It’s an amazing time to be a Padres fan. At 11pm last night local time (2am for me in Cleveland), free agent starting pitcher James Shields agreed to terms with the Padres on a 4 year deal worth $75 million. It’s a landmark deal for the Padres and represents a sea change in the franchise’s approach to free agency in an off-season full of sea changes in the franchise’s approach to being a MLB franchise.
Then we found out today that not only were the Padres working out Cuban free agent super-stud infielder Yoan Moncada, but were expected to be aggressive in bidding for his services, and maybe weren’t too worried about the penalties that will be imposed to whatever team ends up with his services.
The Padres are taking over the world: Sources say San Diego is working out Yoan Moncada today and plans to be aggressive in bidding for him.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 9, 2015
Recently told that Padres might not be be scared off by the idea of having a $300k limit/int'l prospect for the next two signing periods.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) February 9, 2015
This is damn exciting stuff, and with Shields signed and all the trades the team has made, why shouldn’t the Padres be expected to get whatever they want right now? If AJ Preller wants Yoan Moncada, he’s going to get him, right? Well no, probably not.
Let’s break down how the Padres’ off-season went, in terms of bidding for the services of free agents:
In a big surprise, the Padres were one of the top 3 contenders for Pablo Sandoval. This was the first big clue that this off-season was going to be different. Sandoval was commanding close to $100 million, and the Padres offered him that, but while they are said to have had the highest monetary offer, they were hoping for a significant discount in average annual value (AAV) in exchange for adding a 6th year while the Giants and Red Sox were only offering 5 years. In the end, Sandoval went for the best offer, 5 years and $95 million with the Red Sox, and the Padres finished 3rd in the bidding.
In much less of a surprise, the Padres were connected with 23 year old Cuban outfielder (now 3B? Good luck with that) Yasmany Tomas from the moment he became available. Preller’s history with the international market seemed to give the Padres an advantage, and the Padres’ since then filled need at the corner outfield positions really seemed like a match made in heaven.
While numbers like $105 million over 7 years were tossed around, it seemed fairly obvious towards the end of the bidding that all Tomas was looking for was something close to $70 million over 6 years. Everyone knew it, and the Diamondbacks were the only team that came close, with Tomas signing with them for 6 years and $68.5 million. The Padres never came close to that number, even though they knew that’s what it was going to take.
Then James Shields fell into the Padres lap, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports wrote today. Shields’ agent asked for too much for too long, and by the time they were willing to negotiate, the number of suitors had dwindled and teams were looking for a bargain. I thought the market would heat up at 4 years, $80 million, but that ended up being the absolute top of the market at this point in the winter. In the end, the Padres landed Shields, but there have been rumors that they didn’t have the highest bid for his services, as Shields accepted slightly less in order to stay close to home and play for a team that might be a contender in 2015.
The Padres' offer to Shields obviously was one of the highest. Heard he was willing to take a minor discount to play in San Diego.
— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) February 9, 2015
Yoan Moncada has no reason to take a discount. The 19 year old is going to break some team’s bank, as any team that signs him for somewhere between $20-40 million will have to pay a 100% tax to MLB on that money, as Moncada is subject to MLB’s wacky international spending pool limits because of his age and lack of 5 years of professional experience. That’s a $40-80 million commitment on a player who has no reason to do anything other than accept the highest bidder’s offer.
Oh, and teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox, the 3 richest teams in baseball are said to be very interested in Moncada’s services, and other big spenders like the Giants and Tigers have also held private workouts for his services. When the bidding commences in full force, which could happen at any time, the Padres are still going to be the smallest fish in the pond, no matter how puffed up and confident they might currently be.
While I don’t doubt that the Padres will make an attempt to acquire Moncada, even if they didn’t already have a track record this off-season of not having the highest bid, they don’t have the firepower to outbid these large and mega market teams.
But hey, it’s certainly fun to think about, and the Padres have spent this entire off-season defying the odds and changing the way the franchise is perceived, so anything is possible.
The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays, whether it be 3am or 5pm. Follow me on Twitter.