Lukewarm Stove: Giants and Pirates Move Market, Creative Yankees Offer for Darvish, Much More

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Lukewarm Stove: Giants and Pirates Move Market, Creative Yankees Offer for Darvish, Much More

Chicago Cubs

Well, you can’t say things aren’t happening.

In the last week, the Astros traded for Gerrit Cole, the Giants traded for Andrew McCutchen, the Twins signed Addison Reed, and the Cubs signed Brian Duensing. The three main free agent starters – Alex Cobb, Yu Darvish, and Jake Arrieta – as well as the two biggest bats – J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer – are still out there, but it looks like we may be headed for some conclusions soon enough.

Until then, rumors …

  • Upon learning that newly acquired outfielder Andrew McCutchen would be playing right – not center – field in 2018, many wondered if the suddenly aggressive San Francisco Giants might be gearing up for another addition in center. And while that may be the case, the addition might not be as high-profile as trading for McCutchen or Evan Longoria. “The Giants are more likely to seek a less expensive, defense-oriented center fielder such as Jarrod Dyson or Jon Jay,” writes Henry Schulman of SFGate, “rather than a pricier long-term option such as Lorenzo Cain.” I still wouldn’t be surprised if they target Cain, but I suppose you can only be so aggressive in one offseason.
  • More:

  • If you recall, the Cubs were briefly connected to Cain this winter, but it’s been mostly speculative/opportunity-seeking so far. And, in reality, they’re probably more interested in bringing in a fourth/fifth outfielder type like Jon Jay – if anyone at all – than someone at Cain’s level anyway. Whatever the case, it seems likely that at one level or another the Giants’ plans could have an impact on the Cubs (even if only as they continue to push to get back into the playoff picture).
  • After the Pirates traded two of their best players in Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, one of their other best players, Josh Harrison, is starting to get understandably antsy:

  • Maybe the Mets would consider trading for Josh Harrison. Their second base job is still up in the air and Kristie Ackert’s (Daily News) sources suggest that they’re still involved in the second base free agent market and have even shown interest in Harrison in the past – though the Mets have apparently “balked” at the Pirates’ initial asking price. Interestingly, Ackert’s sources have heard that the Mets would not include outfielder Brandon Nimmo in a deal for McCutchen, but would include him in an offer for Harrison – meanwhile, top prospect Dominic Smith is off the table.
  • At ESPN, Jesse Rogers wonders whether the Cubs are gearing up for a run at Bryce Harper. Using a series of Cubs Convention quotes from fans, the front office (Theo Epstein), Tom Ricketts, and even some of the players (Kris Bryant/Anthony Rizzo), Rogers paints a picture of the Cubs’ extremely probable interest in the Nationals right fielder. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking, but it’s always fun to read Harper/Cubs stuff.
  • At the Chicago Tribune, Paul Sullivan writes about the slow-moving market and gets some of the Cubs players perspectives on it and the possibility of being included in trades. At this point of the year, I’d say one of those *big-time* position player for a starter trades is unlikely to happen, especially because free agents are starting to accept lesser deals as we approach Spring Training, but I suppose nothing with this front office (or this offseason) is ever off the table – I mean, heck, Gerrit Cole was only just traded, so maybe I’m wrong about that.
  • Yesterday, the Rangers GM indicated that his team is likely out of the running for free agent Yu Darvish, which brings his finalists down to three or four teams (depending on how seriously you think the Dodgers and Yankees are involved (more on that in a minute)). And if you’d like more clarity/certainty on the matter and his intentions the rest of the offseason, you’re covered at It sure sounds like the Rangers are mostly done for the winter.
  • So, speaking of the Yankees’ involvement in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes, Joel Sherman tries to get creative with a potential Yankees offer, which would pay Darvish $30M annually in his first two years in New York, with an opt-out thereafter, but keeps his AAV down by making the full deal six years and $120M, which could be just low enough to sneak under the luxury tax threshold in 2018. It assumes a lot about Darvish’s financial preferences (and multiple opt-outs always make things a bit more complicated), but according to the Commissioner’s Office and Players Association, this would not be against the rules. There would be a monetary “true-up” expense down the line, but it would count towards their 2020 payroll for luxury tax purposes, not 2018. If Darvish thinks he’ll still be rocking two years from now, this could be the way he maximizes his earnings. The Yankees would be taking on a TON of risk to do this, though.
  • Of course, if the Yankees are able to trade Jacoby Ellsbury and a substantial portion of his $68.4M contract ($22.6M in AAV) to another team, then the need to pull off fancy accounting to sign Darvish goes down. At the New York Post, Sherman conjures a trade in which the Yankees send Ellsbury (and his money) to the Rockies for infielder Ian Desmond and the four years/$64M he still has due ($14.6M AAV). Of course, while the remaining financial commitments are similar, Desmond’s luxury tax hit hit is $8M less per year, which could go a long way towards signing someone like Darvish this winter. But even as Sherman makes a reasonable argument for the deal from both sides, it sure seems like more of a hope than a prediction.
  • At MLB Trade Rumors, Steve Adams parses through the candid interview Padres Owner Ron Fowler recently gave on the Mighty 1090 Morning Show in San Diego. Therein, he discusses the Padres’ seven-year offer for big-time free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer, and how he sees him fitting into the clubhouse and long-term plans for the team. At the outset of this offseason, I’d have been very surprised to see Hosmer wind up in San Diego, but given there clear objective to turn the corner, his youth, and, most importantly, this CRAZY offseason, I suppose it’s not that much of a stretch anymore.
  • Also at MLB Trade Rumors, and also from Steve Adams, a free agent profile on Alex Cobb, including recent rumors and contract predictions. Among the most interesting thoughts, however, is the idea that Cobb might be ideal for a “pillow” contract in 2018, given his youth and yet-to-be-proven ability to stay healthy. If a team is willing to give Cobb enough money in 2018, he could be convinced to sign a one-year deal (or a multi-year deal with an early opt out after one or two years) before reentering the market having established that health (and perhaps when more large-market teams are spending). He’d still have to convince a team to give him that one-year deal, though, despite the fact that Cobb is tied to draft pick compensation. In the end, Adams just isn’t sure the rumored $70-$80M payday is really out there for Cobb, so it’ll likely be something like $50-$60M or try again next year. 
  • And finally at, Anthony Castrovince compares and contrasts Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta on everything from history, to rumors, to contract demands, projected future performance, and more. It’s a nice, comprehensive take from someone outside the Cubs/Rangers sphere. The short version? Darvish probably has a slight edge.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami