>>Report Has White Sox, Nationals Close To Sale Deal
It appears one of the best pitchers in baseball may soon join one of the best teams in baseball.
The White Sox and Nationals are still working on a Chris Sale trade, and at this point the two sides are only haggling over the final pieces of the deal. It seems this could go down soon.
Ken Rosenthal reported last night the White Sox would get top prospects Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles.
Robles has been mentioned as a possible centerpiece in an Andrew McCutchen trade with the Pirates. The fact Robles could now be heading to Chicago is an indication the McCutchen deal won't happen. The Nationals have reportedly been trying to acquire both McCutchen and Sale.
Sale would join NL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer to form baseball best righty-lefty rotation tandem in baseball. Add in Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals will have one of the best rotation front threes in the game.
The Nationals are very much in win-now mode. Bryce Harper will be a free agent after the 2018 season -- he reportedly wants north of $400 million to remain with the team -- and Scherzer is in the prime of his career right now. This is the team's best chance to win a World Series. In 2017 and 2018. Sale will increase their chances of winning at some point in the next two years tremendously.
The White Sox, meanwhile, would presumably be open for business following a Sale trade. Once you trade the face of your franchise, there's no reason to stop there. Others like Jose Quintana, Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Melky Cabrera could all be made available as well.
>>Cubs Raising Ticket Prices Nearly 20-Percent
The Chicago Cubs gave their long-suffering fans a World Series championship last season and now fans are going to have to give the Cubs something: More money.
The team says the average season ticket price at Wrigley Field will climb 19.5 percent next season. The best seats will go up the most: 31 percent for club box infield seats and 22 percent for seats in the bleachers. Other seats will go up between 6 percent and 17 percent.
Cubs Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Colin Faulkner says last year's team created "unprecedented demand" for tickets and that the higher prices shouldn't be a surprise.
The increase marks the second straight season that the team has raised the face value of its tickets by at least 10 percent.
>>Giants Sign Closer Melancon
The San Francisco Giants might be landing their closer in three-time All-Star Mark Melancon. The free agent has a deal with the Giants, pending a physical, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports.
Olney further reports that it's a four-year deal worth $62 million. That's a record for relievers in free agency, as the previous high was Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies.
Melancon, 31, saved 47 games in 51 chances last season for the Pirates and Nationals. He pitched to a 1.64 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 65 strikeouts against only 12 walks in 71 1/3 innings. Over the past four seasons, Melancon has a 1.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 147 saves in 162 chances (91 percent). He's been the closer for four straight playoff teams, too.
>>Dodgers Resign Rich Hill
Perhaps the top free-agent starting pitcher this offseason has found a home, as lefty Rich Hill has signed back with the Dodgers. The club announced the three-year deal as official Monday, and it's for a reported $48 million (via Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports).
Hill will be 37 next season, but he's coming off an impressive 2016 campaign that caps off an impressive comeback. He hadn't even made a start since 2009 until September of 2015. In four starts for the Red Sox, Hill posted a 1.55 ERA. That was good enough to land him a one-year deal with the Athletics. He was so good for Oakland that the Dodgers traded for him (and Josh Reddick) in front of the trade deadline.
In all, Hill was 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA (187 ERA+), 1.00 WHIP and 129 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings. His only issue was a blister problem that lingered for a bit in July and August.
The Dodgers' rotation is lefty-heavy, with Clayton Kershaw, Hill and Julio Urias being the top options. Righties Kenta Maeda and Brandon McCarthy remain in the mix as well as southpaws Scott Kazmir, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Alex Wood.