With bowl season on the way and the NBA about to tip off, baseball is stealing the focus of oddsmakers in early December with big-name, free agent signings shaking up the 2012 MLB futures odds.
Slugger Albert Pujols signed a 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels worth $254 million Thursday, on the heels of a five-year contract for left-handed pitcher C.J. Wilson, who jumps ship to the Halos after leading American League West rivals, the Texas Rangers, to back-to-back World Series appearances.
“We took money at 10-1 (on the Angels to win World Series), so we dropped them to 5-1 with Wilson signing, which makes them league faves with Philadelphia in their respective leagues,” Todd Fuhrman, sports and race analyst for Caesar’s in Las Vegas, told Covers.com
The newly-named Miami Marlins made noise before the winter meetings, signing shortstop Jose Reyes and southpaw starting pitcher Mark Buehrle this past week. Miami was in the hunt for Pujols but dropped out of the arms race after giving Buehrle a four-year, $58-million deal.
The Marlins opened at 60-1 to win the World Series but have dropped to 10-1 with this week’s moves. Fuhrman expects that number to come up a bit now that Miami won’t have Pujols on its roster.
The Philadelphia Phillies have also made some moves this offseason, signing closer Jonathan Papelbon, and strengthening their bench with bats like Jim Thome, Ty Wigginton, and Laynce Nix. But Philly hasn’t made improvements to its everyday lineup, where it struggled to produce last season.
“We opened the Phillies at 5-1 and took some money on them, moving it to 4-1,” says Fuhrman. “But with the Marlins' moves, we’ve gone back up to 5-1 and may go higher. The NL East is much better top to bottom and Philadelphia will play a tougher schedule night to night.”
According to Fuhrman, the Chicago Cubs have been the most-bet team on the World Series futures board. The Cubs opened at 35-1 and have been bet down to 7-1, with Chicago faithful buying into the team’s managerial changes and the hiring of Theo Epstein as the President of Baseball Operations.
“It’s Cubs nation coming in and betting their team blindly,” says Furhman. “Right now, counting the totals, we’ve written more tickets on the Cubs than any other team – 2.5-to-1.”
Fuhrman is going to reassess the MLB futures odds this weekend when the dust settles from the winter meetings. He says the biggest challenge for the upcoming season will be factoring in the extra wildcard spots that have been added to the MLB postseason.
“It’s a good challenge for us,” he says. “Those extra spots are going to change the way we look at teams and how they’ll perform down the stretch.”