The latest notes column from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports kicks off with an extremely early look at the potential market for Bryce Harper in two years, with Heyman listing the Yankees, Nationals and Phillies as teams that many within the industry think will vie for the 2015 NL MVP in free agency. The in-depth look at Harper focuses on the 24-year-old’s improved clubhouse demeanor and maturity in recent years and also adds more fuel to the rumors that Harper played part of the 2016 season through a shoulder injury that he’s reluctant to discuss. Heyman also touches base on Derek Norris later in the column, noting that there may be a better chance that Norris is simply released than traded. Washington agreed to a $4.25MM salary with Norris to avoid arbitration, but because arb contracts aren’t fully guaranteed, they could cut Norris before March 15 and only pay him 30 days termination pay — about $688K, by my math.
Some highlights from a lengthy look at all 30 teams around the league…
- Pedro Alvarez still has fans in the Orioles’ front office, per Heyman, but there’s been “no evidence” of renewed contact between the two sides. The Twins talked to Alvarez’s camp at one point but haven’t been in touch recently, and while Rangers manager Jeff Banister is fond of Alvarez dating back to the pair’s days in Pittsburgh, there’s nothing to suggest the two sides could strike a deal.
- The Cubs met with Scott Boras recently and discussed Jake Arrieta, but there was “no traction” in talks between the two sides. Heyman paints a similar picture to the one that has surrounded extension rumors with Arrieta for the past several months; the Cubs would be amenable to a three- or four-year deal, but Arrieta and Boras are targeting something more along the lines of Max Scherzer’s seven-year, $210MM contract. Heyman also notes that the Cubs made a play for right-hander Brad Ziegler this winter before he inked a two-year deal with the Marlins.
- Extension talks between the Rockies and Carlos Gonzalez are “on hold” for the time being. The team tried to explore talks with Gonzalez (another Boras client) recently, but with free agency just a few months away, hammering out a new deal has long seemed unlikely (and, I’d argue, unnecessary from the Rockies’ vantage point, given the plethora of outfield options in Denver).
- After spending a combined $99MM on Matt Holliday and Aroldis Chapman at the Winter Meetings in early December, Yankees GM Brian Cashman was told he only had $4MM to work with over the remainder of the winter, Heyman reports. That level of cash prevented the Yanks from luring targets like Travis Wood and Jerry Blevins to the Bronx but did prove to be enough to buy Chris Carter (and perhaps Jon Niese, who inked a minor league deal). Cashman also tells Heyman that he did receive trade offers for Brett Gardner, but the offers simply weren’t enticing.
- Rays closer Alex Colome was oft-rumored to have drawn trade interest last summer and earlier this offseason, though Heyman writes that the Nationals wouldn’t part with top outfield prospect Victor Robles in order to acquire him. Colome was outstanding in his first season in the ninth inning last year, logging 56 2/3 innings with a 1.91 ERA, 11.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate. The 28-year-old hasn’t even reached arbitration yet and is controllable through the 2020 season, so if he does eventually emerge as a potential trade chip, the asking price from the Tampa Bay front office would likely be deemed exorbitant by many clubs.