A watched Hot Stove never boils, and this one has only just started to simmer. Even after last weekend’s flurry of arbitration settlements and trades, there are still scads of big-name players waiting to land a deal this winter. At the top of the list: high-priced hurlers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, both of whom continue to pique would-be contenders’ interest as the offseason drags on.
While Darvish has spent the last month stoking his own trade rumors over on Twitter, news surrounding Arrieta has dragged to a halt as teams wait for his alleged $200 million asking price to come down. Jim Bowden of The Athletic claims that the Brewers are still “in” on the right-hander, though it’s unclear whether they’re anywhere close to sealing the deal just yet. Arrieta reportedly received six multi-year offers from the Brewers, Cubs, Cardinals, and three others last week, with one undisclosed team willing to commit to a five-year contract.
Arrieta is one of the more durable pitchers left on the market, and there’s no doubt that the Brewers’ rotation could benefit from a 2.0+ WARP shot in the arm as they aim for contention again in 2018. Even so, his declining velocity and inflated home run rate points toward a continued regression in the years to come, and it seems unlikely that he’ll return to the Cy Young-worthy production levels he maintained in 2015. A long-term investment may not make much sense for the Brewers (especially with team ace Jimmy Nelson on the verge of a comeback), but with the way this market is moving, they’ll still have plenty of low-risk alternatives to choose from in the weeks to come.
The Orioles are beginning to discuss third base targets, writes Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. While they avoided arbitration with third baseman Manny Machado, inking him to a one-year, $16 million deal (plus incentives), it’s all but certain that their superstar will depart via trade or free agency sometime in the coming year–and there’s no compelling understudy waiting in the wings right now.
One possibility? Free agent Mike Moustakas, whose career-best 38 home runs obscured an underwhelming 1.9 WARP last season. There’s nothing to suggest a deal is imminent, or even that the Orioles have approached the 29-year-old slugger with an offer, but Kubatko speculates that the team will monitor his price tag as the offseason winds down. He could bring a much-needed lefty bat to the lineup and help bridge the gap after Machado vacates his post.
Of course, the Orioles aren’t the only ones invested in a potential deal with Moustakas; the Brewers, Mets, Angels, and Royals have all done due diligence on the veteran infielder this winter. Bowden adds that the Brewers have discussed picking up Moustakas and flipping Travis Shaw to the Yankees, Braves or Mets, but given Shaw’s team-friendly contract and remarkable breakout in 2017 (not to mention the Yankees’ reticence to deal their crop of top prospects), that seems highly unlikely.
Yadier Molina is still not interested in playing baseball after the 2020 season, the veteran catcher told reporters during Monday’s Winter Warm-Up. Molina has spent the last 14 years in St. Louis and intends to finish out his three-year, $60 million extension with the club before entering retirement in 2021.
When he does so, he’ll be the first Cardinals player (With at least 10 seasons under his belt) since Tom Pagnozzi to hang up his cleats after playing the entirety of his career with the organization. Pagnozzi played 12 seasons in Cardinals red before calling it quits in 1998; if all goes according to plan, Yadi will have played 17. More importantly, he’ll be the first true Cooperstown contender among Cardinals lifers since Stan Musial was ushered into the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility.
Retirement may not spell the end of Molina’s involvement in the industry, though Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com noted that the Cardinals didn’t modify the contract with any personal service clauses that would allow him to return in a front office role. For now, however, the eight-time Gold Glove winner has more modest goals in mind than a Hall of Fame berth or managerial role.
“Three more championships,” Molina said Monday.
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