No official free-agent signings for the Orioles yet, but another piece of MLB news reported Monday should be of interest to their fans.
Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has decided to re-sign for another five years. The cost of keeping Jansen, one of baseball’s best relievers, in LA is $80 million, according to various reports.
What’s significant about that amount is it apparently was a hometown discount – Jansen has been with the Dodgers since he was signed out of Curacao as an amateur catcher in 2004. Various reports state that the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins offered more this winter, but were rebuffed. So, $80 million is a Dodger-blue-light special, these days.
This offseason, 31-year-old free agent closer Mark Melancon signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the San Francisco Giants, 28-year-old free agent closer Aroldis Chapman signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the New York Yankees and the 29-year-old Jansen gets $80 million from the Dodgers.
You know where I’m going with this, O’s fans.
At the least, Orioles’ closer Zach Britton, who turns 29 later this month, would be worth about $16 million per season if he were on the open market right now. He’s not, of course. He’s under Orioles’ control for two more seasons.
Britton likely will get more than $11 million in arbitration this offseason after delivering perhaps the finest year by a reliever in baseball history (0.54 ERA in 67 innings, 47-for-47 in save chances). If he has another good season in 2017, he’ll be going into his walk year in 2018 with an annual salary in the $14-to-$16 million range, one would imagine.
So, if Britton has two more above-average years as a closer, he’d be entering the free agent market at 31 with an annual salary that’s comparable with what Melancon landed as a free agent two seasons before.
With Scott Boras as his agent, it really is conceivable that Britton could be baseball’s first $20-million per season reliever in 2019. That’s an unfathomable number for someone who pitches 60-70 innings a year, but that’s the way things are trending.
It’s another reason why the Orioles should seriously consider dealing Britton now or locking him up long-term before the 2017 season begins.
Sure, you can roll the dice and hope that the reliever market calms down some by the winter of 2018, and a more reasonable deal can be worked out, but baseball salaries don’t typically trend downward.
You know Britton’s camp had to be closely watching the market of Melancon, Jansen and Chapman this winter. And I’m sure Boras and Company are more than pleased with how it worked out – with all three shattering the previous contract record for a free-agent reliever.
No Welington, then what?
As I wrote Monday, it now appears that free agent catcher Welington Castillo is more likely to sign elsewhere now that talks with the Orioles haven’t progressed.
If he’s not on the board, it’s unclear where the Orioles will go next. I’ve previously written names such as Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta, but I’m not sure the team is sold on either.
So, is Matt Wieters still a possibility?
I’d imagine yes if the money is right, but that’s based mainly on the fact that we haven’t heard Wieters’ name associated with any other teams recently. I’d caution going too far with that concept, though. Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, has made a career of landing deals with teams that were never rumored to be interested in one of his marquee clients.
Opting-out and the Orioles
According to a Yahoo Sports report, Jansen can opt-out of his new contract after three years – which means one season after Britton is a free agent, by the way, so they won’t be competing for the same contract.
The opt-out concept really rose to prominence last year, and Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has said in the past it’s not something he wants to entertain. Perhaps that way of thinking will have to change if opt-outs become more standard in the next few years.
But, for now, I agree with Duquette. A long-term deal gives security to a player, and that’s important in an industry where a career can be snatched away in an instant. But it also allows the team to have a better idea of what their future payroll and future needs are going to be. Creating uncertainty while still paying big bucks seems like a no-win for those whose jobs are to build rosters.
Brady always a draw
MLB’s Play Ball Charity Auction raised more than $235,000 this month, with proceeds going toward renovation of a baseball/softball field in honor of Shannon Forde, the late PR executive of the New York Mets.
One of the most popular auction items was lunch and a training workout with former Oriole outfielder and current club vice president Brady Anderson. The workout, which will occur in spring training in Sarasota, Fla., brought in $7,075. That’s tremendous.
Anderson, 52, hasn’t played for the Orioles since 2001, but he remains one of the most popular figures in club history. He also may have the strangest job in baseball, in which he is part of a decision-making triumvirate with Duquette and manager Buck Showalter. My guess is Anderson is the only executive in any sport that will negotiate contracts, but also has his own locker in the home clubhouse, where he’ll suit up and work out with the players.
Anderson was certainly unique during his playing days, and has carried that “uniqueness” into retirement.