A few items to fill your evening …
- Welington Castillo is still, awkwardly, a Chicago Cub, even as everyone around him talks glowingly about the two guys that have effectively replaced him. Meanwhile, in Toronto, a former Cubs catcher seems equally out of place, but, unlike Castillo, he’s not remaining mum. Dioner Navarro is speaking out about his desire to be traded to a team where he can play every day. After signing Russell Martin, the Blue Jays figure to give their new big money catcher most of the starts, with Josh Thole catching R.A. Dickey, and A.J. Jimenez also on the 40-man roster. Undoubtedly, the Blue Jays would also like to part with Navarro, who will make $5 million this season before becoming a free agent.
- Castillo is younger, cheaper, under control longer, and has more offensive upside than Navarro, but, when you consider the total skill set for 2015, the two are probably very close. Navarro’s active presence on the trade market is undoubtedly a problem for the Cubs in their efforts to get a decent return for Castillo. Again, we’re confronted by the possibility that the Cubs will have to cross their fingers for something to happen around the game behind the plate, or will have to carry three catchers for a little while to start the season.
- David Price, among the best free agent pitching options after the season, isn’t closing the door on an extension with the Tigers, though it sounds like he’d prefer not to discuss it a whole lot after the season starts (Jon Heyman). If Price does reach free agency, you don’t need me to point out his connection to Joe Maddon, his previous comments about the Cubs, and his standing as a big-time arm at a time when the Cubs could use another for you to get all angsty. He’ll be discussed a lot.
- This morning was full of Cuban-prospect-related stuff, with Yoan Moncada going to the Red Sox, and related discussion of the Dodgers’ plans and the two new Cuban pitching prospects who could be available for the Cubs and Dodgers to fight over. With Moncada going to Boston, specifically, many folks’ heads went exactly where mine did: so when do they trade a top positional prospect or two for Cole Hamels? We know that the sides have been in communication about a deal for much of the offseason, and the Red Sox have made at least one serious offer. Over the Monster isn’t convinced that picking up Moncada changes the Hamels equation, though, because the Phillies’ demands have been too high, regardless of the Red Sox’s prospect depth. I think I could agree with that, but I’m watching this a little more closely. Despite their protestations, I think the Phillies would prefer to get Hamels dealt now, rather than risking his health/performance for three and a half months, and risking the market blowing up with trade candidates, given how many great starting pitchers are impending free agents.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is still talking the talk, though, telling the New York Times that there’s no risk that Hamels will not continue to perform at an elite level (absent injury), and the Phillies can’t make a trade involving him that doesn’t bring back talent of that “ilk.” The whole article is a good read about the Phillies’ rebuild, and I can’t help but notice the contrast in messaging between their big market rebuild, and the Cubs’ big market rebuild (at the outset of which folks everywhere were saying over and over that you cannot rebuild in a big market). Interestingly, the Cubs – while being transparent that they were focusing on accumulating young talent – always made sure that the message at this time of year was something like, “We’re focused on the future, but, hey, you know, we might have a puncher’s chance this year.” The Phillies, by contrast, are pretty much telling their fans that they are punting this season. I can’t help but wonder if the backlash in Philadelphia, then, will be greater or lesser than it was in Chicago. Phillies fans, like Cubs fans, are crazy … but they are a very, very different kind of crazy. I suspect it could get ugly.
- Remember at the outset of the offseason, when there were multiple reports that the Yankees were going to sit out high-end free agency, despite having obvious needs, especially in the rotation? Remember how we all reacted with a variation of, “Pfft, I’ll believe it when I see it?” Well, the Yankees did sit it out, though they did spend a fair bit on guys like Andrew Miller and Chase Headley. So, do we believe it? I’m not sure yet, but this made my jaw drop:
To be clear, it's obvious Cashman wanted Moncada but it seems like he couldn't get Hal to go any higher
— wallace matthews (@ESPNNYYankees) February 23, 2015
- The Yankees’ offer reportedly topped out at $27 million, and the Hal in that tweet is principal team owner Hal Steinbrenner. To match the Red Sox’s winning offer of $31.5 million for Moncada, the Yankees would have had to go up by $4.5 million, and then pay the additional $4.5 million in overage tax. That’s $9 million. To keep an elite talent away from the Red Sox. To get an elite positional talent for yourself in an area of dire need. The Yankees wouldn’t do it. Up is down.
- All that said, I still think the Yankees will be among the heavy players next offseason, given the attractive free agent pool, but, man. I just can’t wrap my head around the decision there.
- The Brewers are still considering bringing Francisco Rodriguez back, and the talks have reached ownership level with agent Scott Boras (which suggests that it could take a special financial commitment to fit Rodriguez into the budget).