•   
  •   
  •   

Sport The Sure Thing: Why the Rays Extended Baseball's Next Phenom

19:07  30 november  2021
19:07  30 november  2021 Source:   si.com

Deep Dive: Free Agent Third Basemen

  Deep Dive: Free Agent Third Basemen Kris Bryant and Eduardo Escobar highlight this group of players available at the hot corner.With Yoán Moncada likely to stay with the White Sox through at least 2025, the club likely won’t be looking at this list of free agent third basemen with the idea of a full-time starter.

To be this good this young is a strong marker of greatness. Wander Franco is as good as any young player we've seen.

View the original article to see embedded media.

Baseball history is riddled with cautionary tales of would-be Hall of Fame hitting careers that never were. Whether because of drugs (Josh Hamilton, Darryl Strawberry), injury (Grady Sizemore, Don Mattingly) or a lack of sustained excellence (César Cedeño, Dale Murphy), you can find the story of your liking if you want to believe the Rays are taking a huge gamble handing $183 million over the next 11 years to infielder Wander Franco.

But the Rays are taking a very low risk because of this historical fact: Hitters who excel in the majors at a very young age go on to have great careers at a very high rate. It’s stretching the point to call the contract a bargain, but Tampa Bay is a smart organization that is doling out this contract only because it knows the risk is so low.

Philadelphia Failure to Giant Success: Inside Gabe Kapler’s Transformation

  Philadelphia Failure to Giant Success: Inside Gabe Kapler’s Transformation Once caricatured as a muscle-bound hippie, San Francisco's skipper went from misfit to presumptive Manager of the Year. View the original article to see embedded media.Fourteen hours after the Giants’ 2021 season ended, manager Gabe Kapler began working on 2022. San Francisco won a franchise-record 107 regular-season games, then lost the National League Division Series to the rival Dodgers in a winner-take-all Game 5 that ended 2–1 on a missed checked-swing call. It was a heartbreaker that did not break Kapler’s heart.“From a strategic standpoint, we really couldn’t have planned it better,” he says.

Franco turns 21 on March 21. Last season he became the 115th player to play at least 70 games before his 21st birthday. That’s a rare enough achievement.

Scott Taetsch/USA TODAY Sports © Provided by Sports Illustrated Scott Taetsch/USA TODAY Sports

Now consider among that group only the ones who posted an OPS greater than .800. That group of phenoms is an exclusive club of just 22, including Franco (.810). Here is how that group of 22 under 21 breaks down.

Active (10): Ronald Acuña Jr., Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Correa, Franco, Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward, Juan Soto, Giancarlo Stanton, Fernando Tatis Jr., Mike Trout.

Hall of Famers (9): Orlando Cepeda, Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr., Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams.

Not in Hall of Fame (3): Tony Conigliaro, Vada Pinson, Alex Rodriguez.

Around the Horn: Notes and MLB trade rumors for 10 teams

  Around the Horn: Notes and MLB trade rumors for 10 teams Coming out of the annual GM meetings, Around the Horn takes a spin around the league looking at MLB trade rumors and offseason buzz for 10 teams. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in the industry expect the owners to lock out the players once the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires at mi dnight Dec. 1. The general consensus is that it will not last long enough to jeopardize the 2022 season. Both the owners and players have one thing in common — they want to make money — and as one prominent agent put it, "deadlines spur action," especially after each side lost significant money in a COVID-shortened 2021 season.

Three items jump out:

  1. That group is loaded. It suggests about a 90% chance at greatness, including a player like Pinson, who played 18 years and racked up 2,757 hits.
  2. Forty-five percent of the best hitting phenoms in history are active, a nod to advances in training, nutrition and specialization in an increasingly international (and expanded) game.
  3. The worst-case scenarios are Conigliaro, who was hit in the eye with a pitch when he was 22, and Heyward, who since he did so his rookie season never again has made another All-Star team or reached an .849 OPS.

To be this good this young is a strong marker of greatness. Franco has other traits in his favor. He is a switch-hitter, joining Mantle as the only switch-hitters in the 22 under 21s. His minor league slash line (.331/.399/.535 in 215 games, often as one of his league’s youngest players) is a strong harbinger of long-term major league success.

Reds reportedly 'open' to trading two-time All-Star righty Sonny Gray

  Reds reportedly 'open' to trading two-time All-Star righty Sonny Gray No deal involving Gray appears to be close, but he’s seemingly the most likely Reds starter to wind up on the move at some point. That’s not especially surprising, since Gray’s also the most expensive of their top trio. Cincinnati has opened the offseason scaling back expenditures, and general manager Nick Krall has spoken about “aligning (the team’s) payroll to its resources.” Early reports suggested a Castillo deal could be part of those efforts, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported last week that it was doubtful any deal involving the 28-year-old would come to fruition.

And Franco's bat-to-ball skills are freakishly good. Consistently getting the barrel to a pitch is always a strong predictor, but it’s especially important in a game today with a 23.2% strikeout rate.

In the class of active phenoms, there is nobody like Franco when it comes to putting the bat on the ball.

Strikeout Rate Before Age 21, Active

Min. 70 games with OPS>.800

If Franco profiles as a player who could be historically great, is this a “bad” deal for him? No. He is 20 years old and guaranteed $182 million, with a chance to earn $223 million if the Rays exercise the option year and if he reaches MVP voting escalator clauses. He can play the game with generational financial security and without annual contract squabbles with the club. That can’t be bad, even if he could earn more if he leveraged his three arbitration years and free agency at age 26.

But even acknowledging he signed without maximum leverage, Franco did quite well when you compare his guaranteed money through age 31 against the six other active phenoms whose contracts cover the same age.

USA baseball schedule: How to watch every 2021 Olympic team game from Tokyo

  USA baseball schedule: How to watch every 2021 Olympic team game from Tokyo Olympic baseball might be hard to catch on your TV, but there will still be viewing options to catch some hardball this Olympic cycle.The United States is actually unfamiliar to gold in the Olympic games: In five inclusions in the Olympics since baseball was first held as a sport in 1992, the US has just one gold medal resting on the mantle. They've medaled three times overall in five games, with two bronze medals in the trophy case alongside the gold.

Salary Through Age 31

Franco’s money through age 31 even compares well to that of Francisco Lindor ($188.8M), who went year-to-year before signing his contract with the Mets one year away from free agency. (Lindor’s contract pays him through age 37.)

The Franco contract contains other upsides for both the club and the player. Tampa Bay retains the right to trade Franco whenever it wants. One measurement of a good contract is how tradable it looks. This one looks very tradable. Franco is affordable to every team through his arbitration years, and his free-agent years are valued at a reasonable $25 million starting six years from now, when he hits his prime.

The contract should become even more affordable to Tampa Bay over its lifetime because the team’s lease at Tropicana Field expires after 2027. The club should be in a better financial position at that juncture, whether that means a new ballpark in the Tampa area, in Montreal, in both Tampa and Montreal in their split-season plan, or in another city entirely, such as Nashville.

As for Franco, even if the Rays pick up his option year in 2033, Franco can be a free agent at 32, putting him in line for another big payday.

The next mega-contract for a young hitter should go to Vlad Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays, who this year hit 48 home runs, the most by any hitter as young as 22 while hitting .311 and striking out only 15.8% of his plate appearances. His comp is Cabrera.

Five Potential Max Scherzer Trade Destinations

  Five Potential Max Scherzer Trade Destinations Five potential trade destinations for Max Scherzer.Scherzer is in the final season of a seven-year, $210 million deal he signed with the Nationals back in 2015. He's a pure rental and will need to waive his no-trade clause for any move to happen. So far this season he's 7-4 with a 2.83 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and 142 strikeouts in 105 innings. The righty is currently on the IL with a triceps injury but has been cleared to make his next start.

The trickier mega-contracts on the horizon are possible extensions for Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani, not only because they are great players but also because they are two of the game’s most valuable player assets. Judge is on track for free agency after next season. He turns 30 next April and has played 120 games in a season only twice, but he is a homegrown Yankee who is built for Yankee Stadium (.602 slug at home, .509 on the road), is the successor to Derek Jeter as a prototypical franchise player, and even has his own club-sponsored cheering section (Judge’s Chambers).

Ohtani? He is baseball’s unicorn. He is signed for next year ($5.5 million), then has two more arbitration years before he is eligible for free agency at age 29. Good luck putting a number on a guy who slugged .592 and struck out 156 batters in 130 ⅓ innings.

More MLB Coverage:Rays Finally Decide to Raise One of Their Own

MLB Free Agency Is Booming Ahead of the Looming Lockout

Rangers Make Splash With Spending Spree. Will it Make a Difference?

Signing Max Scherzer Is a Major Flex for the Mets. Now They Need MoreMariners Reel in an Ace to Keep With the Pace in AL West

MLB Roundtable: Let's Make a Deal .
With one week to go until the trade deadline, here are deals we would make if we were general managers. View the original article to see embedded media.One week away from the MLB trade deadline, it's time to play general manager.Sports Illustrated's MLB staff (with the exception of Stephanie Apstein, who is currently in Tokyo covering the Olympics), responded to the following prompt for this roundtable: Pretend you're a GM for one of the 30 teams. What move do you have to make before the trade deadline? Without further ado, here is the 2021 trade deadline edition of Let's Make a Deal.

usr: 4
This is interesting!