You know it’s the early part of the offseason when there’s a Lukewarm Stove on Saturday night …
- Bruce Levine writes that the Cubs’ “priority” this offseason is to land two starting pitchers and three relievers. Given that there are but three starting spots accounted for, and the plan is for Mike Montgomery to stay in the bullpen, the starter bit is a given. As for the bullpen, it’s really hard to say that too many spots are locked down beyond Montgomery, Pedro Strop, and Carl Edwards Jr. There are a number of arms in house who certainly could be members of the bullpen in 2018 (and should, in the case of Justin Wilson (please be better)), but you could argue there are even more than three openings at this point.
- I’ll note here that the Cubs will also be looking to add a veteran backup catcher (like retaining Rene Rivera, perhaps?), and a complementary outfielder (like retaining Jon Jay or going after Curtis Granderson, perhaps?). Otherwise, the trade market figures to be a big part of what the Cubs do.
- As for possible free agent pitching targets, Levine lists a bunch of possibilities: Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn on the starting side, and Wade Davis, Brian Duensing, Brandon Morrow, and Andrew Cashner on the reliever side. I’d imagine the names that stand out to you are the final ones on each list, with the Cubs not previously attached to Lynn or Cashner (as a reliever, in particular).
- Lynn, 30, came back very healthy from Tommy John surgery, and posted a 3.43 ERA last season over 186.1 innings. The concern I’d have with him is that he put up that ERA almost entirely via contact management, and relying almost exclusively on fastballs (that were down a half-click from before surgery). Throw in the fact that his groundball rate (44.0%) was not elite and matched his career mark, and I have serious concerns that a guy with that profile, and a below average strikeout rate (19.7 %) and above average walk rate (10.1 %) can keep succeeding.
- Speaking of guys with great results (3.40 ERA) and terrible peripherals (12.2% strikeout rate!), Andrew Cashner may be looking to find a back-of-the-rotation job next year. And, in any case, I’m not so sure an extremely-high-contact pitcher is the type you want in the bullpen anyway. He’s a name to watch, given the past connection to the Cubs, but let’s not forget: the front office traded Cashner (for Anthony Rizzo) almost the moment they arrived.
- Among Jon Heyman’s latest notes, the Reds could consider dealing closer Raisel Iglesias, who’d look awfully attractive to the Cubs. But it might be tricky to get together on a deal like that, since Iglesias is on something of a more traditional contract, which pays him close to $6 million annually through 2020. That is by no means extravagant for a great closer, but it does throw a wrench in his value (if you were stacking it again, say, a good, young, big league position player).
- Just to confirm earlier reports that this was how the Marlins planned to proceed:
Marlins communicated to other teams they are open to offers for Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado. For now, not Yelich or Ozuna.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 3, 2017
- So buckle up on the Stanton front.
- Options decisions are pouring in from around baseball, and there haven’t really been too many big surprises outside of Masahiro Tanaka’s decision not to opt out.
- A miscellaneous bit that I don’t know if we’ve confirmed around here, so I’ll just do it now: despite reports throughout the season that had the qualifying offer amount at $18.1 million, when all the calculators were calibrated and buttons punched, the actual figure is $17.4 million. There’s no impact to the Cubs here, as they’re going to make the one-year qualifying offer to Wade Davis and Jake Arrieta regardless of that $700,000 difference.