There is only one team left standing in MLB right now. Let it be known that the other twenty-nine teams were all sat back down. They aren’t, however, sitting on their hands. They are sitting at a computer somewhere as they crunch different algorithms or in meetings doing the same to weigh the costs of their players who can reject or accept the current qualifying offer for the 2020 season. This article will focus on the 9 players from the 6 different National League teams. All but one player who qualified in the American League tasted postseason experience this year but with the National League, 5 of the 9 players were watching the playoffs from home. I actually think makes these decisions more interesting. If said player did not but you over the top and into the playoffs last year, is it in the best interest of the team to sign them this year? So, are these players worth $17.9MM to their clubs? And yes, congratulations to the Washington Nationals, but even they have multiple decisions to make while they drink champagne. We will look at the numbers and the production to arrive at the correct answers.
Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals
Previous Contracts- He has had an 8 year career all with the Nationals, even though he was originally drafted by the Braves, yet did not sign. They have paid him a total of $49.4MM. Only the last 2 years has he made over $10MM per year.
What has he done? He broke in the league in 2013 at the age of 23, and if you look at his stats, he improved in almost every measurable stat from then til now with the exception of stolen bases. He has 150 or more hits in each of his last 4 years. The last 3 years over 40 of those hits have been doubles. He has had a batting average of over .300 for the past 3 years. But, the stat that really shows his continued growth at the plate is this seasons k/bb ratio. He struck-out 86 times while walking 80 times. Oh, and just to put the icing on the cake, in 2019 he made 11 errors in 355 chances.
What does he mean to his team? He is the best hitter on the team. He also the best defender on the team not named Robles. Now that Harper is gone, he is the face of the franchise.
The Nationals gave him the qualifying offer and he will likely turn it down in search of a contract over 5 years and over $150MM. If the Nationals are smart, they will offer him such a contract.
Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants
Previous Contracts- He, like Rendon above has been in the “bigs” for 9 years, he has made more total money than Rendon ($57.5MM) but has never made more than $12MM in any given year.
What has he done? Everyone wants to point to his postseason resume where he is 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA with 1 save, 2 MVPs and 3 complete game shutouts. You have to get to the post-season first. In the regular season he is 119-92, and over his last 3 seasons he is 19-25. In 2019 he pitched over 200 innings, had over 200 strike-outs and finished with a 9-9 record. He also gave up the most home runs (30) and earned runs (90) this season than in any other season past. Plus he had his highest ERA ever at 3.90.
What does he mean to his team? He was the workhorse, he was the ace. But, he has declined since his atv accident, and the Giants are in a rebuild of sorts. We are not sure how the team views him today.
This is an interesting case. The Giants offered him the qualifying offer and he might take it, and that might be an overpay. If they hadn’t offered it, they essentially let him go getting nothing in return, which is a mistake. I think, ultimately, they will sign him to a 4 year extension worth around $60MM.
Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals
Previous Contracts- He has had an 11 year career, all with the Nationals. He is technically signed through 2024, but he exercised his opt out clause and is now a free agent. To date he has earned $110.4MM. If he stays with the Nationals his next 4 years will be paid; $25MM, $15MM, $15MM, and $45MM (no that last year is not a misprint).
What has he done? He has given his team almost a 2 to 1 ratio in wins and losses in the regular season with 112-58. But injuries have cost him as well, and the fact that in 11 years he has pitched over 180 innings only 3 times. This season, had he struck out 5 more batters, he would have fanned 200 more batters than he walked. This post-season he was 5-0 with an ERA under 2.00 and a 47/4 k/bb ratio.
What does he mean to his team? Even after looking at those numbers above, he is the #2 starter on this team. Most teams he would be #1 but we are looking at his teammate being Max Scherzer for that.
Strasburg was offered the qualifying offer. I think he will ultimately resign with the Nationals.
Josh Donaldson, 3B, Braves
Previous Contracts- The last two years Donaldson has made $23MM each year. Overall in eight years he has amassed $80,422,500.
What has he done? He had a great year back in 2015with 122 runs, 123 RBIs and 41 doubles and home runs. In 2019 after a few injuries he reestablished himself with 96 runs, 94 RBI’s 33 doubles and 37 home runs.
What does he mean to his team? The Braves have Austin Riley who could play 3rd, but he batted just .226 last year. Johan Camargo who hit .233 and Charlie Culberson who while is not an actual 3rd baseman did bat exactly the same as Donaldson .259. But the three of them combined hit 7 less home runs than did Donaldson. So, the Braves have options at 3rd base, they just have to decide if a 4 year $80MM or so contract is worth giving to 34 year old power hitting injury prone 3rd baseman.
He will receive the qualifying offer from Atlanta. He will turn it down, and whichever team that offers him a fourth guaranteed year will then sign him.
Zack Wheeler, RHP, Mets
Previous Contracts- Zack has had a 6 year MLB career. In those 6 years, he has made a total of $10.2MM.
What has he done? For his career he is 44-38, which only gives him about an average of 12 wins a year. He has struck 726 batters and walked 270 in his 5 year injury laden career where he missed two entire seasons.
What does he mean to his team? When the team you pitch for has deGrom and Syndergaard then you are always going to be the third best option. The Mets also have Matz, Lugo and Oswalt, so they have options. Can they justify a jump from $5.9MM to over $17MM?
Prediction- The Mets offered Zack the qualifying offer but will stay in contact with him and try to sign him to an affordable and reasonable 2-4 year contract.
Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals
Previous Contracts- Last season was the first season he made double digit millions with $12MM. For his career he has made a total of $26.3MM in 6 seasons.
What has he done? He has hit over 30 home runs only one season and is two shy of 150 for his career. He has drove in 90+ RBI’s only once in his career and has batted over .280 in his career only once. His slash line for the two years he has been a Cardinal is 26/88/260 HR/RBI/AVE.
What does he mean to his team? As you can see above his numbers have been slightly above average, but the problem is no other Cardinal even comes close to those above average numbers.
The Cardinals offered him the qualifying offer. He is exploring an extension with the team, but could look at the open market.
Will Smith, LHP, Giants
Previous Contracts- He has made $11.7MM in his entire 6 year career with Milwaukee and San Francisco. Making $4.22 this past season.
What has he done? First, he is left handed, second he has 49 saves the last 2 seasons, third his ERA has been under 3.00 the last 3 years and he has a career. Lastly he has a career 10.8 strikeout per 9 innings, and this past year that number was a career best 13.2.
What does he mean to his team? This depends on how the Giants view themselves. Are they rebuilding, reloading, or tearing it down? If they think they have a shot this season, that shot would increase with him as their closer.
You can’t make a jump from $4.2 to 17.9MM, but the Giants don’t seem deterred. He is a very good late inning option, and will have lots of suitors. The Giants may ultimately be one of them.
Author Twitter: @TheCleatGeek
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