We were going to see a lull in rumor activity over the next few days as folks take a break for Christmas, but with the possibility that the Rakuten Golden Eagles make a posting decision on Masahiro Tanaka this week, I’m not so sure we’ll get that lull.
- Very little discussion on the Cubs/Scott Baker front lately – makes you wonder if the Cubs aren’t all that into any additional back-end rotation competitors right now (save for Tsuyoshi Wada, who got a mere minor league deal) until they know for sure what’s up with Tanaka – but the Angels might be considering him. Baker will find a deal eventually, and I think he can probably get a cheap, big-league deal, too. He may have to give up an option year to get it done, though, and that’s the kind of deal I wouldn’t mind seeing him on if he comes back to the Cubs. (That Angels piece reminds me that Jason Hammel is still out there, and I do still think he’s an interesting option for the Cubs, depending on how things shake out.)
- The Cubs were reportedly among a small contingent of teams scouting former big league starter Joel Pineiro, who is pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The 35-year-old righty hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011 following shoulder surgery, but at least one anonymous scout thinks he’s worth a Spring Training invite. He was a decent starter before the shoulder problem popped up. As always, a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite never hurts, but the upside here is very limited given his age and recent out-of-baseball-ness. Even if he dominates in the first half, it’s not like you’re going to get much in return for him as a flip piece.
- Random synapse connection as I thought about this morning’s piece on the lack of spending by the Cubs, together with the relative bounty of pitching that could theoretically be available in free agency next offseason (Kershaw, Scherzer, Shields, Masterson, Bailey, Billingsley, Cueto, McCarthy, Gallardo and many more): maybe that’s why the Cubs were seeking someone like Jason Heyward or Justin Upton in a deal for Jeff Samardzija. There aren’t many of those types available in free agency next year, but if you can kinda sorta approximate Samardzija in free agency, then you’ve net improved your team by swapping out Samardzija/scrub for Masterson/Heyward. And your team is in a great position to “go for it” in 2015 without having spent huge on both halves of that equation.
- Joel Sherman suspects that, if Alex Rodriguez’s suspension is not upheld at least for all of the 2014 season, the Yankees will no longer be able to go under the $189 million luxury tax limit, and will thus go spend crazy for the rest of the offseason. In other words, if you’re rooting for the Yankees to be out on Tanaka, it might actually be best for you to root for ARod to be suspended for the full 162 games in 2014 (because then the Yanks might take a crack at staying under $189 million).
- Speaking of the Yankees and Tanaka, there was a report late last week from ESPN New York that the Yankees are planning to move on without Tanaka … but that report is more about the Yankees coming up with plans to move on without Tanaka if they have to. As in: if he’s not posted at all. All in all, I’m just going to go ahead and assume the Yankees will be in on him big if he’s posted, no matter what.