MLBTR Chat With Mark Polishuk
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Mark P
Hi everyone!  Welcome to the first Sunday evening chat here at MLBTR.  We wanted to wait until after the Super Bowl to begin the Sunday chats...though given last week's game, we didn't have much to worry about.
Yankees chances for Bryce or Manny? The longer it goes the better the chances?
Mark P
In theory, the longer Harper/Machado are on the market, the more teams (including NYY) could jump in if/when their prices drop.  Harper, I just don't see as a fit --- the Yankees got their "Bryce Harper" last winter when Stanton more or less fell into their laps, and the outfield is just too full to accommodate Harper.

Machado, I still see as a maybe.  Moving Andujar to first base would be a proactive move, and you can either keep Voit/Bird in the DH mix or deal one of them.
are the rays a wc contender or was last year a fluke?
Mark P
I think the Rays are for real, though a wild card may still be a tall order simply because of their schedule --- they're at a competitive disadvantage playing the Red Sox and Yankees 38 times.

It should be noted that a lot of things went right for Tampa last year, but overall, this is a very good roster
Padres sign anyone notable? I wouldn’t be opposed to Marwin. You think he will continue to be anything like the last two seasons?
Mark P
The Padres have had a strange offseason --- little in the way of major moves, though they've been seemingly connected to almost every big free agent/trade name available.  My guess is they'll land one notable name before Opening Day, and someone like Marwin is more plausible than the Harper/Machado tier.
Do you like the Nats’ signing of Hellickson or do you think they should have gone with Ross or Fedde?
Mark P
A little more depth can't hurt, not just for the fifth starter battle, but in case any of the top four hit the injured list this season (wow, it's going to take some time to get used to "the IL" after years of instinctively writing "DL")
Thad Levine
Should a I jump into the market for a player like Manny, Bryce, Kimbral, etc.?
Mark P
(Thad Levine is the Twins' GM, by the way)

Minnesota's near-total lack of future payroll commitments make them a good fit on paper for almost any of these big-name free agents.  I don't really understand their recent comments about wanting to wait until the so-called competitive window is open to strike, when it definitely seems the window is open right now.  I can understand wanting to wait and see exactly what they have in Buxton and Sano, but that shouldn't prevent the Twins from, say, a big pitching upgrade.
The Indians have to sign one of Harrison salarte or M Gonzalez? I mean thy have to?
Mark P
A superutil guy who can play the OF seems like a great fit, as he could fill in for Lindor and then move into the Tribe's shaky outfield once Lindor comes back.  Marwin seems like he's a lot more expensive than the other two, however.
Are we going to have to wait until July to trade EE or Bruce?
Mark P
(A reference to Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto)

I can't rule out any sort of imaginative trade from Dipoto and company, but my guess is yes.  EE had just enough of a down season in 2018 to chill his market, plus most teams are set at 1B/DH already.
With the last 2 off seasons being so slow, do you see mlb imposing a deadline for free agents to sign by? For example all free agents must be signed by the start of spring training or be forced to sit out the entire season then the following season they could only sign a minor Jeanie deal with an invite to spring training. Would something like this get players motivated to sign deals?
Mark P
No way the MLBPA signs on for something like this.  It would force a lot of players into taking deals that are far below their asking price just to be able to get onto the field.

The free agent signing freeze has much less to do with players "refusing" to sign pricey contracts than it does with front offices being unwilling to offer such contracts in the first place.  Why put the onus on the players?
I assume Nationals aren’t really in for Harper, given their payroll?
Mark P
I can't rule out the Nationals until Harper has officially signed elsewhere.  Never underestimate the Boras/Lerner relationship.
Do you like the Rangers off-season thus far?
Mark P
I like it simply because Texas has decided to tread water rather than openly tank, since a rebuild wasn't really necessary.  Some decent short-term adds (Asdrubal, Smyly, Chavez) and they'll use 2019 to evaluate their young guys before deciding whether to go for it in 2020
Odds the Rockies/Angels extend Arenado/Trout before they hit free agency?
Mark P
It seems like there's a decent chance Arenado and the Rox work out an extension this spring.  Colorado hasn't been shy about spending big to retain their stars in the past, even if Arenado will be a big step beyond Helton, Tulo, CarGo, etc. in terms of cost.

Trout, I'd be very surprised to see him ink an extension before, say, February 2020.  He almost surely wants to see how the Angels perform and now they're building a contender before committing himself to another long-term deal.
random fan
Should Orioles sign Ervin Santana with an eye towards flipping him at the trade deadline?  1/???
Mark P
He fits the bill as the kind of short-term arm Baltimore should be (or is) looking to acquire.  I guess it depends on what Ervin's options are, since if you're him, do you want to spend your rebuild-value year pitching against the Yankees/Red Sox/Rays/Jays so often
White Sox
Favorites at this point to land machado or do you still see it as a long shot with them coming off a 100 loss season and never spending big on marque free agents in the past
Mark P
Maybe "long shot" is too strong a term, but it feels like other teams are ahead of the ChiSox in the Machado hunt.  If you're Manny and you're finally willing to drop your price tag, you're only going to do so for a team that is a clear contender in 2019, whereas Chicago is at least still a year away
Do we make a surprise short term offer to Bryce or manny?. This off season has been very off .. almost get the feeling something is brewing that we aren’t hearing ?
Mark P
I feel we can safely rule out Cleveland as a mystery team for Harper or Machado.  Even a shorter-term offer would likely be too expensive for a team that has been trying to cut payroll this winter.
What should be next for the Braves? Starting pitching, bullpen, maybe Kimbrel reunion?
Mark P
It's a little surprising Atlanta hasn't made a rotation move yet.  They have a lot of terrific young arms, but you'd think the Braves would want a more proven, front-of-the-rotation type of veteran if they're going to make another playoff push.  Then again, if you're a team deep in prospects like the Braves, other clubs often try to really squeeze you for a really big haul of minor leaguers.
Kevin L
Are you excited to be chatting with us??
Mark P
You bet!  I usually just spend my Sunday nights talking to myself, and wow, am I ever boring.
Are the swell-opts a contract structure that will stick and be used more often going forward?
Mark P
To recap, the "swell-opt" (Scott Boras' new favorite term) is a Jake Arrieta/Yusei Kikuchi type of contract where the team is given the option of exercising one or several option years at once.

I have zero doubt that Boras is pushing this idea towards teams in regards to Harper, Keuchel, Marwin, and his other still-available clients, and it wouldn't surprise me to see at least one of these players sign such a deal.  Going forward, I don't see why it couldn't become more common, though the number of guaranteed years prior to the "swellopt" still obviously still be a big matter of negotiation between teams and agents.  We also really need a better name than "swellopt" --- dual option?
Sean R
Any truth to Giants only wanting to go short term with Harper? Makes little sense from each side. Harper would not want to be in a pitchers park on a short deal and Giants need the next generation star for the next 5-10 years.
Mark P
While the Giants definitely need that next long-term guy (Joey Bart or Heliot Ramos, anyone?), they're also a team that is loaded down with big contracts over the next 2-3 years.  Since they're very limited in being able to trade any of those contracts, from their perspective, why WOULDN'T you want to try to contend anyway?  

Harper is reportedly interested in playing on the west coast, though (like I said earlier about Machado) if he is open to a shorter-term deal or something at a lower asking price, he might prefer a team that is more of a clear-cut contender immediately
Could the reds be a sleeper for Harper?  They have nothing on the books and they will be in contention for a WC spot next year the latest. A big signing would jumpstart that rebuild
Mark P
The Votto/Suarez/Gray deals aren't "nothing," but I see where you're coming from.  That said, I doubt Cincy makes such a big splash
Best ballpark
Nicest ballpark you’ve ever been to?
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