Top Of The First
We’re all patiently waiting for Zack Greinke to sign. That’s the main event. Yesterday’s undercard grabbed all the headlines however. We saw a few trades, teams tendered and non-tendered players, there were plenty of rumors about a lot of free agents and potential trades, and Jayson Stark tweeted about a nine-figure offer for Jeff Samardzija. News on Zack Greinke’s imminent signing were nonexistent for the most part though.
Lots of stuff here today. Strap on the feed bag and dig in.
In the Shark Tank
The biggest news of the day was Jeff Samardzija’s alleged $100M offer, which may or may not have been true, but is nonetheless one the Shark has yet to agree to. Agent posturing or legitimate offer? Tough to tell. But coming off his worst season as a starter and considering Jordan Zimmermann just signed for $110 million, one would think Samardzija and his agent would be scheduling a press conference were that a bona fide offer.
I’m on the fence regarding Samardzjia for the Cubs. He’s been a pretty consistent 2.7 WAR pitcher for three of the last four seasons, with an outlier of 4.1 WAR in 2014. He projects to a 2.7 WAR for 2016. It’s safe to assume that’s who he is as he heads for post-30 regression. Is that worth $100 million dollars?
On the other hand, using FIP as a guide, he compares so favorably to Zimmermann — if one could fairly substitute one pitcher for the other. As a bonus, Samardzija gives you a consistent 200+ innings, a consistent 200+ strike outs, and has very little wear on his arm. Is THAT worth $100 million dollars? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, but it doesn’t seem so outrageous, all things considered.
Still, this purported offer reminds me a great deal of the phantom offer James Shields allegedly received just a few weeks after last year’s Winter Meetings. Ken Rosenthal had reported that two baseball executives claimed Shields had a 5/$110M deal “in hand” and that Shields was in fact looking for more money. A month later, baseball insiders wondered if Shields would get even a $50M deal. He finally accepted a 4/$75M deal from the Padres that included a $16M team option for 2019. The Cubs even got an assist for driving Shields’ price up somewhat with a competitive offer at the last minute. Shields is represented by PSI Sports Managemen and Samardzija is represented by The Wasserman Media Group, in case you were wondering.
Greinke: Heads it’s the Dodgers, Tails it’s the Giants
Almost every source on the planet believes that Zack Greinke will choose between the Dodgers and the Giants. The numbers being thrown about are pretty similar, too, though one unconfirmed report from an unnamed source said the Dodgers were willing to go as high as $35 million per year over six years. Again, were this a legitimate offer, I’m pretty sure Greinke would have signed. Maybe he needs to think about it, but I don’t see another team offering that much for him unless somebody lets Arte Moreno loose unaccompanied in Nashville. I also expect Greinke to sign any minute, whether it’s the Dodgers, the Giants, or some other team.
Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweeted that a source close to the situation indicated that Greinke would decide where he’s signing within the next 48 hours. Bowden added that he expects Greinke to land a 6/$192M contract.
To Tender Or Not To Tender?
Tendering a contract doesn’t assure anyone of an Opening Day roster spot, of course. It simply means a player will have a contract if traded, DFA’d, etc. Though highly demeaning, being non-tendered doesn’t mean a career is over either.
Today, the Chicago Cubs tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players except recently-claimed reliever Ryan Cook. Rex Brothers was signed earlier in the day to a $1.42M deal, thus avoiding arbitration. Clayton Richard was also signed to a $2M deal. The Cubs will now attempt to sign (or move if needed) the six remaining eligible players that were tendered contracts, including:
- Jake Arrieta
- Chris Coghlan
- Justin Grimm
- Hector Rondon
- Pedro Strop
- Travis Wood
By signing Brothers and Richard and by cutting Cook, and factoring in arbitration raises for the six remaining players, the Cubs payroll is estimated to sit at about $115.63M for 16 players, barring trades. It is important to note that the Cubs are still on the hook for Edwin Jackson ($13M) and Gerardo Concepcion ($1.2M) for 2016. Those contracts have been included in the estimated payroll. There’s still some creative work to be done if the Cubs are to keep their 2016 payroll between $120M and $130M. You can track guaranteed salaries and 2016 payroll obligations here.
Other notable players that were non-tendered today include Mike Minor, Greg Holland, Pedro Alvarez, Chris Carter, Steve Cishek, Henderson Alvarez, Yusmeiro Petit, Neftali Feliz, Al Alburquerque, Ike Davis, Jacob Turner, Cesar Ramos, and Tyler Flowers. All are now free agents, and guys like Minor, Petit and Cishek may interest the Cubs, especially if they can get some salary relief by trading Pedro Strop, who is expected to earn $4.7M in 2016.
Fact, Fiction, Truth, Or Rumor
Ben Badler reports that Jose Miguel Fernandez, a second baseman who ranked as the No. 3 Cuban player in April, has left the country to pursue a contract with a major league team. He’s 27 and is considered an MLB-ready, high OBP infielder. Fernandez has had a long layoff though, having not played since October 2014 due to suspension. He is exempt from IFA rules and will be treated like a regular free agent, so any team can sign him once he’s eligible.
The Phillies have claimed center fielder Peter Bourjos off waivers from the Cardinals. I liked him as a potential signee for the Cubs. The Phillies were the first team eligible to claim Bourjos and did so immediately.
The Braves have agreed to a one-year contract with Gordon Beckham that will guarantee the longtime White Sox infielder $1.25M for 2016. The Braves also signed OF Jeff Francouer (terms undisclosed).
The Athletics and Padres have announced a deal that will send first baseman Yonder Alonso and southpaw reliever Mark Rzepczynski to Oakland in exchange for lefties Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres. There’s also a player to be named later heading to San Diego. Alonso was San Diego’s choice as first baseman of the future when the Padres traded Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs nearly four years ago.
The Mariners have reached agreement with OF Nori Aoki on a one-year deal with a team option for 2017.
The Pirates are interested in free-agent right-hander Justin Masterson. Pittsburgh appears to be the place for discarded pitchers to reestablish value. With pitching guru Jim Benedict gone to Miami we’ll see if that’s still the case. Masterson is certainly a project at this point, putting it mildly.
According to Buster Olney the Mets continue to show interest in OF Dexter Fowler.
The Rays have acquired Hank Conger from the Astros for cash considerations.
Bottom Of The Ninth
Everybody seems to have jumped on the Justin Heyward bandwagon for the Cubs in the last 24 hours. Sahadev Sharma makes a great case for signing Heyward and Brett Taylor agrees. Facts being facts, it’s tough to argue against them because Heyward would improve the Cubs in a number of areas in which they need improvement.
I just don’t see Heyward as worth the investment because it handcuffs the Cubs monetarily in the short term. I am against signing Jeff Samardzija for the very same reason, if we are talking about exceeding nine figures long term. I’d rather the Cubs trade from depth for pitching and sign guys who will want shorter termed contracts and less money, such as John Lackey or Alex Gordon.
The point is the Cubs need financial flexibility or it will limit their ability to manipulate their roster as needed, not just in the signing of free agents but also when it comes to making trades during the season. Heyward and Samardzija are fine players and both will likely get the contracts they are seeking and deserve. But there are options available that make much more sense for the Cubs, short and long term, in my opinion.