The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan notes the dilemma the Cubs face this offseason in connection with Rich Harden:
Harden has been the Cubs’ most consistent starter in the second half with a 3-1 record and 1.64 earned-run average, with a 4-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. But he could become a sought-after free agent after the season, so the Cubs have to make a decision on how much they’re willing to offer him . . . Signing Harden to a four-year deal for $50 million-$60 million is risky, but that’s probably what they will have to pay to keep him.
The “risky” part is the rub, of course. When Harden is healthy, he is very very good, but he’s only started 30 games and/or thrown 150+ innings once, and that was in 2004. In terms of health and effectiveness when healthy there’s an argument to be made that he’s the pitching equivalent of Milton Bradley, and look how well that risk worked out for the Cubs.
Of course, good pitching is a bit harder to find than DH/corner outfielder types, so there’s a chance that Jim Hendry and the Cubs’ new ownership group may be willing to take another Bradleyesque risk. I’m not sure I would.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.