Big Dollars Fly in Free Agent Signing Frenzy

(Game date: Jan. 19, 2019) — After a largely lackluster 2017-2018 off-season in terms of free agent signings, things have livened up as big contracts have flown around for the 2018-2019 edition as teams position themselves as potential playoff contenders for the 2019 season.

The last of the compensation-eligible free agents, Gula Kareem, Ricky Jalapeno, and William Febres, all signed shortly before Christmas. A flurry of bullpen arms have since been signed, including future Hall of Famer Angelo Rodriguez who will enter his 20th season in the Bull League as the all-time leader in wins, games started and completed, innings pitched, and strikeouts.

The 39-year-old from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is hoping to play the game he loves for at least one more season, and perhaps set those records just a little bit higher. The Detroit Motorheads signed him for $1.1 million after he left division rivals Minneapolis Ravens for free agency. He was 3-1 with 1 save over 19 innings with the Ravens, computing a 5.21 ERA in 10 games that is unlikely to hurt his career 3.41 ERA.

Just after the New Year, Adam Fitzpatrick inked a deal with the Nevada Speeders that will see the reliever play four seasons there for a total of $31.96 million. The three-time All-Star played six seasons with the Seattle Salts, going 20-15 with 107 saves, making him the team’s all-time saves leader.

Fitzy missed two months of 2018 with a partially torn labrum, and the Salts wanted to move in another direction from their one-time closer, choosing instead to allow the 2017 Woodchuck Trophy winner to go to free agency. The Speeders, who play in the same division as Seattle, were more than happy to add Fitzpatrick into their bullpen as a possible setup man for closer Nate Kremer.

There are few big names left in the free agent pool, as we move towards February.

But one name on the list stands out, slugger Alan Isimo. While some critics have said he should have hung up his cleats after last season, when he posted a underwhelming .237 average for Rimouski, many point out that he turned 39 last year and still managed 19 home runs in 72 games, putting together an OPS of .811 and even stolen his 3rd career base.

Isimo won his third Platinum Glove at 3B, and was named Player of the Week for the second week in June last season, just before his 39th birthday. The popular South African shows little sign of slowing down.

Former Denver Danger slugger John Webster, another 19 home run bat, is also on the free agent list. Webby was a huge factor in bringing the Danger to the postseason, batting .322 and driving in 48 runs. His OPS was 1.038, as he flew high all year despite losing time due to a hamstring injury.

Right-handed power-pitcher Jake Figurski also features on the free agent rolls. The Polish-American played for Kingston/Miami from 2014 until last season, where he was 35-35 with a 3.86 ERA as a middle-rotation arm. The 32-year-old will not play in 2019 due to recovery from a groin injury, expected to keep him off of rosters until September, but he is still looking for a club to sign him perhaps to transition him into a relief role when he is healthy again.

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