Before we get into the rumors, did you get a chance to see the ridiculous list of remaining free agents from earlier today? There’s nearly 150 players out there still looking for a job and at least 100 of them are the types you’d expect to get guaranteed, full-on Major League deals. It’s absolutely crazy, and January figures to be very busy.
Okay, stove time …
- At CBS Chicago, Bruce Levine reiterates that the Cubs No. 1 priority at the moment is adding a starting pitcher, and Yu Darvish is still their top target. And to that end, it seems the Cubs’ interest in Arrieta is, at best, soft because of his reported contract demands. “The Cubs are well aware of what Arrieta is expecting in the way of an offer,” sources told Levine. “Six years and $160 million was said to be the beginning point in negotiations in November.”
- If Arrieta was starting with 6 years and $160M (a far cry from those 7 years and $200M rumors), I wonder where he’s at now. After all, a player’s “beginning point” often winds up well above the final deal anyway … and it’s almost January. When the dust settles, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arrieta is forced to take a five-year deal. I still don’t think the Cubs would get involved until his price tag drops considerably (at which point, plenty of teams might jump in anyway).
- Levine also adds that Alex Cobb is still searching for a four or five year deal, but adds further confirmation that the rumored $20M AAV is not part of his request. I think it’s fair to say that, despite our initial expectations, the Cubs are not strictly focused on Cobb at the moment. Beyond these three free agent starters, there are trade options out there, but those price tags are also quite high. The Cubs are in something of a position to sit back and target the guys they want, specifically, without feeling the urgency to fill multiple rotation spots. No, you wouldn’t want to head into the season with only the starters the Cubs have right now, but at least they’ve got a rotation if they absolutely had to. They can be patient.
- Speaking of hilariously high trade requirements, here’s a funny joke for you:
Machado for Almora Jr., Montgomery and Russell.
— Intentional Talk (@IntentionalTalk) December 27, 2017
- The Intentional Talk guys agree that this is a no brainer for the Orioles, but, in my opinion, it’s more of a no-brainer for the Cubs. As in, you’d have to have no brain to want this to happen. In fact, I can’t even begin to grasp how anyone believes one $17M season of Manny Machado is worth not one, not two, but THREE valuable Major League players, each with four or more years of control. I mean, even at the highest level, Albert Almora (1.1 WAR) Addison Russell (2.9 WAR) and Mike Montgomery (1.6 WAR) are projected to be worth about as much as Machado in 2018 anyway AND THEN you’d get a combined 10 years of cost control over the former three after 2018. Oh, and did I mention that Machado will cost $13M more than those three combined next season? And all of this goes without mentioning that Almora and Russell are Gold Glove caliber defenders with offensive upside and Montgomery could be a starter yesterday if the Cubs let him. It’s just not realistic.
- I can go on and on about this, including the fact that Russell and Almora are still just 23 years old (i.e. the age Kris Bryant was when he DEBUTED), or that Machado is unlikely to sign an extension, but I think you get the picture. I’d like Machado as much as the next guy, but this package is straight up bonkers, as Brett discussed last week when it first came up. It’s strange that it’s getting national attention like this, but I suppose that’s the nature of this offseason.
- Elsewhere, the Padres are gearing up to turn the corner:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 28, 2017
- I’m always in favor of rebuilding teams getting the guy they want when he’s available, but with a huge free agent class next winter and the Dodgers still looking dominant (let alone the Rockies’ current upswing, the Giants trying to get back on track, and the Diamondbacks coming off a playoff appearance), I’m just not sure if this deal makes much sense for the Padres. But, hey, they’ve done crazier things before, so I guess be prepared?
- As we await the Pirates and Yankees decision on a trade for starter Gerrit Cole, Rob Biertempfel (Pittsburgh Tribune Review) writes that Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison has garnered some interest from a handful of teams, including, at least, the Yankees, Mets, and Blue Jays. If the Pirates move Harrison and/or Cole, you can also expect them to move Andrew McCutchen (and vice versa), as a full-on rebuild might be in the cards. With the Cubs still looking strong, the Cardinals making a push, the Brewers (maybe) turning a corner, and the Pirates watching some contracts get close to their expiration date, now may be as good a time as ever.
- Speaking of the Brewers, Adam McCalvy (MLB.com), suggests that the Brewers may have added an intriguing lefty to their bullpen:
I heard the Boone Logan report was accurate and should be official soon after New Year’s. Besides that, it should be a very busy six weeks all around baseball. https://t.co/qTCrRKBVue
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) December 28, 2017
- Logan is an interesting arm – his 2017 season was limited to just 21.0 innings and his results were poor (4.71 ERA), but his peripherals were really fantastic (3.16 FIP). Overall, Logan had a 50% ground ball rate, a 30.8 K%, a 14.3 IFFB%, a tiny 26.9 FB%, and just a 28.3% hard-hit rate (I’m cherry-picking some of his best stuff, but you get the idea). As I mentioned, he did spend much last season on the DL with a strained left lat (which are rough injuries for pitchers to heal up quickly), but if he’s out there he could be very good for the Crew.