The end of the 2018 season is looking like it will turn into a big-dollar free agent feeding frenzy, as some of the league’s top players look like they will walk away from their teams after the last playoff pitch is thrown.
The list of players who are eligible for free agency and have yet to sign extensions with their clubs is stacked with talent. While some, like Francisco Erazo of Miami, may hang up their cleats and retire. Others, like Rimouski’s Kyle Cahill, undoubtedly have all-star years and maybe player awards to look forward to in coming years.
The player who will likely attract the most attention could be Denver’s second baseman Peyton May. The 31-year-old 4-time all-star is on pace to set a new career high in batting average, in the .340s, up from his previous career high of .321 with Montreal in 2016. May is in the last year of a $33,080,000 contract he signed with the Metros prior to 2014, and went to Denver in an April deal that saw Bill Heimberg move to Montreal,
where he has been a stellar replacement.
But May, who will earn $8 million this year, has not yet signed an extension with Denver, despite playing like he has more all-star years to come. He is rumored to be asking over $8.5 million to play next year. But any team taking a bite would need to prepare to lose a draft pick, as he is compensation-eligible. Still, it’s a small price to pay for an elite level infielder who brings a plus swing and plus power to a lineup.
Hot-hitting Xavier de Soto of the Miami Storm could also walk away at the end of this year. Currently he is leading the AEL in batting, and could win the batting title for the first time in his career if he stays hot. He has come close, finishing 2nd in 2015, and 3rd in 2011. The 34-year-old third baseman from Mexico could sign in the $8 million range next year.
The de Soto story is a tough one for Toronto fans, as the future Hall of Famer was a scouting discovery and joined Toronto as an amateur free agent in 2000, signing to a $1.2 million bonus and eventually debuting in 2003. He only played 2 games, but was ranked the league’s #39 prospect by the OSA that year. He had another mediocre season with Toronto the following year, batting .170, and was put on waivers presumably to make room for someone who was more productive at that time. But the Kingston Cannons (now Miami) grabbed him off waivers and never looked back.
De Soto, over the last 14 seasons, has been crucial for the Storm, with a career average of .308, and 475 RBIs and over 200 stolen bases. It will be surprising if Miami lets him walk, as their next best prospect third baseman is Ray James, a rookieball 20-year-old who is still at least 2 or 3 seasons away from mattering.
Some other big names who could be playing for new teams next season if their teams let them go are Logans Run, the Calgary Inferno playoff MVP first baseman, that team’s closer Kevin Krohn, and Seattle’s closer Adam Fitzpatrick. All three are injured, and not expected to return this season. But they could still cash in with big contracts next year, though with discounts off their current salaries.
Some players who could get pay bumps in free agency include Denver’s power-hitting right fielder John Webster, Dallas second baseman Bradford Seymour and shortstop Joe Street, and Ohio Oxen bullpen fixture Ian Ion. Webster, who will earn $900K this season, is destined for a contract over $4 million after the season he is having, hitting over .320 and raking nearly 20 home runs and bashing in almost 50 runs. Seymour and Street could see more modest pay raises, of between $500K and $1 million, and are great value signings as they are not compensation eligible. Ian Ion is compensation-eligible, on the other hand, and so Ohio might do well to extend him for the modest price increase, though his 4.20+ ERA and nearly 1.70 WHIP might have them shying away.
List of top pending free agents by rumored contract demand:
- Peyton May, 2B – Denver – $8.5 million
- Xavier de Soto, 3B – Miami – $8 million
- Pete Sharpe, RHP – Boston – $7 million
- Section Attack, 2B – St. Petersburg – $6.5 million
- Kyle Cahill, LHP – Rimouski – $6.5 million
- Alan Isimo, 3B – Rimouski – $6 million
- Aaron Reed, RHP – Seattle – $6 million
- Logans Run, 1B – Calgary – $5.5 million
- Garth Goyle, 1B – Ohio – $4.8 million
- Angelo Rodriguez, LHP – Minneapolis – $4.6 million
- Jesus Carrillo, RHP – Boston – $4.4 million
- Adam Fitzpatrick, RHP – Seattle – $4.4 million
- John Webster, RF – Denver – $4.2 million
- Kevin Krohn, RHP – Calgary – $3.8 million
- Jordan Garcia, 1B – Chicago – $3.4 million