Random Craig Kimbrel note to kick things off: I just now realized that his 2022 club option ($16M) is fully guaranteed if he finishes a total of 110 games between 2020 and 2021 (with at least 55 GF in 2021, specifically).
Games Finished: “is a statistic for relief pitchers which counts the number of games in which a relief pitcher was the last pitcher for his team.”
In other words, win, lose, save, or not, if you’re the last pitcher on the mound for your team when the games ends, you get +1 Game Finished. So if Kimbrel averages 55 games finished over the next two years, his ” affordable 3-year, $43M” contract becomes a much heftier 4-year, $58M guarantee. Of course, if Kimbrel does finish that many games over the next two seasons, we’ll probably be happy enough with his performance not to care that he’s coming back for another year, but an extra $15M ($16M-$1M buyout) isn’t anything to sneeze at … as we’ve seen this winter.
For what it’s worth, among his eight full seasons in MLB (2011-2018), Kimbrel has finished at least 55 games just four times (2011, 2012, 2013, and 2018), but has always been extremely close (54 in 2014, 53 in 2015, 47 in 2016). Just something to track this season.
- As we’ve discussed on free agent spending, the Cubs are still one of just three teams (Cubs, Rockies, Pirates) who have not spent a dime on guaranteed, big league contracts this winter, after finishing among the bottom 10 in spenders last offseason (~$10M guaranteed).
- By contrast …
With the Steve Cishek deal, the White Sox have now spent $201.5 million in free agent guaranteed money this offseason. Add in the Luis Robert extension and it's north of $250 million.
— Chuck Garfien (@ChuckGarfien) January 7, 2020
- It looks like the White Sox took the $250M or so they reportedly offered to Manny Machado last year and spread it out to Yasmani Grandal ($73M), Gio Gonzalez ($5M), Edwin Encarnacion ($12M), Dallas Keuchel ($55.5M), Steve Cishek ($12M), and James McCann ($5.4M) – plus extensions/re-worked deals for Jose Abreu ($50M), Luis Robert ($50M), and Eloy Jimenez ($43M) – plus two arbitration-level years of Nomar Mazara in a trade with the Rangers. Not a bad pivot, eh?
- Rangers on the mind:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 8, 2020
- With Chirinos off the board, all four catchers in MLB Trade Rumors top 50 free agents have signed (Grandal (#9), Travis d’Arnaud (#26), Chirinos (#33), Jason Castro (#34)). Plus, the Brewers traded for Omar Narvaez, the Rays re-signed Mike Zunino, and the Astros re-signed Martin Maldonado. Alex Avila (Twins), Francisco Cervelli (Marlins), Tyler Flowers (Braves), Stephen Vogt (Diamondbacks), Austin Romine (Tigers), and Kevin Plawecki (Red Sox) also found new homes. Given how many teams needed catchers and how much action there was in this market early, it’s no surprise the Cubs had Willson Contreras out there. But seeing how all this dust has settled, I’d expect him to stay put this winter (unless some crazy deal happens with the Rockies).
- At The Athletic, Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney point out that although the Cubs are likely to hang onto Contreras for now, they could still look to move him at the Trade Deadline this summer if they’ve fallen out of the race by then. Basically, with the competent Victor Caratini around and Miguel Amaya “waiting in the wings,” the Cubs may be approaching the right time to trade Contreras. If that makes you uncomfortable, (1) you’re not alone, and (2) remember that the asking price on Contreras has been described as laughably high. So … that’s good.
- Also in that piece at The Athletic – which is a great roundup of where the Cubs roster currently stands – is news that a long-term extension for Javy Baez remains a possibility this offseason (yes, please) while “whispers that Kyle Schwarber is being discussed in various trade scenarios continue to linger” (no, thanks).
- Frankly, if the Cubs are not going to be able to extend Kris Bryant (which seems to be the case), I really would like to see them commit (on the positional side) to Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and possibly even Ian Happ on one of those fancy pre-arb deals that can save teams a buttload of money down the line.
- The Reds have DFA’d outfielder Nick Martini, whom they claimed off wavers just under two months ago, in favor of free agent signee (and coulda-been Cub) Shogo Akiyama. Martini, mostly a corner outfielder, had a good debut in 2018 (130 wRC+ over 55 games), but wasn’t particularly great last season (80 wRC+, below-average defensive ratings in left field, elevated strikeout rate, middling base running skills).
- Keep the dream alive:
Follow-up on Donaldson/#MNTwins: there's been darn near daily dialogue between the sides. He also sees a ton of appeal of facing AL Central pitching vs. NL East. Will $$ talk loudest in the end? Likely. No sense the Twins have a final offer on the table. More on @SKORNorth at 5.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 7, 2020
- The Nationals have reportedly left their four-year offer on the table and the Twins are still talking to Donaldson’s camp “nearly daily.” I still think returning to the Braves is the obvious outcome here (also the worst trade market outcome for the Cubs), but clearly it’s not as simple as four years and it’s a done deal. The Braves gave Donaldson a four-year offer and he hasn’t signed yet. That means there’s still hope. GO TWINS GO!
- Kevin Pillar is still out there as a free agent center fielder:
Kevin Pillar is one of the most underrated free agents in @MLB, coming off a season of 161 games (career high), .719 OPS (career high) and 21 HR (tied for career high). He could fit with #Rangers, #Mets or #Dbacks depending on Starling Marte trade outcome. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 8, 2020
- On the Cubs, Pillar would actually make for a very nice fourth outfielder and match-up type, but they may already be planning to use Albert Almora in that role, and they also, you know, can’t spend any money.