year contract than the Phillies spent on Andrew McCutchen’s three-year deal. While the average annual value is a bit less on Brantley ($16 million versus $16.7 million), Brantley actually posted a higher fWAR than Cutch in 2018. The big loser in the signing is Cleveland, who not only lost a good player in Brantley, but he’ll be on a contending AL team that KO’d the Indians in the ALDS pretty handily, outscoring them in a three-game sweep, 21-6.

Comparing what these two former All Stars command compared to AJ Pollock, the likely next major outfielder to sign, will be interesting. Pollock is 31, has had less of a track record than either Brantley or McCutchen, but was still projected as the next-best free agent outfielder after Bryce Harper.

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2010 – The last time teams’ payroll declined year-over-year. This happened against 2017 to 2018, as last year’s combined MLB payroll was down overall about $115 million. The down-year can be contributed largely to three teams: the Yankees and Dodgers who were purposely trying got reset their luxury tax burden, and the Tigers, who changed strategies, and dropped about $72 million from their books. You can find a nice breakdown and some nifty graphs in this Forbes report.

5 – Starters the Yankees have plugged into their rotation, six if you sign Sonny Gray. The Yanks made the JA Happ deal official earlier this week, confirming they signed him to a two-year deal with an option for 2021. All offseason New York has implied, and bluntly stated they are likely to trade Sonny Gray, so they will position Happ in the number five slot behind Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia.

38.3 – Career fWAR for recently cut Toronto Blue Jays shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki. Expectations were high for Tulo, who strung together three consecutive 5.5 win seasons in Colorado. He never reached his full potential due to injury, and although he had another five-win year in his age 29 season, he is not free to sign anywhere. The Yankees may have interest if they don’t land Machado, but there are still plenty of chips that need to fall before the veteran finds a home.

100 – Days until Opening Day!

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano

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