I’m sure you’ll roll your eyes when I say this – because you’ve heard it 100 times already – but *NOW* the transactional flood gates should be fully open.
We’re past the World Series, the tender decisions, Thanksgiving, the Winter Meetings, Christmas, and New Year’s. There are no excuses left, and we’re getting to a point where the players will have to sign simply because they’ll soon have to report to Spring Training!
- At NBC Sports, Bill Baer took an illustrated look at the stark difference in free agent signings this offseason versus every one since 2010 and it’s pretty crazy to it see all laid out. There’s much more to it than this, but in short: in 2010, eight of the top-ten free agents signed by the New Year. In 2011, seven. 2012, six. 2013, six. 2014, eight. 2015, five. 2016, seven. This winter, depending on who you include as the top ten free agents, the answer is either 1 or 2 (Wade Davis, who just signed the other day, and Carlos Santana, arguably not a top ten guy). And that’s not even considering all of the quality trade targets available.
- To that end, the Cardinals are reportedly in on one of those top ten free agents:
Source: #STLCards remain involved in pursuit of Eric Hosmer, among other options to upgrade lineup. Cardinals also interested in third basemen, including Josh Donaldson in trade. Matt Carpenter’s versatility means Cardinals could add a 1B as easily as a 3B. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 2, 2018
- The Cardinals offseason has already been a busy one – adding Marcell Ozuna via trade, and Luke Gregerson/Miles Mikolas via free agency – but the option to add yet another big bat has long been a part of the conversation. Typically, those rumors feature a bat at third base (Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, and Evan Longoria were mentioned at one time or another), but because Matt Carpenter is a versatile infielder, the Cardinals can be flexible with where they add. Hosmer will cost them a pretty penny, but Morosi later confirmed that the Cardinals have plenty of money to spend, and that they may not spend it solely on a big bat:
#STLCards, Scott Boras have numerous reasons to be in touch: Boras clients Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland all possible fits for St. Louis roster. And we know from Stanton pursuit that Cardinals have capacity to add payroll where warranted. @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 2, 2018
- Mike Moustakas, a third baseman, hit 38 home runs last season, but was worth just 2.2 WAR overall – his defense and base running were well below average. MLB Trade Rumors is projecting a five-year deal worth $85M, so while he’s cheaper than Hosmer, he may not be as impactful. Holland, meanwhile, is the best remaining closer on the market – a market in which the Cubs are theoretically still involved – but I doubt they’ll (the Cubs) come calling (they seemed to be Wade Davis (on the right deal) or bust). Even still, another big bat and bullpen piece for the Cardinals will reduce the gap between the NL Central’s top two teams.
- Looking ahead to next offseason, the Nationals are reportedly still working on a long-term deal to keep Bryce Harper in Washington and, now, part of their pitch might include the opportunity to play with his brother, Bryan Harper. The elder Harper is currently a Nationals pitching prospect who’d reached as high as Triple-A in 2016, before undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of the year. But now that he’s over a year removed from surgery, he could be debuting any day now and that might be a factor for Harper. But so will money, location, preferences, wives, friends of wives, friends of wives who are married to MVP third basemen on the Cubs, and so on. So while this is definitely not making the Cubs’ job easier, I wouldn’t be too concerned just yet.
- At the Boston Herald, Jason Mastrodonato discusses the interplay between the Red Sox needs in the bullpen and their pursuit of a big bat: “But it’s as clear as day that the Red Sox have other priorities right now. And it’s hard for them to commit resources to a top-notch reliever when they don’t know if they’ll land J.D. Martinez.” Interestingly Mastrodonato seems to be suggesting that if the Red Sox whiff on Martinez, they’ll have more spending power to go after a bullpen piece. But, like, wouldn’t it make more sense to land that bullpen piece if you *do* acquire Martinez? I guess it doesn’t really matter (and I can see arguments both ways), because we’re not here to discuss the contenders of the AL East. Instead, this is yet another, more specific example of what could be holding up the market. At some point, these teams will have to blink and a few key pieces will bring the whole thing tumbling down. But can it, you know, happen already?!
- Speaking of relievers still on the market:
I can't imagine anyone's paying Addison Reed what W.Davis got, and so maybe someone gets a bargain, comparatively. 2016-17 numbers..
Reed (29 in 2018):
Davis (32 in 2018):
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) January 2, 2018