The contracts signed this week by Kyler Murray and Joe Kelly continue to spark heated debates in the sports media. Could Murray land in the majors right away, or is he an untested prospect? Where does Kelly fit into that discussion? Let’s start with the former.
Big 12 player of the year, Heisman Trophy finalist, and likely first-round pick in the MLB draft. When I was talking to scouts, they almost unanimously cited Murray’s energy as an advantage he brings to the majors. So it seems he could go first overall.
His production at Oklahoma nearly matched that of reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, and his pure speed and athleticism give him an instant upgrade over future AL Rookie of the Year Francisco Lindor. The only question is whether he is ready for the raw power and high strikeout potential that plagues MLB pitchers.
Murray has been compared to Roy Halladay — when he pitched at a high level, he was always a longshot to be starting for the Jays. That Halladay was having a Hall of Fame career by age 25 makes no difference, though, when Murray is 18.
It would be a surprise if MLB teams would pass on Murray with the first pick.
Kelly was trying to settle in at the back end of the Red Sox bullpen, but with their trade of Craig Kimbrel, the bullpen is stacked to begin the season. The obvious question is whether Kelly will be a setup or closer.
He has struggled consistently in the past. Plus, Boston has a big surplus of high-quality relievers who can handle the role. There is no reason why the Red Sox should leave Kelly in the seventh inning — a role he often struggles to dominate.
But there is the debate about Kelly’s previous success in relief. My guess is that the Red Sox want him to become a power force out of the bullpen, and he was having career-high strikeout totals before his struggles last season. If he does strike out his way out of the bullpen, he can transition to a closer, where he will instantly become a fan favorite.
Ramirez, a right-hander with a career 3.94 ERA, has been a reserve in Miami for the past two seasons.
The Marlins are looking to rebuild their roster, so they will be looking to move Ramirez at the trade deadline if he keeps up his strong start this season.
He is potentially a superstar starter. So if the Marlins can get a bang for their buck, they will eat some of his contract to bring him back to the majors. The Cubs seem to be interested in moving Kyle Hendricks’ contract, and the Padres may look to improve a weak rotation. Ramirez would immediately give either team a rotation that could compete in the NL.
Bour’s 10-year, $75 million contract is far from ideal. With the rise of the designated hitter in the MLB, and the trend of sluggers getting larger contracts, the Marlins need to move Bour and see what they can get in return. As long as Marlins fans are happy with whatever value they get for him, they need to move on.
Another former Royal, Paxton remains in Seattle’s starting rotation.
His limited starting experience — four major league starts — doesn’t look that impressive against the likes of Yu Darvish, Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Arrieta, and Ervin Santana. And he has never pitched at Safeco Field, where home runs have been commonplace.
If the Mariners are not concerned about Paxton’s innings limit, they will be forced to move him at the trade deadline to lessen his price tag. And as a lefty with a history of high-90s velocity, he would instantly become a big part of any playoff contender’s rotation.
Ramirez’s 10-year, $75 million contract is far from ideal. With the rise of the designated hitter in the MLB, and the trend of sluggers getting larger contracts, the Marlins need to move Ramirez at the trade deadline if he keeps up his strong start this season.