As the offseason continues, so do the rumors.
Those, and some transaction news from around baseball …
- After completing the first step of Rebuilding Your Organization 101: Selling Off Talented, but Unusable Assets, the Chicago White Sox are moving onto step 2: signing flip candidates. The White Sox have today reportedly agreed to a one-year, $6 million (plus $2M in incentives) deal with free-agent starter Derek Holland.
- Holland became a free agent once the Rangers declined his $11 million club option, and now he’ll enter the 2017 season as a member of the White Sox – although, as I implied, I’d be surprised if that’s where Holland finishes the year if he pitches reasonably well and is healthy. It’s a low-risk, high-reward move for the Sox, who could add to their already impressive rebuild at the trade deadline if Holland comes out of the gate strong. There are always going to be teams looking and willing to pay for starters come July, and the Sox may have just grabbed one for only $6 million. Good move.
- After signing Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $110 million contract (the largest AAV deal in franchise history), the New York Mets are looking to cut some payroll. Actually, strike that, they need to cut some payroll, by the sounds of their General Manager. “It’s like buying a new house without selling your old one,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said per the New York Post. “Sometimes you get stuck in the transition, and it’s not a good place to be.” Yikes. Those are some sobering comments from Alderson, but I suppose you can appreciate the honesty. According to Joel Sherman, the Mets would prefer to deal Jay Bruce, who’s set to make $13 million in 2017, over Curtis Granderson, who’s set to make $15 million in 2017, which is something we’ve heard since the beginning of the offseason.
- But before you go poking fun at the Mets, note that they’re not the only New York team in this predicament. Yep, according to Sherman, the Yankees are also reportedly gauging league interest in Chase Headley (two years, $26 million remaining) and Brett Gardner (two years, $25 million remaining) as a way to cut salary. Both teams are looking to cut salary, and both teams are hoping to still add a setup man – Sherman mentions Boone Logan and Brad Ziegler as options for both. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, however, continues to target 2018 as a year the Yankees might finally get back under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold. Currently, their projected to have about $210 million in 2017 salary.
- Edwin Encarnacion may be the perfect fit for the Indians, writes Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports, but the feeling may not be mutual. Well, to be more clear, the money might not be right. Despite boasting extra dollars from a deep playoff run in 2016, the Indians might not be able to sign Encarnacion this offseason, despite the fit and need. A return from Mike Napoli is a potential (and possibly the most logical) alternative for the Indians, but there are other options for the right-handed, 34-home-run-hitting, first baseman/DH. But that might actually be a good thing for the Indians. If Napoli signs with, say, the Rangers, Encarnacion may not have a ton of options left, outside of Cleveland, potentially Colorado, and potentially St. Louis. If that’s the case, he might still be able to leverage a big one-year deal (or something like Cespedes’ 3 year/$75 million with an opt out after year 1 deal from last offseason) from the Indians.
- From the same article, Rosenthal writes that the July 31 Trade Deadline this year might be especially active, if the current group of oft-rumored trade candidates don’t get dealt before the season starts. That list includes Andrew McCutchen, Chris Archer, Jose Quintana, J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Sonny Gray, and Brian Dozier.
- Even if you eliminate the unlikely trade partners (White Sox, Pirates), the Cubs could still be in on at least Chris Archer and Sonny Gray. And who knows, if some unforeseen injury occurs, but the Cubs are still rolling they might need to add on the position player side as well. Knowing that some quality options should be out there is relatively assuring.
- Earlier today, Brett widened the rumors on Tyson Ross and the Cubs, discussing a report indicating talks between the Padres and Cubs may have been ongoing right up until Ross was non-tendered. If you’re wondering why the Padres wouldn’t just take whatever the Cubs were offering instead of letting him go for free, well Brett has your short answer on Twitter. [Brett: The longer answer is simply a product of how the negotiations may have gone. It’s entirely possible that, at some point, the Padres drew a line on what they’d accept, and the Cubs declined to meet it. Once that line is drawn, you can’t move it unless you want future trading partners to suspect that you’re always willing to bend at the last minute. We don’t know if that’s how this particular negotiation played out, but it’s often one explanation for why teams do something seemingly in the face of losing a player for absolutely nothing.] But the reason I have a bullet here in the Stove is because I wanted to point out a Nick Lampe article with some lightly discouraging information on Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), or the reason Tyson Ross missed nearly all of 2016. In short, unlike other notable injuries (many of which can cost the same amount of rehab time), we don’t have a great sense of how well players come back from TOS surgery. Lampe runs through some recent cases – Josh Beckett, Chris Carpenter, Shaun Marcum, Matt Harrison – to provide some anecdotal and statistical evidence on the effects of the surgery.
- At the Los Angeles Times, Bill Shaikin discusses how the impending changes to the Luxury Tax Threshold (which don’t kick in fully until next offseason) are actually allowing the Dodgers to spend more on their 2017 roster, as we’ve seen with their run of recent signings. In short, the Dodgers are taking advantage of a one-year window in which they can run that same $250 million payroll as they did in 2016, while only paying $3 million more in taxes. To be clear, the Dodgers are already paying $30.5 million in taxes, but would be paying $33.5 million for 2017, if nothing changes. There may be some math involved, but it’s a good read on how teams can and will exploit loopholes to their advantage, and why things may have to change for the Dodgers in 2018. Or not. Who knows with them.
- To that end, the Dodgers have reportedly not “closed the door” on the possibility of acquiring second baseman Brian Dozier from the Twins, even after re-signing Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen to relatively big deals. Dozier is set to make $15 million over the next two seasons, but with taxes, his price tag may cost the Dodgers a bit more than anyone else. In return, Doug Padilla speculates that someone like big-time pitching prospect Jose De Leon might center a package for Dozier.
- The Kansas City media was apparently taken aback (positively) by the size of their new outfielder Jorge Soler, and are excited for the “presence” he can bring to the lineup. In addition, GM Dayton Moore revealed that Soler will primarily start in right field, but DH on occasion. Of note, Moore mentions that he knew there was a trade fit with the Cubs going back several months, so it’s possible that the Davis-Soler swap has been discussed behind the scenes for a good long while.
- An old friend, Wellington Castillo, has locked in a couple more years behind the dish, on a deal with the Orioles:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 14, 2016
- The deal will apparently pay Castillo $13 million if he stays both seasons, but if he has a big year in 2017, he has the ability to opt out and get paid even more handsomely. It’s a nice deal for a good catcher and an old favorite of this blogger.