It might be cold outside (understatement), but the stove is still hot, er, lukewarm. So let’s check in on some of the rumors from around the league …
- In case you missed it, the Philadelphia Phillies have extended their 24-year-old outfielder Odubel Herrera after back-to-back excellent seasons to open up his career. We discussed his deal here at Bleacher Nation yesterday, with a special focus on how a deal like his might serve as a proxy for future extensions for the Cubs. With Spring Training just around the corner, too, those conversations may actually start up.
- With Matt Carpenter set to play first base next year, the St. Louis Cardinals are apparently listening to offers on Matt Adams. Adams, 28, slashed .249/.309/.471 while playing below average defense at first base for the fifth straight season. Despite the technically above average stick (106 wRC+), I can’t imagine the Cardinals will get much for him despite the two remaining cheap years of control (via arbitration), especially in a market saturated with hulking bat-only types.
- Now that the big three closers, Mark Melancon (Giants), Aroldis Chapman (Yankees), and Kenley Jansen (Dodgers) have all come off the board, the remaining free agent reliever market is continuing to shake loose:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 15, 2016
- Three years and $18 million for Mike Dunn is quite an investment. The 31-year-old left-hander had two good seasons with the Marlins in 2013 and 2014, but has been decidedly average for the past two seasons. So, $6 million a year for three years is a pretty impressive contract for a guy who was worth just 0.3 WAR this past season (and 0.1 WAR the year prior). Remember this as the Cubs continue to feel out left-handed relievers on the trade market like Justin Wilson. Also remember that this might bode well for whatever deal Travis Wood is eventually able to land.
- Speaking of the Marlins’ bullpen, Miami recently signed former Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa to a two-year deal worth $12 million. Like Dunn, Tazawa is also coming off a down year, but he did have four straight solid seasons leading up to 2016 and is a year younger than Dunn. Together with the Cubs’ one-year deal with Koji Uehara, $6 million per season seems to be the going rate for a reliever of that tier.
- But with free agency rewarding relievers so handsomely this winter, teams will continue to make their superfluous relievers available to cash in on the want. The Cubs rumored deal with the Tigers for Justin Wilson may have stalled, but other teams are making their relievers available:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2016
- From the Orioles, 30-year-old right-handed reliever Brad Brach may be available, but I doubt the Cubs would pay the price. Last season, Brach finished with a 2.05 ERA (2.92 FIP) and 1.6 fWAR. And his 29.6% strikeout rate and 8.0% walk rate look very nice, especially because they came after a breakout season in 2015 (2.72 ERA, 0.9 fWAR). Still, after adding Wade Davis and Koji Uehara, my guess is that the Cubs are interested in slightly lesser, supplemental arms, and/or another starting pitcher, which would push Mike Montgomery back into the bullpen.
- From the Rangers, Rosenthal reported that 29-year-old righty Jeremy Jeffress is available, as well. Jeffress, who’s projected to earn just under $3 million in his first time through arbitration for 2017, has improved in each of the past three seasons, posting ERAs of 2.81 (2014), 2.65 (2015), and 2.33 (2016) as well as WAR totals of 0.5 (2014), 0.8 (2015), and 0.9 (2016). Given his age, control, and performance trajectory, I imagine it would take quite a bit to pry Jeffress from the Rangers, but who knows, maybe they’d like to take advantage of his peak value and the market demand. For what it’s worth, Rosenthal suggests that the Brewers might be in play for Jeffress, which would be a bit odd, considering they just traded Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox, and they also already had Jeffress for two stints but traded him away twice. But what do I know?
- Moving away from the relievers for a moment, Robert Murray is hearing that right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova’s market is beginning to heat up and the Pirates, who reclaimed Nova in the second half of 2016, may be the biggest players for his services. Nova, almost 30, is considered to be the top remaining free agent starter on the market. Of course, this has never been a very strong market, especially for starters. Earlier this offseason, Nova’s agent implied that they had multiple offers in the three year/$36 million range, and Robert Murray believes that he’ll definitely wind up getting less than Rich Hill. So, something in the range of $36 million and $48 million over 3-4 years seems like the target.
- Although the Cubs are clearly looking for a starting pitcher, there haven’t been any recent rumors connecting Nova to Chicago. He is young, he would come relatively cheaply, but he just hasn’t been all that great or healthy over the past few seasons. His highest inning total ever (170.1 IP) came all the way back in 2012. My guess is that the Cubs are not involved at all.
- Whatever the Rockies are planning to do with their growing collection of position players, it sounds like it doesn’t involve trading Charlie Blackmon:
Teams that spoke to the Rockies seem doubtful Charlie Blackmon gets traded: "They're only trading him if they get an Adam Eaton type deal."
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 15, 2016
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) December 15, 2016
- Given that Blackmon’s total value (and only two years of team control left) is nowhere near that of Adam Eaton (five years of control on a cheap extension), asking for an Eaton-like return is the same as saying, “Yeah, we’re not trading this guy.” The Ian Desmond signing sure would have made a lot more sense if the Rockies were planning to deal an outfielder.
- The Texas Rangers may consider bringing Josh Hamilton back on a Minor League deal.
- At the Boston Globe, GM Dave Dombrowski confirms that the Red Sox have been receiving a lot of calls on their crop of starting pitchers, but added that the Sox are still digesting what’s in place – implying that they’re not looking to be aggressive right now. With that said, Dombrowski did claim that the Red Sox have traded a lot of prospects lately, and that he “wouldn’t mind replenishing some we have traded.” Two potentially available names mentioned include Drew Pomeranz and Clay Buchholz. The former had an up and down season, after making the switch to starter (and was a big part of that ugly Padres/medical information hiding scandal), and the latter made just 21 starts in 2016.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.
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