Sometimes, I really want to float an idle thought or 12 about baseball as they occur to me, but don’t want to hack the idea into pieces for Twitter consumption. So I’m just going to start tossing some of those out in bunches, in posts like these.
-It’s February, which is one-year deal season. Last winter, the only multi-year free-agent deal handed out after February 1 went to Yoenis Cespedes—something of a special case. Ryan Ludwick, Edwin Jackson, Eric Chavez and Raul Ibanez were the biggest free agents to sign during the month. All got single years, although Ludwick and Jackson secured longer contracts this time around.
So Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse are really on the wire here. Lohse might sign a one-year pact. But not Bourn. I think Scott Boras will do virtually anything to get Bourn a longer deal, because fellow Boras client Jacoby Ellsbury is due to hit the market next winter. Boras has watched the bevy of available center fielders this winter kill his guy’s value, and he’s unlikely to let the same thing happen to either of his clients next winter.
-There are a handful of units around the league so loaded as to almost demand a Spring Training trade. There’s just no sense in these clubs carrying as much depth in certain areas as they have right now. Those groups are:
- The Athletics’ outfield: They can easily start four of Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Chris Young, Josh Reddick and Seth Smith, because they don’t have any especially compelling DH candidates to steal at-bats. Still, given the team’s other weaknesses, someone there has less utility than the return they would likely generate.
- The Cardinals’ starting rotation: Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter have each missed one of the last two years, but they both enter Spring Training healthy this year. In addition to them, the Cards have Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia (health is a question mark there), Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller in place. Given their weakness at shortstop, it’d be sort of a shame if they didn’t turn some of that depth into reinforcements before Opening Day.
- The Dodgers’ rotation: A year ago, all they had was Clayton Kershaw, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano. In August, they added Josh Beckett to that mix. When Billingsley’s elbow got balky down the stretch, they apparently decided they still were not safe. They added Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu to that corps this winter. Since they have a gaping hole on their infield, though, they might want to explore a watered-down version of the trade I envision the Cardinals making. Maybe only St. Louis could land Asdrubal Cabrera, but Los Angeles should be able to pry loose Jed Lowrie, somehow.
- The Cubs’ rotation: The Athletics, Cardinals and Dodgers are contenders with tremendous depth, which is a great position to be in but a poor one from which to trade. The Cubs’ rotational depth on a poor team is not necessarily the envy of the league, but they have multiple potential trade chips and can get flexible. It’s a talent grab they’re after, so they can make literally any of Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Travis Wood or Carlos Villanueva available and accept the best offer.
- The Mariners’ first basemen and DHs: Of course, since half of their depth here came from moves this winter, it would seem incongruous for Seattle to flip one of them away. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how any team can carry Raul Ibanez, Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Jason Bay, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero without feeling some redundancy. Montero apparently will get one last shot at catching (it won’t work), and Morse, Ibanez and Bay all stand to see some time in the outfield (yikes), but by the middle of March, one or two of them ought to have become so obviously unprepared to play those alternate positions as to move firmly into the expendable column. The flurry of acqusitions signals not much faith at all in Smoak; he might be the one to go.
-Speaking of Spring Training trades, expect one or two more than in previous years this season, now that everyone is keenly aware that the right to make a qualifying offer to a player has pretty substantial value. Matt Garza is the big name to watch, but Ricky Nolasco and Justin Morneau are on the bubble, too.
Next post: Hitting the Corners: Opening Night
Previous post: On Alex Rodriguez, PEDs, Jeff Passan’s Cat and Jon Heyman’s Oedipal Conplex