The transaction part of the offseason is still several weeks away, but more teams are heading into their own offseasons as the playoffs go on …
- The Tigers’ season is over, unceremoniously swept by the Orioles in the ALDS, and they’re going to have to address a number of issues if they want to continue their window of competitiveness. Although it wasn’t exposed this year, the rotation is going to become a big question going forward, with Max Scherzer now a free agent, with David Price a free agent after next season, and with Justin Verlander no longer Justin Verlander. Will the Tigers go nuts on keeping Scherzer now that they didn’t get too far in the playoffs?
- Joel Sherman isn’t so sure on that one, wondering whether Scherzer’s decision to decline the pre-season six-year, $144 million extension offer from the Tigers was a mistake. No, not because Scherzer got hurt or pitched poorly, but because (1) the supply of high-level pitchers is going to be strong over the next 12 to 15 months, and (2) many mid-tier pitchers are suddenly throwing like top-tier pitchers. Scherzer is still probably going to be getting something like six or seven years and $25 million per year, but it does make you think.
- Kiley McDaniel reminds you of Cuban super prospect Yoan Moncada, who is currently in parts unknown, but is a 19-year-old stud. If he ultimately becomes available, it’s going to be very fascinating when he reaches free agency. He’ll cost way more than your typical IFA pool, so a team will have to really blow the budget just to get him. That means a team like the Cubs – currently prohibited from signing any player for more than $250,000 – would not be able to sign him if he reaches free agency before next July. If Moncada comes after that, however, teams like the Yankees and Red Sox – who blew their budget this year – won’t be able to sign him.
- The Pirates have designated outfielder Jose Tabata for assignment. Again. I’ve written about Tabata before, and the story is mostly the same: there are things to like (he only just turned 26, doesn’t strike out, used to take some walks, and was good with the bat just last year), but the trick is that he’s owed almost $9 million between 2015 and 2016. He’s got super affordable team options after that, but without some kind of breakout, that doesn’t matter. Tabata has can’t be outrighted off the 40-man roster without being offered the choice to head to free agency, but he’s highly unlikely to do that and forgo his guaranteed contract. So, the Pirates may look to trade him. If they were willing to eat a few million, it could be a very good risk.
- Patrick Mooney writes about the Cubs’ offense ambitions, and includes some thoughts from Jed Hoyer on the team’s offseason needs. Among them: “Our sort of big-picture focus is going to be on pitching. But I think we’ll be active on position players as well, [because] if you look at our last couple of seasons, our pitching has been notably better than our hitting, despite the fact that as an organization we’re much deeper hitting-wise than pitching-wise.” That really nails where things stand. The Cubs’ long-term needs are clearly on the pitching side, but for three years running, the Cubs have managed to succeed at the big league level with whatever pitching they could cobble together. Offensively, however, they’ve been brutal.
- Joel Sherman suggests the Mets ask the Red Sox about a Bartolo Colon/Shane Victorino swap. I wonder, with the Red Sox having a seeming surplus of marginal outfielders, would the Cubs have any interest in buying low on a guy like Victorino (if healthy) or Allen Craig (if scouts think he can come back)? I don’t hate the idea of kicking some tires. Or maybe the Red Sox shop Yoenis Cespedes. Or maybe the Braves shop Justin Upton or Jason Heyward. I suppose all I’m saying: the Cubs might prefer a one-year outfielder, given what could be coming offensively down the road, and there might be some interesting short-term trade options out there.