MLB’s Free-Agent Frenzy Cools with Big Names Off Market
TEMPE, AZ. (AP) - Major League Baseball’s free-agent frenzy was fun while it lasted.
Less than two weeks after it started, it’s pretty much over.
Now that the dust has settled, some of the biggest moves weren’t a huge surprise: Freddie Freeman is closer to home with the Dodgers, Nick Castellanos chose the Phillies while Trevor Story picked the Red Sox.
Other signings were more unexpected: The Twins swooped in to snag star shortstop Carlos Correa while Kris Bryant surprised most of baseball after his big deal with the Rockies.
For teams that missed out on marquee additions, there isn’t much left.
Outfielders Michael Conforto, Tommy Pham and Kevin Pillar are probably the biggest names left without a team. Right-hander Johnny Cueto is among the leading pitching options.
Free agency was a bit more fast-paced than normal because of a 99-day lockout that froze 40-man roster transactions from Dec. 2 to March 10. Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman compared the early free agency action to “drinking out of a firehose” during a dizzying few days of negotiating.
These days, it’s more like drinking from a regular old water fountain as the sport’s April 7 opening day rapidly approaches.
OHTANI ON THE BUMP
Two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani had a solid spring training debut on the mound, striking out five batters while giving up one run over 2 1/3 innings for the Los Angeles Angels.
“Felt good out there for my first start,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Last year’s American League MVP was sharp in the first, getting a called strike on his first pitch to Kansas City’s Kyle Isbel and then earning the strikeout by blowing a high fastball past the left fielder three pitches later.
The right-hander retired seven of the 11 hitters he faced. He threw 50 pitches, including 33 strikes. He was expected to throw about 45 pitches.
“The last two hits I gave up were sliders down the middle, so that’s something I need to work on,” Ohtani said.
Ohtani led the AL with 46 homers and was 9-2 on the mound with a 3.18 ERA last season.
MCMAHON, ROCKIES AGREE TO DEAL
The Colorado Rockies continued their recent spending spree after infielder Ryan McMahon agreed to a $70 million, six-year contract that avoided salary arbitration.
McMahon gets $5 million this season, $9 million in 2023, $12 million in each of the following two seasons and $16 million in each of the last two years.
He can opt out of the contract following the 2025 season and become a free agent if he finishes among the top five in MVP voting in any year from 2022-24. He can opt out after the 2026 season if he finishes among the top five in MVP voting in 2025.
McMahon set career bests last year with a .254 average and 86 RBIs, and he had 23 homers, one shy of his high. He has a .243 career average with 61 homers and 215 RBIs. The move comes less than a week after the Rockies added 2016 MVP Kris Bryant on a $182 million, seven-year deal.
PEREZ TO D-BACKS
The Diamondbacks made a few moves with their pitching staff, signing veteran left-hander Óliver Pérez to a minor league deal and claiming left-hander Caleb Baragar off waivers.
The 40-year-old Perez is attempting to play in his 20th big league season. He debuted as a 20-year-old with the San Diego Padres in 2002. Perez had five scoreless outings for Cleveland last season, giving up five hits over 3 2/3 innings and striking out four.
The 27-year-old Barager had a 2.78 ERA over 49 appearances for the Giants over the past two seasons.
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