Mutinysphere, USA – A not very well-kept secret has been making the rounds around the Mutinysphere. I’ll let you in on the secret, the Free Agent pitching market is downright thin. Wild, unpredictable, and pricy bidding WILL be a thing.
That realization has kicked off one of the most active trade seasons Mutiny has seen in its 12-year history. The first several trades of the offseason shuffled batters and/or salary. Then came the December 14th deal between the Moonstruck Blues and the Roxbury Robots that sent shivers down the spines of every pitching needy team in the league. For those that have already forgotten that one, easily understandable with 14 trades coming after, the Robots picked up young inexpensive pitchers Mike Montgomery and Daniel Mengden for premier bats, Trevor Story and Khris Davis.
The following day, perennial Cy Young candidate and thin man himself, Chris Sale, Whit Merrifield and Eugenio Suarez headed to the Blues for the flipped Trevor Story and Khris Davis as well as Daniel Murphy. Having filled one need (shortstop) that had long evaded Mother Lode Argonauts General Manager Matt Buland, he quickly turned his attention to filling the massive hole he’d just created.
It took 10 days to fill that need, with the Argonauts hooking up with the Windy City Rattlers to bring Justin Verlander to the Mother Lode. Not surprising, the price was steep, with pick 1.20, red-hot outfield prospect Drew Waters, and top 30 prospect Kyle Wright who soon should contribute to the Rattlers rotation at low cost. “That carries immense value,” said Argonauts GM Matt Buland, “and that’s really tough to give up, but two years of Verlander was impossible to resist especially after the season he just had.”
In between the Argonauts bookend trades, were 13 additional trades throughout the League. Six rotation ready pitchers (Tanner Roark twice) and five high end pitching prospects changed hands. None of those trades were bigger than the Walla Walla Sweets and Scurvy Dogs pitching rich deal which may have served as a trigger point for the Verlander trade.
Making a big-time power play, the Sweets pulled off a huge surprise, bringing in Ace lefty Clayton Kershaw, in the final year on the record contract he signed in 2016, for a package of prospects; outfielders Luis Robert and Dustin Fowler and stud pitcher Alex Reyes. “Sweets fans are ecstatic to be able to watch a guy like Kershaw, “said Sweets General Manager Coy Grayson who grinned ear to ear, “and in just a few days his jersey sales have outsold every other player in Mutiny.” Everything’s definitely aces in Walla Walla.
For the Scurvy Dogs, a surplus of young pitchers led by Jamison Taillon and Trevor Bauer, who had a tremendous Ace like season himself, “gave them the freedom to consider dealing Kershaw,” said General Manager Rod Heetland. Reyes, who was highly valued by both teams, was the “stumbling block” in the deal according to both Grayson and Heetland. After several iterations of a deal, which at one point, according to sources, included a third team and another prominent left-handed starter, they finally agreed on the particulars and a straight forward two team deal was struck. Reyes adds to a stable of the arms that have given and should continue to give the Dogs staying power at the top of the division.
Other notable pitching acquisitions litter the landscape and show the madness of the off-season push for pitching. Two many to list in detail, but too important not to share, the most prominent are listed here. The unheralded but fantastic Anibal Sanchez to went to the Blues, the unfortunately injured Lance McCullers Jr to the Argonauts, the mercurial Jose Quintana to the Brooklyn Kraken and the innings eater Tanner Roark to the Blues by way of the Grants Pass Brewers. Teams hoping to follow the Scurvy Dogs model, acquired pitching prospects in drove, including Ian Anderson whom heads to the Bako Bums, who continue to stockpile talent, and Griffin Canning and Justin Dunn who help to restock the Sweets empty cupboard thinned out by the Kershaw deal.
And the trade market is not played out by any stretch. The rebuilding River City Cutthroats offer at least two starting pitchers to lust after. The underrated righty Rick Porcello and lefty Dallas Keuchel, who had a strong season after battling injuries the previous two years, are available in the right deal. For General Manager, Darrell Gonser, who patiently bides his time for that right combo of talent, inexpensive players close to the majors offers the best hope for the “rich stuff” that fuels the quicker than most rebuild, he expects.
Meanwhile, Free Agent headliners Patrick Corbin, Carlos Carrasco, Zack Wheeler, Miles Mikolas and Chris Archer await a big pay day with lesser-knowns, Nathan Eovaldi, Derek Holland, Rich Hill, Derek Rodriguez, Mike Fiers, Jake Arrieta ready to cash in on the Starting Pitching push. It’s clear the top of the starting pitching market lacks the luster of years past and the depth doesn’t seem to be on part either which should make for an interesting and existing rest of the offseason.
All said, there’s three guarantees old Bul will make this evening. 1. Free Agency will be a crazy expensive. 2. The trade market will continue to be robust. 3. And the Blues will trade again, possibly with themselves if they can’t a willing partner.