Now that J.D. Martinez (five years/$110M), Eric Hosmer (eight years/$144M), and Yu Darvish (6 years/$126M) – three of the offseason’s biggest free agents – have signed, we’re seeing a lot more action trickle out around the rest of the league.
But before we get into any of that, let’s start with the one remaining unsigned big-time free agent out there, Jake Arrieta.
- At NBC Sports Chicago, Jim Salisbury writes about the Phillies’ present desire and ability to sign Arrieta, to whom they have recently been connected … under one condition: “It is believed the Phillies would be willing to sign Arrieta, who turns 32 in March, to a two- or three-year contract, at a significant salary and possibly with some creative structure such as an out after one year.” Uh, yeah, well that’s sorta the problem though, isn’t it? Plenty of teams would be willing to sign Jake Arrieta to a two or three-year deal. He wants much more than that, and that’s why we’re still discussing this during Spring Training in the first place. And as for the “opt-out,” kicker … that’s not going to do much for Arrieta if the deal is only for two years anyway – or, at least, it won’t do as much as it might for a player on a longer-term deal. At that point, you’re talking about a one-year contract, with a one-year player option. Sure, Arrieta is going to have to be realistic, but that seems silly.
- I still think the Phillies have a good shot at being the final landing spot for Arrieta, but my guess is he gets at least four or five years and $100 million. I just can’t see him or Scott Boras settling for anything less, given that they were basically asking for DOUBLE that at the outset of the offseason. But hey, at least the Phillies have some interest and are clearly willing to make a move:
Phillies owner John Middleton told me theyre “very” active trying to add starting pitcher
“Were having talks every single day with different people. We would not be out talking to people if we didnt think we could get that (contend) with an extra push. I’d love to do something” pic.twitter.com/OzqGBkoPfw
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) February 20, 2018
- In the end, I’m guessing Arrieta will probably have to settle for one of those creative contracts with multiple opt-outs and incentives baked into the mix – Brett discussed this trend recently. Arrieta’s not likely to land the sort of guarantee he was looking for at the beginning of the winter, but I bet he/Boras will secure a *chance* at earning the big bucks with sufficiently superb play. Separately, Salisbury also mentions the Nationals and Cardinals as potential suitors, but mostly in a broader sense.
- A reminder: if and when Arrieta signs a new contract, the Cubs pick up an additional draft pick after the second round.
- As for some of that increased movement today, here’s some of the hits:
cameron maybin gets $3.25M plus performance bonuses on #marlins deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 21, 2018
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 21, 2018
Per source, OF Colby Rasmus has a deal with the Orioles.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 21, 2018
Sources: Outfielder Carlos Gomez has agreed to a one-year deal with the Rays.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 21, 2018
- In addition to the four moves above, the Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired outfielder Bryce Brentz from the Red Sox. Brentz, still just 29, is a former first-rounder who never quite made it, but will now give it a shot in a different organization. Given that the Red Sox just landed J.D. Martinez, though, the outfield picture needed to be cleared up a bit. Just don’t expect it to extend much further into the big-league picture:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 20, 2018
- Throughout the offseason, people speculated that the Red Sox would trade Jackie Bradley Jr. upon signing J.D. Martinez, given their crowded outfield picture. And while that move might’ve made sense once upon a time, I’m guessing the late-game signing of Martinez (and the attendant uncertainty) didn’t leave much time to execute a trade with a maximum range of partners. J.D. Martinez is probably a future DH anyway, so I don’t think the Red Sox will be too upset to keep their outfielders around for now.
- The Rays have made a ton of … rebuilding-type moves this winter, trading Evan Longoria to the Giants and Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, before DFA-ing Corey Dickerson over the weekend, but they’re not done yet. Last night, they sent “team-MVP” Steven Souza Jr. to the Diamondbacks as part of a three-team deal that returned only prospects. Aware of the team’s current perception, Rays GM Erik Neander made the interesting choice to classify the Souza deal as a “pure baseball decision,” unlike the Dickerson DFA or Odorizzi trade … which were, what? Financial decisions? That’s a pretty rough look, if you ask me.
- In any case, the important takeaway here is that, despite the many goodbyes, starter Chris Archer and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier are both expected to remain in Tampa Bay for the time being. Pending some team options, Archer is still under control through 2021 and Kiermaier through 2023, so there’s really no rush to trade either right now. But don’t worry. Neither will finish their contracts in Tampa, because some decisions are not purely about baseball.
- One day after MLB cleared big-time Cuban outfield prospect Julio Pablo Martinez to sign as a free agent, the Texas Rangers traded for $350K extra bonus pool money. And on top of that, their main guy overseeing international scouting is mysteriously missing from camp.
Rangers acquire more international slot money from Reds, Julio Pablo Martinez cleared by MLB to sign, Mike Daly (Rangers int'l honcho) not in camp. Put all that together.
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) February 21, 2018
- I’d say the writing is on the wall, yes? I’d also say … dang. It was always a long shot that Martinez wouldn’t be cleared to sign by MLB until next period (when the Cubs could sign him for more than the $300K they’re limited to right now), but I was hoping that there was still a chance. Instead, it seems as though he’ll probably wind up in Texas. Gotta use that Ohtani money somewhere.
- The Cubs did make some under-the-radar international signings lately, though, including free agent left-hander Johan Lopez (19 years old), outfielder Josue Fernandez (17-years-old), right-hander Raidel Orta (21 years old and former top 20ish prospect in Cuba), and outfielder Kevin Moreno (17-years-old). Because these players are so young, from other countries, and weren’t previously-discussed as top international prospects, there’s not a ton of information out there on any of them, besides Orta, who, as I mentioned, was previously considered one of the top Cuban prospects.
- And finally, after adding Odorizzi from the Rays, Jon Heyman adds a little context to the Twins additions and offers earlier in the year:
Twins have done nice job, quietly adding six pitches and rebuilding their pen. They still have a bit of “flexibility” since darvish turned down their 5-year, 100M offer.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 20, 2018
- Could they, too, still be in on Arrieta?