Look, I mean, it’s a minor league signing. So any excitement you might feel is relative. But the Cubs getting a quality veteran back-up catcher on a minor league deal, and the guy just happens to have a relationship with Yu Darvish? That’s about as good and fun as a minor league signing gets. (UPDATE: The Cubs are reportedly in active talks with Darvish. Oh my.)
- Elsewhere, former Cub Austin Jackson – himself a minor league signing a year ago – got a big league deal this time around after a great 2017 season, reportedly netting two years and $6 million (plus incentives) from the Giants. Jackson, who turns 31 next month, hit .318/.387/.482 last year for the Indians in part-time duty, which makes you go WUH, he only got $3 million annually for two years??? But keep in mind, that came with an obscene .385 BABIP (even for a high BABIP guy like Jackson, that’s gonna regress), and Jackson has rated as a below-average defender in four of the past five seasons.
- Thus, I understand reactions like this, but I don’t think Jackson’s contract is *TOO* out of whack (I probably would have bet on two years and $10 million coming into the offseason):
Austin Jackson was a two-win player last year. That's worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $15M in value for one season. He got a total of $6M guaranteed for two seasons. The bottoming out of this market is staggering, and what's scary is that this is just the beginning. https://t.co/5VTE4am20v
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 23, 2018
- So, then, the really important question is whether the addition of Jackson – together with Andrew McCutchen – takes the Giants out of the market for any other outfield additions. Arguably, they could still stand to add another guy, and then they could mix and match with an aging Hunter Pence. But the better guess is this is it for the Giants, which means they won’t be the team helping the Yankees out with their Jacoby Ellsbury situation, and they won’t be the team throwing Lorenzo Cain a lifeline. The Cubs figure to continue hanging around the Cain market in case a ridiculous steal opportunity emerges, *AND* the pitching plans – whatever they are at that point – haven’t precluded even a cheap addition while staying under the luxury tax. It’s highly unlikely the Cubs could fit both a pitcher and Cain (even if both are bargains) and stay enough under the luxury tax cap to have comfort going into the season (when other needs may arise), but you never know. Why not stick around in the conversation?
- Bruce Levine writes about the Cubs’ pitching situation, and the ongoing waiting game involving the trio of top options, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, and Alex Cobb. With respect to Cobb, Levine writes that the thinking before the Winter Meetings was that a three-year, $45-ish million deal was going to get done, but that didn’t happen, and it seems Cobb has instead been waiting for that four-year offer. Recall, the Cubs’ original offer to Cobb was reportedly three years and $42 million, so a three-year, $45 million deal would have been right around the vicinity that the Cubs wanted (and, if we’re properly reading the tea leaves, that was long before they seriously entertained re-signing Arrieta and going after Darvish).
- It stands to reason, then, that Cobb on a three-year deal is still the Cubs’ preferred target, especially if and when the Arrieta and Darvish pursuits get into the five-year-plus range (Darvish already reportedly has at least one five-year offer). Perhaps the Cubs are standing pat in the three-year, $45 million-ish range, letting Cobb wait to see if another team adds that fourth year, and then Cobb may have to choose between (I’m guessing) his preferred team for three years, or the most total dollars elsewhere. And the Cubs, for their part, stay involved with Arrieta and Darvish – because, again, why wouldn’t they? In this market, with money to spend under the luxury tax cap, you’d be crazy to walk away from almost any conceivable fit.
- If you missed it earlier, we talked about Cobb’s rough free agency, and strong recent projections.
- Does the Chris Gimenez signing change any of this? Nah, it’s a minor league deal at a position of need for the Cubs anyway. But might they send a text to Cobb’s agent saying, “Hey, man, you know Gimenez and Darvish are really close, right? Juuuuust sayin’ …. “
- By the way, you can read more on Gimenez and Darvish here, back in December when Darvish was apparently asking Gimenez a lot of questions about the Minnesota Twins. This quote from Gimenez was particularly fun, when you consider that he’s now part of a Joe-Maddon-led clubhouse: “In Texas we had a ton of rules, (and Darvish) was not necessarily a fan of some of them. I told (Darvish) pretty much the only rule we have (with the Twins) is no dress shoes on the road. He said, ‘What if I want to wear dress shoes on the road?’ I said, ‘You’re Yu Darvish. You can do whatever the hell you want.'” The same, I assure you, Yu, would be true with the Cubs.
- Also, this came out after the original Gimenez signing reports, so I’ve gotta pop it in here, too:
If you're gonna lean solely on numbers, get 'em right.
They were paired 12 times in MLB w/ 3.29 ERA. Gimenez also caught all his bullpens in extended spring of 2016 as Darvish worked back from Tommy John. Darvish has told friends Gimenez is his all-time favorite catcher. https://t.co/JUaocNElOR
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) January 23, 2018
- All-time favorite catcher. YOOOOOOOOOO. (YUUUUUUUUU!!!!!)
- Hey, remember when the Brewers were about to make a trade last night? True to form in this market, it didn’t happen:
I had indications from a couple of places that something might be happening, but #Brewers are juggling a lot of scenarios. They've been in on Yu Darvish and Lorenzo Cain as well, and I know they've been working hard on trade possibilities. Sorry if I got people's hopes up. 🙁 https://t.co/6dbd059dwn
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 22, 2018