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Big free agent spending looks back in force

By November 22, 2012

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Hiroki Kuroda, a career .500 pitcher who won 16 games at age 37 last season, re-signed with the Yankees this week on a one-year deal worth $15 million, and apparently even left money on the table.

Johnny Gomes, who has played on three teams in the last two seasons and batted .209 in 2011, got a two-year, $10 million contract from the Boston Red Sox.

Melky Cabrera, who batted .255 with four homers in 147 games in 2010 and then had an offensive explosion that was obviously augmented by performance-enhancing drugs -- he tested positive last season and was suspended -- received a two-year deal with $16 million.

Yes, the bar is set high for free agents this offseason, and it's looking like a seller's market this season after a few seasons that tilted toward lower salaries for the average veteran player. A big reason for that is television -- new national TV deals with ESPN, Fox and Turner Sports essentially doubled the rights fees through 2021, which will filter down to every team.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote this week that the deals so far are actually veteran bargains, aggressive deals on risk-reward type players such as Bartolo Colon, Scott Baker and, of course, Cabrera.

So while this isn't a blockbuster-type postseason after Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, it's still going to be a good time to be a free agent. There's money to be spent, and teams (well, except the Marlins) who will be as willing as ever to spend it when the market sorts itself out in the next few weeks.





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