The last day and a half has been really crazy, not only here at the site (12 posts yesterday, 4 posts already this morning), but also while dealing with some family stuff – half of what I wrote yesterday was typed feverishly in the car while The Wife and I made a couple long drives. To that end, I hope that everything I wrote made sense, and I’m sorry if the analysis wasn’t quite as deep as it usually (hopefully?) is.
All that said, given the craziness and the volume of stuff coming your way today, I don’t think there are going to be Bullets this morning. Maybe consider this early-morning Lukewarm Stove your Bullets for the day, and assume that I led them off with something about Amazon being awesome and you shopping at Amazon via this link to support BN while you shop.
- Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs have already had conversations with the agents for Jon Lester (whom the Red Sox may yet get) and Jason Hammel, about which I’ll have much more later in a separate, dedicated post. But, given the importance of the item, I wanted to get it in front of you now. The Cubs’ interest in each pitcher has been widely known for a while now, and the early meeting makes you wonder if Lester is indeed the Cubs’ top front-of-the-rotation target, and if Hammel is the Cubs’ top second tier option (the Cubs have said that, ideally, they’d land one of each group this offseason). Levine’s report also notes that the Cubs have been starting the wooing process with free agents by sending them a video package touting what’s coming. I have seen those types of videos, and the Cubs actually do them quite well.
- Torii Hunter and the Cubs has popped back up as a thing this week. Previously, we discussed the Cubs’ possible interest in Hunter as a complementary outfielder/veteran presence, and the short version of the conclusion was: even at 39, the bat will still play nicely. The question, however, is whether the corner outfield defense is going to hurt you more than the bat helps. Now, the Cubs have expressed interest in Hunter, per Ken Rosenthal. But they are just one of a great many teams interested in Hunter at this early stage. It still seems to me that an AL team that can occasionally use Hunter at DH would value him more highly than a Cubs team that would be using him more in a fourth outfielder role, and the offers he’d see would reflect that. I’d rather see the Cubs add a starting-caliber bat (which would also necessarily help the 4th/5th outfielder situation), and, absent that, I’d rather they looked at a less expensive complementary/veteran type like Jonny Gomes or Chris Denorfia.
- Ken Rosenthal looks at 10 possible trade candidates this offseason, concluding with Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard, who came up more than once last offseason. If the Cubs did look to add a late-inning arm to the mix and didn’t want to commit long-term in free agency, Clippard could be an interesting acquisition. His expected price tag in arbitration – it could exceed $8 million – is significant and could limit the trade return, and the guy was fan-freaking-tastic last year. I don’t think I’d say the Cubs targeting him is likely, but, if other pieces are added throughout the offseason and a top late-inning arm looks like the final piece … then maybe you think about it. Bonus: if Clippard came over and pitched as well as he did last year, not only would the Cubs get some great high-leverage performance in 2015, they’d also get the opportunity to make Clippard a qualifying offer after the season and possibly recoup a draft pick (something I’ve suggested the Cubs should probably try to pull off next year with someone).
- Joel Sherman writes that the Yankees may have interest in taking Elvis Andrus off of the Rangers’ hands (his OMGLOL eight-year, $120 million extension (with opt outs) doesn’t even start until 2015), which the Rangers would probably leap at, given the 26-year-old’s cratering performance the last two years. If something happens there, then any lingering question you might have had about the Rangers leaping back into the high-end of the free agent market would cease.
- Jon Heyman writes about the Braves’ outfield situation, and the possibility they could trade one of Jason Heyward or Justin Upton (le sigh, the Cubs are on Upton’s no-trade list), and also notes that executives have said the Cubs would have no reason to want to swap Edwin Jackson’s contract for B.J. Upton’s (worse) contract. Agreed. The Cubs would need more for it to make any sense.
- Jerry Crasnick asks executives eight offseason questions, and the results are highly interesting. Jon Lester was selected over Max Scherzer to provide the most value on his next deal (thanks to being left, having a more fluid (i.e., less risky) delivery, and a more diverse repertoire (might age better)). Each of Starlin Castro and Cole Hamels are thought by many executives to be on the move this offseason (ignore the line at the end of that section about the two being traded for each other and Castro not being enough for Hamels – that kind of trade won’t happen, and also, Castro has far, far more surplus value right now than Hamels). Most of the executives asked see Russell Martin winding up with the Cubs.
- At least one rival exec believes the Phillies really will blow themselves up this offseason (Jim Salisbury).
- Ken Rosenthal says the Astros are looking for help on the left side of the infield, and they might prefer a short-term option. I heart Luis Valbuena too much to say it out loud, but the Astros do have a very deep, attractive farm system.
- More from Rosenthal: he just reported that the Padres had the high posting bid for Korean lefty Kwang-Hyun Kim at just $2 million. That would seem to confirm what our early sense was (i.e., that he might not make it in the big leagues at all), and, at that price, Kim’s team may not even accept the bid.