Everyone is interested in Darren O’Day
Well, almost everyone. Close enough to everyone that O’Day should be able to get just about whatever he wants on the open market, where the decreasing fascination with closers should reward one of the majors’ best setup men with money previously reserved solely for those who work the ninth inning.
The former Orioles sidewinder is coming off his second straight sub-2 ERA season, and he’s trended downward in that department in every year since 2011, a lofty accomplishment considering his ERA in 2012 was 2.58. O’Day was better than ever in 2015, striking out 31.9 percent of the batters he faced while walking just 5.5 percent. Only three pitchers—David Robertson, Clayton Kershaw, and Chris Sale—had a K rate at least that high with a BB rate no higher.
It should come as no surprise, then, that O’Day has caught the eye of some of the league’s likeliest 2016 contenders, including the Dodgers and Nationals, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported early last week that O’Day is seeking a four-year contract worth $28 million to $36 million. Given the demand for his services, he just might get it, even though he’d turn 38 during the 2019 playoffs.
Giants keeping controllable infielders off the table in trade talks
With question marks surrounding the rotation behind ace Madison Bumgarner, the Giants have been connected to just about every available frontline starter—both in free agency and in trade. The latter route is proving complicated for general manager Bobby Evans to navigate, however, because the Giants have a few virtually untouchable assets and little in the way of coveted prospects behind them.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported over the weekend that when Evans phones counterparts like the Braves’ John Coppolella, the names of infielders Matt Duffy and Joe Panik inevitably surface. But even if moving one of them could bring a potential no. 2 starter like Shelby Miller to San Francisco, Evans is very reluctant to break up an infield that represents one of his team’s greatest strengths.
Beyond Duffy and Panik, the Giants have a host of hard-throwing relievers, a possible everyday catcher in Andrew Susac, and infielder Christian Arroyo, who could be ready for regular duty by 2017. There are worse groups of young talent around the league, but there are many better ones, and given the demand for pitchers like Miller, chances are the Giants will be outbid.
Free agency remains the most probable route for Evans to reel in one or two starters. Along those lines, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman recently spoke to sources who believe that San Francisco could land Zack Greinke, who opted out of his contract with the Dodgers, and Cafardo believes the Giants are in the mix for John Lackey.
Dallas Keuchel nearing a big payday
With a Cy Young Award in hand, Astros southpaw Dallas Keuchel is ready to put some big-time dough into his bank account. Evan Drellich, who covers the Astros for the Houston Chronicle, expects GM Jeff Luhnow and Keuchel’s agent Darek Braunecker to try to hammer out a multi-year deal later this winter.
Negotiations regarding Keuchel, who turns 28 in January, could prove tricky because of his path to stardom. Nothing about his 2015 campaign looks fluky, with a 2.78 DRA backing his 2.48 ERA and an 81 cFIP portending more great things to come, but it remains to be seen whether team and player will see eye to eye on value and risk.
Drellich believes that Keuchel’s pitching style, which centers on command and inducing soft contact rather than blowing hitters away, might make him a less risky investment than power arms, at least from an injury standpoint. And for his part, Keuchel seems to want to stay in Houston; he told Drellich that the new money would go toward a house “so [he] can feel at home” in south Texas.
With three years and 89 days of service time, Keuchel is a first-time arbitration-eligible player, under the Astros’ control through the 2018 season. If he inks a longer pact than that, he wouldn’t hit free agency until he’s into his 30s, a factor Braunecker must consider while attempting to balance earning potential with financial security. MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration formula projects a $6.4 million salary for Keuchel in 2016.
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