Darvish and Arrieta Still Top Cubs’ List, Cobb and Lynn Reportedly Want at Least 4 Years, $15 Million AAV

At this point in the game, there’s very little information to report that hasn’t already been put forth in some form. Like archaeologists slowly uncovering the remnants of a skeleton, we’re simply trying to refine the structure of what we’ve known was there. So while it doesn’t contain any major lightbulb moments as far as the Cubs are, Jon Heyman’s latest “Inside Baseball” notes column does bring things into better focus.

Lance Lynn, who really hasn’t been mentioned much at all this winter, is said to be seeking four or more years at $15 million or more per. That’s not at all unreasonable based on what had been the going rate for decent starting pitchers prior to this year. Heck, the Cubs gave John Lackey $16 million AAV when he was more than six years older at that time than Lynn is now.

Whether it’s the Cardinals connection, the deadpan media interaction, or the propensity for allowing home runs, I see Lynn and Lackey as decent comps. And before you go digging into the stats to tell me why that’s a really dumb thought, understand that I will defend this hill to the death (I won’t). Either way, he’s an option if the other top pitchers fall through.

Heyman mentions that Alex Cobb is seeking more or less the same thing as Lynn, which is perhaps a slight departure from the four-year, $70 million ask we’d heard about a couple weeks ago. Then again, the exact report is that he’s looking for “four-to-five years for $15 million-plus per,” which is a pretty malleable statement.

One assumes that the AAV would slide a little higher as the contract gets shorter, so maybe he’s trying to get $17.5 million per over four years and would be comfortable with $15-16 million over five. Either way, that all figures to be dependent upon what happens above him in the market.

Heyman mentions that the Cubs, Phillies, and Twins are all still in on both Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish and notes that the Brewers are remaining “opportunistic.” Interestingly enough, that is exactly what Cubs assistant GM Scott Harris said about their own strategy at this point.

So when Heyman writes that “[The Brewers would] consider Jake Arrieta at the right price, but for today see Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn as more realistic for them,” you can kind of put the Cubs in that same spot. Except I suppose the Cubs aren’t at the point where they’ve assumed a stance of anyone being more or less realistic.

Because there’s so much overlapping interest between all these teams, you get the feeling that someone is going to have to blink first in order to get everything else moving. My bold prediction is that the Twins are going to end up being that team and that they’ll land Darvish.

Not only have they done a good job of building up a solid core, but they’ve also got money to spend and have a connection to Darvish through GM Thad Levine (formerly of the Rangers). What’s more, Heyman cites an agent who says “he still sees a resistance to players signing in Minnesota.” The Twins may need to jump the market — which is odd to say at this late juncture — in order to get their man.

From that point, I could see the Cubs trying to get creative with Arrieta on a deal that works out for both player and team. Milwaukee ends up with Lynn and Cobb goes to Philly. Book it. On second thought, you should probably fill out multiple four-player parlays with various configurations that look nothing like what I just laid out.

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