The holidays really played with things this year. Christmas Day and New Years Day fall on the same day of the week every year. When it’s a weekend day, the intervening weeks proceed almost normally with respect to baseball operations/rumors/etc. When the holiday day is a Monday or a Friday, you still pretty much have a couple full weeks in there. Tuesday/Thursday? There’s some disruption, but in either case, you can still have two three-day weeks. But Wednesday? That’s just two blown-up weeks right there. It’s been quiet around baseball for those two weeks, understandably. We had the Masahiro Tanaka posting news on Christmas, but that was it. I suspect that’s going to change, starting with this week. Back to business.
- The Blue Jays and Cubs are still having discussions about a Jeff Samardzija trade, according to Ken Rosenthal. That said, the Jays remain very likely to sign one of the Garza/Santana/Jimenez group, and they aren’t going to move on Samardzija until that market plays out. Samardzija is, to my mind, the best bet of the four to give the most value over the next two years (after which, you don’t necessarily have Samardzija anymore, but the other three might not provide a lot of value after that point anyway, and you’re paying them a hell of a lot). And he’ll cost, for two years, less than the salary of one year of the other three. The problem, of course, remains the huge prospect asking price of the Cubs.
- A source tells Rosenthal that, despite conflicting rumors, the Mariners might not be a lock to make another big spendy move. Although the front office is still considering Tanaka, David Price and Nelson Cruz, Rosenthal’s source says they’ve got to first convince ownership to keep their foot on the gas. As we’ve discussed at length, signing only Robinson Cano wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense, given the Mariners’ needs.
- Speaking of Tanaka, Andrew Marchand notes his belief that the Cubs, Dodgers, and Rangers could go toe-to-toe with the Yankees in terms of dollars for Tanaka. The focus of his piece, however, is whether the decision will really come down to the Mariners and the Yankees. What I continue to wonder: what can the Cubs use to sell Tanaka on coming to Chicago, assuming the contract offers are in the same range (you’d like for the Cubs to not have to absolutely blow away the other suitors – that’s the fast track to a lead shoes contract)? The promise of being the clear ace? The chance to finally do it for the Cubs? Is that really going to matter to him?
- The Yankees aren’t the only luxury tax cap story going out there. From one team trying to get under the cap to another team trying to stay under it, the Angels have only about $13 to $15 million left in space before busting past the $189 million mark, according to Rosenthal. That’s of considerable relevance as the Angels fancy themselves Tanaka suitors. Right now, they don’t have the room to get him and stay under the cap without unloading some salary (which doesn’t look too easy). Rosenthal argues that blowing past the cap is coming at some point for the Angels anyway (Mike. Trout.), so they might as well do it now. Maybe the Angels should be considered serious players for Tanaka, too?
- Speaking of Rosenthal, he’s noting something I mentioned back at the outset of the offseason: with free agent contracts exploding, even for older, marginal talent, perhaps more and more players will eschew team-friendly extensions during their pre-arb and arb years in favor of taking a chance at free agency. The pendulum could swing quickly, and free agent classes could start improving dramatically within a few years. (Rosenthal sees things playing out an additional way, with more teams trading guys that they can’t extend.)