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old stove featureWe are one Giants win and an inevitable Royals sweep away from the offseason.

  • The Pirates are planning to extend Russell Martin a qualifying offer, according to Jon Heyman. Probably didn’t need a report to tell us that, because Martin is expected to get MUCH more than a one-year, $15.3 million deal (that’s this year’s qualifying offer). Heyman once again mentions the Cubs, together with the Rangers and Dodgers, as possibilities for Martin. We discussed Martin at length yesterday, but it’s worth pointing out now that we know the qualifying offer is coming: the Cubs have a protected first round pick, so, signing a qualified free agent like Martin would cost them only a second rounder (you don’t like losing any draft picks, but being able to lose only the 45th pick instead of the 15th gives the Cubs a bidding advantage over many other possible suitors).
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski didn’t sound very optimistic when discussing Max Scherzer’s impending free agency, saying at the season-ending press conference (via Jason Beck), “I think we made ourselves pretty well known at that time [before the season] where we stood. He’s a quality pitcher. We know that. He’s done a lot for our organization, but it’s apparent that his representative wanted him to test free agency. And that comes up in a couple weeks …. I think we probably made more of an effort to sign Max earlier in the year. So I don’t think your odds improve [from] what they were earlier. Why would they improve if we have one-on-one ability to speak with you, compared to having 29 other clubs speak with you? Only time will tell.” Scherzer’s free agency figures to be one of the more dramatic and ongoing storylines of the offseason, with the Cubs’ involvement still unclear.
  • It sounds like (Joel Sherman) the Orioles are going to decline their half of a mutual option with outfielder Nick Markakis, paying him a $2 million buyout rather than a $17.5 million salary. From there, it’s up in the air whether he’ll receive a qualifying offer. In any case, I’m not sure I see the Cubs going to three or four years and $30 to $45 million on him. He doesn’t strike out, walks a little bit, and gets on base at a reasonable clip, but, overall, I’m not sure how much offensive value he provides going forward (he turns 31 next month). Defensively, he’s a corner outfielder at this point, and a mediocre one at that (going strictly by the defensive metrics, that is). There are some things to like, and on a cheap deal, sure, you’d consider it. But I think he winds up getting more than makes sense for the Cubs, given their other needs.
  • Speaking of the Orioles and qualifying offers, they plan to extend one to Nelson Cruz, says Heyman. Cruz, 34, had an enormous year for the Orioles after signing a cheapy one-year contract. That followed a PED suspension and qualifying offer rejection in 2013. Will he reject the offer again? Probably, though with the draft pick compensation attached, how much more is he really going to get beyond the $15.3 million he’s turning down? Three years and $30 million? Maybe? Does a team go nuts and give him the four years and $60 million he thought he was going to get last time around? There’s no direct Cubs impact here, by the way, just the tangential market stuff.
  • Alex Rios will also be among the older options on the free agent market this year, as Jon Heyman reports the Rangers will decline his option after a down 2014.
  • If you missed today’s short (4 minutes) video on the Cubs’ 2015 payroll situation, which obviously has many Lukewarm Stove implications, you can watch it here:

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