In an ESPN Insider analysis of today’s Twins/Yankees swap of center fielder Aaron Hicks and catcher John Ryan Murphy, Keith Law opines that both sides did quite well. While the Twins might have traded a bit more upside in exchange for stability, both clubs came away with a player who fit their current roster better than the piece they traded, says Law. Hicks has the potential to be an elite defender and is an immediate upgrade for the Yankees in a regular role solely based on his glove, while Murphy’s defense has steadily improved. Law feels that Murphy projects as an everyday catcher, though not a star-caliber one with tremendous offensive upside.
A few more notes from the game’s Central divisions…
- Asked about the possibility of a contract extension for Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, agent Scott Boras told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers: “We’re going to be talking about that as the offseason unfolds, about Jake. I would say it’s fair to say the Cubs are pleased with Jake. And I’m sure Jake is happy playing there so we have to see where it goes.” Boras went on to state that Cubs’ ownership is in a new phase, having entered a “championship phase” after spending years in a rebuilding phase. “How owners react to that and what they do is a completely different thought process,” said Boras.
- The Cubs still like Jeff Samardzija and aren’t ruling out a return for the right-hander, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote today. The Cubs, at one point, offered Samardzija $80-85MM on a contract extension, and Heyman notes that a similar sum may be a ballpark offer for what he can expect on the free-agent market.
- The rebuilding Brewers won’t be players for top-of-the-market free agents, writes MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, but new GM David Stearns could still sign some free agents to fill the club’s voids in center field and at third base. Stearns said that Domingo Santana, who played some center field in 2015, is best-suited for a corner outfield spot, but he’s not against using Santana in center if needed. If no external center field option is acquired, Santana will man the position in 2016. At third base, Stearns spoke of a need to pursue some external options given the lack of depth the Brewers currently have. “There’s a chance [internal options] could take a step up in production, and we’re certainly also going to look for external options,” said Stearns.
- The Indians are interested in Korean right-hander Seung-hwan Oh, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland bid “aggressively” on first baseman Byung-ho Park but fell short of the division-rival Twins’ bid. However, Oh won’t be subject to the posting system given his professional service time in Korea, and Oh would present a much-needed late-inning option for manager Terry Francona to put alongside Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw. Oh, nicknamed “the Final Boss” and “Stone Buddha” in Korea, is said to be traveling to the U.S. to meet with MLB clubs this week.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the team must consider playing on the free agent market in a way he typically avoids. As Goold notes, recent Cardinals’ free-agent plays for pitchers have either been short-term deals or re-signings of pitchers the team already knows (e.g. Kyle Lohse, Jake Westbrook). However, the loss of Lance Lynn and the potential departure of Lackey on a two- or three-year deal with another club could lead to atypical activity for the Cardinals. Mozeliak is bullish on a healthy return for Carlos Martinez, but the team still needs further certainty in the rotation. Said Mozeliak: “The opportunity to add is something that we have to consider. … We’ll see. I’d like to let the market develop before I weigh in on that.”
- Aroldis Chapman will probably be the first domino to fall in the Reds‘ impending fire sale, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Reds know that Chapman, a free agent after the season, will earn about $13MM via arbitration (MLBTR projects him at $12.9MM), and they need to maximize the return they can get on him by dealing him this offseason so that an acquiring team can make a qualifying offer following the 2016 campaign.