Today is the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to free agents, and it’s also the last day before free agents are turned loose to sign with new teams. We’ll have more on both of those things soon. Until then …
- Although the procedures by which he’d come to the States are yet to be established, Masahiro Tanaka appears poised to leap to MLB at some point this offseason. If so, he left Japan in style: he threw 160 pitches in his final start, and came back to throw 15 more pitches the next night. According to that New York Times piece, yes, some scouts are worried about the impact such outings would have on his arm (that kind of thing is not terribly uncommon as young pitchers are coming up in Japan – it’s just a different philosophy), and teams could question whether he’s worth a $100 million+ risk. That said, one start/relief appearance, alone, isn’t going to turn away a team that was otherwise interested. Hopefully the Cubs, if they’re interested, have been following Tanaka closely for a very long time, and have a good sense of his health – at least as much as you can have from the outside.
- Ken Rosenthal discusses David Price’s trade value, which will only be helped by an extremely weak pitching market. Everyone expects that Price will be dealt this Winter, and the Cubs have been connected in such a deal for almost a year now (including once again by Rosenthal in that there piece). Thing is, unless the Cubs figure to add a significant bat or two for the 2014 season, the value in adding Price – who is under control for 2014 and 2015, only – is dramatically reduced.
- As they have been before, the Marlins are insistent that they will not be trading Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, despite his expected massive pay raise via arbitration. Even with the injury concerns and soon-escalating wage, Stanton would net a tremendous haul on the trade market if the Marlins changed their mind. It’s easy to see why they wouldn’t, though, because – as much as we might hate it – they do have a very nice young core developing and nearly ready to break through.
- Scott Boras says his phone was ringing off the hook with respect to Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew just moments after the World Series ended. The Cubs have been connected to Ellsbury for some time, so you wonder if one of those calls came from their front office. If it did, I’d think it was of the “exploratory” variety, because it remains extremely difficult to see the Cubs devoting more than $100 million to Ellsbury right now. Tim Dierkes, who has been pretty good at predicting free agent contracts in recent years, pegs Ellsbury as a seven-year, $150 million man. It wasn’t much more than a month ago that we wondered whether Ellsbury was worth $100 million, let alone $150 million. I don’t think Dierkes is too far off on this one, and I’m not seeing the Cubs involved at that level.
- Early possibility (among many) for a pitching flyer via a minor league deal? How about lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who came over from Japan before the 2012 season to some fanfare (some … not a lot), only to promptly undergo Tommy John surgery? He spent the 2012 season rehabbing, and then the 2013 season working out his arm at AAA. The Orioles just declined a $5 million option on him, making him a free agent. He’ll be 33 next year, so there are some years in the tank. Just a flyer type here, but maybe something worth keeping an eye one.
- I’m not sure the Cubs will want to grab another platoon outfielder, but, if they do, MLBTR speculates that the Rays could make Matt Joyce available in the wake of the David DeJesus option pick-up/extension deal. Joyce, 29, is heading into his second arbitration year in 2014, figuring to earn between $3.5 and $4 million. He was down in 2013 by line – .235/.328/.419 – but his BABIP was some 30 points lower than his career average mark. Indeed, his walk rate was up last year (a robust 12.3%), his strikeout rate was down, and his ISO was just about his average mark. If his BABIP rebounds, and he’s platooned, you could be looking at a .275/.360/.475 guy. Not too shabby for a few million bucks.