Spring is in swing, but rumors still bounce around …
- The Yu Darvish injury (still uncertain what the ultimate outcome will be) did indeed stir back up the pitching trade rumor mill, primarily with respect to Phillies ace Cole Hamels. Michael Silverman notes that the Rangers were already in on Hamels before the Darvish injury, which I should point out could cut both ways: it could make the Rangers all the more eager to get Hamels, or it could mean they no longer are interested in giving up youth to get Hamels if they don’t like their chances in 2015. It sounds like that’s the way Ken Rosenthal is leaning – he hears the Rangers weren’t interested in taking on Hamels’ contract anyway. Instead, the Rangers may opt to pick up a fifth starter option externally. (We can speculate about the Cubs as a possible fit there, but you should note that the Rangers aren’t yet scrambling – Adam Rubin reports that they haven’t reached out to the Mets yet, who also have a glut of back-end rotation candidates.)
- Silverman adds that the Red Sox, Padres, and at least two other teams are still in on Hamels. One of those other teams is likely the Yankees, whom Nick Cafardo says have come the closest to actually pulling off a Hamels deal as any team thus far. Of course, Jon Heyman responds to that report saying that the Yankees were never very close to getting Hamels, so, if that was the closest any team came, then no team has been close at all. We could say, then, that it’s status quo for the Phillies: the super high price on Hamels is not being met. GM Ruben Amaro told Jake Kaplan that one team has stepped up in recent days, so who knows.
- In any case, scouts will be all over him this Spring, and it’s shaping up to be a multi-month drama leading up to the Trade Deadline. At that point, it becomes a little more plausible that the Cubs could get back involved, depending on how their season and rotation are shaking out.
- Semi-relatedly: the Phillies announced the Cliff Lee is dealing with elbow soreness (which is what shut him down last year), and he’s had an MRI done. The hope is that he can resume throwing as soon as today, unless further evaluation of the MRI turns up something ugly.
- MLBTR profiled Welington Castillo as a trade candidate, noting the potential fits out there, and concluding that the Cubs will probably be able to find a deal. The tricky part, though, is that many of the “fits” would still be viewing Castillo as a back-up (an upgrade there, to be sure, but a back-up nevertheless), and it’s hard to see them giving up a lot unless they believe in Castillo’s offensive upside, and could take advantage of it in more than a mere back-up role. I guess what I’m saying is that I wonder if the best fit is going to be an American League team with a non-dominant starting catcher, where they could give Castillo a couple starts per week, at least, and occasionally consider DH’ing him. Otherwise, the Cubs could have to find a team that wants to make Castillo their starter, which may not be attractive given the league-wide increased focus on framing and receiving skills.
- Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is now officially a free agent, but his market is unclear, thanks to the delay in his arrival, and questions about the health of his arm. Kiley McDaniel writes that there is reason to be suspicious about those $70 million rumors you hear floating around. The Cubs aren’t going to be involved, but it’s an interesting story to follow, given Olivera’s potential for big offensive impact. Jeff Passan has reported that Olivera may have a damaged UCL, which could mean a signing team (presumably apprised via medicals) will get him, pay him, and then promptly have to lose him for a year to Tommy John surgery. Olivera’s camp has denied that there’s any issue.
- 19-year-old Cuban righty Yadier Alvares has established residency in Haiti, and he’s still trying to become eligible to sign in the current IFA period via a special waiver (Ben Badler). The hope here is that he’ll have to wait until the next class on July 2, when the Cubs would be eligible to take a serious run at him if they were inclined. Then again, maybe the Cubs aren’t going to blow their IFA budget anyway (which he would almost certainly require).
- David Price expects the Tigers to approach him about a contract extension soon, but it’s unclear just how seriously he’ll entertain it. We are deep in the middle of extension season, and, so far, none of the big-time players scheduled for free agency after this season have been signed. Some definitely will, but it’s shaping up to be a banner class.