Jeff Passan

  • The 2015 Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 2 hrs ago

    Here is the free-agent class of 2015-16, ranked from Nos. 1 to 191. The rankings are based on a number of variables, including each player's history, age and potential, and are as much about predicted performance as market value, providing a general outline as free agency unfolds between now and spring training.

    Bookmark this page in your browser or like it on Twitter – and return frequently. As the offseason progresses, Yahoo Sports will update it with news of signings and their impact on the other free agents.

    2. Zack Greinke, SP: Here’s how to play free agency perfectly. Sign a deal for $147 million. Front-load $76 million into the first three years. Put up one of the most spectacular seasons ever, in which your ERA, compared to the rest of the league, is the 14th best in history. Use an opt-out clause savvily negotiated by your agent to hit free agency immediately after that historic season. And fall into a marketplace frothing to pay elite pitchers, particularly ones whose skill sets make another six- or even a seven-year deal a reality at age 32. This is Zack Greinke’s world. The rest of us just get to watch him spin gold.

    122. Joe Thatcher, RP: Choate 2.0.

  • MLB’s market has changed and Jordan Zimmermann’s contract is proof

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    When the teams ostensibly bleeding money find themselves empowered to throw around tens of millions like it’s no big deal, it is the greatest proof yet that the market has changed and a new reality is upon baseball. If it wasn’t evident in Toronto guaranteeing J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada $12 million and $13 million a year, respectively, the moment arrived Sunday, when the Detroit Tigers reportedly handed Jordan Zimmermann a five-year, $110 million deal.

    Zimmermann, 29, has been a very good pitcher. Over the last five seasons, his adjusted ERA is 11th among starters with at least 700 innings. He is tied with Felix Hernandez, ahead of Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, who received a combined $365 million in free agency last year. At the same time, Zimmermann is coming off the worst full season of his career – and is more than half a decade separated from Tommy John surgery, which makes committing another half-decade that much riskier.

  • Sources: Tim Lincecum is recovering well, expects to pitch in January showcase

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    Amid the flurry of discussion about all the available top-flight starting pitching, one of the biggest names has slinked under the radar, where he's likely to stay until sometime in January. Tim Lincecum, the only free agent with two Cy Young Awards, is expected to bide his time as he recovers from September hip surgery, according to league sources.

    While a team could tempt Lincecum with a strong contract offer, the likelier possibility and current plan is for him to hold a showcase event sometime in January, by which time his doctors expect him to be throwing. And the possibility of blowing away scouts and executives with a fully healed body excites the 31-year-old, according to people familiar with his recovery.

    Lincecum has spent the offseason funding his own rehabilitation in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he's receiving daily guidance from a hip-rehab specialist who worked at the Colorado clinic where he underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip and fix an impingement. While hip surgery isn't a career killer, proper rehabilitation is paramount, and Lincecum wanted no shortcuts on his path to regaining his past glory.

  • How the continued snubbing of Mike Trout is Ted Williams all over again

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    When it comes to MVP voting, Mike Trout is the human embodiment of the shruggie. All he has done is turn in the greatest four-year run to start a career in baseball history and been the best player in the American League in each of those seasons, and he has but one measly Most Valuable Player award to show for it.

    To which Ted Williams would say: Well, at least you got one, kid.

    Yes, the only other player in Trout’s four-season stratosphere is Williams, and the parallels extend to the ability of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America to spit the bit when it comes to selecting the proper MVP. Miguel Cabrera laughably beat him in 2012 and put up a more reasonable showing but still wasn't as good in ’13. Josh Donaldson on Thursday night bested Trout in a coin-flip vote with which it was tough to quarrel. Williams, on the other hand, went 0 for 4 in MVP balloting, something he’d done in a game just 55 times in those four seasons. Williams was so thoroughly jobbed in his third and fourth years that nearly 75 years later it keeps Trout from having built up the biggest slaughterhouse of MVP beef.

  • How rule will prevent Korean teammates from coming to MLB together

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    Earlier this year, as his father lay in the hospital, Lotte Giants outfielder Ah-seop Son asked if he could stay behind as the team left town. The Giants said no to their longtime star. Soon after Son left with the Giants on a road trip, his father died. People around Korea were abhorred, and the media rightfully flayed the team.

    A few months later, Son finds himself in the midst of one of the more fascinating stories of a baseball offseason playing itself out halfway around the world. On Monday, Lotte opened up blind bidding for major league teams on Son, a 27-year-old left fielder with a lifetime batting average of .323 and an on-base percentage near .400.

    Some executives, meanwhile, are even more interested in Jae-gyun Hwang, a third baseman and Son’s teammates with the Giants. The problem: Korean Baseball Organization rules prevent a team from accepting bids on two players in the same season through the posting system, the official conduit that sends Koreans under contract to Major League Baseball.

  • Trust the process: Rebuilding plan is what's best for Atlanta Braves

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    Complete rebuilds, by their very nature, are ugly little messes that go against the whole point of sports, which is to win. It’s why even after the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs showed just how effective a to-the-studs teardown can be, a certain cognitive dissonance among fans still exists. Winning is great, so long as it doesn’t take losing to get there.

    Here, then, are the Atlanta Braves, who are losing but don’t exactly want to say they’re losing because they picked about the worst possible time to start losing: in the run-up to the opening of a new stadium that gets somewhere between half and two-thirds of its funding from public money earmarked by politicians and not an open vote. So, essentially, the Braves will benefit from money unwittingly offered by the citizens to whom they’re now peddling bad baseball as an amuse-bouche for a stadium some citizens may not have wanted in the first place.

    It’s what makes the duality of Freeman so painful. The Braves, by all means, should be seeking trades for him to see the market. This is not wrong. This is not a sign the Braves don’t care about their fans. This is the best way to build a baseball team.

  • Source: Rich Hill agrees to one-year, $6 million contract with A's

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    Left-hander Rich Hill agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Oakland A's on Tuesday night, a league source told Yahoo Sports, capping a tremendous ascent in which the 35-year-old went from independent league afterthought to major league multimillionaire in a matter of three months.

    After signing with Boston out of the Atlantic League in August and pitching at Triple-A for a month, Hill made four starts with the Red Sox in September and impressed enough that a half-dozen teams made offers similar to Oakland's, which is pending a physical. Over 29 innings, Hill struck out 36, walked five, yielded 14 hits and posted a 1.55 ERA.

    Hill is believed to have turned down more money than Oakland offered because of the A's likelihood to use him in their rotation. Oakland's pitching depth – in addition to Hill and ace Sonny Gray, they have young starters Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman, top prospect Sean Manaea and veteran Jesse Chavez. Multiple teams have shown interest in Chavez, sources said, and the signing of Hill makes him a potential trade candidate, especially as he enters his final season before free agency.

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  • Sources: Leonys Martin headed to Seattle in five-player deal with Texas

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    The Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers finalized a five-player intra-division trade that sent center fielder Leonys Martin to the Mariners and power reliever Tom Wilhelmsen to the Rangers on Monday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Pitcher Anthony Bass joins Martin on the way to Seattle, while the Rangers also received outfielder James Jones and a player to be named later. The deal fills the Mariners’ need for a center fielder and uses the Rangers’ depth in center to round out a roster looking increasingly dangerous as it tries to defend its American League West title.

    Martin, 27, came to the Rangers following a defection from Cuba full of trials and tribulations, and after two seasons as Texas’ center fielder, his struggles at the plate and injuries last year forced him to Triple-A. Martin spent most of the past two months on the disabled list after surgery to remove his hamate bone, and the Mariners are banking on his Gold Glove-caliber defense – with arguably the best center-field arm in the game – to carry his bat.

  • Sources: Korean left fielder Hyun-soo Kim plans on signing with MLB team

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 19 days ago

    Hyun-soo Kim, one of the most consistent hitters in Korea for the past decade, plans on signing with a major league team this offseason and continuing the influx of top Korean players into the big leagues, sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Kim, a 27-year-old left fielder, is an international free agent, meaning he is free to sign with all 30 teams rather than going through the posting system that solicits blind bids and offers a player’s rights to the highest bidder only.

    The commitment of Kim, whose .318 career batting average is third highest among active Korean Baseball Organization players, only reinforces the drastic shift in attitudes from major league teams toward everyday players in the KBO. The 2015 breakout season of Jung-ho Kang with the Pittsburgh Pirates cemented the notion a Korean player could succeed in the major leagues.

    One scout who saw Kim this season said he is an everyday option in left field – and occasional fill-in at first base, where he played some last season – whose game stands to translate well to the major leagues because he blends enough power with superior plate discipline.

  • Baseball's hypocritical marijuana rules leave Cardinals prospect high and dry

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    One of baseball's best prospects got suspended for 50 games Monday. He did not drive drunk. He did not hit a woman. He did not cheat in a game. He did something legal in four states, decriminalized in 16 and completely endorsed this time next year, when he's on a major league roster.

    Reefer madness is alive and well in baseball. Alex Reyes, a 100-mph-throwing starter in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, was suspended by Major League Baseball on Monday for blazing something other than fastballs. Marijuana use among minor league players is prohibited by MLB, a rule that's not just outdated but inconsistent and unnecessary.

    Put aside, for a moment, the marijuana revolution of the past five years that has seeded an imminent path toward nationwide legalization, because while that's a perfectly cogent argument to use on Reyes' behalf, it's not even the best.