Each year, ESPN offers up an anonymous survey of baseball executives on some of the biggest issues heading into the offseason.
This year’s installment just came out, and you’re going to want to give it a look. It’s not only fun to see how insiders are seeing these things play out, but it’s also information to re-frame your expectations.
For example, just one of the polled insiders had Japanese stud Shohei Ohtani landing with the Cubs. Instead, the Yankees (7.5) and Dodgers (7.5) split as the most common answers, with the Rangers at 5. (It’s possible there was just one surveyed person who thinks the Cubs are going to get everyone, though, because they also got a vote for free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, which … I don’t see that happening.)
For another, 80% of the 40 GMs/AGMs/baseball ops execs/scouts polled by ESPN see Giancarlo Stanton being traded this offseason, with 10 of the 24 predicted locations for a trade being St. Louis. (The latest on Stanton is here, if you missed it.)
On Yu Darvish, more than half of the executives see his terrible World Series outings as having “somewhat” of an effect on his free agency – mostly just that it throws up a caution flag. (For me, I do worry a bit about the bad indicators that had already started to emerge during the regular season, though I’d want to know more from him about the rumors of pitch-tipping in the World Series.)
The big one that might catch your eye in the piece, though, is the 5.5 votes the Cubs got as the most likely destination for Jake Arrieta. That trailed only the Rangers’ 10 votes, and I think it speaks less to the Cubs being seen as very likely to re-sign Arrieta, and more to the fact that his market is still a totally undeveloped mystery. It’s possible we start to see signs this week at the GM Meetings, but it’s also possible – with questions about his ability going forward, and Scott Boras as his agent – it could be a slow free agent process for Arrieta, stretching well into December, and maybe even January. Only if the market simply isn’t there for him at five or six years would you see the Cubs get involved, in my opinion, on a shorter deal. Even then, it wouldn’t be until late in the offseason, and it’s possible the Cubs will already have made their rotation moves by then.
I do think a reunion is possible, depending on how the offseason plays out, but the Cubs certainly wouldn’t get my vote on Arrieta right now. The odds remain strong that he’ll be moving on, and his performance will be missed.
Check out the rest of the survey at ESPN. If nothing else, it gives you a good idea how uncertain things are right now on these major storylines.