There are a lot of rumors to get to today, and with arbitration figures being shared between team/players, the additional cost certainty could spur some movement throughout the league.
Or, you know, it couldn’t. Either way.
- At ESPN Chicago, Jesse Rogers discusses the Cubs slow-play free agent strategy this offseason, before coming to a very interesting mid-story conclusion: “The feeling is if the Cubs add at least one more year to their conversations with any of Darvish, Arrieta or Cobb, they could be had.” Rogers goes onto reveal that the Cubs missed out on Wade Davis for this exact reason – they were sticking with a two-year deal, and he got three from the Rockies.
- That’s actually a very reassuring thought, though, right? We know the Cubs should be able to offer more competitive deals than most teams active in free agency right now – the risk of being outbid isn’t as risky as usual – so the wait-it-out approach could prove to be quite fruitful. And even if you point out that the Cardinals as a team with plenty of money/reason to spend and almost identical needs to the Cubs, I’d remind you that there are still three quality starters (Arrieta/Darvish/Cobb) and two closer types (Greg Holland and Addison Reed) available to fulfill both teams’ needs. And if the Cubs are able to earmark some of these savings into a potential #Harper2019 fund, well …
- At FanRag, Jon Heyman dumps a bunch of notes, among them: The Diamondbacks are still pushing hard to retain J.D. Martinez, but so are the Red Sox; the Orioles are telling teams they now expect to keep Manny Machado, the Yankees might make sense for former Cubs backup catcher Alex Avila, and a whole lot more.
- But among the most notable bits, is the Astros’ continued interest in adding a big-time starting pitcher via trade (versus free agency). To that end, while the deal for Gerrit Cole may not have actually happened this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually went through. So far, the Astros are refusing to include their top prospects or outfielder Derek Fisher, but at some point, given the price of free agency, their general low-spending ways, and external pressure on the Pirates for Cole (Yankees), they’ll blink and make it happen. Also, yes, I see the Cubs/Cole connection in there, but we’ll tackle that in a separate post later today (too many thoughts for a single item here).
- Speaking of the Yankees, they’re still willing to pay part of Jacoby Ellsbury’s salary, but haven’t gotten any bites just yet. Your rooting interest is that they’re unable to move him (and, more importantly, his contract), so that they remain handcuffed by the luxury tax threshold and can’t make a serious run at a Cubs target like Yu Darvish.
- Speaking of which, despite reports to the contrary, Darvish says the Yankees havne’t yet made him an offer:
They don't give me offer yet🤔 https://t.co/Zlp4KPLdzr
— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) January 12, 2018
- The tweet to which Darvish is responding reads, “@Faridyu, please take the Yankees offer, there is nothing like being a Yankee!” The Yankees were apparently one of Darvish’s five finalists, but what does that mean if they haven’t even given him an offer? No, really, I’m asking. I don’t understand 2018 at all.
- There’s a lot more in that Heyman post– including the Phillies potentially taking a late-market run at Jake Arrieta, the Nationals expected interest in Greg Holland, the Cardinals preference for a closer (vis a vis another big bat), and the Blue Jays interest in Christian Yelich – so definitely give it a look.
- On that Nationals’ interest in free agent closer Greg Holland, Ken Rosenthal has more: “The Nats’ front office considers Holland too risky on a multi-year deal and is likely to wait out the market for a lesser right-handed reliever.” That’s very, very interesting. When Holland became a legitimate Cubs target earlier this winter, our biggest concern was whether last season – his first back from Tommy John surgery – was just the first step towards regaining his former, dominant self, or the beginning of the end, so to speak. And if enough teams share that same concern, Holland might be best served by taking a one-year deal and reestablishing his dominance before hitting the market again next winter.
- It’s a risky move at his age and – let’s be clear – an extremely unexpected one, but if the market isn’t there, it isn’t there. Make no mistake: a one-year deal for Holland would make a ton of sense for the Cubs, even at the cost of their second-highest draft pick and $500,000 in IFA pool space, since Holland is a qualified free agent (plenty of other teams, too, but also the Cubs).
- Rosenthal also explores how the Brewers could make sense for Lorenzo Cain, but it would require some long-term shuffling.
- In a different post at FanRag, Jon Heyamn wonders whether Rays owner Stuart Sternberg is still mad at the Cubs for stealing Joe Maddon (and also Jim Hickey?!? (oh give me a break, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg)), and if that’s throwing a wrench in their ability to consummate a trade for someone like Chris Archer and/or Alex Colome. Relatedly, Heyman seems to think that the Cubs include Javy Baez and Kyle Schwarber as part of their we’d really rather not trade these guys group, presumably (but not explicitly) leaving Addison Russell, Ian Happ, and Albert Almora on the table. That generally squares with our gut, but it’s always hard to separate and value Russell and Baez.
- And finally, from that same post, Heyman writes that the Cubs might still target Addison Reed or Greg Holland, but still prefer shorter deals. I gotta say, I don’t know if these lines in the sand will ever pay off, but if they do, the Cubs front office will deserve some serious credit.