Some items from around baseball in the latest notes collection from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman…
- The Nationals were linked to Jake Arrieta during the offseason, and Heyman reports that the team was interested in signing the righty to a contract similar to the three-year, $75MM deal Arrieta eventually got from the Phillies. No offer was officially made, however, while GM Mike Rizzo had interest in adding Arrieta, ownership declined to make another big investment in a starting pitcher. With Arrieta pitching well and the Phillies ahead of the Nats in the NL East standings, this non-signing could be an interesting what-if scenario for the future, though Washington’s rotation is already one of the best in baseball.
- Speaking of winter what-ifs, Heyman adds the Mariners, Braves, and Dodgers to the list of teams that had interest in signing Lorenzo Cain before the center fielder inked a deal with the Brewers. Seattle had a clear need for center field help prior to the Dee Gordon trade, though the other two wouldn’t seem to be obvious fits on paper for Cain’s services. The Braves already have Ender Inciarte in center, plus they needed to trade Matt Kemp to make room for Ronald Acuna’s eventual promotion; potentially, Cain could’ve been a fit if Atlanta had managed to trade Nick Markakis (and then convince Cain to shift to right field). For the Dodgers, signing Cain would have run counter to their plan of getting under the luxury tax threshold, plus L.A. would’ve had to give up two draft picks and $1MM in international bonus pool funds as compensation for signing Cain. It’s also possible, of course, that both the Braves and Dodgers merely had a due diligence-type of interest in Cain given that his free agent stint stretched into late January.
- Khris Davis and the Athletics were in talks about a one-year extension to cover Davis’ final season of arbitration eligibility, though Heyman reports that Davis declined an offer from the team. It isn’t known whether negotiations are ongoing or if the two sides will table the issue. Davis has a .235/.307/.497 slash line and 13 homers through his first 205 PA, so he is on pace to earn another big raise from his current $10.5MM salary in his last arb year.
- The Mets aren’t for sale, though “folks around the league believe” that Rays owner and New York native Stuart Sternberg would try to buy the the Mets if they were available. Needless to say, the Mets would be a highly sought-after property if the Wilpon family did decide to sell — one would imagine the sale price of a team in the gigantic NYC media market would easily surpass the $2 billion mark. Heyman writes that there is even some speculation Sternberg would try to move the Rays to New York or Montreal if the league allowed it, though obviously the Mets and Yankees would have something to say about the former option in terms of territorial-rights issues. Sternberg’s relative lack of ties to his own team’s area (“he isn’t often in Tampa“) could also be an obstacle in the Rays’ longstanding desire for a new stadium.
- The Reds have been playing better under Jim Riggleman, but if the team does still want to make a long-term change in the dugout, Heyman hears that the team isn’t going to be spending big on a managerial salary. A new skipper will almost certainly make less than Dusty Baker’s $3.5MM annual salary when he was running the team. This could rule out a star hire like Joe Girardi, who impressed Reds ownership when he interviewed for the job prior to Baker’s hiring. Interestingly, Heyman believes that Girardi — an Illinois native — could be a candidate if the White Sox decided to make a managerial change, though there isn’t any indication that the Sox are considering moving on from Rick Renteria. That scenario would have a strong echo of Renteria’s last managerial job, when he stewarded the Cubs through some rebuilding years before being replaced by another star manager in Joe Maddon.
- The Royals had some interest “awhile back” in a reunion with Blue Jays DH Kendrys Morales, though that trade possibility has evaporated since both the Royals and Morales are badly struggling. K.C. is looking like a deadline seller, while Morales is hitting so poorly (.163/.248/.279 through 117 PA) that the Jays may have to release him or eat all of the approximately $19.76MM left on his contract through the 2019 campaign.