While the Blue Jays lost pitching coach Brad Arnsberg to the Astros on Friday night, things are looking up with the rumors of a possible Vernon Wells-for-Milton Bradley trade.
According to the Toronto Sun, Chicago would be willing to split the
difference on the monies owed to the two players — Wells’ $107 million
and Bradley’s $21 million — for a difference of $86 million. Each side
would absorb $43 million.
It sounds far-fetched right now, especially since the Cubs are believed
to be talking to a few teams, but according to one Cubs official, the
idea “has some legs.”
At least Wells played in 158 games in 2009 (most since 2003), but he
turned in a lowly .260/.311/.400 line with 15 home runs, 66 RBI and 17
stolen bases. His .711 OPS was sixth from the bottom among outfielders
with at least 500 plate appearances. Also, according to UZR/150,
Wells has been one of the worst defensive center fielders in the sport
over the past two seasons. Bradley, of course, was suspended for the
rest of the season on September 20 after putting up a disappointing
The clear winner here would be the Blue Jays, who would only have to
pay for two years of the volatile Bradley, while Wells still has six
years left on his deal. It would also give the Cubs one of the more
expensive outfields in the sport, with Alfonso Soriano owed $90 million
over the next five seasons and Kosuke Fukudome owed $26.5 million over
the next two seasons. Each have full no-trade clauses.
It sounds improbable right now, but if the Cubs are this desperate for suitors, it would make more
sense for Jim Hendry to swallow some pride and eat the $21 million owed
to Bradley instead of taking on an increasingly unproductive and aging Wells. It’s not
like Bradley’s is a Barry Zito-type contract. They could find a find a far
more productive player than Wells for a fraction of the price.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.