What with the Nationals/Scherzer/Strasburg stuff, then the Dexter Fowler trade, all on the heels of the Convention, it’s been a busy week already …
- There has been other stuff happening, too, like Colby Rasmus signing a one-year, $8 million deal, according to various reports. The team with which he signed? Well, the Astros, of course! Although the Orioles had long been a favorite for Rasmus, their apparent unwillingness to add one more million to their offer, coupled with the Astros’ deal of Fowler to the Cubs, opened up the door for Rasmus to head to Houston. Being that the Cubs were potentially interested in Rasmus, too, I wonder how that played into the negotiations on the Fowler deal. Now, you get to debate: Rasmus for a year and $8 million, or Fowler for a year and $9.5ish million (and the loss of Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily)? For me, it’s a very close call because of the trade assets lost. My guess is that the makeup side of things would be a difference-maker if choosing between these two, and that’s not the kind of thing that we, as fans, have a ton of visibility to. In any case, Fowler is clearly the better fit for the 2015 Cubs, and is the safer bet to put together a good year.
- To make room for Rasmus on the roster, the Astros DFA’d catcher Carlos Corporan, who may ultimately be dealt to the Rangers. Until that shakes out, and then likely until Geovany Soto signs, the Welington Castillo trade market will remain difficult. The Cubs may, uncomfortably, have to take this thing well into Spring Training. (UPDATE: Actually, it looks like the deal is going down today, with Corporan headed to the Rangers. You can likely scratch them off the list of potential Castillo suitors.)
- With Max Scherzer off the market, James Shields stands alone as the last remaining big-time free agent. Jayson Stark examined Shields’ market, and scratched off a ton of teams as very unlikely to go after him, including the Cubs. (On the Cubs, Starks says that they will try to get another big-time starter, but not until next year – I agree.) This has become the scenario we discussed before, with the market drying up before Shields struck a deal. It’s still hard to see Shields’ price tag falling below four years and something like $80 million – he offers real value at that level – because once it dips to there or lower, teams that were uninterested at 5/$110 million suddenly become interested again. I don’t think you’ll see one of those teams be the Cubs, however, as I suspect they’re close to their payroll ceiling for the year already, and also because I think they’d prefer – all things equal – to pick up their next pricey starter next year. (Obviously, if his price falls to perversely low levels, you’d want the Cubs to find a way to leap – but, then, 10 other teams would be willing at that point, too.)
- Shields will sign with someone, and it’s probably going to look like a great deal. Budgets are set by this point, however, and it’s tough to fit in a really pricey guy at this point in the offseason. At 33, and with so many innings logged in his career, I suppose I can see why his market has been the trickiest to develop. It’ll be really interesting to see what he gets, and from whom.
- And that other big name pitcher who was supposed to go somewhere this offseason? Well, Cole Hamels probably isn’t going anywhere just yet. That, according to GM Ruben Amaro, who spoke with Jake Kaplan of the Inquirer, and guesses that Hamels is still with the Phillies when the year starts. The lefty ace has been openly on the market all offseason, after he was claimed on waivers by the Cubs back in August, but was not traded. Of a possible trade, Amaro sums up what everyone has believed his position to be: “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. And so, if we were to move him, we’re going to have to get some of the best prospects in baseball back.” That strikes me as the completely wrong way to think about dealing a depreciating asset. At 31, Hamels still has value on his four-year, $96 million deal, and that might last through about July, if he stays healthy. From there, the value drops precipitously because of his age, because of the cost of the control, and because of the free agent pitching market next year. It’s totally arbitrary to seek “some of the best prospects in baseball” as the return. Just try to capture the value of your depreciating asset, in whatever form you can get. That’s it. I suspect it’ll be done by the Trade Deadline this year, but you just never know with the Phillies.
- Just after I wrote about the latest on Yoan Moncada, including the Cubs’ still strong interest, Ben Badler wrote about why “rich teams” have the best shot at Moncada, and included a whole discussion about the Cubs, specifically. It’s mostly what we’ve already heard/know – the Cubs want him, the longer it takes for him to get clearance the better, and the Cubs can try to entice him to wait until July to sign by saying they’ll pay him $Ridiculous$ – but it’s great to read it coming from Badler, who knows his stuff.
- The Brewers are not expected to go out and pick up a big name pitcher after trading away Yovani Gallardo, per Jon Morosi.