In case you haven’t noticed, free agent starting pitchers are in high demand, but low supply this offseason. That’s why Robbie Ray got $8 million from the Blue Jays (despite a 6.62 ERA last season), Drew Smyly got $11 million from the Braves (despite just 140.1 IP since 2016), and Charlie Morton got a $15 million deal from the Braves at age 37.
Those market factors (plus some COVID-crunched budgets) also serve to explain why so many talented starting pitchers are suddenly entering the trade market.
Snell and Lynn Are Available
The 2020 NL Cy Young award winner, Trevor Bauer, is already available via free agency, but now you can get the 2018 AL Cy Young award winner, as well:
Sources: Rays open to trading Blake Snell https://t.co/xdHhGsT8NA
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 23, 2020
The Rays got Snell, 27, to sign a ridiculously team-friendly five-year, $50 million extension a couple years ago fresh off that Cy Young win, and yet he’s still hitting the trade block. Naturally, Feinsand’s sources go onto explain that the Rays are not “actively shopping Snell,” but we’re really splitting hairs at this point. He’s clearly available, and two teams, the Angels and Mariners, are already rumored to be interested. Given his youth, upside, and contract, I have to agree with one NL executive who said that Snell “would bring back a massive return.”
For what it’s worth, Ken Rosenthal also reports that the Texas Rangers are listening to offers on right-hander Lance Lynn, 33, who’s got just one more year of team control at $8 million. Lynn was a 6.8 WAR pitcher in 2019 (3.67 ERA, 3.13 FIP over 208.1 IP) and made 13 effective starts in 2020, as well (3.32), so he’s actually a really intriguing target at a low financial cost.
The Cubs probably won’t go barking up this tree given their assumed plans for 2021, but the Rangers and Cubs have made a LOT of deals over the years and the Cubs do have a lot of holes in their rotation. Adding a very durable, consistent arm like Lynn would be awesome. I just don’t really expect them to go this route, knowing that it would cost them serious prospect talent for a one-year arm.
Blue Jays Want Everybody
According to Rosenthal, the Blue Jays offered Kevin Gausman a three-year, ~$40 million deal, which he evidently turned down in favor of the $18.9M qualifying offer, and they’re otherwise pursing free agents at a “breakneck pace.”
They [the Blue Jays] are interested not only in outfielder George Springer and infielder DJ LeMahieu, but also have been in recent contact with outfielder Michael Brantley and third baseman Justin Turner, among others, sources say.
That is pretty wild. We know they’re planning to be active, but my word.
Connection Between LeMahieu, Turner, and Correa
For what it’s worth, Rosenthal still believes the Yankees are the favorites to re-land LeMahieu, and Andy Martino agrees …
Again, the Mets are an unlikely destination for LeMahieu.
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) November 24, 2020
… however, we know the Blue Jays are also involved, and, apparently, the Dodgers and Astros are both still in the game. The interest of those last two teams, however, depends on L.A.’s ability to re-sign Justin Turner, their first choice, and Houston’s ability to to trade Carlos Correa, who Rosenthal had seemingly implied was very available, before updating his post with this:
Houston, however, is not engaged in any active conversations on Correa, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking.
Clearly, someone somewhere did not want Rosenthal putting that out there, but it’s a little hard to ignore what was previously implied.
And certainly, Correa’s availability, as well as the large number of shortstops available in free agency this and next offseason, could present considerable competition for Javy Báez’s trade value … which could end up being a blessing in disguise, though, as the Cubs may instead push to keep Báez long-term (obviously the hope) or trade him at some other point when his value is higher (mid-season?).
Remember, though, the Cubs currently have no-ongoing extension discussions and the financial vibe from the Jed Hoyer press conference was … bleak.
The International Market
Some international free agent news …
• Right-hander Kohei Arihara, 28, will be posted this offseason, after posting a 3.46 ERA over 132.2 IP in the NPB in 2020 – he was even better in 2019 (2.46 ERA, 164.1 IP with 161 strikeouts).
NEWS: Kohei Arihara will be posted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, source confirms Nikkan Sports report. Arihara, 28, was a candidate for 2019 Sawamura Award as the top pitcher in NPB. He went 8-9 with a 3.46 ERA in 132-2/3 IP this year. @MLBNetwork @MLB (h/t @JCoskrey)
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 23, 2020
• Former Brewers stud Eric Thames is weighing his options
Source: Free agent Eric Thames is drawing interest from @MLB, KBO, and NPB clubs after posting an .825 OPS over the last four Major League seasons. Thames, 34, played for the NC Dinos in Korea from '14 through '16. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 23, 2020
• And, at long last, our #1 Cubs target this offseason, Ha-Seong Kim, will be posted as soon as tomorrow! He’ll then have one month to get a deal done. And despite our concerns, the Cubs should be able to find a place for them if they like him as much as we do.
According to SpoTV, on November 25th, Kiwoom will request that the KBO League office asks the MLB to post Kim Ha-seong. https://t.co/4Be8DYo0Z4
— Dan Kurtz (@MyKBO) November 23, 2020
Cubs Trade Rumors
At the Chicago Tribune, Mark Gonzales discusses a wide array of potential trade topics with respect to the Cubs, one of which revealed that Chicago reportedly discussed a potential Kris Bryant trade with the Red Sox over the summer (obviously, nothing came of it). But he got into a lot more than just that, so be sure to give that article a read. Here’s a brief breakdown of some of the highlights …
• The Yankees remain an interesting trade fit for Kyle Schwarber, whom we know they’ve been targeting for a few years now. And, indeed, we also know that the Yankees are eager to get more left-handed on offense, not only because of their ballpark, which favors lefty power hitters, but because of the current makeup of their lineup. Gonzales believes “the Cubs could look for a rebound from infielder Miguel Andujar,” and also able to “pry a young pitcher to complete the deal.”
• Not unlike their interest in D.J. LeMahieu, the Dodgers interest in a trade for Kris Bryant will depend on the outcome of Justin Turner, but they are a player there, as we’ve heard elsewhere. Ditto the Nationals, again, as we’ve heard before. And somehow, the Braves are once again interested in trading for Kris Bryant, though (1) they tried hard last year and nothing came of it and (2) they still prefer to re-sign Marcell Ozuna.
• And finally, the Tampa Bay Rays are legitimate contenders to trade for Willson Contreras, whose trade rumors have been much quieter this offseason compared to last, using their stable of hard-throwing pitchers or even a top young infielder. All things considered, Contreras would carry more trade value that Bryant, Báez, or Schwarber. So if he’s moved, which would sting, you could at least expect a very significant return.