(GAME DATE — Sep. 12, 2020) — The season rapidly approaches its final games, and for some GMs that may mean keeping at least one eye on the pending free agency list. There are 64 players eligible for free agency at the moment, and at least a dozen could sign for high-dollar amounts either as extensions, or with news teams this fall.
Currently, Danny Sanchez and Adam Price are the two highest paid players in their final contract year. Sanchez, the Norfolk Sharks shortstop, will earn $21 million this year, and the “Golden Boy” is having another fantastic year which will be sure to keep his next contract in that territory.
Sanchez, a 2-time MVP, will wrap up his 7th season with a disappointing Norfolk squad that will be folded this offseason, meaning he will be signed to a new contract with a new team if the Norfolk managers do not extend him. If he is extended, he will go into the contraction draft as a known quantity, and could be either an attractive grab or an unpopular piece depending on the size and length of the contract.
He is 33-year-old, but still managing to hit over .350, has already reached a WAR of 5.8 this season, and he is on pace to best his 6.1 of 2017. Sanchez will likely break the $30 million mark in free agency as he is an ideal leadoff or top of the lineup man with plenty of solid line drives left in his bat.
Meanwhile, Seattle left-hander Price is a 3-time All-Star who will earn $28.8 million in his fourth and final contract year with the Salts. “High” Price, as he is known, is turning 37 this off-season, but has still managed to craft a worthy 3.36 ERA, and will smash his personal strikeout high of 157 likely in his next start or two.
Scouts still like Price and he has shown improvement through his mid-30s, adding a cutter to his pitching repertoire in March, and improving with his pitch movement and control. Left handed starters are always in high demand in this league, and a 1 or 2 year deal over $30 million would not be out of the question for Price.
Among the other top names who could be looking to cash in with a big deal this offseason are Garth Goyle (Ohio Oxen), Carlos Mendoza (New York Dragons), and Xavier de Soto (Miami Storm). Goyle will surpass 30 home runs this year for the third year in a row, despite missing a few games with leg injuries earlier in the season.
Mendoza has a solid eye at the plate and can still swing for power, despite seeing less hits overall this season. The “Mexican Menace” is 37, and is still an iron man, missing just 1 game this year with eye irritation.
De Soto is frequently among the top hitters in the Metro League and led the ML in doubles last season, hitting 49. Another work horse who rarely misses a game, the 36 year old is still hitting around his career average of .308.
Aside from Seattle’s Price, several other pitchers are also looking for a payday at the end of this year. California Tidals southpaw Fernando Latorre, who has led the ML in innings pitched for the past three seasons, is having a career year and will hit a new personal best for wins with his next W, which would be the 16th this year.
He has improved on reducing his walks per 9, bringing it to under 4.0. His FIP of 4.51 suggests that on a team with better defense he could really shine.
Two more pitchers worth mentioning are Barrett Block (Minneapolis Ravens) and Andy Boyles (New York Dragons). Block is a solid and useful mid-rotation arm, who still sizzles a fastball at 99 mph in his 34th year. The Ravens have a big payroll along with plenty of pitching depth, and could decide to cut ties with him. Boyles, meanwhile, has struggled this year, but has showed some improvement after his trade from Pittsburgh. With Chicago his ERA has slid under 5.00, and he has cut down on long balls allowed. He will certainly stay above the $10 million mark in free agency as a durable arm capable of going deep into games.
Arizona’s secret weapon to their 2019 success was partly in closing out their games, and David Johnson, their sidearm righty closer could find himself hitting paydirt in free agency this year as well. Teams that could be in the market in the event the Cowboys fail to sign him to an extension could include the Miami Storm, who will no doubt look to dump their current closer, Jon Swoverland, or the Washington Freedom or Chicago Pit Bulls, both of whom will have some money to spend and are in need of a decent closer.
One thing is for sure, there will be some action this offseason as the contract offers fly around the league.