Another evening Lukewarm Stove? Don’t expect it every day, but ’tis the season …
- A trade! The Astros picked up catcher Hank Conger today for AAA back-up-catcher-type Carlos Perez and right-hander Nick Tropeano, who could compete for a back-end spot on the Angels. It was a nifty little trade for the Astros, who probably value Conger – one of the best pitch-framers in the game, but not much with the bat right now – more than most. The deal will give the Astros the opportunity to platoon Conger and incumbent Jason Castro, who was also an excellent framer in 2014. Castro, who bats lefty, has a huge platoon split. Alternatively, the Astros could look to trade the 27-year-old Castro, who projects to make around $4 million in 2015, his second arbitration year. If so, he’s be another interesting guy to potentially pair with Welington Castillo, even though Castro is coming off a down year.
- The free agent (or trade) focus for the Cubs – in terms of external rumors, I mean – is rightly on the impact pitching side, and, to a lesser extent, on Russell Martin. But there are many irons in the fire, and Jesse Rogers mentions the Cubs’ desire to pick up a complementary bat in the outfield. Specifically, Rogers says the Cubs have discussed Jonny Gomes internally (whom we’ve talked about before), as well as Michael Morse (whom we have not). Morse, 32, had a huge bounceback year with the bat, hitting .279/.336/.475 for the Giants. The problem, however, remains Morse’s defense, which is so far below average in the outfield that it almost completely neuters his offensive value. Would you want to have Morse on your bench and as a complementary corner outfielder/1st base backup? Sure. But it seems like he’s going to be able to do a whole lot better than that on the free agent market from a team that can put him at DH or isn’t worried at all about defensive value. Heck, if I’m an AL team, I’d be targeting Morse with a really nice contract offer. It’s hard to see the Cubs being the best fit.
- Joel Sherman predicts the 10 highest free agent contracts this year, and notes the Cubs’ connection to Jon Lester (projected 6 years, $145 million) and Russell Martin (projected four years, $52 million (um, yes please!)).
- When the Rockies surprised by slapping a qualifying offer on outfielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer, my first reaction was, “Oh, well, they must be planning on shopping Carlos Gonzalez.” The highly-intelligent David Schoenfield came to the same conclusion, and mentions the Cubs among the possibly interested teams. There was a time when CarGo would have been just about the most desirable trade target I could find for a team in the Cubs’ position. But another injury-riddled year later, and the three years and $54 million left on the 29-year-old outfielder’s deal doesn’t look quite so bright and shiny anymore. Combine that with a horrendous year at the plate (.238/.292/.431) and road splits that have never looked super sexy (.258/.314/.437), and I think I may have gone so far as to be just flat-out not interested. That actually shocks my senses to type, so I’m probably exaggerating a little. Yeah, maybe if the Rockies wanted to eat some of the contract and wanted only a couple B prospects in return, it’s a worthy roll of the dice. But I don’t see the Rockies doing that, especially given how popular CarGo is, and how well he plays at Coors Field.
- (UPDATE: And how about that: I click publish on this, and Ken Rosenthal was doing the same on this piece, indicating that, yes, the Rockies are listening on Gonzalez (and Troy Tulowitzki).)
- Bruce Levine thinks the Cubs (and the White Sox) should keep an eye on Melky Cabrera in free agency. I’m not all that sold.
- The A’s are willing to listen to trade offers on Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir (free agents after the season), according to Ken Rosenthal, but aren’t going to shop them. I don’t think that’s the right route for the Cubs for 2015. Maybe you look at Samardzija in free agency after the season, but that’s another story entirely.