Earlier today, we learned that increasingly-realistic-Cubs-target Yu Darvish might be willing to take a four-year deal in free agency this winter, which could help explain the Cubs’ sudden and somewhat unexpected interest (even at five years, he’d probably make a ton of sense, given the other options out there).
We’ll have to wait and see if anything comes of it, but more and more people are connecting the Cubs with Darvish, and, as we know, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer literally flew to Texas to meet with him yesterday. They aren’t alone, though, as the Astros are reportedly meeting with him today.
- Speaking of the surprise pursuit of Darvish, Sahadev Sharma discusses how he wasn’t necessarily part of the plan at first, but might be their best option now. “They [the Cubs] were prepared to spend wisely and even trade a position player if need be,” writes Sharma. “But they’ve been forced to make a detour from their preferred path. They quite simply could have ended their primary offseason shopping by adding Alex Cobb to the players already in the fold, but Cobb’s price pushed them out of their comfort zone.”
- In fact, Sharma suggests that the high asking prices weren’t just in free agency. The Cubs apparently liked Royals starter Danny Duffy, as we’ve discussed, but found the price too high and haven’t even engaged the Rays on Chris Archer this winter, because they know the required package would be too significant. Takes a bit of the wind out of those Archer sails, eh?
- UPDATE ON THE FLY from Brett: The Arrieta family went on a trip to Seattle, you say:
— Brittany Arrieta (@MrsArrieta49) December 19, 2017
- May or may not be related, but I know a team up there that is looking for some pitching.
- If you’re still waiting on the market to start flying already (I know we are), don’t hold your breath:
It's become apparent that more and more teams have adopted the patient grind-it-out, wait-it-out style of filling offseason needs. At spots where there is a higher volume of similar options, clubs seem to be anticipating that time, and supply/demand, will drive down the prices.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 19, 2017
- The worst part about this “grind-it-out” approach is that it’ll probably work, which means teams will stick to it. The combination of bountiful options, a more serious luxury tax threshold, and a huge class next winter is giving teams all the reason in the world to grind things to a halt.
- But hey, here’s something to shake the story up:
Martin Perez suffered broken radial head in non-pitching elbow in incident with a bull. Had surgery last week. Prolly out until May 1.
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) December 19, 2017
- Transaction: Martin Perez, 10-Day Disabled List, Incident With a Bull.
- The Rangers have reportedly tossed around the idea of a six-man rotation in the past, and with Matt Moore, Mike Minor, and Doug Fister all in the fold this offseason, they could do it without another move by putting Matt Bush in the rotation, which they are considering. But does Perez missing some time change that equation? Could it make them more likely to add yet another starting pitcher? They could move someone (likely Minor or Bush) to the pen relatively easily when Perez returns, but I wonder if this changes things a bit too much (Perez has made a combined 65 starts over the past two seasons).
- The Orioles are still mulling trade packages for third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado and, according to GM Dan Duquette, things could happen sooner than later: “Clubs are putting their teams together now,” Duquette said. “That window, when clubs are adding key pieces to their ball club, that usually goes on now until the first of the year.” After that, the presumption is, teams won’t have enough maneuverability (roster, payroll, or otherwise) to accommodate Machado and the money he’s owed for 2018. The Orioles are apparently still searching for young starting pitching in return, but, frankly, I doubt they’ll land an impact young starter with multiple years of control in return of just one year of Machado.
- At FanGraphs, Dave Cameron takes a look at Manny Machado’s real trade value, in a piece I think we all need to take a closer look at. “It’s unquestioned that Machado is one of the best players in the world. He’s a star, and will be paid accordingly in free agency next year. But for anyone acquiring him, he’s a one-year rental, with some fringe benefit of being able to try to get him to give you a discount in free agency next winter. That’s worth something, but it isn’t worth the kinds of packages that people seem to expect.” Agreed. And in case you’re wondering, Cameron thinks Addison Russell for Machado, all things considered, is a gross overpay. Agreed. Brett made that case here and here.
- UPDATE: The Cubs are … in on Manny Machado?!
- A lesser-followed free agent storyline this winter includes the Cubs’ arguable need to add a veteran backstop to back up Willson Contreras. Alex Avila is a name that I’ve floated out there a lot, but it remains possible that he lands a starting gig elsewhere. In the meantime, one of the quality backup options just came off the board:
Hundley deal is one year for $2.5 million. #SFGiants
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) December 19, 2017
- Nick Hundley, 34, was with the Giants last year and succeeded as a glove-first backup to Buster Posey. He’s not the best overall catcher in the world, but when you have Posey ahead of him and you can get a familiar guy with a good glove on a cheap one-year deal, it’s something of a win.
- The Mets are so the team that would act like this is a big “get,” for their franchise/fan base:
You can assume the Mets are among teams kicking around idea of pursuing long-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez. They're looking for a short-term add-on at the position; when healthy, he's a good hitter/defender; was just cut by ATL, and costs nothing more than minimum salary in '18.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 19, 2017
- Gonzalez, 35, hit just .242/.287/.355 in an injury-filled 2017 season. The year before, he hit a much better .285/.349/.435, but still not what you’d want to see from a bat-only first baseman. His market will be limited.