Here we are, more than a week into January, and still so many of the top free agents – including the top two position players, the top closer, and the second best starter – remain available. Indeed, the only difference between this offseason and last is that in addition to the mind-numbingly slow trickle of transactions throughout the league, the Cubs are among the teams not spending at all, including for big ticket items they may otherwise want.
At least last winter’s ice-out resulted in three big free agent signings for the Cubs (even if they didn’t exactly work out in year one … ). Here’s the latest from the rumor mill.
- Manny Machado’s market has been moving a lot lately, but the direction is not entirely clear. The Phillies appear to prefer him to Bryce Harper, but also seem content to land either, the Yankees are inching closer to being out, and the White Sox continue to “try hard” on Manny Machado and have reportedly given themselves a “real chance.“
- That said … how can we square those reports with this one:
Regardless of Manny Machado”s final destination ,the White Sox offer will be close to $132 million more than any they have ever offered.Previous high, Jose Abreu $68 million- Paul Konerko $60 mil- Adam Dunn $56 mil. Albert Belle $55 mil. Dunn’s $14 mil AAV highest per season .
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 10, 2019
- If the Sox are hanging out in the $200M range for Machado, and that gives them a “real chance,” what the heck does that mean for the report last night that Machado still wants something north of $325M? And listen, I’m not dense: I know people put out reports in either direction to grab leverage and dictate the conversation, but a $125M difference is not even close. We’re missing something here, because that wide of a gap for someone with a “real chance” this late into the winter is just silly. [Brett: Also, if Machado could truly be had on a $200M deal, whatever man. I’d be screaming loudly for the Cubs to just suck it up and find a way to sign him, because that’s just a good freaking roll of the pricey dice.]
- According to MLB.com, substantive J.T. Realmuto trade talks are heating back up (it has been quiet of late), and the Braves, Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Rays, and Reds are considered front runners. Each of those teams were the rumored destinations earlier this winter, so it’s not surprising to see them all there. You have to imagine Yasmany Grandal’s deal might’ve kicked this market into gear. I wouldn’t be surprised if this thread finally found its end soon.
- More on Grandal’s deal with the Brewers:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 10, 2019
- Speaking of the Brewers, they’re not done:
Looks like the Brewers aren't done. Marwin Gonzalez, Jed Lowrie, Wilmer Flores, Josh Harrison are among the FAs who have played second and third base. Mike Moustakas said he was open to trying 2B last year after the Brewers traded for him, but it never happened. https://t.co/EZIbugrSP3
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 10, 2019
- According to Passan and McCalvy, the Brewers are looking to add to their infield and could use free agency to do so. Jed Lowrie is no longer available, but Marwin Gonzalez and D.J. LeMahieu are pretty attractive targets and given the way this market has played out, may not require long, expensive deals, either. LeMahieu still might be too pricey, though:
According to a source, the Brewers’ infield pursuit (as reported by @JeffPassan) is unlikely to result in Milwaukee signing 2B DJ LeMahieu. The Brewers had been interested in him, but the Yasmani Grandal signing may have pushed him out of their price range.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 10, 2019
- But even if they whiff on those free agents, there are still trade options out there, including now, it seems, Giants infielder Joe Panik.
- Sticking with that moving infield market for a second, I’d just like to point out that Brian Dozier’s one-year, $9M seems like another steal to me and also … the Nationals DEFERRED some of that contract. The Nationals are known for deferring money in their deals, but something this small or short-term? Brett took a look at some of the other deferred deals out there – like the Cardinals owing Matt Holliday $1.4M in 2029 – and it is a superbly fun read.
- A.J. Pollock continues to linger on the free agent market, but the Braves are reportedly in conversations with the 31-year-old center fielder. There was a time a few years ago that Pollock figured to be an extremely attractive free agent target, but injuries and underperformance have prevented him from re-capturing the magic of his 2015 season (6.8 WAR, 20 HRs, 39 stolen bases). He figures to be an above-average bat next season, but not so much so that you could count on him to make an enormous impact *offensively*.
- Good for the Mets:
— New York Mets (@Mets) January 10, 2019
- That’s a pretty darn good reliever being had on a minor league deal, even if he’s mostly at his best against lefties. If only the Cubs needed bullpen help against lefties … oh, yeah.
- The Cubs have acquired right-hander Shelby Miller from the Texas Rangers … wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, to the 2019 trade deadline: The Texas Rangers and Shelby Miller have come together on a one-year deal worth $2M plus another $3M in incentives. Like many before him, Miller will try to recapture the magic of a formerly-solid career beset by injuries. But hey, he’s only 28. It could happen.