NHL: Biggest Surprises From Free Agent Frenzy
For the most part on July 1st most of the media attention on the National Hockey League is set on free agency, because this is the day that free agency officially opens. With all the attention set on free agents and players signing new contracts very little focus is normally on the trade market.
However, this year the Maple Leafs & Avalanche pulled off an underrated blockbuster in my opinion if not just for the day that they did it. As most teams were focusing in on which players they were going to offer it was the Avs & Leafs that were a step ahead completing a four player deal which helps both teams.
It is uncharacteristic for trades to happened included former all-stars to seem so even and not at least raise expectations a little bit for the upcoming season. At this point, Kadri has yet to realize the potential that a lot of analysts thought he had. The change of scenery could be what the 25 year old center needs to find his potential.
As far as Tyson Barrie is concerned there are a variety of reasons that they dealt him away. With the emergence of Sam Girard and Cale Makar as top defenseman for the team and Barrie has only one year remaining on his contract. With these reasons noted it is pretty obvious why the Avalanche chose to cash in on the trade value while he still had a high amount of value. For me I can understand why this ran away with the percentage when I put up the poll on Twitter. The only thing I am unsure about is will both players be able to carry over their success and keep this deal looking like a win for both sides or will one team eventually be looked at as the winner; something we will have to wait on the find out.
The Dream Combo Has Been Broken
This time last year the Islanders made a signing that most people thought nothing of when they signed Robin Lehner to a one year contract. With the team under new management it was clear that the first thing Lou wanted to try and fix was the goalie issues that have plagued the Islanders for the longest time.
Fast forward a year later and nobody could’ve expected that Lehner would’ve had the season that he had. Finally the Islanders had found stability between the pipes. The only question heading into the offseason was if Greiss and Lehner could duplicate their play next year or was it a fluke.
Interestingly enough this is when I would usually say the “in typical Islanders fashions” phrase, but this story has a happy ending for everyone involved. This move was had the second highest percentage on the poll from twitter and I think I know why.
On July 1st, Robin Lehner signed a one year deal worth five million with the Chicago Blackhawks. After an injury plagued season for Cory Crawford the Blackhawks seem like they wanted sore up the position. Even though this may seem like a step down for Lehner in reality this is just another chance for him to prove himself.
As for the Islanders they didn’t waste too much time replacing their former goalie. Though it might be a risk it does seem like they are betting on riding a combo again next year and that their goalie staff can work magic again. The former starting goalie for the Avalanche Semyon Varlamov agreed to a four year contract worth $20 million ($5 million a year). Though at 31 years old his best year might be behind him it is possible that not playing every day could be the thing that Varlamov needs to return to his old self.
Mad Bum: A Giant What If
Is it the time for the Giants to Rebuild?
Every team has a window to be competitive before they have to start making changes to stay that way. The window for the Giants was 2010-2016 during this time they were one of the best teams in baseball and seemingly could do no wrong. The Giants would grab three World Series trophies during this time in 2010, 2012, and 2014 becoming a modern era dynasty in the process. But like with any good dynasty it had to end sometime.
Is it Time to tear down?
The tough thing for any new General Manager or President of Baseball Operations like is the case for the Giants is deciding what the first step is for his new team. In his first season at the helm of the Giants Farhan Zaidi has a very tough decision ahead of him. The team is very away from where they once were as perennial World Series favorites. As the years went by the stability and consistency that once existed for the team was replaced by injuries and inconsistency;
for the team. With names like Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, Pablo Sandoval, Yusmerio Petit, and others either leaving due to free agency or players being plagued by injuries they got harder and harder to replace. Following the reassignment of long time General Manager Brian Sabean and the arrival of Bobby Evans the cracks had already began to form for the once stable team.
In reality nobody could’ve predicted the San Francisco Giants would be in the position now to be tearing down the dynasty. Recent rumors have hinted at the possibility of the Giants parting ways with their longtime ace and former World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner could be a free agent for the first time in his career and could leave the Giants. As always with pending free agents the possibility of them getting traded pops up.
In my opinion, I don’t think that Bumgarner will get dealt before July 31st. As of this writing the Giants sit only 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot and it would be a bad decision for Zaidi to toss in the towel while they are still in the race.
I don’t think the Giants can or will trade prospects for any major acquisitions. However, if Will Smith stays on the market then they may want to entertain the idea of parting with their prized reliever to infuse a little life into the farm. I know the risk that the Giants face not dealing Bumgarner, but if the choice is another run or give up the best decision is always one more run.
Overall I think Mad Bum will resign with the Giants either way, because he seems like someone that wants stay loyal. I could be wrong, but check out this quote from Mad Bum taken from an article by sfgate.com titled “Madison Bumgarner trade talks reportedly in flux” by Eric Ting. “I don’t give a sh**”, Bumgarner said of the trade speculation. “I’m here to win games for this team, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The New OTB is Here!
It’s been almost a year since anything has really changed with the On the Bleachers brand. Last October, I was fortunate enough to find a group of passionate and hungry writers who were very well versed in their favorite sports to put together a magazine. Since then things have been quite as I have been focusing on other things.
Why The Mets Should Be Wheeling and Dealing
Another year has come and is about half over; like normally the Mets have fallen out of the playoff picture with little direction for the teams future after offseason they had heading into the year. Much like Zaidi had to deal with when he took over the Giants the same thing happened to Brodie Van Wagenen when he signed with the Mets.
On paper it does like the Mets are just missing a piece or two before becoming a complete team but they seem to have injury troubles every year which takes its toll. Also they have a string of bad luck when it comesto having the line-up not go in a slump all at the same time. There are times when doing things as a team is good, but not when it comes to the whole team forgetting how to score runs.
Overall I don’t think the Mets are a bad team, but I do think that shuffling some people out for new players wouldn’t be a bad idea. At one point, a full rebuild was needed to put the team back on track, but now with Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso setting the foundation for the future. With pending free agents Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares, Todd Frazier, Jason Vargas, and others possibly ending their stay with the team we have a number of possible deals on the table.
In my opinion, the Mets need to push the heck out of parting ways with whoever they can to free up salary and clear things up for next year. This way the team can focus on giving a bit more time to the youngsters instead of holding still and doing nothing.
Wheeler Should Go
Flash back four years to July 2015 when the rumors began to spread that the Mets were going to deal Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez. Everyone remembers that cause of Flores’s reaction to the possibility of getting traded, but after that the thought went away. Nobody even thought about Wheeler getting dealt all the talk moved to Matt Harvey and then Jacob DeGrom, but now with possible free agency looming it’s time for the Mets to make a decision.
A Poorly Timed Injury
Last week some bad news came down that Zack Wheeler is suffering from shoulder fatigue which landed the right hander on the injured list. Wheeler has had injury troubles in the past, but had become one of the Mets more stable pitchers and even though this should be a short injury it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Wheeler has been having a decent enough season so far to still be considered an upgrade for a lot of pitching staffs and a mid-rotation star. Dealing away Wheeler though would officially put an end to the Mets “monster staff” leaving Degrom & Noah as the two aces of the club. In my opinion, it is time for a change for the Mets and they need to part ways with Zack and shift their focus to making defense a more important part of the
Fact is if the Mets can land two or three prospects for Wheeler that’d be a good start. I also think that the prospects would need to be within the top prospect list for any organization interested in Wheeler. It would be unrealistic to see the Mets acquire a very good prospect for Wheeler as he isn’t necessarily worth a massive haul but he should still land a good haul for a team needing some fresh talent in the farm.
Realistically though if the type of return the Mets will be able to get for Zack will be decided on two things: first thing would be if Zack can comeback from the IL and make a start ahead of the deadline. Wheeler would also need to show that he’s healthy and then the Mets can get a great return for the 29 year old pitcher. Fact is we will have to wait and see what happens at this point.
Who Else Can They Deal
Other than Zack Wheeler the Mets do have some minor expiring contracts that could be dealt as well, but are more likely to not be dealt. Even though I do think Todd Frazier and Juan Lagares could have a small market if they are healthy and if the price tag is low enough. However, both those questions are more than likely not going to be answered any time soon.
With Lagares now considered a back-up to Conforto it would be difficult to see the Mets getting a decent return for Lagares, but it is still possible. There are times when teams do pay some sort of a premium for defense which is something that Lagares has in droves.
As for Frazier, he has always been a home run hitter during his career and is still a decent enough hitter where he should get some interest from teams specifically in the AL. Do I think that either Frazier or Lagares will get dealt? No I don’t, but other than Wheeler I think these two have the best market. Right now we need to just wait and see what happens next for the struggling team.
This Month in Sports History
On July 15th, 1939, National League president Ford Frick orders two-foot screens affixed inside all foul poles after Billy Jurges of the Giants and umpire George Magerkurth spit at each other after a disputed foul ball call down the left-field line at the Polo Grounds. The American League will soon follow the Senior Circuit lead and will also install foul ball screens.
On July 26, 1948, with the approval of his wife Claire, an ailing Bambino leaves his hospital bed to make his final public appearance, attending the New York premiere of The Babe Ruth Story at the Astor Theater. The 'Sultan of Swat,' who will die of throat cancer three weeks later, leaves halfway through the film to return to his room at New York's Memorial Hospital.
On July 18th, 1996, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Center Shaquille O’Neil and five years later also on this day Jason Kidd was traded to the New Jersey Nets from the Phoenix Suns with Stephon Marbury heading to the Suns from the Nets.
On July 14th 2004, Shaquille O’Neal would be dealt from the Laker to the Miami Heat. O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and a future first-round draft choice (who would turn into Jordan Farmar in the 2006 draft).
On July 4th, 2013, The Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars agree to a seven-player trade. Boston sends center Tyler Seguin, forward Rich Peverly, and defensemen Ryan Button to Dallas for forward Loui Ericksson and prospects Joe Marrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser.