Among his nine questions facing the Cubs heading into Spring Training, Mark Gonzales notes the big transaction-related question: when are the Cubs going to deal guys like Welington Castillo and Travis Wood? That will remain a big question until something happens … which could come at any time, or at no time.
- Cole Hamels wants to be traded. He’s not being feisty about it, according to Bob Nightengale, but that’s where things stand right now, given the Phillies’ rebuild. Obviously Hamels’ feelings on the matter impact only his no-trade clause (which is to say, if he really wants to be traded, he’s less likely to wield it as leverage), but it’s just a teeny, tiny bit more pressure on the Phillies to make a deal. As we’ve discussed, it’s possible, but not likely, that a deal comes before Opening Day. Nightengale reports that the Phillies have had “plenty” of dialogues with the Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers, but the Padres’ offer (Austin Hedges and Hunter Renfroe) was insufficient, the Red Sox won’t deal Blake Swihart, and the Dodgers won’t include any of their top prospects.
- Most notably on the Hamels front, Nightengale adds that the Phillies won’t deal with the Cardinals unless they include pitcher Carlos Martinez. There’s a ton more on the Phillies’ and Hamels’ situation in Nightengale’s piece.
- Although the latest on Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada had the Cubs technically not out yet, Jon Morosi reports that Moncada’s agent is now receiving offers, and hopes to make a decision soon. Being that the only way the Cubs can sign Moncada is if he waits until July 2, this does not bode particularly well for the Cubs. Although technically – the new favorite word in all things Moncada-Cubs – the Cubs could make an “offer” now, and Moncada could make a “decision” now … and the offer could be that the Cubs will sign him for eleventyjillion dollars on July 2, so Moncada will wait. Don’t bet on it.
- One of the more likely Moncada suitors, together with the Yankees, is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who might be ready to go on another spending binge. In addition to Moncada, the Dodgers are a serious suitor for 29-year-old infielder Hector Olivera, a Cuban defector who is big-league ready, and who could command a deal in the range of what Rusney Castillo got from the Red Sox and/or Yasmany Tomas got from the Diamondbacks. Peter Gammons indicates that there are already five teams willing to go over $70 million for Olivera. One Cuban baseball expert believes that Olivera will indeed wind up with the Dodgers, who could suddenly have a long-term second or third baseman with upside in his bat. Just what the Dodgers need: another upgrade.
- (Note on Olivera: because of his age and experience, he’s not subject to IFA restrictions like Moncada. He’s just a regular free agent (once he’s cleared, that is, which should come soon). But, because of the positional non-fit, the Cubs have not ever been connected to him. Hence why I haven’t discussed him much.)
- A fun read over at MLBTR, as Tim Dierkes is already readying for next offseason with an early ranking of the top post-2015 free agents. The depth, at this point, is almost unbelievable when you compare it to the last few years. If there was ever a time to have money to spend in free agency to give your team an extra push, it’s next offseason. And the Cubs look like they should be in prime position to do it, especially if – among other things – attendance is up enough this year to substantially impact revenue. Oh, and assuming the renovation/signage plans aren’t completely derailed by legal action.
- Jayson Stark polled a group of folks around baseball about the offseason, and among the votes: (1) the Cubs and Marlins tied for second, behind the Padres, in terms of the most improvement in the offseason; (2) the Jon Lester signing was regarded as third best (behind the Cubs’ two runner-up contests, incidentally, Russell Martin and James Shields); and (3) the Max Scherzer signing was regarded as the worst. There’s a bunch more in there, though it’s a bit all over the place.
- Oh, the news isn’t all good for the Dodgers, by the way: dominant closer Kenley Jansen had to have foot surgery, and will be out eight to twelve weeks. He’ll miss all of Spring Training, and as much as a month and a half of the season. For now, it sounds like the Dodgers will check in on the free agent market – Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano remain unsigned – but aren’t eager to go out and spend a lot of money. Even before the reported injury, however, the Dodgers were in the relief market.