Subject: Not every team is playing to win
Content: The win-or-rebuild cycle that teams now employ certainly affects the free-agent market. The Tigers have annually had one of the highest payrolls and have spent huge dollars in free agency in the past (Fielder, Jordan Zimmermann, Justin Upton), but are now dumping and rebuilding. The Phillies, another big-market team with high payrolls in the past, are still rebuilding. They once ranked second in team payroll, but were just 22nd in 2017. They’ve made one significant signing this offseason -- Carlos Santana -- but should be ready to make some major moves next year. [img][/img] What’s interesting are the teams that aren’t spending (or haven’t spent yet). The Brewers had the lowest payroll in the majors in 2017 at $78.8 million, but have been over $100 million in the past. Even though they came close to winning a wild card, their big move has been signing Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year, $15.5 million contract. That’s a low-risk, smart signing but isn’t going to push the club much closer to the Cubs. The Blue Jays were at $166 million in payroll, but sit at $144 million. [url=][/url] The Mets were at $169 million but are now at an estimated $125 million. It’s unsure whether those teams are trying to build the best teams possible for 2018 or saving money for 2019. [img][/img] Think of how teams use the trade market. The Astros acquired Justin Verlander not just for last year’s postseason run, [url=]Womens Terry O'Reilly Jersey[/url] but to anchor their rotation for the next two seasons. Instead of signing Neil Walker to a multiyear deal to play second base, the Angels traded for Ian Kinsler in the final year of his contract. Less long-term commitment equals less risk, even if it costs you prospects. Under GM Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners have been more inclined to trade for younger players or younger, established veterans -- Dee Gordon, Ryon Healy, Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura -- than sign veteran free agents. In this specific year, this is certainly [url=][/url] the case. Potential free agents this year could have included Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, Paul Goldschmidt, Carlos Carrasco, Kyle Seager, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Matt Carpenter, Salvador Perez, Josh Harrison and Jason Kipnis. Instead, all signed long-term extensions with their clubs. Imagine a free-agent class with Trout, Altuve and Goldschmidt -- I don’t think the Yankees and Dodgers would be sweating the luxury tax. Studies have shown that the percentage of WAR contributed [url=]Levine Toilolo Youth jersey[/url] by hitters over 30 peaked in 1998. Aging curves have generally returned to their pre-steroids era norms, meaning free agents in their 30s come with more risk than 20 years ago. In recent seasons, we’ve [url=]Authentic Trevor Siemian Jersey[/url] seen young players continue to make bigger impacts on the game. Young players are also cheap! If you’re, say, the Rockies and you know you need an outfielder, do you give $30 million to Jay Bruce on a two-year contract, or simply give David Dahl or Raimel Tapia an opportunity? Do you sign a second-tier first baseman like Logan Morrison or Lucas Duda or play rookie Ryan McMahon? More teams, especially those in smaller or midsize markets, or rebuilding teams, are more willing to go with the young guys. It all adds up to a slow-moving market. Which means Darvish, Hosmer, Martinez and Arrieta will probably all sign $150 million contracts this week -- or at least we can [url=][/url] hope something big will finally happen ... right?Alex Rodriguez was Machado’s idol when he was growing up as a kid in Miami, and the comparisons between the two as players are natural because they were raised in the same area, as wildly talented, thriving power-hitting infielders. But there seems to be one enormous and important difference between Alex Rodriguez and Machado. Throughout A-Rod’s career, nobody ever questioned his focus. Ever. Potential investors viewed Rodriguez as someone of superlative skill and total commitment, someone who would do whatever he needed to do daily to be great. That helped him land two record-setting contracts -- his $252 million deal with the [url=]Womens Tim Wright Jersey[/url] Rangers, which he opted out of to negotiate a $275 million monster with the Yankees. Last year was a challenge for Machado, for sure. Early in the year, he was at the center of the Orioles’ beanball stuff with the Red Sox after colliding with Dustin Pedroia on a slide. The Orioles had the worst rotation in the majors and for the Baltimore position players, there must’ve been a Groundhog Day feel to the season: By the fourth or fifth inning on most days, Machado and the other position players would be staring at an early deficit of three or four runs. By September, the Orioles sometimes looked like the walking dead, Machado among them. He finished with a .259 average and a .310 on-base percentage, and as ESPN Researcher Paul Hembekides notes, his performance outside of hitter-friendly Camden Yards was flat-out awful last season -- a .268 on-base percentage in 336 plate appearances, with an Adjusted OPS+ of 80, well below major league average. He’s going to get a great contract and make more money than almost all of his peers, because of how special a defender he is, whether he’s at shortstop (where the Orioles are expected to play him this year) or at third base. But Machado could help himself by being more consistent, in a sport that probably values that trait [url=][/url] -- and compensates for it -- more than any other. Our top-10 list of third basemen, which is based on the input of evaluators and the insight and data generated by ESPN’s Paul Hembekides, Sarah Langs and Mark Simon. And of all the tasks in this series, trying to rank the third basemen is the most impossible.    [url=][/url]  [url=][/url]  [url=][/url]  [url=][/url]  [url=][/url]  [url=][/url]  [url=][/url]  [url=][/url]