(Game date: Oct. 23, 2018) — The league’s arbitration cases were heard earlier this week, and teams and players have now settled and can get back to offseason preparations.
Free agents also filed recently, and a list of international players have joined the available free agents on the list.
Some of the more notable arbitration awards this year included Boston Brawlers ace Marshall Bennett, who was awarded just over $5 million, NY Dragons right-hander Fred Loveless who was given $7 million, and Philadelphia Liberty Warriors slugger Glen Reese, who stands to earn $12.5 million next season.
The largest arbitration award went to St. Pete’s Admirals center fielder, Katai Kitigawa, who went to his second career all-star game this season. The 2017 defensive and offensive award winner at CF was given a $14.2 million contract for 2019. Last year, the highly-regarded five-tools player made $11.1 million.
St. Pete’s was surprised to learn that second baseman Section Attack rejected the qualifying offer of $13.3 million, becoming a free agent. The right-handed batter, who turned 30 last February, played a relatively solid season, slashing .318/.371/420, scoring 36 runs and hitting 25 doubles through 74 games. He missed three weeks due to elbow tendinitis.
The three-time all-star, who was Elimination Round MVP in the opening round of the playoffs this year, is surprisingly not looking for a big payday in free agency, and is rumored to be asking for around $6 million, leaving analysts wondering why he would say no to the Admiral’s generous offer.
Other to reject their QO’s included Minneapolis Ravens closer Shigenobu Takahashi, who tallied up 22 saves and fixed himself a 4.19 ERA over 45 games this season, Pittsburgh Iron Pigs starters Kyle Cahill and William Febres, along with their future-HOF catcher, Dao-zi Ling, and Dragons catcher Gula Kareem.
The “Pretorian Prince” – Kareem – slashed .283/.329/.570 after his one season with the Dragons, raking 19 homers and scoring 36 runs in 66 games. It was a career year for the former Toronto Nomads catcher, who also exercised a contract opt-out prior to the arbitration hearings.
One player did accept the QO, including Iron Pigs dual-role pitcher Andrew Ward, who was 10-5 this season and earned his first career save in his only game that wasn’t a start. The 31-year-old Ward will earn $13.3 million in 2019, and is currently the highest-paid pitcher on the roster.
The top FA’s this offseason include a list of elite players, with only a few demanding bank-breaking salaries, making it a talent-loaded FA market with great economic potential. With the longer season ahead, many teams are anticipating increased revenue and have adjusted their budgets accordingly, so are prepared to make significant FA offers in the coming weeks.
Topping the list in rumored salary demands is former Rimouski Fighting Moose ace Cahill, who was 9-1 with 9 saves, again demonstrating that some elite starters are willing to do double-duty out of the bullpen as necessary to help their teams. Cahill had an ERA of 2.68, and led the LL in lowest BB/9 at 1.4, as well as lowest BABIP at .254.
His only playoff start was a loss against Montreal, in which he allowed 7 earned runs, but it was an otherwise solid year for the 34-year-old from Toronto. Cahill’s ask is said to be in the $21 million ballpark, which would put him in the top 10 highest paid for 2019, if he gets it.
Former Denver Danger second baseman and four-time all-star, Peyton May, is also on the free agent market this year. He had been traded to Denver from Montreal, and was not eligible for a qualifying offer.
May hit .347, scoring 60 runs and bashing 17 homers, manufacturing an OPS of 1.001 for the year. He really improved in his plate discipline, dropping from 81 whiffs in 2017 to just 36 this year. The 10-year Bull League veteran is seeking $20.6 million according to sources.
Japanese phenom Hiroki Omiya is a 32-year-old out of the Japanese pro leagues who is eligible for free agency this year. Scouts rate him as an elite power hitter who as a bonus has great range at first base. Critics have highlighted his lack of drive as a potential issue, but analysts still say he could earn his ask of $17 million or more.