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Indians to get in on the Chase Headley sweepstakes?
The general consensus is that the Indians defense was awful last season. They ranked 25th in defensive efficiency and finished dead last in both DRS and UZR.

One of the players responsible for Cleveland’s defensive woes was third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who cost the Indians over seven runs on defense by FRAA and graded out as even worse by other metrics. Despite Chisenhall’s breakout season at the plate, Cleveland appears to be looking to upgrade defensively at the hot corner as they are “among several teams who have shown an interest” in Chase Headley, according to MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince.

As Sam and Ben noted on Monday’s Effectively Wild podcast, there appears to either be a stark discrepancy between the industry and public perception of Headley’s value, or else the market for Headley has simply been underreported. Jim Bowden recently projected that Headley would get a three-year deal for $27 million, while most public value metrics haven’t discerned much of a difference over the past few years between Headley and Pablo Sandoval, who just signed for nearly nine figures.

Headley’s age certainly plays a role in the difference between signing him and Sandoval, but advanced fielding metrics have been conflicted regarding his ability to man the hot corner. Prior to this season, FRAA had graded him as a negative defender every season since his rookie year, while other defensive metrics have pegged him as an elite defensive third baseman.

At the very least, Cleveland’s interest in Headley signals that they believe he would be an upgrade at third base over Chisenhall, who Castrovince noted would likely move to a corner outfield spot if he wasn’t subsequently traded.

Even if you believe that Headley’s defense isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, the 30-year-old suddenly has a little more bargaining power with Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez off the market. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote yesterday that the Yankees may already be priced out on bringing back Headley, and a price higher than Bowden’s predicted deal could do the same for Cleveland. Castrovince noted that the club has only $12 million to commit to next year’s budget without increasing its payroll from 2014.

If Headley starts getting pricey, the Giants—who CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wrote yesterday have started initiating talks regarding several star players, including Headley—would likely be the biggest beneficiary.

Cubs make an offer to Lester but Red Sox still the favorites?
Daniel Rathman noted in yesterday’s Rumor Roundup that several teams have been linked as possible destinations for Jon Lester. But as of today, the Red Sox and Cubs are the lone teams to have reportedly extended an actual offer to the prized southpaw.

Last week, Boston reportedly offered their former ace a six-year deal in the $110 million-$120 million range — an offer recently one-upped by the Cubs, according to CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan. Tuesday morning, Kaplan said on the "Kap and Haugh" radio show that his sources have told him that Chicago has offered Lester a six-year deal “north of $135 million.”

The Cubs have the largest offer on the table but that may not necessarily make them the favorite to ink him to a deal. Kaplan later tweeted that the largest dollar figure isn’t the highest priority for Lester and that his sources still ultimately expect him to return to Boston. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman also suggested yesterday that money shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all for Lester, who emphasized the importance of family and comfort over dollars during a clubhouse interview with Heyman shortly after the season.

But if the Red Sox do decide to renegotiate their initial offer with Lester — something they indicated they were willing to do — they will have extra resources available. Shortly after a pair of news conferences yesterday introducing Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox owner John Henry said that the club is willing to exceed the $189 million luxury tax, at least for one year, and is hopeful about bringing back Lester.

Kevin Cash the favorite for Rays job?
The Rays cut their search for a new manager to three candidates last week and Jon Heyman reported yesterday that he’s hearing Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash has “a strong chance” to end up with the job.

Cash, a former big league catcher and Tampa Bay native, was one of the finalists for the Rangers managerial opening earlier this winter and would become the league’s youngest skipper if hired.

After hanging up his cleats in 2011, Cash worked with the Blue Jays as an advanced scout and then joined Terry Francona’s staff in Cleveland in 2013. Francona had high praise for Cash at the time, telling MLB.com, "When he was still playing, I thought he was a potential coach in waiting. He's a guy who is going to rise through the coaching ranks quickly and will be a manager."

Cash also played a big role in Yan Gomes coming to Cleveland in the trade that sent Esmil Rogers to Toronto after the 2012 season. At the time, Cash raved to Chris Antonetti about Gomes behind the plate and Cash’s familiarity with Gomes in Toronto helped persuade the Cleveland general manager to target the backstop.

The Rays plan to pick their new manager before December’s winter meetings and the 36-year-old would certainly fit the “new voice” that Matt Silverman wants to lead the team.

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