Lukewarm Stove: Next Tier Pitchers Sign, Red Sox Out on Big-Time FAs Next Offseason? More

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Lukewarm Stove: Next Tier Pitchers Sign, Red Sox Out on Big-Time FAs Next Offseason? More

Chicago Cubs

By his own admission, Scott Boras’ phone has been ringing a lot more lately, and we have seen some more signings this past week (including the Cubs landing Yu Darvish – you heard, right?). Perhaps more things will start to get done soon.

The latest …

  • First up, some transactions: The Orioles have finally landed a starting pitcher (they were rumored to want at least two back when the Manny Machado rumors were spreading in December, and lost Wade Miley to the Brewers earlier today), and it’s an old friend:

  • That actually strikes me as a pretty healthy commitment for Cashner, whose peripherals were terrifying last year, and who’s never quite reached his potential – he always seems to be struggling with either effectiveness or his health. But that’s probably why, as Jerry Crasnick later added, the Orioles have added a $10 million vesting option for 2020. If Cashner throws 340 innings over the next two seasons, it automatically vests. If he throws 360 or more innings, it becomes a player option (that he can opt out of, presumably under the guess that he could get more money elsewhere). I’m guessing the Orioles will still look to add another starter before it’s all said and done, but I wouldn’t expect it to be one of a higher profile than Cashner.
(Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
  • And the Blue Jays have landed their pitcher around the same tier:

  • Garcia’s deal comes with a $10 million option for 2019, with $2 million in incentives, and a $2 million buyout (so $10M guaranteed, but could be worth up to $20M if they pick up his option and he hits his escalators). It seems like that next-next tier of starting pitching (i.e., behind Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn) is clearing out quickly.
  • And while the Orioles and Blue Jays may have already found their men from that tier, the Mets continue to search for an arm, and have shown solid interest in left-hander Jason Vargas. Vargas, 35, threw 179.2 IP last season with a 4.16 ERA and 4.67 FIP. On the right deal, he could be a sufficient innings-eater in a rotation that always needs innings to be eaten.
  • Meanwhile, uhh … Oh:

  • Not sure what happened – a misreported signing before or a physical hold-up? – but for now, Oh to the Rangers is not a done deal, apparently.
  • The Astros’ Collin McHugh and the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi both won their arbitration cases, which means their teams will be paying them slightly more than they think they’re worth in 2018. Perhaps that makes them slightly more likely to be moved, as rumored last week.
  • More evidence that taking your players to arbitration is just not a good idea – Marcus Stroman tweeted, and later deleted, a message about never forgetting the “negative things that were said against me, by my own team”, and how it will fuel the fire. This tweet, however, remains:

  • As rumored all the way back in December, the Rangers are but the latest team to move to a six-man rotation, at least at the beginning of the year:

  • At the Boston Globe, Alex Speier points out that while the Red Sox were under the luxury tax threshold in 2017, they’re already poised to exceed it in 2018 (before adding J.D. Martinez (if they even do)). Of course, the luxury tax threshold isn’t just one number. It has multiple tiers, and at $217 million, even more taxes are incurred at a higher rate. According to Speier, the Red Sox have almost no chance to remain under that number in 2018 if they add someone like Martinez. But here’s the kicker, if their payroll bumps up against the $237 million threshold, they won’t just have to pay more taxes, they’ll also drop their first draft pick back by 10 slots (that’s a serious penalty).
  • Ultimately, it all makes you wonder how active the Red Sox will be in the deep end of free agency next offseason should they land Martinez this winter. I don’t have to tell you that fewer big market teams in play is a good thing, given how the Cubs wound up with Yu Darvish this year (with the Yankees and Dodgers sitting out).
  • Speaking of that big free agent class next winter, one of the bigger free agents is starter Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel, 29, was an All-Star last season, a Gold Glover the year before, the AL Cy Young winner in 2015, and is still fairly young. Should he reach free agency at the pace he’s set, he’s sure to get paaaid (as they say). Of course, it’s always possible the Astros try to extend him before that … but if they’re going to try, Keuchel says it has to happen before the season begins. Otherwise, he’s definitely heading towards free agency. I’d be surprised if the Astros didn’t at least seriously try to extend him before the season starts, because the core still has many more years of competition ahead of them, and a pitcher like Keuchel is exactly the type you want around. “If there is something, it’s going to happen before the season,” Keuchel said. “There’s going to be no contractual negotiations during the regular season.”
  • Former Cubs prospect (and arguably one of the first “Cookies”) Junior Lake has received a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training from the Seattle Mariners. According to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Lake is likely ticketed for Triple-A Tacoma this season, but will have a chance to make the big league roster out of camp. Despite starting the 2017 season with the Red Sox, Lake was released in May and was playing in the Mexican League for most of the season. He’s still only 27, if you can believe that.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

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