Lukewarm Stove: Cano, Kershaw, Guerrero, McCann, Phillips, Choo, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Cano, Kershaw, Guerrero, McCann, Phillips, Choo, More

Chicago Cubs

stoveA day away from the World Series, and, thus, a series away from free agency …

  • Once again, the Cubs are attached to top free agent Robinson Cano, even as it makes very little sense. This time, it comes from Jon Heyman, who, in his defense, was coming up with a list of 10(!) possible suitors outside of the Yankees and Dodgers. Given those parameters, I won’t beat up on him for including the Cubs. That said, unless the Cubs have been playing the most aggressive form of hide-the-ball since the Angels signed Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson just a couple days after saying they had no cash, and unless the front office suddenly sees surplus value in a 30-year-old middle infielder who is going to command upwards of $200 to $250 million, there’s just no chance here. And that’s ignoring the fact that the infield is probably the one area the Cubs look likely to be able to fill admirably in-house within a year.
  • The Dodgers, by the way, were excluded from Heyman’s list not only because of pervasive and increasing whispers that they simply won’t go after him, but also because they finally finalized their Sam and Diane contract with Cuban defector Alexander Guerrero, who will be playing somewhere in the infield next year. Guerrero gets four years and $28 million, with free agency immediately thereafter. It’s a much better deal than the seven-year, $32 million he was originally reported to be receiving (before he dumped his agent in favor of Scott Boras – see, dude does work).
  • Speaking of the Dodgers and their suddenly spendthrift ways, they might be reserving some of that erstwhile Cano cash for Clayton Kershaw. Buster Olney reports that the Dodgers offered Kershaw a $300 million extension before the 2013 season, and it would have essentially amounted to a lifetime contract (Kershaw is 25 and will be a free agent after next season). The expectation is that the two sides will get something done this offseason, even if it isn’t quite that large (the biggest deal ever for a pitcher, depending on when you start counting an extension, is in the $175 million (Felix Hernandez) to $180 million (Justin Verlander) range). Kershaw is probably the best pitcher in baseball, and he’s just 25, but … $300 million for a pitcher is insane, and could not possibly end without some measure of regret. If I’m Kershaw, I make damn certain I get my huge money extension done this offseason, and I probably don’t mess around with trying to limit it to a five-year deal (so that I can hit free agency again at 30), either. He’s in a unique position to command an absurd contract of the kind he’d have difficulty duplicating in two segments. He could at worst try to ask for an opt-out after a few years, a la the contract provision the Dodgers (foolishly) gave Zack Greinke.
  • Despite their stated desire to keep their payroll figure under the $189 million luxury tax cap for 2014, Andrew Marchand reports that the Yankees still could go spend-crazy … if a bunch of dominos fall in their favor. As you peruse, let me remind you: contracts are valued at their average annual value for luxury tax purposes. Thus, the Yankees couldn’t do something crazy like pay Robinson Cano $1 in 2014, and then a crap-ton the following 9 years, in order to stay under the cap for next year. The entire contract is averaged out. That’s the Yankees’ problem for next year, not necessarily the actual amount they have available to spend next year. I doubt the Yankees are as quiet this year as they were last year, but a $300 million spending spree? I’m not sure I see it.
  • The Cubs are listed by Jon Heyman as a possible landing spot for Brian McCann … in a piece where a $100 million contract is hypothesized (though Heyman thinks he comes up short). If it’s six years and $100 million for McCann, the Cubs simply will not be involved. Even at five years, there’s likely too much risk to commit huge dollars to a catcher. Talk to me about four years … at which point a huge number of teams would be involved. And, at which point, I’m still wondering what the plan is for Welington Castillo, and why that $60-$70 million wouldn’t be better put to use elsewhere. (Also worth noting: McCann’s numbers and games played have been in steady decline since his peak year at age 24.)
  • The Cubs have been rumored to be in on a starting-caliber catcher this offseason, though, so those dots do connect. I still think that the guy will be Jarrod Saltalamacchia if the Cubs go after a starting-caliber catcher, and, even then, I still think he’s going to get too much money for it to make sense.
  • The Reds are very likely to shop Brandon Phillips this offseason, and, unless he’s coming at pennies on the dollar, I don’t see much value. He still plays excellent defense at second base, but he’s 32, his offensive numbers are in free fall, he’s owed $50 million over the next four years, and he openly rips his own management and bullies beat writers. The price would have to be obscenely low – as in, $10 million total in salary relief and no prospect of any consequence whatsoever – for me to even consider it. He’s probably “worth” more than that (and there’s no way the Reds would do it), but not to me.
  • The Astros are in the mix for Shin-Soo Choo? Ok, then.
  • The Cubs were not mentioned (so far) as one of the suitors for Cuban pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.