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: 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, wants $200 million, and even if some of the highest-end teams claim they won’t go crazy on pitching contracts this winter, Scott Boras has a way of making money appear.

    38. Luke Hochevar, RP: Was Wade Davis a year before Wade Davis. And while coming off Tommy John surgery makes him a risk, it’s one with a nice delta.

     

  • Yasmany Tomas’ power has baseball in a frenzy

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    At this point, the stories about how far Yasmany Tomas hits a baseball circulate like tales told around a campfire. They might be real. They might be a seed of reality that germinated into a bloom of exaggeration. They might be straight-up lies, because in the market for Cuban baseball players, where teams rarely reveal their true intentions, anything to force a higher bid from a rival is considered keen strategy.

    And seeing as nothing excites executives more today than a power hitter, they want to believe that Tomas hit a home run during a workout in the Dominican Republic that went so far over a fence it smashed into a ladder on which a fence-painting man stood. Just like they want to believe he really did hammer a home run into a faraway laundry facility at the Philadelphia Phillies’ complex. Or that he really did park a home run over the scoreboard at Estadio Quisqueya, also in the Dominican Republic, or hit another from one team’s facility into another team’s that sits catty-corner, or that he hit a ball 550 feet. That last one is probably not true. Probably.

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  • Jason Heyward deal a classic baseball trade that makes sense for both clubs

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    The best organizations recognize when a particular window to win is closing and throw all of the valuable pieces out of it before it slams shut. Over the last two months, as they overhauled their front office, the Atlanta Braves weren’t too proud to see 2015 as a potential rebuilding year. And dealing outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins on Monday signaled the first big move in a winter that may well include more.

    Atlanta sees the loaded Washington Nationals and recognizes only a meltdown will keep them from winning the National League East. The Braves believe the New York Mets are a formidable threat, particularly if Matt Harvey returns from Tommy John surgery at even 80 percent of the best-pitcher-in-baseball level he performed at in 2013. The Miami Marlins boast a strong core of young hitters, power arms and an up-and-coming manager in Mike Redmond. And the Philadelphia Phillies … well, the less said about the Phillies the better.

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  • Giancarlo Stanton playing a dangerous game: believing in the Marlins

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    You can’t turn down $325 million. Over the next 13 years, if Giancarlo Stanton breaks his leg or falls victim to a voodoo curse or develops a crippling case of sesquipedalophobia or happens upon any other sort of unfathomable malady, the Miami Marlins still will owe him that $325 million, a sum greater than any franchise has owed any individual in the history of organized sports.

    And with that out of the way, and Stanton’s signature soon to dry on a contract that guarantees him this ungodly sum, comes the answer to a question philosophers and paupers alike have asked for eons: Apparently, the price of a soul is $325 million.

    What Robert Johnson did with a guitar, Giancarlo Stanton does with a bat, and in order to preserve that in Miami, Jeffrey Loria promised Stanton just shy of what he spent on his entire team’s combined payroll for the first eight seasons he owned it. This is a staggering deal, a monumental deal, the sort of deal in years and dollars that fits the New York Yankees’ or Los Angeles Dodgers’ or Boston Red Sox’s bailiwick.

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  • MLB taking first step in attempt to better understand elbow injuries

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    Early in the 2014 season, when barely a day went by without a pitcher blowing out his elbow and needing Tommy John surgery, Bud Selig told his staff in the commissioner’s office to start pouring money and resources into a solution. The first step in a process expected to take well over a decade begins Wednesday, and instead of major league pitchers with bum elbows it focuses on the kids who hope to avoid injuries going forward.

    Major League Baseball will announce a new initiative called Pitch Smart, in which it will aim to educate young players and their parents and coaches about risk factors in arm injuries and preventative measures to minimize them. A new website, PitchSmart.org, includes guidelines and risk factors for youth participants, along with an attempt to dispel a number of myths about the surgery that has affected hundreds of pitchers, including the still-rehabbing Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez.

    “It’s just Step 1,” said Marinak, a senior vice president at MLB in charge of the project. “The next step is to work with the youth organizations and get their buy-in.”

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  • Meet the latest Cuban sensation who could change the game

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    The most intriguing free agent in the world spends his days in Guatemala, a place not exactly known for its rich baseball history. More than 18,000 major league players’ birthplaces are known, and not a single one was born in the country that serves as a bridge between Mexico and the rest of Central America.

    Neither, for that matter, was Yoan Moncada. He is a 19-year-old, switch-hitting, fast-twitch-muscled, movie-star-looking bundle of talent from Cuba packed into a 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame. Nobody – not Yasiel Puig, not Jose Abreu, not Yoenis Cespedes – has at such a young age created so much hype among the Cuban baseball establishment since Omar Linares, the 1980s star widely regarded as the best talent ever from the island.

    In Guatemala City on Wednesday, officials from all 30 major league teams are expected to attend the first official showcase for Moncada. He’ll hit. He’ll take ground balls at shortstop, his natural position, and perhaps third base, where many expect him to end up. They’ll see him in great shape, perhaps wearing a jersey with his name and the No. 24 he sported in Cuba. And then they’ll wait.

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  • A-Rod likely won't be punished again; what do Yankees do with him?

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    Assuming Alex Rodriguez is housebroken – and considering the allegation he went full Lebowski on the floor of his cousin-turned-drug-dealer-turned-patsy, the big question is whether he aimed for a rug and whether it really tied the room together – the most interesting point to digest from the latest episode of As the Rod Turns is how it affects the 109 days until the New York Yankees' first full-squad workout.

    The consensus: It almost certainly won't. Despite speculation Major League Baseball could use the information revealed in a Miami Herald report and gathered by a federal investigation of the Biogenesis clinic to further discipline Rodriguez, multiple major league sources told Yahoo Sports the disclosures dovetailed with what the league already knew and would not prompt a suspension beyond the full-season one he served in 2014. 

    Thus comes the reality the Yankees face: 2015 with A-Rod.

    As it stands, the Yankees have no plans on keeping him at his old position.

  • Ninety feet away: The Royals' dream season dies on third base

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ninety feet separated Alex Gordon from the loneliest place in the world and the most thrilling. Ninety feet was perhaps 10 strides, 3½ seconds worth of running at top speed for Gordon, one straight line that could untether the Kansas City Royals from the history superglued to them. Ninety feet was nothing. Ninety feet was everything.

    In Game 7 of the 110th World Series, 90 feet conquered the Royals. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night, Gordon sliced a single into center field off the untouchable Madison Bumgarner, and the ball skipped past Gregor Blanco, a brutal error. After a slow kick out of the batter's box, Gordon ran. He ran like he'd never run before because never before had an opportunity like this presented itself and never again would it. He ran as left fielder Juan Perez bobbled the ball against the fence. He ran until he reached third base and saw his coach there, Mike Jirschele, throw up a stop sign. Ninety more feet to home plate and the game would have been tied.

    Ninety feet. Ninety damn feet.

    "Close," Gordon said, "but came up a little short."

  • Madison Bumgarner pitches Giants to World Series championship in classic Game 7

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Up stood Madison Bumgarner at 8:46 p.m. CT, lurking in the San Francisco Giants' bullpen like a mythical creature: the wingspan of a Cthulhu, the power of a Minotaur, the snarl of a Werewolf. He entered Game 7 of the World Series 11 minutes later in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the Giants' hopes for a third championship in five years rode on the power of his left arm.

    Over the next 85 minutes, Bumgarner did what Bumgarner does, even in an unfamiliar relief-pitching role: completely shut down teams, rob them of their will and skill, and deliver gold-and-diamond rings to the modern dynasty by the Bay.

    The Giants beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 to win the World Series at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night in an action-packed, tense, crackerjack of a ballgame that featured both teams' managers using their top-end relief pitchers to turn a back-and-forth early outing into a scoreboard replete with zeroes in the late innings.

  • On a wild ride to Game 7, these Royals super fans are the cat’s meow

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. – At 6 a.m. Wednesday, John Stoner strolled through John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., wearing a $75 outfit purchased online from a wrestling-supply shop. It is called Sprinkles the Cat Wrestling Singlet. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a skintight onesie with a giant picture of a cat on the front, hugging Stoner’s 200-some-odd pounds with unforgiving enthusiasm.

    [Photos: Best of Giants-Royals in World Series Game 7]

    Businessmen gave Stoner odd looks. TSA officers chuckled. Only when Stoner hit his layover in Phoenix did the recognition come. Ever since the day he and his friend Paul Long wore the singlets to Kauffman Stadium to salute the retiring Derek Jeter – Stoner held a sign that read “DEREK JETER” and Long had one that said “ONE CLASSY CAT” – they’ve been the sort of celebrities spawned by unexpected World Series runs.

    “You want to be humbled?” Long said. “Put one of these bad boys on in public.”

    The timing couldn’t be much better.