MLB free agency is fully open for business, but we’re mostly dealing with rumors right now. The top end of the market will probably start moving after Thanksgiving and by the time MLB’s Winter Meetings take place (they start on December 7th). Two of the big dominoes that need to fall for the rest of the market include Aaron Judge and Jacob deGrom.
Both free agents are searching for huge paydays, and deservedly so. Judge is likely looking for a similar annual salary to Mike Trout ($36.6 million per year). Meanwhile, deGrom reportedly wants to top Max Scherzer’s $43.3 million record salary.
Will they get it? According to a panel of MLB experts/insiders compiled by ESPN, that answer is a resounding yes. This group includes Bradford Doolittle, Alden Gonzalez, Joon Lee, Kiley McDaniel, Buster Olney, Jesse Rogers, and David Schoenfield.
We’ll list their contract predictions (which include a landing spot) for each player below, along with some general thoughts.
Aaron Judge contract predictions
- McDaniel: Yankees, 9 years, $325 million
- Doolittle: Yankees, 9 years, $340 million
- Schoenfield: Giants, 9 years, $332 million
- Rogers: Yankees, 10 years, $370 million
- Lee: Yankees, 10 years, $360 million
- Olney: Yankees, 9 years, $360 million
- Gonzalez: Giants, 8 years, $352 million
Looking at these predictions overall, they mostly check out with what we’ve been hearing for months about Judge. After rejecting a $213.5 million extension offer during Spring Training, many were saying he added around $90 million to his next contract. That’ll happen when you win the AL MVP Award, nearly take home the Triple Crown, and hit 62 home runs.
We don’t know when these predictions were made, but we can be sure the money McDaniel and Schoenfield predicted will be too low. There are rumors circulating that Judge has a $337 million offer on the table from the Yankees. And, if he were to sign for around $330 million, I think it’d only be with New York. The Giants would probably have to pony up more than that to sign him away from the Bronx.
We’ve mostly seen teams shy away from long-term deals in this manner for players on the wrong side of 30. Clearly, that rationale will get thrown out the window for Judge, who will be 31 years old in April.
It’s also telling that all but two of these experts predict the outfielder to remain with the Yankees. The general consensus feels like New York will do what’s necessary to retain the slugger. It’ll be interesting to see how aggressive San Francisco is, especially after meeting with Judge.
Jacob deGrom contract predictions
- McDaniel: Texas Rangers, 4 years, $155 million
- Doolittle: Los Angeles Dodgers, 3 years, $120 million (with a mutual opt-out for the last season)
- Schoenfield: Rangers, 4 years, $160 million
- Rogers: Atlanta Braves, 3 years, $125 million
- Lee: Rangers, 4 years, $160 million
- Olney: Rangers, 4 years, $150 million
- Gonzalez: St. Louis Cardinals, 4 years, $150 million
These predictions are kind of all over the place. Four different teams are mentioned, yet nobody thinks deGrom will return to the Mets.
Some are still thinking the Braves will enter the bidding despite being unlikely to commit that much money to one player. We recently heard Mike Puma of the New York Post connect the Dodgers with deGrom. The Cardinals are the odd one thrown in here. Who knows, maybe they’re the fifth team that requested medicals on deGrom recently.
The Mets seem to have some limits on what they’ll offer their homegrown ace. The yearly salary doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem as the length of a potential contract. DeGrom would reportedly prefer a return to Flushing if contract offers are within the same ballpark. Texas appears to be the most aggressive in the hunt for elite starting pitching. If they throw $150-160 million at Jacob deGrom, it’ll be tough for him to pass that up.