The Cubs seem likely to pick up left-hander Cole Hamels’ $20MM option for 2019, Jon Heyman of Fancred writes. The club could instead buy out Hamels for $6MM, a sum his previous team – the Rangers – would cover, though that would be a surprise in the wake of his second-half performance. After the Cubs acquired Hamels in late July, he pitched to a 2.36 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over 76 1/3 innings. Thanks in part to Hamels’ excellent results over the final couple months of the season, Cubs president Theo Epstein recently called the 34-year-old a “breath of fresh air.”
Here’s more from Heyman’s latest column:
- Surprisingly, despite his quality production from 2017-18 and his reasonable price tag for next season, the Blue Jays aren’t certain to exercise first baseman Justin Smoak’s option, according to Heyman. Toronto must decide whether to bring back Smoak for $8MM or cut him loose and pay $250K. But if the team’s uninterested in retaining Smoak, perhaps it’ll pick up the soon-to-be 32-year-old’s option and shop him to first base needy-clubs. MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently took a look at several teams that could pursue a deal for the switch-hitting Smoak, who slashed .242/.350/.457 (121 wRC+) with 25 home runs in 594 PA this year.
- Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez is “likely” to exercise his $5MM player option, per Heyman. Nunez could otherwise opt out and receive $2MM, but he’d be doing so on the heels of a rough campaign (heroics in Game 1 of the World Series notwithstanding). The 31-year-old hit a meek .265/.289/.388 (78 wRC+) in 502 regular-season plate appearances and accounted for minus-0.4 fWAR – the sixth-worst mark among those who totaled at least 500 PA. Notably, Nunez had a much better campaign in 2017, but he was still unable to secure a large guarantee as a free agent last winter.
- Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud is a non-tender candidate, Heyman relays. The oft-injured d’Arnaud is projected to earn $3.7MM in 2019, his last year of arbitration, but the Mets could deem that too pricey in the wake of another injury-shortened season. D’Arnaud, 29, suffered a partial UCL tear in early April, limiting him to four games. With d’Arnaud unavailable, the Mets ended up relying on Devin Mesoraco and Kevin Plawecki behind the plate. There’s also uncertainty with Mesoraco heading into the offseason, given that he’s a pending free agent.
- Astros superstar Alex Bregman is among those sticking with agent Brodie Scoffield, who recently left Legacy to start Tidal Sports Group, Heyman writes. The 24-year-old third baseman is coming off a tremendous season in which he hit .284/394/.532 (157 wRC+) with 31 home runs, more walks (96) than strikeouts (85) and 7.6 fWAR across 705 trips to the plate. Bregman’s in line to play his final pre-arb season in 2019.
- Some manager-needy teams recently requested inwith Padres executive Moises Alou, but the 52-year-old spurned those overtures, Heyman reports. Alou, a big league outfielder from 1990-2008, joined San Diego’s front office in 2015. He doesn’t have any managerial experience, though it does run in his family. His father, Felipe Alou, managed the Expos (1992-2001) and Giants (2003-06) to a combined 1,033-1,021 record, and he took home NL Manager of the Year honors during the strike-shortened ’94 season.