It’s been a busy weekend and Monday around MLB…
- Today, the Los Angeles Dodgers extended NL MVP Matt Kemp for eight years and $160 million. Kemp, 27, was set to be in his last year of arbitration in 2012 (thought to be on the way to getting about $15 million), so he’s getting a shade over $20 million per year in those seven additional years. The deal sounds about right for a player of Kemp’s stature (in addition to his offensive production, Kemp is a gold glove outfielder), and probably doesn’t set or change the market with respect to any other players. It does, however, remove one of the more attractive 2013 free agents from the table, which could increase the pressure on teams who want a top-line free agent to lock one down this Winter. Then again, I don’t think too many teams were making their plans this Winter on the assumption that Kemp would be available next Winter. So, on the balance, the move is interesting, but probably doesn’t have an impact on too many other MLB teams, including the Cubs. For the Dodgers, it’s a long, healthy commitment to a player coming off of a career year (his 171 OPS+ was some 50 points higher than his career mark going into the season), and ensures that the next owner will have a marquee player around whom to build the franchise.
- One of this year’s top-line free agents, shortstop Jose Reyes, was signed by the Miami Marlins this weekend … until he wasn’t. There were conflicting reports on Twitter yesterday, from reputable sources on both sides, and we’ve yet to really get a conclusion. The sense is Reyes is likely to sign with the Marlins, and it could be for a deal approaching $100 million. For a “speed” guy approaching 30, coming off of a career year during which he suffered two hamstring injuries to the same leg, and during which his defense was mediocre, the move sounds like it might be as much about “getting a name player” for a team with a new ballpark, as it is about paying Reyes what he’s really worth. If the Marlins do indeed land Reyes, they could slide Hanley Ramirez over to 3B, or could look to trade him. Ramirez, who turns 28 next month, is owed $46.5 million over the next three years, and is coming off an injuried-filled .243/.333/.379 season.
- As noted previously, the Marlins also have an offer out to Albert Pujols, and are expected to make an alternative run at Prince Fielder. If they managed to land one of the two, might that leave first baseman Gaby Sanchez out of the mix? The Cubs might have some interest in the 28-year-old, who isn’t arbitration eligible until 2013. Sanchez had an OPS+ of 108 and 113 the last two years, so he doesn’t blow it away – he’s just solid. And cheap.
- The Padres remain likely to move possible Cubs’ trade target, Chase Headley, at some point, but it might not be until mid-season. Unless the Cubs plan to go into the season with an internal solution at 3B – Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, DJ LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty, Josh Vitters, and Junior Lake are among the not-so-great options (for one reason or another) – Headley may not be a realistic target. I remain of the mind that he’s one of the better options out there for the Cubs – prime age, cost-controlled, good plate discipline, good numbers away from Petco, and good defense.
- Execs think CJ Wilson will get a five or six year contract. He remains a tire-kicking candidate for the Cubs, though their interest will depend greatly on what happens to the rest of the rotation, and whether they can pull off any trades for pitching.
- Phil Rogers suggests the Cubs could go after Red Sox reliever Michael Bowden as a possible starting pitcher, but his rationale appears to be limited to: (1) Bowden is originally from the Chicago area, (2) Theo Epstein now runs the Cubs after running the Red Sox, (3) Bowden hasn’t gotten much of a shot to start with the Red Sox, and (4) the Cubs need starters. Um, okay. Setting aside the speciousness of the connection (unless Rogers has “heard” something, in which case, say it), the Red Sox are themselves still looking for 4th and 5th starter types.
- Jon Heyman says the “early word” is that the Cardinals don’t plan to increase their nine-year(ish), $210 million(ish) offer to Albert Pujols. Even if that’s viewed as a low offer, it will (1) be hard for another team to beat it by enough to overcome Pujols’ reported desire to stay in St. Louis, and (2) be steep enough to cause the Cardinals financial troubles down the road.
- As expected, the Brewers pretty much can’t afford Prince Fielder anymore.
- Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are not on the trade market. No surprise.