Lukewarm Stove: Controllable Starters, Archer, Gray, Colome, Heyward, Hill, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Controllable Starters, Archer, Gray, Colome, Heyward, Hill, More

Chicago Cubs

old stove featureGotta check in on that rumor mill before the week is over, what with the Astros getting busy, another pitcher signing, and today’s roster deadline

  • Buster Olney hears that the Rays are *expected* to trade one of Chris Archer or Drew Smyly this offseason, as well as closer Alex Colome. We’ve been on the Rays starter rumors for a while already this offseason (and going all the way back to last offseason, actually), but Colome would be an interesting addition to the trade market. Although he turns 28 next month, Colome isn’t even arbitration eligible yet. After moving to the bullpen in 2015 full-time, Colome broke out – he posted a 1.91 ERA, a 2.92 FIP, and a 2.75 xFIP in 2016 as the Rays’ closer. You trade big pieces for relievers at your own peril, but if the Rays don’t want to pay Colome for his coming arbitration years, he could be an attractive target.
  • Olney also mentions Sonny Gray, another controllable starter we’ve heard a good bit about already this offseason. The A’s, Olney reports, are listening to offers for the bounce-back candidate. There were legitimate issues for Gray last year, including a drop in command, health concerns, and an explosion in hard contact. But there are also some peripherals that scream fluke, especially pitching in front of one of the worst defenses in baseball.
  • Given the consistent mentions of guys like Archer and Gray in recent days, I think it’s fair to surmise at this point that these guys are legitimately being made available. And we know that the Cubs have been searching for guys like that for years. That said, given the weak free agent market and the king’s ransom teams paid for young, controllable starters in recent years, you can fairly assume that they will be traded only if the return is eye-popping (especially for Archer). If you expect the Cubs to get involved in the deep end on top arms like Archer, even coming off of a down year, it’s going to be virtually impossible for them to pull it off without trading from their big league roster (and, no, I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, “but Jorge Soler!”). The Cubs have some excellent prospects, but the best of the best tend to be far away from the big leagues, with a relatively low degree of certainty on future success. To be candid (and purely hypothetical), I have a tough time seeing the Cubs able to put together a properly enticing package for Archer without including one of Javy Baez or Kyle Schwarber (something I doubt they’re eager to do). That’s not to say you have to stop dreaming about Archer (this front office is nothing if not very creative), but I think a guy like Gray, or the other Rays starters (or any number of young-ish, controllable-ish starters we haven’t directly discussed), are going to be more realistic targets for the Cubs.
  • Speaking of Archer and Gray, although the Braves have inquired, their main focus remains White Sox ace Chris Sale, according to David O’Brien. As I’ve said before, I can see why the Braves want to improve their big league team, heading into a new ballpark this year, but it just feels like it’s a year too early. We’ll see.
  • Jon Heyman cites “rival execs” who expect that Jason Heyward could be available in trade after his down year, which, I suppose is probably technically true insofar as any player is available. The obvious rub with Heyward, aside from the fact that trading a player one year into a long-term deal is a bad look for a front office that works hard to keep up good relationships with players, is that trading Heyward right now would be the worst kind of ten-cents-on-the-dollar trade. Not only would the Cubs get a whole lot of nothing in return, they’d also have to eat an enormous chunk of his enormous contract. Any discussion of the Cubs considering Jason Heyward trades, should it come up in future rumors, does not pass the smell test. Moving on.
  • That Heyman piece, however, is definitely interesting for his free agent rankings and contract guesses, as he has been among the best at this for several years running (his many contacts in the game clearly serve him well). Among the notable guesses: 5/$85M for Aroldis Chapman, 5/$75M for Kenley Jansen, 4/$60M for Dexter Fowler, 2/$20M for Greg Holland, 3/$15M for Travis Wood. Heyman also has Rich Hill at 3/$50M, which, look, I know what the obvious enormous risks are with Rich Hill, who is not only going to be 37 next year, and not only has a lengthy injury history, but also has a very short track record of high level success. But, really, is $16is million per year for just three years THAT huge of a risk? Worst case scenario is that you get absolutely nothing for him, and have to paper over a big mistake. Best case scenario? He averages 25 starts per year for three years, and is really damn good in the process.
  • If you’re thinking about Ivan Nova as an interesting free agent target, given his apparent turnaround in Pittsburgh, Eno Sarris writes about why there could be reason for a lot of caution.

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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.