Free agent center fielder Ricky Jalapeno appears poised to remain in the American Eagle League when he finally signs to a contract for 2018. It is rumored that the former Anchorage star has no less than four teams bidding for him, among them: Arizona, Calgary, Seattle and Nevada, all in the AEL.
The 28-year-old switch-hitter, who hit for a career-high .324 and a career best 12 home runs in 2016, but spent all but 1 game on the disabled list last season, is considered potentially one of the top outfielders in baseball.
The compensation-eligible all-star was injured again on August 20, during his first game back following a spring injury, and so teams will undoubtedly have questions about his health going forward.
But other than a torn quadriceps he suffered in 2012, which put him out of action for five weeks, he has had no serious or lengthy injuries until this year. His raw tools would more than make up for his relatively low injury risk, too.
He is a line-drive spray hitter with some power, and a surreal ability to make contact. He has developed almost zen-like patience at the plate, and has never struck out more than 50 times in a season, while gradually improving the BB/SO ratio. In 2016, he walked in 7.7% of his plate appearances, and struck out in just 7.1%.
Jalapeno is rumored to be seeking a six-year deal worth over $12 million a year. Of the teams bidding, Calgary is rumored to be the front-runner, which should come as no surprise after they won their second Bull Cup championship in October.
As the race to sign Jalapeno gets hotter, expect some teams to get burned.