The outfield market has been slow to develop this offseason, but perhaps we are starting to see a pickup in the action. The past couple of days we have seen the surprise moves of Alex Gordon re-signing with the Royals for 4 years $72 million and the injured-riddled Denard Span agreeing to a 3 year $31 million deal with the Giants. I breakdown both deals below and offer a take on how they will affect the rest of the position player free agent market.
Denard Span Signs with the Giants
I had predicted that Span would end up accepting a one year $18 million deal and try to rebuild his value from his injury-riddled 2015 season. In that same piece I had said that I would have given Span a two year contract, but for slightly less money per year. The reason I felt that giving him a multi-year deal would be smart was because that Span has been a consistent play over his career and I have confidence that he could rebound from his injuries. If healthy, there is no doubt that Span is one of the better leadoff hitters in the MLB, but since a lot of his game is based off of his speed, injuries would create slightly more risk for the Giants. I was surprised that San Francisco was willing to give him that third year, which I would not have given him. But if the 31 year old outfielder gets back to full strength, the deal could be a major bargain for the 2014 World Series Champions. Overall, this is one of the riskier contracts that have been handed out this offseason, but the Giants could be adding a key difference maker to their lineup at a good value.
Alex Gordon Becomes KC’s Franchise Player
When Gordon decided to accept the 4 year $72 million contract from KC, it meant that he would become the highest paid player in the history of the franchise. However, I thought Gordon would be able to get A LOT more on the free agent market. With the spike in prices for top tier players on the free agent market, I predicted that Gordon would receive a five year $100 million contract. In fact, I would have given him $110 million over five seasons. Obviously, the 31 year-old left fielder got a lot less than I was expecting. I am a huge fan of Gordon because of his mix of speed,power and consistency with the bat. He has been extremely consistent throughout the past couple of seasons and I think that Kansas City got an absolute steal with this contract. Now I don’t know if Gordon had better offers on the table, and took significantly less because of a hometown discount. All I know is that the Royals are bringing back a very solid player to their lineup next season. I think that this signing is also important because they have a number of other players approaching free agency and to get a cornerstone piece locked up for the next four years is a huge plus.
How does this Affect the Rest of the Free Agent Outfielders
With Gordon and Span signing in back to back days, the free agent outfield market may start to pick up. I thought that after Jason Heyward signed with the Cubs, we would see the other top outfield guys follow suit, but it just never did. Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra, Austin Jackson and I’ll even through in Chris Davis into the free agent outfield group, are still available. If I had my choice of all these hitters I would go for Davis, with Cespedes following closely behind him. I still expect that these players, along with Justin Upton, will get at least five year deals and make over $20 million dollars per year. It’s an interesting market for sure because we have Denard Span, who was coming off an injury, getting more money than expected, and a consistent player in Alex Gordon gets significantly less than expected. These deals are both surprising in their own way, and I expect their could be some more interesting contracts given out to this group of free agent outfielders in the days to come.