Lukewarm Stove: Cardinals Focus on Archer, Pirates Moving McCutchen, Luxury Tax Concerns

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Lukewarm Stove: Cardinals Focus on Archer, Pirates Moving McCutchen, Luxury Tax Concerns

Chicago Cubs

If you missed today’s big rumor, it had the Yankees believing they could get Yu Darvish to sign for five years and just $80 to $90 million. Sure feels like wishful thinking to me.

Elsewhere from the now-kinda-mildly-warm stove …

  • The Cardinals are selling the idea that they’re fine with the bullpen as it currently is (I think it looks much thinner on paper than the Cubs’ bullpen, for what it’s worth). Derrick Goold downplays the Cardinals’ interest in signing Greg Holland (who is going to have to settle for a disappointing deal at some point, I suspect), or trading for Alex Colome (which was long a hot rumor). Instead, the Cardinals’ trade talks with the Rays have centered on Chris Archer, says Goold. I wouldn’t want to see the Cardinals land Archer and his team-friendly contract for the next several years, though I’d be fascinated to see just how much they’d have to give up to get him.
  • With Gerrit Cole off to the Astros, the expectation is that the Pirates will look to trade other short-term pieces like Andrew McCutchen and retool for 2019. The team to keep an eye on is the Giants, who’ve been connected to McCutchen repeatedly this offseason:

  • If the Giants don’t go after Andrew McCutchen, they could pursue free agent Lorenzo Cain, who certainly seems like a perfect fit if it weren’t for the club’s reticence to stay over the luxury tax cap. Buster Olney makes the argument, though, that the vast majority of the Giants’ useful players are now 30 years old and older, so trying to win again right now with this group should be the priority. I can see it, though if I’m the Giants, I’m leery about just how bad our club was last year, and thus banking on such a huge turnaround in a very competitive division. There was absolutely some flukishness and injury stuff in the Giants’ woeful 2017 season, but I don’t think you can just assume that adding Evan Longoria and Lorenzo Cain turns everything around. I also know that it would be difficult to engage in a monster sell-off right now (not the least of which is because the market simply isn’t paying huge prices for aging players), so the Giants are in a tough spot.
  • Elsewhere in the outfield market, the Marlins are reportedly asking for THE top names in any organization that comes calling about Christian Yelich. As we’ve said for a while, if the Marlins want top prospects for Yelich, the Cubs won’t be the right trade partner.
  • With respect to teams being shy about going over the luxury tax cap this year, Mark Zuckerman points out – within the context of the Nationals being close to the cap – that the “tax” part of the equation is not really a big deal. It’s a good point that Zuckerman makes with respect to the money – a 20% tax on only the amount you go over the luxury tax is a relatively minor consideration when stacked against a decision to make a key addition late in the offseason or during the season.
  • That said, the money really isn’t the major consideration for first-time-offending big market clubs like the Nationals or the Cubs. Instead, the concern is going over the tax this year in advance of an offseason where you know you’ll be pursuing major qualified free agents (there will be MANY next offseason). A large-market team going over the luxury tax cap sees its penalties for signing a qualified free agent ramped up from the second highest pick and $500,000 in IFA money to the second AND fifth highest picks and $1 million in IFA bonus pool money. That’s a ton to lose to sign one free agent.

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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.