Justify the Contract: Infielders

Welcome Ball Boys and Ball Girls. It's time for Tasty Talk.

Twenty-seven years of labor peace have ended for MLB. We have had a long, cold, frustrating winter that isn't even over yet. Nearly $1.7 billion was committed to free agents during November, smashing the prior record by 4x. It means it's time for us to play "Justify the Contact."

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You can view all of the previous Justify That Contract rounds by clicking here.


Let's talk about the position plays now that we have all the pitchers out of the way. There are a ton of names left on the table. Let's look at the age, WAR, the player's triple slash, and if they have any name-value or veteran leadership to bring.


-Yan Gomes 2yr/$13mil- ChC

The 34yo Gomes has been good for a long time. The 2019 World Series champion has a career of 16.9WAR over his 9yr career. His .247/.299/.421 is very average for the catcher position. The glove still plays for Gomes as he posted 4Drs in 2021 while posting a 31% caught stealing rate. I love the Cubs' move, and at $6.5 mil a year, the Cubs are paying for a veteran leader in the clubhouse to help guide them through the rebuild. The contract is Justified!

-Manny Pina 2yr/$8mil- ATL

Pina, another 34yo vet, has always been a compliment behind the plate for his team. He has posted a 6.5WAR, .245/.314/.413 slash, which is slightly better than average for a catcher. A cheap veteran to be a role player on this defending championship team. I don't hate the deal. Justified.

-Robert Perez 1yr/$5mil- Pit

After the Pirates traded Platinum Glove Catcher Jacob Stallings. I do like the move for the Pirates to bring in a proven vet to help continue to navigate the rebuild. Bringing in a Career 7.5WAR with a slash of .206/.297/.360. Perez is a two-time gold glover catch at age 33, and with a career of .995 FLD%, he might not be Stalling, but he will fit the bill.

-Pedro Severino 1yr/$1.9mil- Mil

The youngest catcher of the bunch so far to sign is only 28yo and will back up Omar Narvaez. In just over a four-year career, he owns 2.3WAR with a .23/.305/.372 slash line. Hopefully, the MLB leading ten past balls in 2021 won't come back to hurt him with this fantastic pitching staff that he will catch for in Milwaukee. I'll justify this contract.


1B/3B:

-Brandon Belt 1yr/$18.4mil SF

The 10year veteran is the 2nd QO given by the team in back-to-back years. The last one worked out very well for the Giants, and let's hope it does for Belt as well. He was coming off a season where he hit 29HR and had a .378OBP in only 97 games. If he had played a complete 162, I doubt he would have hit 40. The Belt is a long-time Giant, a clubhouse guy, and the Giants were wise to go for it one more time. I'll justify the contract for Giants here.


2B/SS:

-Wander Franco 12yr/$223mil Ext- TB

How unlike the Rays to give a mega extension to a player. Like, I think he will likely still get traded in about five seasons because that's Tampa for you; however, I think they might have given just enough to use Franco as an option to help bring in another talent around him. Coming off a rookie season where he posted a 3.5WAR, .288/.347/.463 slash line in his first 70 games and a 3rd place finish in the RoY voting. We might have the AL Tatis Jr right here in Tampa.

-Corey Seager 10yr/$325mil- Tex

At 27 years old, this deal looks great for Texas, and with the price of AAV's salary going up and up, the deal here is excellent and might end up being a bargain. We have seen Seager do it all with the Dodgers, RoY, 2x All-Star, 2x Silver Slugger, NLCS, World Series MVP, and 2020 World Series champ. A career -5DRS might indicate a future move around the diamond from SS. For now, get the most out of him and keep being the Rangers. The deal in terms of years and money is Justified. However, the Rangers will not be tight with payroll, thanks to Seager and the next guy.

-Marcus Semien 7yr/$175mil- Tex

The next guy is 2x 3rd place MVP finished and now top 2B in the game that also signed with the Rangers for about $5mil less a year. Combined, these guys are owed over $50mil for the next seven years. Coming off a firm age 30 season where Semien played in all 162 with the Blue Jays where he was an All-Star, Gold Glove at 2B, Silver Slugger, and 3rd place in the MVP for the 2nd time in three seasons. Semien is back in the AL, where he played most of his career with Oakland A's. I think this would have been the one deal for the Rangers to makeover Seager; however, the deal with the price of $25mil for a legit MVP candidate who can play 2B, 3B, and SS all above average is a value.

-Javier Baez 6yr/$140mil- Det

The Tigers will finish in 2nd place, and during the time Baez plays here, they will win a World Series. Just wait and see what I'm telling you now, so you aren't surprised when it happens. The Tigers are paying Baez about $23mil for a 2x All-Star, Gold Glove, NLCS MVP, 2016 World Series Champ, Silver Slugger, and one of the best personalities and entertaining players in the game. He is also on the right side of 30 as he enters the 2022 season at 29. Baez is excellent and precisely who the Tigers needed this offseason to help continue to develop the youth around him and back up that excellent high upside rotation. Justified.

-Eduardo Escobar 2yr/$20mil- NYM

The 33uo Escobar can play all around the infield, and with luck, the Mets have injuries; this was a smart move to get a solid vet like Escobar in the door and the locker room. With a career .256/.309/.436 slash to go with a career 7DRS at 2B and coming off a 28HR season. We might get the best of Escobar yet. Justified.

-Cesar Hernandez 1yr/$4mil- Was

A former Gold Glove 2B will look to find a new home alongside Juan Soto and the rest of the Nationals at 31yo and now four seasons removed from the Gold Glove award; Hernandez might just be trying to keep it going and rebuilding value in a place like Washington that will trade you for something if they can. Smart move. The career .270/.345/.384 should play well in the nation's capital. Justified.

-Rougned Odor 1yr/Min- Bal

After being booted off the Rangers finally, spending time in the big apple with the Yankees and doing little to nothing, Odor finds himself at only 28yo trying to find his footing with the rebuilding Orioles while the Rangers pay all of his remaining salaries to play here. The career .234/.286/.433 slash line does impress on the surface, and neither do the -26 career DRS and .974FLD%. Here's to what will likely turn into nothing.


Thanks for reading Ball Boys and Girls.

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