The calendar has turned to a new year, and with the start of 2018 comes the hope that baseball’s offseason will finally kick into high gear. The World Series ended two months ago but as far as high-profile free agents go, the only one who seems to have found a home so far is closer Wade Davis, who recently signed with the Colorado Rockies.
Today brings some relatively juicy news. Eric Hosmer could be close to picking his new contract while JD Martinez’s options are more limited. Hosmer has at least three offers on the table while Martinez has just one. Oh, and has anybody seen Jake Arrieta?
Happy New Year, baseball fans. This is the Rumor Roundup.
It’s a great time to be Eric Hosmer, who has multiple offers on the table per multiple reports. Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported yesterday afternoon that the St. Louis Cardinals remained “involved in pursuit of Hosmer,” though no financial terms were mentioned. The Cardinals could definitely use Hosmer’s powerful lefty bat at first base, as it would allow Matt Carpenter to move back to third base permanently, and he could prove more consistent than Jose Martinez, who came out of nowhere and suddenly broke out in 2017. No disrespect to him, but Hosmer is Hosmer.
But the Cardinals have competition. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported yesterday that the San Diego Padres had offered Hosmer a seven-year, $140m contract, and that would be the largest deal ever given to a San Diego player if he accepts it. However, Nightengale reported this morning that Hosmer’s Kansas City Royals, with whom he has spent his entire career, offered him a seven-year deal of their own worth $147m.
This means if money talks, the smart odds are on Hosmer returning to the team he helped win a World Series in 2015. KC finished third in the AL Central last year and has to keep up with tough Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins teams, but the Cardinals are in a much better position to win now after acquiring Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins.
It’s like we’ve said several times before. Hosmer will be playing baseball somewhere in 2018, but this is the first time we have a clear idea where that might be.
JD Martinez’s one offer
JD Martinez hit .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in just 119 games for the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, so one would think he would have a lot of offers on the table in free agency. That has not been the case for the Scott Boras client, whose initial demand of a seven-year, $210m contract has been met with a ridiculously quiet market.
Nightengale reported yesterday the Boston Red Sox had made Martinez a five-year offer, though financial terms were not disclosed. Given how few teams have shown interest, at least publicly, one would think Martinez would just take the deal and reunite with Dave Dombrowski, who brought Martinez to the Tigers years ago.
But that’s up to him and Boras, so stay tuned for further details on Martinez’s future!
The latest on Jake Arrieta
Another in-demand free agent has been right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015 and has a 2.67 ERA since 2014. His market has been on the quieter side after a down 2017, plus there are probably concerned about his decreased fastball velocity, but teams have still maintained interest.
The teams “showing the most interest” according to what an “industry source” told Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago are the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, each of whom could use Arrieta in their rotation. The Cubs have been busy this offseason, adding Steve Cishek and Brandon Morrow to their bullpen and Tyler Chatwood to the rotation, and bringing Arrieta back shows the front office has faith he can rebound in a familiar environment.
The Cardinals are more complicated since their starting rotation appears set. Carlos Martinez is the ace and Miles Mikolas was added from the Yomiuri Giants on a two-year deal, and righty Luke Weaver is expected to be in the rotation after going 7-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 starts late last year. That leaves Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, both of whom have regressed in recent years.
Adding Arrieta would mean one of those last two, likely the 36-year-old Wainwright, would be moved to the bullpen. But this is free agency, and dollars and cents are the factors.
Given how we’re less than six weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting, Arrieta and the rest of the free agents need to decide their futures soon.
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