The Lukewarm Stove is doing a nice job keeping us (luke)warm in late January, as there are still some really significant transactions to be done. We know, at a minimum, that there are at least a few impact free agents left, and it sure feels like the potential for one significant trade remains high. Let’s dive right in, then, and see what rumors are coming in from around baseball…
- Right around the time that Yoenis Cespedes finally chose to sign with the New York Mets, we had learned that the White Sox (three years) and Nationals (five years), stuck around with competitive offers, as well. What we did not know was that the Orioles were reportedly (and secretly) involved, with an offer as large as five years(!) on the table. I love hearing rumors/news about these kind of offers after the fact, because it just goes to show how little you might actually know of a whole story. Also, Cespedes must have really wanted to go back to New York, having turned down two five-year deals from other, competitive teams. (Although, more on one of those offers in a moment.)
- This does make you wonder, though, about the other free agent center field alternatives, such as Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson. Might the Orioles change direction and target one of those two players, instead? Well, maybe not so much. If the Orioles were to sign Fowler, they would lose the 14th overall pick in the 2016 Draft, something Eduardo Encina (Baltimore Sun) doesn’t believe they would be interested in forfeiting. In this article, for what it’s worth, Encina flatly states that Fowler will not be a target. We discussed Fowler’s tricky market yesterday.
- In addition to the White Sox and Orioles, we also know that the Angels and Cardinals are still looking for help in the outfield.
- Speaking of the Cardinals, consider this your official reminder that, having spent only $80 million on Mike Leake in their so-far-quiet offseason, they still have plenty of available funds and needs. Don’t sleep on a strong finish to their offseason if they decide to become opportunistic with the remaining players out there. We’ve been expecting the Cardinals to spend big for some time now.
- The Washington Nationals have missed out on a number of big time free agents this offseason, but it may not have been entirely outside of their control. In this report by Peter Gammons, there’s news that the heavy deferrals in the Nationals’ five year/$110 million to Yoenis Cespedes actually brought the present value of the deal to just $77 million, over five years. Or, you know, just $2 million more than the New York Mets three year/$75 million deal. Gammons also reports that the offers to Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward were so heavily deferred (Heyward’s for more than a decade) that the Nats offer didn’t come close to the Cubs in present day value.
- Because there will be 10(!) teams in the penalty for the 2016 International Free Agent period, which starts July 2, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cubs, there might be a particularly unique landscape of teams landing talented, young, international players. In an article for Baseball America, Ben Badler identifies the three most likely teams to break the bank in 2016 as the Braves, Nationals and Padres.
- Bronson Arroyo, 38, has signed with the Washington Nationals (see they can get some guys) on a heavily-incentivized, minor-league deal (Oh…). Mark Sheldon reports that the deal has a $2 million base, that can be pushed up to $8 million if Arroyo makes 32 starts in 2016. Arroyo sat out all of 2015, and finished just 86.0 innings in 2014 with a 4.08 ERA.
- Tommy Hunter is still looking for a contract, but is reportedly holding out for a two-year deal, after finishing his season up with the Chicago Cubs. In 15.2 innings for Chicago, Hunter finished with a 5.74 ERA (5.11 FIP).