We’d longed guessed that Yu Darvish would not only be the first (major) free agent domino to fall here in February, but also that once he did, the offseason logjam in the starting pitching market would finally start to break up.
And based on the immediate influx of several new rumors, I think that might be right (even if they don’t all appear to be directly connected on the surface). The latest from the rumor mill …
- Brett already covered the big Jake Arrieta news this morning – basically the Cubs were willing to offer him a deal similar to the one they ultimately gave to Yu Darvish, if Darvish were to reject the Cubs and move on – but there’s still more to cover.
- For example, at MLB.com, we learn that Arrieta’s market might be *primarily* down to the Twins and Brewers (i.e. the teams that were most closely connected to Yu Darvish before he signed), but that the Nationals, Phillies, and Cardinals are all possible destinations (Jon Heyman). I’ve always considered the Cardinals to be something of a dark horse contender for Arrieta, given their need in the rotation and bullpen, as well as the desire to limit Alex Reyes’ exposure coming off Tommy John surgery, but we just haven’t heard many rumors connecting the two. The Phillies, similarly, seem ready to make their own version of the 2015 Jon Lester deal with the Cubs, and officially announce their returned presence on the scene. The Nationals strike me as an unlikely landing spot for Arrieta, given the impending free agent exits of Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy, but if they decide to keep the party going after 2018 (instead of retooling, in a sense), Arrieta could be a good addition (and we know that Scott Boras, Arrieta’s agent, has a good relationship with the Nationals’ owners).
- And just to make things extra interesting, Jeff Passan throws the Dodgers into the mix of teams looking for a starter:
Where the pitching market now stands, per sources: Brewers, Twins, Phillies and Dodgers are targeting starters. Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi are likeliest to fill those gaps in some way, shape or form, though Philly could go shorter-term on a guy.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 11, 2018
- Given their inability to move Matt Kemp and his salary quite yet, Los Angeles might be a tough landing spot for someone like Jake Arrieta or even Alex Cobb. But if Lance Lynn gets as little as it feels like he might at this point, then he could be a reasonable target. That said, I’m still of the mind that the former Rays’ GM and current Dodgers’ President Andrew Friedman pulls the right strings to land Jake Odorizzi from Tampa Bay, a pitcher he acquired from the Royals back in 2012 as part of the package for Wade Davis and James Shields.
- Speaking of Rays starters, La Velle E. Neal III (what a name!) writes that the Minnesota Twins have now set their sights on acquiring Rays righty Chris Archer, now that they’ve missed out on Darvish. In fact, one of Neal’s sources confirmed that they made an offer for Archer just two weeks ago. The makeup of the offer is still unclear, but Neal has heard that the Rays could be swayed by the inclusion of Max Kepler *as part of* a much bigger package. Kepler, 25, played in his first full season for the Twins last year, slashing .243/.312/.425. With just a year and 153 days of service time, Kepler is under team control for five more seasons (which obviously appeals to the Rays).
- I have to assume it would take a lot more than Kepler to land Archer, though, based on what we’ve long heard about the Rays’ demands. And in the end, I’m willing to bet that Odorizzi is the one on the move, while Archer stays put – at least until the trade deadline.
- Of course, one is obviously MUCH more valuable than the other …
FYI: Over past 4 seasons, Chris Archer has produced 16.2 fWAR (12th among all MLB starters) and $128 million of estimated value for #Rays. That’s an average of $32 million per season, or $2 million less than it will cost to control him for the next 4 seasons combined.
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) February 12, 2018
By comparison, over the same 4-year span RHP Jake Odorizzi has produced 7.1 fWAR and $55.9 million of combined value for #Rays. That’s an average of $14 M per season, or $2 million less than estimated cost of arb control over next 2 seasons combined. See the problem here?
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) February 12, 2018
- Elsewhere, the Houston Astros have reportedly engaged the Marlins in trade discussions for JT Realmuto. In return, the Marlins have asked for outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, the Astros’ first-round pick from 2015 and the 17th overall prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline, and the Astros are apparently considering it. If you recall, the Marlins asked the Nationals for Victor Robles, their top prospect and currently ranked 6th overall in baseball, so they’re staying consistent and asking for a lot. Given how valuable Realmuto is, though, that’s the right position to take. Maybe the Marlins will finally pull off a quality deal, eh? Craig Mish puts the chances of Realmuto leaving by Opening Day at 50/50.
- As for the Astros, they’ve got Brian McCann behind the plate right now, but he’s a free agent after this season and turns 34 next week. Picking up Realmuto now, given the Astros’ window, sure makes a lot of sense for them.
- The Yankees didn’t make a serious run at Yu Darvish, and Joel Sherman writes about their current penny-pinching ways to stay far enough under the luxury tax cap that they can make moves at midseason as necessary. It makes me wonder about which free agents are ultimately going to sit out until there are injuries that they need to sign to step in to fill. This offseason has been messed up, without question … is the trade deadline next?
- Speaking of which, at ESPN, Jerry Crasnick takes a closer look at the still endless 2018 offseason (even after Darvish, there’s still A LOT that needs to happen), including how this winter stakes up against recent ones in terms of league-wide payroll change, number of $100M deals, contracts for three years, and much more.
- And finally, Ken Rosenthal reports that Scott Boras met with Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendricks (as he does) on J.D. Martinez within the last week, though they’re still struggling to find a common ground on the slugger. I’m still confident that the Red Sox are the true top suitor for Martinez, while the D-Backs are simply looking to capitalize on what have been difficult negotiations.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.