Jeff Passan

  • Suddenly frugal Yankees playing long game with eye on Bryce Harper

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    Here is the list of major league free agents signed this offseason by the New York Yankees:

    This is not a terribly overwhelming list. It is very pale. On the bright side, it has cost the Yankees exactly $0. No other team in Major League Baseball this offseason has spent the winter not even spending a plug nickel. If somebody truly believes the apocalypse is nigh, perhaps it's because the team worth $4 billion sat out an entire free agent period while the rest of the baseball industry lavished $2.5 billion on players.

    And yet for the chuckles of executives who see the freest-spending franchise in the world suddenly finding austerity like it was born again, there is a plan here, one that speaks to baseball's tectonic plates shifting and the Yankees readying themselves for a future that looks different from today.

    Maybe even a future with Bryce Harper.

     

  • How the free agency landscape changed 40 years ago today

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    Sports changed forever 40 years ago today inside a Kansas City courthouse. The bravery of Curt Flood, the fight of Marvin Miller, the principle of Peter Seitz – all of it would’ve been for naught if not for nearly 23,000 words written to confirm a simple edict.

    Free agency would exist.

    A sports world without it seems almost inconceivable, especially in the midst of Major League Baseball’s record $2.5 billion spending this winter. Free agency today isn’t looked upon as some sort of privilege; it’s a reality, accepted and understood, not just in baseball but every team sport. And though it almost certainly would’ve risen up in some form or fashion, free agency found vital support Feb. 3, 1976 from John W. Oliver, the district court judge who oversaw Kansas City Royals vs. the Major League Baseball Players’ Association and agreed in a lengthy written opinion that baseball’s indentured servitude must end.

  • MLB salaries will near record $4 billion

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    Major League Baseball teams have guaranteed nearly $2.5 billion to free agents this offseason, shattering the previous record by more than half a billion dollars and continuing the distribution of record revenues that could soon approach $10 billion annually industry-wide.

    An analysis of free-agent spending and projected payrolls by Yahoo Sports found that salaries for all 30 teams will near $4 billion this year. The American League is set to spend nearly a quarter billion dollars more than the National League this season, according to the analysis, after final payroll numbers in 2015 put the AL just $24 million ahead of the NL.

    Since the beginning of free agency in November, teams have guaranteed more than $2.47 billion to 99 free agents that agreed to major league contracts, according to the analysis, well ahead of the $1.8 billion-plus of the 2013-14 offseason. Though deals this winter total 216 seasons – taking the average cost of a free-agent year to $11.4 million – a number of the biggest contracts include opt-out clauses likely to significantly lessen the overall outlay this offseason.

     

  • Homer History: When Albert Pujols silenced Minute Maid Park

    Jeff Passan at Big League Stew 14 days ago

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    In our Homer History series, writers re-tell the stories of memorable home runs from their perspective. In this installment, Yahoo Sports' MLB columnist Jeff Passan recalls the scene in Houston after Albert Pujols' ninth-inning homer in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS.

    I didn’t think life had a mute button until Oct. 17, 2005. It was loud inside Minute Maid Park, the sort of loud fueled by desperation and want and booze and emotion and fear and everything else that turns sporting venues febrile. They’d waited forever for this, and the only thing standing between the Houston Astros and their first World Series was the best hitter in the world.

    Silence took four seconds to permeate Minute Maid, and in that time, as the ball flew at an inconceivable speed and trajectory even to a city famous for real moonshots, there was denial and anger and bargaining and depression and, ultimately, acceptance. Because what they’d just seen – what Albert Pujols and Brad Lidge conspired to create – was a home run like few before or since.

    More MLB coverage from Yahoo Sports:

  • Q&A: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    Monday marks the one-year anniversary of Rob Manfred taking over as commissioner of Major League Baseball. In a Q&A over the weekend with Yahoo Sports, Manfred reflected on the big issues of his first year (Pete Rose and recapturing the youth market), looked at the game’s future (expansion, relocation and the DH in the National League) and explored the questions most pertinent now (MLB’s domestic-violence policy, a potential work stoppage and cord-cutting).

    The NFL damaged itself in how it handled the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases. What did you take away from the response and reaction, and how will that shape your domestic-violence punishment?

    What other industries aside from sports did you look at?

    We looked at all of the other leagues. But we made a broad inquiry into the handling of domestic-violence problems completely outside of sports.

    Did you learn more from those outside of sports than those within?

    The policy is written in very broad language. When you’re meting out punishment for the first time, how do you strike a proper balance?

    In your first year, you made one choice that stirred significant emotion: not reinstating Pete Rose. How difficult a decision was that?

  • Meet the 2016 Expos: The leftover free agents actually can fill a full roster

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 22 days ago

    It's late January, typically the moment for the greedy, the stragglers, the dregs and those who got poor advice to finally figure out where they'll be playing baseball for the rest of the year, and look at what we've got: a whole team, ripe for the picking.

    And by a whole team, I mean an entire roster's worth of legitimate major league players who, if assembled, certainly wouldn't be the worst in MLB this season. Which is crazy if you think about it, because one month from today, pitchers and catchers will have reported to all but five camps, and a week after that, every player will be in uniform.

    Perhaps someone blinks in this game of chicken and the supply glut that has ballplayers right next to oil barrels in the commodity game starts to rebalance. In the meantime, though, it only seemed right to assemble this 31st team – to show how in this offseason of record spending, a large swath of worthy players remain homeless.

    Certainly this team has its flaws. For one, I'm its general manager. And also, there's that whole matter of it not existing in real life. Though that does allow me to think wishfully in naming it.

    So let's call them the Montreal Expos.

  • Justin Upton's signing proves Tigers owner is unparalleled in American sports

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 23 days ago

    Of all the figures that tend to define Mike Ilitch – 86 years old and $5.4 billion net worth being the two most prominent – the one that matters most is zero. That is the number of championships he has won as Detroit Tigers owner and the number of damns he gives trying to change it.

    The most munificent owner in professional sports struck again Monday night. The Tigers guaranteed $132.75 million for six years of Justin Upton’s services and in the process took their greatest strength – right-handed hitters – and added another to the mix for good measure. No matter how little Ilitch may be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Tigers, his ethos resonates throughout the organization and drives their every move. He lives the rhetorical question all fans wish their owner would.

    What’s the point in being filthy freaking rich if you’re not going to spend it?

    What money does is buy talent, and talent is the best progenitor of success in baseball. When Ilitch splurges, he’s purchasing opportunity; in a business with no guarantees, that is the single best investment an owner can make, even if Ilitch’s preferred avenue of spending, free agency, is ripe with inefficiencies and pitfalls.

  • Source: Lorenzo Cain agrees to two-year extension with Royals

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 27 days ago

    All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a two-year, $17.5 million contract extension Friday, tying the third-place MVP finisher to the World Series champions through his final two arbitration seasons, a source familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.

    The Royals spent the offseason talking with Cain, 29, about a more substantive extension that would have bought out free-agent seasons. Instead, shortly after the sides filed arbitration numbers, they agreed on the shorter pact that gives Cain a substantive guarantee and the team cost certainty.

    After emerging as one of the game’s best defensive center fielders, Cain last season took an offensive leap and finished behind Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout in MVP balloting with a .307/.361/.477 line and typically stellar glovework. Royals sources said Cain sought a six-year deal this offseason, and the team balked – especially after it re-signed free agent Alex Gordon through his age-36 season.

     

  • Sources: Dodgers close to deal for Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    The Los Angeles Dodgers are nearing a deal with Cuban right-hander Yaisel Sierra for around $30 million, sources told Yahoo Sports, adding another pitcher to an increasingly deep complement hoping to paper over the loss of Zack Greinke.

    Sierra, 25, would be the third pitcher signed in recent weeks after Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda. Rather than toss around the $200 million-plus needed to sign Greinke, Los Angeles has gone piecemeal in assembling a rotation behind Clayton Kershaw, with Kazmir, Maeda and Sierra expected to join a group that already includes Brett Anderson, Alex Wood and the recovering Hyun-Jin Ryu.

    While the Dodgers' value-hunting has left some fans aggrieved by the lack of big-ticket purchases, Sierra is another pitcher with significant upside and whose only downside – his cost – is mitigated by Los Angeles' overflowing coffers. Sierra, whose deal is believed to be for six or seven years, wowed scouts by touching 97 mph with his fastball during showcase events and flashing a strong slider.

     

  • MLB must hammer St. Louis beyond its checkbook for hacking Astros

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    The ugliness builds page by page, incident by incident, and by the end of the federal indictment against former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa, this much is obvious: If Major League Baseball doesn't dock the Cardinals draft picks in addition to a seven-figure fine, it is not just tacitly approving the computer crimes to which Correa pleaded guilty on Friday but encouraging similar nefariousness among other teams.

    Shock rippled around baseball Friday when authorities released the five-page charging documents that detailed Correa's crimes. In accessing the Astros' proprietary Ground Control database, the team's repository for player evaluation, he sought draft information before and during the draft, trade information on the day of the trade deadline and, in the grossest breach, broke into an Astros employee's email to retrieve the new URL and password to Ground Control after the Astros had changed both.

    Read the full indictment: