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FROM THE HOME OFFICE: The Winter Meetings, Continued

Where the magic happens.

So after a couple years of collusion every MLB team simultaneously deciding to exercise fiscal prudence and somehow all offer the same money to the same guy, this year the hot stove is actually hot. Let’s take a look at what’s been going on…

Steven Strasburg got to enjoy one day as the highest paid pitcher in baseball history, as Gerrit Cole signed for 9 years and $326 million – that’s $36 million a year for those keeping score. Also for those keeping score, this puts them over $60 million over the Luxury Tax threshold. They’ve clearly thrown any fucks they had to give into the dumpster while teams that have zip codes starting with 606 still have owners crying their tears of poverty into their Chateau Lafite.

So now the upper echelon of starting pitchers (Wheeler, Strasburg, Cole) are off the market, which means the next tier of guys (Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel) are in play, and both local teams should take a gander at all of them. One guy out there who could be a sleeper is Martin Perez, whose numbers don’t look all that sexy (xFIPs near 5 each of the last two years), but who gets a ton of ground balls – which aren’t necessarily independent of fielding on either side of town. Also, at 29 he’s at the younger end of the free agent pool. Lest you think I’m deluded into thinking that he’s chicken salad and not chicken shit, let’s also bear in mind that the Twins declined the option on him. Fortunately, smarter people than yours truly are looking at what all these guys can and can’t do.

MLB announced today that all ballparks will have extended netting. The White Sox were at the forefront of extending netting last season, while the Cubs will need to do so in order to comply. Of course, this brings out the bawbags who seem to think all you have to do is “pay the fuck attention”…if they were able to catch line drives off a big leaguer’s bat, they’d be on the other side of the netting.

The White Sox traded prospect Steele Walker to Texas (which means at some point there will be an endless supply of “Steele Walker, Texas Ranger” jokes, and that point has already passed) for Nomar Mazara. Mazara was at once upon a time considered a hot prospect, but over 2000 plate appearances that have a career WAR of 1.7 and wRC+ of 92 should dissuade anybody of that notion. While he’s certainly an upgrade over the bucket of goo that patrolled right field on the south side last season, it’s tantamount to replacing a dead horse with a three-legged one. And certainly not worth a guy who was in your top 10 prospects list.

Meanwhile in Cubs land, everyone’s favorite bag of beer farts has reported the obvious, that the Cubs aren’t looking to extend Anthony Rizzo yet. File this under “No shit, Sherlock”. Right now if the Cubs are going to give out any extensions, they will be to guys that are willing to give up some years of free agency to let the Cubs not have to risk them having huge years during their arbitration window (read: Baez, Schwarber, Contreras, Bryant).

Meanwhile, social media is still atwitter at the prospect of the Cubs trading Contreras and/or Bryant. In both cases, there does not appear to be any trade out there that would put the Cubs in a better position to contend, which is where they currently have to look. Unless they really want to trade these guys, effectively closing their contention window, while also trying to launch a new TV network.

Finally, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that Hawk Harrelson is the winner of the Ford C. Frick Award. Anybody who thinks his broadcasting was the result of a lifelong devotion to the White Sox is better off not going onto the Internet and watching any of his Yankees broadcasts. The logic (I’m guessing) is that since he retired, they want to give it to him while he’s still on this side of the grass. Pat Hughes was also a nominee, and there is no doubt that he will also go in, possibly as early as next year.

Let’s see what happens next.

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