Addison Russell was made available in various Cubs trade talks over the offseason. a rival official told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It should be noted that “made available” is quite different than openly shopping a player, as it isn’t any surprise that the Cubs at least explored the possibility of moving Russell or other notable names over the course of the winter. Theo Epstein even said during his end-of-season chat with reporters that his team would consider trading from areas of depth to address other needs, though it’s interesting to note that the Cubs have yet to make any trades this offseason, instead turning to free agency to add starting and relief pitching. Russell, for his part, considers Chicago’s position player depth to be “a beautiful thing,” and is pleased to still be in a Cubs uniform.
Feb. 16: The Cubs have formally announced the signing of Simmons to a one-year, split Major League contract. He’s been placed on the 40-man roster, with left-hander Drew Smyly (recovering from Tommy John surgery) moving to the 60-day DL to create a roster spot.
Feb. 14: The Cubs have signed righty Shae Simmons to a split contract, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links). The deal will pay Simmons $750K if he cracks Chicago’s Major League roster, and $120K if he remains in the minors. The contract will be official once Simmons passes a physical, according to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat.
That last detail is an important one given how Simmons has been plagued by injuries for the better part of three years. Simmons looked good as a hard-throwing rookie with the Braves in 2014 but then underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2015. Beyond just the usual 12-15 month recovery timeline for that procedure, Simmons’ return by halted by a variety of injury setbacks, and then further halted by a forearm strain that kept him out of action for a large chunk of the 2017 season. Over the last two seasons, Simmons has tossed only 14 1/3 total innings.
The Mariners acquired Simmons and Mallex Smith for Luiz Gohara and lefty prospect Thomas Burrows in January 2017, though Simmons’ forearm problems kept him from developing into any sort of a real weapon out of Seattle’s bullpen. The M’s non-tendered Simmons last December, ending his tenure with the team after just 7 2/3 innings and a 7.04 ERA.
Despite the injuries and the control problems that have plagued Simmons throughout his career, the Cubs have little to lose in taking a flier on the 27-year-old. Simmons has shown flashes of dominance when healthy, including some dominant numbers (2.06 ERA, 12.6 K/9) over 131 1/3 career minor league frames.
- Reports back in December indicated that Cubs swingman Mike Montgomery wanted to be a full-time starting pitcher, though the southpaw told reporters (including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) that he was just indicating his preference rather than demanding a role change. “It wasn’t like, ’Hey, make me a starter or I get traded,’ ” Montgomery said. “It wasn’t that black and white. It was just, ’Hey, I want to be a starter.’….I think it’s obvious I want to do that, and I think it’s just a matter of time and place and situation.” Chicago’s addition of Yu Darvish would seem to bump Montgomery back into his swingman spot, yet that hasn’t changed his feelings about remaining a Cub. “I definitely want to be here. I know I want to be a starter, but, look, being a part of this team the last couple years, it’s a special group, and we not only have a good team, but I’ve never had more fun playing baseball,” Montgomery said.
- Also from Wittenmyer’s piece, he notes that the Cubs have been getting trade interest in Montgomery since the Darvish signing, with the Phillies and possibly other teams calling about Montgomery’s availability even long before Darvish came to Wrigleyville. Philadelphia’s interest isn’t a surprise, as the Phils have seemingly checked in on just about every controllable young starter that could conceivably be a trade candidate.
With the Cubs introducing righty Yu Darvish yesterday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times covers the key takeaways. Other teams dangled six-year offers of similar value, per Wittenmyer, though it seems that interest at a higher price point simply did not develop. Whether that means the Cubs secured a relative bargain or simply reflects the league’s valuation of an excellent but hardly flawless pitcher, the bottom line is that Darvish represents a major addition to one of the game’s best rosters. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the team was pleasantly surprised to be able to land Darvish at a rate that still kept the overall payroll under the luxury tax line. He also noted that the team will now have limited capacity for taking on salary during the course of the season. While Epstein framed the matter as one of managing the team’s short and long-term spending ability, those comments seemingly indicate that the luxury line is functioning as a soft ceiling this year for yet another top MLB organization.
TUESDAY: The Cubs have announced the deal.
It breaks down as follows, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter): $25MM in 2018, $20MM in 2019, $22MM apiece in 2020 and 2021, $19MM in 2022, and $18MM in 2023. That allocation means that Darvish will face at least a four-year, $81MM decision (depending upon escalators) when his opt-out opportunity arises.
Per Nightengale, also, the full no-trade protection extends through the first four years of the contract.
SUNDAY, 4:05pm: Darvish has a full no-trade clause for part of the deal, then it switches to a 12-team list, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link).
1:50pm: Darvish has the ability to block a trade to nearly every team, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Additionally, in any year of the contract, he could earn $2MM extra with a Cy Young Award or $1MM if he finishes second to fifth in the voting.
SATURDAY, 6:02pm: Darvish’s opt-out comes after the 2019 season, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
5:17pm: The Cubs and Yu Darvish have agreed to terms on a contract that will bring the righty to Chicago, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports on Twitter. The deal guarantees the Wasserman client $126MM over six years (though the total value can reportedly reach $150MM via escalators), and is pending a physical. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the contract also includes both an opt-out clause “earlier than three years into his contract” and no-trade protection (Twitter link).
With Darvish in the fold alongside Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood, the reigning NL Central champs will have one of the more complete (and formidable) rotations in all of baseball. Thanks in part to that group, they should enter the upcoming season as the favorites to win the division again, despite the aggressive moves the rival Brewers have made this winter.
In Darvish, who divided last year between the Rangers and Dodgers, the Cubs are getting a hurler who in 2017 ranked as the majors’ 16th-best pitcher by fWAR (3.5) and 12th-best in terms of strikeouts per nine innings (10.08). He also racked up 186 2/3 innings, his most since 2013, and pitched to a 3.86 ERA/3.83 FIP. He figures to replace Jake Arrieta near the front of the Cubs’ rotation. Because Darvish was part of a midseason trade, the Dodgers could not issue him a qualifying offer to begin the winter. Consequently, reeling him in won’t cost Chicago any draft-pick compensation or international bonus pool money.
Of course, the impact of this signing sends ripples far beyond the NL Central alone. MLBTR had ranked Darvish as the best available free agent among our top 50 (Tim Dierkes & Co. actually predicted he’d end up with the Cubs). This deal could well mean that many other free agent dominoes will begin to fall soon. In particular, many have theorized that teams may have been waiting for Darvish to sign before moving onto lesser free agents such as Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. The Dodgers, Twins, and Brewers had all reportedly made serious offers for Darvish; they’ll now have to set their sights on other options.
The contract itself is by far the largest ever given to a free agent in February. Although the total guarantee is significantly south of the $160MM we predicted he’d receive back in November, the deal itself could perhaps ease some of the ongoing tension between the players union and MLB, which has escalated to a boiling point in recent weeks due to teams’ unwillingness to meet the asking prices of many top free agents. There has perhaps been as much focus on the glacial pace of the offseason as there has been on the free agents themselves, and the Darvish signing is certainly a step in the right direction.
On the other hand, the top four remaining free agents are now J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas – all of whom are clients of Scott Boras. With the super-agent firmly in control of the top of the market, there’s no guarantee that other pieces will fall into place any time soon.
Darvish’s major league career started out in spectacular fashion. After the Rangers spent over $100MM between salary guarantees and posting fees in order to sign him out of Japan prior to 2012, he rewarded them by delivering two consecutive seasons of at least 4.5 fWAR. The talented righty was on his way to another fantastic campaign in 2014, but had to be shut down in August due to elbow issues. Those issues ultimately led to a Tommy John surgery in March of the following year, meaning the ace didn’t take the mound for the Rangers for nearly two years.
When Darvish made his return on May 28, 2016, he picked up right where he left off. In 287 innings since that date, all Darvish has done is strike out 341 hitters while walking just 89. His 3.70 ERA and 3.49 xFIP during that span are among the best marks in the major leagues, and he’s posted the 14th-best soft contact rate in the major leagues during that span.
Of course, Darvish’s solid 2017 season was unfortunately covered in shadow by his dreadful World Series performance with the Dodgers. He faced 22 Astros hitters across his two starts while recording just 10 outs and allowing eight earned runs. Darvish was saddled with the loss for both of those games, one of which was the seventh and final game of the series.
However, while his bellyflop is perhaps the most prominent impression left in the minds of Dodgers fans, there are a number of important factors to consider. The first and perhaps most obvious is that 3 1/3 innings is an incredibly small sample size, particularly against a juggernaut Astros offense that also tore through pitchers like Chris Sale in the same postseason. Another is that many Astros hitters went on record saying that Darvish was tipping his pitches in Game Seven; they could tell whether he was going to throw a cutter or a breaking ball by watching whether he adjusted his grip on the ball before bringing it to his glove. Finally, the two World Series starts were Darvish’s 36th and 37th of the season, which is especially notable because he hadn’t pitched a more than 150 innings in a season since 2013.
Darvish’s pitch arsenal is one of his most unique assets. According to Brooks Baseball, he threw a four-seamer, slider, sinker, curve, cutter, change-up and splitter during the 2017 season. While the sinker and change-up were each utilized less than 2% of the time, such an expansive repertoire sets Darvish apart from other MLB aces. Fortunately for him, he’ll once again be reunited with catcher Chris Gimenez. The two played together during their years with the Rangers, where Gimenez had great success working with Darvish and his arsenal. The Cubs signed Gimenez to a minor-league deal about three weeks ago, though whether that factor had any impact at all on Davish’s decision is a guessing game at this point.
While there’s a chance Darvish will pitch to Gimenez in 2018, it seems likely most of his work will come with starting catcher Willson Contreras. The 25-year-old expressed excitement about the Darvish deal on Twitter, noting that he “can’t wait to catch” the four-time All-Star.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Cubs “put in one last call” to Jake Arrieta before completing their six-year, $126MM deal with Yu Darvish, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Heyman says Epstein respectfully inquired as to whether Arrieta would have been willing to accept “a deal believed to be similar to the one offered to Darvish should Darvish turn them down.” According to Heyman, “while Arrieta surely appreciated the gesture, he wasn’t immediately prepared to accept a six-year deal for what was believed to be for a similar annual salary.”
A careful reading of Heyman’s phrasing is advised, as he at no point states that the Cubs actually made a six-year offer to Arrieta. Nor could one accurately say Arrieta turned down a six-year offer from the Cubs, as we erroneously did in an earlier version of this post. Last Wednesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that “the Cubs and Arrieta barely even engaged in contract talks this winter.” If that’s correct, it would be odd for Epstein to even have made an intimation of a six-year offer around that same time.
It isn’t uncommon for teams or their free agents to touch base with each other one final time before either side is on the verge of a move, either out of mutual respect and/or genuine interest to see if a deal could be reached. (For one example from this winter, Carlos Santana’s representatives kept the Indians up to date on his market just to leave open the possibility that the Tribe could’ve found the payroll space to keep Santana in Cleveland.) It also isn’t an uncommon tactic for a team to approach several similarly-valued free agents with similar contact offers to see which, if any, accepts first.
Certainly, it doesn’t seem that Arrieta or his agent Scott Boras felt the need to jump at the Cubs’ offer, as Boras is still confident his client will land a deal closer to the much higher price tag Boras was reportedly seeking earlier this offseason. While the lack of free agent activity around the sport is “not traditional,” Boras said, “it seems normal (now). The free agent market is now under way. For me, it’s December 10th, not February 10th.” Heyman gives an idea of Arrieta’s possible current asking price, writing, “Some might have seen the Cubs’ last-minute inquiry as a chance to end a difficult free-agent season happily, but others understood that Arrieta probably wasn’t going to take a much lower deal than Jon Lester’s in light of the fact that a strong case could be made he’s outperformed Lester over the last few years.” Heyman’s “case” for Arrieta as compared to Lester is certainly worth debating. Lester signed a six-year, $155MM deal with the Cubs on the eve of his 31st birthday, on the back of a huge walk year that resulted in a fourth-place Cy Young finish and a big market bidding war. Arrieta turns 32 soon and is coming off a good, but not great, year. He’s also battling a historically slow free agent market that is likely to leave at least a few big names disappointed.
Heyman lists the Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Twins, and Cardinals as “the most logical teams” that could still make a play for Arrieta, though he notes that the latter two clubs seem like longer shots. Milwaukee, Washington, and Philadelphia have all been linked to Arrieta at various points this winter and, now that Darvish is off the board, Arrieta might be the top target for a Brewers team that has money to spend and a need for front-of-the-rotation pitching. The Phillies also have a glaring rotation need but may still be a year away from serious spending (their deal with Santana notwithstanding), while the Nats would have to carve out payroll space or simply accept a big luxury tax overage in order to sign Arrieta.
Unfortunately for those who follow baseball, the most popular topic in the sport this offseason has been the historically slow free-agent market. Upward of 100 players remain without contracts as spring training nears, but the good news is that the top available veteran finally came off the board Saturday.
The six-year, $126MM agreement the Cubs reached with right-hander Yu Darvish will hopefully lead to a flurry of signings in the near future. Regardless of how the majors’ other 29 teams react, it likely concludes the offseason heavy lifting for Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, who have added Darvish, two other starters (Tyler Chatwood and the injured Drew Smyly) and a pair of established relievers (Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek) to a club that ruled the National League Central in each of the previous two years.
Even without Darvish, the Cubs probably would have entered 2018 as the popular pick to win the division, though arguments could have been made for either the rival Brewers or Cardinals to seriously challenge for the crown. Both Milwaukee and St. Louis have been active this offseason after nearly making the playoffs last year. As things stand, though, they’re clearly looking up at a Cubs team with a set rotation (Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and Chatwood) and an enviable group of position players. There was speculation earlier in the offseason that Chicago would deal from its lineup and/or farm system to boost the front of its rotation, but bringing in Darvish officially took that possibility out of play.
Along with retaining their position players and prospects, there are other other obvious benefits to picking up Darvish, including that he’s a tremendous starter who should boost the Cubs’ World Series chances in the coming years. The towering flamethrower, who emigrated from Japan in 2012, generally thrived with the Rangers and Dodgers, and there’s little reason to expect he’ll fail in Chicago in the near term. Speaking of the Dodgers, they rank as arguably the prominent concern in the NL for the Cubs (with Darvish’s help, they upended Chicago in the NLCS last season), so pilfering the 31-year-old from LA makes the signing all the more satisfying for Chicago. Plus, because Darvish was part of a midseason trade and wasn’t eligible for an offseason qualifying offer, reeling him in won’t cost the Cubs anything in draft-pick compensation or international bonus pool money.
With Darvish now in the mix, the Cubs will say goodbye to free agent Jake Arrieta, who did receive a QO after the season. When he heads elsewhere, Chicago will nab a pick after the second round of this year’s draft in return. Of course, even though Darvish is more hyped than Arrieta and will likely end up with the bigger guarantee of the two this winter, some may prefer the latter. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Arrieta wasn’t great last season, when he alarmingly lost some velocity, but he has been the more successful of the two in recent years. During his run as a Cub from 2014-17, Arrieta ranked third among starters in ERA (2.67), fifth in fWAR (18.5) and collected a Cy Young Award (2015).
Even if you’d rather have Darvish than Arrieta, the contract comes with some risk for the Cubs (which you’d expect with all big-money accords). Specifically, it’s in the form of an opt-out clause after the 2019 season. If Darvish pitches well enough over the next two years to vacate the deal in favor of another trip to the market, his departure would create a sizable hole for a Chicago team that hasn’t had great success at developing starters during the Epstein era, as Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic recently detailed (subscription required).
On the other hand, should he go downhill during the next two years and stick with his current contract, it could leave the Cubs with another expensive, declining veteran to join Lester (guaranteed $25MM after 2019, including a $10MM buyout for 2021) and outfielder Jason Heyward (guaranteed $86MM from 2020-23). The Cubs took the opt-out risk on Heyward when they signed him to an $184MM contract prior to 2016, when he was one of the sport’s foremost all-around players. Since then, his offensive game has gone in the tank, making it unlikely he’ll leave when he’s allowed to after next season or potentially at the end of the 2019 campaign.
To the Cubs’ credit, the $126MM guarantee looks quite reasonable for Darvish, and at $21MM per year, it’s palatable from a luxury tax standpoint. During a normal winter, Darvish may have ended up with a much wealthier contract. In fact, at the start of what has since turned into a bizarre offseason, MLBTR predicted a six-year, $160MM payday for Darvish, while former FanGraphs writer Dave Cameron forecast an even richer figure ($168MM) over the same term. All things considered, then, it seems the Cubs made out rather well with this move – one they hope will help guide them back to World Series glory in 2018. What are your thoughts?
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It took over three months, but the premier free agent in this year’s class finally came off the board Saturday. Right-hander Yu Darvish agreed to join the Cubs on a six-year, $126MM guarantee that includes an opt-out clause after 2019. As you’d expect, a bevy of media reactions to the agreement have come in over the course of the day. Here’s a look at several…
- When the offseason began in November, Darvish “wasn’t really” on Chicago’s radar, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports on Twitter. However, it seems the Cubs benefited from this winter’s slow-moving free-agent market in this case, as it helped lead to a lower-than-expected price tag for Darvish and a major splash for the North Siders. Darvish went into the winter seeking an accord along the lines of Stephen Strasburg’s (seven years, $175MM) or new teammate Jon Lester’s (six years, $155MM), Patrick Mooney of The Athletic details (subscription required).
- While there’s a well-known fondness between Darvish and the Rangers, with whom he has spent the majority of his career, Texas was “not even close” to landing him, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News adds that Texas didn’t make an offer to Darvish, and the club wouldn’t even have been willing to guarantee him $75MM in total if it did. The Rangers have a glaring need for a front-end starter, but they’re not close enough to contention to splurge on one, Grant writes. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who has a good relationship with Darvish, spoke highly of the 31-year-old on Saturday. “I am very happy for Yu and hope he gets everything he wants,” Daniels said (via Wilson). “He will go down as one of the best pitchers in Rangers history. I expect he’s going to be very good wherever he goes.”
- The Dodgers, Darvish’s other ex-team, made him an offer, but it fell short of the Cubs’, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times report. Contrarily, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets that LA was “said to have offered in the same ballpark” as Chicago. Although, signing Darvish would have made it difficult for the Dodgers to achieve their goal of staying under the $197MM luxury tax threshold in 2018.
- Likewise, tax concerns stood in the way of a Yankees-Darvish union. New York never even made Darvish an offer, Rosenthal tweets.
- The small-market Twins aggressively went after Darvish this winter, even meeting with him in Texas at some point, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Their offer to Darvish was for at least five years and $100MM, according to Heyman (Twitter link). The Twins’ courtship of Darvish went for naught, though, perhaps thanks to their dislike for opt-out clauses and a wariness toward giving him a sixth year, writes Berardino, who adds that they could now look to top available starter Jake Arrieta. On the trade front, Rays righties Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi remain on Minnesota’s radar, relays Berardino, though he suggests the Twins would have to give up too much for the former. Meanwhile, Rosenthal reports that there’s a belief among rival executives the Twins could still add a starter via both free agency and the trade market. Along with Odorizzi, he lists free agent Alex Cobb and Astros righty Collin McHugh as hurlers who have drawn Minnesota’s interest.
- The upstart Brewers were part of the Darvish derby, too, and the belief is that they also submitted a proposal of at least five years and $100MM, Heyman tweets. However, Rosenthal hears that Milwaukee’s offer “was not as competitive as reports indicated.” Further, Rosenthal suggests that the Brewers may have primarily been in the running just to drive up the price for the NL Central rival Cubs. Regardless, with Darvish now out of the mix, Odorizzi and the Athletics’ Jharel Cotton are trade possibilities for the Brew Crew, according to Rosenthal.
- In addition to the previously listed Twins and Brewers, the Dodgers and the Phillies are still targeting starters in the wake of the Darvish deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Philadelphia is aggressively pursuing a short-term addition, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas are all possibilities, Feinsand adds.
- Keith Law of ESPN (subscription required) has mixed feelings on the Darvish pact. While it “appears to be a bargain salary,” Law has reservations about the length, contending that it’s one or two years too long, and he doesn’t regard Darvish “a pure ace.” Darvish has become too reliant on his cutter and not reliant enough on his slider, which has led to vulnerability against left-handed hitters, Law observes. However, Darvish may have “some untapped potential right now” if he leans more on his slider, per Law, who at least sees him as a significant near-term upgrade for the Cubs.
Grimm, who earned $1.825MM in 2017, struggled to a 5.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 1.93 HR/9 and a 43.1 percent ground-ball rate in 55 1/3 innings for the Cubs last year. The 2017-18 offseason marks his third winter of arbitration eligibility, though due to his status as a Super Two player, he’ll be eligible once more next offseason before reaching free agency upon the completion of the 2019 campaign.
Grimm represented the last unresolved arbitration case for the Cubs, who had previously cut deals to avoid a hearing with Kris Bryant, Tommy La Stella, Kyle Hendricks, Addison Russell and Justin Wilson.
Free agent hurler Lance Lynn has received interest from “seven or eight teams,” according to a report from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His former team, the Cardinals, is not one of them.
Lynn, of course, declined a qualifying offer from St. Louis at the start the offseason. It seems the club is now content to allow him to leave, knowing that it’ll receive a draft choice after the Competitive Balance Round B selections so long as Lynn signs before this year’s draft.
Clearly, Lynn is worthy of punting some draft compensation. But while the CBA’s new qualifying offer rules have generally put that matter on the back burner, parting with draft value is still a factor in any free agent case. (MLBTR has run down what draft picks each team would need to sacrifice to sign a qualified free agent such as Lynn.)
As we’ve noted of late, Lynn has had a quiet offseason but remains an easy-to-visualize fit with quite a few organizations. Among the teams showing some level of interest, per Goold, are the Brewers and Cubs — two teams that are plenty familiar with Lynn from his lengthy stint with the Cardinals. The article also rounds up reported interest from other quarters, mentioning the Orioles, Twins, Nationals, and Mets as plausible suitors. Indeed, a run through MLBTR’s log of posts involving Lynn shows no shortage of possibilities.
Lynn himself discussed the situation with Goold, though he declined to get into specifics on teams. You’ll want to read the entire piece, as it’s loaded with interesting information and discussion, but generally Lynn suggests he feels comfortable preparing as normal despite his lack of a contract. “I haven’t missed anything,” he said. “There’s nothing really to worry about — at this moment.”
Goold also examines Lynn’s value against prior open-market players, suggesting the Tigers’ signing of Jordan Zimmermann — five years and $110MM, with strong no-trade protection — as a comp. While there’s certainly an argument to be made for that kind of analogy given Lynn’s bottom-line results, the view of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes — as explained first in the MLBTR Top 50 Free Agents list and expanded upon in his free agent profile of Lynn — is that the veteran righty isn’t quite in that stratosphere, due in large part to concerns with the peripherals. MLBTR has pegged Lynn for a four-year deal in the $14MM or $15MM annual range, citing a variety of teams as plausible fits on paper.
In large part, the overall market picture remains much the same as it was when Dierkes set out to evaluate things before the action got underway. Just how Lynn’s situation will shake out, though, is even more difficult to predict now than it was then. The overall tenor of Lynn’s comments, and Goold’s reporting, suggests that this free agent case is not particularly close to resolution.