Off-season Spending Sprees
Game Date: February 18th, 2023
The 2022/2023 off-season has seen many lucrative contracts signed, not only by proven NBL talent, but by many international amateurs and international free agents.
Teams are scrambling to become or stay competitive in the league that has not seen much change in the competitive balance over the past six seasons.
For this reason, there have been rumblings in the inner circles of reviewing and possibly changing financial structures, implementing a Rule 5 draft and amending revenue sharing agreements.
All of this flux, however, has not deterred GM’s from spending significant amounts of money. As of this writing, there have been 17 contracts signed that exceed, on average, $5 million dollars per year. For the purpose of this article, contract extensions are not included. Of these 17 contracts, five of them meet or exceed an average of $10 million per year:
Chicago Blues, RF Jimmie Fisher, $40 million total for 4 years – Fisher brings is superb fielding, excelling at both corner outfield positions, to Chicago from New York. At 31 years old, Fisher is still one of the premier defensive outfielders in the NBL. Coming of an injury plagued season in New York, Fisher still managed to hit .314 in 104 games while driving in 47 runs from the top of the order. Chicago will be hoping that Fisher holds up during a full season and brings something to the plate similar to his 2021 campaign where he hit .321 with 20 homeruns and 90 RBI’s.
Miami Marauders, SP Hui-ying Chuko, $94.5 million total for 9 years – Entering the NBL free agent pool from the Taiwanese league, Chuko brings a much ballyhooed fastball to the league. Averaging close to 100 mph on this fastball, local Taiwanese legends have him reaching as high as 108 mph on the radar gun in a game. Chuko’s stamina is the only question mark. Based on his typical low pitch count in the Taiwan, many experts question whether Chuko can maintain the level of dominance he’s known for over the course of 32 to 35 starts.
Philadelphia Patriots, 3B Dave Lopez, $33 million total for 3 years – Many fans in Patriots country questioned the wisdom of signing a 31-year old player who has averaged only 81 games played over his 10-year career. What ownership is hoping for, however, is a solid offensive contribution not only with traditional offensive statistics but also steady productive “out” at-bats. Lopez is known for having a keen eye and does not strike out a lot, putting the ball in play with almost every at bat. He has a great outfield arm and adds that little bit of doubt in any opposing baserunner who is thinking about taking that extra base.
Baltimore Captains, 1B Pedro Padilla, $136.08 million total for 7 years – Surprising many with such an extravagant spend, the Captains sailed in and offered Cuban import Padilla a deal he couldn’t refuse. Offensively challenged Baltimore has made it a priority this year to improve their offense and Padilla was there target from the day he entered the free agent pool. Padilla brings a strong pedigree of contact and power to the plate with above average speed. Expectations are that Padilla will bat out of the DH position as his skill set is not suited for the field. Forecast offensive numbers have him batting around .280, hitting 30 to 35 homeruns and knocking in 100 runs. Many scouts have predicted that he will struggle against NBL lefties, however. Padilla will be under a microscope in Baltimore. The tight budgeted Captains cannot afford for Padilla to struggle.
New York Titans, SP Javier Espinoza (pictured above) $250 million total for 10 years – At $25 million a year for 10 years, Espinoza’s expectations to exceed immediately are high. As his compatriot Pedro Padilla, Espinoza hails from Cuba and the lefty brings extraordinary upside potential to the table. Espinoza dominated the Cuban league from an early age and is still young at 25 years of age as he enters the NBL. Possessing four above average pitches, Espinoza hits the mid-90’s on the gun and relies on a mix of off-speed pitches to continually fool his opponents. He uses is dominating curve to finish off opposing batters with regularity. Scouts are not all sold on Espinoza, however. Seeing him as an unproven talent, many will want to see results before anointing him a perennial Most Outstanding Pitcher contender. With both Espinoza and Koike anchoring their rotation, however, the Titans and their fans have a lot to be excited about heading into 2023.
Juggling competitiveness and finances isn’t the easiest thing to do when considering one’s fan base and maintaining support, but it is interesting to note that of the five contracts reviewed here, four of them are for Eastern Conference Atlantic Division teams. Could this new talent infusion begin the shift of dominance from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference? Let’s play ball and find out.
Last Updated (Friday, 16 September 2016 14:18)
International Amateurs Making Waves
Tuesday, 22 March 2016 21:55 | Written by Adam Annis-Brown
During the 2020 off-season, the NBL and its owners agreed to open up International Complexes throughout the country to support the burgeoning international talent pool.
As amateurs begin to trickle into team’s complexes, there are several players who stand out in this year’s amateur finds:
Game Date: May 3rd, 2021
Last Updated (Tuesday, 22 March 2016 22:04)
Denver Chasing Win Mark
Thursday, 17 September 2015 09:59 | Written by Adam Annis-Brown
Denver Chasing Win Mark
Game Date: July 8th, 2019
Denver, CO - At the traditional halfway point of the season, the Denver Grizzlies are sitting comfortably atop the Western Conference's Midwest Division with an 18 game lead. With a record of 67-20 (.770), the Grizzlies have dominated teams with a league leading 7.1 runs per game average to go along with a strong 3.79 era, with only San Francisco's staff holding a better mark in the Western Conference.
The Grizzlies accomplishments have put them on pace to smash the previous win mark of 113 games, set by the Sharks in 2017, and end the season with an amazing 119 projected wins. While preseason projectors concurred that the Grizzlies would field a division winning team that would win close to 100 games, few predicted just how dominant this team would be.
The strength of the Grizzlies is evident in yesterday's final All-Star selections. With a league leading nine All-Star selections, led by Rafael Pérez, Bam Bam Miller and Chow Hernández, the All-Star roster will be heavily represented with Denver red.
The recent addition of Sean White in a trade with Baltimore, strengthens an outfield threesome that was already ranked at the top of the league.
With this year's successes, however, rumblings about the financial future from upper management are being heard. Sources within the organization are concerned about player salaries and how the approximately 3.2 million average player salary, which is over half a million more than the league average, will effect future years. With a league imposed salary cap of 125 million, the Grizzlies have some serious financial decisions to make at the end of the year. Current estimates for 2020 have allocated 134 million for player salaries.
For now, however, with 67 games left in the regular season, and the Grizzlies taking their league leading 32-8 road record with them, the probability of a 114+ win season, along with a league championship, is high.
Last Updated (Thursday, 17 September 2015 10:02)
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