The mini-break of Thanksgiving has all but arrived. It’s unlikely that any major moves will happen today or tomorrow, but the rumor mill tends to keep churning throughout the week.
- Ken Rosenthal reports that, although the Diamondbacks are definitely in on Jeff Samardzija (if the Cubs opt to move him), they are considering other pitching options, as well. Rosenthal adds this interestingly parseable bit: “The D-Backs, sources say, know what it would take to land Samardzija, a pitcher they have targeted since last summer. Their fear is that if they jump too soon, they may miss out on an even better opportunity.” Implication: If the Diamondbacks know what it would take to get Samardzija, and are simply afraid to jump too soon, then they are willing to meet the Cubs’ price. They just don’t necessarily want to do it yet. I find that quite interesting, given that the price on Samardzija right now should be through the roof. It’s still hard to see the D-Backs parting with top pitching prospect Archie Bradley in any deal, but I can’t see the Cubs accepting a package that doesn’t include Bradley unless it was overwhelmingly strong.
- Rosenthal also notes that there are several teams in on Samardzija, but nothing is imminent.
- Joel Sherman reports that the meeting yesterday between NPB and MLB officials on the currently-lapsed posting system did not produce a deal, and the talks could continue today. We’re all still expecting that a deal will eventually get done this year, but it could delay the posting of Masahiro Tanaka until January or later.
- Phil Rogers reminds us that Masahiro Tanaka is not the only Japanese pitcher for whom these posting talks could mean a whole lot. There’s also star pitcher Kenta Maeda, who has been nearly as dominant as Tanaka over his six NPB seasons. His team could decide, like Tanaka’s team presumably will, to post the righty once a deal is in place, and cash in on a huge posting fee. The free agent market in MLB is pretty weak on the pitching side, so that’s certainly a mark in favor of posting Maeda now. Marks against? He’s a year further away from free agency than Tanaka, so his team could wait another year. Plus, posting him now means competing directly with Tanaka. If Maeda’s team waits a year, maybe he’s the only big international player on the market. And, early projections have the free agent market being even weaker next year.
- The Twins are exploring deeply the free agent starting market, particularly the mid-tier group in which the Cubs will probably also dip. Keep your hands off Phil Hughes, Twinkies. (Ok, the Hughes thing is now becoming a bit of an over-the-top beast of a joke. It’s not like I think he’s the moon and the stars or anything. I just think he’s a good short-term risk for the Cubs (and the Cubs are a good short-term risk for him, too).)
- Nelson Cruz wants four years and $75 million, per Jon Heyman, which would have been an insane ask even if he wasn’t coming off of a PED suspension. Yes, power is desirable, but we’re talking about a 33-year-old corner outfielder who hasn’t topped 1.5 WAR since 2010, and whose last three OBPs read .312, .319, .327. I’d advocated Cruz on a cheapy prove-it deal, but this is about two stratospheres removed from what I’d envisioned. Woe be to the team that signs him for three years and $45 million, let alone four and $75 million.