Lukewarm Stove: Maybe Brewers Can't Afford Top Starter After All, Hosmer Wants 8 Yrs, Avila Terms, More

Social Navigation

Lukewarm Stove: Maybe Brewers Can’t Afford Top Starter After All, Hosmer Wants 8 Yrs, Avila Terms, More

Chicago Cubs

Dear February,

Please have fewer rumors and more signings than November, December, and January. Thanks.


  • At The Athletic, Peter Gammons salutes the Milwaukee Brewers for their attempts to compete in 2018 – instead of, like many other teams, tank – and, altogether, it’s a pretty good piece (especially as a recap of what they’ve done and could be). I’d argue that they’ve already done their fair share of losing and are simply at the next step of their competitive cycle, but that’s beside the point. The point for this Stove, my friends, comes from a stray line at the end of the article that Gammons throws in as if it’s not hugely important: “No one believes the Milwaukee Brewers can afford a Jake Arrieta or tempt Manny Machado or Bryce Harper next offseason.” *Screeching to a halt sound*
  • Okay, obviously no one expects the Brewers to give Harper or Machado the $300M contracts they’ll likely command, but no one thinks they can afford a Jake Arrieta? Last time I checked, Arrieta and Yu Darvish are more or less expected to earn very similar amounts, so, by the transitive property, does that mean no one believes they can afford Darvish, either? That wouldn’t necessarily contradict the reports that they made an offer last week (it could simply be a criminally low offer), but it would certainly contradict FanRag’s recent reporting that the Brewers are “very much in the mix,” for Darvish, wouldn’t it? And reporting that their pursuit is part of the Darvish holdup?
  • I’m trying not to let my own biases (that I don’t want the Brewers to land Darvish and that I want the Cubs to get him) affect my thinking here, but given my existing suspicions that the Brewers are involved primarily to drive up the price on the Cubs (with the off chance that they land a deal with which they’re comfortable), I’m inclined to believe Gammons. Yeah, you know what? I’m gonna believe him. There’s just no way the Brewers are going to bid over the top of the Cubs (and Twins and whoever else) to land Darvish (or Arrieta) … right?
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
  • In the meantime, the Brewers continue to spend in smaller increments elsewhere:

  • I doubt the Brewers would pay someone like Greg Holland (well there’s not too many quality relievers left anyway), but I am just ready for these rosters to get finalized so I know what to think about 2018.
  • Last night, the Diamondbacks signed former Cubs catcher Alex Avila, squashing any outside hope that he might return his fantastic left-handed bat to the Cubs as Willson Contreras’ backup, and here are the details of his deal:

  • As Brett mentioned on Twitter, that has the potential to be a very good deal for the D-Backs if Avila hits like he did last year (or anything close to it). Also, I’m happy for Avila. He was here for such a short time, but really saved the Montero-less, Contreras-less Cubs down the stretch.
  • Earlier today, Mookie Betts won his arbitration case against the Boston Red Sox, which means he’ll earn $10.5 million next season (his first trip through arbitration) instead of the $7.5M offered by Boston. Interestingly (although it’s an imperfect fit, because Betts is not a Super Two-eligible player), Betts beat Ryan Howard’s record-setting first-year eligible salary … but did it the same year Kris Bryant did it a little better (he got Sosa-ed):

  • If you’re wondering how this fits in the Lukewarm Stove context, keep in mind that this isn’t just a win for Mookie Betts in 2018 and his future arb years, but also a win for future arbitration-eligible players in the years to come (of which the Cubs have MANY). When it comes to arbitration, player salary comps are critical.
  • According to Barry Jackson (Miami Herald), the Marlins prioritized a trade of Christian Yelich over J.T. Realmuto, out of fear that Yelich could become a “sour presence” in the clubhouse if he wasn’t traded (after publicly requesting out of Miami). And apparently, the Marlins feel no such apprehension about Realmuto (which could be a leverage grab, but probably isn’t). In any case, your hope, for now, is that the Marlins don’t trade Realmuto, because his most likely landing spot is with the Nationals. And, frankly, I’d rather not see the Marlins improve the rosters of the Cardinals, Brewers, and Nationals all in one offseason (thank jeebus Giancarlo Stanton went to NY).
  • The Angels are apparently tossing around the idea of using a six-man rotation, which could benefit an injury-prone Garrett Richards and ease Shohei Ohtani’s transition into the Major Leagues (he’s coming from a six-man rotation in Japan). And now I’m sad, as I remember the Cubs’ potential plans to do something similar had they landed Ohtani. This offseason sucks sometimes.
  • This seems pretty crazy, but what else is new:

  • I simply do not believe Hosmer is good enough to warrant an eight-year deal (or a seven-year deal, but he’s already got two of those offers on the table, I believe), but his side is apparently pushing for one (aided, I’m sure, by the eight-year deal the Cubs gave Jason Heyward a couple years ago, given their similar offensive profiles and age). What I find even more odd about the length of the contract, is that neither the Padres nor the Royals will ever be pushing up against the luxury tax threshold (at least not in the foreseeable future), so adding another year and lowering the AAV isn’t necessarily a priority for either club.
  • And finally, the Pirates have made a trade, acquiring (recently DFA’d) left-hander Josh Smoker from the Mets in exchange for minor league lefty Daniel Zamora and cash. I like this move for the Pirates – turning a nothing-prospect into a a 29-year-old reliever who has had a taste of the Majors, but still has two options remaining – which means I don’t like it overall. Don’t get me wrong, in all likelihood, we’ll never remember this trade, but relievers are both 1. very volatile and 2. go for a lot on the trade market. If Smoker can somehow re-establish himself in the majors, the Pirates can eventually spin him into something slightly more useful.

Latest from Bleacher Nation:

Author: Michael Cerami

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