There’s not much more than a month left before teams report to Spring Training, which is when they’d really like to have the meat of their team settled.
- Are the Tigers pushing to bring back Max Scherzer after all? A source inside the organization tells Tony Paul that the Tigers “have to have him.” With Rick Porcello dealt to Boston, I think the Tigers are going to be in on Scherzer until the end. Although they’ve got a solid front three in Price/Sanchez/Verlander, there are questions with Verlander’s declining performance, and the back-end of the rotation looks extremely weak. Price is very likely to walk after this year, so Scherzer could be even more important to the Tigers next year (though the market for starters next year looks quite robust). Scherzer’s market is still tough to peg, but I’d be surprised if the Tigers, together with the Yankees and maybe the Cardinals, weren’t among the most serious suitors once this thing gets to the offer stage, whenever that will be.
- The other big starter still on the market is James Shields, and it remains a mystery whether he’s actually got a five-year, $110 million offer in hand, and, if so, why he hasn’t taken it. Nick Cafardo hears that if Shields does have that offer, it could be from a team he’s not too keen on joining. An NL exec confirms to Cafardo something we’ve discussed: on a three-year deal, virtually every team would be in on the 33-year-old. But the four/five-year level is the separator (and, in case you’re wondering, that’s where I just can’t see the Cubs going at that point).
- Jon Morosi reports that the Diamondbacks are “working hard” to add a catcher. It’s interesting to hear that from Morosi so soon after GM Dave Stewart was publicly decrying the high costs of catching on the trade market. There remains a fit with the Cubs on Welington Castillo if the two sides can come together on a price.
- Speaking of that fit, Morosi says the Orioles are checking in with the Diamondbacks about their outfield surplus. The Orioles don’t really have a catcher to spare, but I like those Diamondback outfielders for the Cubs. (Interestingly, the Orioles remain the most likely landing spot for Colby Rasmus, who has also been connected to the Cubs. This is likely all at least a little interrelated.)
- You wonder if Castillo’s market won’t open up a bit more until after Geovany Soto signs – he’s talking to four teams, according to Jon Heyman.
- Jesse Sanchez writes about some of the currently-available, or soon-to-be-available Cuban talents. You have to wonder whether the Cubs would take a chance on Hector Olivera’s bat (which could be well above average in MLB), even though there are questions about his arm and where he could play (he’s a second baseman by trade). Given the Cubs’ reported interest in Stephen Drew, and their penchant for trying to find value wherever, it’s at least worth wondering (though, full disclosure, if he’s cleared to sign before too long (i.e., before all teams fill all of their holes), it seems like a team with an obvious need at second base (Nationals?) or an AL team who can use Olivera at DH some of the time would be the strongest kind of suitor).
- Before he was sent to Oakland, the Rays were working on a deal that would have moved Ben Zobrist to the Nationals and Ian Desmond to the Mets, according to Ken Rosenthal.
- The Pirates are getting close to successfully signing Korean infielder Jung-Ho Kang.