Jayson Stark has a couple pieces out today that you’re going to want to read for a little fun. First, he’s got some executive and agent predictions on the top three starting pitchers – Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields – including where and when they’ll sign. Second, he’s got a piece on 10 names to watch for the Winter Meetings, which also includes some anonymous executive goodness.
Some interesting highlights:
- The (relatively small) pool of executives and agents surveyed by Stark all think Lester will sign in the next two weeks, mostly likely during the Winter Meetings. The Cubs and Red Sox remained the most likely destinations despite the recent Dodger rumblings (but, keep in mind, only six execs ventured a guess).
- The expectation is that Shields will sign almost immediately after Lester. There was a fair bit of talk about the Lester loser between the Cubs and Red Sox getting Shields. That assumes, of course, that Lester does go to one of those two teams. Shields, you’ll recall, was discussed as a back-up option for the Cubs earlier this offseason. I still really like Shields, by the way. It’s just that he’s not quite there with Lester and Scherzer (or many of the guys next year), even though he does strike me as clearly above the next tier.
- Folks around baseball are not expecting Scherzer to sign for a looooong time. The earliest prediction was late December, and the latest was well into Spring Training. I know Scott Boras likes his clients to take their time, but whew. Unless you were getting a steal, I’m not sure you’d want to wait until well into Spring Training to get Scherzer in place.
- Chatter among executives is that there seems to be more trade buzz than free agent buzz right now. That’s probably in part because so much is riding on Lester’s decision, but also because of how quickly all the free agent bats – which was a thin market to begin with – went off the board.
- The Jordan Zimmermann rumors continue among front offices, with many thinking that the Nats are poised to deal Zimmermann and then sign Max Scherzer. Not any time soon, mind you, and this is a very speculative kind of thing. But it’s interesting that it isn’t going away.
- The Tigers are listening on David Price and Rick Porcello. We’ve heard that before, but it sounds like everyone now accepts this as truth, rather than a thin rumor.
- Jeff Samardzija might be the next arm to go off the board – via trade, obviously – after Lester signs. I wonder if the Red Sox will prefer a move for Samardzija to anything else as a Lester reaction. Then again, I also wonder why the Red Sox wouldn’t still want Samardzija even after signing Lester.