FanRag’s Jon Heyman kicks off his weekly notes column by recapping seven moves that turned the Cubs from cellar-dwellers into contenders, recalling the trades that netted the team Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Addison Russell as well as the Rule 5 selection of Hector Rondon. Here are some highlights from his roundup of notes on all 30 big league clubs…
- Brian Snitker, Terry Pendleton and Bo Porter are the Braves’ primary internal candidates to fill the managerial vacancy, while Heyman lists some potential outside candidates as Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, former Padres manager Bud Black, former Twins manager Rob Gardenhire and Royals bench coach/former Mariners skipper Don Wakamatsu.
- The Astros will seek rotation help this offseason even if Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers get back up to full strength from their respective shoulder and elbow issues. With Doug Fister hitting the open market and the Astros receiving lackluster production from Collin McHugh and Mike Fiers, that’s not exactly a surprise.
- Both Tim Lincecum and Jered Weaver are determined to return in 2017, according to Heyman. He writes that Lincecum feels that he focused so much on strengthening his surgically repaired hip that he neglected to strengthen his arm enough, though a return to prominence for Lincecum always seemed like a fairly noted long shot after four down seasons and a significant surgical procedure.
- The Yankees will make a run at re-signing Aroldis Chapman as a free agent this winter, Heyman writes, at least in part due to Dellin Betances’ recent struggles. While Betances’ slump has been magnified by the fact that it’s taken place in late September, he was excellent for the bulk of the time following the Yankees’ deadline sale, pitching to a 0.57 ERA in his first 15 2/3 innings following the deadline and allowing only one run in August. If the motivation to re-sign Chapman is simply to once again create an extraordinarily deep back of the bullpen, that certainly makes sense, but pursuing him in light of three poor September outings from Betances seems rather reactionary when looking at Betances’ body of work as a whole.
- Second-half bullpen struggles have the Giants kicking themselves for not making a stronger push for Mark Melancon, Heyman reports. The Giants felt their offer was comparable to that of the Nationals, but Pittsburgh ultimately traded Melancon to D.C. in exchange for left-hander Felipe Rivero and minor league lefty Taylor Hearn. While the Giants made a run at Andrew Miller, as well, the Yankees asked for Joe Panik in exchange, which the Giants understandably found to be too steep an ask. GM Bobby Evans lamented not adding another established reliever to Heyman, and it seems likely that they’ll be in the mix for the top bullpen options this winter (Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Melancon).
- Extension talks between the Rangers and Rougned Odor were put on hold earlier this season, as the two sides couldn’t get on the same page. Odor’s camp was seeking a deal larger than Gregory Polanco’s five-year, $35MM pact with the Pirates, and while the Rangers wanted two club options tacked onto their top offer, Odor’s reps were only willing to concede one option year. That, of course, doesn’t rule out a deal being reached further down the line, but Odor’s 31-homer season as a 22-year-old second baseman figures to give his side plenty of leverage in talks, even if that power comes with an OBP that’s barely scraping the .300 mark.