Justin Upton waited and got the contract he wanted. On Monday night, Upton agreed to a reported six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.
Upton’s contract came barely two days after Chris Davis agreed to a seven-year, $161 million deal with the Orioles.
While most in Baltimore are happy with Davis remaining with the Orioles, others aren’t, and wondered why the Orioles wouldn’t have gone with a younger, more athletic player in Upton—for a deal that wasn’t dissimilar.
Actually, the contracts are dissimilar. Upton gets $22.125 million a year—while Davis gets about $17 million for the six years with the rest deferred. Upton got an opt-out after two years, and the Orioles refused to offer anyone opt-outs.
Upton adds to an already fearsome Tigers lineup that includes Miguel Cabrera, Jose Iglesias, Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and Victor Martinez. Detroit’s payroll was estimated at $178.3 million before his signing.
He’s the second big free agent added by the Tigers. Early in the free agent process, Detroit signed former Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann for five years and $110 million.
With Upton gone, there are only five major free agents left: Yoenis Cespedes, Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler, Yovani Gallardo and Howie Kendrick.
Only Cespedes comes without a qualifying offer.
Cespedes reportedly has interest from the Chicago White Sox, and his last team, the New York Mets, but he’ll probably not easily accept an offer that’s far away from what Upton signed for.
There’s been relatively little chatter about Desmond, Fowler and Kendrick this winter, but perhaps some one-year contracts will come into play if they remain unsigned into next month.
Desmond, the longtime Nationals shortstop had some interest from other clubs as a “super utility” player, but there’s been nothing concrete lately.
Gallardo is the only top shelf pitcher left, and while the Orioles have been linked with him throughout the process, he’s now likely seeking a contract similar to what Ian Kennedy got with Kansas City, five years, $70 million.
The Orioles aren’t going to five years for Gallardo.
When the five big names are accounted for, which should be soon, the real “January signings” begin.
Those are the one-year signings of bounceback players, an area where the Orioles should be extremely active.
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