It’s been a while since we checked in on the doings from the rumor mill …
- Slugger Jose Bautista’s free agent journey may finally be coming to an end, after a relatively unexpected and difficult time finding the right deal. According to multiple reports on Twitter (all collected here at MLB Trade Rumors as they break), Bautista is nearing a one or two-year re-up with the Toronto Blue Jays for something close to $20 million annually. It’s a far cry from the $150+ million contract he was reportedly holding out for at the beginning of last season, but such is the nature of free agency. It’s not as if we’ve seen miscalculations before.
- If Bautista does return to the Blue Jays, the Cubs’ first round draft pick will not move up a spot.
- Bruce Levine reports that top starting trade candidate Jose Quintana still might be moved – perhaps even “soon.” Teams are stepping up their offers for the controlled, consistent lefty. For obvious reasons, wherever Quintana might wind up could have a significant impact on the 2017 season and beyond – especially if he winds up, for example, in Pittsburgh.
- Something to keep an eye on, as there were previously indications that Sonny Gray was not going to be available at all (but there’s an obvious plausible fit with the Cubs):
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 16, 2017
- The popularity of player-opt outs has grown quite a bit over the past few seasons, with more and more superstars negotiating for the option to leave and sign elsewhere (presumably) over simply getting more money now. Yoenis Cespedes, Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and David Price are just some of the recent examples of players who wanted that option in their contract and project to be still talented enough to exercise it when it’s due up. Or at least, so we thought. The last player in that list, David Price, recently indicated that he has no intentions of exercising his opt-out clause after the 2018 season, no matter the financial implications. “I’m staying right here,” Price said via the Boston Globe, “There was a reason I signed here and there’s a reason I’ll stay for six more years. I came here to win, and we’re going to win.” Price added that he has already earned more than enough money for the rest of his life, so the money will not dictate his future decisions; his happiness will, and he’s very happy in Boston.
- Despite Price’s obvious talent, however, losing a (would-be) 33-year-old Price won’t be as big of a blow to that free agent class as you might think. Remember, that year’s class features starters Carlos Carrasco, Patrick Corbin, Matt Harvey, Clayton Kershaw (opt-out), Drew Pomeranz, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Drew Smyly and many others. If the Cubs are forced to keep piecing together their rotation through free agency, the names will be there.
- And since were on the subject, I do want to point out some of the other names from that already-famous free-agent class: Brian Dozier, DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, A.J. Pollock, Charlie Blackmon, Bryce Harper, Jason Heyward (opt-out), and again, many, many others. What this year’s free agent class lacked in star-power, that class more than makes up for.
- But there’s a whole winter in between now and then, and next offseason figures to have some nice names, as well. One that has become an increasing possibility for the Cubs is Yankees righty, Masahiro Tanaka. As Paul Lebowitz writes, the two sides have not come to an agreement on an extension (he can opt out after this season), but feel no urgency to discuss a contract right now – more details here, including a deep dive on the relationship between Tanaka’s elbow injury, his opt-out, and tacking on some extra dollars to his currently-guaranteed money. I would not call it a lock that Tanaka reaches free agency after 2017.
- The Cardinals may be looking to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to join their existing group of righties (Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and Tommy Pham) plus Dexter Fowler, and are also still planning to stretch out former-closer Trevor Rosenthal. However, instead of inserting him directly into the rotation, the plan is to use him in a Super Utility Pitcher type role – you know, the thing the Cubs have done for about 3.5 years, but Andrew Miller and the Indians get all the credit for “inventing.” If successful, Rosenthal could be pretty devastating in that type of role.
- Drew Pomeranz and Dellin Betances are asking for quite a bit more than they were offered to avoid arbitration … which potentially means they’ll head to arbitration. And remember, an arbitrator simply picks one of the two sides’ final figure, there is no middle-ground and/or average of the offers. These cold be interesting cases to follow. John Perrotto has more on that case, and several other, stray rumors, here at Fanrag.
- Even though they didn’t wind up landing Tyson Ross, the Cubs might yet utilize a six-man rotation to better prepare for the expected postseason appearance once-again. In fact, according to Joel Sherman, the Cubs might’ve gone for the six-man rotation as soon as April, if it weren’t for the five off days that month. Mike Montgomery continues to be the presumed fifth starter, but as we know, the Cubs have long been looking for someone to put ahead of him/mix in with the other five. Ideally, I’d imagine, the Cubs would have added a fifth starter and Montgomery would be used as the “sixth starter,” every now and then, but that seems like a bigger stretch with every passing day. There have been some rumors of a potential return of Travis Wood pending the miss on Tyson Ross, but there hasn’t been much lately on that front.
- And for what it’s worth:
Depth Charts is projecting a 3.67 ERA (3.94 FIP) across 24 starts and 136.0 IP for the Cubs' Mike Montgomery in 2017. pic.twitter.com/VVL5kqHeUL
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 16, 2017
- Trevor Cahill will reportedly get just $1.75 million from the Padres, and, in a market where decent relievers were getting four or five times that amount, it’s pretty clear that the 28-year-old was looking to go somewhere with a clear path to starting.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.