While we’re all waiting for Bryce Harper to land his long-awaited mega free agent contract, the Rockies and four-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove Award winner Nolan Arenado made history Tuesday by agreeing to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension which could keep him with the club through 2026.
The deal is a huge statement by the Rockies, who were at risk of losing Arenado to free agency following the 2019 season. They paid big-time in order to keep their star third baseman in the fold, as he now holds the highest-ever average annual value (AAV) of any position player at $32.5 million. The previous record-holder was Miguel Cabrera at $31 million. Zack Greinke has the highest AAV ever at $34.417 million as part of his contract with the Diamondbacks.
Arenado recently set the record for the highest-ever salary through arbitration as part of his one-year, $26 million deal with the Rockies. That will be ripped up as part of this new extension. He’s also getting an opt-out after the third year, allowing him to potentially hit the open market after his age 30-season. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the extension includes a full no-trade clause.
Arenado has been as steady as it gets over the past four seasons, putting together a monster .297/.358/.573 batting line. He’s reached at least 37 home runs and 110 RBI in each of them. We can expect that elite-level production to continue in 2019 and beyond, especially with Coors Field as the backdrop. If you have Arenado in a dynasty or keeper fantasy format, feel free to celebrate right now. As for redraft formats, he's a lock to be a first-rounder in drafts this spring.
Miles Gets Mo’ Money
While Arenado’s record-breaking deal was the most significant news of the day, it wasn’t the only contract extension from Tuesday, as the Cardinals announced a four-year, $68 million agreement to keep their ace Miles Mikolas around for the long haul.
The Cardinals got themselves a heck of a bargain when they signed Mikolas for two years and $15 million last winter. Back in the states after spending three years in Japan, the 30-year-old compiled a brilliant 2.83 ERA and 146/29 K/BB ratio in 200 2/3 innings over 32 starts. With his strong debut season for St. Louis, he finished sixth in the balloting for the National League Cy Young Award.
Mikolas’ contract would have allowed him to test free agency following the 2019 season, but the Cardinals made sure he didn’t get a chance to sniff the open market. The new deal runs through the 2023 season and carries a salary of $15.75 million for all four years, as well as a $5 million signing bonus. With his previous contract, he was already due to make $8 million in 2019. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the deal carries full no-trade protection and doesn’t include any opt-outs.
Mikolas ranked 51st among qualifying starters in strikeout percentage (18.1 percent) last season, so he can’t hang with some of the league’s best in that area. That could matter in a fantasy league with an innings cap, but otherwise there’s a lot to like going into drafts in 2019. Mikolas boasted the lowest walk percentage (3.6 percent) among qualified starters last year and showed an ability to keep the ball on the ground and in the ballpark. He checks in with an ADP (average draft position) of 94.89 on NFBC, which is 27th among starting pitchers. That's a reasonable price tag.
Martinez and Frazier Hurting
There were two notable injuries coming out of the Grapefruit League on Tuesday, with fantasy ramifications abound. The biggest news was out of Cardinals’ camp, where right-hander Carlos Martinez has been shut down for two more weeks after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his throwing shoulder.
Shoulder issues are nothing new for Martinez. He first dealt with it back in 2015, but it sprung up again last season before he was forced to finish the season in the bullpen. He was already on a “no-throw” program this spring in order to strengthen the shoulder, with Cardinals president John Mozeliak even going as far to express frustration about his offseason training regimen. Martinez was sent for a second opinion on the shoulder on Monday and returned to camp on Tuesday with his arm in a sling before the news about the latest shutdown.
The Cardinals will have to cross their fingers that the platelet-rich plasma injection does its job, but the clock is obviously ticking in order for him to be ready for Opening Day. At this point, beginning the year on the injured list or as a member of the bullpen are more likely scenarios that getting stretched out as a starter.
Alex Reyes would be the exciting option to replace Martinez in the Cardinals’ rotation, certainly from a fantasy perspective. Word has been positive on him so far this spring as he makes his way back from surgery to repair a torn lat muscle, but the Cardinals have other options if they don’t want to rush things. Austin Gomber, Dakota Hudson, John Gant, and Daniel Ponce de Leon are among the alternatives. Gant, who is out of options this spring, had a 3.47 ERA over 19 starts and seven relief appearances with the Cardinals last season.
Moving over to Mets camp, it was revealed Tuesday morning that Todd Frazier was diagnosed with a left oblique strain following an MRI. He suffered the injury swinging the bat on Monday. The Mets didn’t indicate a timetable for his return, but oblique strains are known to be very tricky and often sideline players for weeks at a time. Depending on the severity, Opening Day could be in question.
Jed Lowrie is already sidelined with a sprained capsule in his left knee, so the depth of the Mets’ infield is being tested early. Jeff McNeil is seeing time in the outfield this spring, but he could be needed in the infield depending on how Frazier and Lowrie progress in the coming days. J.D. Davis, another offseason addition, might be looking at a bigger role and there could now be a path for top prospect Pete Alonso to force his way onto the Opening Day roster.
Frazier was a disappointment in the first year of his two-year, $17 million deal with the Mets, batting just .213/.303/.390 with 18 homers and 59 RBI over 115 games. He required two trips to the disabled list after having none over the first seven years of his career.
Quick Hits: After he “didn’t feel great” while playing catch on Monday, Clayton Kershaw will attempt to throw again on Thursday. … Corey Seager (elbow) began swinging during live batting practice sessions Tuesday in Dodgers camp … Gary Sanchez (shoulder) is likely to make his spring debut on Friday. … Yu Darvish walked four batters and allowed two runs — one earned — over 1 1/3 innings in his Cactus League debut on Tuesday. … Mallex Smith (elbow) is expected to be cleared to resume throwing next week. ... Shohei Ohtani (elbow) was slated to take 35 swings off a tee and track pitches during batting practice on Tuesday. … Matt Chapman (thumb, shoulder) will make his Cactus League debut Wednesday as the designated hitter. … Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Yankees are talking extension with Didi Gregorius and Dellin Betances. … Shin-Soo Choo required an injection to address soreness and inflammation in the AC joint in his left shoulder, but he could return to action as soon as this weekend. … Miguel Sano (heel) will be examined by the Twins’ medical staff on Wednesday. … Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals are close to finalizing a minor league pact with catcher Matt Wieters. … Yonder Alonso homered and doubled Tuesday against the Royals. … CC Sabathia (knee, heart) will throw his first bullpen session of the spring on Friday. … Adam Wainwright retired all six of the batters he faced Tuesday in his Grapefruit League start against the Nationals. … New Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock singled twice and drew a walk out of the leadoff spot Tuesday against the Royals. … Sonny Gray (elbow) will throw from a distance of 120 feet on Tuesday. … In his spring debut, Trevor Rosenthal (elbow) hit 100 mph in a perfect frame against the Cardinals on Tuesday. … Back with the Indians, Carlos Santana slugged a two-run homer and drove in another run with a groundout Tuesday against the Rockies … Mike Soroka (shoulder) is scheduled to resume throwing on Thursday. … Padres top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. slugged his first Cactus League homer on Tuesday. … Marco Gonzales notched five strikeouts over three scoreless frames in his Cactus League start Tuesday … Sean Newcomb threw a pair of hitless frames Tuesday against the Mets. … Michael Pineda (knee, elbow) is set to make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday … Padres prospect Chris Paddack allowed an unearned run and struck out four batters over two innings in his start Tuesday. … New Diamondbacks infielder Wilmer Flores delivered a bases-clearing double Tuesday against the Cubs. … An MRI confirmed that Marlins prospect outfielder Victor Victor Mesa has a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring. … Danny Duffy is dealing with some shoulder tightness. … White Sox prospect Dane Dunning is being evaluated by the White Sox medical staff after complaining of forearm discomfort. … Diamondbacks outfielder Jarrod Dyson has been diagnosed with an oblique strain. … Nationals reliever Koda Glover was diagnosed with a right forearm strain. … The Rangers signed infielder Logan Forsythe to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. … Phillies reliever Tommy Hunter was diagnosed with a Grade 1 flexor strain.