Buster Olney reports that the Cleveland Indians do not plan on giving a qualifying offer to outfielder Michael Brantley. The qualifying offer this year is for one-year and $17.9 million.
An interesting move, but it’s hard to say whether it’s a good one.
On the one hand, Brantley hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI and 12 stolen bases over 143 games last season and, beyond him, the Indians outfield depth chart looks like a dang train wreck. The currently penciled-in left fielder is a second baseman. The currently penciled-in center fielder nearly friggin’ died last summer. Yes, there’s a chance the Indians add someone else or that Jason Kipnis and Leonys Martin have nice comeback years, but the cupboard is kinda bare out there right now.
On the other hand, Brantley will be 32 early next season and, his nice 2018 aside, has has been far from durable of late. $17.9 million for a single season may be worth that kind of gamble to a lot of teams but the Indians are far less free with their money than just about any contender.
I have no idea if not giving him a qualifying offer is a good move, but Brantley may prove to be one of the more interesting test cases as to where the free agent market stands this year.
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.