A couple big pitching deals today, and neither pitcher quite commanding what folks may have thought. First, you had Corey Kluber traded to the Rangers for a light return, suggesting that the Indians were pretty desperate to move his salary *AND* the market is pretty seriously afraid that he’s not going to be anything close to what he was in the past going forward (he turns 34 next year and is coming off a season almost entirely lost to injuries).
Then, you had Madison Bumgarner getting a five-year deal, but at only a $17 million AAV (and with $15 million deferred). To be sure, Bumgarner has exceedingly obvious warts as his velocity has tanked and he’s now into his 30s, but when the market placing an AAV more than double that on Stephen Strasburg (a year older) on a longer deal, it makes you wonder if there are even more questions about Bumgarner than have already been highlighted. I wasn’t big on Bumgarner going forward as any kind of act anymore, but for $17 million annually on a five-year deal? That’s looking like a mighty fine signing for the Diamondbacks.
Who now, by the way, can shop the final year of Robbie Ray’s team control and get back a piece they need for this year, or just replenish the farm system. That Arizona front office – former Cubs and Red Sox execs – has looked good.
A few other bits for your Sunday night stove …
- The Cubs also need a starting pitcher, but hey, no one will confuse them for a team looking at the top of the remaining starter market:
The top pitchers left on the market — especially Ryu and Keuchel — are in excellent shape. At least 8 teams are still known to be in the starter market: angels, dodgers, giants, padres, jays, twins, white sox, braves
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 15, 2019
- You could probably add the Cardinals and Brewers there, too, or at least they should be. Just like the Cubs.
- Side note? The Braves already have a full rotation after signing Cole Hamels, plus all the just-about-ready minor leaguers. Signing a free agent starter now would make them all the more able to send out an arm (or arms) in a trade for an impact bat. Just, you know, noting that.
- I still don’t think there’s any chance Nolan Arenado is traded right now for the many, many reasons we’ve discussed before, but I’ll admit this strikes me as a strange way to poo-poo such rumors if you’re the GM of the Rockies (via The Athletic): “Look, this is the time of year where those conversations happen,” GM Jeff Bridich said. “This is the time of year where we at least listen to teams and go, ‘OK, well, should we try to investigate and put something together.’ We have people to do those sorts of things. I can’t sit here and say, ‘No, never, ever.’ Some of this stuff started back at the trade deadline and it’s kind of ongoing.”
- His point is simply a “no untouchables” one, which every team should adhere to. The Cubs certainly do. But the way he’s saying, oh yeah, you know, this started back at the trade deadline and is ongoing … that’s kinda weird, right? That feels a little more nudging toward teams, wanting them to stay engaged, doesn’t it? A trade still isn’t going to happen, but the discussion strikes me as odd.
- Like I’ve said before, this whole thing still strikes me as suspicious:
Yankees are among teams to talk to Brewers about Josh Hader, as @Ken_Rosenthal reported. NYY does have the players to make it work. No sense from teams yet Milwaukee is motivated to move him. But they are talking.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 14, 2019
- Do the Brewers need to operate economically? Yes. Do they need to capture huge value in trade when they get the chance? Yes. But they are in a competitive window with the years of a healthy/impact Lorenzo Cain (at least on defense) nearing an end, Christian Yelich around for three more years, and one of the most dominating pitchers in the league under control for four more years. You’re gonna trade that guy now? I really can’t overstate the devastating impact losing Hader would have on the Brewers’ competitiveness in 2020. He’s that critical. So if the Brewers are doing it – even for a huge return – it’s because they fear something about his performance/health is gonna go poof sooner rather than later. Just one man’s opinion …
- The Mets will have a $500,000 incentive to sit a guy every single time he’s otherwise scheduled to take the mound late in the year? What could go wrong:
Michael Wacha's contract incentives break down like this:
-$500k at 10, 14, 18 starts (or relief outings of 3+ IP to protect against the Mets using openers), then $500k more for each start from 20-30. Total: $7 mil.
There's also up to $1.35 mil in relief pitcher/award bonuses.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) December 15, 2019