Saturday Lukewarm Stove time, my friends. How’s your cocoa? Good?
- I share this because, like, yeah yeah hooray Cubs buzz buzz buzz, but I think you should keep your wits about you about the realities of punditry:
"I think the Cubs will be in on Bryce Harper. … I could see him well over $30 million a year."
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) December 8, 2018
I just heard @Plesac19 predict on “Inside The Clubhouse” @670TheScore that the Cubs would sign Bryce Harper. Said it would come down to Cubs, Phillies. Bold prediction from respected, plugged-in MLB Net guy. I’d be stunned though if he’s right. Great interview.
— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) December 8, 2018
- Sure, it’s possible that Dan Plesac has inside knowledge of the Cubs’ pursuit of Harper that is currently unknown to anyone outside of the inner-inner circle, but it’s also possible – probably more possible – that he’s taking a stab at nailing an unlikely outcome. Not a bad strategy for a pundit, because there’s nothing to lose. Moreover, it gives people something to talk about, and he might really think the fit is just right, and the Cubs are playing possum in the hopes of getting Harper on a shorter-term, higher-AAV deal (which was Plesac’s guess). Never say never when it comes to the increasingly creative contracts of this era (how about massive salaries up front, multiple early opt-outs, very low salaries down the road, and a much-lower-than-expected total guarantee?).
- To be sure, there was a good long while when predicting Harper to the Cubs was not the exclusive province of Cubs-affected homers, it was just sensible. Now? Given what we believe to be the realities of the budget situation for the Cubs, I think the best you can do is Harper to the Cubs is “conceivable, but only after the right series of unlikely moves.”
- Similarly, there was a time when I would have pegged the Cubs as one of the Mystery Teams here, but now I have considerable doubt:
It’s not just the #Phillies, #WhiteSox and #Yankees that have interest in Manny Machado. One rival executive hears at least three other teams are in the mix and will meet with Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, at the winter meetings.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 8, 2018
- If the Cubs were to find a taker for Addison Russell *AND* a taker for a healthy chunk of a big contract (Jason Heyward or at least Tyler Chatwood), then maybe they’d talk to Machado, for obvious reasons. But if the Cubs have been playing possum on Harper, then they’ve been playing MEGA POSSUM on Machado. I don’t see anything here, and I am sticking with my long-held expectation that Machado is in Yankee pinstripes come April.
- Speaking of the big boys, Jeff Passan points out that it’s kinda crazy it’s taken this long to break Alex Rodriguez’s free agent record:
The largest free agent contract ever: A-Rod in 2007. The second: A-Rod in 2000. Since then, inflation-adjusted revenues have doubled. Player salaries haven’t.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2018
- The particulars of the Padres’ Garrett Richards signing – remember, he’s out next year while recovering from Tommy John surgery, so the Padres have in essence given him a one-year, $15.5 million contract with bonuses:
Garrett Richards: 7M in 2019, 8.5M in 2020. 250K each of 21-30 GS. #padres
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 8, 2018
- What’s interesting is that a healthy Richards is worth so much more on a one-year deal. But since you don’t know that you’ll get the best version of him in his first year back after surgery, the rate is discounted appropriately. I just think it’s a good risk by both sides here, with the valuation looking right.
- Maybe I’m just too cynical, but I feel like you could do this every single offseason as an explanation for slow activity, given that the very nature of high-end free agent bidding is that the contracts will – at best! – stink at the back end:
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 8, 2018
- Obviously the risk is that they’ll stink at the front end, too. Oh, by the way, I don’t buy that Yu Darvish’s deal is already a terrible one. That is to say, yes, I think I would agree that the Cubs would un-do it right now if they could, but I also think it’s entirely possible that Darvish comes back healthy and strong in 2019, and going forward, it’s an acceptable contract.