Even with this year's free agent market muddled with starting pitching, one name stands out as a possible bargain in free agency.
I've always been a Doug Fister fan and just a day after seeing J.A. Happ get $36 million, I have this feeling that he could be the biggest bargain the free agent market will see.
A player's future contract has a lot to do with what they did in their contract year.
Happ found some magic at the end of the season, pitching to a 1.85 ERA in his final 11 starts and was rewarded with a $12 million per season contract.
Fister's 2015 season was not nearly as pretty.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old went 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 103 innings pitched, losing his spot in the Nationals' starting rotation and missed time to due an elbow injury. In short, Fister was not the Fister that baseball had known.
From 2011 to 2014, Fister was a really good pitcher. Over that span, he worked to a 3.11 ERA and 129 ERA+, making him easily one of the better pitchers in the league.
If Fister was a free agent last offseason, he may have gotten at least $75 million.
His contract year, however, could have cost him $25 million or more. Even though pitching, especially starting pitching, gets paid quite well, it's hard to see Fister's contract surpassing $50 million.
The question becomes: Can Fister bounce back?
His decreasing fastball velocity and strikeout numbers could be an indication that he will not. However, opposing hitters hit for a .316 BABIP off him last year, a good 20 points over his career average and 18 points over the Major League average. BABIP is usually an indication of luck, which Fister clearly did not have in 2015.
Fister has always been a control artist and still showed excellent command last year, shown in his 2.1 BB/9 ratio. He gave up hits at an alarmingly high rate (10.5 H/9), yet another indication that he could bounce back.
In the end, Fister could end up signing a one-year deal (obviously not for $50 million) to rebuild his value. There is also the possibility of him signing a multi-year contract at a much lower price than what he could have received last year.
With the demand for pitching so high, Doug Fister could be free agency's biggest bargain.
From a structure standpoint, the baseball world witnessed an extremely rare trade tonight.
A team traded a well-established Major Leaguer with tons of cheap, team control. In my now-three years of doing this, I have never seen such a thing. Usually--a better word choice would be "always"--teams want to keep those players to build around. Those players can help them in the future.
But the Braves traded Andrelton Simmons tonight to the Angels.
Simmons is signed through 2020 and is going to be paid just $53 million during the next five seasons, making $10.6 million per year. He is easily the best defensive shortstop in the league and one of the best overall.
Teams drool over having this type of player: a star with undervalued team control.
The Braves have said over and over again that their plan is to contend in 2017 when they open their new ballpark. So, why trade Simmons when he could still be on your team when you are relevant again? He's was not only scheduled to be on that 2017 squad, but also was going to be on the '18, '19, and '20 Braves, too.
Sure, the Braves did get quite a haul for Simmons, and rightly so. With that said, however, prospects are prospects, and Simmons was a tangible Major League talent that, again, would be there in 2017.
Who is to say that the Braves are not selling high? Plenty of things could happen: Simmons could get injured, decline, or not perform in a new place. But, from what we've seen, Simmons is here to stay among the best of the best in the league.
Also, who is to say that these prospects won't pan out? Again, injuries, decline, and not being able to perform in the Major Leagues are obvious concerns there.
I get that the Braves think they have Simmons' future replacement in the Minor Leagues in Ozhaino Albies. And maybe he pans out better than Simmons was. But Albies is just 18 and has never played a game over Class-A. If Aibes was the reason for this move, that's putting a lot on a guy who hasn't even faced the upper minors, let alone the Major Leagues.
Maybe the trade of Andrelton Simmons does turn out in the Braves future. I'm not saying it won't. I'm just thinking that the timing, if anything, just seems interesting in this situation.
The offseason is here. Trades will be made. It's hard to know who exactly could be moved. From experience, I know we could see just about anyone get traded during the winter. I compiled a list of four possible trade candidates this offseason, what could make them appealing, and why they may be dealt.
If you think the New York Mets' young left-hander was good last night, just think of what is to come.
In the team's heartbreaking 5-3 loss yesterday in Game 4 of the World Series, a major storyline was blatantly overshadowed: Steven Matz.
Matz pitched five excellent innings last night in a must-win game for the Mets. He allowed seven hits (two in the sixth), allowing two runs, while striking out five and walking none.
He might not be as polished as the rest of the Mets' pitching staff, but that's expected for a player who has just nine Major League starts under his belt. His poise and stuff was great and even Alex Rodriguez, who was commentating for FOX, praised the fact that he's a left-handed pitcher that can throw harder 95 mph.
Even more exciting for Matz and the Mets is that the 24-year-old is from Long Island and grew up rooting for the team.
"This is what you write up in your backyard when you're playing Wiffle ball," Matz said before Game 4 (via CBS Sports). "I always thought about it. I didn't know it was actually going to come to truth or whatever. It's actually amazing. It's pretty big blessing being here, especially my first year being a part of this team."
And while Matz did everything he could to bring that dream to reality, it was the bullpen that soured his performance. But baseball is a team effort and there is nothing Matz could do about it.
One thing is for sure: Matz looked and pitched like the type of pitcher that will be pitching in many more big games to come.