It’s been a glacial offseason. Many of MLB Trade Rumors’ top free agents have only penned new deals recently. Still, though, Spring Training is beginning. Odorizzi was the second-best starter on the market when Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman took their qualifying offers. Bradley was the best non-Springer outfielder.
Bradley reportedly wanted a high-AAV four-year deal. There’s been reluctance to hand out long-term pacts this offseason. Given his status as a centre fielder with limited offensive output, it’s easy to see why JBJ has ended up waiting. An argument can be made that teams should have signed him, but landing spots were not plentiful.
Spring Training Day 1 👍🏼 pic.twitter.com/WQv1gdLga2
— Jake Odorizzi (@JakeOdorizzi) February 18, 2021
Odorizzi’s circumstances are different. Every team’s rotation improves with his arrival. The injury-riddled 2020 shouldn’t have put off too many teams. Perhaps, like Bradley, his demands are just too high when so few front offices are splashing the cash. Whatever the reason, Odorizzi is a near-All-Star level pitcher, and a pitcher who doesn’t have a team with less than a week until March.
Waiting like Kimbrel
These circumstances are starting to look much like where Craig Kimbrel was a few winters ago. Having held out this long, do Bradley and Odorizzi remain free agents into the season? Are they gambling on poor performance or injury forcing a front office to give them what they want? It’s a risky game, and it can undermine a season of a short career, but that might be the only path to what they consider a fair contract.
Obvious landing spots have vanished for Bradley. How many teams right now need a centre fielder and are willing to spend?
Outfielders with 60+ HR and 5+ dWAR wince 2016.
• Mookie Betts
• Jackie Bradley Jr.
End of list. pic.twitter.com/uLgAdmuKZe
— Danny Vietti (@DannyVietti) February 14, 2021
For Odorizzi, it’s hard to see how the situation changes. If teams are reluctant to pay him without seeing him perform, maybe a one-year deal to rebuild his value is the way to go. Front offices searching for rotation depth can get much cheaper options even this far into the offseason. Porcello and Hamels might have to settle for Minor League deals.
There is a wider conversation about the number of MLB teams cutting salary. The top-tier free agents are always going to find a home, but the guys just below them in the pecking order have been squeezed. That’s where Odorizzi and Bradley are. They’re asking for money that only a handful of teams are handing out to anyone.
A return to Boston has got more likely for Bradley, but they have hardly been free spenders of late. Odorizzi is unlikely to get the money he wants from the Twins.
The season is nearing. The schedule is set. Teams are ramping up their preparation. Two of the best players in MLB free agency are still unsigned, however, and it’s not a foregone conclusion they will be on a team by Opening Day.