A few significant moves the past couple of days, and even through they don't directly affect the Twins, there are still points to be made.
Giancarlo Stanton agrees to a long-term deal with Miami. Exactly how long term is difficult to say. It's Stanton's choice, basically; it's either 13 years for $325 million or six years for $107 million. He has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season.
This is a heavily backloaded contract, so much so that I can't see how the Marlins avoid getting badly scalded at the end. (Remember, I'm the guy who wrote last March that the Twins should offer a pair of 20-year, $200 million contracts to Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano; I'm hardly opposed to really long-term deals for really talented young players).
Stanton is just 24 now; his best years figure to be ahead of him. They figure to be behind him when the opt-out comes. I don't know how likely he is to decide that the market will support $31 million for him in his middle 30s. If he does opt-out, the Marlins dodge the bullet they just fired into their future.
In total, however, this is probably not a terrible contract for the Marlins. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs did an illuminating analysis of comparable players to Stanton -- this level of production ages 22 to 24 -- and found 18 others since 1950. Most of them, he concludes, were productive enough to justify the complete 13 years of this deal.
Jason Hayward traded to St. Louis. Stanton is a star because he has one very important tool: He has top-level power. Hayward's power isn't as impressive, but he does everything else better. As a result, he's been a better player than Stanton, but few recognize that. (The two are about the same age, Hayward being about three months older.)
With Hayward a year from free agency, the Atlanta Braves chose not to pay him. They traded him to St. Louis for two young pitchers, notably Shelby Miller, on whom the Cardinals seemed to sour a bit last year.
Jose Posnanski goes into detail on the Hayward-Stanton comparison here. It is intriguing, the different approaches the Braves and Marlins took on these two outfielders.
Russell Martin strikes a five-year deal with Toronto. OK, I can defend the Stanton contract. I can defend trading one year of Hayward for almost 10 years of pitchers. .
I can't see the logic in committing $82 million over five years to a 31-year-old catcher. It almost doesn't matter that Martin has had just one good year at the plate in the past six seasons. If it were five good years at the plate, the problem would still be there: He's a catcher entering the collapse years for hard-used catchers.
The Blue Jays are putting a lot of faith in his defense and his clubhouse intangibles, more than I think is wise.
Billy Butler agrees to a three-year deal with Oakland. Huh?
Another signing I don't get. Butler has no defensive value, he grounds into about two dozen double plays a year, his power has been in steady decline. I can't see why Billy Beane is sinking $30 million into this guy.
I don't imagine the Royals are sorry to see "Country Breakfast" go. His departure certainly opens a hole in the middle of the Kansas City lineup for a right-handed hitter, and the Royals are said to be pursing Torii Hunter hard.
K.C. makes more sense for Hunter than Minnesota does. He's looking for a ring, and the Twins are not ready to contend, while the Royals just went to the seventh game of the World Series. I think Hunter will sign with the Royals.
Which, as a Twins fan, is fine by me. I don't want Hunter with the Twins.