Happy Cubs Convention Day!

And now for some bad news: For the first time in three years, I (Michael) will not be at the Cubs Convention or Lizzie McNeil’s tonight. I know, you’re devastated.

My fiancée (still sounds weird) and I are having our engagement party at bar less than a mile away, so at least I’ll be close enough to hear the arguments about who should really be playing second base.

But now that I think about it, our bar may be just close enough to pull off the classic TV “two parties in one night” trope. Think about it!

I can accidentally bring flowers to Lizzie McNeill’s, show up to my engagement party in a Rizzo jersey … this might actually be better. Stay tuned. Now I’m excited.

  • After posting a 2.74 ERA over 49 relief appearances and one start with the Cubs last season, Trevor Cahill, still just 28, is reportedly closing in on a deal with the Padres. At the San Diego Tribune, Dennis Lin reports that with the Padres, Cahill will have a legitimate shot to compete for a spot in the rotation – something that not every team was willing or able to offer. Indeed, he reportedly had interest from about six teams, but the clearest path back to starting was in San Diego – which sounds about right – and that’s where he’ll end up.
  • But this might have more to do with the Cubs than just the signing of a former reliever. For example, although the Rangers and Cubs are thought to be the front runners for Tyson Ross, the Padres (Ross’ former team) were always considered an option. Now, that door may be closed to Ross, making the decision a little bit simpler, OR it might mean some pieces had already begun to shake loose in the background (something the Padres knew to be happening), so they moved onto their Plan B. Sound logic or wishful thinking? I’m not sure.
  • Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has traded 54 players in 35 separate deals since becoming the GM on September 28, 2015. He’s made eleven deals so far this winter, most recently the long-discussed Rays starting pitcher trade, which netted the Mariners Drew Smyly.
  • This isn’t a rumor, but I thought it was interesting enough to point out, via Ken Rosenthal: Although Kenley Jansen’s (five-years, $80 million, opt-out after 3 years) and Aroldis Chapman’s (five-years $86 million, opt out after 3 years) deals look similar on the surface, they are actually quite a bit different. Chapman’s deal is more front loaded – he’ll receive $41 million to Jansen’s $24 million in the first two years – meaning that he’ll also leave less money on the table if they both decided to opt out. Plus, Chapman got full no-trade protection for the first three years and limited no-trade for the final two, while Jansen didn’t get any at all. You could debate which pitcher you’d rather have, but Chapman was not tied to draft pick compensation, which certainly impacted the overall value for each player.
  • Mark Trumbo – swatter of nearly 50 home runs last season – is still looking for a home, and the Orioles may ultimately be that landing spot. But he may have to settle for a bit more than it looked like he was going to get at the beginning of the offseason. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that he might even be willing to do something in the 3 year/$40 million range which would be a pretty good deal for the O’s if they could pull it off.
  • There’s more in Rosenthal’s latest, including whether the Rays would consider shopping center fielder Kevin Kiermaier after the addition of Mallex Smith.
  • The starting pitching free-agent class next winter already looks much stronger than this offseason’s class, but one of the potentially best available arms, Masahiro Tanaka, isn’t really a true free-agent. Instead, he simply has the ability to opt out of his deal with the Yankees, leaving upwards of $67 million on the table over the last three years to do it. Of course, on the free-agent market, he’d be expected to get more than that (both in years and dollars), but what if he never gets there? With a down or injured season in 2017 (injuries have been a part of his total package), he won’t be guaranteed a much better deal on the market, and with a great season the Yankees might try to extend him.
  • Or at least, that feels like something the Yankees would want to do, but recent comments from GM Brian Cashman sound quite a bit different. “We have a significant contract with Masahiro Tanaka,” Cashman said Tuesday night, per the Daily News. “Hopefully he has a great year, and then he’ll have a decision to make. If he doesn’t, then he won’t …. But at this point we’ve had no discussions internally to pursue any kind of extension.” The Cubs were interested in Tanaka when he first arrived in MLB, so it’s not inconceivable to speculate they’d be interested again. Your rooting interest here is that he has another healthy, solid, productive season, and the Yankees let him enter free agency. Even if the Cubs don’t end up with Tanaka, in particular, the more options out there the better.
  • The Dodgers have questions at second base and serious struggles against left-handed pitchers; the Twins have a lefty-smashing second baseman, Brian Dozier (150 wRC+ against LHP in 2016) available in trade … so why haven’t the two sides come together? Despite on-going rumors – last time we checked they had cooled – the Dodgers and the Twins have not been able to find common ground. The Dodgers are willing to offer top pitching prospect Jose De Leon and another lower-level prospect or two (filler), but the Twins want De Leon and another blue-chipper like Cody Bellinger or Yadier Alvarez. The difference there is staggering, considering that MLB Pipeline, for one example, ranks Bellinger above Jose De Leon – who’s supposed to be the “centerpiece” of the deal. The Dodgers have some other options on the trade market, but none as enticing as Dozier.
  • The Mets and Orioles will adopt a “file and trial” approach to arbitration eligible players this winter, meaning that they will only negotiate with their guys until today’s noon CT deadline. If no deal is made by then, they’ll exchange salary requests, and head to arbitration with no further negotiations. The alternative (which is what most teams do) allows the team and player to negotiate right up until the actual arbitration hearing, typically in February. I understand the idea of not wanting to artificially stretch things out, but it does feel awfully restrictive. We’ll see how it goes. Jake Arrieta remains the Cubs biggest outstanding question in arbitration. Last year, the Cubs and Arrieta agreed to a deal just a few days before their scheduled arbitration hearing in early February.
  • Former Giants reliever Santiago Casilla stays in the Bay Area, as he signs with Oakland (where he initially came up) on a two-year deal worth up to $14 million. Not bad for a 36-year old reliever who’s never been worth more than 0.6 fWAR in a single season (and 0.6 total since 2012 (solid results, though, as he sports a career 3.19 ERA)):

  • You are reminded that there are sluggers out there who can’t seem to find deals that guarantee them this much. The market sure has opinions about relievers.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.


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