I’ve recently come to a crazy realization regarding this offseason’s rumor mill: Even after the two big dominos – Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani – fall, literally EVERYTHING ELSE still has to happen.
In other words, this offseason was already expected to be a busy one, before we knew Ohtani would be posted or Stanton would be traded. But because our/the market’s focus has been on those two for so long, we’ve seemingly forgotten that starters like Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, closers like Wade Davis and Greg Holland, and bats like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer all still exist in free agency.
There’s probably close to $700 million in future payroll commitments between those six players alone and somehow, right now, they’re an afterthought. Crazy.
- Earlier today, Brett wrote that Cardinals have the best offer on the table for Stanton, likely centered around pitcher Sandy Alcantara. But while Alcantara is a fine prospect, consensus top-1o type with a 70-grade fastball, the Marlins interest might lie elsewhere:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 4, 2017
- Wacha, 26, had a 3.2 fWAR bounce-back season for the Cardinals this year while Martinez, 29, broke out in a big way at the plate (135 wRC+). That said, I’d be surprised to see the Marlins go this route for Stanton (over a prospect-centric (and financially aggressive) trade), but who knows what this front office is thinking right now.
- In any case, Stanton will probably be moved at some point in the near future, and Richard Justice (MLB.com) runs through the downstream impacts of various landing spots. For instance, if the Giants land Stanton, you shouldn’t expect it to be their final, significant move of the winter. Instead, look for them to keep adding in the outfield or even third base. If they can’t land Stanton, they may elect to go with free agent J.D. Martinez, who could be had for just money (and probably less of it). If the Cardinals land Stanton, however, they’ll probably be done adding on offense, but could look to add to their bullpen rather significantly – which would put them in direct competition with the Cubs.
- Speaking of the Cubs, Justice suggests that they could have enough financial flexibility (and interest) to sign both Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb. If they swing and miss on Ohtani, that would be a really fantastic outcome in terms of the players (so long as it saves enough money for Bryce Harper next winter, that is …).
- And as for a closer, Justice writes that the Cubs could go after Wade Davis in free agency, but are more likely to press the Rays on Alex Colome. Justice concedes that the Cubs prospect cache isn’t what it used to be, but believes there’s enough there to get something done. Given Colome’s poorly-trending peripherals and massive arbitration hike, yes, I’d say the Cubs clearly have enough to get him. The question is whether they’d really rather go that route than simply signing free agents.
- Although the Washington Nationals are not involved in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes (and will be happy to see him leave the NL East), Mark Zuckerman (MASN) writes that they should care about where he ends up. Specifically, the Nats rooting interest is probably for the Dodgers to gobble up Stanton, because it likely forces them out of contention for Bryce Harper next winter. Obviously, the same can be said both about and for the Cubs (though they’re not realistic suitors for Stanton at the moment – I’m just saying the Nationals would probably love to see them out of the mix on Harper).
- At ESPN, Buster Olney discusses how tough the shortstop and first base markets may be – even for the top free agents – because of how set the contenders are at those two positions (like the Cubs), in particular. Given how late into the offseason it already is, I wouldn’t be surprised to see multiple, notable free agents last deep into January.
- The Rays recently decided not to tender a contract to left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno, and although he’s open to resigning in Tampa Bay, he’s reportedly received a lot of interest from other clubs, as well. I can’t say for sure the Cubs are among those teams, but given Cedeno’s solid 2015 and 2016 campaigns, I’d be open to exploring the possibility (provided he’s healthy and ready to go).
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington is reportedly mulling over the direction of his franchise, given the realities in Pittsburgh and the NL Central over the next few years. On the one hand, his best team next season likely includes Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Josh Harrison, and Francisco Cervelli (among others). But on the other, their chances in the NL Central look bleak next year and even bleaker in 2019 when they lose McCutchen to free agency and everyone else ages another year. Perhaps it’d be wise to start the rebuild now.
- Of course, it’d be good for the Cubs if the Pirates began selling now, simply because the road to October would be that much smoother, but also because Cole’s presence on the market could drive down the price of other starting trade targets (like, say, Chris Archer) – but that’s just dot-connecting/speculation.
- And finally, the Royals may be inclined to begin another rebuild, making players like left-hander Danny Duffy (28 years old, four more years of control, 3.4 fWAR in 2017) theoretically available. To be sure, many teams would be in on Duffy if the Royals were to make him available, but you have to imagine that the Cubs would be right there, too. There’s also 27-year-old reliever Kelvin Herrera who basically had five killer seasons in a row for the Royals, before taking a step backwards as a closer last season. Given the Cubs needs, you have to imagine they’d be inclined to ask on both.