Are the Cubs really looking at Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols? Are they just trying to drive up the price for St. Louis? Are they looking to go big or are they going to cast out every player who isn’t nailed down and start from scratch?
We’ve heard all of these things in the past few weeks. Their offseason strategy is still unclear.
But one thing is clear: it will be Theo Epstein making these decisions, not ownership. That’s what the owner himself said yesterday when talking to the Chicago press:
“Like I’ve always said, there is one person responsible for making those decisions, and one person accountable for those results,” he said. “So if (Epstein) believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.”
Theo Epstein’s last couple of big ticket free agent signings we less than stellar. True, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are a different class of talent than John Lackey and Carl Crawford, but does he go to the well again?
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY reports that the Mariners have received “strong” trade interest for starter Taijuan Walker. The right-hander is currently on the mend from tendinitis in his right foot. He’ll throw a bullpen on Friday at Wrigley Field with scouts in attendance.
Walker, 23, has a 3.66 ERA with an 80/18 K/BB ratio in 86 innings this season. It’s his first bit of sustained success at the major league level. What’s arguably just as intriguing is the fact that Walker will be under team control through 2020.
The Mariners have been hovering around .500 for the last month and entered Thursday six games behind the first-place Rangers in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot, behind three other teams as well as the two Wild Card leaders. It’s enough uncertainty which could push the Mariners to sell.
On Monday, we learned that the Mets offered to swap catchers with the Brewers, Travis d'Arnaud for Jonathan Lucroy. The Brewers, as expected, turned that down. The two still continue to discuss a trade involving Lucroy, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.
The Mets certainly could use some help at catcher. The club has gotten an aggregate .608 OPS from their backstops, the fourth-lowest mark in baseball, ahead of only the Pirates, Rays, and Indians. However, the Mets seem to be behind other teams — including a “mystery” team — in the bidding, according to Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.
Lucroy, who took Thursday off, is batting .300/.361/.486 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 371 plate appearances for the Brewers this season. He can become a free agent after the season if his controlling club opts against picking up his $5.25 million option for the 2017 season.