We woke up this morning to some news that “everybody” seems to think the Cubs will be the last ones standing when free agent starter Yu Darvish makes his choice, but the tides of the offseason can change rapidly.
Er, well, actually … glacially? To glaciers have tides?
Anyway, let’s check back in on the stove and see what else is going on …
- If things don’t work out on Darvish (with any team, for that matter, not just the Cubs), Jake Arrieta is the obvious (only?) alternative in that top tier. He, of course is reportedly looking for as much if not more than Darvish in terms of dollars and years, so he won’t come cheap. HOWEVER, maybe his new team won’t have to go to such lengths, after all …
If Jake Arrieta ever gets to point where he defers pursuit of long-term deal in this slow market, there are teams very interested in discussing high-salary short-term deal with him.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 9, 2018
- I doubt this’ll happen, though, for a couple reasons. First, I think at the end of the day, Arrieta will take the extra job security of a four or five-year deal (of which I’m sure there’s at least one out there) over the higher AAV of a pricier, short-term deal. Second, I think the “priciness” of a short-term deal Arrieta would actually accept will be sufficiently high to ward off any potential buyers (think $30+M in AAV) – and that goes double, given that a $30M hit in luxury tax space hurts more now than ever before. Instead, my guess is that he ends up with a team like the Phillies (plenty of money to spend, are just about to turn the corner) than anyone else. But we’ll have to wait and see.
- [Brett: Maybe a creative option will have Arrieta get a long-term deal with a reasonable AAV, but with an opt-out that comes after the first year – a year in which his actual paid-out salary will be significant. That way, he collects a large amount for 2018 no matter what, and if everyone feels like next year’s market will be more wide open, he can opt out and get a better deal. If not, or if he gets hurt or is terrible, at least he locked down a long-term deal while he had the chance.]
- Bob Nightengale is predicting that former Rockies closer Greg Holland will ultimately fall right into the Cardinals’ lap for cheap this winter, because they need a closer and no one else out there is looking. And by cheap Nightengale predicts he gets less than the 3/$52M Wade Davis got from the Rockies (and my guess is that it’ll be a lot less than that), which would really sting for Holland, given that he reportedly turned down that deal before the Rockies offered it to Davis. I’ve pretty much expected the Cardinals to wind up with Holland all winter, for many of the same reasons, but I was at least hoping they’d have to pay handsomely for it. Now, it seems like they might get him on a great, affordable, short-term deal. Wonderful.
- At the same time, we had to be expecting an offseason like this at some point right? Let’s say the Cardinals get Holland, and add him to the addition of Luke Gregerson and Marcell Ozuna, while the Brewers get Alex Cobb, and add him to the additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. That’s one significant trade and two significant signings for each of the Cubs’ primary 2018 competitors, which sucks, right? Well, yes, but I think the Cubs’ own additions are flying off the radar given the unusual length of the offseason. Perhaps they haven’t acquired anyone with the fame of a Yelich, Ozuna, Holland, or Cobb (yet), but they still might add a big starter, and they did go out and get two quality bullpen pieces (Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek) and a young rotation-mate with upside (Tyler Chatwood). All things considered, the Cubs are still the class of the NL Central, and would be even if they didn’t add another arm before the start of the season.
- Of course, the Brewers don’t have to stop at signing someone like Alex Cobb. They could steal a page out of the Twins’ recently rumored hand book and try to add two starters before the start of the season. Instead of paying for both arms in free agency, though, they might look to use their outfield glut to pull off the trade everyone’s been waiting for since the night they signed Cain and traded for Yelich. Robert Murray writes that the Giants and Indians have both shown interest in Brewers outfielder Domingo Santana, and both theoretically have pitchers they could spare. But, apparently, it’s Brett Phillips that most teams covet, and the Brewers are prepared to remain patient before doing something hasty.
- Speaking of Cobb for a moment, Matt Trueblood has an extensive writeup on Cobb’s horrible PECOTA projection, and digs on just why the system is so pessimistic. The upshot? It’s not entirely dissimilar to what we’ve noted about Cobb’s scary peripherals in 2017, but the system – and Trueblood – get in there a bit more granularly to note the particular impact of Cobb’s loss of his split-finger changeup. It entirely changes what he can and cannot be going forward, so signing him to a big deal is necessarily a bet that he’ll get the feel for the pitch back next year. If he does, you could have a front-of-the-rotation type on a steal of a deal. If he does not, you’re going to be lucky to have a solid innings-eater (because the PECOTA similar pitchers through age 30 is a who’s who of guys who were really good but often kinda injured, signed huge deals around 30, and then fell apart).
- J.D. Martinez continues to linger in no-man’s land between the reported 5/$110-125M deal with the Red Sox, and the potential for a one-year (or short-term/opt-out) deal with the Diamondbacks, who remain in play, according to Nick Piecoro (AZ Central). Some potential issues with Martinez heading back to the D-Backs on a long-term deal? Their payroll is currently about $15M more than it was last season, and Martinez is probably going to cost at least $20-$25M per year. Moreover, A.J. Pollock is a free agent after the 2018 season, and Paul Goldschmidt is a free agent after the 2019 season. And finally, they play in the National League where there is no DH available for Martinez, whose defense is already a concern.
- Despite all of that, Jon Heyman says that the D-Backs may have already offered Martinez a five-year deal worth over $100 million. Unfortunately, they’re now involved in the same kind of stare down in which the Red Sox have found themselves. And if Martinez’s early asking price is still on the table in his own mind (reportedly seven years and $30M in AAV (heh)), then he’ll probably remain a free agent for a good while longer.
- Perhaps that’s why the Red Sox are beginning to look for alternatives …
Red Sox and Logan Morrison's camp have been in touch recently. Sox still want Martinez, but there is groundwork for alternatives
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 9, 2018
- Of course, Logan Morrison has plans of his own:
A couple of #MLB execs think Logan Morrison, a Kansas City native, has his eye on the #Royals as a landing spot if Eric Hosmer doesn't return. Hunter Dozier currently tops the 1B depth chart in K.C. Lomo and Lucas Duda are among the bats still available in painfully slow market.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) February 9, 2018
- Basically, the assumption here is that Eric Hosmer winds up with the Padres, Logan Morrison winds up in Kansas City, and J.D. Martinez ends up in Boston. There’s also Mike Moustakas, but the Royals have previously made it clear that Hosmer is the clear preference if they can retain only one of their two outgoing positional stars.
- I had some fun on Twitter, making some guesses of the remaining free agents. What do you think? Look right?
Free Agent Predictions:
Darvish – Cubs
Cobb – Brewers
Arrieta – Phillies
Holland – Cardinals
Martinez – Red Sox
Hosmer – Royals
Padres (Hosmer), D-backs (Martinez), Twins (Darvish/Cobb) all miss out. It might take some time, but this is how I see it eventually playing out.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 9, 2018
- According to Jesse Sanchez (MLB.com), the Rays have agreed to terms on a one-year, Major League deal with right-handed reliever Sergio Romo. I don’t necessarily think that Romo, himself, will have much of a market impact, but it’s *possible* that the Rays are preparing to finally trade closer Alex Colome. If that’s true, the Cardinals feel like a potential landing spot – they’ve been connected to him all winter and still need closer help – but I suppose a trade is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Keep an eye on this though, given the uptick in Rays chatter later, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Colome or Jake Odorizzi moved sometime soon.
- And finally, Jon Heyman writes that Jon Jay might be in play for the Marlins, who need cheap outfield help after shipping off Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. Jay is from Miami, went to the University of Miami, and has a mom who teaches elementary school in Miami. Miami.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.