Stephen Strasburg landed a new seven-year, $245 million contract from the Nationals on Monday, the opening day of the MLB Winter Meetings at San Diego’s Hilton Bayfront Hotel. Gerrit Cole agreed to a nine-year, $324 million pact with the Yankees on Tuesday, smashing all previous monetary records for a starting pitcher. And on Wednesday, it was Anthony Rendon’s turn in the spotlight.
Topping aggressive bids from a number of teams, including the Rangers, the Angels signed the star third baseman to a seven-year, $245 million free agent deal that carries no deferred money and a full no-trade clause. There are also no opt-outs.
Rendon was viewed as an underrated-but-budding star for much of his tenure in Washington before exploding to the tune of a .319/.412/.598 batting line with 34 home runs and 126 RBI over 146 regular-season games in 2019. He went on to hit .328/.413/.590 with three home runs and 15 RBI over 17 games in the playoffs as the Nationals marched to their first World Series championship.
Underrated no longer, the 29-year-old joins Mike Trout in Anaheim to form what may be the most lethal combination of right-handed hitters in any major league lineup. A terrific defender as well, Rendon will also be positioned alongside shortstop-wizard Andrelton Simmons on the left side of the Angels’ infield.
Rendon was a top-five 3B-eligible fantasy commodity in 2019, ranking as high as second in some scoring formats, and there’s no reason to expect a drop-off next year given that he’ll be batting either directly behind or in front of Trout on an everyday basis. In terms of park factors, Angel Stadium ranks just a few spots behind Nationals Park for power output. The end of Rendon’s seven-year contract could get ugly, but the first handful of years should be as fruitful as the $35 million AAV payout suggests.
Scott Boras, the agent to Rendon, Cole, and Strasburg, is known for slow-playing the free agent market in order to get top dollar for his clients. But just 11 days into the month of December, Boras has already negotiated $878 million in contracts, with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel, and Nicolas Castellanos still to come. It’s shaping up as a billion-dollar offseason for Boras Corp.
Treinen A Dodger, Oberg Extended
There was action on the relief market Wednesday, with the Dodgers signing former Athletics closer Blake Treinen to a one-year, $10 million free agent contract. Finalization of the deal is only pending the necessary physical exam.
Treinen was non-tendered by Oakland earlier this month after battling elbow and shoulder issues during the 2019 regular season and posting an ugly 4.91 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 59/37 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings when healthy. But the 31-year-old right-hander turned in one of the most dominant relief seasons in MLB history in 2018 -- 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 frames -- and he is a prime bounceback candidate in Los Angeles.
Treinen figures to open 2020 as a setup man to Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, though he could potentially see some save opportunities if he returns to his 2018 form and Jansen can’t reverse his own decline. Jansen had a 2.08 ERA through his first eight major league seasons before turning in a 3.01 ERA in 2018 and a 3.71 ERA in 2019. It’s something to watch.
And then the Rockies took care of one of their own, inking Scott Oberg to a three-year, $13 million extension with an $8 million club option for 2023. The new deal includes $2 million in performance-based bonuses over the first three guaranteed seasons, and the total value could run to $26 million if the option is exercised and Oberg triggers all of the incentives.
Oberg, who was set to hit free agency after the 2021 season, registered a 2.25 ERA with 58 strikeouts over 56 innings out of the Colorado bullpen in 2019 and served as the Rockies’ closer for a stretch until his campaign was cut short in August due to a blood clot in his right arm. The 29-year-old is expected to be fully healthy leading into the start of spring training in 2020 and should be the favorite to open as the Rockies’ primary ninth-inning man.
Roark, Wacha, Lindblom Find Homes
Cole and Strasburg are locked up and the second tier of the starting pitching market has yet to fully shake out, but a number of lower-tier free agent starters agreed to contracts on the third day of the annual MLB Winter Meetings.
Tanner Roark got the richest deal of the group, agreeing to a two-year, $24 million pact with the Blue Jays. It’s a big chunk of change for a guy who holds a 4.46 ERA over the last three seasons -- a span of 527 total innings -- but he is experienced and durable, and Toronto’s rotation depth chart was lacking in both qualities. The 33-year-old right-hander could serve as the Opening Day starter for the Jays in 2020.
Next is Josh Lindblom, who scored a three-year, $9.125 million deal from the Brewers after a career-resuscitating three-year run in the Korea Baseball Organization. Lindblom put up a 2.50 ERA, 0.997 WHIP, and 189/29 K/BB ratio in 194 2/3 innings (30 starts) this past season for the Doosan Bears, and may very well turn into a diamond in the rough for Milwaukee. He’ll work as a back-end starter initially.
Rounding things out, Michael Wacha reached a one-year, $3 million agreement with the Mets. The deal includes another $7 million in performance-based incentives. Wacha is well past his prime already at age 28 -- a chronic shoulder injury is to blame for that -- but it’s a low-risk deal for New York and maybe he can tap into some of the magic that led him to MVP honors in the 2013 NLCS.
MLB Quick Hits: According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Rockies are "willing to listen to trade inquiries" on Nolan Arenado … Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Dodgers and Indians "continue to be engaged in serious trade talks" involving Francisco Lindor … According to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, the Angels have expressed interest in a trade for Indians starter Corey Kluber … Anthony Rizzo's agent Marc Pollack told ESPN's Jesse Rogers that the Cubs have expressed no interest in working out a contract extension with his client this offseason … According to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, "a number of teams have engaged with the Twins" about a possible Eddie Rosario trade … Dellin Betances is "being talked about" by the Twins, according to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Padres are joining the Starling Marte trade sweepstakes … Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Blue Jays, Reds, Brewers, and Marlins are all showing interest in free agent outfielder Kole Calhoun … Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks discussed a "significant" deal with free agent Madison Bumgarner … Brewers general manager David Stearns said Tuesday that he has stayed in contact with Eric Thames, who became a free agent after Milwaukee declined his $7.5 million club option back in November … MLB.com's Jon Morosi reports that the Tigers have expressed interest in free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos … According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Yankees are hoping to re-sign Brett Gardner soon … Craig Mish of FNTSY Radio reports that opposing teams "keep asking" about Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara … According to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, 46-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon "still wants to pitch” … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Nationals are "engaged" with several free agent infielders beyond Josh Donaldson, including Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Maikel Franco, and Ryan Zimmerman … According to Craig Mish of FNTSY Radio, there are six teams in on free agent outfielder Corey Dickerson … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Edwin Encarnacion has interest from five American League clubs … Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays held a "preliminary meeting" this week with Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama, as did the Cubs and Diamondbacks … Royals manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday that Salvador Perez (elbow) could see "considerable time" at first base next season … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Rick Porcello has a three-year offer from an unnamed team … Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Yankees have shown interest in free agent catcher Martin Maldonado … Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the Athletics are interested in a potential trade for Jed Lowrie … Despite drawing reported interest from MLB teams, Casey Kelly has re-signed with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization for one year, $1.5 million … Tyler Wilson re-signed with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization for one year, $1.6 million … MLB.com's Jon Morosi writes that Mel Rojas Jr. "will likely return" to the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization if he doesn't land a guaranteed MLB deal … Tigers RHP prospect Franklin Perez (shoulder) hasn't thrown off a mound since June.