A few bits as you settle into your Thursday afternoon …
- Not that anyone expected the Shin-Soo Choo pursuit to consist of the Cubs and no other teams – er, well, actually, we’re still not 100% certain the Cubs will be involved, either – but it’s surprising to hear that the New York Mets are reportedly very interested in Choo, as well. The Mets figure to have some money to spend this Winter (possibly like the Cubs), but, like the Cubs, they would seem to be a couple years away from serious playoff contention (Noah Syndergaard is probably a couple years away, Matt Harvey might miss 2014 with his torn UCL, Zack Wheeler and Travis D’Arnaud are still young, etc.). Then again, if the Cubs’ pursuit of Choo is about near-term credibility and longer-term pieces (as in, having a productive veteran or two in place when the team’s young core is ready), then why wouldn’t the Mets want Choo for the very same reasons? Throw in all of the obviously competitive teams that could have interest in Choo, and you could have a fairly healthy market for his services.
- Bonus rooting interest? Go ahead and root for the Mets to win a whole bunch of games so that they fall out of the top 10 in draft order for 2014. If the Mets are picking 11 or 12, their first round pick would not be protected if they sign someone like Choo (who will presumably receive a qualifying offer from the Reds). And if the Mets stand to lose the 11th or 12th pick? They won’t be signing Choo. You can count on that. As of today, the Mets are just two games “out” of “falling” into 11th or 12th place in the reverse standings.
- Speaking of available outfielders, it’s been easy to forget about Nelson Cruz as an available option, given the PED suspension that will see him out the rest of the regular season. He’ll go into free agency with a clean slate, however, and could cash in despite the suspension. Before all of that went down, Jon Heyman reports that Cruz’s agents asked the Rangers about a four-year, $56 million extension for the slugger. The Rangers declined, and Cruz now figures to get considerably less. Cruz, who was something of a late bloomer, turns 34 next July, but has been a consistent source of power over the last five seasons. If he’s a guy who slips through free agency cracks until the late offseason, he’s the kind of guy I could see the Cubs trying to scoop up on a cheap, short-term deal. I doubt he’s a primary target, though.
- An interesting potential thorn in Cruz’s free agency will be the question of whether the Rangers make him a qualifying offer (one year, $14 million-ish). Would he accept? It’s the annual value he was looking for, but, at his age, you’ve got to figure he wants a multi-year deal. Then again, maybe a one-year deal at a nice rate helps him re-establish his value post-suspension? If he declined, he would see his market depressed further, because of the loss of a draft pick that would be attached to signing him.
- You may not remember him because the Cubs were never really attached, but the latest Cuban star – infielder Alexander Guerrero – is set to sign with the Dodgers (SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS!). When the deal is finalized, he’ll reportedly get five years and $32 million (and, given his age (26), he’ll probably get free agency immediately thereafter), which is a fairly huge sum for a Cuban defector – consider the Yoenis Cespedes hype, which generated a four-year, $36 million deal. The Dodgers have openings at second and third base going forward, and you can figure that Guerrero will be given one of those spots (though I wouldn’t rule out Mr. Moneybags grabbing a talent like Guerrero only to shuffle him to a utility role). If it’s second base, then we could see the Dodgers actually bow out of the Robinson Cano sweepstakes. If enough teams fall out of it for Cano, then I could see the Cubs … no, no I still can’t see them getting in on Cano. In any case, I could see the Dodgers trying Guerrero at third so that they still have an open spot for Cano. (Seriously: SIGN ALL THE PLAYERS!)