School was hard again today, because none of the coolest free agents want to play with my favorite team. Mom says not to worry, because they don’t want to play with *anybody’s* team, but I think she’s just trying to be nice. And worse, I’m worried that all my friends will start getting annoyed, too, because I keep telling them about all these rumors people have heard and, so far, none of them have come true (no one likes a gossip)! I did change the name of the “Lukewarm Stove” to the “Freezing Cold Busted Stove,” and even wrote a weird intro to distract them from the boredom. So we’ll see if that works. Talk soon. I love you.
- At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal discusses the unbelievably, mind-bogglingly slow free agent market and discusses in a nuanced way if collusion among the teams/owners is at play. It wouldn’t be without precedent, as the owners paid the players $280M in 1990 and $12M in 2006 to stave off similar accusations and the word was apparently brought up in 2010 as well, but without consequence. Ultimately, Rosenthal believes, and has heard, that the players will eventually get their money and that collusion is not at play. Rather, he believes that GMs have begun to play for the “future” too much, sacrificing the present at every step of the way. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing (at least not for the Cubs, who can compete in the near-term with patience, and improve for the long-term), but it’s obviously creating issues.
- At ESPN, David Schoenfield tries to discern some reasons for the slog and questions whether this free agent class is actually bad (he says yes and does have some numbers to support it, but … it’s not THAT bad, right?). He also suggests that there are just a lot of Scott Boras-represented clients and they tend to wait longer than usual every year, which is an interesting angle. I could imagine some sort of tipping point where there is one (or two) too many Boras guys holding up multiple, smaller markets. Individually, this would be no big deal, but together they form a web of patience bringing everything to a halt. Other factors include the oft-discussed new CBA and the usual big spenders not spending, next year’s free agent class, “everybody is smarter now,” the many tanking teams, the robust trade market, fewer players hitting the market than usual, and the extreme talent of younger players taking over the game. Is it this thing or that thing or that thing or that thing? Well, the answer is probably just “yes.”
- Brett knows …
Ugggggghhhhhh WE KNOW, MAN!!!!! pic.twitter.com/u34q7p6lzQ
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 7, 2018
- In a later tweet, Brett wonders (and you won’t like this) if we might be in store for yet another slow week, because arbitration figures are due to be exchanged on Friday. With the ever-growing importance of cost control (because of the strengthened luxury tax penalties), teams could be working harder than usual to lock in extensions – thus, their focus could be directed elsewhere, and their ability to plan for big free agent signings could be impacted by those other in-house things going on this week.
- [Brett: And just to be 100% clear, I’m not saying it *WILL* be a slow week, because at some point, a team and/or free agent out there is going to say eff it, and get while the gettin’s good, which could set off a chain of events. But if things *ARE* slow this week, you better believe I’m going to hope to see an interesting extension or two!]
- According to Ken Rosenthal, the three teams most intent on adding starting pitching (via free agency or trade) this winter are the Astros, Cubs, and Twins. All three have been connected to Yu Darvish at one point or another, but I’m presuming they could all be in play for Alex Cobb or Jake Arrieta at this point, too. Rosenthal also writes that the White Sox, Braves, and Padres are the three teams in contact with the Marlins over Christian Yelich *who have the best farm system.* I can see Yelich making a ton of sense in any of those cities. If you check out Rosenthal’s notes (which you should), you might see that he reports some Nationals’ interest in Lance Lynn, but he later reported that they might not be as aggressive as he initially thought. Just FYI. It’s almost been easy to forget about Lynn.
- The Brewers are still looking to make moves this winter, focusing in on their rotation, bullpen, and opening at second base: “There are plenty of free agents out there, so we’re making sure we understand where the market is on those players. There’s also a lot of trade discussion. I do think at some point over the next month there will be a flurry of activity that will involve trades and signings.” I was going to make a snarky comment along the lines of “DUH – there’s only about a month until Spring Training anyway,” but then I thought about it and it turns out I’m happy he thinks there’ll be movement at least by then. That’s where we are right now.
- At the New York Post, Joel Sherman wonders whether the Yankees, with all of their bullpen might, would consider trading reliever David Robertson (1 year/$13M left) to a closer-needy team like the Cardinals. They’d likely receive a nice package, but also some additional luxury tax breathing room, which *could* bring them closer to some big time free agents. Sherman admits that he hasn’t heard anything of the nature, but I can see this making some sense if the Yankees want to go after someone like Darvish.
- On Friday, reports indicated that the Mets were talking to the Pirates about center fielder Andrew McCutchen, but apparently, that may have been a strategy to get second baseman Josh Harrison, the Mets true target, into the conversation. Unfortunately (for all of us craving ANYTHING at this point), no deal is close, because the Mets weak farm system is a bit of a roadblock. Le sigh.
- *teeth chatter*