The GM Meetings are next week (offseason road map here, in case you forgot or missed it), which, in recent years, has marked the start of the serious rumor season (as opposed to silly rumor season, which lives and procreates at any time, in any place). Signings tend not to come until later in November, but you started to really get a sense of who was going to do what – or try and do what – during, and shortly after, the GM Meetings.
I expect that will be the case again this year, but it seems like “serious” rumor season kicked in a little early this year, at least with respect to the Cubs’ anticipated approach to the offseason. Sure, there’s been some silliness mixed in, but I think we already have a relatively decent sense of what the Cubs hope to do this offseason, and how they might first approach it.
- Speaking of that, Jed Hoyer was on MLB Network Radio, and made this salient comment about the Cubs’ approach to acquiring pitching:
Hoyer on trades: "We're sort of reluctant to trade bats for arms, as there are more arms available in other ways"
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 6, 2014
- There’s no surprise there, as the Cubs have focused on accumulating bats for a (savvy) reason. It seems like everywhere you look, some team is decrying their lack of offense these days, which does seem to militate in favor of the Cubs hoarding theirs … but remember that the market is always fluid. If offense is in short supply and you’ve got a lot of it, that can mean you should hoard it to compete OR that you should shop it for a disproportionate value. For now, because I see how the Cubs can accommodate their own offensive pieces internally, and because the available pitching in free agency, alone, over the next 15 months is significant, I’d take the same approach as Hoyer seems to indicate: reluctance. Not staunch opposition, mind you. But reluctance. (Take that as a hint, Phillies: the Cubs aren’t going to break the prospect bank for Cole Hamels. But it’s worth chatting.)
- The Dodgers have too many outfielders and Mike Petriello investigates how they should deal with it. Obviously it’s going to involve dumping a player or two, and, to the extent that creates a buy-very-low opportunity, the Cubs should be monitoring. (No, I don’t think they’ll seriously consider trading Yasiel Puig).
- Speaking of outfield trade opportunities – that’s going to continue to be a theme of this early part of the offseason, by the way – Jerry Crasnick says the Mariners are expected to be shopping outfielder Michael Saunders next week at the GM Meetings. I mentioned Saunders as a possible target for the Cubs earlier this offseason, but I said I’d be getting into a little more detail in the future. I still hope to do that (there’s a bare-bones draft sitting in my overflowing “drafts” file right now – it’s been a busy few weeks, eh?). The short version would involve a reference to the reportedly strained relationship between the Mariners and Saunders, who has had some injury issues. Saunders turns 28 later this month, and is projected to get about $2.9 million in his second-to-last year of arbitration. He’s got a good walk rate, decent pop, and might just need a chance. The tricky part for the Cubs could be his left-handed bat and pronounced splits (so it’s not like he could be paired, for example, with Chris Coghlan in the outfield).
- And speaking of more outfield trade stuff, Mark Bowman again writes about the possibility that the Braves will shop Justin Upton and/or Jason Heyward this offseason. I have discussed that duo and the Cubs before.
- C.J. Nitkowski writes about two of the Korean players expected to make the jump to the big leagues, Kwang-Hyun Kim and Jung-Ho Kang.
- The Mets/Starlin Castro rumors are going to start popping up again (remember those?), it seems, and I’m disinclined to give them too much attention (because I don’t think that’s the likeliest route the Cubs take to acquire pitching). Buster Olney wrote about the Mets wanting Castro and maybe not wanting to part with Jacob deGrom OR Zack Wheeler for him. That’s fine. The Cubs would be crazy to do a straight up swap for one of those two anyway. Frankly, I’m just not terribly into the idea of the Cubs dealing Castro right now.
- Perhaps the Mets will instead explore trading for Alexei Ramirez, about which Bruce Levine writes. There’s a mention of Castro in there, too.