Free agency is officially here in full, but you shouldn’t expect significant movement just yet. Each year, there are some signings in early November, but typically, you don’t see anything happen until after the deadline to accept/reject qualifying offers (next Monday), and you don’t see a huge burst of signing activity until the end of November and into December.
But with the GM Meetings next week, and the necessary lead-up of talks in advance of actually signing, the first few weeks of November are always a rumor bonanza. (Which you’ve probably already noticed over the past week around here.)
That means, in addition to specific bits on guys like Russell Martin and Brett Anderson and David Robertson today, as well as a market-impacting report on the Yankees, I’ve also gotta dump a Lukewarm Stove on you …
- Speaking of those qualifying offers, by the way, Ken Rosenthal says that Pablo Sandoval has already rejected his from the Giants. Usually you don’t see the rejection come that quickly, but it could mean he’s already getting intense, “sign quickly” interest on the free agent market. I would find that surprising, not because Sandoval isn’t an attractive player, but because you’d expect to see a guy like him let the market develop a bit. Perhaps, though, because of the very weak offensive market this year, teams are trying to jump and land one of the biggest bats out there as quickly as possible to dictate the rest of their offseason. Your rooting interest here, by the way, is probably for the Red Sox (a rumored suitor) to to get Sandoval on an enormous contract. They’ve got a lot of money, but a huge commitment to Panda could conceivably reduce their stomach to spend huge on a pitcher.
- As we consider possible outfield trade targets for the Cubs (Jason Heyward or Justin Upton? Denard Span?), there’s a chance that the Royals could consider shopping left fielder Alex Gordon. The 30-year-old Gold Glover is among the best overall corner outfielders in baseball, and will make $14 million in 2015 (after some incentive escalators kicked in), with a $14 million player option in 2016. Yes, he’s a highly attractive player. That said, I’m fairly skeptical that the Royals would seriously entertain trading away one of their most important players at this stage, and, if they did, the demands would be steep. Given that it’s effectively just one year of control at $14 million, I’m not sure steep demands would actually be warranted, though – which tends to be the setup for a deal to be impossible. I guess we’ll keep an eye on it, because I really do think a short-term outfield acquisition makes a lot of sense for the Cubs. But I really doubt Gordon emerges as a serious trade candidate in the coming weeks.
- Baseball Prospectus joined the free agent ranking/prediction game, albeit with a little bit of a fun tone. The Cubs are projected to get Jon Lester and Jake Peavy, but that’s it.
- Jeff Passan offers up Yahoo’s REALLY comprehensive free agent rankings list … 165 players deep. There aren’t predictions, but it’s a really fun read if only to remember just how many interesting guys show up way down on these lists.
- Hardball Talk ranks the top 150, so clearly they are not as committed as Yahoo.
- One take on Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda, if he winds up being posted:
Trey Hillman tells us if Japanese Pitcher Kenta Maeda posts this year, he evaluates him as a #4 or #5 starter
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) October 28, 2014
- Nick Cafardo again mentioned last week that the Cubs are “expected” to pursue not only Jon Lester but also Max Scherzer (not that he’s saying they would try to get both (which is nuts), but that the Cubs might be considering Scherzer as an alternative). I’m of the mind that the Cubs might as well preserve an interest in Scherzer, even if they think the contract will ultimately be out of their reasonable range, and even if they prefer Lester. You’ve got to give yourself options in negotiations.
- The Angels have reportedly signed a Cuban prospect for $8 million (which, with overage tax will cost them nearly $14 million), which puts them into the group of teams who have blown their budget and will be prohibited from signing a player for more than $300,000 over the next two years (Yankees, Red Sox, Rays). I don’t think many folks even had this particular player on their radar, but clearly teams in baseball did.
- Speaking of the Cuban market, Ben Badler has the latest on some of the biggest names out there.
- There are Miguel Montero rumors out there, and I’ll be writing about them soon, but, in the interim, you can read about the Diamondbacks catcher as a trade candidate here. I’ve very thinly mentioned the possibility here and here, but, no worries, I’ll soon give it a much deeper look.