The stove is mostly cool right now, but there are some bits from the past few days that I hadn’t yet had a chance to get to …
- The Orioles already picked off Ryan Lavarnway from the Cubs – they need catching and offense – and now they might pick off a Padres outfielder before the Cubs have a chance to go shopping there (for example, with respect to Seth Smith, which we discussed yesterday). According to the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles want Smith and/or Wil Venable, though talks haven’t gotten too far (reportedly, the Padres mentioned Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in those talks, which, lulz).
- Speaking of trading Padres outfielders, Dennis Lin reports that team sources say the Padres aren’t interested in trading recently-acquired youngster Wil Myers. Rumors recently popped up that the Padres might try to get Cole Hamels from the Phillies with Wil Myers as bait. Perhaps that was wishful thinking on the part of the Phillies, though Lin does say there is some interest in picking up Hamels. Just not with Myers.
- Johnny Cueto won’t negotiate with the Reds on an extension past Opening Day (MLB.com). That’s basically your reminder that we’re entering the phase of the offseason where some of those post-2015 starting pitchers will go off of the board to extensions. I think, given how much Jon Lester just got from the Cubs, and how much Max Scherzer is likely to get, a bunch of the post-2015 pitchers will want to take things to free agency (and Zack Greinke might opt out of his Dodgers deal then, too). Cueto, David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija, for example, seem like very strong picks to reach free agency. I guess that, then, is a separate reminder: waiting to pick up another impact starter after 2015 is probably the right approach for the Cubs. There are likely to be so, so many options.
- And speaking of pitching options, James Shields is reportedly seeking a five-year, $110 million deal (that’s the amount Cole Hamels is owed if he gets his final option year picked up), which is both understandable and also likely the reason he remains unsigned. We’ve discussed it a great deal this offseason, but the short version is that Shields’ “value” is probably somewhere in the four-year, $80 million range, or the five-year, $95 million range. Something like that. So Shields seeking 5/$110M is about what you’d expect. Will he get it? At age 33, without elite front-line performance? I really doubt it. I could still see 5/$100M, though. Don’t expect the Cubs to surprise the world and get involved, even if Shields’ price tag slips under the nine-figure threshold. (Tons of other interesting bits in that Nick Cafardo piece, by the way.)
- The Blue Jays are eyeing the trade market for a closer, according to Jon Heyman (one of the few closing options on the free agent market, Jason Grilli, just went off the board to the Braves (for some reason – will they try to flip him?)). I don’t think this is going to impact the Cubs, because, although they’ve got “more” potential closers than can close, it seems like they’re going to want to keep them all to give the pen the best possible chance to be a strength early in the year. Maybe by midseason it will be clear that the Cubs have a significant surplus of effective relievers (maybe Edwin Jackson breaks out as a reliever, maybe Armando Rivero shows up, etc.), but I’m not sure we’re there just yet. There were some Pedro Strop rumors very early in the offseason, but I’m not sure the Cubs will be eager to shop him.
- Speaking of that Grilli deal – the 38-year-old got two years and $8 million guaranteed from the Braves after a down 2014. That 2014 season was preceded by two awesome seasons, but that was really the first significant breakout for Grilli, was in his mid-30s by then. That is all to say it seems like a bigger risk for the Braves than the Cubs took on their one-year, $4.5 million deal with 32-year-old Jason Motte, even though he had Tommy John surgery in 2013.
- The Twins and Phil Hughes agreed on a three-year, $42 million extension, which tacks on to the two years he already had left on his deal in Minnesota. Hughes broke out last year (sigh) with the Twins after they signed him to a steal of a three-year, $24 million contract, so you can understand why both sides wanted to marry up for longer.
- So far, the Cubs’ Jon Lester deal accounts for the vast majority of free agent spending in the NL Central this offseason (MLBTR).