- According to Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, the White Sox have been engaging in trade talks for starter Jose Quintana on a daily basis. The Pirates and Astros are named specifically, as are “others,” as those involved. The Yankees are thought to be interested (they certainly have the pieces to pull off such a trade after the mini sell-off they had the past 1.5 years), but are considered a long shot.
- Indeed, in a later tweet, Rosenthal added that the Yankees are “less willing” than others to move top prospects for Quintana, which is both understandable … and unlike the Yankees. Although, to be sure, the amount of young, cost-controlled, prospect-type talent they’ve acquired in the past couple of seasons is unlike them as well. When I think of the Yankees, I think of a talented, but expensive veteran group. I suppose the times are changing. For what it’s worth, Bryan Hoch (MLB.com) suggests that names like Clint Frazier and/or Gleyber Torres would have to be included in any such deal.
- They are also thought to have some interest in Jason Hammel.
- Sticking with Quintana for a bit, ESPN’s Buster Olney believes that the Pirates should be seriously targeting and trying to land the South Side southpaw. Why? Well, he lists a few reasons – not all of which work for me – but I suppose they are at least somewhat plausible. Even still, the Pirates’ offseason has confused the heck out of me, so I won’t try to predict anything. And, for what it’s worth, I’d prefer the Pirates to land Quintana than, say, the Dodgers/Mets/Nationals, because I still don’t see them as a threat in the Central, and thus, the postseason. [Brett: I’m not sure I’m with you there, depending on what the Pirates had to give up to get Quintana. It’s not too hard to see the Pirates’ rotation becoming a monster with Quintana, Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and Ivan Nova. I’m not saying I’d be shaking, but that’s an awfully well-controlled rotation with tons of upside.]
- The White Sox might hold onto Quintana into the season, in order to trade him at the deadline.
- The biggest remaining storyline in the Cubs rumor-season is related to free-agent starter, Tyson Ross. Never can I remember a free-agent starter who was just non-tendered draw so much interest from teams and fans alike. Last night, we found out that the Rangers were also ramping up their pursuit of Ross and that the Rangers and Cubs are considered “finalists,” and today Joel Sherman adds that there might be another couple finalists, too. To that end, here’s the very latest:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 5, 2017
According to sources Tyson Ross still talking with multiple clubs . Cubs and Texas have been aggressive all the way through process .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 5, 2017
- So while the Nationals are thought to be interested in Ross, they are still on the outside looking in (at the Rangers and Cubs, for starters). And for what it’s worth, Jeff Wilson (Star Telegram) writes that a deal with the Rangers is not imminent. Apparently, Ross is deciding between six teams and the Rangers feel that they’ll be outbid for his services.
- Even if you’d like to see Mike Montgomery in the 2017 rotation, I think your rooting interests are still for the Cubs to pick up Ross. His potentially delayed start date will allow the Cubs to give Montgomery a shot in the rotation, he’ll provide much needed depth, and, in case you’ve forgotten, the Cubs went with six starters in the middle and at the end of the 2016 season (with the extra postseason innings in mind). As Brett just discussed, the Cubs could very well look to do that again with Ross in the fold.
- Other than Jose Quintana, the biggest known-to-be-available trade candidate is the Twins’ Brian Dozier. He’s been involved in a number of trade rumors over the course of the offseason and feels like a good bet to be moved. The latest from Mike Berardino suggests the same, or at least that discussions will be over soon:
I'm told #mntwins intend to wrap up Dozier talks — one way or another — in "short term" out of respect for Dozier. No specific date.
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) January 4, 2017
- Jerry Crasnick (ESPN) has heard something similar – no drop dead date, but it’s going to happen soon out of respect for Dozier – so I would tentatively remain on high-alert. Remember, the Dodgers were rumored to be one of the primary suitor, as were the Cardinals – both of which could impact the Cubs season dramatically.
- At FanRag, Jon Heyman runs down the winners and losers (although, he calls them “non-winners,”) of the 2016-2017 offseason – it’s not limited to just teams, though. For example, atop the positive side of the list, you’ll find the Cleveland Indians, the top closers (Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon), and the Red Sox. The Cubs also land on the favorable side of the rankings for their pickup of Wade Davis, which cost them *only* Jorge Soler.
- On the non-winners side, we find our old friend Jason Hammel and our current rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals (among many, many others). The former has struggled to find a team even after switching agents mid-winter, and the latter has improved over the offseason, but spent over $110 million to do it (Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil).
- There’s plenty in there, including rumors for just about every team in baseball. Check it out.
- Remember Luis Valbuena? Of course you do! The Cubs’ former third baseman was traded as part of a package to land center fielder Dexter Fowler back before the 2015 season. And now, he finds himself a free agent searching for a team. Fortunately, he actually ranks as the best free agent available (and that’s including Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo, Matt Wieters, and Mike Napoli!). According to a Tom Tango-devised projection system, Valbuena actually rates out as the best available free agent still on the board. Andrew Simon makes a very convincing argument, and it’s definitely worth checking out, if not only for sentimental reasons (everyone loved Valbuena and his bat flips).
- At ESPN, Buster Olney runs through the vast cast of remaining free agents: Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo, Chris Carter, Logan Morrison, James Loney (who can’t hit a wiffle ball, apparently), Colby Rasmus, Jason Hammel, Joe Blanton, Michael Bourn, Chase Utley, Billy Butler, Matt Wieters, Valbuena, and more! Olney points out that 12 of the top 36 players in Keith Law’s free agent rankings are still jobless, and those are some familiar names (with a whole lot of pop). The game is changing, teams are valuing different skills, and some slugger-first free agents are paying the price.
- An interesting incentive built into the Indians contract with Edwin Encarnacion:
So Encarnacion will earn bonuses based on Indians crowds. In the past, this may not be worth much. But attendance may spike
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 5, 2017
- Cleveland had the third lowest average attendance in baseball last season (a season in which they forced extra innings in Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs) with just an average of 19,650 per game. The Cubs, by comparison, had a bit over 20,000 more than that on average per game. To be fair to Encarnacion, there have been studies that (as logic would suggest) indicate big jumps in attendance in the seasons follow World Series appearances.
- Speaking of Encarnacion, to make room for him, the Indians DFA’d 24-year-old left-handed reliever Edwin Escobar. Escobar struggled in his 23.2 innings at the Major League level last season, but is young, left-handed, and has shown some promise in the minors. There haven’t been any rumors connecting him to the Cubs just yet, but I wouldn’t be necessarily surprised to see them take a chance on another left-handed pen option (as discussed in the Bullets earlier today!).
- Although it was mostly a quiet/behind-the-scenes type storyline this winter, there was always a chance the Detroit Tigers were going to do some serious selling-off. Players like J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler, and even Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera were thought to be theoretically available. And I, out of complete speculation and a little bit of biased-desire, thought that the Cubs could have been interested in Verlander, if things aligned just right. Of course, that is all very unlikely now, writes Jon Morosi (MLB.com), as the Tigers expect to wait until the trade deadline or even next offseason (or even never), before pulling the trigger on any such blockbuster trade. Oh well.
- And finally at FanRag, Jon Heyman writes that the Oakland Athletics might have already reached out to Mark Trumbo – the 2016 American League home run champion – but their level of interest isn’t yet clear. The Orioles tried to get Trumbo earlier in the season, reportedly offering him a deal in the $50 million range, but it isn’t clear if that deal is still on the table. Given the way his market has shaken out, he may have to settle for less. The Rockies are also reportedly keeping tabs on the situation. If either of those teams sign Trumbo, the Cubs’ first rounder would not move up, as the Rockies have already lost their first rounder (Ian Desmond), and the A’s have a protected pick (6th).
- What a strange era we’ve landed in, where sluggers like Chris Carter (102 HRs), Jose Bautista (97), and Mark Trumbo (83 home runs) can hit nearly 100 home runs in three seasons and find themselves jobless.
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