Catching up from the overnight build-up, and the early morning whispers …
- Buster Olney reports that there are yet another two big arms on the market: Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Is the market for Jeff Samardzija further disrupted? I’m not so sure it is, given that Hamels is 30 and under contract for another five years and $112.5 million, and Lee is 35 and under contract for two more seasons and $62.5 million (or three seasons and $77.5 million). Lee is in another financial stratosphere from Samardzija, and Hamels is a much longer-term commitment. In other words, it’s hard to see a team being in the position to choose, strictly, between acquiring one of Hamels or Lee, or acquiring Samardzija. As for the Cubs and Hamels/Lee, the latter is a non-starter, and Hamels might suddenly be a touch overpriced. The Phillies are clearly looking for some salary relief, but they’re not going to eat a huge chunk of Hamels’ contract to move him. There would be takers at full price, assuming the return was modest. But the Cubs won’t be that team.
- Speaking of the Phillies and salary relief, Peter Gammons reports that the Phillies are willing to attach outfielder Domonic Brown to a Jonathan Papelbon deal if the other team takes on Papelbon’s salary (two years and $26 million, or three years and $39 million if he stays a reasonable effective closer and an option vests). So, what do you say, Cubs? Care to “buy” Brown for whatever the difference is between Papelbon’s contract and what he’s actually worth as a 33-year-old good-but-declining closer? Let’s say Papelbon’s option doesn’t vest, and he’s on a two-year deal. Seems like he’d be worth at least $10 to $12 million. Is Brown worth purchasing for $14 million? He isn’t even eligible for arbitration for another year, so the answer is an obvious yes, isn’t it? That tells me the Phillies will probably want actual value in a trade for those two. Still, kind of an interesting thing to think about, given the Cubs’ need to efficiently allocate resources. Kill two birds for a relatively low price.
- The Tigers have reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with Rajai Davis in the $10 million range, which is a significant investment for a team that just had to dump Doug Fister to save a few million bucks for a subsequent move. Does that mean the Tigers are out on Shin-Soo Choo? Not necessarily. Davis is more of a fourth outfielder, even if he could platoon with Andy Dirks. Indeed, the Tigers could sign Choo, and then shop Austin Jackson, who has reportedly been on the block this offseason. It’s also possible, though, that the bidding on Choo in the last couple of days went out of the Tigers’ range, and they decided to move on to Davis.
- Speaking of Choo, the non-Rangers mystery team in on him? It’s the Diamondbacks. Alternatively, the Diamondbacks are still pondering a deal for Mark Trumbo, and one version, according to Jon Heyman, has the Diamondbacks sending Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Cahill to Anaheim. At first blush, that seems like a no-brainer for the Angels, given Trumbo’s limited skill set. But Skaggs has fallen off over the last year in some folks’ eyes, and Cahill is going to cost about $20 million for the next two years. He was very down in 2013. This is not an unfair swap. The Diamondbacks will probably pull the trigger on a Trumbo trade if they can’t get Choo, which makes you wonder: if they part with some pitching to land Trumbo, will they be more or less inclined to want to trade for Samardzija (since he, too, would cost them some pitching)?
- The Cubs are looking for relievers, says Ken Rosenthal, and that’s no surprise. But he says, contrary to the Storen/Clippard rumor last night, a free agent signing is more likely, and he suggests a one-year deal is where the Cubs might be thinking. That squares with Tim Dierkes’ report that the Cubs’ offer to Edward Mujica was of the one-year variety. Unless they get a longer-term piece like Storen, it sounds like the Cubs are hoping to pick up a one-year guy whom they can insert into the closer’s role, and then try to flip mid-season.
- It seems that Carrie Muskat has also heard the Storen chatter, by the way. She reports that the Nats are looking for bench help, and “a young, versatile player,” which is oddly specific. Has a particular name come up, but it’s not solid enough to identify the player/prospect? The Cubs do have some young, versatile talent at or near the big league level, including guys like Arismendy Alcantara, Junior Lake, and Logan Watkins, but I’d only be speculating.
- The Cubs could be considering reliever Josh Roenicke, 31, who was recently outrighted by the Twins. Presumably, he would be a minor league deal/non-roster invite situation.
- Joel Sherman asked around, and it doesn’t sound like many in the industry think the Yankees can pull off a trade for Jeff Samardzija. Overstated? Well, one of Sherman’s sources, who expressed skepticism, was in the Cubs’ organization. So there you go.
- The Indians are listening to offers on Justin Masterson, who’s got one year before free agency. I understand that the Indians would like to get a longer term asset, but they’re a competitive team right now, and they’ll get draft pick compensation next year if/when Masterson leaves in free agency. It’s hard to see them making a deal right now, but it might be what they have to do to keep staying afloat long-term. Having just lost Scott Kazmir and (probably) Ubaldo Jimenez, however, I’m going to bet that Masterson goes nowhere.
- Sahadev Sharma’s piece on the Cubs possibly being willing to move a top prospect in a deal for a long-term player also discussed the kind of player that would make sense to acquire: and it’s Chris Sale.