As the reporters and baseball men in Orlando start to trickle into the bar, and the news starts to trickle out more lightly– at least for another few hours, most likely (unless I’m totally just making it up that everybody’s getting shithammered and will rush back with breathless half-baked innuendo later in the night)– there are a few interesting notes or thoughts to pass along on a trio of pitchers who are available this winter– one of them, surprisingly so.
The Clevelands were making big splashes on the free agent market last season– bargain hunting as they may have been, waiting out Nick Swisher until January, and Michael Bourn until February– and so while it seemed possible then that they may have dealt their best pitcher, Justin Masterson, with two years left before his free agency, they made the choice to make a run for the playoffs with him on staff instead, and did pretty damn well for themselves (thanks in no small part to the heisting of Yan Gomes from the Jays). Now, with only one year left before his contract expires, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, they might really be ready to move him this time:
Sources: #Indians listening on Masterson with idea of exploring longer-term options. Masterson entering final season before free agency.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 10, 2013
MLBTR projects Masterton to earn $9.7-million this year, which would certainly fit the Jays’ pay structure, and I project that his wicked ground ball rate and spike in strikeout rate in 2013 would make him a hell of an attractive commodity to the club– and, well, any club, really– but it’s hard to see an immediate, obvious fit here in terms of lining up on a trade. Or, well, anywhere, really.
Cleveland isn’t about to punt on the season, so they’d want a quality, big-league piece back. Maybe not as good as Masterson, but one that’s cheaper, controlled for longer, and better tested than Jays possibilities like Marcus Stroman or Drew Hutchison, or just flat out better than any of their other fringe starters. Shit, even Brandon Morrow is only under control for this coming season, plus an option for the next– and not particularly cheaply, either.
With the prospect of a draft pick if he walks, or the potential to maybe get him extended, would I move Stroman for one year Masterson? If I really secretly believed he’d be a reliever then I might– might– but I don’t want to believe I’d believe that! So probably not. Hutchison would be slightly easier to do, but even if you do really think that five or six years of him is worth the one-year difference Masterson (who was worth just 1.9 wins in 2012 and 2.1 in 2010) would make, is that sellable to the folks in Cleveland? Or, better question, is it not beatable by an offer from any number of teams?
I mean, I guess if Cleveland is genuinely concerned about him leaving they may be motivated to sell for something less attractive, but you’d kind of feel better about the fit if there wasn’t so much of a disparity between the years of control involved, right? I mean, you want Happ and Santos? Done. Otherwise… I don’t know… I kind of smell a “feeling out the market in case we need to move him at the deadline” thing here anyway. Just spitballin’, though.
I wrote earlier about the trade of two weeks ago that would have sent Sergio Santos to the Texas Rangers but was nixed because a player involved in the deal failed his physical. There still seems to be talk about the A’s moving Brett Anderson out there, which– if it was him– you’d think may have stopped by now. Still, though, there are definitely some clues that suggest that it could have been, including how the timeline works.
The A’s and Rangers, somewhat oddly given their position as division rivals, lined up for a deal last Tuesday, which sent Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom to the west coast, while Michael Choice and Chris Bostick moved to Texas. That all came about as the league woke up from it’s dormant period over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, meaning that it may entirely fit the two-weeks-ago timeline to think that the deal was being worked on the week prior, to be completed before the holiday, fell apart, and was put back together without the Jays by Oakland and Texas in the early days of the following week.
The optics– not that they were horrible– wouldn’t have been quite so bad, in terms of the intra-divisional trade, had a third team been involved, and the Jays… well… the Jays may have ended up with a pitcher they coveted– albeit one who’d be hard to sell the fan base on, given his injury history. The fact that they might have been able to do it for something involving Santos and J.P. Arencibia (who we know the Rangers were after, too) would have certainly softened the blow, though.
Of course we don’t know who else may have been involved, or even if this is remotely close to what the trade was. And it’s a moot point now, because don’t want him if he’s hurt, but it makes a bit of sense, I’d figure.
And so the market narrows. Ugh.
This is from earlier today, and has probably been contradicted by now, but oh, how I want to believe it’s true. It comes by way of Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, who lays this on us:
The Dodgers and New York Yankees are widely considered the likely favorites to land Tanaka, [but] there are indications neither team might engage in an all-out bidding war to get him.
The Dodgers are interested in Tanaka, but not with the win-at-all-costs mentality that marked their pursuit of Hyun-jin Ryu last winter, according to two people familiar with the team’s thinking.
He then points us in the direction of Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who last night wrote that “the Yankees are most likely to go the trade route rather than spend on Omar Infante or Stephen Drew, and have become more dubious that they will pursue Masahiro Tanaka, even if a posting system is finalized and Tanaka actually gets posted. When it comes to a starter, the Yankees likely will follow the path from a few years back when they bottom-fed for success with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, and see if they can unearth a veteran with some fuel left.”
That is, of course, because of their luxury tax situation and the uncertain status of Alex Rodriguez, Sherman says. Much like the Ryan-Goins-as-starting-second-baseman stuff, I’ll believe those two teams aren’t going to be all over Tanaka when I see it. Then again, I’ll believe the fucking Yankees are going to get a gift of a giant, CBA-defying suspension in the A-Rod case when I see it too.
And there are rumblings about Tanaka emanating from Orlando, as well. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports explains:
Sources told Yahoo Sports that Yozo Tachibana, president of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, plans to arrive at the winter meetings here on Tuesday. His appearance may lend clarity to Rakuten’s plan of whether to accept a $20 million posting fee for the right-hander’s transfer to an MLB team this offseason or reject it and rob the pitching market of its jewel.
OK, then! A resolution on the horizon perhaps. That’d be a little bit damn nice, eh?
So… there’s that.