We’ve spoken, ad nauseam, about the ongoing, still very active 2016 offseason, so I’ll spare you the cuteness. Suffice it to say, there are still free agents, there are still on-going trade conversations, pitchers and catchers report in five days and here are the most recent rumors from around the league…
- Ken Rosenthal reports that “Plan A,” for the Orioles, is to sign Dexter Fowler; however, if Fowler elects to sign with, say, the White Sox, the Orioles might turn to the Reds and Jay Bruce. Although the Reds were reluctant to part with Bruce in the past (for Zach Wheeler, no less), Rosenthal hears that a deal might be more likely this time around. Still, Fowler and his on base skills are a better fit for the Orioles. But, as we’ve discussed, the Orioles might not go for Fowler until and unless they first sign Yovani Gallardo, a fellow qualified free agent. That deal is not yet done.
- The White Sox are looking at multiple outfielders in trade, including the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier, but are, obviously, waiting to hear on Dexter Fowler. Like the Orioles, Fowler is a much better fit than Ethier, but Spring Training looms near. It’s becoming quite possible that, like at the trade deadline, the Dexter Fowler fallout will directly lead to at least one significant trade – just in time for March!
- Among the teams still active in the trade market, Rosenthal identifies, in addition to the Orioles and White Sox, the Dodgers, Padres, Athletics, Diamondbacks and Twins.
- There’s plenty of more of interest in Rosenthal’s piece, so I encourage you to check it out. One last bit that I felt was worth sharing is the renewed interest in Brewers catcher and former MVP candidate Jonathan Lucroy. Apparently, interested parties are planning on scouting him in Spring Training, to ensure that he’s fully recovered from the concussion he suffered at the end of the 2015 season. A continued Brewers sell-off would be relatively good news for the Cubs (and Cardinals and Pirates), due to the imbalanced nature of the divisional schedules.
- And if you’re still holding out hope for a reunion between the Cubs and Fowler, Bruce Levine said on the radio this weekend – via CCO – that the door isn’t yet closed on Fowler. Joe Maddon, according to Levine, would be able to make a outfield mix of Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan and Dexter Fowler work. And, I want to clarify that you should want that, too. If signing Fowler doesn’t prevent the Cubs from making any other necessary moves throughout the season, then there’s no reason not to want him on the roster. For whatever reason, the market is treating Fowler like a fourth outfielder, and if that’s all he’ll cost, the Cubs should consider him, too. Not to mention, with Coghlan leaving at the end of 2016, the Cubs could certainly use another good outfielder for 2017. (All that said, it remains unlikely the Fowler will return to the Cubs for a number of other reasons.)
- At the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo runs down a series of interesting topics including a number of rumory bits. For example, the Orioles might still consider the former Pirate Pedro Alvarez, but are also still working out the deal for Yovani Gallardo, all while considering Dexter Fowler. The White Sox are still considering free agent shortstop Ian Desmond, and Cafardo isn’t sure what’s stopping them from pulling the trigger. I’d guess that the Fowler gum up is a large part of the slowness (because he, too, could be a White Sox target), and may shake everything loose soon enough.
- Also from Cafardo, Shohei Otani, the 21-year-old Japanese flame thrower who can touch 101 on the radar gun as a starter, won’t likey be posted anytime soon. At his age, his level of control and the compensation cap at $20 million, his team has plenty of time to continue using him for the purposes of, you know, winning. Still, Otani is a uniquely fascinating story, in large part because he’s also a really good hitter and can play in the outfield. If and when he does ever get posted, his bidding is going to get wonkers. [Brett: speaking as an editor … is that a word? Did you mean bonkers? Wonky? A combination of the two? Whatever the case, I like it. I’m leaving it.]
- Alex Cobb, a frequently-rumored Cubs trade target, is aiming to return from Tommy John surgery by late July. So, he might not be particularly helpful this season, but he is under control for 2017, as well – when the Cubs will likely need to add another starting pitcher. In that respect, he could remain on the Cubs radar up to and through this deadline. If he returns in too late in July, though, agreeing on his value in trade might be difficult.
- Now, let’s switch our attention to the two most talented young players in baseball Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. On the latter, in response to Harper’s comments about not being “sold short” at $400 million, Dave Cameron (FanGraphs) openly wonders if $500 million for Bryce Harper is actually realistic. As an example, Cameron compares Harper to Alex Rodriguez through their age 22 season, and the results are shockingly similar. With that in mind, Cameron converted Rodriguez’s 10-year, $252 million deal from the Rangers into 2015 dollars and it roughly equates to a 10 year/$480 million dollar deal, today. But, Cameron contends, Harper isn’t a free agent for three more years, and, with free agent contracts and inflation expected to rise, Harper might crack $500 million and he might be worth it. There’s a lot more in the article with other comps and explanations, it’s a fun read. Check it out.
- I still question if we’ll even ever actually see a $500 million deal like this play out. It’s possible that, by then, the recent trend of opt-outs will have died down or the sheer volume of the deal is enough forego pursuing one altogether, but I just can’t imagine anyone actually signing and playing out a 10-12 year deal with one team, when the potential for two massive contracts exists.
- And lastly, on Trout, Keith Law made a comment about the Angels having to trade Mike Trout to re-stock their farm system (he may have been kidding), but it got folks talking about just how insane a package would have to be to net Trout. I have to imagine that any package that could actually net Mike Trout would be so insanely uncomfortable that no GM would have the guts to do it – many wouldn’t even have the pieces, even if they wanted to. Who wants to propose a Cubs trade package for Trout?