Here’s the latest from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman…
- The Royals don’t appear to be in extension talks with any of their pending free agents (Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas), Heyman reports, and with no progress, all four are expected to reach free agency after the season. K.C. hasn’t given up on the idea of re-signing “one or two” of the quartet, with Hosmer seemingly their top priority. If Hosmer can’t be re-signed, the Royals would then try to bring back “a couple of the others, at least in theory.”
- Cain reportedly asked for a six-year deal at some point in talks, though there haven’t been any recent discussions between Cain and the Royals. Cain will be the oldest of the four free agents (he turns 31 in April) and is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him limited to 103 games due to hamstring and wrist problems.
- Despite Cain’s rough 2016 season, some sources close to the center fielder “express surprise he’s even still” with the Royals. Previous reports over the winter linked Cain to such clubs as the Rangers, Mets, Dodgers and Cardinals in trade rumors, and Heyman adds that the Rockies and Nationals also spoke to Kansas City about Cain’s services. Washington, of course, went on to acquire a younger and more controllable outfield addition in Adam Eaton at a very significant prospect cost. Colorado’s interest in Cain is rather unusual given that the Rockies were already overloaded with outfielders (Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra) even before signing Ian Desmond and converting him to first base. Depending on when the talks between Colorado and K.C. took place, the Rockies could’ve considered acquiring Cain and then perhaps converting Gonzalez to first base, rather than signing Desmond. Blackmon and Gonzalez were also the subject of several trade rumors this winter, so the Rockies could’ve been looking at Cain as a replacement if they’d moved one of their internal pieces.
- The Cubs and Addison Russell agreed to a one-year, $644K deal for the 2017 season, Heyman reports in a separate piece. (For specifics on the pre-arbitration process, check out these MLBTR posts from Zach Links in 2014 and Jeff Todd in 2015, respectively.) The agreement gives Russell a nice bump above the $535K minimum salary, a year before he becomes eligible for salary arbitration. Russell hit .238/.321/.417 with 21 homers over 598 PA for the World Series champs last season, a below-average offensive performance as per the wRC+ metric (95) that was more than made up for on defense — Russell posted 19 Defensive Runs Saved and a +14.3 UZR/150 over 1262 2/3 innings at shortstop last season.
- The Cubs are still in talks with Kris Bryant, who is also entering his last pre-arbitration year. It’s probably no surprise that negotiations with Bryant and his agent Scott Boras are taking a bit longer than usual given Bryant’s outstanding track record over his young career. Heyman suggests Bryant could approach the record contract given to a pre-arb player (the $1MM between Mike Trout and the Angels prior to the 2014 season).
- The Yankees agreed to a 2017 contract with catcher Gary Sanchez, Heyman tweets. Financial terms aren’t known, though Heyman specifies that the two sides reached an agreement and that a renewal wasn’t necessary, which would indicate that Sanchez will also be earning beyond the minimum salary. Sanchez exploded onto the scene in 2016, hitting .299/.376/.657 with 20 homers over just 229 plate appearances.