Here’s a postseason-flavored set of notes from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports…
- The Cubs’ decision to keep Javier Baez has proven to be a wise one, and Heyman writes that the team kept Baez over Starlin Castro last offseason because the front office simply had more belief in Baez’s potential. Not only did Castro carry a much higher price tag than the pre-arb Baez, but the Cubs infielder is already looking like the more productive player — Baez posted 2.7 fWAR over 450 plate appearances, while Castro managed just 1.1 fWAR over 610 PA for the Yankees. Baez has shown great power and is cutting back on his strikeouts, though while he is still something of a work in progress at the plate, his defense has already drawn raves. One NL scout tells Heyman that he thinks Baez could win Gold Gloves at multiple positions in the future.
- Jorge Soler could again be trade bait as the Cubs will be juggling a crowded outfield situation. Kyle Schwarber will return to play left field, plus Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist would seem to be penciled in for center and right, respectively. That mix also doesn’t include highly-touted rookie Albert Almora, or if the Cubs were to re-sign Dexter Fowler for center field. Soler drew a lot of trade attention last winter and is signed through 2020, so though he hasn’t truly broken out as a big leaguer yet, he would surely be a big trade chip if the Cubs indeed explored moving him.
- The Tigers and Diamondbacks both “tried hard” to sign John Lackey last winter before the right-hander inked his two-year, $32MM deal with the Cubs. Lackey reportedly chose Chicago over two larger offers, though Heyman doesn’t know if the Tigers and D’Backs were the clubs behind those bigger deals. Arizona was known to have “at least checked in” on Lackey last winter, and while Detroit’s involvement in the Lackey market is new information, it isn’t a surprise given how the Tigers targeted starting pitching last offseason. Either team landing Lackey sets up several fascinating what-if scenarios, given that the D’Backs and Tigers made alternate pitching acquisitions that didn’t pan out in 2016. If the Diamondbacks signed Lackey, perhaps they then wouldn’t have made the franchise-altering decisions to sign Zack Greinke or trade for Shelby Miller. If the Tigers had gotten Lackey, perhaps they wouldn’t have spent $110MM on Jordan Zimmermann, or $16MM on Mike Pelfrey.
- There have already been reports that the Mets intend to exercise their $13MM club option on Jay Bruce for 2017, and a rival executive tells Heyman that retaining Bruce is a move New York has to make. Keeping Bruce would create some defensive issues within the Mets outfield, though the exec noted that “if they don’t want him, they could always trade him.” Bruce slumped badly after joining the Mets but he posted strong numbers in the season’s first four months, so he’d certainly draw interest on the trade market.
- Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield were the two headline prospects sent from Cleveland to New York in the Andrew Miller trade, and Heyman reports that some Indians staff believe Sheffield could be the bigger loss: “Sheffield is a lefty starter, which you can’t find, Frazier is a corner power bat, which you can.” It’ll be several years before we can access how that trade worked out for either the Yankees or the Tribe, though needless to say, nobody in Cleveland has any regrets right now, given Miller’s dominance.