Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka could leave MLB after end to 2020 season

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees‘ right-handed pitcher Masahiro Tanaka reportedly may leave Major League Baseball to return to the Japan league. The 31-year-old is a free agent this offseason and the Rakuten Golden Eagles may have the best offer for him. According to several reports, the club is offering between $20-25 million per year. The length of the contract is unknown. The contract would also be a major record for a contract in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Tanaka has already played for the Golden Eagles from 2007 to 2013 before he signed his seven-year, $155 million dollar contract with the Yankees that expired this year. In 2013 with the Golden Eagles, Tanaka had a tremendous year where he held a 24-0 record and 1.27 ERA.

Tanaka is definitely going to pick up some major looks this offseason because of his free agency, and because of the interests from the Golden Eagles, it will only give Tanaka more attention during the winter.

After seven years with the Yankees, Tanaka held an overall 78-46 record and a career 3.74 ERA. Throughout a total of 1054.1 innings pitched for the Yankees, Tanaka fanned 991 batters. Except for this season, Tanaka was known for his dominance in the postseason, being a big reason that the Yankees did well in 2017 and 2019.

Despite having a heartbreaking ending to a solid seven-year career with the Yankees, Tanaka will definitely have his options this offseason. There are numerous teams (still including the Yankees) that are in desperate need of quality starting pitching. Other big free agents this offseason are Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman, Mike Minor, and Jake Odorizzi. Even though this free-agent class is not as special as last year’s, it’ll be interesting to see where some of the big names end up.

CBS Sports listed New York Giants as potential landing spot for free agent Josh Gordon

Will the New York Giants claim Josh Gordon off waivers?

Josh Gordon’s NFL career has been far from stable, especially in recent years. Despite his off the field issues and multiple suspensions causing a slew of missed games, he has reportedly reached out to Commissioner Roger Goodell about possibly reinstating him for the upcoming season. Gordon has battled his own internal demons, resulting in several suspensions for substance abuse, but one more chance at the NFL could still be a reality for the 29-year-old former Pro Bowler.

CBS Sports listed potential landing spots for Gordon and included the Seahawks, Buccaneers, Patriots, Redskins, and finally, the New York Giants. From a completely unbiased standpoint, the possibility of the Giants taking a chance on him immediately caught my attention. Definitely a high risk-high reward situation here, but it is worth analyzing the possibility.

What would be the benefits?

Josh Gordon has all the tools to compete with the top receiver talent in the league today. Still only 29 years old, we have seen what he looks like when he plays to his full potential. For example, in 2013 he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646, while also scoring nine touchdowns. All the more impressive considering he was catching balls from a quarterback room consisting of Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, and Brian Hoyer. Joe Judge has so far proven to be a “no-nonsense” kind of guy. Not to mention he was Gordon’s WR coach during his stint in New England. Could be the perfect coach to maintain Gordon’s focus on football. Even Bill Belichick, the most “no-nonsense” coach in the history of the sport, gave him a chance, so all hope is not lost for Gordon.

The New York Giants filled a lot of holes this offseason. Drafting a top tackle prospect, acquiring several defensive free agents to bolster their linebacking and secondary units, as well as completely revamping the coaching staff. The receiving corps is one that could look to be addressed next season. Not an area of urgent need, but definitely room for improvement. Darius Slayton looked to be one of the steals of the draft, Evan Engram, when healthy, is one of the better receiving threat tight ends in the game, Golden Tate looked to be one of Daniel Jones’ favorite targets, and Sterling Shepard battled injuries all throughout last season.

Gordon most recently played for the Seahawks, the only team to claim him off waivers in 2019. Gordon is looking for a fresh start, again. With a history of availability issues and disciplinary struggles off the field, could the Giants take a chance with the hopes he returns to his pro bowl form? Adding a big-bodied wide receiver in a massively important second year for Daniel Jones could be an intriguing thought. Gordon is a beast on the field, the only problem is getting him on there and staying there for a full season. Wherever he ends up, I think it is safe to say we all want to see Josh Gordon flourish in a stable situation and return in a productive role.

New York Giants: Dante Fowler Jr. A Young Pass-Rushing Option In Free Agency

New York Giants, Dante Fowler Jr.

The New York Giants will be in the market for a pass-rusher this offseason. Luckily, the 2020 free agency class is filled with talented edge rushers for the Giants to pursue. New York is expected to make a run at all of the big names, such as Yannick Ngakoue and Jadeveon Clowney. But there are more affordable options out there.

Dante Fowler Jr. will be one of those more affordable options in the 2020 free agency class. The 25-year-old edge rusher out of the University of Florida has been with the Los Angeles Rams for the past season and a half but is set to hit the open market once again this offseason.

Dante Fowler Jr. Stats And Highlights

Dante Fowler Jr. was selected third overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He spent his first two and a half seasons in Jacksonville before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams. Fowler signed a one-year contract extension with the Rams in the 2019 offseason.

This offseason, however, a contract extension might not come to fruition. The Rams are pressed against the salary cap and might have to let Dante Fowler Jr. walk away.

Fowler Jr. was looked at as a bust during his time with the Jaguars. He never hit that elite level that they expected him to when they drafted him third overall. However, a change of scenery worked well for Dante. He had a career-year in 2019 that should see him rewarded handsomely in free agency.

In 2019, Dante Fowler recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks, 35 pressures, and 58 combined tackles. This was far and away the best season of his career and a big step forward from his 4-sack campaign in 2018. Fowler’s inconsistency throughout his career is a major red flag. But if 2019 is any indication, it appears Fowler is starting to get the hang of the professional game. Maybe in the right defensive system, Dante Fowler Jr. will be able to reach his full potential.

Dante Fowler Jr.’s Contract

Dante’s impressive performance in 2019 should see him earn a pretty expensive contract, however, he will be a cheaper option in comparison to Clowney and Ngakoue.

According to Over the Cap, Dante Fowler Jr. is projected to get a four-year deal worth about $15 million on average annually. This is $6 million less than what Jadeveon Clowney is projected to sign for and $4.5 less than Ngakoue’s projected contract.

New York Giants: Everson Griffen A New Name To Keep An Eye On In Free Agency

Another impact veteran player has entered the already stacked group of 2020 free agents. Long-time Minnesota Vikings edge rusher Everson Griffen will be hitting the open market this offseason. According to reports, Everson Griffen told the Vikings he’s voiding the remainder of his contract. A player option in Griffen’s deal allows him to end his arrangements and be a free agent this offseason.

There is a chance that Minnesota and Griffen reach an agreement on a new deal. Everson has stated that he wants to stay in Minnesota. However, being on the open market and talking to other teams could change Everson’s mind. The 32-year-old is still performing at a high-level, so there should be a lot of teams interested in signing him. Everson Griffen is a new name for the New York Giants to keep an eye on in free agency.

Everson Griffen Stats & Highlights

Everson Griffen was drafted in the fourth round (100th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft. He has spent all nine of his seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.

Over those nine seasons, Griffen has been to four Pro Bowls, recorded 355 combined tackles, and totaled 74.5 sacks. Everson’s best season came in 2017 when he racked up a career-high 13 sacks to go along with 45 combined tackles and 3 forced fumbles.

In 2019, Griffen was not precisely the game-breaking pass-rusher that he has been for most of his career. Griffen recorded a respectable 8 sacks in 2019 with 41 combined tackles and 1 interception. He was given a Pro Football Focus grade of 77.6.

At 32-years-old, Everson Griffen would be a short-term signing. A one or two-year deal worth over $10 million will be handed to Everson. The Giants are likely to be looking for long-term building blocks, which might take Griffen out of the equation.

Should The New York Giants Pursue Vic Beasley?

Currently, the New York Giants have $69 million in cap space. After they make their roster cuts, they should have upwards of $80 million. The Giants have 22 impending free agents but have not yet made decisions on any of them. Other teams, however, have made public decisions on some of their free agents.

For example, the Atlanta Falcons recently announced that they would be allowing edge rusher Vic Beasley Jr. to walk in free agency. The Giants, with a glaring need at edge rusher, could be a potential landing spot for Beasley.

Affordable Contract

Vic Beasley has an estimated market value of $7.3 million on average annually, according to Spotrac. Beasley’s inconsistent play over the past three seasons will make teams skeptical of signing him in 2020. He could end up on a one-year “prove-it” deal with a little more money. But if a team looks to sign Beasley long-term, his annual salary is not expected to be very high.

The Giants will take a look at all of the free-agent edge rushers in 2020. Yannick Ngakoue, Shaquil Barrett, and Jadeveon Clowney are the big-names to watch, but whatever team signs them will have to break the bank. The Giants might be wise to take a chance on someone like Vic Beasley Jr., who has much-untapped potential that could be acquired on an affordable deal.

Untapped Potential

Vic Beasley is a former first-round pick that was drafted eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. As a draft prospect in the 2015 offseason, Vic tore up the NFL Scouting Combine and was a top performer at his position in every single workout he participated in (NFL.com).

Beasley’s NFL Draft profile from 2015 states that he “projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker.” Unfortunately for him, he was drafted by a team that runs a 4-3 defense. The Falcons under Dan Quinn have been known to use a 4-3 under defense. Because of this, the Falcons were not playing Beasley to his strengths and were technically playing him out of position.

The Giants will be running a multiple defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, but the base of the defense, according to graham himself, is more of a 3-4. Vic Beasley would be able to do what he does best and play as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Giants. But he could also use his experience in a 4-3 when the Giants switch up their defensive schemes.

Vic Beasley Jr. did find some success with the Falcons, but his inconsistency is the reason they are not interested in extending him. In 2016, Beasley recorded 15.5 sacks, which led the NFL. He then followed that up with only 18 sacks over the next three years. He had a flash in the pan in 2016 but has not been able to reach that level of success since then. But, maybe in a multiple or 3-4 defense, Vic Beasley could return to form and be the dominant pass-rusher he was expected to be coming out of college. At the very least, Vic Beasley Jr. would be an excellent addition as a secondary pass-rusher for the Giants on an affordable contract.

New York Giants: Kyle Van Noy Should Be A Top FA Target

The New York Giants will be looking to fix their defense in the 2020 offseason. Free agency is right around the corner, and there has been lots of talk about the Giants making runs at the biggest names on the open market. However, fans need to temper their expectations. The Giants have significant money to spend, but it would be reckless to blow it all in one offseason.

The Giants will need to look at lesser expensive options as well as the stars that will be available. One name that the Giants should be linked to is linebacker/edge rusher Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy is an impending free agent that could be an immense upgrade at a position of need for the Giants’ defense.

Ties To The New Head Coach

Kyle Van Noy has spent his last three and a half seasons playing for the New England Patriots. The seven-year NFL veteran had a good relationship with Joe Judge, the Giants’ new head coach. Judge was with New England since 2012. 

When Van Noy learned of Judge’s promotion as New York’s new head coach, he was excited for his former special teams coordinator. While appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show” this offseason, Kyle described Joe Judge as a “ball of energy” and a “really, really good coach” that loves football. At the end of his discussion about Joe Judge, Kyle Van Noy exclaimed: “Go, Giants!”

Of course, Van Noy is probably just showing support for his former coach. But, being that he is an impending free agent, Kyle Van Noy could have been hinting at a desire to reunite with Joe Judge in New York. If that is what Van Noy wants, the Giants should be on board and should pursue him in free agency.

A Solid Pass-Rusher And An Elite Run-Defender

When looking at Kyle Van Noy’s career stats, it is noticeable that he has only 17.5 career sacks in seven seasons. However, there is more to the story. Van Noy played off-ball linebacker for most of his career. He has always been a dominant run-defender but has not been used much as a primary pass-rusher.

Granted, New England still sent Van Noy on many blitzes, and he was highly efficient. As an off-ball linebacker in 2018, Kyle Van Noy totaled 275 pass-rush snaps in the regular season and racked up 36 pressures (Pro Football Focus).

That changed this season when Kyle Van Noy changed positions. In New England’s 2019 defense, Kyle Van Noy was moved to edge rusher. In this role, Van Noy totaled 60 pressures, 6.5 sacks, and a pressure rate of 13.8%, which ranked 26th best at his position (Pro Football Focus).

Though he is a great pass-rusher, Kyle Van Noy is an elite run defender. He earned an 85.4 run-defense grade on Pro Football Focus, an elite grade that ranked top-five at his position. He also totaled 56 combined tackles and 7 tackles for loss in 2019 as an edge rusher. As an off-ball linebacker in 2018, Kyle Van Noy racked up 92 combined tackles.

Multi-Positional Versatility

Kyle Van Noy, as mentioned previously, is a former off-ball linebacker. However, in 2019, he switched positions and became an edge rusher. As a full-time edge rusher in 2019, Kyle had maybe the best season of his career. The Giants could sign him to play either position or both, but wherever he plays, he would be one of the most impactful players on the defense.

Van Noy’s versatility lines up with head coach Joe Judge’s vision. Judge made it clear that he prioritizes “personnel versatility” in his introductory press conference:

…I’ve prepared myself for was leading into every draft I studied every player in the draft as a player and an athlete. I didn’t look at them as a receiver, I didn’t look at them as a tight end, I didn’t look at them as a linebacker… I’m used to looking at things from a big picture perspective on players in terms of what they bring to the team as a whole… I want to know what kind of athlete this man is and how we can use his toolset to our advantage. - Joe Judge, during his introductory press conference.

A Manageable Contract

Kyle Van Noy would bring upgraded pass-rushing and run-defending abilities to the Giants’ defense. His experience playing multiple positions at a high level makes him a reliable, versatile option for the Giants to pursue in the 2020 offseason. Additionally, Van Noy would cost a fraction of the price of the biggest pass-rushers in free agency (such as Ngakoue and Clowney). Players like that are in line for nearly $20 million, but Kyle Van Noy’s contract is projected to be three years, $31.5 million ($15 million guaranteed).

New York Giants: Byron Jones Should Be The Top Free Agent Target

The New York Giants possess one of the worst defenses in the NFL. In 2019, the Giants’ secondary was especially bad. New York’s pass defense ranked fifth-worst in the NFL this season, allowing 264.1 passing yards per game (ESPN). Granted, the team had multiple rookie defensive backs starting for them. But this league-ranking is unacceptable regardless and needs to improve in 2020.

Luckily for the Giants, there are plenty of options to improve their secondary this offseason. Whether it be drafting a young stud defensive back in the first round or spending big in free agency- the possibilities are limitless. In free agency, there are plenty of big-name offensive tackles and edge rushers that Giants fans will drool over. But the player they should be drooling over is in the secondary. Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys defensive back, should be the Giants’ top free-agent target in 2020.

Free Agent Cornerbacks Pay Off

The Giants have spent big in the secondary before. Over the past five years, the Giants have signed a couple of big-name cornerbacks. Fist, New York secured Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the 2014 NFL offseason. The Giants signed DRC to a five-year deal that saw him total 11 interceptions and 46 passes defended in three seasons. Rodgers-Cromartie was also selected as a second-team All-Pro in 2016.

DRC was not the only free agent cornerback from which the Giants got high returns. More recently, the Giants parted ways with cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins was a big signing for the Giants in the 2016 offseason when the team spent heavily on impact players in free agency, such as Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, and Damon Harrison.

In that 2016 offseason, the Giants signed Janoris Jenkins to a five-year deal. The Giants got three and a half years out of Janoris. In those three and a half seasons, Janoris Jenkins racked up 12 interceptions, and 56 passes defended. Janoris Jenkins was also selected as a first-team All-Pro in 2016. The Giants’ past two cornerback free agent signings have paid off big-time with elite play and reliability in their secondary.

Why The Giants Should Sign Byron Jones

If the Giants make a third big purchase in the secondary, signing Byron Jones in the 2020 offseason would be a home run. Undoubtedly, Byron Jones is the best cornerback set to be available in free agency in 2020.

The Giants’ secondary is filled with youthful talent. DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine, Julian Love, and Grant Haley are all second and third-year players. Having a talented veteran presence in the secondary should be a top priority for the Gmen. Byron Jones fits the bill at 27-years-old with 5 years of experience.

The Cowboys are in a bit of trouble regarding their salary cap. They just paid Ezekiel Elliot and Demarcus Lawrence, and they still have not paid Dak Prescott. New head coach Mike McCarthy will have some tough decisions to make regarding the team’s impending free agents, and he might have to let some big names walk out the door. Byron Jones could be one of those big names to depart.

Byron Jones is a versatile cornerback that makes a significant impact in pass coverage. He has experience playing both safety and cornerback at the professional level and has done both exceptionally well. Jones is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He’s a large-bodied cornerback with peak physicality to cover larger receivers and tight ends. Finally, the Giants could get a coverage-man to shut down opposing tight ends.

New York Giants: Byron Jones A Top Free Agent Target In The Secondary

The New York Giants have been rebuilding their secondary. Last offseason, the Giants invested heavily into their secondary during the 2019 NFL Draft. New York spent three of their draft picks on defensive backs in the draft (four if counting Sam Beal).

2019 was a step in the right direction for the Giants’ secondary. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. The Giants’ pass defense ranked fifth-worst in the NFL this season allowing 264.1 passing yards per game.

This offseason, the Giants need to prioritize rebuilding their secondary again. They are estimated by Spotrac to have over $69 million in cap space before they start trimming the fat and cutting veteran contracts. This gives New York the capability to sign big-name free agents in the secondary.

Luckily, there is one superstar cornerback that is set to hit the market in 2020. The Dallas Cowboys’ cornerback Byron Jones will be one of the most highly-coveted cornerbacks in the 2020 free agency period, and he should be one of the Giants’ top targets.

Byron Jones Stats and Highlights

The Giants’ division-rival Byron Jones is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. At 27-years-old, Byron would be a perfect addition to the Giants’ youthful defense.

Byron Jones is a versatile cornerback that makes a significant impact in pass coverage. He has experience playing both safety and cornerback at the professional level and has done both exceptionally well. Jones is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He’s a large-bodied cornerback with peak physicality to cover larger receivers and tight ends

The 27-year old defensive back out of Connecticut spent his first five seasons with the division-rival Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are in a bit of trouble regarding their salary cap. They just paid Ezekiel Elliot and Demarcus Lawrence, and they still have not paid Dak Prescott. New head coach Mike McCarthy will have some tough decisions to make regarding the team’s impending free agents, and he might have to let some big names walk out the door. Byron Jones could be one of those big names to depart.

According to Pro Football Focus, Jones had a forced incompletion rate of 15.1%, which ranked 22nd among corners through Week 17, and he held opponents to a 22nd-ranked 11.0 yards per reception. Jones has also tallied 20 passes defended over the last two seasons to go with 111 combined tackles in the same span.


New York Jets: The Pros and Cons of Signing Le’Veon Bell In Free Agency

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

The New York Jets’ rushing attack was rolling downhill for the first 6-weeks of the 2018 season. In week 7 against the Vikings, Bilal Powell suffered a devastating injury that derailed his career.

In the penultimate game of the season, Isaiah Crowell sustained a foot injury that prevented him from returning to his former glory. Elijah McGuire and Trenton Cannon both showed some flashes of talent, but neither stood out as a pass-catching back.

All of this begs the question:

Is Le’Veon Bell a Good Fit For the New York Jets?

Bell’s numbers are otherworldly. When he’s been on the field, he’s averaged 86 yards on the ground and 43 yards through the air. If you added that to the Jets’ current offense, Sam Darnold could throw for 200 yards to his receivers, and not have to worry about anything else. Jets fans have been waiting for that situation since 2010.

Conversely, Bell brings a lot of baggage with him. He’s been suspended for the first 3 games of consecutive seasons, and he’s missed 18 games in his career. Most notably, he held out the entirety of last year, and going a year without football takes a toll on a player’s overall athleticism.

What Will The Jets Have To Give Up?

That holdout actually hurt Bell’s value more than anything. Last summer, he wanted quarterback money: rumored to be $30 million a year. The breakout of James Connor brought about questions if Le’Veon is a ‘system’ running back. Nobody denies that Bell is an elite receiver at running back. However, he’s going to want Todd Gurley money, almost $15 million per year. Oddly enough, that’s only $500k more than his franchise tender last year.

Why Bell Should Not Be A Jet:

Le’Veon Bell is a stellar talent with a poor attitude. This may be old-fashioned, but he does not put the team before himself. You can look past the holdout; the drug suspensions and the contract dispute went on for multiple years. The Jets brass dealt with Darrelle Revis in a sub-par manner, and he didn’t even have any character issues. For a rebuilding team with a cornerstone, franchise quarterback, establishing the right culture in the locker room is imperative.

Manny Machado signs with Padres as Yankee fans wonder why

The San Diego Padres shocked MLB today by signing Manny Machado to a 10 year 300 million dollar contract. Previous estimates had their offer around 250 million over 7 years. The signing poses a number of questions about how we got to these numbers, why would the Pads do this and why would Manny do this? So let’s tackle them one at a time.

The first question is why would San Diego make this type of offer? They aren’t real contenders in the NL and Machado is not going to suddenly make them the favorites, more like a possible wild card contender at best. There are a few factors that brought San Diego here as the high bidder.

First is their current payroll flexibility. On a team devoid of stars, there’s a lot of room to add salary. The teams biggest contract belongs to Eric Hosmer, whose albatross of a deal won’t hurt them until they need to add more payroll in the future. Other than Hosmer and Wil Meyers there are no contractual commitments after the next few years. This gives San Diego the ability to take on Machado’s deal and not worry about the long term ramifications.

Second is the obvious fact that San Diego is never a free agent destination for star players. In order to get their guy an overpay was probably required.

I’m guessing over the next week or so other offers will leak out and the Padres probably bid against themselves for the last 20 million or so of the deal. If this generates additional ticket sales and revenue it may make the back end of the deal worth the likely performance drop off for them.

The final piece is the team’s efforts to draw in a larger latin fanbase over the last few years. Due to their proximity to Mexico, one of their minority owners being a Mexican billionaire, and their strong local Latino population the club feels they have untapped potential to draw more fans from this demographic. While Machado is of Dominican descent, the team Hope’s his arrival along with über prospects Luis Arias and Fernando Tatis Jr.’s ascension will ignite interest in the club. They are currently the 8th most popular team in Mexico and there is a chance for significant revenue increase if they can improve that position.

For Machado taking this offer was a little more clear cut. He wanted the most dollars over the longest contract possible period. Clearly, he and his agent had hoped that one of their preferred landing spots would match the offer but that market never happened.

Manny passed on a chance to compete for championships with the Yankees, play with family and friends with the White Sox, or be a part of an east coast large market team trying to build a true contender in Philadelphia.  I’m not going to pass a value judgment on his priorities, but he clearly made this an economic decision. I’m sure the MLBPA and his agents are ecstatic, as they get to crow about the biggest free agent contract in league history. Cool.

The final question of how we ended up here is easily answered. Machado wanted to play for the Yankees than it was he preferred the east coast, but none of those options materialized. These other teams stuck to their guns on years and/or dollars and left the door open for another team to throw caution to the wind and swoop in with a huge offer. Manny had a choice to make and today he made it. He will spend the next decade (unless he’s moved in a future salary dump) in a pitchers park, on a small market team that hasn’t contended for a championship in decades. Good for him. I guess I did make a judgment on his motivations after all.