It has been an extremely (but expectedly) active Monday thanks to the Winter Meetings, hasn’t it?
Already, we’ve seen the best starter (Rich Hill) re-sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a healthy three years and $48 million and one of the best relievers (Mark Melancon) get four years and $62 million from the San Francisco Giants.
In addition, rumors have swirled about Shohei Otani’s imminent posting next offseason (perhaps without limitations from the new CBA), as well as the potential for the Cubs to pursue Kenley Jansen, Tyson Ross, and Wade Davis.
This is, by the way, the reason we will have multiple Winter Meetings updates throughout the day and, ultimately, the week. You can find the first one, from earlier today, right here. Otherwise, we’ve gotta keep moving on.
- Via Chuck Garfien on Twitter, Jerry Reinsdorf recently explained why the asking price on Chris Sale has been, so far, too high for any team to match. In short, Reinsdorf suggests that the Sox will only move Sale if they’re receiving not one, not two, not three, but FOUR can’t miss prospects in return. Let me first say that I’m not sure any organization has four prospects who can’t possibly miss, because that’s just not an easy thing to have at any one time (and is any prospect truly “can’t miss”?). Of course, if he considers young, cost-controlled players already at the Major League level a number of teams could enter the race, but then you wouldn’t ever get four of those types in return anyway.
- I understand that in public, leverage-inducing statements, you need to be as leverage-y as possible, but I don’t envision a scenario in which Sale nets that sort of package. Reinsdorf suggests that he’s seen too many prospects (heralded as phenoms) fail to produce over the course of their career, but then again, that’s why they’re prospects. There’s a risk. If the Sox hold firm on this price, I’m not sure I see a clear path forward. On the other hand, I don’t think they’ll hold firm on this price. [Brett: Also, this is why the owner’s role, frustrating to them as it may be, is best served by putting the right baseball folks in charge, and then letting them decide how to proceed. [Viva Ricketts.]]
- Earlier in the day, Joy Heyman dropped the ever-popular “Mystery Team” in a tweet about the pursuit of Pirates trade candidate and (former?) franchise face, Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has been rumoredly [Brett: I’m gonna leave that faux word in there because it works] available since the July 2016 trade deadline, when a deal nearly sent him to the Washington Nationals (who are, as of today, still considered interested in a trade (more on that in a bit)). Later in the day, however, Ken Rosenthal may have revealed the identity of the mystery team:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2016
- The Rangers could make as much sense as anyone and should have the pieces to pull it off. At a minimum, considering the source of this information, I would count them in among the most likely pursuers. More on McCutchen in just a moment.
- And, for what it’s worth, this is how the Winter Meetings typically go. Rumors swirl all over the place on the first day as teams meet with other teams, unexpectedly available players become available and other names come off the board. If McCutchen is going to be moved, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see it happen over the next few days.
- A non-immediate, but potentially enormous rumor also making its rounds today, per USA Today, is that the Washington Nationals were “taken aback,” by Bryce Harper’s contract (or, in theory, extension) demands, and are now confident that he’ll be a free agent after the 2018 season (when the free agent class is historically, and almost comically, huge*). How big was Harper’s ask? Well, according to one high ranking Nationals executive, Harper is looking for something longer than 10 years and greater than $400 million. No wonder the Nationals want to go all out right now to maximize their window of contention.
- While that is a ridiculous sum, I will add that Harper will be just 26 at the time of free agency and is probably the biggest (in terms of total expected production and age) free agent we’ve ever seen (if Clayton Kershaw and Giancarlo Stanton hadn’t signed their extensions a few years ago …). If he bounces back to his 2015 level for the next two years, he will exceed $300 million with ease. Whether or not he approaches (or exceeds) $400 million, however, seems to be a lot less likely (especially considering the newly harsher penalties for exceeding the salary threshold for multiple years in a row.
- *(That class includes, by the way, Harper, along with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, center fielder Adam Jones, closer Zach Britton, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, Mets starter Matt Harvey, Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock, and potentially Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Jason Heyward (among others with opt-outs).)
- Also in that report, the Nationals are said to have asked the Rays about center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, but consider the asking price “exorbitant.” They are reportedly still working to acquire both Andrew McCutchen and Chris Sale (although, they are reportedly focusing on Sale over McCutchen), and believe they can get both done without including prized youngling Trea Turner. They are, by most reports, willing to include top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito.
- The Pirates, by the way, are asking for top dollar:
#pirates ask of Robles & Giolito was rebuffed by Nats, who also wonder about McCutchen's possible skill decline, leadership
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) December 5, 2016
- Giolito made his Major League debut in 2016 (21.1 innings, including four starts and a couple of relief appearances) and is just 22 years old. Although the production over that short exposure wasn’t great, he is widely considered the top pitching prospect in baseball. Victor Robles, 19, is the Nationals’ top outfield prospect (and second rated prospect in the organization overall), who reached High-A this season. My reaction is that is a whole lot to ask for McCutchen, after a really dicey age 29 season. Perhaps before the 2016 season that would have been more reasonable, but given his struggles this year, I’m not surprised by the Nationals’ balk.
- And finally, Jon Heyman suggests that the Blue Jays are exploring their options in the outfield market with Dexter Fowler still atop their wish list. The Blue Jays have offered four years and $60ish million, according to Heyman.
- Considering Fowler’s alternatively reported suitors (Cardinals, Giants, Mets), the Blue Jays remain your rooting interests. A reunion with the Cubs, Heyman confirms, remains unlikely.
- And on the Mets, Rosenthal hears that they are “talking with” the Baltimore Orioles:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2016
- For a while now, the Mets are said to be interested in moving at least one of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce (too many left-handed hitting outfielders) to make room for another outfield signing/trade or simply reshuffling of the pieces they already have (now that Yoenis Cespedes is back in the fold).