Sometimes the stove won’t light no matter how hard you try. This year’s hot stove is more tepid than most and the reason is not really a head-scratcher. Simply put, the potential reality is that every single player at the top of the free agent list this winter sits well behind Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani. Almost every offseason rumor surrounds both players.
In the name of competitive balance, the collective bargaining agreement that was signed last year really changed the way the international signing system works. The biggest change was that the new CBA raised the age of prospects covered by the bonus-pool system from 23 to 25 years old. Since Ohtani is 23 years old he can only agree to a minor-league contract subject to international bonus-pool limits.
That agreement has prevented the Japanese superstar from becoming a true free agent, also ensuring that nobody can offer him a signing bonus of more than the $3.53M that Texas can. In fact, only five other teams can offer him a bonus that exceeds seven figures: the Yankees, Twins, Pirates, Marlins, and Mariners.
With Stanton, things are a little different. Back when the slugger was transitioning from the name Mike to Giancarlo, he and the Marlins agreed to a 13-year, $325M contract extension that is incredibly back-loaded and includes an opt-out clause after year six. If Stanton were to forego the final seven years of his contract he’d basically leave $218M dollars on the table. The outfielder is still owed $295M if he honors the entire contract.
When the Miami Marlins $1.2B purchase was ratified on October 2, Derek Jeter, speaking on behalf of the new ownership group, indicated that he was going to cut payroll and the Stanton trade rumors really started. Yesterday’s news indicated that the Giants are the lone team to have made a formal offer to acquire the slugging outfielder and that the Cardinals and Red Sox will likely follow suit. But that certainly doesn’t mean a trade is imminent. Stanton carries full no-trade rights.
Ohtani’s status is still in limbo due to the MLBPA’s unwillingness to bless the agreement between the MLB and NPB. They have set a Monday deadline for a decision and commissioner Rob Manfred believes the matter will be resolved and that the two-way player will be posted. Where Ohtani will end up is anybody’s guess, as the difference in bonus pools ranging from $10,000 dollars to $3.53M is really razor-thin in today’s baseball’s salary structure. He will play where he wants to play and will depend on future earnings to offset the bonus limitations. That certainly means the Cubs have as much chance as anybody to sign him.
Once things become more concrete with both players, we should see a more typical offseason with plenty of player movement.
Cubs News & Notes
A big part of the offseason is the Rule 5 Draft. The 40-man rosters are due on Monday, and though the article is a few weeks old, Todd Johnson provides a primer on the Cubs’ options that is well worth re-reading.
A case for beefing up the bullpen: Keeping pitchers from facing an opponent’s lineup a third time through could become de rigueur next season. The Cubs are a team that is built on offense in a league that has placed an insane premium on pitching. Brendan Miller has a great article that breaks down the increasing cost of pitching in today’s baseball market.
The Cubs are looking for pitching and the White Sox are in year two of their overhaul. Here are the Cliff’s Notes for each team’s offseason.
Puckett’s Pond looks at how the Twins and Cubs line up for potential offseason trades.
Mike Anton, a deputy chief with the Cook County sheriff’s police was suspended for 10 days for giving security IDs to two people so they could get in to a 2016 Cubs World Series game, court records show.
The Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, and Angels appear to be the favorites to sign free agent closer Wade Davis.
The Cubs bullpen took holiday seasonal jobs to supplement their incomes.
Per Jon Morosi, the Baltimore Orioles are very interested in free-agent SP Alex Cobb.
The White Sox have high hopes for former Cubs prospect Dylan Cease.
Though Stanton allegedly indicated he has no desire to play for the Cardinals, their beat writers feel he should reconsider.
The Yankees have inquired about Rangers INF Jurickson Profar.
The Oakland Athletics are interested in White Sox OF Avisail Garcia.
Weekend Walk Up Song
It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) by R.E.M. Have a great weekend.