After a lull in the baseball world over the past week, we got a pair of signings on Sunday and Monday, as Jose Abreu inked a multi-year contract with the Houston Astros and Mike Clevinger inked a show-me deal with the Chicago White Sox.
This flurry of moves sees the White Sox move on from Abreu, who slashed a .292/.354/.506 line with the team over the course of nine seasons, and add a reclamation project to their starting rotation. Clevinger was moved in a big trade from Cleveland to the San Diego Padres during the 2020 season. He made just four starts with the team and underwent Tommy John surgery and then missed the entirety of the 2021 season.
In his first year back from Tommy John, Clevinger posted a 4.33 ERA over the course of 114 1/3 innings. His fastball velocity hovered around 93.5 miles per hour, a noticeable drop from where it was during his successful seasons in Cleveland. As a result, his strikeout rate dipped to 18.8% in 2022 compared to 27.5% in 2020 and 22.6% in 2019.
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Now, why does any of this matter? Because Clevinger’s contract, which has $12 million guaranteed, further indicates just how expensive this winter’s free-agent market is going to be…
This year being a player-friendly was already fairly apparent when Edwin Diaz inked a deal that eclipsed $100 million and a pair of other relief arms with less track record of success, Robert Suarez and Rafael Montero, inked contracts worth $46 million and $34.5 million respectively. Clevinger earning $12 million guaranteed following an uninspiring post-surgery showing is just the most recent example that adding talent, especially pitching talent, through free agency is going to be pricy.
For a team like the Toronto Blue Jays with well-known budgetary constraints this off-season, it’s looking more and more likely that additions will come by way of trades this winter, rather than through big George Springer, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Kevin Gausman-esque signings.
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