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Free agents reject $13.3M deals as GMs head home

Free agents reject $13.3M deals as GMs head home

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton and Kyle Lohse were among nine free agents who turned down $13.3 million offers from their former clubs Friday as the annual general managers' ended and team officials headed home for what figures to be a busy month of negotiations.

Also rejecting the one-year guaranteed offers were the New York Yankees' trio of Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano and Hiroki Kuroda along with David Ortiz, Michael Bourn and Adam LaRoche.

Under baseball's new labor contract, all the deadlines of the business season has been speeded up in an attempt to prompt quicker decisions before the Christmas holidays. That should create more activity in the market before teams head to the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., from Dec. 3-6.

``It expedites things, People are out there and available and being discussed right away,'' said Dave Dombrowski, president of the AL champion Detroit Tigers. ``It definitely has picked things up more quickly.''

Under the old rules, teams had until Dec. 7 to offer salary arbitration to their former players who became free agents. Top players under a statistical formula that was part of the 1981 strike settlement had compensation attached if they signed with new clubs - which would lose high-round draft picks.

Under the labor contract agreed to last November, that system was replaced by qualifying offers. A team could make a qualifying offer last week that was the average of the 125 highest big league contracts by average annual value - $13.3 million this year.

Just nine of 165 major league free agents were given the offers - Ortiz then agreed to a $26 million, two-year deal to stay with the Red Sox. The group all said no in anticipation of receiving more dollars and years in the open market.

Now if they switch teams, their new club will lose a draft choice next June - its highest pick, unless that selection is among the top 10 in the first round. If a club signs more than one qualified free agent, it forfeits its highest remaining pick for each additional qualified free agent it adds.

For some of the remaining eight players, compensation may cause some teams to shy away.

``Would I have less interest in guys if I lost my No. 1 pick? Yes,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. ``I've been recently trying to steer clear of losing our draft pick.''

In the past decade, free agents requiring compensation ranged from a low of 12 in 2003 to a high of 41 the following year - with the average at 22. The new rules mean teams can sign more players without figuring in the loss of draft selections, who are prized because they are years from eligibility for arbitration and free agency.

Only the elite players require compensation. The group that's below them include pitchers Zack Greinke and Ryan Dempster, outfielders Torii Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki, catcher Mike Napoli and first baseman Carlos Pena. Melky Cabrera, the All-Star game MVP, also is available after serving his 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.

``Most qualifying offers are really for players of the highest value,'' agent Scott Boras said. ``There's a lot of good players that didn't receive qualifying offers. It allows for so much earlier planning than the other system, so I think it's really been very good. It allows more freedom for those players that fit below that top regime of talent.''

There wasn't a major trade announced during the three-day session, and the podium at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa - owned by Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort - wasn't used a single time.

But there was ample discussion among team executives and with the many agents on hand. While in past seasons teams held off completing free agent deals until Dec. 8 - not wanting to lose draft picks - they anticipate being more aggressive.

Trade talks appear to be in the feeling-out stage. Among the players who might be available are Arizona outfielder Justin Upton and Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

``Individually there might be people who are gaining momentum in their discussions,'' Cashman said. ``I'm not.''

NOTES: Physicist Leonard Mlodinow addressed the GMs Friday and they were given copies of his book, ``The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives.''

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How did the Caps let Johnny Gaudreau get so wide open on his goal?

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How did the Caps let Johnny Gaudreau get so wide open on his goal?

A 4-1 win for the Calgary Flames looks like a pretty comfortable margin on the scoresheet, but it was the Capitals who jumped out to the 1-0 lead early in the first period. Just when the Caps had all the momentum on their side, however, Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau received a tip up pass from Sean Monahan and had nothing but ice in front of him to work with.

Gaudreau is the wrong player to give that much room to. He scored to tie the game at 1 in a moment that seemed to turn the game.

LISTEN TO THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE CAPITALS EXTRA PODCAST ON THE CAPS' LOSS TO CALGARY

You can see the replay of the goal and the play that led up to it here.

From the replay, you can see defensemen Brooks Orpik and John Carlson were both caught on the right side of the ice leaving Gaudreau open on the left.

So what happened? How did Gaudreau get so wide open?

The play begins in Washington's offensive zone. Carlson and Orpik are the defensive pair on the ice, but instead of playing on their normal sides, Orpik is on the right and Carlson is on the left to put him in a better position to shoot off the draw. When the Caps lose the faceoff, Carlson and Orpik want to switch back to their natural positions at the first opportunity, but can't because Calgary has the puck and is pushing up the ice.

The Flames lose possession of the puck in the neutral zone, Orpik recovers and pushes the puck up to Devante Smith-Pelly.

"Brooks pushed it over to [Smith-Pelly] just at the blue line and he went laterally with the puck where he probably should have put it in," Trotz said.

MORE CAPITALS: 4 REASONS WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE FLAMES

Smith-Pelly was immediately boxed in when he crossed the blue line and he should have dumped the puck to the corner. Instead, he tries a difficult pass left to Alex Ovechkin that is badly off the mark as the puck goes right to Dougie Hamilton. The problem is that, since Washington had possession, Carlson took the opportunity to move back to the right, but Orpik did not yet have the chance to go left because he was in the play. Once the puck gets off his stick, Smith-Pelly turns it over almost immediately and Calgary's quick transition up to Gaudreau catches the Caps with Carlson already back on the right, but before Orpik could get back to the left giving him a free side to skate on.

The result was a goal for Calgary, an ugly replay for Washington and a turning point in a game in which the Caps had jumped out to an early lead.

"They moved it up quickly," Trotz said, "And Gaudreau, if you give him that much space, he's been the hottest guy in the National Hockey League here and we weren't able to shut him down."

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Need to Know: How bad are the Redskins late in each half?

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Need to Know: How bad are the Redskins late in each half?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, November 21, two days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day at FedEx Field.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden press conference and open locker room, 11:45 a.m.; the team will conduct a walkthrough instead of a practice.  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 9
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 19
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 26

Quantifying the problem with giving up late points:

Anyone who has watched the Redskins this year knows that they have had problems keeping other teams from scoring points late in the first half and at the end of the game. How bad is the problem? Let’s look at the numbers.

The Redskins have given up 266 points on the season. That’s 31st in the NFL. Of those points, 96 have been scored in last three minutes of the first and second halves. Opponents have put up 12 touchdowns, eight one-point conversions, two two-point conversions, and four field goals.

For comparison, the average NFL team has given up around 40 points near the end of each half. Looking at defensive scores allowed only (two of the late touchdowns against Washington were on returns), the Redskins have allowed 10 touchdowns while no other team has allowed more than seven. The average is 3.96 touchdowns given up late by each team.

You can look at it this way. In the first 27 minutes of each half of their 10 games, the Redskins have given up 170 points, or about .31 points per minute. In the other six minutes of the games, the final three of each half, the Redskins give up 1.6 points per minute played.

How have the Redskins done scoring points late in each half? They have put up five touchdowns and three field goals, a total of 44 points.

How does this affect the big picture? On the season, the Redskins’ net point differential is minus-28. If you take out the late scores, they are at plus-24. It usually works out that the teams that have positive point differentials have winning records and those with negative performances are under .500.

We saw that big picture up close on Sunday. At the end of the first half, it looked like the Redskins were going to get at least a field goal as they had a nice drive going. But the drive stalled, a false start forced them to abandon even a field goal try and the Saints put together a quick drive for a field goal as time in the half ran out. Then, of course, there was the touchdown and tying two-point conversion with just over a minute left in regulation. That’s minus-10 in the last three minutes of a game they lost in overtime.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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