Quite a bit to get to, considering it’s late September …
- Robinson Cano wants $305 million for his services over the next 10 years. I greet this revelation with a great big shrug. For one thing, I never thought the Cubs were likely to be seriously – or even un-seriously – involved in bidding for Cano, regardless of where that bidding ended up. For another thing, this is always how the dance starts. Sure, the starting price here is a bit over the top – should Cano, who turns 31 in October, net the biggest contract in baseball history? – but this is the general direction of things. Sometimes it works (look at the deal Prince Fielder got), and sometimes it doesn’t (most other guys with ridiculous September demands). For their part, the Yankees started out negotiations in the eight year, $138 million range, and bumped it up to the seven-year, $165 range when the first offer was refused. That’s a hell of a gap to make up, and it could lead to Cano departing from the Yanks. If the Dodgers don’t get in on the bidding, though, it’s tough to figure out what team is going to drop $300 million on Cano. I just don’t see it happening. I could see $200 million happening, but I have trouble seeing Cano topping a Pujols deal (10 years and $240 million).
- Speaking of big demands, Scott Boras tells Jon Heyman he thinks $100 million for client Shin-Soo Choo is too low. Executives peg Choo closer to the B.J. Upton/Michael Bourn range (four to five years, $50 to $75 million), the top end of which sounds right to me. Let us not forget that it wasn’t much later than this time last year when Boras was trumpeting Bourn as a $100 million player. The market fell out from under Bourn, particularly as teams considered the impact of a lost draft pick, and he settled for half of the ask. I doubt the same happens to Choo, given that last year’s outfield market was much more robust. The Cubs have been connected to Choo, and they’ll have the benefit of a protected first round pick when it comes to pursuing a top free agent. Would they go to $100 million for Choo? I see no conceivable way.
- The Mets, who are one of the other publicly-identified suitors of Choo, are reportedly not interested in going past four years for the corner outfielder (currently playing center field). It’s conceivable that Choo will settle for four years, so that doesn’t take the Mets out of the mix. They also say they don’t care about whether they have a protected pick (currently, they’d be in the 12th spot – only the top 10 are protected), but I’m not so sure I buy it. Is Choo worth top dollar AND the number 12 pick in the first round to a rebuilding team like the Mets?
- Danny Knobler writes about the impending, probable trade of David Price. With two years under control after this year – and a very expensive extension looming – Knobler figures now is the time to maximize Price’s value. Price, 28, has bounced back from a terrible start to the year, and then a short-term arm injury, and he’s actually posted the best FIP of his career (3.05, tied with last year). His velocity is down a couple MPH, though, and the first sign an arm injury – any arm injury – makes you a little nervous about trading a huge cache of prospects for the privilege of paying him huge, long-term money. If he’s shopped, it’ll be interesting to see how involved the Cubs become. They’ve obviously got the pieces to land Price if they want to make it happen, and the Cubs make as much sense for Price as almost any other team, given the five-to-seven-year window for which he would theoretically be acquired.
- Another successful Cuban pitcher has defected from the island. Raicel Iglesias is a smaller 23-year-old righty who can throw in the mid-90s and put up solid numbers in Cuba. Because he’s 23, he would not be subject to any signing restrictions, but he’s thought to be more of a prospect than a step-right-in kind of guy. Sounds like a player in whom the Cubs would have interest, depending on what the scouts are saying.
- … but defection stories like Iglesias’s could be a thing of the past, if a move by Cuba to professionalize baseball pushes things in the direction it could. Cuba is going to let its players compete in foreign leagues and make money in the process, so long as they are available to play on the national team and in the primary Cuban league (starts in November). It’s not clear if this means players could simply up and sign with MLB teams (subject to the U.S. unblocking process), but it kind of seems like that could be the way things are going. That way, Cuba could make money off of its top players earning huge contracts in the U.S. (by taking taxes), rather than just see them defect and leave forever. How that would work, given the U.S. ban on doing business with Cuba, however, is also unclear. This is a bit complicated.