As Brett recovers from foot surgery (it went smoothly, but he’ll still be out for today), let’s take a closer look at the Lukewarm Stove, which I fully expect to explode with signings today while we’re short-handed.
- Speaking of which, here are some of the more notable players who are STILL awaiting their free agent deals as we quickly approach February:
It's almost February, and these guys are still FAs: Darvish, Hosmer, Martinez, Arrieta, Moustakas, Cobb, Lucroy, Lynn, Walker, Morrison, Frazier, Holland, CarGo, the other CarGo, Cashner, Watson, Vargas, Duda, Holliday, Avila, Dyson, Nunez, Garcia, Jay.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 30, 2018
- As Cotillo goes on to point out in a later tweet, Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Mike Moustakas, Greg Holland, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Gomez, Tony Watson, and Matt Holliday are all clients of Scott Boras. Despite varying degrees of talent on that list and Boras’ history of advising his clients to remain patient, this remains a nearly unbelievable offseason. I’m starting to question whether any single domino (like a Yu Darvish or J.D. Martinez signing) can actually get things rolling. Maybe, even after some of those guys sign, there’ll still be a logjam. Wouldn’t that be fun?
- In case you missed it earlier today, Jon Morosi reported that the Cubs are more comfortable with a four-year deal for Yu Darvish, while the Twins may have already upped their offer to five years.
- In that same article at MLB.com, Morosi also suggests that the Brewers remain an option for free agent starter Jake Arrieta, despite conventional wisdom pointing towards a trade instead (they have an awful lot of outfielders, even if Ryan Braun moves into the infield). Although the Brewers don’t typically spend a ton, they are clearly going for it in 2018 and, according to Morosi, their payroll has some room to grow. The Giants are also considered to have an outside shot at Arrieta, but Morosi doesn’t think they’ll be inclined to spend as much as it’ll take to land him.
- There’s a stalemate between J.D. Martinez and the Boston Red Sox, who’ve reportedly offered five years and $125 million to the slugger, but have no plans to up their offer. With few other realistic suitors out there, it’s fair to wonder if Martinez might just have to take what he can get (and, frankly, that seems like a fair deal for a guy with a great bat and almost no defensive value as we approach February).
- While a majority of the big-name guys haven’t signed, that doesn’t mean things haven’t been progressing. For example …
According to a source, Danny Espinosa has agreed to a deal with the Yankees and will be a non-roster invitee at camp. He will compete for the second base job this spring.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 29, 2018
- Espinosa, 30, hasn’t been a very valuable player in a few years (he was actually worth -1.0 WAR last season), but he’ll compete for a second-base job in New York this Spring. If you really stretch, you could say that this might push the Yankees further away from a deal with the Pirates for Josh Harrison, but I’m not sure how close that ever got (or how much Espinosa even presents a roadblock).
- In the NL Central, the Cardinals continue to improve at the margins:
The #STLCards have signed RHP Nestor Molina to a minor league contract. Molina went 12-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 23 Mexican League starts last year.
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) January 29, 2018
- They can still use some help in the bullpen – query whether they’ll eventually make a play for Greg Holland – so some flyers on guys like Molina make sense.
- And then, from the trade market, there’s this:
Royals have traded LHP Ryan Buchter and DH/1B Brandon Moss to Oakland for right-hander Jesse Hahn and Minor League right-hander Heath Fillmyer. This could clear some payroll space for a certain free-agent first baseman you know.
— Jeffrey Flanagan (@FlannyMLB) January 30, 2018
- According to Dennis Lin, the Royals saved about $5 million in this deal, which, if you’re picking up what Jeffrey Flanagan is putting down, might be put towards re-signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. And if you’re skeptical, let Royals GM Dayton Moore clear things up a bit: “The economic part of it is very real to us.” The two primary (only?) suitors for Hosmer, according to Lin, are the Padres (who’ve reportedly offered something close to seven years and slightly less $140 million) and the Royals, who’s offer is not yet clear but seems to be larger. But it seems as obvious as ever, that they’re making another real push to retain the 28-year-old first baseman.
- The Cardinals, for what it’s worth, have also been linked to Hosmer over the offseason, and, according to Morosi, remain a fit for Mike Moustakas, as well.
- There’s more to the fallout, too: According to Rosenthal, the A’s will try to find a taker for Brandon Moss, who’s owed $7.25M next season (Royals will pay $3.25M of that). Moss earned an 84 wRC+ last season, and was worth -0.5 WAR overall.
- At MLB.com, Jamal Collier suggests that while the Nationals may be seen as favorites to land Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto – and that their need at the position is very real – the acquisition price still does not match. The Nationals are still unwilling to move their top prospect, Victor Robles, and now are seemingly unwilling to include their No. 2 prospect, Juan Soto, either (he’s a top 30 type in MLB). In their place, the Nationals have pushed their third best prospect, Carter Kieboom, who’s more of a back-end top 100 type and other lesser pieces.
- In that same piece, Collier writes that the Nationals will probably not get involved in the Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta sweepstakes, but could jump into the Alex Cobb/Lance Lynn tier to grab a pitcher as the market continues to stall. While we know the Cubs seem to prefer Darvish at this point and probably aren’t too interested in Lynn, you don’t love to see competition arise for Cobb, who’s been a nice fall-back option for the Cubs if things fall through elsewhere.
- Finally, in case you missed it, the Brewers continued to improve ahead of the 2018 season, signing free agent reliever Matt Albers to a two-year $5M deal. And at FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan analyze the decision to pay Albers, who broke out last season (at the age of 35), and how it squares with the Brewers belief that many of their own 2017 breakouts are real. In short, the Brewers’ chances in 2018 (absent another huge starting pitcher addition) rely strongly on their pitching staff and if it’ll be as healthy and effective as it looked like it could be last season. Hopefully, they are all fully healthy … and the Cubs crush them anyway.