It’s easy to buy into Spring Training hype, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes in his latest column as he looks at some of the major Red Sox storylines heading into camp. While the Sox have drawn mostly approval for their offseason dealings, Cafardo warns that pundits were saying the same thing last year prior to Boston’s last place season. Here’s some more from Cafardo’s piece…
- The Astros have asked about Tyler Clippard. Houston has already made a couple of big offseason moves to reinforce their bullpen in trading for Ken Giles and re-signing Tony Sipp, and adding Clippard would only further deepen a relief corps that also includes Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, Pat Neshek and Josh Fields. Clippard’s market was fairly quiet for much of the winter, though as Cafardo notes, things have started to heat up for the veteran righty with at least six teams (including the Rays and Diamondbacks) showing interest.
- Matt Thornton is drawing interest from around six teams, though the veteran lefty may have to settle for a minor league contract. Thornton turned 39 in September and has a 1.98 ERA over 77 1/3 innings in 2014 and 2015, though with only a 5.9 K/9 in that stretch, ERA predictors such as xFIP (4.19) and SIERA (3.79) are less enthused with his performance over the last two years. The Braves, Pirates and Twins were all rumored to have some interest in Thornton earlier this offseason.
- The Rays are likely to keep their pitching, despite “quite a bit of interest” from other teams about Alex Cobb.
- Teams have considered signing Cliff Lee, though they’re wary of giving him a contract in the range of $6MM-$8MM (plus incentives).
- Dan Uggla’s agent says that teams have called about his client, though no side has made any commitments. The veteran infielder is another player who is likely to only find a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.
- “It’s just so slow out there” for the large number of veteran players still on the market, one agent tells Cafardo. This offseason has been the apex of a growing trend in recent years for teams to spend on a few high-salaried stars and then rely on young, cheap talent for the rest of the roster rather than spend more on established veterans. This not only goes for the rank-and-file veterans looking for bench jobs but also for would-be starters like Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler and Yovani Gallardo, all of whom have had their markets slowed by the qualifying offer-attached draft compensation required to sign them. “The [draft-pick] compensation issue is a factor, no question, and we have to do something about it with our collective bargaining talks because this is hurting good baseball players getting jobs,” the agent said.
- An AL general manager, however, implies that some agents should perhaps be a bit more realistic about their demands. “The agents are still asking for major league guarantees for players who should be grateful for major league invitations and minor league deals,” the GM said. “I hear the agents blaming the teams, but I think a lot of teams are willing to add these players. But we’re in February, and quite frankly the signings need to be on our terms at this stage of the game. Eventually, these guys will break down and sign minor deals but we’re close to spring training and there hasn’t been a lot of bend.”