The Rundown: Celebratory Tattoos, Cold Stove Starting to Thaw, Ohtani Signing Criteria

Sorry I missed yesterday’s Rundown, but when the kids are home from college they kinda take priority. We went and got tattoos together yesterday in an expression of modern-day bonding, I suppose. I did not get the MLB logo tattooed on the back of my neck nor did I get a replica of Javy Baez’s 2016 World Champions tattoo, however, the woman who had work done ahead of me got the Wrigley Field ‘368’ sign surrounded by ivy on her shoulderblade and it was quite unique.

So we now know the criteria for signing Shoei Ohtani because CAA representative Nez Balelo informed all 30 MLB teams with the specifics via league-wide memo, asking teams not to submit financial bids in the process. A unique request amid unique circumstances (responses are to be submitted in both English and Japanese), the criteria include:

  1. An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
  2. Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
  3. Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
  4. Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
  5. A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
  6. Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play; and
  7. Relevant marketplace characteristics.

I’m sure Evan will break it down further, but the big takeaway here is that money will not be the motivating factor in negotiations, which it realistically can’t be anyway. As it has been mentioned over and over, the highest bonus available to the Japanese slugger is about $3.53 million dollars from the Texas Rangers. Many teams are still maneuvering to add international bonus slot money, though that may be a futile exercise.

Do you like the Cubs’ chances based on the initial requirements? I do. I actually believe the Cubs offer the best opportunity based on this list. 

Offseason Market Still Stagnant

We’re all waiting for that first domino to fall. So far, the 2017 hot stove is really trying our patience as fans.

I believe that a relief pitcher will be the first to sign and it looks like Indians pitcher Bryan Shaw has offers in hand from two teams, with the Mets believed to be one of them. Shaw is durable but average, and though there have been rumors the Cubs might be interested, I don’t see a connection.

Of course everybody is waiting to see to which team Giancarlo Stanton approves a trade to. Not only is he the most lethal offensive weapon available, he’s young, marketable, and by many accounts a solid clubhouse presence. The 28-year-old right fielder hit .281/.376/.631 with a league-leading 59 home runs and 132 RBI in 159 games in 2017.

Stanton’s appeal is obvious but his opt-out clause may be lowering his return value.

Despite that, the Marlins are apparently asking for a huge return. Derek Jeter not only wants prime prospects, he also wants the acquiring team to absorb most, if not all, of Stanton’s contract. With so many big-market teams involved, other free agents have (presumably) been left on the back burner, creating market stagnation. Once Stanton is finally dealt I imagine things will move pretty briskly.

Cubs News & Notes

One Cubs blogger believes the Cubs should not pursue Shohei Ohtani. To me this seems like extreme click-bait and it was certainly enough to grab my attention. How could you not want the Japanese superstar on a team-friendly contract? 

This blogger opines that Theo Epstein will not overspend to land an unproven asset coming off an injury. Aside from the $20M posting fee that does not count toward the salary cap, the Cubs can only offer Ohtani a $300,000 signing bonus, and like everybody else, a minor league contract. There is no reason not to be all in, especially if you hold the fewest chips at the table. There is nothing to lose, and hey, the Cubs need starting pitching.

Friday/Saturday Stove

White Sox 1B Jose Abreu would be a perfect acquisition for the Red Sox. Do they match up in trade after ChiSox GM Rick Hahn took their best prospects in the Chris Sale trade last year? Jackie Bradley Jr. might be available, but that probably isn’t enough. 

Mark Feinsand looks at 10 potential 2018 free agents who could possibly be dealt this winter or before the trade deadline in July. A name that might interest the Cubs is Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera.

Chris Tillman might be a low risk/high reward signing for the Brewers to consider.

Would the Yankees consider a six-man rotation if they sigh Ohtani?

The Rays are set to start dealing. How farther they go down that road may depend heavily on the sequencing of those trades. 

One writer thinks the Dodgers match up well with the Rays in a potential trade for SP Chris Archer.

Cardinals fans want their team to present itself as more big-market than medium-market in its pursuit of Stanton. I am not sure whether St.Louis fans know the meaning of the phrase “no means no,” as the reigning MVP has indicated he won’t accept a trade to the Gateway City. This scene from the movie “Swingers” seems like a weird and desperate portrayal of Cardinals fans inability to move on.

FanGraphs published their annual Free Agent Bargains and Free Agent Landmines lists. The landmines list includes former Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner. The bargains list includes SP Doug Fister and CF Lorenzo Cain. though a potential 5/$100M deal for Cain going into his age-32 season is not a bargain in my opinion.

Here are potential bargain signings for the Mariners, and Ohtani is not on this list.

A look at Statcast’s most extreme home runs of 2017.

Sunday Walk Up Song

Promised Land by Elvis Presley

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Michael Canter

Favorite Quote: "Look Ma! Top of the World!" Cubs fan since I was five years old (1969): lover of B&W movies, the Oxford Comma, classic rock, and of course, baseball; annual roto-champ; partial insomniac; I detest the liberal use of the word 'albeit' by baseball writers; Nice guy, though somewhat brooding. Comment me, please and thank you.
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