The Super Bowl is over, Spring Training is days away, but still do we have some stove warmth, with rumors to dissect.
Let’s take a look at some of the recent transactions and rumblings from around the league …
- First and foremost, it’s worth pointing out that there are still a lot of free agents remaining on the board. Although there is usually one or two guys lingering around this late into the offseason, Craig Calcaterra notes that there as many as sixty-nine remaining free agents, many of whom are quite notable. Sure, there are some journeymen out there, but the 2016 home run champ, Chris Carter, is looking for a job, as are Matt Wieters, and Mike Napoli. Plus former Cy Young Winners Tim Lincecum and Jake Peavy, as well as former MVPs Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau are still looking for new digs.
- In fact, the list of remaining free-agents is basically a who’s who of top players from about five years ago. It’s very strange.
- And, of course, it was only yesterday that the former Chicago Cub, Jason Hammel, finally found his place with the Kansas City Royals on a two-year deal worth at least $16 million.
- With that said, it’s not as though free agency is the only avenue for teams to make changes here in February. Although it’s less common than in November through January, trades do happen this time of year, and Charlie Wilmoth has a list of the more notable, recent February trades. In 2016, for just one example, both Khris Davis (Brewers) and Chris Coghlan (Cubs) were on the move in February. So although there aren’t a ton of All-Stars on the list, I’m willing to bet there are a few more notable transactions than you recall.
- The Dodgers have continued strengthening their role as the best on-paper team heading into 2017 (Woohoo! The Cubs are underdogs again!), by stealing someone from their divisional rival:
Source: Sergio Romo to #Dodgers, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 6, 2017
- Romo, 33 years and 11 months, has played nine straight seasons with the San Francisco Giants before signing with the Dodgers. He managed to scrap together only 30.2 innings last season, but did so with a 2.64 ERA. And although he had a down 2014 season, Romo has been quite excellent from his debut in 2008 until now.
- In other reliever deals news, according to Jon Heyman, the Mets have agreed to a deal to bring back free-agent lefty Jerry Blevins for one year and $6.5 million guaranteed (plus a 2018 team option worth another $6 million). Blevins was pretty fantastic for the Mets in 2016, working a 2.79 ERA (3.05 FIP) and a near-30% strikeout rate for 42.0 innings pitched, so this is a solid deal overall. And for what it’s worth, Blevins has owned fellow lefties throughout his career, holding them to just a .260 wOBA over 181.0 innings pitched. The Mets did well to keep him.
- Sticking with the NL East for a moment, Ken Rosenthal has a must-read on the Nationals’ oddly patient approach this offseason. More specifically, for a team that was close to reaching the NLCS, and is just two years away from potentially losing Bryce Harper, the organization’s lack of moves is certainly surprising. But, as some Nationals officials commented, GM Mike Rizzo has a difficult time getting ownership buy-in. “He has the hardest job in baseball,” one Nationals official told Rosenthal, “with what he has to go through to get things done.”
- Buster Olney writes that the Padres have received a lot of industry criticism for their six-year, $83 million extension of Wil Myers – namely, that the extension was an overpay for a player without much of a consistent track record (and positional uncertainty). But, according to Olney, there are a few factors at play: 1) The organization was demonstrating their commitment to putting a winning product on the field, 2) Myers might be a gold glove caliber defensive first basemen, and 3) Myers is an exceptionally good base runner.
- The reason I bring up both the criticisms and defenses of the Myers’ extension is that the Cubs (or rather, their fans) are in a constant state of wondering which young position players will get extended and for how much. These sorts of arguments for/against extensions like the Myers deal, then, might soon play into the Cubs decision making process, as tough decisions need to be made. We tend to get very few data points, so it’s worth examining the extensions young position players sign with other teams.
- Nick Cafardo does his typically informative information dump at the Boston Globe, including some specific notes on White Sox lefty and constant trade candidate Jose Quintana. In short, not much has changed: The White Sox will trade Quintana right now if someone conjures a prospect package similar to the return for Chris Sale, but will hold onto him until the trade deadline just as easily.
- But that’s not the end of it, as Cafardo adds that prospect-rich teams like the Astros, Braves, Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies, Yankees, and Brewers are considered the most likely landing spots, with the Astros leading the way (thanks to their two extra high draft picks from the Cardinals’ hacking punishment). In addition, I’d like to point out the Phillies and Brewers inclusion on that list. Given how many interesting and budding top prospects they have, a big trade for someone like Jose Quintana can be their version of signing Jon Lester. I’ll say it again: I believe that one of those two teams is going to surprise the league and grab one of the Wild Card slots at some point over the next two years. [Brett: I am in complete agreement with Michael on that. And I don’t even think it’s that crazy of a suggestion.]
- And finally, Derrick Goold tweeted that the Cubs, along with another fifteen MLB teams, have gathered to watch free agent reliever Seth Maness showcase his skills in St. Louis:
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) February 6, 2017
- Maness came up through the Cardinals organization, and tossed 31.2 innings of relief in 2016 before becoming a free agent this winter. That came after Maness underwent surgery on his UCL – but not that surgery. Instead, Maness is trying to become something of a trailblazer in having his UCL repaired, rather than Tommy-John-style replaced.
- It’s obviously unclear how interested the Cubs are, given the ever-increasing bullpen, but Maness, 28, is young and has had some success in the past (including back-to-back sub 3.00 ERAs in 2013 and 2014 in nearly 150 IP). If he’s healthy, I’m sure the Cubs – like many other teams – will have legitimate interest.
- Like many of the pitchers the Cubs have targeted lately (Brett Anderson, Williams Perez), Maness has had an excellent ground ball rate (59.4% for his career):
The Cubs pursuit of Maness (along w/ B. Anderson & W. Perez) continues streak of targeting high GB% guys to pair w/ stellar infield defense. https://t.co/mHSI4ITp1x
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 6, 2017