A Lukewarm Stove in March? Sure, why not …
- After all, there are still a ton of free agents available, and many rumors seem to suggest that their signings will ultimately impact the NL Central race – specifically, if one of Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, or Greg Holland wind up on the Cardinals or Brewers. But to that end, Arrieta’s options remain open:
The Washington #Nats remain engaged with Jake Arrieta and continue to monitor market as he remains top prize.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 28, 2018
- Now that the Cubs and (probably) Twins are out of the running for Arrieta, the Brewers, Cardinals, and Nationals seem like the most logical landing spots. The Nationals don’t really have the *need* for Arrieta, their rotation is fairly loaded at this point, but Scott Boras has a good relationship with the Nats ownership, and given the impending free agencies of Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and Gio Gonzalez, the return of Adam Eaton, and the continued aging of Max Scherzer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them push everything in for this season.
- From a Cubs perspective, I can’t quite decide if I’d rather Arrieta go to the Nationals, a team the Cubs are perfectly likely to meet in the postseason (where Arrieta seems to thrive), or a team like the Brewers/Cardinals who might just be able to prevent the Cubs from winning the division. I think I’m leaning towards the Nationals, but facing Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jake Arrieta, and Gio Gonzalez in four straight games is … woof.
- Of course, those three teams are not the *only* ones plausibly interested in signing Arrieta:
Sources: #Phillies have had contact with free agent Lance Lynn’s camp in recent weeks, although the sides are not close to a deal. The Phillies also have ongoing dialogue with Jake Arrieta, as @JonHeyman has reported. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 1, 2018
- The Phillies have long seemed like a reasonable landing spot for Arrieta, the way the Cubs were for Jon Lester back in 2015 (a rebuilding team with plenty of money, ready to turn the corner with their first *big* free agent signing). Lance Lynn remains the cheaper option, but he’s a clear downgrade from Arrieta at this point in their careers. And if both of these guys are on the Phillies’ radar, then you have to assume Alex Cobb is, too. For what it’s worth, Morosi later indicated that the Phillies have “entertained the possibility of signing two of the remaining free agent starters. Apparently, it’s not necessarily likely to occur, but the money wouldn’t be an issue.
- If I were the Phillies, though, and I really believed the rebuild was coming to an end, this might be a once-in-a-rebuild opportunity to get two quality pitchers on the sort of team-friendly deals we might not see again for a long time. It’s a really bold move (and one that would probably be the best outcome for the Cubs), so I hope they go for it.
- Is anyone else open to signing some of these guys? Well, the Angels sound like a maybe?
Wondering if the #Angels are involved with any remaining free agents? GM Billy Eppler, this morning: "We feel very good about the group we have here. We are not looking to pursue anything. We are open minded to things that come around."
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) February 28, 2018
- It’s not immediately clear if they mean any of these starters, but I think their six-man rotation should have some space for an upgrade. And with Mike Trout/Shohei Ohtani kicking off their new three-year competitive era (before Trout becomes a free agent), now wouldn’t be a bad time to spend like crazy.
- The Twins also have an open, competitive window, and also seem like a “maybe” to take advantage of what’s left on the market:
Falvey says there's a "high likelihood this is the group here."
chance of further additions seems remote.
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) February 28, 2018
- Your reminder: when Arrieta signs, the Cubs get a draft pick after the second round. Please and thanks.
- Circling back around to the NL Central, the Brewers current rotation is led by Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and Jhoulys Chacin, with Brent Suter, Junior Guerra, Brandon Woodruff, Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley, and Aaron Wilkerson fighting for the final two spots until Jimmy Nelson returns. But clearly, even if/when Nelson returns (more on this in a second), the Brewers have room to add to the rotation. And that’s why, despite what they may say, I feel as though one of those big three remaining starters (Arrieta, Lynn, Cobb) will wind up in Milwaukee.
- On Nelson, the Brewers may have gotten a little less optimistic. What was previously being reported as a mid-to-late-June return from shoulder surgery, is now being called a possibility “somewhere around the All-Star break in mid-July.” If Nelson isn’t able to return until mid-July and *then* needs a ramp-up period to get back to his usual self, the Brewers might not be able to count on much more than 8-10 quality starts from the best pitcher on their staff (assuming he comes back as good as he was last year). That may make them more likely to add another starter to the mix … or maybe they decide to hope for some luck this season before really stepping on the gas in 2019.
- All of this, of course, is assuming the Brewers won’t be able to complete a trade for a pitcher using one of their outfielders. Even with Ryan Braun moving to first base, the Brewers have Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Domingo Santana, Brett Phillips, and Keon Broxton on the roster, plus Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar, who are … also going to play first base? Are going to play frighteningly in the outfield? If the Brewers can pull off a trade for a starter using their outfield talent, that would be ideal (for them), if not … I really don’t think they’ll be maximizing the talent on that roster. Manager Craig Counsell seems to think they’ll be able to get everyone enough chances, but I don’t really see it.
- At Baseball America, J.J. Cooper writes about how each new Collective Bargaining Agreement has limited the options for where teams receiving revenue-sharing money can spend that money (it’s getting closer to Major League free agency or bust). Before, teams would use that money internationally or in the draft, but those avenues have been limited by hard-caps and bonus pools. To be sure, that was the point – the Players Association want teams to be actively improving their MLB on-field talent, and owners love spending limitations – but I can understand the frustration of teams that would want to spend that revenue-sharing money elsewhere to improve their organization. As it stands, they will have to spend more on the big league roster, lest they face grievances like the one the MLBPA has filed against the Rays, Pirates, Marlins, and A’s.