I think this offseason ice-out is getting to me …
Hello rumors, my old friends.
I've come to check on you again.
Because a vision softly creeping
That Yu Darvish is simply sleeping
And that vision that was planted in my brain
Within the stove … of silence. pic.twitter.com/xpp0mCFo90
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 1, 2018
- At FanRag, Jon Heyman drops notes on a number of different teams and players, and among the many interesting bits, Heyman writes that while the Cubs are still in the mix for Yu Darvish, their offer – as of today – might actually fall behind some of the other offers out there, including that of the Brewers. HOWEVER, you shouldn’t freak out about it. Why? Well, in short, we know (and Heyman echoes this sentiment) that the Cubs appear to be Darvish’s first choice among the realistic options (i.e., the Rangers and Dodgers are not realistic as of today), and they’re hoping that he might pick them for non-economic reasons. And if that’s the case, it makes plenty of sense to find out that the Cubs are hanging around, but just behind, the offers for the Brewers and Twins, right? It’s not like we’re at best-and-final territory yet (he says in February), so if it becomes absolutely necessary, the Cubs can step it up. Until then, why wouldn’t they hang behind Milwaukee? Especially with Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb still on the market, too?
- But speaking of Darvish/his market, Heyman also writes that while he may enjoy a return to L.A., the Dodgers don’t appear to be nearly as motivated to make it happen (citing, among many reasons, the World Series meltdown (your loss, dudes)). Combine that with the effort it would take to get far enough under the luxury tax threshold to sign Darvish, and I’m just not expecting this to happen.
- MOREOVER, Heyman says that the Twins “don’t look like a favorite” for Darvish anymore, and are instead more likely to add someone like Alex Cobb. And as it turns out, Rhett Bollinger (MLB.com) recently said something similar, but added Lance Lynn’s name alongside Cobb’s. Given their financial limitations, it’s not crazy to believe that they might fall into the next tier of starters as Darvish’s offers creep up. And if that’s all really the case (along with the news that the Dodgers aren’t too keen in getting him back), well, then, the Cubs’ EXTREME slow-play may be the right strategy, as painful as it might be for us in the peanut gallery.
- Related, if you missed it earlier: Darvish might also be slow-playing things, holding out for a deal up in the seven-year, $175 million range.
- The J.D. Martinez sweepstakes seems to be coming down to just the Diamondbacks and Red Sox. But instead of it being a showdown between GMs, Heyman believes that it might ultimately be up to which owner OKs the bigger deal. For what it’s worth, Heyman says that Martinez’s asking price is believed to be in the … $200 MILLION range(!). Which, that’s just … no (more on this in a second).
- Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer continues to search for an eight-year deal, even though the Padres are reportedly already at seven years (and possibly $140M+) and the Royals are though to be right up there, too.
- All of which brings me to a thought on the asking/offering price for so many of these free agents. Some things we’ve heard over the course of the offseason about the top free agents:
- Jake Arrieta wants a $200 million deal
- Yu Darvish is hoping for seven years and $175M
- J.D. Martinez wants $200 million
- Eric Hosmer wants eight years
- Alex Cobb is hoping for something close to $20M in AAV
- … and yet, the reported offers out there for these guys are generally much, much shorter and/or much, much lower, and that’s when we’ve heard about offers at all. Basically, despite it already being February, we have almost no sense of the *actual* market for these guys. We keep assuming teams are undercutting and players are over-asking, and yet, Lorenzo Cain got pretty much what was predicted, Wade Davis set a new AAV record for relievers, Zack Cozart and Jay Bruce got what was expected, and even Tyler Chatwood way outpaced his predicted market. That is all to say, do we even really know for sure yet that the players are holding out for outlandish deals? I’m not sure that we do, which really underscores how bizarre this year has been.
- At MLB.com, Anthony Castrovince makes six bold predictions for February, including Arrieta remaining unsigned at least until (and possibly through) Spring Training (I could see it), the Twins winding up with Darvish (sounds less likely than before), the Brewers trading for Patrick Corbin (sure, why not?), and more. If you can stomach some more speculation, it’s actually a really fun read.
- Earlier today, the Washington Nationals signed former Cubs catcher Miguel Montero to a minor league deal (he could earn upwards of $3 million if he makes the big league team and hits incentives):
Nationals have signed catcher Miguel Montero to minor league deal with invitation to MLB spring training. He’ll compete for backup job.
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) February 1, 2018
- But don’t think that necessarily takes the Nationals out of the running for catcher J.T. Realmuto. According to Heyman, they remain the favorites for the Marlins catcher, but there are some hurdles to clear first. First and foremost, the Nationals are still unwilling to part with either of their two top outfield prospects, Victor Robles and Juan Santo. And second, Matt Wieters handles the Nats’ big-time staff well and they aren’t itching to change that (yeah, okay, sure – you totally don’t want J.T. Realmuto instead …). The Marlins don’t have to trade Realmuto right now if they’d rather see how the market develops by midseason, or even on into next offseason. The Nationals would be far from the only bidder.
- Earlier, the Cubs signed outfielder Peter Bourjos to a minor league deal.
- For years, we’ve heard of the potential for a trade where one team ships out an overpriced player alongside a top prospect, so that they can move salary in the process. The reason it works, in theory, is because the second team is effectively buying that prospect for just money and is happy to pay the price (for one reason or another), and we have seen it before, albeit rarely (the Braves, for example, “bought” Touki Toussaint from the DBacks by taking Bronson Arroyo’s contract a couple years ago). Of course the new luxury tax threshold – effective for the first time this winter – could make these kinds of deals more commonplace, so Jeff Sullivan wonders if it’s finally time for that to happen … perhaps even with Matt Kemp and the Dodgers. It’s all very speculative, but something important to keep in mind as you circle those thoughts back to Darvish. Shouldn’t a rebuilding team with extra money to spend be willing to “buy” a prospect like this? And shouldn’t a big market team like the Dodgers be willing to “sell” a prospect if it means they can sign a starting pitcher without going over the luxury tax cap?
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.