There are often a few moves in the week leading up to Christmas …
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal that the Dodgers are shopping outfielder Andre Ethier, primarily because they’d like to be able to pursue Michael Bourn or Nick Swisher (ALL. THE. PLAYERS.). We’ve heard this routine before, and it didn’t make a lot of sense because of the extension Ethier just signed with the Dodgers, and because that extension – which pays him an average salary around $17 million through 2017 (plus a vesting option for 2018) – doesn’t leave him with a whole lot of surplus trade value. If the Dodgers were looking to dump Ethier, I could see the Cubs having some interest, in the sense that they’re always interested in any undervalued assets. Aside from that, though, he’s not a great fit. He turns 31 in April, and has become a hitter who is really only effective against righties. He’s a solid defensive right fielder, but it would be a whole lot of resources to devote to a guy who will be 32/33, at the youngest, when the Cubs are ready to compete. To give up prospects for the privilege of taking on that risk? Nah. No thanks. Even if the Dodgers ate enough of his deal to make the trade understandable, is he really the right fit for the Cubs? If they wanted to go that route right now, why wouldn’t they just make a strong push for Nick Swisher? If the Dodgers seriously entertain eating a bunch of salary to move Ethier, I’m thinking one of the many teams closer to competitiveness who need an outfielder are going to step up much more aggressively than would the Cubs.
- Speaking of the outfield, on the flip-side, if the Cubs decide to ship an outfielder out, Alfonso Soriano remains the likeliest target (even if he’s not going to be terribly easy to move because of his age, contract, and no-trade rights). Rosenthal writes separately that the Rangers aren’t crazy about any of the free agent outfield options left on the market, and aren’t crazy about committing to someone like Adam LaRoche. Soriano, who previously played for the Rangers, would come at a cheap price (the Cubs are said to be willing to eat enough of his deal to make him a $5 million player for the next two years), but is he the right guy for the Rangers? After missing out on Josh Hamilton, the whispers say the Rangers are content to just go with a combination of Ian Kinsler, Mitch Moreland, Mike Olt, and back-ups between first base, DH and left field (with Leonys Martin in center field, and Jurickson Profar at second base). Not really a bad setup, and although they’ve lost some serious pop between Hamilton and Mike Napoli, it’s not really like they’re desperate. If they added someone like Soriano, they’d probably have to find a home for Moreland (not a fit for Cubs) or Olt (way too valuable for Soriano). The Rangers could pick up Soriano and move one of those guys in a separate deal, but it’s a lot of moving parts. I suppose it’s worth keeping an eye on, though we don’t know whether Soriano would consider a deal to the Rangers.
- Danny Knobler says the Cubs and Tigers did speak about Rick Porcello, now that he’s expendable, but the two sides didn’t find a fit. The Tigers are alternatively listening on lefty Drew Smyly, who might be a more attractive target for the Cubs. No word on whether they’ve reached out on Smyly, specifically, or what the cost would be. I’m thinking the answer would be “steep,” given that he’s just 23, under control through 2018, made it to the big leagues in just his second professional season, and pitched effectively during that stint.
- Anibal Sanchez’s agent says his client “left money on the table” in the form of an offer at the Winter Meetings from a mystery team. Of course, he shared this tidbit as Sanchez was being reintroduced in Detroit, where the fans will now love him even more for taking less. It doesn’t really matter, but I can state with confidence that it isn’t true, at least not in the sense that the agent wants you to hear it. There’s a whole lot of ways to play around with “left money on the table,” and my guess is that – at most – he received an offer with a slightly higher average annual value than the deal he signed with the Tigers (five years, $80 million, plus a club option for 2018), but for fewer years. There is a 0.000% chance that he flatly turned down a deal better than the Tigers’ two weeks ago, and then made the Tigers and Cubs sweat over a lesser deal.
- His agent added that Sanchez always wanted to return to Detroit, and he did everything he could to make that happen. I think we all already figured that out.