The absence of a new collective bargaining agreement has representatives for top free agents like Yoenis Cespedes and Edwin Encarnacion concerned, and could lead to delays in signing, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The current CBA, set to expire Dec. 1, includes a $189MM luxury tax threshold. Big-spending teams that are near the $189MM figure could hold off on adding high-end free agents (Cespedes and Encarnacion, to name a couple) until the CBA situation is resolved because they might face penalties under the next agreement if the luxury tax number doesn’t increase. One club it will affect is the Red Sox, according to Cafardo, who expects them to pursue Encarnacion if the threshold rises. Otherwise, they’re likely settle for a less expensive bat like Carlos Beltran.
More from Cafardo:
- Free agent outfielder/designated hitter Jose Bautista “loves” both Boston and Fenway Park, making the Red Sox a potential fit for the longtime Blue Jay, per Cafardo. Further, Bautista has fans in Red Sox manager John Farrell and third base coach Brian Butterfield, both of whom were previously in Toronto. If the 36-year-old doesn’t end up rejoining them in Boston, the Rangers, Astros, Orioles, Cardinals, Giants and Braves are also possibilities (the DH-less National League doesn’t seem ideal, though). First things first, Bautista will have to reject Toronto’s qualifying offer by Monday – which seems like a formality.
- Reds first baseman Joey Votto could waive his no-trade clause if his hometown team – the Blue Jays – attempts to acquire him, Cafardo suggests, but he adds that a deal is unlikely. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier this week that the Reds have “no intention” of trading Votto, who is owed $179MM over the next seven seasons.“We’ve traded away a lot of players we’ve drafted and developed. He’s one of the few that remains,” said GM Dick Williams. “There’s a sentimental connection with fans no doubt. But it doesn’t have anything to do with attendance and draw. It’s about performance. He delivers.” The 33-year-old Votto did indeed deliver in 2016, slashing a remarkable .326/.434/.550 with 29 home runs in 677 plate appearances.
- The Tigers’ plan to get younger and cut payroll is “probably going to be a three-year process,” general manager Al Avila told Cafardo. Avila revealed that he isn’t worried about the luxury tax, saying, “I don’t know what [the luxury tax threshold is] going to be. We’re going to make this change in our business philosophy. We were just trying to get younger and whatever that ends up being, it ends up being. The market will decide what will happen.” The Tigers are reportedly willing to discuss trades involving some of their biggest names, including first baseman Miguel Cabrera, ace Justin Verlander and second baseman Ian Kinsler, and Avila has made it clear that he’s “open-minded in listening.”
- Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner is a good bet to draw trade interest, reports Cafardo. He’s coming off a 2.4-fWAR season, his fourth consecutive campaign with at least that total. Depending on what happens with his 2019 club option, the 33-year-old Gardner will collect either $25MM or $35.5MM over the next three seasons.
- Having signed a five-year extension in September, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is clearly content as a prominent member of the World Series champions’ front office. However, president Theo Epstein’s second-in-command would like autonomy over a baseball department someday. “At some point I would relish [being in charge] again. I aspire to that,” Hoyer said. “But I’m in no hurry. I’ve had opportunities to have that role and I turned them down to stay in Chicago.” Hoyer was previously with the Padres as their GM from 2009-11, but he left San Diego to reunite with Epstein, his former Boston colleague.