Well, we’ve made it passed the marker. The December 2nd non-tender deadline is officially behind us, and so the offseason can finally begin in earnest … we hope (Brett covered why that might not exactly be the case in the Bullets today).
If you’re interested in the brand new crop of free agents, MLB Trade Rumors has the full list of the 59 non-tenders (now free agents) broken out by position. It’s an interesting list to peruse – and we will here shortly – but you know what stood out to me the most in that post? The introduction.
Before getting into all 59 guys, author Tim Dierkes mentioned the most notable non-tenders of the offseason, and Kyle Schwarber is listed first. To me, that’s an implicit argument that Kyle Schwarber is *the* biggest non-tender of the season. In other words, of all the players who were allowed to walk into free agency for nothing more than salary relief yesterday, the Cubs may have given up the most compelling player. And MLBTR wasn’t the only place to take that angle.
Before I finished writing this introduction, MLB tweeted the following:
The 2020 free-agent class just got a little deeper.
— MLB (@MLB) December 3, 2020
So Who’s Available?
As promised, there are a TON of new and notable names on the free agent market – and I think teams were wise to hold tight until last night – but I think Schwarber, David Dahl, Archie Bradley, and Eddie Rosario hit that sweet spot of attractiveness *and* potential fit for the Cubs among the new names.
Obviously, Schwarber is a bit of a different animal with respect to Chicago, and Brett already dove into the potential and questions for Dahl. So for today, I’d like to discuss right-hander Archie Bradley.
Bradley, 28, is a former tip-top pitching prospect (many moons ago) who has long since converted into a reliever. But while he never quite realized his full potential as a starter, his career as a reliever has actually been pretty darn good, including three straight seasons of 70+ innings out of the pen with an ERA no higher than 3.64 heading into the weird 2020 season:
Last season was obviously a short one, but Bradley posted the lowest average exit velocity of his career and managed to finish with a 2.95 ERA (2.59 FIP) despite an elevated BABIP, while pulling his walk rate down to 4.1%.
For his career (as a reliever), Bradley has a 2.82 ERA with 257 strikeouts (26.6%) against just 78 walks (8.1%) in 233.1 IP. He’s also got a 47.0% ground ball rate, a near-10% infield fly ball rate and a 3.18 FIP. Needless to say, he’s got value. And if the Reds were actually going for it in 2021 *or* if this were a normal year (financially), there’s NO WAY he’d be non-tendered. You wouldn’t just let him walk for nothing.
So what’s the rub?
Well, despite solid results *and* peripherals, his fastball velocity was down to 94.2 MPH this year after sitting between 95-96 MPH the previous three years, and the same can be said about the velocity of his secondary offerings, but … that’s about it. You don’t want to just hand him the benefit of the doubt, but considering the funky year, his relative youth (28), and the fact that he was traded mid-season, I’d say he does deserve a little breathing room in terms of velocity, especially when the results were still so excellent across the board.
So long story short? I’d love the Cubs to add him to their hodgepodge bullpen picture. Unfortunately, I suspect he’ll have his fair share of suitors, and the Cubs (1) aren’t spending and (2) seem to be taking a low-cost, high-upside approach to the bullpen lately anyway – which, to be fair, has worked out quite well in certain cases. Bradley might be too much of a “sure thing” for the Cubs’ finances.
Jean Segura Trio of Rumors:
HEY, EVERYBODY: JEAN SEGURA IS AVAILABLE IN CASE YOU MISSED IT.
Sources: Blue Jays among teams talking to Phillies about Jean Segura. @JonHeyman mentioned Segura drawing interest.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 2, 2020
Jean Segura’s name is coming up in trades talks. Versatile player who’s been on the move a lot, not only between positions.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 2, 2020
Jean Segura on the trading block?
Here’s what the Phillies might be trying to accomplish. https://t.co/WxtXFIn2r3
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 2, 2020
Okay, okay. We get it.
Segura, 31 in March, is under control for two more seasons ($29.5 million total still due), but is clearly available on the trade market, even though he’s got a full no-trade clause in his back pocket. The Phillies likely want to move Segura to free up some cash for J.T. Realmuto or even Didi Gregorius, but I think with the number of shortstop options available in free agency and trade both this and next offseason, they’re going to be hard pressed to find the right deal.
Apparently, the Blue Jays are interested, but they’ve become the AL version of the Mets this offseason: attached to every single player in every single rumor because they’re expected to spend some money. I’m not saying they’re not interested, because they have been involved in the SS market, but even if this rumor is actually coming out of Toronto, it could be a play for leverage in some other talks for another shortstop.
Mets in Talks with McCann
It’s become increasingly clear that the Mets are prioritizing James McCann over J.T. Realmuto this offseason (I actually think that could be a wise allocation of resources, however “unlimited” they may be), but things are starting to heat up:
Mets in active talks with free-agent catcher James McCann, according to league sources. A deal is not yet close, but it is looking increasingly likely he will land a four-year deal.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 3, 2020
Jon Heyman adds that “several serious suitors” are still involved, but the Mets are clearly the front-runners. Andy Martino, who’s very close to the Mets, agrees with everything above, but pumped the brakes a little bit on a deal coming together as soon as today. If I had to guess, McCann will be off to New York eventually, perhaps signing even before Realmuto, which is a little surprising given the way free agents typically operate, but still perfectly possible.
Marlins Prioritizing Bullpen
The Marlins are, uhm, prioritizing the bullpen (just feels worth sharing … there are too many relievers to dive deeply into the implications):
New Marlins GM Kim Ng, in ongoing press conference, said adding to bullpen will be top priority this offseason (after losses of Kintzler – whose return hasn't been totally ruled out – and Stanek). Said "would love another bat in the lineup" and is open to anything via trade
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) December 3, 2020
Odds and Ends:
• The Athletic seems to have created a one-stop shop for all of the offseason’s free agency signings, trades, links, and rumors. This is a new idea, as far as I know, but it could be interesting and I thought you might want to check it out. There’s nothing particularly compelling that we haven’t already (or won’t soon) cover as it relates to the Cubs, but this could be a go-to throughout the winter, so I thought you might want to bookmark it:
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 2, 2020
• MLB.com ranks the potential suitors for free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu, and although the actual ranked teams are all the usual suspects (Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Angels, Nationals), they also mentioned the Cardinals in the “other possibilities section” … which I really don’t think will happen.
• The Dodgers completed a trade for Brewers reliever Corey Knebel just before the non-tender deadline. Brewers get a PTBNL or cash, which is what you get when you’re about to non-tender a guy.