Jeff Passan

  • The 2014 Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Here is the free-agent class of 2014-15, ranked from Nos. 1 to 165. 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 favorite 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.

    1. Max Scherzer, SP: SIGNED To turn down a guaranteed $144 million contract, as Scherzer did last spring, takes an enormous amount of faith in self and elbow. And while Scherzer’s luck on balls in play waned a bit from his 2013 Cy Young season, his strikeout, walk and home run rates were practically identical over the last two seasons. Scherzer, 30, agreed to a seven-year deal with the Nationals.

    50. Ryan Vogelsong, SP: SIGNED At that point in the list where consistent 180-inning guys become eminently valuable. The Giants retained him on a one-year deal.

  • Sources: Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada’s free agency imminent

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Star Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada no longer needs a specific unblocking license to play baseball in the United States, paving the way for Major League Baseball teams to pursue him with a contract most expect to shatter bonus records, government and major league sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Recent changes by the Obama administration allow native Cubans who can prove permanent residence in a third country to receive a general unblocking license and avoid the sometimes-arduous application process for an Office of Foreign Asset Controls specific license, which was previously needed to do business in the U.S. Moncada, who left Cuba for Guatemala in August, has a permanent residency document, a Guatemalan National Identity Card and a statement from a Guatemala-based bank as proof of residency, sources familiar with his case told Yahoo Sports.

    “If OFAC confirms that the process for unblocking Cuban players is no longer to apply for a specific license,” the official said, “MLB will conform to the law.”

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  • Sources: Brewers in trade talks to acquire Jonathan Papelbon

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    The Philadelphia Phillies have engaged in serious discussions to send closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Milwaukee Brewers, sources familiar with the negotiations told Yahoo Sports.

    Papelbon's contract, which calls for a $13 million salary this season with a $13 million option for 2016 that vests if he finishes 48 games this year, includes a no-trade clause that can block deals to 17 teams. It is unclear if Milwaukee is on the list.

    The Phillies' desire to trade Papelbon is no secret as they start a massive rebuild that already has seen more than $40 million shaved off their estimated opening-day payroll. While the 34-year-old is coming off a typically excellent season, with a 2.04 ERA and 39 saves, his flagging velocity and perceived negative attitude – Papelbon was suspended for seven games last September after grabbing his crotch following a blown save in Philadelphia – led to them looking for a trading partner.

    Milwaukee could be it. After sending Yovani Gallardo, who makes $13 million, to the Texas Rangers this week, the Brewers expressed interest in acquiring late-inning relief help.

  • How Bud Selig survived huge mistakes to forge a legacy worth remembering

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    Bud Selig was the accidental commissioner, the antiquated man charged with navigating modern times, the car salesman handed an institution and told to fix it. Dunderheaded and genius, profane and professorial, simple and complicated, Selig will retire from Major League Baseball’s top post Saturday after more than 22 years as the ultimate sort of political animal: the survivor.

    He survived the strike, the steroid wars and the All-Star Game tie, the legacy-sullying Cerberus that took place on his watch, and history will see as his doing. And yet his commissionership was so rich with progress – the expanded postseason and and revenue sharing and new stadiums and instant replay and unprecedented riches and, best of all, two-plus decades of uninterrupted labor peace – that to define Selig by his mistakes, whoppers though they may have been, serves as a black-and-white rendering of a man who did his finest work in the gray.


  • Sources: Rangers acquire Yovani Gallardo from Brewers

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    The Texas Rangers acquired right-hander Yovani Gallardo and cash on Monday, sending three prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers in order to fortify a rotation whose ERA last season ranked 28th in baseball, major league sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Gallardo, 28, is the second starter the Rangers have acquired this offseason following a deal for left-hander Ross Detwiler. He’ll join Yu Darvish and Derek Holland in a rotation whose back end remains somewhat in flux, with a number of candidates vying for a spot until Martin Perez returns from Tommy John surgery.

    Milwaukee cleared Gallardo’s $13 million salary off its books, perhaps positioning itself for a run at free agent James Shields or a trade for a frontline starter, and acquired infielder Luis Sardinas, reliever Corey Knebel and 18-year-old prospect Marcos Diplan.

    After an injury-destroyed season, the Rangers are banking on comeback years from Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Elvis Andrus and Holland, along with the continued improvement of Darvish and the further growth of one of the better minor league systems in the game.

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  • Sources: Max Scherzer’s 7-year, $210 million deal with Nats contains historic deferrals

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals agreed to a seven-year, $210 million contract with provisions that take advantage of District tax laws to save Scherzer money and keep the team’s present-day payments down via historic deferrals, sources familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.

    Scherzer, 30, received the second-largest guarantee ever for a pitcher, just $5 million behind the contract Clayton Kershaw signed a year ago, though the payment structure is entirely different. Scherzer will get $15 million a year for the next 14 years, sources said, deferring half the money until after the contract expires. It is by far the largest sum ever deferred in a deal, not quite matching Bobby Bonilla’s 25-year deferral from the Mets in length but more than tripling it in value.

    Much like Florida and Texas, which don’t have a state income tax, playing in D.C. provides a significant boon for out-of-state athletes, said Robert Raiola, a CPA who specializes in helping athletes. “His goal was to get over $200 million,” Raiola said. “And he was able to do that with deferred compensation while saving money on the tax front.”

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  • Why Nationals should keep their loaded staff together, even after adding Max Scherzer

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 10 days ago

    The easiest thing in the world to do is spend another man's money, especially a billionaire like Ted Lerner's, and so, of course, those giddy to see Max Scherzer joining what already was the best starting rotation in baseball will holler in unison: Don't do it. Don't trade anyone. Keep this Ferrari together and let it purr for one glorious season in a Major League Baseball era rife with Hondas and Toyotas.

    Sometimes, the emotion of something so exciting – in this case, Scherzer fetching a seven-year deal from the Washington Nationals – actually dovetails with the logical position, too. Because even though the Nationals find themselves in a situation that warrants a potential trade, more reasons exist not to sell off any pieces of this team than incentives do to shuffle their deck even more.

    Every reason exists for the Nationals to trot out Scherzer and tell the world this is their team except for one: the money. To which there are a handful of replies, most of which go something like this:

    Ted Lerner is a billionaire.

    That's billionaire, as in nine zeroes. With a four in front. So $4,000,000,000.

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  • MLB on course to spend more than $4 billion in 2015

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are primed to shatter baseball’s payroll record, with an estimated $262.6 million worth of salaries on the books, and Major League Baseball almost assuredly will cross the $4 billion threshold as an industry in payroll and benefits during the 2015 season, according to a Yahoo Sports analysis.

    Using reported salary figures from Baseball Prospectus, arbitration estimates from MLB Trade Rumors and the standard $500,000 for pre-arbitration players, opening day salaries for the 30 teams total nearly $3.6 billion. With the signings of remaining free agents – Max Scherzer, James Shields, Colby Rasmus and a handful of relievers, back-end starters and fourth-outfielder types – teams should guarantee at least another $125 million in 2015 salaries to players before the start of the season, pushing the total well past the $3.63 billion teams paid players last season.

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  • Who's in, who's out, who's next: Historic Hall class' huge effect on future ones

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 23 days ago

    OK, deep breath. This is a cleansing paragraph. Out with all the rage here. No, Randy Johnson was not a unanimous choice in his election Tuesday to the Baseball Hall of Fame. (Ridiculous!) Neither was fellow future inductee Pedro Martinez. (Absurd!) Joining them this July will be John Smoltz, who got in on the first ballot, too. (Standards are too low these days!) And Craig Biggio is finally a Hall of Famer. (Shoulda been already!)

    Now that the nonsense that has pervaded the Hall of Fame voting is out of the way, let’s get practical – novel concept – and try to understand what the results of Tuesday’s announcement mean.

    Most notably: This is the largest class chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America since 1955, when Joe DiMaggio, Ted Lyons, Dazzy Vance and Gabby Hartnett got the requisite 75 percent. DiMaggio, by the way, was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He failed to get elected in his initial year while Rabbit Maranville, he of the career .258/.318/.340 line, appeared on more than 82 percent of the ballots. Which ought to serve as a reminder to the anger monkeys: Compared to how things used to be, it ain’t that bad today.

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  • Sources: Josh Johnson agrees to incentive-laden, one-year deal with Padres

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    Starting pitcher Josh Johnson agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal with the San Diego Padres that includes incentives that could net him an additional $6.25 million, sources with knowledge of the deal told Yahoo Sports.

    The deal is pending a physical, though the Padres are familiar with the medicals of the 30-year-old Johnson, who missed all of 2014 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in April. The Padres paid him $8 million last season and declined a club option for $4 million.

    When healthy, Johnson has been one of baseball’s best pitchers, though since his first full season in 2006 he has been distinctly hit or miss, throwing 183 or more innings three times and 88 or fewer the other four.

    Johnson’s performance bonuses are tied to games started. If he reaches five, he receives a $500,000 bonus. For his 10th start, he would receive another $1 million. At 15 it’s $500,000 more, and 20 nets him another $1 million. For every start after that he makes through his 33rd, Johnson would receive $250,000. The chances of Johnson earning the maximum bonus are minimal, as his surgery was in late April and second-time Tommy John patients often take 14-plus months to return.