With the award season in the rearview mirror, baseball turns its attention to the players as teams work on filling needs on their roster for next season. And negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA on the new CBA continue with the Dec. 1 deadline quickly approaching.
Dexter Fowler is one of the biggest free agents on the market. And his performance this past season and helping the Cubs win The World Series is expected to net him the multi-year contract he could not get last off-season.
The Cardinals are at the top of a list of teams that are very interested in Fowler. The Mets, Giants, Nationals, Rangers and Blue Jays have also been connected to Fowler but not as much as the Cubs’ long-time rival. The Cardinals are reportedly focused on signing Fowler according to Jim Bowden and the former GM believes that is where Fowler ends up.
Buster Olney is not as sure as Bowden is about Fowler landing in St. Louis. Olney thinks Fowler “is a natural fit for St. Louis, a switch-hitter who could give the Cardinals the leadoff hitter they’ve needed.” Fowler would also improve the Cardinals’ outfield defense. The Cardinals would have to surrender a draft pick to sign Fowler and they “typically hoard draft picks.”
Early estimates had Fowler signing a three- to four-year contract with an AAV in the $14-15 million range. Jon Heyman predicted a four-year, $60 million contract for Fowler and Bowden had him signing for five years and $80 million. Bowden said during his Sunday show on MLB Network Radio (The Front Office) that it would not surprise him if Fowler signs a five-year, $90 million deal.
The Cubs are interested in bringing Fowler back and the front office will stay in contact with his agent, Casey Close, throughout the process. But Dexter Fowler is expected to sign with another team this winter and make another team go next season.
Aroldis Chapman is expected to break the record this off-season for the biggest contract ever signed by a relief pitcher. Depending on when Chapman signs, many are predicting he will either pass the contracts Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen ink this winter or he will just set the all-time mark that both Melancon and Jansen will fall short of this off-season.
Before Brett Cecil agreed to terms on a four-year, $30.5 million contract with the Cardinals that included a full no-trade clause and changed the market, Jon Heyman thought Chapman would sign for five years and $85 million. Jim Bowden had Chapman inking a five-year, $90 million deal.
Buster Olney detailed the concerns about Chapman and the adjustments he has to make moving forward.
Chapman has an electric fastball and when he is on, he can dominate any lineup and any hitter for an inning. Chapman has limitations and there is concern around the game that as he ages and his fastball is no longer 100-plus on a regular basis that he will not be able to get the job done.
According to Buster Olney, rival evaluators thought Chapman “suffered in comparison” to both Andrew Miller and Kenley Jansen during the Cubs’ postseason run.
Baseball has finally seen Chapman’s weaknesses. Chapman struggles when he enters games with men on base and he is not comfortable pitching multiple innings. Chapman stepped up when Joe Maddon leaned on him in The World Series and he played a big role in the Cubs winning the championship.
Olney believes Chapman will still get “an enormous contract” this winter “but some evaluators have wondered about how Chapman will evolve in the years ahead as he inevitable loses velocity.” Teams saw in the postseason when he is not throwing 100-plus that Chapman is “a different pitcher.”
Scouts that Olney talked to think he will be able to adjust as he ages and his velocity drops. Chapman will have to learn how to locate his fastball better, hit his spots, and throw his slider to keep hitters from sitting fastball.
Teams are very interested in Chapman (Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals). The Yankees are considered the favorites to sign Aroldis Chapman to what will be at least a five-year contract.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Through the first 306 career games, Kris Bryant has a .284/.377/.522 slash line with 65 home runs, 201 RBI, 208 runs scored and 152 walks. Through the first 306 games of his career, Willie Mays had a .304/.379/.561 line with 65 home runs, 201 RBI, 195 runs scored and 139 walks.
• Kris Bryant is getting married in January. Bryant, No. 17, is marrying his long-time girlfriend on Jan. 7, 2017 (1/7/17).
• For those that may have missed it … Tom Verducci reported the end of the Cubs’ title drought has unleashed a flood of emotions.
• Buster Olney reported the signing of Brett Cecil speaks to the Cardinals desperate need for a left-handed reliever.
• Jim Bowden detailed probability and fits for top trade targets Miguel Cabrera, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Andrew McCutchen, Zack Greinke, Ryan Braun, Justin Verlander, Carlos Gonzalez, Jose Quintana, Brian Dozier, Jose Abreu, Marcus Stroman, Ian Kinsler, Sonny Gray, Todd Frazier, J.D. Martinez, Marcell Ozuna, Jake Odorizzi and Adeiny Hechavarria. The only player on his list that he thinks the Cubs are a possible destination for is Jake Odorizzi. Bowden puts the odds of Odorizzi being traded at 50 percent. And he feels if the Rays trade a starter it will be Odorizzi. Other possible destinations for Odorizzi, according to Bowden, include the Marlins, Tigers, Astros, Rangers, Dodgers, Twins and Braves.
• According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Dodgers have interest in Rays’ infielder Logan Forsythe. Andrew Friedman knows Forsythe, one of Joe Maddon’s favorites, extremely well. Forsythe broke into the big leagues with Jed Hoyer’s Padres in 2011. Forsythe batted .264/.333/.444 with 24 doubles, four triples and 20 home runs for a .778 OPS in 127 games this past season. Forsythe is a free agent after the 2017 season.
• Ken Davidoff reported the latest on the CBA talks between Major League Baseball and the Players Association.
• The Red Sox are a step ahead of the Yankees in the race for long-term AL East control according to John Perrotto.
• Baseball writers should get out of the business of award voting according to Buster Olney.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs released Bryan LaHair
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Jason Waddell
1990 – Cubs signed free agent Danny Jackson
1984 – Quintin Berry, born
1972 – Cubs traded Bill North to the A’s for Bob Locker
1967 – Cubs traded Bob Raudman and cash to the Indians for Dick Radatz
1959 – Cubs acquired Dick Gernert from the Red Sox for Dave Hillman and Jim Marshall
1958 – Mike Mason, born
1954 – Alan Hargesheimer, born
1934 – Cubs traded Bud Tinning, Dick Ward and cash to the Cardinals for Tex Caleton
1933 – Cubs acquired Chuck Klein from the Phillies for Harvey Hendrick, Ted Kleinhans, Mark Koenig and $65,000
1905 – Freddie Lindstrom, born