The Astros are making a huge playoff push, with Chris Carter on their roster. How long will this last? Or will we see Tyler White or AJ Reed take over the helm at 1st/DH? I don’t see Singleton making a big difference in the near future. — Chris S.
Carter will remain on the roster through season’s end due to the fact that rosters expand tomorrow, and the team will at least value having that type of bat on the bench as a pinch-hitting option. I’m honestly surprised they’ve stuck with him as long as they have, but I have a difficult time seeing either of the players you mentioned as a September callup. Neither needs to be protected on the 40-man roster this winter in order to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and Houston does have quite a few players that will need those precious 40-man spots in order to avoid being selected. White will be Rule 5 eligible in the 2016-17 offseason, so I’d imagine that at some point next year, he’ll have a better shot at cracking the Major League roster — especially with Reed moving up the ladder behind him.
Bottom line is that, barring a trade tonight — and it probably wouldn’t be for anyone too exciting — Houston seems likeliest to run with Carter and Singleton down the stretch.
With Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Martinez all already signed for 2016 and Adam Wainwright presumably returning, do the Cardinals do either of the following: Pick up Jaime Garcia’s option or extend a qualifying offer to John Lackey? — Troy K.
The Cards have the four starters you mentioned as well as Marco Gonzales at Triple-A and Alex Reyes in Double-A (to say nothing of free agent options), but I still think they’re wise to take both of the paths you listed. Lackey will be 37 next season, but we’ve seen recent pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo come off worse seasons than the one Lackey is handing and land sizable two-year commitments. While a QO would hurt Lackey’s market, the superiority of his performance relative to other veterans that have landed lucrative two-year deals should be enough for him to test the market.
As for Garcia, he’s injury prone and can’t be counted on for 200 innings, but he’s an $11MM lottery ticket with an ERA just north of 2.00 in just under 100 innings right now. When Garcia is right, he’s one of the more underrated pitchers in the game. Gonzales has had injury problems in 2015 as it is, and Reyes might not be ready until late in 2016. Having Garcia as depth would be beneficial, and exercising the option keeps his 2017 option in play as well, in the event that he has a healthy and productive 2016 season. GM John Mozeliak has indicated that he’s leaning toward exercising the option, and I think only an injury will prevent that from happening.
At the top of the season, I would have considered that the Cubs were merely utilizing Dexter Fowler as a stop-gap for Albert Almora. It seems as though Almora’s stock has declined. With Billy McKinney looking one to two years away from making it to the big league team, I was wondering if the recent surge of Fowler(.364 with 7 Extra Base hits over the last 14 games) would prompt Theo to make an attempt to resign Fowler as opposed to chasing players like Parra, Heyward or Upton. With youth on their side, Upton and Heyward appear to be headed towards A-Rod and Cano type money while Parra doesn’t have the track record of Fowler in the batters box or in the field. I was wondering if it appears as apparent to you as it does to me that the Cubs would at least try to retain Fowler on a two year deal. If Fowler isn’t the Cubs CF target, I was wondering who it could be? — Keith S.
The odds of Fowler, a 29-year-old switch-hitting outfielder that could handle center or the corners, settling for a two-year deal this offseason are practically nonexistent in my mind. If the Cubs could retain him on a two-year deal, I’m sure they would have interest, but I’d peg Fowler’s realistic floor at a three-year deal, with a four-year deal seeming perfectly plausible. I’d expect his agents at Excel Sports to come out aiming for five years, honestly. I’d make Fowler the qualifying offer and collect a draft pick when he signs elsewhere. (If, for some reason, he accepts, then Fowler at one year and ~$16MM isn’t a disastrous outcome by any means.)
The Cubs could go multiple routes. Arismendy Alcantara or Matt Szczur represent perhaps underwhelming internal options. A second stopgap via trade (e.g. Peter Bourjos, Cameron Maybin, Gregor Blanco) could make sense, with the team then holding out for a pursuit of Carlos Gomez following the 2016 season. Present free agents like Austin Jackson and Colby Rasmus could be of interest on mid-range deals. And, the Cubs have the talent to try to pry someone like Aaron Hicks, Jackie Bradley or Dalton Pompey away from their current clubs (though the Twins, Red Sox and Blue Jays would probably all seek pitching, so perhaps those three aren’t ideal examples).
What has Ian Desmond’s underwhelming season done to his FA value? Will he be able to top the reported $100 mm deal the Nats previously offered him? — Scott S.
Fortunately for Desmond, there are still 33 games left for him to continue his second-half resurgence. Desmond’s batting .293/.358/.544 with 10 homers and seven steals through 41 second-half contests, and he’s drastically cut down the errors he’d been accumulating. While his overall batting line is still miserable, if he continues at anything close to that stretch, his full-season numbers will at least be passable. In that scenario, his representatives will be able to pitch that Desmond had a rough 87-game patch to open the season before rebounding to his usual self. The case could be made that his first half was merely an aberration, and the preceding three years plus the subsequent two-and-a-half months are what should be expected by a signing team.
This is obviously just a hypothetical scenario, but if Desmond’s final 33 games go exactly as his previous 33 contests did (they, of course, will not), he’d finish with a cumulative .243/.299/.414 batting line and a .291/.356/.534 second half. Entering his age-30 season with the case to be made that he has just three lousy months in the past four seasons, Desmond could make a case for a nice contract. But reaching the amount he reportedly turned down — it should be noted that said offer came with heavy deferrals — seems like a reach.
Put more concisely, Desmond would need six years to get to $100MM+, and that feels too heavy. I do think five years is in play if he maintains his current pace for the final 33 games, however.