The Ultimate Game of Free Agent Chicken

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Spring training is almost upon us, and while the biggest names in this year’s free agent class have already been snapped up, there are quite a few significant players that have yet to sign and are engaged in a giant game of Free Agent Chicken.

When it comes to the teams, the players, or the agents – the question now is… who will blink first?

Ubaldo Jimenez – He rejected a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Indians in search of bigger riches. I would have thought that he’d b snapped up pretty quickly after Tanaka announced where he’d sign, but as of yet – he’s still out there. It really makes you wonder – do the other GM’s view him as a $14.1 million per year player, or will he end up settling on a multi year deal at much lower than that amount per year… or even worse, a one year deal for less than what he turned down.

Ervin Santana – He also turned down a qualifying offer from the Royals. Back in November, Jon Heyman reported that Santana was seeking 5 years and $112 million. Jeff Passan reported in January that his asking price had dropped to 4 years and $60 million. He’ll sign, and he’ll likely get more than a one-year deal, but with the clock ticking… is he going to be kicking himself for not taking the qualifying offer?

Nelson Cruz – Another one who should have taken the qualifying offer from the Rangers. Seeing a trend here? In November, the 33-year old was asking for $75 million over 4 years. That’s a lot of money over a long period for an aging player fresh off the Biogenesis scandal and subsequent suspension. Yes, Jhonny Peralta got a 4-year deal, but is also younger, entering his age 32 season and signing for $22 million less than what Cruz was initially asking. He probably should have taken the QO, put up a good season to show he can still produce with the PEDs issue behind him, and then look for a three year deal in the $55-60 million range next offseason. That’s not saying he would get it, but he may have to settle for an incentive laden one year deal that may end up getting him the same net result (or even less) than the qualifier.

Kendrys Morales – This one isn’t really a surprise. There aren’t many dance partners looking for a first baseman (as we’ve seen from the Ike Davis saga that has unfolded). Morales may have a better pedigree than Davis, but Scott Boras really should have taken a bird’s eye view of the teams that are settled at first base and the market in general which he may have overestimated.¬†Will a team break the bank for Morales especially when a draft pick loss is tied to it? The answer seems to be a resounding no.

Stephen Drew – Last but not least. Another Boras client. We’re getting tired of his dance with the Mets. Will he or won’t he sign? How many years will he get? Can he get the opt out? Blah, blah, blah. Someone will blink. It may be the Mets or maybe it won’t. I doubt he’ll get an average salary of $14 million per year, but he could still get at least $20 million guaranteed, possibly with a vesting option. For a player who hasn’t played more than 124 games and hit above .253 since 2010 – that’s not a bad deal if you can get it.

Pitchers and catchers report in two days, but the Hot Stove season rages on. Anybody willing to guess where these five ultimately end up?

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Roger is a lifelong Mets fan since 1981, now married with kids and still knows that there is no such thing as a bad day at the ballpark with your child. Growing up, he wanted to be either the Second Baseman for the Mets - or their statistician. Follow him at @BigMetsFan1. email him at