Because we at Baseball Essential love engaging with you, our readers, we have decided to launch a weekly mailbag. What’s better than having your burning Hot Stove questions answered by writers from one of the fastest-growing baseball-only sites on the Interwebs? Truthfully, I would say that nothing is better. Luckily for you, our Content Manager, Josh Sadlock, and our very own MLB insider, Robert Murray, will be taking your questions every week and providing in-depth opinion and analysis.
So, without further ado, we present to you the very first Baseball Essential mailbag.
— Jon Becker (@mlbrandomfandom) November 29, 2015
JS: This question was effectively answered this weekend when Jordan Zimmermann signed on the dotted line with the Detroit Tigers for five years and $110 million and David Price going to the Boston Red Sox for seven years and $217 million. Who’s up next? The free-agent market has not given us much so far this year, as the Hot Stove has been pretty lukewarm. The big-name outfielders will most likely wait their turn until after Jason Heyward makes his choice. The value of players like Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes will be set by Heyward, and they lose leverage by signing before him.
I would not be surprised to see Zack Greinke make a decision very soon. It’s really down to two teams for Greinke — the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. Personally, I don’t see how the Dodgers can afford to lose Greinke, especially with Zimmermann off the table already. Greinke doesn’t strike me as the type of player who will let the process drag on. He needs to get the pitches from the front offices, evaluate whether or not he really does not want to play with Yasiel Puig, and make a decision.
It would also not come as a shock to me if Darren O’Day signs soon. The most logical landing spots for the reliever are with the Dodgers and the Washington Nationals, but the Baltimore Orioles are now back in the mix. The Nationals should be viewed as the favorites with the Orioles close behind. Washington’s bullpen is arguably what kept them out of the playoffs last year, and the Orioles have ridden the strength of their bullpen the past four years. Adding to the case for both of these teams, O’Day’s wife works as a news correspondent in Washington D.C.
— Jeff Boice (@Angelstatman) November 29, 2015
RM: David Freese became a free agent after the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim decided not to extend him the qualifying offer. In October, he stated that he would “absolutely” love to return to the Angels, so a reunion can’t be ruled out. Freese isn’t an elite player by any means, but he is a solid player and he is one of the top third basemen available on the free agent market. He hit .257 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI last year in LA. He figures to land a multi-year deal on the open market worth roughly $9 million or so per year. Among the teams that could have interest in Freese include the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, as MLBTradeRumors.com mentioned.
JS: As an Orioles fan, this is an interesting offseason. Chris Davis feels like a long shot to re-sign, but my gut is telling me the Orioles will put up whatever it takes to keep him. That offense is built around the ability to hit the long ball, and no one does it better than Davis. It might take $170 million, and the last two years of the deal might be ugly, but the Orioles cannot afford to squander the last few years of their window to contend. As for Justin Upton or Tyson Ross, the Orioles had talks with the San Diego Padres about a trade that could have landed the Orioles both players at the deadline. I doubt the talks were very serious. Upton is now a free agent, and is from the Mid-Atlantic region (although some would refer to Virginia Beach as being in the South). He could be viewed as a nice fallback option if Davis walks. If Davis re-signs, there’s no way the Orioles get both. I believe the Orioles will have around $40 million to play with after all their arbitration-eligible players are handled. That’s enough to sign Davis or a player like Upton as well as a mid-tier starter to replace Wei-Yin Chen. Ross would be an outstanding piece, but the Orioles just don’t have the prospects to make a deal happen.
RM: Good question. The main focus, at least as of right now, appears to be on the bullpen. The team has floated a lot of different scenarios out there and they could spend big on a bullpen arm since they didn’t spend big on David Price. Ryan Madson is definitely of interest to them, from what I have heard. I know Jerry Crasnick over at ESPN.com has heard the same. Madson isn’t the only name that the team has interest in, but he would be a solid fit for them.
JS: I do think this happens before Opening Day. The Padres don’t necessarily have to rush a trade of Ross, and they could hold him until the deadline. I don’t see that happening, especially because the team will look to land MLB-ready players in a trade for their tall right-hander. The Chicago Cubs seem like a very logical fit to make a trade happen. The Cubs can offer Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, or Jorge Soler, and also have a bevy of other prospects who are close to being big-league ready. The Cubs, outbid in the race for David Price, will need to get a quality arm somewhere. The postseason showed that a rotation that includes Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks will not cut it. Ross seems like a good fit to pitch in Wrigley, as he generates a lot of groundballs and does not allow home runs. Command is an issue with Ross, but if the Cubs were able to turn Jake Arrieta into a Cy Young winner by making a few adjustments, they should be able to do enough to get the lanky 28-year-old repeating his delivery more consistently and throwing more strikes.
RM: That’s a tough one to answer. I personally think the team adds either Jeff Samardzija or John Lackey. I’m not sure what they will do to address their lineup, however. They are reportedly in on Ben Zobrist (who isn’t?), but if the price tag is four years worth $15+ million per year, I don’t see them being a serious contender for his services. Alex Gordon is another name I’m keeping an eye on with them. The Cubs have been connected to Gordon all offseason. Would it surprise me if he was in Chicago? Nope. But as always, we have to see how it plays out. Going to be an interesting team to follow this offseason that’s for sure.