NEW YORK– Major League Baseball welcomed us to the offseason, or as many call ‘The Hot Stove’ with an abundance of talent scattered across the free agent market, and the same remains today. As Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, and Carlos Correa represent the top premiere players on the open market, several franchises are prepared to go all-in, with many others set to go an alternate route.
“The free agent market is very much a carnivore’s market,” said Player Agent Scott Boras earlier this month during the MLB General Manager Meetings held in Las Vegas, Nevada. “The menu features filet mignon and wagyu and less hamburger and vegan.”
Besides less than a dozen players inking deals so far, the majority of teams view pitching as their number one priority. A major focal point in sustaining the wear and tear of a 162-game regular season combined with hopefully completing a successful postseason run.
That sentiment was fully relinquished throughout the start of free agency, with 11 total signings completed; nine came from pitchers. (Five Relievers, Four Starters, Two Position Players).
On a corresponding note, the superb talent out of Latin and Central America is a true glimpse into where we stand in today’s baseball climate. On Opening Day rosters this year, nearly 250 of the 1,200 players across Major League Baseball came from Latin American countries. And the results from the free agent market this offseason stood no different.
Six of the 11 players who signed during the early stages of free agency are Latin natives; provided below are their names with a brief description on the contract figures and more.
— Edwin Diaz (@SugarDiaz39) November 10, 2022
Edwin Díaz (Naguabo, Puerto Rico): Díaz sparked the opening of MLBs free agency, signing a massive contract with the New York Mets totaling out to $102 million over five years. The 28-year-old right-hander posted a 1.31 ERA across 62 innings in 2022, fanning 118 of 235 batters faced (50.2%).
Rafael Montero (Higüerito, Dominican Republic): Montero and the Houston Astros came to an agreement on a deal worth $34.5 million over the span of three years. An essential move by Houston as the 2022 Astros World Series title was cultivated by the excellence out of the bullpen, led by Montero and Ryan Pressley. The 32-year-old was ‘lights out’ this past postseason, recording a 1.93 ERA in 10 appearances, fanning 10 hitters of the 39 faced (25.6%).
Joely Rodríguez (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic): The Boston Red Sox inked Rodríguez to a one-year deal ranging out to $2 million guaranteed. The 31-year-old proved to be a reliable go-to lefty for the Mets in 2022, posting a 4.47 ERA across 55 appearances with 57 strikeouts. To caveat in, Rodríguez is a clubhouse favorite and can leisure Boston with much-needed innings in high-leverage situations.
José Ureña (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic): The Colorado Rockies signed the 31-year-old right-hander to a one year deal totaling $3.5 million with a team option for 2024. Ureña appeared in 21 games (17 outings) last season, tallying a 3-5 record, and 5.01 ERA with 63 strikeouts across 97 innings. He’s an ultimate competitor, who is willing to do whatever is necessary to come out of the day with a win, whether it be, to start games or relieve in the bullpen.
Robert Suárez (Bolívar, Venezuela): Suárez and the San Diego Padres reached an agreement on a five-year contract reaching $46 million. The 31 year-old became one of the Padres kryptonite pieces out of the bullpen in high leverage situations this past postseason — appearing in seven games, totaling nine innings pitched with an ERA of 3.00 and nine strikeouts. “At the end of the day, the hard work pays off,” Suarez said.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) November 15, 2022
Martín Pérez (Guanare, Venezuela): Pérez, 31, accepted the Rangers qualifying offer set at $19.65 million for the 2023 season. The left-hander is an ultimate workhorse on the bump and attempts to go the distance, each outing with six or more innings — 25 of his 32 starts in 2022 went for 6.0 or more innings. Coming off an impressive year, reaching his first All-Star Game, and recording a career-best ERA (2.89), Pérez has proven to be an ace for Texas.
Expect even more Latino talent to achieve their massive paydays throughout the course of the next three months, as Spring Training is approximately 82 days away.
Front offices are viewing all opportunities in improving their roster for the 2023 season as well as for the perennial future, but where is the end-all-be-all? Will that be going over the luxury tax threshold?
“That is what it is going to take to have a contending team at the highest level,” Boras said.
As fan bases remain voicing their opinion, owners and front offices are in constant ‘limbo’ on what their franchises next move will be. It is all a waiting game from here; welcome to the offseason.
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Robert Rizzo writes for Latino Sports
Follow on Twitter: @RobertRiz994
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